Better Schools

Bill at PC 3 - EditedWhat Baltimore Needs is more effective public school facilities, funding and governance.

As a councilman, I’ve been a supporter of my district schools individually, as well as initiatives to improve the system as a whole. Some of my support is more personal, like being a guest reader in a classroom, or attending a cookout to welcome a new principal, or donning a Santa Claus suit for a school’s holiday open-house. Some of my support has been more tangible, such as facilitating a donation of rebuilt PCs from Boot Up Baltimore – a student-run organization at Johns Hopkins – for each of the schools in my district, so that each teacher’s lounge would have a computer the teachers could use. Still, I recognize that our schools have even more substantial needs.

Our children deserve school buildings that aren’t falling apart. We need to make our schools better by implementing the 10-Year Facilities Plan and renovating or rebuilding all of the schools our children attend.  The first $1.1 billion commitment was a good start, but we will need at least another $1.7 billion commitment to ensure than no child’s education is diminished by a crumbling classroom.

Our children deserve more funding from both state and local government, to provide our children with the resources they need to learn. They also deserve a central administration which distributes that funding wisely and fairly, actively supporting each school’s efforts to educate our children. That being said, the fact that there is no direct connection between the City Council and the governance structure of the school system is often a difficult one for me to explain to my constituents, so as a councilman, I’ve passed a resolution – twice! –  asking the General Assembly to change the current process of bringing on new school board members.

At a minimum, school board members should be vetted by the City Council, including a public confirmation hearing, where councilmembers and members of the public can question potential board nominees, as well as those being renominated. Any group of people responsible for the administration of over a billion dollars of taxpayer money should be accountable to the taxpayers through their legislative representatives, not just the executive.

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