Ethics Observations On The Black Baltimore HS Student Near The Top Half Of His Class Despite A 0.13 Grade Point Average

Augusta Fells

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?

Observations:

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.

13 thoughts on “Ethics Observations On The Black Baltimore HS Student Near The Top Half Of His Class Despite A 0.13 Grade Point Average

  1. Failure abounds across the board and that student is likely doomed unless the student chooses to do something to better their chances in society.

    I looked at a student I was tutoring in college and told him that I couldn’t help him if he stayed in the classes he was in and he should try to go to trade school IF they would let him in. I actually recognized the blatantly obvious intellectual barrier that was holding the student back and trade school probably saved his life. I nearly lost my tutoring job at that college because of that brutally honest recommendation but I knew his strengths and steered him where I thought he would succeed which was maintenance (I worked in maintenance for the first 5 years of my career and learned LOT) which can actually pay reasonably decent with the proper skills. I contacted a few people at the local technical college and he excelled in the field that I recommended. The last I heard he was employed in the field, had a happy family and was a reasonably productive member of society.

    Brutal honesty is sometimes quite effective if used correctly.

    • “Brutal honesty is sometimes quite effective if used correctly.”

      “Correctly” being a crucial factor.

      In all the time I’ve known you, ne’er a drop of varnish has sullied any of your…um…observations.

      Anywho, brutal honesty does have its shortcomings; i.e., my reward for strongly asserting that the picture of a particularly clueless, hive-minded SJW (forgive the redundancy) on the neighborsnextdoor site accompany the dictionary definition of Useful Idiot?

      A 31 day Time Out.

    • Just read something today about Caribbean and Nigerian kids of color doing just fine, all the crap they have to endure notwithstanding, compared to African American kids. I suspect Haitians are in the same boat.

    • Thanks! A true pleasure to read something so positive and forward-looking from such a polished, motivated, UNwoke young man!

      The everLUVin’ coup de grâce dagger?

      When acceptance is the highest value, when avoiding condemnation online is worth more than the truth, the truth will be swiftly discarded.”

  2. No problemo. He’ll get a scholarship to Harvard and become a dean of diversity at Williams and then be hired on by Google to head up their HR department. Who cares if he can read or write? That’s just white supremacy.

  3. Jack, your post is disheartening but accurate. And I wish there were an easy fix for the problems in so many urban schools, but I don’t know of any. When I was younger, I subbed in very tough urban schools (in Paterson, NJ) to augment my earnings as a writer, and I still have friends who teach in those schools. The problems in such schools are deep-rooted and seemingly intractable. It’s easy to speak of “incompetent administrations” and such, but in Paterson, the State of New Jersey took over the whole school system and it made little difference. One of my friends, who still teaches in one of Paterson’s roughest schools, notes he’s had more than 50 students in some classes; just trying to maintain control over 50 unruly students (never mind teaching them) is draining. He’s a well-liked, well-respected teacher, and committed to his students. But over the years, he’s repeatedly had belongings stolen from him by kids in the school. The system, of necessity, hires a lot of security guards–which of course means less money is available to hire teachers.

    If every student was held back who should be held back, he says, the classes would be even larger, and you’d want up with 18-year-olds sharing classrooms with 13-year-olds, which creates new problems. He doesn’t know a solution. In the film “Lean on Me,” the tough principal, Joe Clark, turns around a troubled high school. It was a good film, but far from reality. And Clark achieved few, if any, lasting improvements. Parents need to be involved. Many parents who claim they have no idea their kids are cutting school or failing classes are refusing to accept responsibility. Schools provide portals where parents can see online if their kids are attending school, completing assignments, passing classes. I wish I had a solution. I don’t.

    • Nor do I, Chip. We pulled our son Grant, who is bright and thoughtful but who also has an inbred contempt for authority, out of public high school when he told us that in literally every class, it took the teacher about 15-20 minutes just to get the students to sit down, stop laughing and talking, and sort of pay attention. My investigation proved this to be the case: Alexandria has one monster HS, and students are seldom disciplined or suspended. My son increasingly began to view classes as a waste of time. He was robbed several times. And this is one of the more affluent multi-racial suburbs in the country. We home schooled Grant with a tutor, but he really educated himself. We will never know what he may have accomplished if he had had something similar to my educational opportunities; on the other hand, his elementary school principal’s assessment that he would get where he wanted to go one way or the other through native ability, force of character and sheer orneriness has proven prescient. But he’s one of the lucky ones, with a strong support network and an inquiring mind. Three bad schools couldn’t damage him, and we were paying attention.

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