ABOUT THE STUDY
"Baltimore and Beyond" is the result of a two-month study of the future of Baltimore -- its relations with its neighboring counties, its need for more diverse leadership, its troubled schools and its deteriorating neighborhoods.
The study was directed by Neal Peirce, author, columnist an urban specialist. Mr. Peirce was joined by three colleagues -- fTC Curtis W. Johnson, director of the Citizens League in Minneapolis-St. Paul; Carol Steinbach, contributing editor of the National Journal, and Lenneal J. Henderson Jr., a professor at the University of Baltimore. They interviewed political and business leaders, civic activists and scholars, neighborhood leaders and environmentalists, and compared the results with their experiences in other metropolitan areas across the nation.
Their research was sponsored by The Abell Foundation, which was interested in having an outsider's perspective on the problems of the Baltimore region and in opening a debate among leaders and citizens about the region's future. The conclusions are those of Mr. Peirce and his colleagues. The Abell Foundation's role was solely that os sponsor. Neither it nor any of its officers or employees participated in the drafting or the editing of the report.
The Sun, which also partially funded the project, agreed to publish the Peirce team's findings and recommendations. In presenting their report, The Sun is not expressing an opinion about the proposals but is merely providing a forum for ideas we hope will be provocative.
CHALLENGES FOR THE REGION
The Peirce team's challenges for the region:
PART 1: Strike a deal between the city and counties. The counties must fight for a fairer state fiscal deal for Baltimore; the city must prove its worth by cutting back its bureaucracy, overhauling its failing schools. Cooperation and interdependence are vital. The grim alternative is mounting divisiveness, racial discord and economic decline.
PART 2: Reduce the region's chronic reliance on politicians; challenge citizens to tackle problems on which government is failing. They include such issues as protecting the Chesapeake Bay and curbing sprawl growth. A Baltimore Region Civic League could be formed to propose solutions and be both goad and friend to the politicians.
PART 3: Demand radical reform of Baltimore's disastrously flawed school system. With change from within so daunting, the schools' best hope may be competition. How to get it? Encourage creation of new public charter schools, independent of the existing school board and central bureaucracy.
PART 4: Reinvigorate troubled neighborhoods through grass roots partnerships, like that in West Baltimore's Sandtown-Winchester. Without massive human development efforts, the vast income disparity between Baltimore city and the counties -- already third worst among major U.S. cities -- will worsen.
PART 5: Reject the stereotype of Baltimore as a black city surrounded by white suburbs. It's only partially true: strong white neighborhoods hold on in the city and blacks have increased in numbers and influence in several of the counties. Mutual respect is the indispensable base as blacks and whites focus on common agendas ranging from the environment to community policing.