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 Greater Charles Village/Barclay CSA, we heard from 25 participants. We held three ‘kitchen table conversations’ in this CSA: one at the Village Learning Place in the neighborhood of Charles Village on April 29, 2014; a second at a private residence in the neighborhood of Abell on June 16, 2014; and a third at a private residence in the neighborhood of Harwood. Along with these conversations, we received some additional responses via an online survey. All 25 participants chose to submit at least some demographic data.
Some of the themes that we heard most often from participants in our discussions included:
- Participants spoke positively about teachers and school staff, and thought that teachers deserved to be paid more. They also suggested that the district improve its teacher recruitment strategies and institute better professional development for teachers.
- We heard a lot about district policies and practices. Participants expressed frustration with district bureaucracy and the lack of transparency from the district.
- Participants also discussed community and parental involvement in schools. Many participants shared their belief that there is great parent/community involvement and strong organizational partnerships in this CSA. We also heard some requests for increased parent involvement, with one of the challenges being that some school are not perceived as welcoming.