Around 600 students, parents and advocates rallied for education funding in Annapolis on March 1. Led by the Baltimore Education Coalition, protesters demonstrated against a proposed $60 million cut to Baltimore City’s education budget as well as a drop in the amount of money allocated by the state to individual schools based on student enrollment.

In 2002, the American Civil Liberties Union won a lawsuit that gave city schools what the state of Maryland says they are due – between $2,000 and $2,700 per student in order to provide a “thorough and efficient” education. However, as the city deals with a $120 million deficit, the Coalition is making sure the ACLU’s victory is not undermined.

“It was a very peaceful rally,” said Frank Patinella, an ACLU education advocate. “In general, we hear Republicans wanting to go after the education budget and we’re responding to that.”

Patinella was pleased that over half of Maryland state legislators showed up to answer questions at the rally, who said they would do their best to leave education funding untouched so that Baltimore City’s academic gains will go unharmed.

“We’re seeing a rise in test scores,” Patinella said. “Incrementally, we’re doing better on our state assessment tests, and in the last two years we’ve had enrollment growth after the last two decades people were lost.

Legislatures have the right to make budget cuts until the state budget is passed. Until the budget is finalized, Patinella said the Baltimore Education Coalition will remain visibly involved in the legislative process.