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Feed city schools, starve North Avenue

I applaud Gov. Larry Hogan for not putting the students of Baltimore City out on the streets ("Hogan signs bill to help close Baltimore schools budget gap," April 3), but, unfortunately, this is just an adhesive bandage. Baltimore City Public Schools do not need more money. Baltimore schools need more control of the money that is in the hands of North Avenue.

In the public eye, if you don't support more funding for education, you are seen as not supporting education. That could not be further from the truth. What we need to do is take a look at how we are spending the money and ask, is it effective?

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We have administrators making six figures who have probably not been in a classroom in 20 years. Like our neighborhoods, local schools in Baltimore can be very different. Just like no two students learn in the same way, no two schools should be run the same way. We do not need North Avenue making blanket decisions for our schools. What would be more effective is a system where the central office sets goals for the system, but individual schools can direct the curriculum based on what that community needs.

Baltimore spends an estimated $18,000 per year per child, and this does not include the extra money spent on special education students. If you gave the bulk of that money to local schools, we could pay the teachers well, offer incredible programs, get rid of most of North Avenue and start getting results for our students.

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The more control you give to local schools the better it is for students. Principals and teachers know better than the administrators in a central office whether their students need more resources in reading or math. They know when the curriculum should include real life lessons such as taking care of themselves, not a curriculum they can't relate to. Based on their student population, they know if their school should stay open until 5 p.m. to accommodate working parents and keep kids engaged in a safe environment.

The state of the city school system is one of the reasons why I wholeheartedly support a voucher program so that students have the resources and means to compete. We have to stop the bureaucracy in public education and stop playing politics with our students. The U.S. spends more money on education than most industrialized nations, yet we have worse results and the highest burnout rates for teachers in the world. Let's really take a look at how our education money is being utilized here in Baltimore because the bottom line is our students aren't learning.

If we want to rebuild Baltimore, we need to start with rebuilding the school system and that needs to start at North Avenue.

Ben Shifrin, Baltimore

Ben Shifrin, Baltimore

The writer is head of Jemicy School in Owings Mills.

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