Feed city schools, starve North Av­enue

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NEWS -

I ap­plaud Gov. Larry Ho­gan for not putting the stu­dents of Bal­ti­more City out on the streets (“Ho­gan signs bill to help close Bal­ti­more schools bud­get gap,” April 3), but, un­for­tu­nately, this is just an ad­he­sive ban­dage. Bal­ti­more City Pub­lic Schools do not need more money. Bal­ti­more schools need more con­trol of the money that is in the hands of North Av­enue.

We have ad­min­is­tra­tors mak­ing six fig­ures who have prob­a­bly not been in a class­room in 20 years. Like our neigh­bor­hoods, lo­cal schools in Bal­ti­more can be very dif­fer­ent. Just like no two stu­dents learn in the same way, no two schools should be run the same way. We do not need North Av­enue mak­ing blan­ket de­ci­sions for our schools. What would be more ef­fec­tive is a sys­tem where the cen­tral of­fice sets goals for the sys­tem, but in­di­vid­ual schools can di­rect the cur­ricu­lum based on what that com­mu­nity needs.

Bal­ti­more spends an es­ti­mated $18,000 per year per child, and this does not in­clude the ex­tra money spent on spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion stu­dents. If you gave the bulk of that money to lo­cal schools, we could pay the teach­ers well, of­fer in­cred­i­ble pro­grams, get rid of most of North Av­enue and start get­ting re­sults for our stu­dents.

Prin­ci­pals and teach­ers know bet­ter than the ad­min­is­tra­tors in a cen­tral of­fice whether their stu­dents need more re­sources in read­ing or math. They know when the cur­ricu­lum should in­clude real life lessons such as tak­ing care of them­selves, not a cur­ricu­lum they can’t re­late to. Based on their stu­dent pop­u­la­tion, they know if their school should stay open un­til 5 p.m. to ac­com­mo­date work­ing par­ents and keep kids en­gaged in a safe en­vi­ron­ment.

The state of the city school sys­tem is one of the rea­sons why I whole­heart­edly sup­port a voucher pro­gram so that stu­dents have the re­sources and means to com­pete. We have to stop the bu­reau­cracy in pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion and stop play­ing pol­i­tics with our stu­dents.

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