January 2016 archive

Inner City Education

For my civic issue blog I would like to discuss the struggles facing urban America and strategies to address them. Since I am from Baltimore, I will be using the city as my main point of focus. Each large city within the United States is famous for certain attractions, buildings, or activities. For example, when one hears of Baltimore, they may think of the Chesapeake Bay, the Ravens, our Inner-Harbor, or the National Aquarium. Unfortunately, the city is also known for its many challenges and struggles. Like many urban regions, Baltimore is also characterized by its impoverished educational system, poverty, crime, and ill health. For my first post, I would like to discuss Baltimore’s primary and secondary public schools.


While Baltimore is home to several impressive universities, such as University of Maryland at Baltimore and Johns Hopkins University, its public school system is not quite as prestigious. For example, as of 2014, the graduation rate for Baltimore City public schools was 56.4%. This number is drastically less than other surrounding suburban counties, such as Carroll Country, with a 93.5% graduation rate. Additionally, statistics show that Baltimore City has one of the highest dropout rates in the nation and over 10% of its residents have not passed the ninth grade. These numbers are shocking and disheartening. Many factors contribute to these statistics and leave the residents of Baltimore discouraged, angry, and indignant.


Fortunately, Science Digest ( xxxx) conducted a study to try to uncover the reasons behind the poor educational system of the city. First, Science Digest reports that drugs are a large contributor to the failing education system. According to statistics, from 2000-2001, juvenile drug related arrests climbed from 29% to 33%. In addition, in 2002, juveniles living in Baltimore city accounted for 20% of the state’s hospitalizations for drug use. But abusing substances is not the only way that drugs have affected the education system in Baltimore. Unfortunately, selling drugs seems to have become an acceptable way of life for many school-aged youngsters in the city. Many inner-city youth reported looking up to drug-dealers and envious of their risky lifestyle. The world of drugs has been glamorized in series such as “The Wire,” and unfortunately, many young kids with little hope buy into the hype. Adolescents are led to believe that dealing drugs is an easy and quick way to obtain money, respect, and other desires. They may have little faith that their education will result in a better quality of life. Drug dealing requires a lot less effort than pursuing a career so many of Baltimore’s youth turn to this undesirable alternative.


Also, according to Science Digest, many adolescents in Baltimore report that they receive little or no encouragement to continue on the path of education. Their parents/ guardians do not push them to pursue an education nor do they instill just how valuable an education may be to their future. Race may play a role as well. Many young African Americans in Baltimore report that they feel there is no point in pursuing an education because even if they earn their diploma, they will never have the same opportunities as Caucasians. Clearly, based on this report from Science Digest, the education system in Baltimore is not serving its constituents and is in need of serious reform and improvement.


The authors of the Science digest article outlined several suggestions and changes that need to take place in order for the education system in Baltimore City to improve. First, parents and guardians need to instill the importance of education. As the individuals who are responsible for raising their children, they are also responsible for recognizing the value and benefits of a good education. It is imperative to teach the youth of Baltimore that drug dealing is not a viable option in building a better quality of life, but rather to strive for a higher education as means to shed poverty. Furthermore, there needs to be well-equipped and highly qualified teachers in every classroom. These teachers must not only be well versed in their teaching topics but also able to harness the qualities necessary to effectively teach in an inner-city school. Students with needs must be served in compliance with federal laws. Unfortunately drug-use and poverty are all too common problems within most large cities. Quality education must recognize the unique needs of this population, helping students recognize their self-worth and capacity to succeed in situations often void of hope. Teachers need to be patient and encourage their students to rise above their circumstances and see opportunities as a product of their education. In addition, Science Digest suggests that special schools be opened up to help those with more intensive behavioral needs, addictions, and learning differences. These schools will not only educate their students but directly address the problems endemic to cities such as Baltimore.


It is evident that the Baltimore City education system needs to be reformed and improved. Hopefully, with the infusion of resources, the help of the responsible citizens, and both political and community leadership, the city can began to build an improved education system that encourages and inspires Baltimore’s youth to embrace education as the best means of achieving a meaningful quality of life.