Banneker Blake, slated to close, deserves reprieve
Dec 07, 2018 | 2:30 PM
Carl Stokes the founder of the Banneker Blake Academy speaks at a press conference the day before the Baltimore school board revoked the school's charter.
Many thanks to The Baltimore Sun for publishing the letter, “Save Banneker Blake” (Dec. 1). In full disclosure, I have known the co-founder of the Banneker-Blake Academy since high school, and I served on his education committee for a while when he represented the then-Second District on the Baltimore City Council. Let no one doubt Carl Stokes' commitments to Baltimore’s children and their education. He has been a leader and strong advocate in those two areas for decades.
I recently visited the Banneker-Blake Academy and was greatly impressed by the care and concern of the staff. The students in classes were attentive for the most part and the conduct in the hallways was typically energetic for a middle school. But the young persons in both situations were always politely responsive to adult encounters. Banneker-Blake possibly could use a few more staff; its funding was decreased because of student population loss due to the news of the school board’s intention to close it last fall.
It is hard to understand why a school educating young black boys successfully would be closed by the city’s school board. It is difficult to comprehend how citizens who take it upon themselves to open a middle school with a challenged student body would be rejected by school officials rather than embraced.
The Banneker-Blake Academy’s student body is complicated. Many boys are behind in academic performance, many have special education needs — it has twice the citywide percentage of those qualifying for special ed services — and some with behavior issues from the onset of peer pressure and developing hormones of everyday middle schoolers. Some of those students may have distracted parents who are just trying to manage during these difficult days in Baltimore.
We call upon the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners to reconsider its decision to close the Banneker-Blake Academy. There are too many lives that will be adversely affected with its closure. There are too many caring adults working to educate the school’s students for the board to turn its back on them. There are too many ways to fix whatever needs improvement at Banneker-Blake far short of shutting the school down. We must always keep our eyes on Baltimore’s children. Anyone willing to help them should be encouraged and assisted. School commissioners, please find a way to keep Banneker-Blake Academy open. Save the children.