Toward the end of 2013, the Fund for Educational Excellence embarked on an intensive study of Baltimore residents’ views on their public schools. Over the course of four months in 2014, we heard from 859 Baltimore residents representing all 55 community statistical areas (CSAs) in Baltimore City through a series of intimate conversations about schools and neighborhoods.
In the Allendale/Irvington/S. Hilton CSA, we heard from 18 participants. We held two ‘kitchen table conversations’ in this CSA, one at the Evergreen AME Church in Saint Josephs on April 16, 2014 and another at a church in Irvington on June 10, 2014. Along with these conversations, we received some additional responses via an online survey. Of the 18 participants, 15 chose to submit at least some demographic data.
Some of the themes that we heard most often from participants in our discussions included:
- Calls for increased community and parental involvement in schools. Participants suggested that schools should do a better job of encouraging community involvement and improving community-school partnerships and parent involvement
- Participants feel that academic standards and expectations for students are too low, but the transition to Common Core is increasing the level of challenge for students.
- Participants talked about teachers and school staff and shared their belief that there are too many inexperienced teachers in their schools and that they receive inadequate teacher training. They called for the district to hire teachers that are more dedicated and enthusiastic about teaching.
- There was an overwhelming perception that schools do not receive enough funding and/or resources.
- Participants feel that there is a lack of after-school activities to keep children engaged.