Friday, June 12, 2009

Something We're Doing Right: University of Baltimore

Let's focus on something we're doing right to improve the future prospects of the city: The University of Baltimore. The current expansions and development at UB in the Mount Vernon/Midtown-Belvedere neighborhoods of the city are exactly the kind of change Baltimore needs to move out of its schizophrenic doldrums of half slum/half viable city.

College, when you boil it down, is a chance to prove yourself. A chance to prove that you can work within a system. A chance to prove that you can meet deadlines. A chance to prove that you can consistently show up on time. A chance to show that you care. Now hopefully those that attend also gain some knowledge in the process to prepare them for a more enlightened career in the work force. But we all know that what you learn in the real world and what you learn in college, while not mututally exclusive, are often very different. But the fact remains employers want to know their prospective employees for higher paying jobs are reliable people when they walk in for a job interview. Requiring a college degree or above for the position helps to ensure that.

Unfortunately much of the disadvantaged population of Baltimore is written off very early. The prospect of simply driving through the West Side is too much for some of the more easily frightened area residents - so I have to assume the thought of hiring someone from there is even more terrifying. Thinking that we can rid ourselves of this sort of institutionalized racism overnight is naive. But these attitudes can be overcome in a positive way that changes our urban culture for the better; by going to college.

Fortunately this is the same way that folks who are not from the West Side or other distressed neighborhoods have to prove themselves - and is therefore at least somewhat fair. What's not fair is that a disadvantaged student will not be able to attend the area's best schools unless they absolutely excel enough to get a large scholarship. But while UB may not be Johns Hopkins, it is a start, and a fine place for students to prove they're ready to achieve the next level or responsibility and pay in the work force.