Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Lowered Expectations: Baltimore City Schools

(UPDATE: Read the comment/comments to this one. Very thought-provoking)

Yet another reason to NOT raise a family or have kids in Baltimore ("Passing easier in city schools")

This says it all:

"the minimum passing grade for key subjects has been lowered from 70 to 60... With little fanfare or public input, the city school board voted 6-1 in early June, with one abstention, to reduce the minimum passing marks in reading, math and some science classes in the first through 12th grades."


"Minutes of the board's June 13 meeting show that despite concerns about the lack of public debate, the board made the significant policy change in an unusually hurried fashion."

Okay, let me get this straight. In a city with a high murder rate, high STD rate, and poor public school system, the way to a better end is to LOWER the passing grades for READING, MATH, and *some* SCIENCE classes? So not only will we produce kids who are not on the same level as their peers in other school systems, we'll teach them that if they don't try hard to reach level 10, we'll just lower the bar from level 10 to level 8 so they can feel good about themselves. F*cking sad!

Can you tell I am heated about this? Kids deserve more. Kids need more! Kids need to be pushed and have confidence instilled in them. And the city school board is showing NO confidence in the kids of Baltimore. So my question to Baltimorians...Why should YOU show any CONFIDENCE in the school board? Take your kids out of public school and do what you gotta do to get your kids a SOLID EDUCATION. Otherwise, they may get left behind. SPORTS CAN'T SAVE 'EM ALL AND HIP-HOP D@MN SURE AIN'T GONNA SAVE 'EM ALL. But an education might just make it so they don't even need to be saved in the first place!

A move like this not only sets a standard for underachievement and low academic standards, but it also makes you wonder HOW MUCH IS REALLY WRONG with Baltimore city and its school system. In my eye, this is ONE PATHETIC @$$ move! PATHETIC and SAD. These kids already weren't getting a good education and now they're 3.0's are going to really amount to 2.5's in the real world (in comparison to other kids in other school systems).

I learned this lesson the hard way. Coming from Suitland High School (PG County) to Johns Hopkins I realized that not only did my high school not prepare me well for college, it didn't prepare me well for much else I would experience in my next four years of live either (most of all diversity). My teachers did a good job of encouraging me and making sure I put in enough effort to get good grades. But they HAD to know that I needed to be pushed harder. They went to college. They were living in the "real world". They had to know. But I understand that they're just part of a bigger machine. Some of them will take the risk of pushing the educational envelope (per se), but most will abide by the laws of the system that provides them with a miniscule and menial paycheck.

It took me 1.5 years of college just to adjust the way I read, the way I studied, and the amount of effort I put into schoolwork just for me to get B's and C's. I thought about giving up but was raised better than to do something like that. But I can only imagine the tough time these kids are going to have when-and-if they make it to college. And those who attend colleges that are NOT Historically Black may find it even harder. I know I did.

So from my perspective, a decision like this sends the message that Baltimore city's school board doesn't care about it's kids as much as THEY NEED to or CLAIM to. It sends the message that they're okay with underachieving as long as the school system looks better in comparison to other school systems (on paper that is). It sends the message that we're okay with more "corner-boys" and "younger-than-ever baby mommas". And it sends the message that if you really want your kid to get a half-decent education in the city of Baltimore, send them to private school cuz public school "ain't 'bout shyt!"

I guess what they say might NOT be true. That is, "Baltimore has nowhere to go but up". Everything but the school system huh?



Lawrenorder said...

This is truly a sad day. I understand wanting to be able to say you have a majority passing rate in your school system, but lowering standards does nothing but say 'you can't do it and we won't make you.' It is truly a defeatist attitude. I was only ever a temporary resident of the area, but rest assured I will be writing a letter noting my dismay.

I'll go one step further. For shame the school board and shame on the community that isn't up in arms to kick them ALL off the board. If nothing more than for not living up to the purpose of the board. It is indeed a sad and dark day.

Then again, consider... with the rising energy cost, gentrification and the rest, isn't this a creative way to get the minority (read: black) residents of Baltimore to move out of the city to the newly minted "us's and we's" neighbord hoods outside that little yellow box?
You know our folks always seem to be 10-15 years off the pace (if not a whole generation--25 years), so this would make a whole lot of sense. And I'm not a consipracy theorist, but man does it make sense.

Daneger said...

Man this joint really pisses me off too. How are you combating the ills of a city that is gradually becoming known as the worst in the nation by perpetuating one of it's major issues into what can only become a social epidemic for the city. I just don't get where the heads of the school board memebers are. This is the type of thing that makes me consider a future in some type of politics. Just in order to have the chance to fight things such as this. This needs to be brought to light on a national scale man.

Anonymous said...

Lauren, I honestly didn't even think about the possibility of this being part of the gentrification that will inevitably hit Baltimore. Good point!!! But I have a question? Do you think that in order for Bmore city to ever improve gentrification will be necessary? I mean, you have people in the black community who are a part of that community who try and try to build up their communities over years and years. But in alot of these urban areas, the black folks in the community trying to make the community betterr RARELY succeed to the point where a community is completely turned around.

So do we need it to be gentrified in order to give OUR people that "shock factor" of seeing them move out all the poor and take over with people a little more wealthy so we can continue what seems to be a ridiculous chase to keep up with the "other folks".

Maybe we as black folks HAVE to use gentrification as our impetus to get our shyt right! It's sad, but it appears in general, we enjoy the chase. We like seeing all the white folks moving out to the counties so we can say "I want a nice big house in the county". And we like seeing them move back in the city after we've followed them to the county so we can say "I want a big loft apartment in the city now".

Without the gentrification, would we just continue the endless cycle of a chosen few in each community who try to build things up without relocating the people, only to no avail?

I am not a big fan of gentrification, but I will admit that it definitely helped me open my eyes and "read between the lines". If you really think about it from the perspective of "why aren't we doing that" rather than "why are they doing this to us"...Then it can change your outlook on the entire process.

Lawrenorder said...

Mike, your point is well taken, but simply put, you have never seen gentrification actually result in a positive end for the black community. You just haven't. Will gentrification be good for Baltimore? Yes. The money will flow, buildings will be occupied, and bars on the windows of downtown businesses will be no more. But the mentality you speak of won't occur. You say the "shock factor" results in this chase to "keep up". The people aren't thinking "why aren't we doing that". The way I see it, it's more of a "why can't we have/get/see that in our neighborhoods". It's a bunch of questions without the drive to make the answers happen. The few that try fail because everyone else hasn't bought into the idea. Those that do leave or get out may very well not look back because the know that whatever the message of change is, it is not strong enough to will it to happen.
I say, gentrification will happen, as it has continued to in its many forms all these years. Eventually someone, some government, or some neighborhood will have had enough. They'd keep the people where they are and up the stakes. Radically change the neighborhood and do it in such a way that the "shock" of losing the status quo, COMPLETELY, offers few options but to change.
It's interesting to me. People are drowning in options; positive ones, negative ones, bad ones, good ones, stupid ones. I'm all about limiting control and influence for the greater good. A wise man can become an idiot among the masses.
I'll stand inside and outside the issue and come up with the same conclusion. I suppose for the duration of this new school board policy we will see what happens. And the longer it is a standard operation procedure the more profound the effects will be. But the message has already been put out there and I say the city lost the will to fight for the kids.
At some point someone will say enough is enough and will have the money, influence, conviction, and bonafide nerves of steel to make it happen. Until then folks like us will continue to watch in disappointment as we move with the masses running the show.

Anonymous said...

Very well put Lauren. You made some really good points. Definitely gave me a lot to think about. This is one of those discussions you gotta have in person.