A battle is brewing in the Baltimore County School District in Maryland this month and it should serve as yet another reason to keep an eye on what your local school boards are up to. They are currently working on the district’s budget for fiscal year 2024 and parents have noticed some significant cuts to the gifted and talented students program. The proposed budget would not end the program entirely, but it would eliminate three of the four teaching positions currently assigned to the program. Parents have pointed out that students who qualify for the program enhance their chances of being accepted to prominent universities and one teacher is simply not enough to handle all of the qualifying students. Others are asking why this particular program is in the crosshairs for having its budget slashed. (Baltimore Sun)
At a public hearing for Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Darryl L. Williams’ proposed budget, two of the seven speakers who came forth for comment voiced worry about the possible cuts in staffing for gifted and talented students.
Williams’ proposed fiscal year 2024 budget details cutting three full-time resource teachers from the Office of Advanced Academics, which serves gifted and talented students. Such cuts would mean only one resource teacher, one coordinator and one administrative assistant.
The school system’s budget for FY2023 allotted funds for four resource teachers, one coordinator and one administrative assistant, Baltimore County Schools spokesperson Gboyinde Onijala said.
So what’s really going on here? The Public Schools Superintendent who proposed the budget is saying that the change would produce “savings” for the school system. That may be true, but his report also cites a 2020 study saying that Black and Hispanic students are “underrepresented” in the program.
It’s not as if the Baltimore County Public Schools have seen their budget decrease significantly. Unlike many other urban school districts, Baltimore County only saw a net decrease of 49 students from 2021 to 2022. So their tax revenue should be nearly flat, not requiring such a significant cut to the successful program.
This truly looks like yet another example of the war on merit. What passes for “equity” in many of our cities today is a thinly veiled desire for a system that strives for equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity. If some students, particularly those coming from politically favored demographic groups, aren’t doing as well as others, you might expect the schools to work harder to bring everyone up to peak performance. But instead, they seem to be leaning toward dragging the top performers down to an “equal” level of mediocrity.
Fortunately, some of the parents caught wind of this before the budget was finalized and are pushing back. Perhaps they will be able to force the district to at least keep the gifted and talented students program at its current levels, even if they can’t afford to expand it. But if not, some of these parents may need to do what we’ve seen happening in other school districts around the country. Concerned parents and their like-minded neighbors have been running for positions on their local school boards and pushing out “progressive” members who prioritize woke policies over quality education.
When they finish straightening out the budget, perhaps those parents should take a look at the current curriculum and the books being given to the children. You never know what might have snuck into the system these days.