Baltimore Schools Facing Cuts in State Budget

Legislators, residents and advocates tell the Real News they are preparing to fight back against Republican Governor Larry Hogan’s proposed cutbacks that will disproportionally affect low income students of color

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Story Transcript

MEGAN SHERMAN, TRNN PRODUCER: In Baltimore, education advocates are raising an alarm over the $35 million in cuts to the city’s public schools as proposed by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. While Hogan, a Republican, has defended the cuts–.

LARRY HOGAN, GOVERNOR OF MARYLAND: We’re cutting almost all state agencies 2 percent. We increased spending in education.

JAMAL JONES, BALTIMORE ALGEBRA PROJECT: I can never name a situation where something that needs money to do well does well after you take money away from it. That’s poor logic.

SHERMAN: Critics argue they disproportionately hurt the most at-risk and needy students. As a result, there will be an estimated 1,000 to 1,200 school staff laid off across the state, mainly in Baltimore City in Prince George’s County. Both districts are the only two with a majority African-American student population.

The head of the Baltimore Delegation, Curt Anderson, told WBAL-TV that the legislature, which must approve the budget, is prepared to fight back.

DEL. CURT ANDERSON (D), BALTIMORE CITY: Why would we vote for a budget like that, That cuts Baltimore City public schools, that probably would require us to lay off teachers, to slow down the growth and construction for a new school?

SHERMAN: When questioned by Mark Steiner of the Steiner Show about the cuts at the 12th annual Annapolis Summit, Hogan said he’s increasing education funding overall.

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MARK STEINER, RADIO HOST, WEAA 88.9 FM: So talk a bit about why you decided to do that.

HOGAN: Well, first of all, it’s not true.

STEINER: Why is it not true?

HOGAN: We haven’t cut education. We’ve–I’m spending more on K-12 education than any governor in the history of the state. We actually increased spending on education. We fully funded school construction at $290 million. We increased operating expenses. We just didn’t increase at the rate that people would like us to–and that we’d like to, frankly.

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SHERMAN: The city paper reported that last week hundreds of parents, teachers, and education advocates with the Baltimore Education Coalition met at a local school to begin organizing to resist the cuts. The coalition is urging concerned residents to call their representatives and demand that they oppose the measures.

The Real News spoke to Jamal Jones of the Baltimore Algebra Project, which is an affiliate of the BEC. He explains why the decrease in funding will hurt Baltimore’s neediest students.

JONES: When the state is the primary funder of the city and city schools and then the state says, we’ll cut things, that’s going to negatively affect everything. And that’s going to not even just be the students, right? You’ve got the teachers and their programs. Baltimore City will be cut. And so it’ll be less attractive to folks who may be more qualified to come here or folks who are here and thinking about teaching, trying to do that full-time. That’s going to hurt the students in the long run.

SHERMAN: Dayvon Love of the Baltimore think tank Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle talks about the kind of grassroots movement it will take to reverse the cuts.

DAYVON LOVE, LEADERS OF A BEAUTIFUL STRUGGLE: I think in terms of what the grassroots organizers should do is just to continue to fight for investments in programs, institutions that help to improve the quality of life of young people and just people in general in Baltimore, doing that with many of the same measures that people are working on, your organizations working against the school-to-prison pipeline, addressing issues of mass incarceration, addressing police brutality. These are the kinds of things that the grassroots actually has some control over and I think should be the focus of this particular legislative session. But, again, it’s just important that we don’t allow the Democratic Party messaging about the cuts to education to make us think that this is something unique. This has just been a trend in Maryland.

SHERMAN: The Real News will continue to follow up with this story as it develops. This is Megan Sherman, reporting with The Real News Network.

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DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.