Wearing red Xs on their shirts and hands, Baltimore public school students took to Baltimore Street outside the Maryland State Department of Education again yesterday to express their anger at the state's failure to provide more funding to city schools.
At a rally that drew 60 to 70 students and adults, speakers complained about what students lack in their schools and argued that the failure to provide a majority African-American school system with the materials and teachers it requires is racism at work.
FOR THE RECORD - An article in Thursday's editions of The Sun about a rally outside the Maryland State Department of Education misstated the number of protesters. About 250 students and adults attended.
The Sun regrets the error.
"If we continue to receive an inadequate education, we will be a generation that suffers from injustice," said Chantel T. Morant, a 16-year-old City College junior who helped organize the event.
Maryland State Department of Education officials had no comment on the demonstration.
Students have been protesting the lack of state funding for more than a year. Baltimore Circuit Judge Joseph H.H. Kaplan ruled in August that the state had denied students an adequate education as required under the state constitution and that it had "unlawfully underfunded" city schools by $400 million to $800 million since 2000.
The case is before the Maryland Court of Appeals, which heard arguments last week. Morant said students from the Algebra Project, a group of high school-age activists, believed they needed to put more pressure on the state while the case was being heard. "We felt there was a need to have another rally," she said. "We needed the students to reunite."
During the protest, students held up arms and hands made of cardboard with a large red X on the palm of each. The students said the X means "no education, no life."
The protest also mentioned student opposition to the war in Iraq.
City College junior Chelsea Carson took the microphone to lead a "truth commercial." Carson read a series of facts about how African-Americans are less likely to succeed academically and more likely to end up in jail. She said, for instance, that African-Americans score, on average, 200 fewer points than white students on the SAT. She also said that while teachers in surrounding counties are receiving pay increases, city teachers are not.
Each time she read a fact, members of the audience sat down as a symbol of how African-American people are being left behind. "It is genocide, everyone. You see the reality," Carson said.