Fordham University Study of Baltimore Schools Shows Worst-Qualified Teachers More Likely in Poor and Minority Schools

Special to the Chronicle

On April 23, ACORN members gathered at the Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) headquarters to release a study of Baltimore City schools conducted for ACORN by the National Center for Schools and Communities at Fordham University.

The study found that the more poor or minority students a school has, the fewer highly qualified teachers (in terms of certification and experience) the school will have. ACORN, a nonprofit community activist organization, demanded at the press conference that the school administration provide increased professional training and support for uncertified and inexperienced teachers.

The study was conducted as part of ACORN’s “Say Yes to Children Campaign,” which focuses on improving the health and education of Maryland’s poor children.

“We have to make sure that no child in Baltimore City is left behind,” said ACORN member Margaret Spicer. “We need to hold the school system accountable for teacher training.”

Using 2001-2002 school year data from BCPS, this study found that in Baltimore City:

Schools with higher percentages of poor children: Schools with higher percentages of non-white students:
For example, at Langston Hughes Elementary (the elementary school with the most poor children), half of the teachers have less than five years of experience and 40% are uncertified. In contrast, at Mt. Washington Elementary (the elementary school with the fewest poor children) only 3% of the teachers have less than five years’ experience and only 10% of the teachers are uncertified.

In 2001-2002 in BCPS, there were:

The No Child Left Behind Act requires that each school have a highly qualified teacher in every classroom. Not only are Baltimore’s public schools failing to reach this goal, ACORN representatives charged, the schools with the poorest and most minority students face the worst neglect.

“No Child Left Behind, if properly implemented, will reduce crime,” asserted Louise Stewart, ACORN member and mother of a child who attends Frederick Douglass High School.

Compared to the 2000-2001 school year, the percentage of uncertified teachers declined by a small amount (while at the same time, the student-teacher ratio increased by a small amount). This improvement was apparent at most of the schools that had the highest percentage of uncertified teachers in 2000-2001. But in some cases, this improvement was slight; Calverton Middle, which had the highest percentage of uncertified teachers in 2000-2001 (62% uncertified teachers), is still one of the worst, with 60% uncertified. The school with the most uncertified teachers, Frankford Intermediate, actually got worse, with the percentage of uncertified teachers rising from 54% to 71%.

ACORN spokespersons called for the institution of a strong professional development program for teachers, focused on the poorest schools. They noted that The Education Commission of the States reports that Maryland “does not appear to be on track” for “having a qualified teacher in every classroom” and “having high quality professional development”—two requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Read the full study. [PDF]

For more information about ACORN’s work on education in Baltimore City, contact Mitch Klein or Stuart Katzenberg at 410-752-2228.

To subscribe to ACORN’s email newsletter, click here.

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This story was published on May 13, 2003.