Why are there good public schools in Baltimore?

The conversation about Baltimore schools usually revolves around their awfulness. See this piece about Freddie Gray’s allegedly “apartheid” school, so-called because it was overwhelmingly black (as if that were a bad thing!). But the city school system, while having a bad reputation generally, nevertheless boasts some isolated high-performers, such as my local Roland Park Elementary/Middle School.

Usually when public schools are compared, progressives will note that the better schools are in wealthier areas, where higher property taxes enable the schools to attract and keep better teachers and invest in more educational resources. However, while this may be a valid point when comparing schools from one city to another, Baltimore City Public Schools is a unified district; Roland Park Elementary doesn’t get more public money than schools in the poorest parts of West Baltimore just because Roland Park is a wealthier neighborhood.

The only difference must lie in the neighborhoods themselves. Wealthy neighborhoods, for whatever reason, are just more conducive to good schools, even when the rules insist they get the same amount of money. Baltimore schools in any event get much more funding than schools in the highest-performing districts, like Fairfax County, VA. This article also shows that Baltimore schools get most of their funding from the state and federal governments, meaning that the schools would still be well-funded even if local property taxes were lowered from their currently very high rate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *