We must redistribute our wealth, resources and energy to the neighborhoods to strengthen our communities and our citizens. We must reduce the cost of living and doing business in this city while giving people value for their tax dollars with better schools, safe streets and a city government that responds quickly to citizens' complaints.
Let's begin with schools. During the trial of Nathaniel Hurt, a 13-year-old witness, a sixth-grader in a city public school, was asked to read his police statement to the court. He couldn't. Asked what words he could pick out, he pointed to c-u-t, but he couldn't pronounce it.
Recently, 300 Patterson High School students were erroneously informed they had been promoted. The error was caught, in part, because some parents protested that their children's academic progress was not commensurate with that of a high school student ready for promotion.
These two examples tell us we need to change our thinking regarding success in schools.
Obviously, we should not use promotion statistics as a heavily weighted factor in school performance.
As chair of the council's Education Committee, I held public hearings, visited schools, talked with teachers, attended school board hearings and debated policy with the school system. I want to implement several ideas to help improve our children's education.
Let's have schools that teach, discipline and nurture our young people. A school should be a neighborhood's center where parents, children, educators and the community support one another.
Let's open schools from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. -- not a longer day for teachers, but a stronger day for students. Bring in successful women and men as mentors. Let's give kids somewhere to hang out, rather than in our streets.
We'll use the extended school day to teach analytical thinking skills, personal hygiene, career planning, work skills, plus offer supervised recreation. There are enough volunteers in churches and businesses, plus retirees, to start right now.
Teachers, principals and parents should manage their schools and make their own budget decisions, rather than North Avenue.
Supporting our youths' desire to succeed will help Baltimore achieve the safer communities we desire. Safer communities also require police officers walking the beat. Put officers on foot now in our most violent neighborhoods, and follow up with foot patrols in all neighborhoods within two years. Put police mini-stations in our most violent neighborhoods now.
We must be more efficient in the use of our tax dollars and more vigilant in ferreting out waste and possible corruption. Independent audits of city agencies must be ongoing. Let's clean up waste in our own house and reduce the tax burden on citizens and business. A long-term plan and commitment to reduce property taxes every year for the foreseeable future is essential. Let's plan how we revitalize and rebuild our neighborhoods, for in doing so we will rebuild a better Baltimore.
I ask for your support in my effort to become president of the Baltimore City Council, so we can succeed together.