Sometimes life gives us real story problems. When the Maryland Transportation Authority (MTA) started charging students for riding buses after 6 pm, students got a real life lesson in how political and economic decisions can affect their lives. Some had to quit participating in after school activities, others had to walk home or find a ride from friends or family. Non-profit groups which offered after school programs were suddenly having to seek funds to pay bus fare for their students.
This is a prime teaching moment where students can examine this problem using their skills in math, economics, history, politics, social science, and problem solving.
Teachers, here are some things that you can do with your students:
1) Define the scope of the problem.
How many students are affected by the reduced hours of free ridership?
What number/percent of students have had to quit programs?
What number/percent have had to pay and what number/percent have had to walk or get rides?
Have any students been placed in danger in by walking or riding with others?
How much money does MTA need to provide full time ridership for students?
What are the costs to students of missing after school programs?
What are the costs to families which have to pick up their students?
2)Why did the policy change?
3)What are the different perspectives on the cost of providing extended ridership?
Some city council members pointed out that there isn’t an additional cost in allowing students to ride
free on regular bus routes which are already running, especially after 6pm when ridership is lower than peak hours.
An MTA official stated that they are required to recover a third of the cost of rides and that in the past they were simply not counting additional rides by students. He stated that the MTA is facing a budget deficit and isn’t able to allow students to ride for free. Students are already billed at reduced fares.
A student pointed out that her participation in the Merit scholar program enabled her to capture college scholarships and admission offers. Should the cost of the bus ridership be weighed against the opportunities these programs offer to students and their families?
If the school district and the MTA are struggling with tough budgets, are there ways to find alternative funding or savings?
4)Can students provide examples of ways that buses and transportation have been important in racial justice history?
5)What are possible solutions to this problem?
6)Are there ways to express their views to public officials?
a) Call to MTA customer service number
b) Call or write Governor Hogan.
c) Call or write MTA
d) Send photos of their walk home to Governor Hogan and MTA.
e) Their families and friends could vote–research how many eligible voters cast votes in the last election.
f) Could a social funding drive provide funds?
I am posting a series of video clips for you and your students to use as you consider this topic.
Please let me know how this goes and whether you have any questions.
When we talk about transforming Baltimore City Public Schools, we are talking about creating a new path for our children and the future of Baltimore.
We are talking about mending century long divides and segregation which still exist in our schools and our neighborhoods.
We are talking about the white and middle class flight from our city and city schools.
Even if the racial prejudice that created the inequities evaporates, we are still left with the stark disparities and divisions it caused.
If the choice of school integration of the 1950s was whether black students would take a dangerous walk into a better white school, the integration choice today in Baltimore is whether middle class white and black students will return to schools deprived of resources for decades.
As we prepare for the next state legislative session and the next federal administration we will probably hear about school vouchers, equal funding and curriculum. But will these create a viable path toward more effective and integrated schools?
To learn how to build this path, we are starting a conversation.
In this installment, Elizabeth Degi Mount, the Executive Director of the Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance (DBFA), talks about how the DBFA is working to support middle class families and schools in Baltimore. Mount talks with an informed candor and passion on the questions of school funding, white flight, equity and racial understanding.
I always joke that when you are pregnant in Baltimore and you are in the middle class, you make two phone calls.
First you call the OB, and then you call the real estate agent.
And that kind of progression, that first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby, then comes Towson,
that’s the school system losing, and the individual schools losing the creativity and the time and you know the opportunity to have another family within their school community. It’s also the system losing overall..
– Elizabeth Degi Mount
The video clips from this interview will be posted on the website. I hope that you will enjoy this learning and that you will join this conversation over the next few months. Let me know if you or someone you know would like to be interviewed for this series.
410 336 8239
A recent article in the Baltimore Sun, Small schools, high salaries behind district’s budget gap, pointed to higher costs of small schools and relatively higher costs of salaries for teachers in the district... READ MORE
There is a new paradigm for scientific research that’s developing and it may be the biggest breakthrough science has ever made: community research grants. These grants offer communities and organizations a collaborative role... READ MORE