The story, from the ABC local affiliate, is here. A quick summary:
Baltimore City mother Tiffany France’s reached out to local TV stations to complain when she learned that her 17-year-old son, who attends Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts in west Baltimore, will not only not graduate this year, but will be returned to the 9th grade. His transcripts show him passing just three classes in four years, earning 2.5 credits. France says she didn’t find that out until February, and thought her oldest son was doing well because was being promoted. He failed Spanish I and Algebra I but was promoted to Spanish II and Algebra II. He also failed English II but was passed on to English III. In his first three years at Augusta Fells, the boy failed 22 classes and was late or absent 272 days. France says, however, that despite what school policy requires when a student is absent, she was never contacted. Maybe that’s because, on a curve, he was doing fine. France’s son’s transcripts show his class rank is 62 out of 120, meaning about half his classmates, have a 0.13 grade point average or lower.
The ABC story concludes,
“Project Baltimore asked the City Schools administrator what they would say to France. The administrator replied, ‘I didn’t have a hand on this student, but I worked for City Schools. So, he is one of my kids. I would hug her, and I would apologize profusely.’ ‘He feels embarrassed, he feels like a failure,” France said of her son. “I’m like, you can’t feel like that. And you have to be strong and you got to keep fighting. Life is about fighting. Things happen, but you got to keep fighting. And he’s willing, he’s trying, but who would he turn to when the people that’s supposed to help him is not? Who do he turn to?‘
1. Let’s not pretend this is a Baltimore problem. To quote from a post just two days ago (Item#3),
“The National Assessment of Educational Progress reports that of the 27 U.S. urban school districts that reported their results for 2019, including Boston, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, none claims that a majority of its black eighth graders are proficient in either math or reading. In many of these school districts, proficiency rates for black eighth graders are in the single digits, like Detroit’s 4% for math and 5% for reading, or Milwaukee’s 5% for math and 7% for reading.” William McGurn wrote in the Wall Street Journal,
“In the past, progressives tried to lift black achievement. Today, they have given up. Embarrassed by the way our big city public school systems are failing black children…they focus on getting rid of the embarrassment by getting rid of the achievement tests that expose it..”
Or just trying to run the failing kids through the system as quickly as possible, as in this case.
2. Obviously the school is incompetent, the administration is incompetent, the school system is incompetent, and the city government is incompetent. Baltimore had African-American leadership during all of France’s son’s school tenure. The mayor of the city has been black since 2007. Go ahead, tell me this is a systemic racism problem.
3. The linked article ends with this: “He’s now enrolled in an accelerated school program at Francis M. Wood in west Baltimore. If her son works hard, he could graduate by 2023.” If he works hard? The kid skipped or was late for class 272 times! Why would anyone think he’ll “work hard,” or that he even knows how to work hard? That kind of thinking is exactly what got him in his current state.
4. Sure, a dedicated, talented, courageous inner city principal of the sort they make movies about might save some students like France’s son, but very few individuals in any system or bureaucracy are dedicated, talented, and courageous. Most are mediocre, uninspired, selfish, and trying to just get along. As the figures show, it wasn’t just one kid failing, it was almost all of them. The adults in such a situation either give up, become cynical and callous, or quit. What do you do as the tidal wave is coming down on you, like at the end of “Sudden Impact”? Do you try to swim? No, you just stand there on the beach and wait for it all wash over you.
5. The problem this awful story illustrates is especially depressing because so little has changed for so long. Busing didn’t work. Trying to eliminate racial bias in testing didn’t work. The components are interlocking. France is a single mother. No father is in the picture, apparently. Why is she demanding “mentors”? Parents are supposed to be mentors. She works three jobs, we learn: what time does she have to be a parent?
6. What kind of education did she have? What chance does a child have to pass English when his mother says “Who do he turn to?”
7. It is obvious from stories like this that reparations would do nothing to address the core problems on display. So you give France, or her and her son, a $100 grand each. Are they going to buy books with that money? Without training in finance, how long do you think the money will last?
8. It is hardly surprising, then, that the African-American community has defaulted to an “it’s all whitey’s fault” conclusion, and that the Left is claiming that all will be well once you “end racism” and “stop hate.” Sure, that will turn France’s son, with no father, an overwhelmed mother, no role models, taught by teachers who feel helpless and without the self-discipline to go to class, into a successful student, because he won’t feel like a failure anymore: he’ll have someone else to blame.
This is hopeless.