Comprehensive Plan for Education

In collaboration with Education Practitioners of Baltimore City

Comprehensive Plan for Education

In collaboration with Education Practitioners of Baltimore City

Dear Baltimore,

Every child deserves a quality education. While the Baltimore City Public School System has many highquality schools that offer diverse choices to meet students’ interests and needs, we have some serious work to do to repair our school system and create accessible and equitable quality learning experiences for ALL of the youth of Baltimore City. As a mother and former teacher, I have high standards for our children, their parents, our schools, educators and administrators.

As Mayor, my job is to be the chief advocate for Baltimore City children and the education that will prepare them for a productive future. Children and families will be the priority of my administration. It is important that the next Mayor places heightened attention on ensuring that children have access to the same quality curriculums regardless of their zip code.

I will commit to fully fund the Kirwan Commission recommendations by re-prioritizing the city’s budget without increasing taxes to obtain the necessary resources. We should be investing more in our youth, and that investment should be reflected in our budget, our resources and our policies. By analyzing the spending with the Kirwan funds set to be invested into area school systems, we will demand excellence and efficiency with every dollar we invest. We will ensure that the voices of youth and their parents are heard every step of the way – both at North Avenue and at City Hall.

I will work to recruit and retain quality teachers and administrators for our schools. Teachers should be equipped with the necessary tools, salaries, trainings, and facilities to teach our children in impactful and effective ways. I will advance the community schools strategy that I have championed for years, so that schools become neighborhood hubs that coordinate public and private services, offering opportunities for all area neighborhoods, while providing additional after-school activities and “on demand” mental health services to children as well as their parents.

This comprehensive educational plan will be our roadmap to success in seeking to establish city schools as premiere learning environments that parents and children can be proud of. Education is the passport to the future success of each individual student AND the future success of our city. My administration plans to provide our students with the necessary resources to ensuring that their future is bright.

With love,

Sheila Dixon

Community Schools & Family Engagement

I envision schools to be more of a staple in our communities.

I believe that schools are largely underutilized and could be effective in facilitating resources and learning opportunities for all of the citizens in our communities. Using the resources located in schools can provide an innovative approach to breaking the cycle of poverty. Children succeed when their parents and caregivers are able to overcome obstacles such as finding a steady job, affordable daycare, and access to reliable transportation. Too many of our children have experienced the toxic stress of homelessness, violence, and hunger. These stresses impede their ability to learn at the most basic level, and we know they are more likely to struggle in school and develop physical, emotional and behavioral problems. Many do not have access to services and supports to help them overcome loss, violence or the daily experience of poverty and racism, and they begin to develop their own resilience.

  • District Longer School Days. Having school facilities open for longer periods directly strengthens the structure of our families and helps to alleviate some of the public safety concerns related to our youth. The 8AM – 3PM traditional school day should be extended to better support the needs of working families and enriching the learning experiences of our children. Children should be engaged in extracurricular activities beyond their core school day that align with their career interests or hobbies. The extension of the school day promotes a safe place for students to be while parents are working. We must work to create ways to best engage our youth while providing them with safe spaces to develop themselves and give working parents more support in protecting and enriching their children.
  • Adult Developmental Programs. Schools have the resources to house developmental programs for adults as well. GED classes, workforce trainings, and financial literacy courses are just a few of the programs that I am proposing to be available to adults during the evening hours. If we use our school facilities effectively, they cannot only be learning environments for our youth, but for all of the members of our community who want to learn.
  • Expand Participation in After-School Programs by Promoting Them Through an Annual After-School Fair. After-school programs are an important tool to improve the health and safety of children in our city. Yet research in other cities suggests that a major obstacle to participation is parents’ lack of awareness about programs in their neighborhoods. Modeling the success in cities like Detroit, we will implement an annual After-School Fair, in partnership with private businesses, to connect residents with information about programs in faith-based institutions, community centers, city recreation centers and schools.
  • Create an internal district-wide advisory group (including teachers, principals, and district office staff) that will advise on strategies to improve on the culture and climate of the organization. 
  • Give “Housing First” Priority to Homeless Families with Children. An estimated 1,700 Baltimore City students are “homeless” or inconsistently housed by state standards. These students move from school to school during the year, which disrupts their education and any sense of security and emotional well-being. We will re-engage stakeholders to implement the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness and give homeless families with children priority for housing vouchers and services.
  • Enrich the Whole Child with Arts, Culture, and Sports. We know that enrichment programs, like Junior Achievement, help children succeed in school and in life. We need to promote and increase evidenced-based programs that develop the whole child. We will use City resources to incentivize the expansion of enrichment programs that support academic and environment outcomes.
  • Foster Student Leadership, Giving Students A Say in The Policies That Impact Them. Young people have a lot to say. They have been denied opportunities to contribute constructively to policies that affect them and programs intended to serve them. We will work with our schools and community-based organizations to give youth a voice and hone their leadership skills.
  • Give Parents and Caregivers a Voice. The most effective community engagement involves organizing stakeholders to advocate for and support the resources and effective practice needed to make positive change. Members of my administration will work directly with the City Schools Community Engagement Office and partners to organize parents and other stakeholders. Together we will advocate at the state and local levels for the improvements that our schools need to ensure that every student gains the knowledge and skills to earn a livable wage and make positive contributions to her or his family, community and our city.
  • Strengthen School Family Councils. Not every school has a functioning family council; others have virtually no council. Working with the foundation community and partners in the nonprofit and private sectors, we will work to ensure that every family council has the leadership and representation of a broad base of community stakeholders so that it can lead and support the school in meeting all students’ needs..

Oversight & Governance

I Enrollment needs to become a full-time priority. I would hire a Chief Enrollment Officer for our schools to implement the recommendations of the Enrollment Task Force. The Chief Enrollment Officer will focus on the following:

  • Listening to the needs and ideas of those currently enrolled and those who are potential enrollees.
  • Targeting the enrollment of students who are born in Baltimore but never matriculate in City Schools.
    • A BERC (Baltimore Education Research Consortium) study showed that in SY15/16 there were 3,885 children who did not enter City Schools along with their birth cohort.
  • Through the implementation of the Blueprint, the Chief Enrollment Officer will work with City Schools to provide an equitable distribution of quality programming throughout the city, because quality will increase enrollment.
  • Create an internal district-wide advisory group (including teachers, principals, and district office staff) that will advise on strategies to improve on the culture and climate of the organization.
  • Re-imagine the role of the Enrollment, Choice, and Transfer office. Launch a campaign to build around City Schools’ pre-k and kindergarten programming.
  • Continue to expand the collection of qualitative data regarding who is leaving City Schools and why. This data will include both students and staff.
Best and Brightest. Research shows that effective teachers and school leaders are among the most important drivers of student achievement. I have never visited a great school that did not have a great principal. Great principals know how to find, support and retain talented teachers, engage community partners, encourage parental involvement and lead students to make enormous progress and do all of this with limited resources. High principal turnover is disruptive and expensive.We will ensure that City Schools invest in programs that support existing skilled principals, find and train rising stars within the district, and recruit excellent leaders from outside the system if needed. We will change the way that City Schools allocates its resources to equip principals with the resources they need to lead all students to achieve at high levels and to re-engineer the central office to provide proper oversight rather than micro-management of an individual school.

Transparency. As Mayor, I would create a public dashboard to monitor progress on key performance indicators such as PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers), attendance, suspension, graduation and teacher retention.

Effective Use of Data. City schools are accustomed to using data to measure academic performance and climate. I will deploy our CitiStat and seek to do so in partnership with Baltimore’s colleges and universities, to “Stat” the non-academic functions of city schools, with the goal of greater efficiency and putting more money into classrooms.

School Facilities. We should prioritize building up the learning environments in our schools. The school grounds should be maintained with the same urgency as a community development or even a home repair. Classrooms should be equipped with all of the functioning tools necessary for teachers to teach and for students to learn. Facilities that are not properly maintained or updated are an unreasonable distraction to our children’s learning experiences. We must prioritize outfitting all of our schools with 21st century learning tools that allow students and teachers to be innovative and our graduates to be in-step with their college and/or workforce counterparts.

School Inequities. The achievement gap is widening for Baltimore’s African American and low-income children and there is inequity of resources between schools in wealthier communities and those in poorer neighborhoods. There are enormous safety, financial, health, diversity benefits to attending a neighborhood school. The answer to inequity is not to send children across the city to attend better schools. Every child in Baltimore must have access to the same educational opportunities regardless of where he or she lives. As Mayor, I will work diligently to ensure that funds are distributed equitably among all our city schools — regardless of the zip code.

Restorative Practices

Health Services.
Mental health services must be available “on demand” in every school –prepared to provide individualized attention and support for children suffering from trauma and emotional disturbance. We know that mental health is tied to trauma. Just as we would not think of operating a school without a guidance counselor, we should equip schools with in-house health centers and mental health professionals. We can do this and more by collaborating with universities and hospitals, faith communities and local businesses; by providing more City and State services to children and families within the schools themselves; and by ensuring that we are maximizing the resources available to our children and families through the Affordable Care Act and other federal and state sources of revenue and assistance.

Mentorship. Highly effective programs that offer intensive mentoring programs can produce dramatic outcomes. Connecting our youth with great mentors gives them an extra layer of support, accountability and inspiration. As Mayor, I will ensure that the minority-owned, labor, business, university and non-profit communities participate in proven mentoring programs. I will also work to expand access to internship programs to give more students opportunities to gain meaningful experience working in capacities that interest them.

Promote Civility (Anti Bullying/Harassment). In today’s increasingly divisive society, there is a loss of basic civility in our classrooms. Things such as bullying and various forms of harassment have no place in our schools. We must work with our teachers, guidance counselors, and administrators to be proactive when identifying antagonistic behavior, and train them on how to mitigate it effectively. Each school should have a clear means to report behaviors of bullying and harassment. There should be clear practices in place to ensure that students feel safe to report said behaviors.

Build Bridges from High School Workforce Training. We will seek to expand career and technology pathways that lead to high paying and high demand jobs by partnering with businesses in Maryland. We will focus on employers that offer creative apprenticeship programs so students have seamless pathways into jobs. We will place an elevated focus on curriculum and programs designed to train for existing local jobs, provide for licensure in acquired skills, and prepare young people for entrepreneurship.

A welcoming and caring environment needs to be created and fostered from the time a child is born to the time a student graduates. Schools need to be open and welcoming places for everyone – students, staff, parents, guardians and members of the broader community. The needs of students can only be effectively identified by listening to parents, and proactively establishing channels of open, two-way communication with families and community members. Our goal is to ensure that every child is developing, learning, and growing in healthy, engaged and excellent conditions.

We all want Baltimore to be a great place for children to grow up. Providing them with great schools is no easy task. With strong Mayoral leadership, we can surround students and their families with the support and resources they need to thrive and succeed – and invest in the excellent teachers, school leaders and facilities they deserve.


Your donation of $100, $25, or even $10 will help us wage the fight to restore hope to our beloved Baltimore.


Your donation of $100, $25, or even $10 will help us wage the fight to restore hope to our beloved Baltimore.

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