Political leaders and activists in Baltimore are using the city’s recent riots as an opportunity to demand more state funding for the city’s school system and after-school programs.
At two different events on Monday, activists and politicians directly cited the riots as showcasing the need to funnel more money towards educational efforts in Baltimore, The Baltimore Sun reports. Activists want Hogan to direct about $68 million in funds he hoped to allocate for other state needs back to education. About $11 million of that money would go to Baltimore.
At least one lawmaker suggested Baltimore deserved more money because, following the riots, it would be better spent.
“We are not the same Baltimore we were three weeks ago,” Democratic state Delegate Maggie McIntosh said at an event outside a Baltimore elementary school. “We are one Baltimore. We can be better because we are listening to our youth.”
Maryor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake got in on the action as well, calling on Republican Gov. Larry Hogan to take action.
“I would encourage our governor: Write that check,” Rawlings-Blake said. “You can do it today. There’s nothing holding you back.”
Meanwhile, the ACLU of Maryland suggested that Baltimore school funding was so poor it presented a possible violation of the Maryland Constitution.
“Baltimore is not getting sufficient education funding to provide for all of our children’s needs,” said Bebe Verdery, the group’s education reform director.
But Baltimore’s schools already receive far more money than the average American school. On average, U.S. schools spend $10,658 per pupil, but Baltimore City’s public schools spend $17,329– nearly 70 percent more. As noted by The Washington Times, that’s almost identical to the spending rate at public schools in Montgomery County, Maryland, where student achievement levels are far above Baltimore’s. On average, the Times notes, Maryland taxpayers spend $14,123 per student– or 18.5 percent less than the average Baltimore student.
Despite their high spending, however, Baltimore’s schools don’t do particularly well. Their 73.5 percent high school graduation rate is far behind Maryland’s 87.5 percent average, and their average SAT score of 1126 out of 2400 is far below both state and national averages. The average Maryland student, meanwhile, costs taxpayers $14,123 per student– or 18.5 percent less than the average Baltimore student.
While lawmakers are demanding more school funds, Baltimore residents are in turn calling on the city to direct more money towards after-school programs following the riots. On Monday, a separate event featuring most of the Baltimore City Council joined by several parents called for a $4 million boost.
“We need more,” mother Amanda Richardson said succinctly to the Sun.
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