Are city schools helping retain Baltimoreans?
A story today by reporter June Torbati outlines how in the current economic slump, Baltimore homeowners and college graduates may help reverse the trend of declining populations in the 2010 census.
City planners pointed to the school system's increasing enrollment numbers as an indicator of how the population numbers could shake out. Some residents interviewed in the story say that education opportunities--from having good neighborhood schools, to starting their own charter as an alternative--have helped keep them in the city, even if they had looked to live elsewhere.
In the story, city schools CEO Andres Alonso weighed in on the role he thinks the city's high-profile reforms may have played in retaining residents. The story points out that after years of declining enrollments, the number of children in Baltimore's public schools has risen in the past three years to 83,800 in the 2010-2011 school year, according to figures from the school system.
Alonso said the enrollment jump in 2008 shocked planners, who he said had expected city schools to continue shedding students at the rate of thousands per year as the system had done for decades. Alonso attributed the jump not to the recession but to three years of much-publicized reforms and a better perception of city schools.
Alonso concluded, however, that: "Perceptions about school climate and safety have an enormous hold on many parents," Alonso wrote in an e-mail. "We will probably have to continue improving for a while longer before we improve sufficiently to attract all parents, and old assumptions go away."