Friday, April 07, 2006


Democrats run Baltimore City for years so fault must lie elsewhere for state of its schools

As an outsider here in Baltimore (Ed. Note: I live in Baltimore but, because I didn’t go to high school here, I will probably never be considered a proper Baltimorean), I’ve become attuned to certain idiosyncrasies of the city. One is the common nostalgia among older Baltimore residents for just how good they thought the school system used to be.

Well, however good they used to be, those days are certainly past. Now, everyone here has an anecdote about just how bad the public schools are and no one ever talks about how they moved (or know someone who moved) to the city BECAUSE of the schools.

Baltimore’s reputation for poor schools was given a boost on Wednesday when the Maryland Board of Education voted to allow 11 poor-performing Baltimore City schools (4 high school & 7 middle schools) under third-party management. State Votes To Take Over Failing City Schools

Predictably, this did not sit well with Mayor O’Malley or certain Democrats as the General Assembly is ramming through a bill that would prevent the change in management. Bill Would Block State Takeover of Baltimore Schools,

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert):
“People wonder if [O'Malley] weren't running for governor, would this action have even taken place, and in this manner?" Miller said. "This is raw politics at its worst, because it involves our schoolchildren."

Let’s assume he’s right; that this is nothing more than a crass political gambit by Governor Ehrlich and his cronies. So what? These schools are simply awful. Is Senator Miller arguing that keeping the status quo is in the best interests of these students? That he can see real progress in these schools? Should State Superintendent of Schools Nancy Grasmick and the State Board have resisted taking this action precisely because of how it might be spun politically?
(see also O'Malley, Ehrlich Battling Over More Than Baltimore Schools)

The General Assembly is supposed to vote today (Friday, April 7) to postpone the takeover. This is a vote that deserves to follow each politician for the rest of his or her career. A vote to not allow the School Board’s actions is a vote that says that General Assembly member believes the Baltimore City School System is doing right and will continue to do right by these students.

Here are the schools slated for a change in management:

High Schools: Frederick Douglas Sr. High School, Northwestern High, Southwestern High, and Patterson High School.Middle Schools: Calverton, Chinquapin, Diggs-Johnson, Dr. Roland Patterson, Hamilton, Thurgood Marshall and William H. Lemmel

And see for yourself the data behind this decision (extra credit if you can discern any reason for Senator Miller to vote against any state action here)
2005 Maryland Report Card: Baltimore City

Interesting that the politicians want to blame the schools. The schools are just fine; it's the parents that are faltering.

How about if the state takes over parenting for the parents of the students in the "bad" schools? Or even better, provide mandatory birth control to these inempt parents?
Say, "I live in Bawlmer Merlin." Taht wasn't so hard, was it? Now you are a real Baltimorean, er, Bawlmorean.

You write A vote to not allow the School Board’s actions is a vote that says that General Assembly member believes the Baltimore City School System is doing right and will continue to do right by these students.

Isn't it more cynical than that? You're imputing a noble but mistaken motive. I think the real motive is "If we vote against the state takeover it will help O'Malley and hurt Ehrlich." I believe that most of the city delegation (certainly this is the case in my district - the 41st) is behind O'Malley. And I guess the PG delegation would be too.
Anon - agreed - behind every good school are parents who care about the schooling of their children

and David - you're probably right as to the cynicism (and I suspect many will vote for the bill just because Mike Miller told them to) but part of me thinks it is more damaging for a politician to be a moron than to be crassly political.
I found the actual coverage of the whole issue interesting. The Sun only gave one side of the story for almost all of its reporting. The Washington Post and Gazette seemed fairly accurate with their assessments. I also noticed this website that seemed to be documenting the sun's bias. Hopefully someone will realize that political fighting extending to the arena of children is just downright wrong.
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