By Raven Moniqu’e Coleman (a Junior at Doris M. Johnson High School in Baltimore City)
I bet the state is content with many of Baltimore City’s students having a bleak future.
In 2000, Judge Joseph H. Kaplan ordered that the state issue adequate funding to the city after he deemed that students would need to receive between $200- $260 million in addition to other funds in order to comply with students’ constitutional rights.
As expected, these demands have yet to be met. I think the state doesn’t want to admit that they set our youth up for failure.
Chris Goodman, an advocate for the Baltimore Algebra Project, was told that his former high school, Baltimore City College, was one of the best schools in the country. Yet, after he saw the reality of student life at Baltimore Country’s Eastern Technical High School, the best was newly defined, and he left saying, “Now this is a real school.” This is because he as many others involved in Baltimore City Schools realize that the city has been and remains neglected by the state. Our money continues to be wedged in the opposite direction of myself and many other students who indeed value their education as well as their future.
By law, theft is a punishable crime, yet the state continues this action without penalty. So, I ask, why isn’t justice being served?
Justice means: our textbooks, our computers, our teachers, our building construction, our paper, our lab equipment, our after-school honors and special education programs – that according to congress were originally supposed to receive 40% of their funds from the federal government. This stipulation hasn’t been met and shockingly, in 1996, Baltimore received only 4% of what was allocated. This proves that the state has schemed for many years.
Without education, students are rafts potentially heading for a large waterfall, meaning that their futures may meet a disturbing downfall where all possibilities for their lives are lost. These justices mentioned are only few of the things city school students need in order to avoid this downfall.
On many occasions, I, along with other students and staff at Doris M. Johnson High School in Baltimore City, have discussed changes that must be made. Unfortunately for Baltimore City’s youth, money is the fuel we need to keep students’ potential running.
It’s funny how the federal government’s No Child Left Behind Act supposedly ensures that no child is left behind, yet in reality the only thing happening is the opposite of its purpose.
Students are being robbed of opportunities, their rights, and their lives in general because the government chooses to be self-centered and corrupt. The reality is that there is only one solution to these problems. The state needs to do its job. We want to see change, meaning funding, not eluded promises which is all we have seen up until this point in time. How are we to succeed if we are constantly being left behind?
Delegate Dan Riley says
Being a former classroom teacher I have a homework assignment for all Dagger students. Who gets more money, per student, from the federal government, the State, and Thornton, (Thorton was additional funding set up by the State to help address Judge Kaplan’s order) Baltimore City students or Harford County students? Hint: State School Superindentent, Nancy Grasmick, said of this school system, “Best bang for the buck” when speaking of student progress compared to money used for education. Is money the problem? Part of the problem? Or a combination of several factors?
So Dan- what are the axctual per-pupil figures in HCPS and Balto. City? If the city gets so many more bucks- where is it going? Is there a top-heavy admin? Are the teachers there paid more? Do they have a boat load of other services that are paid for?Are the class sizes significantly smaller? I have seen some of the schools and they are not well maintained. And from what i hear resources are scarce. I have got to agree with this student- something is putrid in Peru and the kids are the victims. Education is the only way out- much cheaper than incarceration. So. What gives?
B. Dan Riley says
Guess I’ll do your homework for you. The information I am using is about a year old.
Harford Co. Schools Baltimore City Schools
FOR ALL EMPLOYEES $56,507 $55,646
10 MONTH EMPLOYEE
MOSTLY TEACHERS $38,900 $37,800
SPENDING PER PUPIL $9,104 $10,974
Other information should be available from the State Board of Education.
As to your question about “where is it going(the money)” you may remember that the city, about 2 years ago, could not account for 10s of millions of dollars. Some people were caught with their hand in the cookie jar and the other monies were lost to creative bookkeeping. Eventually the city loaned or gave their school system the monies to make up for the shortfall.
One of the short comings, of our political system, which I and others are trying to rectify is to stop rewarding poor performance. Where is the incentive to do better? A school system, such as Baltimore’s, continues to do poorly, yet they get more and more State monies. Harford County, which is almost last in per pupil spending, continues to perform well. Imagine what our schools could be like if we had one or two thousand dollars more to spend on every student.
With the resources our tachers have to work with they do a great job!
I’ve volunteered in some city school projects and I’ve seen the difference between a Harford County Public School and a Baltimore City Public School. And there is a difference- in the upkeep, in the books, in the classrooms. Bottom line- the money isn’t getting to the students. They seem to be getting short-changed at nearly every turn. The Balt. City Public School system is failing it’s community as well as its students.
This is somewhat off point but I think relevant. I have a question for you Raven, as an intelligent student, what do you think about the system offering up discounted prices and cards at retail chains for the children who choose to carry themselves and act civil? (I believe this stemmed from the bus beating incident- but honestly I don’t have all the specifics)
Delegate Dan Riley says
Either I messed up, which is probably the case, or something got screwed up in the transmission of my reply to Curious. The first column is Harford County Schools and the second column is Baltimore City Schools. No matter how you look at it, Baltimore spends more money on their students than does Harford County, yet our score are much higher. Is money the only answer? You already know the answer.
School year is wrapping up so remember to thank our teachers for a job well done!
Dave Yensan says
Thanks Delegate Dan for putting that out there. Another great question for research is: how many people within the system make over $100,000 per year? How many of them are inside school buildings? I believe I know the answer to the second question. Like our corporations the folks at the top take care of themselves firts and send the leftovers to where the students hang out.
Thanks for the service you provide Dan.
Money cannot be the only answer. Isn’t the ultimate goal supposed to be whether these kids get an education? We aren’t just failing them, we are hurting ourselves.
Mr. Yensan, what is the # 1 problem then? How do we fix it?
Students such as Raven deserve to be heard and deserve to get some answers. What should she do? What needs to happen?
Raven Moniqu'e Coleman says
In reference to your question Molly, I think a more effective approach to reducing the number of delinquent actions in Baltimore City would be to offer more after school programs and to give students rewards for graduating with high cumalitive GPA’s.
The after school programs could offer students the abilty to handle different issues(school and home),and rewards such as laptops would help many students with the transition to college from high school.
In my opinion these rewards are more ‘justified’ in comparison to rewarding students to act in a manner that they should regardless.
Do you agree?
Right on Raven. I agree on all points.
But what about summertime when school is not in session? What is a solution for that?
good article raven. it’s great that you give a voice to these issues.
in terms of lowering the amount of delinquent actions, and also not incurring more costs from after-school programs, i have a suggestion that i’ve discussed with teachers for years…
supposedly, the time when high school students are most likely to get into trouble is during the (manytimes unsupervised) window of time between dismissal and when their parents get home. my suggestion is to flip around the school day times so that teenagers (who typically sleep later and can either catch a bus or drive themselves) go to school later and are dismissed later. (rather than the current system of high school going in, middle school, and then elementary.) no extra cost or extra programs, just a more sensible way to manage the school day.
for sports issues, let the kids practice later or in the morning (like swim teams do), and the night games shouldn’t be affected by an hour or two extension of the school day.
the younger students who typically get up earlier, and who need parental supervision in the morning, can go in earlier. and parents who are paying for morning care for young students (since most working parents can’t drop their children off at school or the bus stop at 9:00) can instead pay for only afternoon care. they already pay for aftercare anyway (since most working parents don’t get off by 3:30) so it makes more sense all around.
Raven Moniqu'e Coleman says
I AGREE THAT SYSTEM THAT COULD HELP IN MANY WAYS.IT WOULD MAKE IT A LOT EASIER FOR SOME PARENTS AND STUDENTS.PERHAPS IN A FEW YEARS THE ENTIRE SCHOOL SCHEDULE WILL BE DIFFERENT.