For city schools, it's not about money

Blaming cold city public school classrooms on “institutionalized racism and injustices that have been perpetuated for centuries” (“Heating problems highlight inequity for Baltimore schools,” Jan. 5) is like blaming singer Taylor Swift for a bad recipe by Martha Stewart. It’s not relevant and not even true.

It is tempting to blame King George III for all contemporary ills, but doing so only perpetuates the mindset that Baltimore residents are helpless victims.

Baltimore City receives some of the highest per pupil funding in the nation, yes nation, yet continuously struggles to teach its students basic English and math skills. Last year, only 15 percent of Baltimore City public school students in grade 3 through 8 passed the English assessment and 11.9 percent passed math in the test known as PARCC, while statewide, 41 percent of students passed the English test and one third passed the math test. The city school system also spends more money on administrative bloat than any school district in the nation.

Running budget deficits — last year $129 million — and misusing funds are a perpetual problem for city schools. Instead of compounding the problem in 2018, the state legislature should allow the Baltimore City Public Schools System to focus on teaching and remove it from the facilities management business. Companies that don’t fulfill their responsibilities can be fired.

If elected officials want warm classrooms, they must resist the urge to spend money where it has never paid off. Blaming “racism” is easy, not to mention intellectually lazy. Fixing the problem requires assigning responsibility to those best suited to the task.

Christopher B. Summers, Rockville

The writer is president and CEO of The Maryland Public Policy Institute.

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