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 Southern Park Heights CSA, we heard from 36 participants. We held one ‘kitchen table conversation’ in this CSA, which took place at the Zeta Center in Central Park Heights on June 12, 2014. Along with this conversation, we received one additional response via an online survey. All 36 participants 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 requested that the school/district work to build better school-community partnerships. Respondents also shared the opinion that schools should encourage and motivate more community members to volunteer.
- There was discussion about teachers and school staff, and participants shared the opinion that there are many great teachers in the schools who are very committed to their students. Respondents also suggested that the district do more to support teachers.
- Participants discussed how schools should serve and help the community, and how they have the ability to be the center of the community. They also talked about how the schools can help seniors and other community members, and also can serve as a point of connection between seniors and students.
- Respondents also discussed school facilities and how they are currently inadequate.
- Participants shared concerns regarding student safety.