Op-ed: Investing in our most valuable resource: Our children

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Maryland State Senator Cory McCray (Courtesy Photo)

By Cory V. McCray

When the 21st Century Schools Program Plan was being developed, I prayed that East and Northeast Baltimore would stand to benefit. My prayers were answered! A few weeks ago, Harford Heights Elementary School, the third 21st Century School in the 45th Legislative District, had its grand reopening. I was honored to be on-hand for the momentous occasion. When the 2021 – 2022 School Year commences this Fall, I know our children will enter the building inspired and in awe of their new school, especially after the majority of the past year taking classes via Zoom. 

As I reflect on the future of our City, it doesn’t escape me of the strides we are making right now that invests in a brighter future for the next generation. In fact, in many aspects, Baltimore City has set the precedent in Maryland – and across America – with opening a dozen and half of newly constructed school buildings over the last several years. City Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises and our partners are to be commended for their hard work. I would be remised if I did not acknowledge the strong leadership of my predecessor Senator Nathaniel McFadden and our fierce appropriator, Chairwoman Maggie McIntosh, for working diligently with the Maryland Stadium Authority and advocating for funds to be appropriated to our City Schools. And I thank then-Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and then-Council President Bernard “Jack” Young for making the tough decisions to ensure Baltimore matched state funds. This is partnership; and this partnership made it possible for our newly constructed schools to be built on a solid foundation. You see, in politics there is no magic wand to solve issues; rather things take time. Oftentimes the baton has to be passed on to the next leader to get a project over the finish line, which is why I am encouraged that the General Assembly overrode Governor Hogan’s Veto of House Bill 1. This legislation empowers Baltimore area leaders to move forward with phase two of our 21st Century Schools Plan. Phase two of the Plan includes two schools in my respective legislative district: Furley Elementary School and the Northeast Middle School Building. But the legislation doesn’t just make investments in my district or in Baltimore City. In Prince George’s County for example, the legislation authorizes its Board of Education to enter public-private partnerships to enhance public school construction projects. This is a major achievement for Maryland and, more importantly, a big win for our children. I remain thankful that my colleagues in the General Assembly had the vision in knowing that our children are most valuable resource. Making investments in our children is indeed building a brighter future for Maryland. 

While there are those who will always focus on the down and out in Baltimore – always talking about what our City cannot be versus what our city could be, I am writing to remind you that we are the only jurisdiction in Maryland on course to build two-dozen brand new schools. Like any urban city that has seen its fair share of underinvestment, Baltimore has challenges. However, it is importance to remember our resilience and potential in succeeding. It lies in our most valuable resource: our children. We have to invest in a brighter future for them. 

Cory V. McCray

The writer represents the 45th District in the Maryland State Senate, which includes Northeast and East Baltimore City. He also serves as the first vice chair of the Maryland Democratic Party. He can be reached by email at cory.mccray@senate.state.md.us and followed on Twitter @SenatorMcCray.

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