Reading, writing and (urban) renewal

Can a new public school save a poor, crime-ridden neighborhood? In Reading, Writing and Renewal (the Urban Kind), the New York Times looks at a Baltimore school that was designed to be the “centerpiece of a major redevelopment project.”

Operated by Johns Hopkins University in collaboration with Morgan State University, the school, which opened in January, belongs to a $1.8 billion plan that also includes new science and technology buildings, a park, retail development and mixed-income housing. While gentrification might threaten to displace the poor, the school is to be the glue that helps bind the district together.

Built for 720 children, the school includes an early-childhood center for infants and toddlers and a grade school that runs through eighth grade. A community center, library, auditorium and gym will be open to the public outside of school hours.

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  1. Roger Sweeny says:

    A cynic (or Robert Weissberg) might say that if the school causes gentrification which displaces the poor, the neighborhood will be “saved.” Crime will go down and test scores will go up.

    But if the students remain the same, no school, no matter how cool or expensive, is going to change things much (cue reference to Kansas City).

    But that would be cynical.

    • CYNIC, n.
      A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be. Hence the custom among the Scythians of plucking out a cynic’s eyes to improve his vision.

  2. Thinly Veiled Anonymity says:

    The problem with bad public schools is not, has never been, and never will be poor buildings or facilities.

    The only physical thing — and by “physical” I am including electronic media — that //really// matters for a school’s overall quality is texts.

    • I’d say the problem with bad public schools is they never have to get better.

      With regard to the original post, I think it’s thrilling when well-meaning rich people decide to improve the lives of the poor without having to worry about responsibility for adverse consequences. Tyranny of good intentions indeed.