Mayoral candidate David Warnock on Tuesday announced his education platform, which includes mandatory annual audits of Baltimore's school system and individualized education plans for all of the city's 80,000 public school students.
“We can invest in our kids and create opportunities for adults through education, or we can continue to build new jails to fill,” Warnock said in a statement.
Warnock's plan also calls for a partially elected school board and backs a push to transform Baltimore's schools into so-called "community schools," in which educational facilities serve the broader community through night activities, neighborhood meals, job training and other programs.
Currently, the city school system is audited about once every six years by the state. Additionally, the Baltimore school system conducts several internal audits per year that officials refused to release publicly.
Recently, school officials acknowledged they had lost track hundreds of students, including some so-called "ghost students," costing millions in state aid.
Warnock said the revelation underscores the need for annual audits.
"If we can't count every child we have, how can we say that every child counts?" Warnock asked.
Warnock's plan came the same day he received an endorsement from State Sen. Lisa Gladden, a Baltimore Democrat.
"David is a successful businessman with a strong track record of creating jobs and turning businesses around," Gladden said in a statement. "That’s the kind of new leadership we need in Baltimore to help cut crime and create jobs -- that’s how we can turn our city around.”
Two dozen candidates, including 13 Democrats, are running to replace Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who is not seeking re-election.
Warnock is the first candidate in the race to release a platform focused solely in education. Plans from former Mayor Sheila Dixon and lawyer Elizabeth Embry have focused on crime reducation. City Councilman Carl Stokes has proposed an economic development plan. City Councilman Nick J. Mosby has released a wide-ranging plan to address many of Baltimore's problems, including high property taxes.