9:15 AM EDT, June 24, 2011
I am writing in response to Tuesday's Baltimore Sun article "Baltimore City Council approves budget." The lack of attention and care that Baltimore's youth are receiving is appalling. In 2009, approximately 9,000 summer jobs were funded for Baltimore City's youth, whereas the article states that this year there will only be about 5,000 summer jobs. This is not good enough. Closing the budget shortfall by making deep cuts to youth programs is hurting our children. They deserve better.
By employing Baltimore's youth we can keep them off the streets and from being victims of crimes or gang violence. And more importantly, we can give them opportunity. With this new budget passed, Baltimore's youth will work fewer than 20-25 hours weekly. Young people who are available and willing to work should have the opportunity to be employed.
While it is too late to change the cuts made to summer jobs for youth in the city's budget, perhaps the city is willing to come up with creative solutions to help employ our young people. The city could partner with developers and request that they hire 10 youth for every $1 million they receive in tax deferments and benefits. In turn, the city could recognize these businesses as good corporate citizens for assisting the city's youth and giving them a chance to succeed.
In addition to the cuts made to summer jobs for our youth, the $1 million cut from the city's budget for recreation centers is also inexcusable. The Baltimore City recreation centers give our youth opportunities, inspiration, guidance and a safe place to thrive. Cutting funding for such critical programs is a grave error. These cuts are penny wise and dollar foolish. If we really embrace the belief that children are a precious resource, and if we really want to invest in strengthening our neighborhoods, then we must start with Baltimore's youth.
David Maurice Smallwood, Baltimore
The writer is a candidate for City Council in Baltimore's 8th District.
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