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 South Baltimore CSA, we heard from 20 participants. We held two ‘kitchen table conversations’ in this CSA, one at a private residence in the neighborhood of Riverside on May 20, 2014 and another at a private residence in the neighborhood of Locust Point on May 22, 2014. Along with these conversations, we received one additional response via an online survey. Of the 20 participants, 15 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 activities and options for students, and how there is a need for more extracurricular/after-school programming. Participants also suggested that City Schools and the city government need to work together to provide positive opportunities for students, and specifically focused on community recreation centers.
- There was also discussion about the lack of community and parental involvement in schools. Participants suggested that schools hire community liaisons, and also form better partnerships with community organizations, corporations, and academic institutions.
- Participants discussed district policies and practices and shared concerns about the frustrating bureaucracy within the district. They also talked about school choice and the school lottery systems and discussed some of the challenges parents face.