Md. black caucus plans rally to push for school aid

September 26, 1996|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

The Maryland Legislative Black Caucus is planning a big rally in Annapolis on Feb. 3 to press the case for an increase in state school aid to Baltimore and the state's other poorer jurisdictions.

Caucus members, supported by clergy and community leaders, said yesterday that they hope to attract at least 10,000 registered voters to the event, which they have dubbed "Education First Mobilization Day."

"It will be the biggest mobilization since the civil rights days," said state Sen. Larry Young, a West Baltimore Democrat and chairman of the caucus.

A lawsuit filed by the city charging that the state fails to provide Baltimore schoolchildren with an adequate education and demanding more money is scheduled to go to trial Nov. 6. The state has responded by saying that the problem with city schools is mismanagement, not lack of funds.

Talks between Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke have failed to produce a settlement.

If the case does go to trial, a verdict may be reached long before the scheduled rally, but appeals are expected to be filed by the losing side.

In a position paper issued at a news conference yesterday, the caucus said it is opposed to giving up control of city schools to the state. State officials have said they want more say in how the schools are run as a condition for more aid.

Several caucus members said money, not management, was the key issue.

"All that mismanagement stuff is a smoke screen," said Del. Clarence Davis, an East Baltimore Democrat. "I think if anything the management of Baltimore City public schools has been superior because they have never had the resources."

State Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden, an East Baltimore Democrat, said city schools "obviously" must be better managed.

But he added, "What really galls me, in certain parts of this state, is the attitude that if you invest in our children, it's money going down a hole."

Absent from yesterday's news conference was Del. Howard P. Rawlings, a West Baltimore Democrat whose insistence on improved management has led to the state's withholding of $5.9 million in school construction funds.

Pub Date: 9/26/96

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