TRNN’s Megan Sherman and Anton Woronczuk speak to West Baltimore community members and activists fighting to keep Langston Hughes Elementary School in Park Heights from closing
Whose streets? Our streets. Whose streets? Our streets. If West side don’t get it, shut it down. If [West sides] don’t get it, shut it down. This is the Langston Hughes Elementary School. We’re standing here today because we want to protest the slated closing, which is scheduled for Monday. I’m a parent of two of the kids that go to this school. From the way it looks, she will have to walk to Pimlico by herself. I’m a working mom, and I really don’t have anyone to walk her back and forth to school, and she’s nine years old. And I’ve took that walk, and I really think that it’s ridiculous that they are making these kids walk from here to Pimlico Elementary-Middle. And I really fear for their safety. The people that are the most affected by a resource should be the people making decisions about those resources. We’re out here, and we’re going to be out here, and we’re going to keep Langston Hughes open. The one thing that we’ve been looking at lately is that there are 15 smaller schools in Baltimore. Most of them that are in a low-income black neighborhood are closing. So they are targeting small schools because they call them inefficient. But small schools can sometimes save a neighborhood, save a whole bunch of kids, and kids who would otherwise be lost in a larger environment. We do not wish for this school to close. We do not wish for teachers, strong, powerful, mostly teachers of color, to have to relocate to communities where they’ll be in overpopulated, oversized schools. As some of y’all heard from the community meeting on July 20th, there will be a court hearing filed by Mr. George Mitchell, who’s the president of the association, neighborhood association here, and we hope that all of y’all can come out. So just make some noise for those who are on the inside who are trying to help us keep our school open. Let me hear you real loud. They just refused to let the legal observers into the building. So if you got a phone, won’t you take some pictures of those police cars right there, see the couple police cars. [Inaud.] Langston Hughes open. I don’t know whose decision it is, but shake up something in their life where they understand. The school’s been here since 1975. And the thing is, it’s a [inaud.] we have our community meetings here, we have a food bank here, we got an aftercare program. It means so much to the community. These kids should not have to be walking a mile to another school that’s the worst performing school in Park Heights. This is the best performing school in Park Heights. It doesn’t make any sense. We’ve just been through a whole month of unrest. This is exactly what people were talking about on the radio, in the media, everything about how we’ve been disinvesting in low-income black neighborhoods, and how–people are asking the question, how does a neighborhood get this bad? Well, it gets this bad when you start closing the main anchor institutions that help the neighborhood have stability and have predictability.