Baltimore Democratic mayoral candidate favors vouchers, open enrollment

In addition to calling for mayoral control of Baltimore’s troubled public school system, Democratic candidate Otis Rolley told The Baltimore Sun that he wants to close the city’s five worst-performing schools and award students $10,000 vouchers to use at private or parochial schools. While Rolley’s proposal is unfortunately predicated on a failing-schools model of choice, he would empower any parent of a middle-school aged child to choose from any public middle school in Baltimore. 

“It’s in middle school that we’re losing kids,” said Rolley, Baltimore’s former city planning director who now works as the senior manager for Urban Policy Development LLC, which describes itself as a minority-owned public sector management consulting firm that helps public school districts, state education agencies and local government agencies “transform into organizations that manage performance for better outcomes.”

He continued, “I think it’s crucial when we’re talking about rebuilding Baltimore to have a real choice for parents.”

Earlier this year, Rolley got a political boost from entertainer and education advocate Bill Cosby, who led a $4,000-per-head fundraising event in January and lamented the “intertia and entropy” present in Baltimore’s governmental status quo.

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BY Adam Emerson

Editor of redefinED, policy and communications guru for Florida education nonprofit