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 Pimlico/Arlington/Hilltop CSA, we heard from 15 participants. We held one ‘kitchen table conversation’ in this CSA, which took place at the Jewish Community Center at 5700 Park Heights Avenue on May 28, 2014. Along with this conversation, we received some additional responses via an online survey. Of the 15 participants, 11 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 suggested that the district/schools should encourage and fund initiatives that increase engagement. Participants requested that better community-school partnerships be formed, and that schools should encourage more volunteers.
- There was discussion about district leaders/North Avenue, and participants requested that communication be improved between central office staff and staff in the school buildings. Participants also suggested that the internal affairs unit should be more transparent.
- Participants talked about teachers and school staff. Respondents shared concerns about inexperienced/unqualified teachers and inadequate teacher training programs.