Photo credit: Chris Benson/Unsplash

Freezing Baltimore public schools point to many more problems in the distressed school district

2 mins read

Days after news spread that children in some of Baltimore, Md. schools sat in unheated, frigid classrooms, a debate ensued to figure out who is to blame

Fingers still are pointing.

Soon it was discovered that the heating issue is part of a larger problem. As layers and years of neglect emerge, many in the school system are not sure of where to start.

The failing infrastructure of buildings pile up along with an admittance that the infrastructure of the system itself imploded.

So far, complaints show that 60 schools either lacked heat or heating systems barely worked. Another issue showed that Baltimore Pubic Schools (BPS) failed to award contracts for repairs, flubbing in other ways too, which resulted in a $66 million loss for maintenance.

Since, several efforts to raise money via crowdsourcing have been launched.

In a series of posted Tweets, former NFL player who works with BPS reported kindergarten and pre-school aged students complaining about hypothermia.

Since Maybin’s posts, the community and people outside of the city sent boxes of donations containing thermal blankets, gloves and coats.

A Plagued School System

Photo credit: Celia Ortega

Between state and city funds, BPS receive an annual $77 million for the operation of 177 schools from elementary to secondary. Like many inner city schools, the city lost control of its school system.

For two decades, the state has control over BPS, but the city-state partnership seems to be receiving a failing grade too. Last year, BPS advocates complained when the state cut $30 million off of the budget, while the state says that BPS fails to maintain student enrollment. Last November, the Dept. of Education mulled over closing four schools due to low enrollment.

The problem is, students suffer the most.

A number of schools have not met school standards of the “No Child Left Behind,” requirements. As a result, Maryland Department of Education granted a three-year waiver to allow schools to catch up.

Racism & Class

For years, the gross inequities determined by race plague the large metropolis.

Maryland is the last state under the Mason Dixon line, the invisible border between southern and northern states during the Civil War.

True to its southern roots, Baltimore’s policies affected the poorest of the city, African-Americans carved a deep gap in economic mobility. Many of these African Americans descend from blacks who migrated from the deep south to escape a brutal Jim Crow south. Little did they know. They moved to a deeply segregated north.

Generations of housing segregation and employment discrimination considered a poor, working class forced to live in areas of the city crumbling beneath them. Added, intense police surveillance that created a fertile sight for the Baltimore riots that erupted in 2015 after the death of Freddie Gray.

The racial divisions inevitably surfaced in a school system. Predominantly black schools report harsher treatment of students, lower budgets and dismal test scores. At the same time, the rise of charter schools siphoned money from public schools under-resourced. As well, the Baltimore Sun reported that nearly half of BPS students live in poverty.

At the time of press, state and city officials were working to funnel money into necessary repairs while teachers called for schools to shut down until schools were sufficiently heated.

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