News Release

Schools without Heat: Symptom of “Destructive Inequalities”

CNN reports: “As temperatures plunged along the East Coast, photos emerged this week of Baltimore students wearing coats, hats and gloves inside frigid classrooms — igniting criticism from parents and others who wondered why those classes weren’t canceled.”

JESSICA SHILLER, jessica.shiller at gmail.com, @jessicashiller
Shiller is an associate professor of education at Towson University, just outside of Baltimore. She said today: “School funding is probably the biggest issue before us in terms of what we should be addressing. Lack of heat is a symptom of much larger problems of funding, of destructive economic inequality and of racial inequity. Baltimore schools serve a largely African-American population, and are disproportionately impacted by funding inequity.”

In November, Shiller wrote the piece “While we’re fretting over Baltimore’s juveniles, how about fairly funding its students?” for Baltimore Brew: “Families who can afford it, generally move to affluent communities. Those who remain in low-income communities have less taxable income to fund schools and, therefore, their children have to attend schools that lack the basics.

“Their school may not have enough heat in the winter or clean drinking water or access to technology or experienced teachers.” Also see interview with The Real News: “Will Kirwan Consider Race When Recommending Fixes to Maryland Schools?

HELEN ATKINSON, helen at tdpbaltimore.org, @hatkinson333, @tdpbaltimore

Atkinson is with the Teachers’ Democracy Project in Baltimore. She noted the value of working teachers’ voices, citing the blog of Baltimore teacher Mark Miazga — see his most recent piece “No Heat in Classrooms:

She also cites the work of Baltimore Movement of Rank-and-File Educators, which just put out a statement: “Baltimore City children attending decrepit school facilities without functioning heat and drinkable water is a tragedy that the state of Maryland created over decades of underfunding. They have repeatedly neglected their own definition of adequacy by $3 billion over the past two decades alone, much of which would’ve prevented these circumstances before they happened. It’s the state’s constitutional obligation to correct this outrageous failure, starting this coming legislative session.”

The Baltimore Sun reported in 2016: “Despite the nation’s highest median household income and among its lowest poverty rates last year, economists warned that new data from the Census Bureau continues to show a worrying economic divide in Maryland.”