May 3, 2004
The Baltimore City Board of Education just announced big cuts in the schools.
There will be no more summer school. Parents of high school students will be allowed to pay for their children to take special courses at city community colleges – if they can afford it. Of course, many can't. No arrangements were made for students in grades 1 through 8 who need to re-take courses. This means that most students who need to re-take a course won't be able to promote or graduate.
A year ago, 39,000 out of about 92,000 Baltimore public school students failed to complete all their courses successfully. This shows what a failing job the schools have been doing. And it reflects the fact that too little money is put into the schools. Class sizes are too big, books and equipment are old or missing, teachers have too much to do to give each student the attention they need – the attention that students in wealthy school systems get.
Instead of rectifying this, the school board is punishing the students. And it is proposing to eliminate 250 teachers this coming school year, making class sizes even bigger.
State and local officials both say there isn't enough money. It's a lie. They know very well that on all levels of government millions upon millions of dollars are being forked over every day to corporations and rich people, through tax breaks and subsidies of various sorts. Baltimore has plenty of money to subsidize a private developer to rehabilitate the old Hippodrome Theater. It has plenty of money for subsidies to developers like bakery boss Paterakis in Fells Point and Canton. And the state government has been making more and more tax loopholes for corporations in Maryland. During the last couple of years, 90 of the 131 largest companies paid no state corporate income taxes at all because of these tax breaks.
Yes, there is money in city and state coffers. But neither the Republican governor nor the Democratic mayor set it aside for the children.