You arrive at your school. Its funding is tax-based and so the asphalt playground is cracked in every direction, barely holding up a rusty goal post attached to a rimless, equally-rusted backboard. You rip and run across the front, eagerly waiting to get in because you are one of the lucky kids who qualifies for breakfast vouchers. (Some of your friends don’t qualify even though their parents can’t really afford to feed them in the morning.) You’re a nice person, so you share, and together you feast on microwaved eggs, syrupy fruit cups and grayish-greenish mystery meat. You like to wash it down with strawberry whole milk, but don’t forget to check the expiration date, because you hate the taste of grainy sour chunks that float in the old boxes.
A guy in a colorful tie says, “Hello!” as you bite into the mystery meat. You wave back. He doesn’t know your name, and you don’t know his. He’s the principal, but you don’t know that, because he’s the third one in four months. They tend to quit often around here. You finish breakfast and head to class. Your path is covered with cigarillo tips, crumpled papers and an occasional desk. The stairwell smells like hot fries and boiled piss. You follow the trail of trash straight to your class.
Inner city education systems in the US really can be, are, like this.
The author is from Baltimore:
The Baltimore school system ranked second among the nation’s 100 largest school districts in how much it spent per pupil in fiscal year 2011, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The city’s $15,483 per-pupil expenditure was second to New York City’s $19,770. Rounding out the top five were Montgomery County, which spent $15,421; Milwaukee public schools at $14,244; and Prince George’s County public schools, which spent $13,775.
Hmm, maybe it’s the way the money is spent, not the amount of it, which is the problem?