More than 200 parents, students and education advocates gathered at Fort Worthington Elementary in Baltimore last night to celebrate their victory in fighting for school funding.
The Baltimore Education Coalition, a network of more than 30 advocacy groups, was formed this winter in response to proposed changes in the state's funding formulas that would have disproportionately hurt schools in the city and Prince George's County. The coalition had planned a rally in Annapolis for last night. But a few weeks ago, Gov. Martin O'Malley withdrew the proposed formula changes in light of the federal stimulus money headed to Maryland. So the coalition turned its protest into a celebration. Baltimore schools chief Andres Alonso, City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke and U.S. Rep. Michael Sarbanes were among those in attendance.
"Those in power heard our voices loud and clear," said Phyllis Williams, a parent from Arundel Elementary/Middle.
While the coalition's leaders thanked O'Malley for not cutting education funding, they said they also wanted to show their organizing power should any threat be posed to city schools in the future. They also said they need to keep working together.
In a statement, the coalition said it wanted to break two myths: "that Baltimore doesn't care and ... that Baltimore schools are not worth the investment."
The coalition's member organizations include Child First Authority, Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development, New Leaders for New Schools, Greater Homewood Community Corporation, ACLU of Maryland, Baltimore Algebra Project, Maryland Charter School Network and the Baltimore branch of the NAACP.