Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sharp Split in graduation rates between Baltimore and it's Suburbs

A recent report on big city schools found that Baltimore City had the 4th lowest graduation rate among big city schools with only 32% of high school freshman actually finishing school. In comparison, suburban Baltimore schools have a graduation rate of 82%.

One of the most critical factors in attracting residents, especially families to a city is having a good or at least an adequate school system. With a graduation rate so dismal, Baltimore City can only attract so many new residents despite all of the new waterfront development that will create jobs and hopefully new residents. Also most importantly the 68% of students who are falling out of school are creating a permanent underclass in Baltimore City where the majority of the new jobs being created are high tech and high skilled jobs. The only jobs that high school drop outs can obtain, who now represent the majority of the city's future work force are low paying service jobs which will not provide them an adequate salary and most likely a decent health care system. 68% of students dropping out is a frightening statistic considering that well paying jobs are now seeking candidates with post-graduate degrees.

One has to ask, what is the reason? What is making the majority of Baltimore City High School students drop out of school knowing that dropping out will negatively impact their economic futures. Do these students feel that their future economic prospects are so dismal that they do not even need a high school diploma or are schools failing to provide an education that students believe will prepare them for the future?

There is a lot of blame that can be put on the school system, and those who live in Baltimore know that they have been involved in several fiscal scandals within the last few years. I want to give the school system the benefit of the doubt because we know that in some inner-city community the school system is being asked to help resolve issues that go way beyond the purview of education but having to teach students at the same time. However, 68% of the students dropping out from citywide do not all come from poverty and crime stricken neighborhoods.

So...where is the outrage from the public, the school system, the students, the government. Why do we continue to let this happen? As much outrage as there is about the home lending and mortgage crisis, there should be even more outrage about the future of the city's high school students who are literally the city's future.

For all the planners who are reading this, we have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. If we do not help come up with a plan for education like we do for comprehensive plans, development plans and Masterplans, then our plans will always be half complete from a metropolitan standpoint. How can we plan for cities if we have a citizen base that would soon become an underclass that can not work in the jobs that we create economic studies for and housing that we design and regulate.

So those are my two cents, please share your opinion on this matter.

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