Interesting Solution-Wrong Problem
Last week the mayor of Baltimore City, Catherine Pugh, sought to solve the problem of violence in Baltimore by providing other options and opportunities for Baltimore City kids. A very worthy goal. However, her solution did not begin to address the problem.
Mayor Pugh declared that all graduates of Baltimore City high schools will be entitled to free tuition at the Baltimore City Community College. Based on her logic, having this opportunity would have kids better educated; and thereby, send them into better jobs and deter them from the violence of the streets. Equating a community college education with less violence on the streets is a feel good but false equality.
This solution is based on the assumption that the reason kids are not going to the Community College is because they lack the funds to do so. There is not empirical evidence for this assumption.
What we do know is that students are graduating from City schools without even a basic education, all that testing required by the feds to the contrary. We also know that the Baltimore City Community College is already the worst-run and most highly funded community college in the state as we continue to throw money at some institutions out of guilt. To make matters worse, Coppin University, which is a university name only, has announced that it too will provide free tuition to students completing the community college program.
People, let’s be honest here. City schools are a mess. In fact, 5 high schools and 1 middle school report that they did not have A SINGLE STUDENT who tested proficient in math or English. Even the Community College has reported that OVER A 3-YEAR PERIOD only about 100 City students were college ready when they arrived. The graduation record from Coppin is even uglier.
The problem is not the lost opportunity for post-secondary education. The problem is the lost opportunity for a basic education in our City schools. We need to acknowledge that the union needs to care enough to get on board with a complete overhaul of the schools. That means we need to stop the patching job and start digging a new foundation. Start at kindergarten and first grade. Revamp the teaching and bring in social workers to work in the community to teach and train parents. Add afterschool care if that is needed. Keep kids off the streets and teach them and their families how to parent. The process might take 12 years as the City begins in the lower grades and gradually builds to the upper grades. Many of these kids do not come from college educated families. Just having a decent job would be a big achievement for many. So let’s use the Community College and Coppin, if needs be, to teach vocational skills. Give these kid a trade. They can always do the real college thing later. In the meantime, they would have a job, earn some money and the younger kids could learn to read and write.
Now that would be a solution to what the problem is- BAD education