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 Oldtown/Middle East CSA, we heard from 24 participants. We held two ‘kitchen table conversations’ in this CSA, both of which took place in Pleasant View Gardens on May 19, 2014. Of the 24 participants, 20 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 the lack of community and parental involvement in schools, and called for schools to be more inclusive of parents in major school decisions. Respondents also suggested that parents should have weekly check-ins with school staff members.
- There was discussion regarding teachers and school staff, and how the district needs to hire better teachers who really care about students.
- Respondents shared concerns regarding student safety and talked about it as a core requirement that all schools should ensure. Participants also talked about the role that neighborhoods need to play in providing a safe environment for children.
- Participants discussed how schools should serve and help the community, and how they have the ability to be the center of the community. They discussed how a school can be a resource for parents and help to address community needs. One of the areas that participants requested that schools help with is parent education.