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 Westport/Mt. Winans/Lakeland CSA, we heard from 5 participants. We held one ‘kitchen table conversation’ in this CSA, which took place at Westport Homes on May 20, 2014. Along with this conversation, we received an additional response via an online survey. All 5 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 shared some concerns regarding teachers and school staff, including the opinion that many teachers lack care for students and passion for their work and that there are too many inexperienced/unqualified teachers.
- There was discussion regarding activities and options for students. Participants requested that the district/schools implement more stimulating after-school programs and activities in order to expand the number of opportunities available for disadvantaged students.
- 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.
- Respondents also discussed the lack of community and parental involvement in schools. Participants suggested that schools need to improve community-school connections and partnerships, and one idea was for schools to host more community events.