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 Inner Harbor/Federal Hill CSA, we heard from 19 participants. We held two ‘kitchen table conversations’ in this CSA, one at a private residence in the neighborhood of Ridgely’s Delight on May 5, 2014, and another at a private residence in the neighborhood of Riverside on May 21. Along with these conversations, we received additional responses via an online survey. Of the 19 participants, 17 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 teachers and school staff, and indicated that the quality of teacher varies greatly in the district. They talked about how there are great teachers working in Baltimore schools, and also how there are many teachers who lack care for their students and passion for their work. They also shared that many secretaries are rude, which makes people feel unwelcome in schools.
- There was discussion about how schools could serve and help the community. With the help of community liaisons, participants thought that schools could become a resource for the community. One of the areas that participants requested that schools help with is parent education.
- Participants also discussed standards, curriculum, and instruction, and specifically how they thought that there should be more elective class options for students and a richer curriculum in general.