The Board and staff of Open Society Institute-Baltimore are deeply affected by the events in Baltimore over the last several days. We join with millions of individuals in Baltimore and beyond in extending our deepest condolences to the family of Freddie Gray, and we, too, are angry that the life of another young black male was cut short while in the custody of those who are sworn to protect and serve. While we are saddened by the recent destruction, we choose not to lose sight of the issues that precipitated these events or the solutions that are needed to bring about healing, peace and justice in Baltimore.
The tragic murders of unarmed Black men at the hands of police officers is a glaring example of law enforcement viewing Black men and boys as a problem within society that needs to be dealt with and controlled.
In cities and suburbs across America, we are seeing the dire consequences of increases in opioid use, and national leaders are clamoring for answers. Addiction does not differentiate between the young or old, black or white, working class or white-collar professional.
When you walk, drive, or ride the bus in Baltimore do you see homeless youth? Can you tell whether the youth you stroll past is headed to a safe, stable home, or whether she doesn’t know where she’ll lay her head tonight or find her next meal?
We must correct errors and maintain a criminal justice system we can be proud of—one where the people involved receive justice and second chances.
When we punish students by kicking them out of school for nonviolent infractions, we’ve lost the opportunity to instruct them. But when discipline practices change, students’ outcomes change—for the better.
Student attendance has long been a challenge in City Schools, and in recent years it has received renewed attention. Yet attention alone is not achieving the attendance levels necessary for our students to succeed.
We actually did it. After the debates, public hearings and letter-writing campaigns, advocates for school disciplinary reform heard a decision from the Maryland State Board of Education that was three years in the making. The Board decided to eliminate zero tolerance policies and enact a common-sense approach to school discipline.