For Baltimore's public schools, the statistics are dreary and getting worse. The most recent study shows that, with a shocking 38.5 percent graduation rate, the city's schools rank almost rock bottom among the nation's 50 largest school systems.
Until recently, there seemed very little that Hopkins was able to do about it, aside from its admirable offer of free tuition to public school graduates through its Baltimore Scholars Program. But with the University's decision to take on an advisory role at Frederick Douglass High School, Hopkins has finally moved to make a positive intervention in the city's struggling classrooms.
While the Baltimore Scholars Program -- which provides grants to students who are admitted to Hopkins -- has mostly affected Baltimore City students who have already reached high levels of academic achievement, Hopkins' involvement with a public school could potentially benefit more underprivileged students. This should signal the University's long-term commitment to actively advocating for the city's school system.
Representatives of the University will sit on a governance board that oversees progress at Frederick Douglass. Although the specific roles and duties for the University's representatives have yet to be determined in full, their overarching responsibility should be clear to everyone: to ensure that cripplingly high dropout rates, dismal test scores and violence eventually cease to be the norm at Baltimore schools.
While we don't expect that the governance boards will trump the high schools' existing administrative structures, we hope that the University representatives will provide oversight and accountability in the morass of public education in Baltimore. Hopkins should not be content with just being a participating institution in the city's plan to tackle the school system's toughest problems -- we should be leaders in this very important mission.
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