Baltimore is chock-full of schools. In fact, institutions of higher learning are one of Baltimore’s main draws. Such names as the Johns Hopkins University, Goucher College, Loyola College, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore are known worldwide for the quality of the education. Our private and parochial school systems are widespread as well, and our public schools offer some surprises in vocational training and the arts.
Outside of these traditional educational institutions, the Baltimore area lays claim to specialty schools that run the gamut from institutions for physically challenged children to courses that specialize in haute cuisine.
All public and private elementary and secondary systems across the state have advanced courses for academics, usually known as gifted and talented or honors programs. Most systems also offer some kind of technical course or a school-to-work program. The Maryland State Department of Education requires all students take high school assessments in core subjects to receive a Maryland diploma. Students must also complete service-learning hours and attendance requirements. Some of the public high schools, such as the Baltimore City School for the Arts that offers an intensive training in visual arts, music, theater, or dance with regular college preparatory classes, are known for the specialization. The Polytechnic Institute specializes in engineering, offering courses for future engineers who enjoy doing integral calculus or for students who just want a college-prep environment with an emphasis in math and science. And the Kenwood High School Sports Science Academy is for those who want to coach and those who are considering a career in sports medicine.
To be honest, many (maybe most) locals identify themselves by the high school they attended. They remain Poly boys and Western girls essentially forever. Gilman vs. McDonogh, Calvert Hall vs. Loyola, Poly (Polytechnic Institute) vs. City (Baltimore City College), Dunbar vs. Lake Clifton, IND (the Institute of Notre Dame) vs. Mercy—all are historic rivalries known citywide. Though we love a good game, Baltimore has always placed more emphasis on academics than sports. Many of our Baltimore Firsts have been in education. The first parochial school to educate African-American children was opened here, as were the first parochial schools for girls.
In this chapter we provide a thumbnail picture of the public school systems, some of the popular private and specialty schools, community colleges, and four-year institutions.
Among the information presented, you will occasionally find student-teacher ratios. It is important to note that these are average figures that do not necessarily reflect exact class size. For instance, in a school with an average ratio of 22 to 1, you may find some seminar classes for seniors that have only 10 students and a science class with 35. However, the ratios provide a general idea of class size, which is why they’re included.
Tuition for private schools varies considerably, depending on the school and courses selected, financial aid eligibility, etc. Therefore, the rates are not included. Most schools (not all) list tuition on their Web sites. Generally, expect to pay between $2,000 and $6,000 for Catholic elementary school and up to $20,000 for other private elementary schools. The rates go up to about $10,000 for Catholic high school and hover near $20,000 for other private high schools.
All private and parochial schools have a dress code or a required uniform. Many public schools, particularly elementary schools, have uniform options, and most public high schools have some rules about acceptable attire. Call the individual school to resolve questions about uniforms and costs.
When you visit a prospective school stop by the admissions and administration offices and if you’re allowed, hang around to talk to the faculty and students about curricula, after-school programs and activities, and the school’s approach to academic and social discipline. Their enthusiasm or lack thereof gives the best insight into what the school is really like.