A coalition of organizations and interested parties that make up the Baltimore Education Roundtable were in Annapolis to urge legislators to support House Bill 1139, the Maryland Community School Strategy for Excellence in Public Education Act.
The bill seeks to expand the community school strategy to every school in the state of Maryland where 40% or more of the student population are eligible for free and reduced meals, through incremental phasing-in of the strategy. The House Ways and Means Committee heard from principals of Baltimore City Public Schools that are currently community schools, as well as site coordinators, students, and interested community partners.
Del. Mary Washington spoke passionately to her colleagues about the bill and why it would be beneficial to so many Maryland students. The highlight of the hearing was Renaissance Academy student Khalil Bridgers who testified on the impact his school (a community school) has had on his life. A few delegates pushed back on the price tag of the bill, but Del. Washington stressed that this could be the most substantial investment in childhood education since the Head Start Program was launched in 1965.
Baltimore Teachers Union President Marietta English testified on the support and resources that community schools offer. She highlighted the little appreciated fact that when there are trained professionals handling the wraparound services that stop students from learning, teachers are free to concentrate on what they do best: be professional educators.
To see photos from Annapolis, visit our Facebook page.
Many thanks to all of the community partners with the Baltimore Education Roundtable, including, in no particular order:
AFT-Maryland, Baltimore Teachers Union, Communities United, Family League of Baltimore, Maryland Working Families, ACLU of Maryland, Maryland Out of School Time Network, Baltimore City Public Schools, UM School of Social Work / Promise Heights, Strong City Baltimore, Casa De Maryland, Maryland State Education Association, The Y in Central Maryland, and of course, Delegate Mary Washington, who sponsored this legislation.
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