Tweets by linebacker turned teacher brings attention to problems at Baltimore schools
BY LAUREN VICTORIA BURKE
Thousands of people stepped up to help former NFL linebacker Aaron Maybin raise money for students in Baltimore’s public schools after his tweets showing students wearing jackets and winter hats inside a classroom went viral.
The former NFL player has continued to raise awareness about the issue by promoting a clothing drive and other initiatives to support the students.
Maybin now teaches at Matthew A. Henson Elementary in Baltimore. He Maybin played football for the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets.
A senior at Coppin State University named Samierra Jones set up a GoFundMe account to support Maybin’s effort.
The GoFundMe page says that, “Baltimore City Public Schools are currently operating with an inadequate heating system. Students are still required to attend classes that are freezing and expected wear their coats to assist in keeping them warm. How can you teach a child in these conditions? This fundraiser will help in purchasing space heaters and outerwear to assist in keeping these students warm.”
Outpouring of support
Jones, who also graduated from the Baltimore city public school system, according to the GoFundMe page, said that the fundraiser would help to purchase, space heaters and outerwear to help the students stay warm; the page also noted that supporters could donate hats, gloves, coats and socks for the students.
In less than a week, nearly 2,100 people contributed $76,199.
On Jan. 6, Maybin tweeted, “It’s been amazing to see the outpouring of support from the community. Thank you to everyone that has helped to push this issue and donated resources. Please keep them coming! #MyBmore”
Most of Baltimore’s public schools reopened Monday after public outrage forced a citywide shutdown last week, according to USA Today.
“Four schools failed to make the grade Monday, and students were sent home from another school after a pipe burst,” USA Today reported. “Baltimore serves more than 80,000 students at 177 schools and programs.”
Last week, Maybin tweeted: “It’s really ridiculous the kind of environment we place our children into and expect them to get an education. I got two classes in one room, kids are freezing, Lights are off. No computers. We’re doing our best but our kids don’t deserve this.”
Maybin continued, “All the money in the world for building jails. But not enough for basic public school necessities.”
Like Maybin, many who followed the story on social media acknowledged the irony of the amount of tax money that is spent on jails and prisons as compared to what is spent on the public school system.
“Baltimore’s K-12 public school students and teachers are on the front lines watching this city talk about juvenile crime while the State of Maryland, Baltimore’s mayor, and @BaltCitySchools can’t even keep classrooms properly heated during freezing weather,” tweeted Lawrence Brown on Twitter. “As studies have determined, however, Maryland severely UNDERFUNDS our schools, creating deep issues.”
According to the Baltimore Sun, “Baltimore schools have had to return millions in state funding for building repairs after projects to fix failing heating systems and roofs grew too expensive or took too long.”
The Sun report continued: “Since 2009, city schools have lost out on roughly $66 million in state funding for much-needed repairs after approved projects ran afoul of state regulations meant to prevent waste, state records show. The money could have funded dozens of new heating systems at schools where the heat is now failing.”
Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist, political analyst and a frequent contributor to the NNPA Newswire and BlackPressUSA.com. She can be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on Twitter at @LVBurke.