Are schools getting funding they need?

Q: Do you think the state is providing sufficient funding to the public schools in Baltimore and throughout the state?

Question Of The Month

September 25, 2004

I challenge anyone who thinks the state is spending enough money on Baltimore's schools to visit a school. The building will likely be deteriorating, with rotting windows, dysfunctional boilers and leaking roofs.

Visit a school library. You're not likely to find a librarian, since few schools have one, but take a look at the books. See how many were published after, say, 1975.

Visit a classroom. Talk to a teacher about the number of students in the classroom. Find out about the availability of textbooks and other learning resources. Look in the hallways for the art, music and physical education programs.

What you see would probably shock you. The resources, for the most part, simply are not there. You would also find amazingly dedicated teachers and administrators, and children, neatly dressed in snappy uniforms, who really want to learn and are trying to make the most of very limited resources.

Every day in the Baltimore region, we are moving toward academic apartheid, separating the privileged children from the poor.

Since school financing depends primarily on the local property tax, children whose parents can afford to live in a higher-income community get a better education.

The state is in the best position to redress this situation. Its failure to provide more money to city schools is unfair not only to the individual children who desperately need the resources, but to all of us.

Everyone loses when children cannot obtain the education and job skills they need to attract employers to the Baltimore region. Everyone loses when frustrated children give up, drop out and become crime and welfare statistics.

As a taxpayer, I expect all public entities to account for how my money is spent.

But a short visit to a city school will prove to you that the city schools must have more money.

Hillorie S. Morrison

Baltimore

From Allegany County to Baltimore City to Somerset County, education is not funded adequately in Maryland.

A study conducted for the Thornton Commission established a vast gap between funding and needs, and its recommendation was cut nearly in half as part of the negations between the commission and the General Assembly. Now it is vital that the state fund that reduced amount -- an additional $1.1 billion a year in aid to local school districts.

Funding is needed for the early childhood programs that ensure students are reading by second grade, for quality teachers, for sufficient materials, and for safe and appropriate school facilities.

This is truly is an investment in our future. It would be expensive, but not to do it would be even more expensive in the long run.

Donna Truesdell

Baltimore

Is the state providing sufficient funding to public schools in Baltimore and the state? The answer is simple -- yes.

Throwing more money to public schools is not the answer and would not solve the problems with public education.

It's up to the parents to guide and train their kids and to work with the teachers.

Unfortunately, many parents still think dropping their children off at school in the morning is sufficient. But schools are not babysitters. And leaving them to others is not a guarantee your kids will learn the basic skills.

When is this cycle going to end?

When the citizens of this state realize money is not the answer, and when the teachers stop promoting students to the next grade when they feel threatened by the parents or school administrators.

Jenifer Walsh

Bel Air

Yes, there's enough money for the schools, if the educational achievement of the students is the goal.

But no child will improve educationally without intellectual stimulation outside of school. The only valid predictor of success in school is the educational level of the child's parents.

Baltimore should quit fiddling with the low-achieving schools and set up neighborhood study centers like the ones in Washington. And mentoring programs are right on the mark as well.

But the best thing you can do is to get the adults in the homes of low-achieving kids into school -- GED programs and community college.

That would improve the level of the discussions around the house.

Bill Moulden

Frederick

The real question is, what cost do stakeholders pay for our underfunded city schools?

Everyone pays dearly when Baltimore schools CEO Bonnie S. Copeland makes decisions about class sizes based on finances rather than developmental research.

And everyone pays when the morale of our teachers plummets, as it does when they are handed a script and given the demoralizing direction to "teach to the test" as opposed to allowing them to assess each child's needs and respond accordingly -- all in the name of fiscal responsibility.

My daughter has just started the first grade in a city public school filled with good families, teachers and administrators. But our school operates under a dark cloud of underfunding.

We are cheating ourselves by taking into account only the cost of that which is measurable: finances.

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