Coalition Holds Planning Meeting to Fight Education Funding Cuts

Coalition Holds Planning Meeting to Fight Education Funding Cuts

More than one hundred students, parents, teachers and advocates filled the cafeteria at Digital Harbor High School on Thursday, January 13th for the Baltimore Education Coalition Leadership Workshop and Action. They came together to learn more about fighting the potential cuts for education funding in Governor O’Malley’s budget proposal, expected to be released later this month.  Baltimore City Schools rely on state aid more than any other Maryland County System, dependant on it for more than 65% of its funding. Because of the city’s greater number of poor people, property taxes that support local schools are not able to make up the difference when state funds are reduced cut, explained Bebe Verdery of the ACLU of Maryland during her speech at the event. She added that contrary to some press reports, millions of dollars had already been cut from education in the last several years. The budget deficit in Baltimore City will be yet another blow to students already struggling with crumbling schools.

After a series of speeches the attendees separated into smaller groups based on their State Legislative Districts. There they discussed strategies to put pressure on their legislators and O’Malley to reject cuts including postcards, phone calls and a rally in Annapolis on February 28th.  On February 1st Districts will hold another strategy session to bring together schools and community members to plan more actions and meetings with state representatives.

Outside of the classroom where residents of the 40th district gathered, Precious Abujanna, a 10th grader at Civitas High School , said that she thought that the state should raise taxes to cover the deficit, rather than taking money away from education, which it is constitutionally mandated to provide. “I keep hearing about school buildings in bad shape,” she said. “And if there are cuts, more teachers will get fired, and we won’t have arts and physical education. Those are the things that keep kids in school.”

The Baltimore Education Coalition was founded in 2009 to support educational opportunities for Baltimore City students, and is made up of more than 25 schools and organizations.