Baltimore is a port city that is filled with many popular tourist attractions such as its museums, aquarium, and sports teams. It is also a city that has been on the decline for many years. The crime, drugs, and unemployment levels have all risen over the past two decades. Back in the Baltimore heyday, it was a booming city with high levels of port traffic. Today however, the ports are not seeing as much activity as before and that has led to an increase in unemployment and crime. Could Baltimore be on the same path Camden, NJ was on: booming port overtaken by crime and drugs?
Our writers will create one from scratch for
The television series ” The Wire”” was based in and on Baltimore. Created and written by a former journalist for the The Baltimore Sun, David Simon, each season focuses on a different facet of the city: the illegal drug trade, the sea port system, the city government and bureaucracy, the school system, and the print news media. The show tried to create a realistic vision of an American city through truthful characters. There are good cops portrayed in the show, however many of the officers are incompetent, show excessive force, and are portrayed as having human qualities.
Some residents and city officials credit the series for increased scrutiny by the media on its government, educationsystem, drug problem, and crime. It did shed light on the illicit drug use in the city and its effects on the lower class’s ability to grow in the fields of education and organization. In 2011, the U. S. Census Bureau reported that Baltimore County, MD had a population consisting of 65. 4% white and 26. 8% black/African American residents. The median household income in Baltimore County is $63, 959.
Broken down further, minority median income is $31, 400 versus $57, 048 for white/caucasian residents. Across the country, taxes and costs of goods and services is on the rise. It is very difficult for afamilyof four to live on $31, 000 a year without public housing assistance and welfare programs. Thepovertystatistics are very interesting. According to the census data, 28% of Baltimore families with children under the age of 18 are living below the poverty level. That number increases to 40. % for female-headed families with no father present.
The blame for poverty is an age-old question which usually produces the same answers: high taxes, barriers to occupational entry, and other economic factors. When you factor choice into the equation, the numbers change significantly. The poverty rate diminishes greatly for households that choose to marry and have children later in life, obtain a higher education, and stay of out jail. The poverty rate for married households with children under the age of 18 is 7. 4%.
The answer seems simple: obtain higher education and marry later in life. Cecelia Elena Rouse, an economist and Dean of the Woodrow WilsonSchool of Public and International affairs at Princeton University, conducted focus groups in Baltimore City, MD. She was looking at income expectations to determine if there was a correlation between expected income and college attendance. The sample consisted of low-income minority high school seniors. She found that income expectations of low-income minority students are not so different from higher-income students.
Low-income students are less able to turn their college plans into college attendance (Rouse 1314). The Maryland State Department of Education has reported that starting in 2007, city schools were beginning to show progress in its school reform effort; graduationrates were rising while dropout rates were decreasing. While progress has been made, more work and focus needs to be done in the Baltimore education system. The non-attendance rate has been recognized as a problem among low income students. Poor students are four times more likely to be chronically absent than their peers.
Problems standing in the way of good school attendance include inadequate transportation, unstable housing, lack ofhealthcare, high incidence of chronic illness, and poor nutrition and safety concerns (Chang 7). Baltimore is one of three cities that have attempted to address the issue of absenteeism. The school districts and the community have partnered in building acultureof attendance. Strategic grants and investments have helped to make this possible. Franklin Square Elementary and Middle School is a successful model in Baltimore.
Approximately 91% of its students receive free or reduced cost lunches and the class sizes are large, often 40 or more students in a class. Despite that, the school has one of the highest attendance rates in the city. There is an outreach program that holds students accountable and creates anenvironmentof wanting to go to school. The school provides clean uniforms, dental care, after school activities, and free haircuts to help boost attendance (Chang 9). The question that needs to be answered is can the high school culture in Baltimore continue to cultivate this safe, nurturing environment such as the one created at the Franklin School.
Upper elementary andhigh school studentsoffer new problems that need to be addressed; teen pregnancy, drug use, and gangs being three that stand out the most. In the early 1990’s, a study was completed in Baltimore that focused on teen mothers. It started in the late 1960’s and followed two hundred fifty teenage mothers who gave birth during that time. In 1988, the first born of the teenage mothers were in their teen years and the sample statistics showed 37% had dropped out of school, 46% had completed high school, and 17% went on to higher education.
This study concluded there was a direct correlation to the number of years the father was present, high maternal education aspirations, few years on welfare, high preschool cognitive ability, attendance in preschool, and no gradefailurein elementary school and continued education beyond high school (Brooks-Gunn 278). In its fourth season, ” The Wire”” focused on the education system in Baltimore. A first year middle school mathteacher, who was a former police detective, struggles to connect with his students. Many of these students were schooled in drug dealing and gang activities.
He came to the realization that in order to get them to learn, he had to trick them into learning. The fourth season of ” The Wire ” focused on the social conditions that cripple the Baltimore education system: fragmented families, declining neighborhoods with few legitimate jobs, indifferent city leaders, and a lack of educational resources. Even the students who want to learn face enormous obstacles, one of the biggest being the Baltimore education system compared to others in the country, is far behind. ” The Wire ” portrayed the problems plaguing the students and teachers.
It is a pattern that will continue to be repeated generation after generation until the city, state, and federal governments make a commitment to rebuild it. According to the FBI crime statistics released in 2011, Baltimore is the fifth deadliest city in the country and the seventh most dangerous in overall violent crime despite its lowest homicide rate since the 1980’s. It has taken decades of poverty, disinvestment in the community, and a general sense of hopelessness for Baltimore to become known as such a violent city.
Arresting and prosecuting criminals is a crucial step in combating crime, however reinvestment into the community by federal, state, and local governments is also needed to turn the city into a safe, prosperous environment. There is a long-standing theory that suggests that teens are more likely to use heroin, crack, and/or cocaine if they have first used alcohol ormarijuana, the latter which is preceded by alcohol and tobacco. In a study that was conducted in Baltimore, the median age for first drug use (alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana) was 14 years of ago and first heroin, crack, and cocaine use was 17 years of age (Curry 441).
Parental drug use was a determining factor in predictingchildhooddrug users and also peer influence (Curry 442). There needs to be continued focus on educating and rehabilitating the young drug users before they begin exploring with injection drug use. The Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance was launched in 2002 to establish a way of understanding the changing neighborhoods and quality of life within the city. Forty outcome indicators were developed in order to measure progress and to hold the cityleadershipaccountable (Bembry 97).
A study was conducted comparing five US cities, Baltimore being one of them, and the effects of federal spending on the cities over time. Two ” health checks ” were taken, six years apart and looked at hardship factors: poverty, unemployment, dependency, housing built before 1939, percentage without a high school diploma, and the crime rate (Parker 1844). In each city, there was significant progress over the p of six years which show that federal spending, or any spending at the federal, state, and/or local levels, can help revitalize the community.
In tough economic times, there is more need for government funds to help the community as unemployment rates are high. High unemployment creates desperation which spurs crime. According to the Census Bureau, in 2011 one in four Baltimore residents lives in poverty leaving more than 37% of Baltimore’s children live in poverty. Being born into poverty is a good marker for being poor throughout life and creates an entire host of problems: high school dropouts, high crime rates, high poverty rates.
Similar to various historical periods in history, being born into poverty creates a high predisposition for remaining in poverty. Federal, state, and local programs have created positive change and effects in cities like Baltimore where crime and poverty are some of the highest in the country. However during difficult economic times, government spending is difficult to procure and if it is being spent incorrectly or ineffectually it is not reaching as many people as it could. Rebuilding a city that has been mired in poverty is a difficult task with high costs.
History shows us that initiating change while children are young and reinforcing that change can foster growth within a community. In Baltimore, urban planners are striving to rebuild communities with a mix of lower and middle income families. They feel this will improve the chances of residents maintaining their homes, patronizing local business, going on to post high school education, and keeping their neighborhoods safe. Despite ominous statistics, Baltimore has shown some improvement through programs implemented by the government. A dedication by leaders and the community will be key in the rebuilding of Baltimore.