Mosby wants universal pre-K, trauma treatment for kids (Baltimore Sun)

By Yvonne Wenger

City Councilman Nick J. Mosby says as mayor he would provide universal pre-kindergarten for all Baltimore children, offer more tools to help kids cope with trauma and create an office of education reform, under his plan for the city school system.

Mosby, of West Baltimore, said research shows that children who enrolled in pre-kindergarden outperformed those who did not.

His plan calls for the city to generate $15.5 million to provide slots for another 3,500 students through “social impact bonds.” Under the proposal, Mosby says investors and service providers would put up the resources to operate the programs, and if the programs meet the goals set, the city would pay an agreed upon amount. If the goals are not met, he says the city would not pay.

The city needs “bold ideas” to tackle long-standing programs, he said.

“Universal pre-k is a known commodity: It works, and Baltimore’s children deserve it,” Mosby wrote in his plan. “The problem is, and always has been, finding the money to pay for expanding the program.”

His plan also includes fosting more community schools that use on-site coordinators to deliver a host of services to children and families. He wants to establish more magnet middle schools and offer better reading intervention for third graders with tutoring and summer school.

Mosby said he wants to use the service group City Year to prevent students from dropping out — which leads to higher incarceration and unemployment rates. Research shows that students with poor attendance, disruptive behavior and low grades in math and English are most at risk.

City Year pairs AmericaCorps members with students to give them one-on-one support and offers school-wide activities, after school programs and other resources, Mosby says.

Another component of Mosby’s plan is to create new recreation centers, end preschool expulsions and provide mental health treatment for students and teachers experiencing trauma.

He also would create a mayor’s office of education reform to provide full-time oversight and collaboration with the school system to improve communication and outcomes.

“Baltimore cannot continue to provide no-strings-attached funding to a school system that fails to demonstrate sufficient baseline improvement or the attainment of educational benchmarks, in addition to showing continued fiscal mismanagement,” his plan says.