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Partnering with Critical Exposure allowed us to further develop the creative skills of the students and utilize those skills to provide greater context to the issues.
Baltimore was the site of Critical Exposure’s first project. In 2004-2005, 75 students took thousands of photographs of conditions in their schools, both positive and negative. More than 2,000 people, including the CEO of Baltimore City Schools, attended exhibits and events featuring students and their photographs. Venues included art galleries, a public library, a local college, and Baltimore City Hall.
In 2005, students took their photographs to Annapolis to show state lawmakers as they debated a bill that would provide additional funding for school facilities. Thanks in part to the impact of the students’ photographs and testimony and to the work of our partner, the Maryland ACLU, the 2005 Maryland General Assembly increased funding for school facilities by $100 million statewide.
In 2006, a photography exhibit and reception for state legislators was held at a gallery across the street from the State House in Annapolis. Students walked legislators through the exhibit, showing and telling them about their experiences in school and the need for increased facilities funding. The General Assembly responded to this strategy and the overall advocacy campaign by significantly increasing the statewide school capital budget and nearly doubling funding for Baltimore City from $21 million to $39.6 million.
"We recognize Critical Exposure’s efforts to improve public education in Maryland through student documentary photography of public schools that builds demand for a quality education for all students." - Citation from Maryland House of Delegates