HOT TOPICS ▶ Climate Change     Undoing The New Deal     The Real Baltimore     Reality Asserts Itself     United Kingdom    

  February 21, 2018

Improving Baltimore's Schools Will Take More Than Just Money

Baltimore's schools need to be fundamentally transformed, says Lawrence Grandpre of Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, and meaningful change requires focusing on the needs of black parents and community members
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter

Understanding info is a powerful thing. Thank you to all of your reporters for making a significant difference. - Nancy SmithEaken
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


We recently asked Lawrence Grandpre of Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle to weigh in on the funding debate around Maryland's schools. Since this interview was taped, Governor Larry Hogan released his own proposal for using casino revenue to fund Maryland schools.

LAWRENCE GRANDPRE: Lawrence Grandpre, director of research at Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle.

JAISAL NOOR: So, currently in Annapolis, there's two proposals to fix an issue with the casino funding, not actually increasing and giving additional money to public schools as was promised when it was passed. There's a proposal by Maggie McIntosh that would phase that in over four years, and it would be part of a ballot measure. And then Mary Washington has a proposal that would be just a bill passed this year, and it would put that money, like $500 million in, starting next year. What are your thoughts about these two proposals?

LAWRENCE GRANDPRE: Well, I think part of the concern might be limiting it to an ad hoc solution, when you need a structural change. So, to the extent that some folks may be wary about just saying, "We're going to toss all the casino money in there as soon as possible." It might be because the funding formula for Baltimore City public schools is pretty complex, and it deals with court cases and questions of enforcement.

So, I think you're looking at a more structural solution that might be needed, because simply putting more money into a school system doesn't guarantee superior results. It's a question of, is there accountability for the money? Where is it going towards? And do we have a sustainable long-term funding source that isn't just dependent on casino or the whims of the governor, but can you actually create an environment where there is some predictability in the funding, and the funding begins to match the actual need?

JAISAL NOOR: The governor and outlets like Project Baltimore, they argue that the schools aren't underfunded, that it's just an issue of accountability. How do you respond to that?

LAWRENCE GRANDPRE: I think it's complicated. I think some of the numbers that folks use, you can go into the weeds and have differing opinions. So, I know if you took the amount of money Baltimore City gets from the state, well some people point out that Baltimore City isn't able to supplement that money with local tax revenues. So, while they may be getting a lot of money from the state, they have so little money coming in from the city, the actual money getting to the kids, that actually isn't this bonanza the Republicans talk about.

I mean, we've been pretty consistent that you need to have a vision of accountability, but to the community, in terms of actually producing a framework for educational results that the community finds sufficient. Which may include curriculum, it may include incorporating local community-based organizations into schools, it may include diversity programming.

And that typically isn't talked about in the funding debates. They talk a lot about iPads and air-conditioning, and those things are good. But when you're looking at results in a way that actually meets with what the community is talking about, the actual parents and the majority minority, and 80-90% of the people in Baltimore City public schools are African-American, their conversation is a bit different than what the advocates and the politicians are talking about, and I think that that needs to be a central part of the conversation.

JAISAL NOOR: And finally, the Kirwan Commission is likely to make suggestions around education funding. They've already said that they're really looking at considering poverty and spending more money for high-poverty areas, whether it's in Baltimore or other parts of the state. Do you think that Kirwan is going to lead to an appropriate fix to help address some of the underfunding that occurs in Maryland schools?

LAWRENCE GRANDPRE: I think you have to look at the result, but also the process. The result of Kirwan is probably going to be more money for traditionally impoverished school districts, which is hard to argue against. I think the process of Kirwan is really the problem. You have a board that's appointed, without community accountability, allowed to represent [inaudible 00:03:42] of white men and folks from the more technocratic vision of school reform that it kind of fits in. But for a lot of more traditional non-profits are talking about getting funding for the existing after-school programs, really solidifying the status quo, beefing up the status quo.

That is not what parents want. And it's not something that many folks who are benefiting from the status quo, like to talk about. And so, there needs to be a fine line between any critique of the status quo being seen as capitulating to a Republican governor. Or Fox News. There's plenty of space to critique the status quo, and say that Kirwan is just a means to an end.

The means is the money, but the end needs to be comprehensive community accountable educational reform. And I think that in the conversation on the means, and giving to the Kirwan formula, the actual process of not including the community, is producing an end result that may just solidify the status quo.

And I don't think the status quo is underfunded. I think it's fundamentally broken. I think it's fundamentally off-track. I think most parents would agree with that, and we need to see the funding get the means to an ... Not the solidification of the existing end, but a new end. A new path for education, which I think means we're going to have to shift the conversation.

JAISAL NOOR: Awesome. Thanks so much.



Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at

latest stories

Paul Jay: Threats facing Humanity, Russiagate & the Role of Independent Media
Corbyn Smeared as 'Russian Stooge' for Requesting Evidence on Poisoned Spy
West's Anti-Russian Fervor Will Help Putin Win Election On Sunday
Corbyn Calls for Evidence in Escalating Poison Row
Expressions of Afro-Asian Solidarity during the Cold War
Sanders Resolution Against War in Yemen Challenged by Mattis
Senate Expands 'Lobbyist Bill' to Deregulate Real Estate
Economic Benefits of Tax Cuts Should Have Arrived - Where Are They?
Stephen Hawking: Fighter for Progressive Politics
Trump's Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Is Another World Possible? - Leo Panitch on RAI (4/4)
Students Demand Leaders Address the Root Causes of Gun Violence
Far-Right Ministers in Chile's New Government Placed in Sensitive Positions
Israeli Military Strangles Its Own Weapons Manufacturer to Privatize It
Not Without Black Women
Newly Tapped Sec of State Mike Pompeo Comes with Deep Ties to the Koch Brothers
The CIA's New Torturer-in-Chief
Anti-Pipeline Indigenous 'Mass Mobilization' Has Begun
UN Rapporteur: US Sanctions Cause Death in Venezuela
Colombia's Conservatives Make Gains in Congress Vote Amid Fraud Allegations
Wilkerson: Trump Won't Make Peace with North Korea
The Rise of Jeremy Corbyn and Class Struggle in the UK Labour Party - RAI with Leo Panitch (3/4)
Western Governments Whitewash Saudi Dictator MBS as 'Reformer'
US Cowardice Prevents Middle East Peace
Should China Maintain its Non-interference Policy toward Africa?
Bills to Ban Styrofoam and Crude Oil Terminals Pass Baltimore City Council
Elites Impose Education Policies They Would Never Accept for their Children
What A Private Police Force Would Mean For Johns Hopkins University and Baltimore
Baltimore Mayor Challenges Police Union to 'Give Respect'
Student Debt Cancellation a Viable Option, Economists Say,, The Real News Network, Real News Network, The Real News, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of Independent World Television inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and The Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Web Design, Web Development and Managed Hosting