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 Waverlies CSA, we heard from 19 participants. We held two ‘kitchen table conversations’ in this CSA, one at a private home in the neighborhood of Waverly on May 10, 2014 and another at Mergenthaler Vocational High School on May 29, 2014. Along with these conversations, we received some additional responses via an online survey. All 19 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 community and parental involvement in school, and suggested that the district encourage and fund initiatives that improve community-school partnerships, as many people currently feel like the school is unwelcoming. They also talked about how schools have the potential to create a sense of community outside of the school.
- There was also discussion regarding activities and options for students. Participants called for the district/schools to offer more in-school and after-school activities (including art, music, field trips, and recreational activities), and also give students more flexibility in their schedule to develop personal student interests.
- Participants talked about 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.