Updated: Mayoral candidate Otis Rolley says city schools progress is 'not enough'
Baltimore city mayoral candidate Otis Rolley unveiled a new education plan Monday, that he describes as "radical" and "aggressive," in seeking mayoral control of the city school system, and private and parochial school vouchers.
Rolley, who has a third grader at Roland Park Elementary School, held a news conference announcing all of the details of the plan in front of city school headquarters. He also gave an exclusive peek of his education platform to City Hall Reporter Julie Scharper this weekend.
In the news conference, Rolley said his platform included closing five of the worst-performing middle schools in the city and providing families with a $10,000 voucher--which would come out of the school system's budget-- to send their children to parochial and private schools.
Also included in the plan, would be to shift the school system back to mayoral control, which Rolley said would draw a clear line of accountability to the mayor and quell frustration among city residents about who to hold responsible for the school system's failures.
The school system would be directly operated by a mayoral appointed seven-member school board and a schools CEO, all of whom would have to be confirmed by the city council. When I asked what qualities he would seek in a CEO, Rolley said, "it's not about personalities...it's about progress."He clarified, however, that his plan did not mean he would looking for a new one.
Rolley said that while his ideas may be controversial, the critics are supporting a system that "is not doing enough for our students." He said that while the school system has made progress, "it's not enough--we are moving too slowly."
To read Rolley's entire education plan, click here.
The vouchers may be the most radical plan.
This is a move that we anticipate would be welcomed by Catholic schools, which have been struggling with plummeting enrollment and dwindling funds in recent years.
But it could potentially pose great challenges to charter schools, which have been the driving city schools CEO Andres Alonso's "school choice" philosophy in the district. It should be noted that school vouchers have been at the center of national debates for years. This story from Voice of America explains the national debate that is still brewing in D.C.
Our Sunday story explores the other mayoral candidates' education platforms, which at this point don't appear to be as extensive or radical as Rolley's.
While the plan is debatable, it seems that some of his proposals touch on some criticism that I've heard in the last year on the beat.
I look forward to hearing what everyone thinks.