All the city schools need fuller funding

Originally published in The Baltimore Sun

By Muriel Berkeley
Published March 30, 2006
Letters to the Editor

Sara Neufeld's description of New Song Academy entices all of us who care about education to send our children there ("Successful school fighting to survive," March 26).

New Song has resources that most Baltimore public schools do not (small class sizes and a lovely facility). It cannot, however, accommodate all our children.

New Song has only 132 students. The public schools system would like to be able not only to support all the teaching positions at New Song, but also to extend the same level of service to all city schools.

The city schools, however, have to find the resources to educate more than 85,000 students.

Finding the resources to educate all city students has been an enormous challenge for a long time.

Funds for public education are scarce in cities because schools are funded largely by property taxes. Cities are limited in the property taxes they can raise because disadvantaged people who do not pay real estate taxes and tax-exempt institutions such as museums, schools and hospitals are disproportionately located in cities.

But those of us who care about Baltimore's children can work together to show the state the potential of the young people who live in Baltimore.

When educated, these people will make our state even more prosperous than it is.

Adequate funding for all of Baltimore's public schools is necessary.

Yet because much of the funding that the city school system receives must go to pay for central office obligations, no Baltimore public school receives the $11,944 per student that is the system's overall per-pupil spending figure. But every school should.

Muriel Berkeley

The writer is president of the Baltimore Curriculum Project, which operates three charter schools in the city.