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 Midtown CSA, we heard from 24 participants. We held two ‘kitchen table conversations’ in this CSA, one at a private home in the neighborhood of Bolton Hill on May 8, 2014 and another at a private residence in the neighborhood of Mount Vernon on May 15, 2014. Along with these conversations, we received some additional responses via an online survey. Of the 24 participants, 21 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 expressed a need for the schools/district to establish community and citywide partnerships. They also shared the opinion that schools can help create a sense of community among residents.
- There was discussion about how schools should serve and help the community, and how they have the ability to be the center of the community and provide resources to community members.
- Participants also discussed school structures in the district, and expressed concerns about limited access to neighborhood schools for children from the neighborhood.
- Respondents talked about district policies and practices and discussed some of the issues that are raised as a result of school choice. Participants also requested that the district be a stronger advocate for students.