With the arrival of social media and 24/7 cameras, there is no hiding whatever someone wants brought to light–even if someone else wants it hidden. When inequities are small, they remain hidden, and when they are discrete, they fail to be addressed. Charter schools are already under fire because of the disparate learning opportunities for disadvantaged populations, vouchers being the way to “fix” those issues. Lucky for the rest of the population, everyone knows that “vouchers” are simply money, and no one is fooled by money being given to some areas and not to others.
In New York, there is a high school called Stuyvesant, which enjoys an enviable reputation as well as plentiful resources being that the neighborhood enjoys some of the highest property values in New York. No tours would be offered unless by ranking officials in the most prominent newsfeeds, and parental engagement is without question. Even with such wealth, the school receives more based on its reputation whether from private donations from parental efforts or companies looking to secure reliable consumers. Move away from the city, move across the world, and that school will still evoke an image of high-quality.
Baltimore has quite a different reputation, which continues to devolve as time progresses. Located an hour north of the United States Naval Academy, Baltimore has been the scourge of Maryland what with the lack of investment by major companies. No major public schools are known here, and the property values are relatively low for an international city near the ocean. The city has become front page news again, not by the fault of the residents but because the students are spending their days freezing in class or not at school. The city where Johns Hopkins is located, the city formally known as “The City That Reads,” is reduced to cancelling school because there is not enough money to heat the classrooms.
It is no coincidence that Baltimore has both an outside investment problem and one of the highest Black populations in the nation. Based on the premise that “Black = bad,” the same types of people who would rush to fund a school like Stuyvesant would consider the schools in Baltimore a lost cause. World-class colleges do not change the demographics, but one thing is for sure: when developers band together to take advantage of the oceanfront property and the proximity to other international cities, the “redevelopment” will push the same parents who are afraid of the “dangerous” children to fill up the charter schools that will become available. Rankings will improve dramatically, and employers might finally “find” the money to invest in Baltimore.
Deciding what to wear is an innocuous choice, and rarely affects others due to personal autonomy. The problem among cities is that government entities have decided what to fund, a choice that is far from innocuous and has lasting consequences. One relishes the day that community members are allowed to make their own choices, and remove the stigma faced by not having enough wealth to “really” matter.