Parents and students in East Baltimore’s 13th District Milton-Montford Community opened their doors with mixed reactions to Baltimore Teachers Union (BTU) members canvassing their neighborhood this week. Some neighbors in this community with one of the highest ratios of abandoned homes in the city were already fed up with Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS). Some had already left BCPS or were in the process of leaving City Schools when BTU teachers knocked on their door.
Adesha Richardson was back in her old neighborhood on a hot July afternoon when BCPS teachers Abeni Amadu and Keirstin Harrison found her on a stoop talking to a former neighbor. Richardson moved out of Baltimore to Howard County seeking better schools and more opportunities for her teenage daughter three years ago.
“The School system was going down hill and my daughter’s school had lost funding,” Richardson said. “Education is everything to me,” she said. “I miss Baltimore and would love to come back, but…education is everything to me… I’ve got to get my daughter to college. We are speaking of Spellman for her,” added Richardson, who was impressed with the door to door campaign of the BTW. “I love what these ladies are doing. You don’t see teachers out here in the community at all.”
The Baltimore Schools for Baltimore Students campaign, a collaboration between the Baltimore Teachers Union and the Office of the Mayor hopes a person-to-person approach will help connect teachers directly with parents to listen to their concerns and to inform them of offerings they may not be aware of – like pre-kindergarten 3-year olds across the city. Forty teachers have been canvassing the city each night and all-day Saturday, intent on connecting with parents, students and neighbors across the city.
LeShaunta Moore, considered pulling her 7-year-old daughter, Taylor, out of Baltimore City Public Schools, because of the inadequate response of Taylor’s elementary to a series of bullying incidents, according to Moore. “We’ve been going through this bullying for five months. I went through a lot with administration trying to resolve this issue and I haven’t got any resolution,” she said.
“We’re considering sending her to Hope Academy only because multiple other parents are having the same issues as well. Many of the teachers are over worked, many layoffs are coming up and the students are just packed in the classroom,” Moore said. “All I wanted was follow-up. I just wanted someone to call me and say they were working on it,” said Moore. “I’m not really satisfied with BCPSS at all.”
Parents like Gerard Brown, who lives on Federal Street, saw the personal visit from BCPS teachers as a ray of hope in his community. Brown, a BCPS supporter, said he was glad to hear that there were options for his three school-aged children once they reached middle and high school. “I didn’t know once they got out of elementary school that they have a choice,” said Brown, whose oldest daughter wants to become a nurse. “I thought it was like the 90’s where her school would be assigned based on where we live. I was glad to hear she and all my children will have opportunities beyond our neighborhood.”
Amidu said that both Brown and Moore were the kinds of parents she was eager to meet in her door-to-door visits over the past month. “For Mr. Brown, knowing about Baltimore City Public School’s School Choice program gave him hope,” Amidu said.
“And although Ms. Moore has been frustrated with her school this year, there are other options, and perhaps we said something today to give her a reason to give BCPSS one more chance,” she added.
Forty Baltimore City School teachers will be canvassing neighborhoods throughout the city through July 22nd.