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 Highlandtown CSA, we heard from 11 participants. We held two ‘kitchen table conversations’ in this CSA, one at the Breath of God Lutheran Church in the neighborhood of Patterson Park on June 3, 2014, and another at the Creative Alliance in Highlandtown on June 18, 2014. Of the 11 participants, 10 chose to submit at least some demographic data.
Some of the themes that we heard most often from participants in our discussions included:
- Participants discussed community and parental involvement in schools, and indicated that schools are not welcoming. They suggested that schools need to improve the community-school connection, and recommended the hiring of a community liaison who could help encourage and motivate community members to become involved.
- There was discussion about school quality, with the general theme being that schools are improving but there is still a long way to go.
- Participants also talked about principals and school leaders. They shared their desire for principals and school leaders to be more open and transparent, and also suggested that the district needs a better process for recruiting and selecting principals.