Concerned after The Brew disclosed details about a Baltimore school enrollment task force whose meetings are closed to the public, City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young plans to call a hearing on the matter.
Young is “very concerned” about the lack of diversity on the 22-member group, which has met twice since the fall, his aide, Lester Davis, said today.
“There is no no representative from the Latinx community, even though that is the fastest-growing segment of our school population. There is no meaningful representation from black-led groups, even though black and brown children make up a majority of our school population,” Davis said. “There is no representation from grassroots organizations.”
“Making sure we begin to reverse this enrollment decline is a critical issue for the health of our city,” he said. “Everyone needs to be included in that discussion.”
As The Brew reported, the group is dominated by school officials, school board members and foundations and also includes representatives of Under Armour, Seawall Development and Johns Hopkins University.
It includes one parent representative and one student.
The group membership was suggested by City Schools CEO Sonja Santelises, School Board Chair Cheryl A. Casciani and the office of Mayor Catherine Pugh, according to Joe Straaik, liaison to the school board.
Straaik disclosed that information to parent Melissa Schober, who first raised concerns about the task force on social media earlier this week.
School officials told Schober the task force was an “internal working project” and noted that various subcommittees draw from a broader cross section of community stakeholders.
For the Council president, that doesn’t go far enough.
“It’s not enough to say there is some equity in some areas,” spokesman Davis said. “It has to be baked into every slice of the pie.”
Schober said she was pleased with the outcome.
“I’m glad everyone is going to take a closer look at this,” she said.
The presentation about the task force that school officials had been planning to make before the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, Schober subsequently noted.
Davis said Young became acutely aware of “the importance of bringing everyone, especially young people, to the table” as he pushed forward the $12 million Children and Youth Fund.
“Parents and youth and community voices and Black-led organizations have a lot of insights that we really came to value,” Davis said.
Young plans to introduce a resolution calling for an investigative hearing at Monday’s Council meeting.