Baltimore draws much of its character and potential from the strength of its neighborhood communities, but great disparity exists from one neighborhood to the next. In Baltimore City and Baltimore County, the neighborhood where a child is born too often dictates his or her academic destiny and access to life opportunities. Based on the most recent Maryland School Assessment (MSA) data, only 62 percent of Baltimore City eighth graders are proficient in reading and just 38 percent are proficient in math, compared with 91 percent and 82 percent, respectively, in Howard County. For the past five years, Newsweek, Education Week, and the College Board have ranked Maryland as the number one state in the country for education. At the same time, 34 percent of Baltimore City students fail to graduate from high school and less than 6 percent will graduate from college.
Teach For America’s deep investment in Baltimore has shown that great leaders in classrooms, schools, and systems have the potential to significantly shift academic trajectories and life opportunities for Baltimore’s young people. We are heartened by the recent progress in schools—enrollment, graduation rates, and standardized test scores have all improved in recent years. Baltimore is truly on the cusp of change with the recent passage of school construction legislation, providing approximately $1 billion in funding for school renovations to ensure that facilities are conducive to high levels of student learning. Outside of schools, Baltimore is growing rapidly in EdTech innovations and community organizing. We remain acutely aware, however, that our efforts to ensure that all students in Maryland have access to an excellent public education must continue on a strong path.