Thursday, September 1, 2011

Maybe we should have had a tornado?

Funding new schools should not take a disaster

In May of this year, a tornado ravaged Joplin, Missouri.  It killed 160 people and wiped out about 30 percent of the town.  10 schools in the town were either damaged or destroyed.  Though this is sad and disturbing, what makes this information remarkable is that last week, all schools in Joplin opened and resumed classes, on schedule.  It took a herculean effort on the part of local businesses and volunteers as well as money from non-traditional sources, and the Federal Government.  But they got it done.  Why does it take a major national disaster to mobilize people into action to take care of our future?  Today in Baltimore we all experienced a 5.9 magnitude earthquake.  It was scary but unfortunately did relatively little damage to anything in this city other than everyone's psyche.  In 1989 a quake hit San Francisco that measured 6.9.  The damage done by that one was massive and far reaching.  It destroyed buildings, bridges, and infrastructure.  Yet monies came in from all quarters to rebuild.  My point is this, in the face of a major disaster, money can be found to rebuild schools.  But why does it take something like that?  In Joplin, new laptops were supplied for each of the 1200 high school students so they could return to class.  Those laptops were supplied by the United Arab Emirates.  Who was the genius who secured that donation and can we bring them here to Baltimore?  No new school has been built in Baltimore City since the 1950s.  In Joplin 11th and 12th grade students will have to temporarily share space in a vacated store while their schools are being completed.  Another brilliant idea!  There are far too many buildings and businesses in shopping centers here in this city that are sitting vacant that can be utilized as temporary classroom space while older schools are torn down and rebuilt.  It makes you wonder; could City Hall be called upon, or counted on, to be as creative if the quake here was bad enough to destroy school buildings today?  In lieu of something so devastating, are there any forward thinking heads in City Hall or North Avenue to go after corporate money to modernize or rebuild schools that are older than many teachers and administrators working in them?  Wheels are being spun and money is being misspent in this city friends, and there is nothing in this current crop of candidates to indicate that anything will change in the next 4 years.

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