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 Dorchester/Ashburton CSA, we heard from 24 participants. We held one ‘kitchen table conversation’ in this CSA, which took place at Callaway Elementary School in the neighborhood of Dolefield on April 29, 2014. Along with this conversation, we received an additional response via an online survey. Of the 24 participants, 23 chose to submit at least some demographic data.
Some of the themes that we heard most often from participants in our discussions included:
- Participants talked about community and parental involvement in schools. They shared that while some schools have great parental engagement, this is generally not the case across the city. They suggested that schools establish programs to increase parental involvement and strengthen partnerships with community members and neighborhood organizations.
- There was a clear call for schools to help and serve the community. Participants suggested that schools should be open late and accessible to students and community members, and ideally serve as the center of the neighborhood.
- Respondents also talked about standards, curriculum and instruction. Specifically, participants suggested that the Common Core be re-evaluated, and that the district should be working to prepare students for the 21st Century workforce.