Baltimore: Should We Laugh or Cry?

 

Truth be told, I have had no connections to Baltimore, Maryland since my ancestors landed there in 1703. (Although the city wasn’t officially founded until 1729, the initial settlement was established in 1661.) Eventually, those ancestors chose to move westward; at least as far as Ohio.

As I was growing up, it seemed that many of my sports heroes were located in Baltimore (Johnny U. and Raymond Berry for the Colts; Brooks Robinson and Boog Powell for the Orioles). Still, I knew very little about the City. That being said, I don’t think I’m interested in learning much more.

Perhaps Baltimore is a microcosm of American cities; perhaps it’s a trendsetter, I’m not sure. All I can be certain of is that it has become a sick joke and that its elected officials resemble failed comedians.

Probably, the most famous was the former mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake who achieved notoriety for her statement during the riots of 2015, “…We also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well, and we work very hard to keep that balance..” (Of course, the citizens of Baltimore shouldn’t have expected much more since her predecessor, Sheila Dixon, had been convicted of embezzlement.) Blake’s successor, Catherine Pugh, wasn’t exactly a resounding success; she couldn’t even finish out her term and is, at this moment, sitting out her three-year prison term for tax evasion.

Of course, the mayor’s office isn’t the only entity that has been affected by corruption and incompetence. The City’s District Attorney, Marilyn Mosby, seems to have a knack for losing high-profile cases. (For example, her overcharging of the 6 police officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray resulted in the complete acquittal of all of them.) As of late, Mosby has come under fire for her frequent travel on the taxpayer’s dime (23 trips in 2018 and 2019 to such locales as Germany, Portugal, and Kenya). Curiously, she has set up a travel agency (Mahogany Elite Enterprises LLC.) with the stated purpose of “…helping underserved black families who don’t usually have the opportunity to travel outside of urban cities, so they can vacation at various destinations throughout the world at discount prices.”

I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised at corruption in city governments; it’s become almost commonplace. However, what does disturb me (and should disturb all of us) is how this corruption and incompetence has found its way into the school systems; especially in the Baltimore City Schools. Although Baltimore pays its administrators more than anywhere else in the nation, its schools are among the worst. In one year, 13 public schools had zero students proficient in math. Nine out of ten black males could not read at grade level. A 2021 report reveals that, throughout the entire district, the schools have an average math proficiency score of 18% and a reading proficiency score of 17%.

However, mere statistics do not tell the entire story. I recently read a story about a senior at one of those schools who had failed all but three classes (over four years) and still graduated in the top half of his class with a GPA of 0.13 (no word on what the GPA of the valedictorian might have been). Of course, that might have been due to the fact that he had been late or absent 272 days over his first three years in high school (but that’s just a hunch).

A reason for this somewhat inadequate performance (along with that of the other students) was readily explained by an ad hoc group called “Baltimore City Votes”. According to the group, wait for it; the real reason is systemic racism. And, the only solution for the situation is (unsurprisingly) “more funding”.

Perhaps some of us who do not reside in Baltimore believe that their situation does not affect us. However, this would be a mistake. A couple of weeks ago I read in our statewide newspaper (The Columbus Dispatch) an editorial titled, Importance of learning Black history means it should never be optional”. The article had been written by Andrea K. McDaniels, The Baltimore Sun’s deputy editorial page editor. One memorable blurb from her piece read, “So when critics of the 1619 Project (named for the year African slaves arrived in the Colony of Virginia) say it is inaccurate and promotes divisiveness, they are mistaken. It tells the truth – and not what people want the truth to be.”

That editorial said a number of things to me but the most important thing was that “I’m not as concerned about the students in my city who can’t read or do math as much as I am about shoving a bastardized piece of history down the throats of every young student in the entire country.” For the self-appointed elites of our country (especially in the news media), a society of dullards is no big problem; after all, they’re more easily controlled.

Seeing all that is going on in Baltimore, I thought back to my ancestors and what they believed; “hard work is the key to success”, “work before play”, and “rational thinking”. Then reality set in; those are exactly the attributes that are today ridiculed as “white constructs”. To my chagrin, it appears that I have been a “white supremacist” from the moment my ancestors arrived in this country over three hundred years ago.

There was a novel written back in 1948 titled Cry the Beloved Country. As I recall, it was about South Africa but, as far as I’m concerned, that title is especially appropriate for what this country is becoming.

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  1. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker
    @JennaStocker

    Excellent post. But be warned – if you don’t like what you see in Baltimore, stay away from Minneapolis. Aside from its impending implosion from the upcoming trial, the city has suffered from a devastating crime wave in (surprise!) the poorest areas of the city. Police are dejected and retiring or taking leave, abandoned by the city leaders. The kids are being betrayed by the white-guilt crowd who think their tokens of offering to equity and inclusion and anti racism are cover for failing to give children an education. That is the real crime. It ,Ames me so angry I can hardly talk about it. But I’ll say this: telling kids they don’t need to learn math because it’s a product of white supremacy and instead graduating them at less than a fifth grade math and reading proficiency level is disgusting and disgraceful. The communities are begging for more police. Kids are craving real learning opportunities. But the systemic-liberalism institutions in these cities are killing them, literally.

    • #1
  2. lowtech redneck Coolidge
    lowtech redneck
    @lowtech redneck

    When we laugh, aren’t we really crying?

    • #2
  3. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    Excellent post. But be warned – if you don’t like what you see in Baltimore, stay away from Minneapolis. Aside from its impending implosion from the upcoming trial, the city has suffered from a devastating crime wave in (surprise!) the poorest areas of the city. Police are dejected and retiring or taking leave, abandoned by the city leaders. The kids are being betrayed by the white-guilt crowd who think their tokens of offering to equity and inclusion and anti racism are cover for failing to give children an education. That is the real crime. It ,Ames me so angry I can hardly talk about it. But I’ll say this: telling kids they don’t need to learn math because it’s a product of white supremacy and instead graduating them at less than a fifth grade math and reading proficiency level is disgusting and disgraceful. The communities are begging for more police. Kids are craving real learning opportunities. But the systemic-liberalism institutions in these cities are killing them, literally.

    Baltimore, Minneapolis, Seattle, San Francisco (and any number of others); it seems like they’re trying to outdo each other.

    • #3
  4. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    JennaStocker (View Comment):
    Excellent post. But be warned – if you don’t like what you see in Baltimore, stay away from Minneapolis. Aside from its impending implosion from the upcoming trial,

    We’ll see. Depends on the verdict, to state the thuddingly obvious. The government buildings are locked down hard. A dedicated group could burn City Hall if they were really intent on it, and I’ve no doubt there are some who would cheer if the old structure was torched and trashed and the old bells in the tower clanged to the ground for the last peal.

    I’ve no idea whether the city – and the adjacent County building – is prepared to repel a truly enthusiastic group intent on reprising Bastille Day. A rampage through downtown that smashed every available window would be excused by the usual sorts. (It’s just glass.) Burning down the rebuilt stores at ground zero for last summer’s riots would be regarded as bad form, as the British say about cheating at cricket. But it’s not as if it would change the direction or composition of the local government. We would hear a lot about the need to heal, and move forward.

    the city has suffered from a devastating crime wave in (surprise!) the poorest areas of the city.

    Yes, and it’s spread outward. There was a shooting in Uptown tonight, where I used to live. Also:

    A man was fatally shot Saturday evening near E. 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, the Minneapolis intersection known as George Floyd Square, where Floyd died in police custody last May.

    According to police spokesman John Elder, police got a ShotSpotter notification about 5:45 p.m., and 911 callers reported that two people had been shot and were being brought to the barricades at the area’s entrance. When officers arrived, the victim was already gone.

    Police later learned that the victim, a man believed to be in his 30s with a gunshot wound, had been taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he died. No second victim appeared, Elder said.

    “Officers were met with some interference” when they arrived at the square to investigate, Elder said, without giving further details.

    According to a poster on reddit, the cops have a “vested interest” in making the place look “shady,” and random “white dudes” in an suv have been seen rolling up to George Floyd Square and firing weapons into the air, might not be cops but hey do the math, right? Police say it might be a personal beef. No one seems to think it’s remarkable that a shooting at George Floyd Square is completely contrary to the point of having a George Floyd Square.

    Unless the focal point is institutional violence, and all other forms of civil disorder are excused, because Systemic Systemism and all that.  We live in a strange fog where responsibility for general and specific disorder is vague and half-heartedly excused, and the formless devils of Systemism are somehow responsible,  directly, for every individual action. 

    • #4
  5. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker
    @JennaStocker

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    JennaStocker (View Comment):
    Excellent post. But be warned – if you don’t like what you see in Baltimore, stay away from Minneapolis. Aside from its impending implosion from the upcoming trial,

    We’ll see. Depends on the verdict, to state the thuddingly obvious. The government buildings are locked down hard. A dedicated group could burn City Hall if they were really intent on it, and I’ve no doubt there are some who would cheer if the old structure was torched and trashed and the old bells in the tower clanged to the ground for the last peal.

    I’ve no idea whether the city – and the adjacent County building – is prepared to repel a truly enthusiastic group intent on reprising Bastille Day. A rampage through downtown that smashed every available window would be excused by the usual sorts. (It’s just glass.) Burning down the rebuilt stores at ground zero for last summer’s riots would be regarded as bad form, as the British say about cheating at cricket. But it’s not as if it would change the direction or composition of the local government. We would hear a lot about the need to heal, and move forward.

    the city has suffered from a devastating crime wave in (surprise!) the poorest areas of the city.

    Yes, and it’s spread outward. There was a shooting in Uptown tonight, where I used to live. Also:

    A man was fatally shot Saturday evening near E. 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, the Minneapolis intersection known as George Floyd Square, where Floyd died in police custody last May.

    According to police spokesman John Elder, police got a ShotSpotter notification about 5:45 p.m., and 911 callers reported that two people had been shot and were being brought to the barricades at the area’s entrance. When officers arrived, the victim was already gone.

    Police later learned that the victim, a man believed to be in his 30s with a gunshot wound, had been taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he died. No second victim appeared, Elder said.

    “Officers were met with some interference” when they arrived at the square to investigate, Elder said, without giving further details.

    According to a poster on reddit, the cops have a “vested interest” in making the place look “shady,” and random “white dudes” in an suv have been seen rolling up to George Floyd Square and firing weapons into the air, might not be cops but hey do the math, right? Police say it might be a personal beef. No one seems to think it’s remarkable that a shooting at George Floyd Square is completely contrary to the point of having a George Floyd Square.

    Unless the focal point is institutional violence, and all other forms of civil disorder are excused, because Systemic Systemism and all that. We live in a strange fog where responsibility for general and specific disorder is vague and half-heartedly excused, and the formless devils of Systemism are somehow responsible, directly, for every individual action.

    I was hoping you’d use your social media presence to influence people to stay home, be peaceful! Ah but the city bungled that roll out and it wouldn’t matter anyway- just as a shooting in Downtown last summer (a suicide it turned out) led to another night of chaos. And yes the compound formerly known as City Hall will be fine, unless rioters found an artillery tank in the old armory building. It’s the businesses around there that are at risk.

    As for the George Floyd square area, it’s been the scene of violence since this fall, and back and forth between Mayor Frey and the City Council on what to do with it amidst claims it’s an autonomous zone, and a double shooting there a few months back.https://www.mprnews.org/story/2020/12/29/after-shooting-at-george-floyd-square-mpls-council-member-says-area-should-be-open-to-public

    So we’ll see, and have front row seats to what the whole world will be watching.

    No one seems to think it’s remarkable that a shooting at George Floyd Square is completely contrary to the point of having a George Floyd Square.

    It’s a microcosm of what Minneapolis has become. New construction in Downtown! (but it’s more likely to house tumbleweeds than residents or businesses). Peace memorial for George Floyd! (Scene of repeated violence). Defund and reimagine the police and bring the community together (funded by George Soros’ Open Society Police Center https://minnesotareformer.com/2021/02/03/soros-backed-political-group-gives-500000-to-campaign-to-replace-minneapolis-police-department/)

    The summer of discontent is turning into the spring of uncertainty.

    • #5
  6. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    Re: Baltimore  schools.

    It’s not just the one kid.   And it’s been going on for a long time.    In 2017, Maryland standardised testing showed that in 13 of the city’s 39 schools ZERO percent of students were proficient in math.   At 6 others 1% of students were proficient in math.

    https://foxbaltimore.com/news/project-baltimore/13-baltimore-city-high-schools-zero-students-proficient-in-math

    But it’s not ubiquitous.   There is a charter school for boys ( no admission testing requirements ) where 60% were proficient.   So it can be done.    But it takes will on everyone’s part.   Students.  Parents.  Teachers.  But for the most part these kids are just forgotten and ignored.    The saddest part of the story you referenced is that after failing all but 3 classes over 3 years and missing 200+ days, only ONE teacher ever requested a parent conference.   One.   Where’s the teacher’s union on this issue?

    • #6
  7. OldPhil Coolidge
    OldPhil
    @OldPhil

    We lived near Baltimore during our entire working careers, about 35 years. In the 80s and 90s going into the city for dinner, concerts, plays, baseball, etc. was a great experience. Harborplace opening in the early 80s really helped rejuvenate downtown, and brought in a lot of people and money for development.

    We retired in the late aughts, and by then things were starting to get a bit sketchy downtown, but it was still fine in the shopping/restaurant/ballpark areas. We moved to another state, but came back in 2015 for a concert; “Let’s hit the harbor and have dinner before the concert.” Man, that was depressing. One of the Harborplace pavilions was almost a ghost town; in place of all the seafood restaurants, food court, souvenir shops, etc., it was mainly taken up by a Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum. The other pavilion still had things to do, but the vibe wasn’t there.

    I was glad we parked in the arena garage so we didn’t have to walk the streets when the concert was over.

     

    • #7
  8. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    Re: Baltimore schools.

    It’s not just the one kid. And it’s been going on for a long time. In 2017, Maryland standardised testing showed that in 13 of the city’s 39 schools ZERO percent of students were proficient in math. At 6 others 1% of students were proficient in math.

    https://foxbaltimore.com/news/project-baltimore/13-baltimore-city-high-schools-zero-students-proficient-in-math

    But it’s not ubiquitous. There is a charter school for boys ( no admission testing requirements ) where 60% were proficient. So it can be done. But it takes will on everyone’s part. Students. Parents. Teachers. But for the most part these kids are just forgotten and ignored. The saddest part of the story you referenced is that after failing all but 3 classes over 3 years and missing 200+ days, only ONE teacher ever requested a parent conference. One. Where’s the teacher’s union on this issue?

    More … 

    According to information uncovered by the Project Baltimore Investigation by the local Fox News affiliate WBFF, Baltimore spends roughly $1.4 billion annually on education, or roughly $16,000 per student. Baltimore’s spending on education is the fourth highest of any municipality in the country. Despite this massive commitment of resources, Baltimore schools have some of the lowest educational proficiency levels in the country.

    According to Project Baltimore investigative journalist Chris Papst, reading proficiency rates among Baltimore High School graduates hover at around 11 percent, and math proficiency rates hover around 12 percent. This is in a school system that graduates roughly 70 percent of its students each year.

    • #8
  9. Goldgeller Member
    Goldgeller
    @Goldgeller

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    Re: Baltimore schools.

    It’s not just the one kid. And it’s been going on for a long time. In 2017, Maryland standardised testing showed that in 13 of the city’s 39 schools ZERO percent of students were proficient in math. At 6 others 1% of students were proficient in math.

    https://foxbaltimore.com/news/project-baltimore/13-baltimore-city-high-schools-zero-students-proficient-in-math

    But it’s not ubiquitous. There is a charter school for boys ( no admission testing requirements ) where 60% were proficient. So it can be done. But it takes will on everyone’s part. Students. Parents. Teachers. But for the most part these kids are just forgotten and ignored. The saddest part of the story you referenced is that after failing all but 3 classes over 3 years and missing 200+ days, only ONE teacher ever requested a parent conference. One. Where’s the teacher’s union on this issue?

    More …

    According to information uncovered by the Project Baltimore Investigation by the local Fox News affiliate WBFF, Baltimore spends roughly $1.4 billion annually on education, or roughly $16,000 per student. Baltimore’s spending on education is the fourth highest of any municipality in the country. Despite this massive commitment of resources, Baltimore schools have some of the lowest educational proficiency levels in the country.

    According to Project Baltimore investigative journalist Chris Papst, reading proficiency rates among Baltimore High School graduates hover at around 11 percent, and math proficiency rates hover around 12 percent. This is in a school system that graduates roughly 70 percent of its students each year.

    Crazy statistics. The whole thing is a travesty.

    • #9
  10. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    Ekosj (View Comment):

     

    According to information uncovered by the Project Baltimore Investigation by the local Fox News affiliate WBFF, Baltimore spends roughly $1.4 billion annually on education, or roughly $16,000 per student. Baltimore’s spending on education is the fourth highest of any municipality in the country. Despite this massive commitment of resources, Baltimore schools have some of the lowest educational proficiency levels in the country.

    According to Project Baltimore investigative journalist Chris Papst, reading proficiency rates among Baltimore High School graduates hover at around 11 percent, and math proficiency rates hover around 12 percent. This is in a school system that graduates roughly 70 percent of its students each year.

    This is very similar to Cleveland, which spends a little over $16,000.00 per student per year, ranking them 13th highest in the State out of 600 districts.  However, the state report card ranks them the 10th worst district in the State.  Our graduation rate is also around 70%, which is probably artificially high if you count actual proficiency.

    These figures fly right in the face of the old adage that says “Minority children in big urban cities suffer from underfunding of their school systems.”  I would guess that the contrary to this outdated adage exists in most parts of the country.  Anybody else have local figures?

    • #10
  11. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    Outstanding post !

    And what do we do about this new and improved approach of today’s Democrats (an approach that’s very superior to the one they used in the antebellum South) to keep children who happen to be black or brown from learning to read and do basic math ?

    • #11
  12. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    Ansonia (View Comment):

    Outstanding post !

    I agree, but I just couldn’t give it a like because it is so depressing!

     

    • #12
  13. Boney Cole Member
    Boney Cole
    @BoneyCole

    I would like to see a list of the cities according to their spending per student, and their testing results.  

    • #13
  14. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    CACrabtree: A reason for this somewhat inadequate performance (along with that of the other students) was readily explained by an ad hoc group called “Baltimore City Votes”. According to the group, wait for it; the real reason is systemic racism. And, the only solution for the situation is (unsurprisingly) “more funding”.

    So how come in the days of actual anti-black systemic racism (early to mid 20th Century) black students were gaining faster and moving into productive work at a faster pace than they are today? If they think today’s “systemic racism” is the reason for failure, how do they explain how much their grandparents achieved?

    • #14
  15. Goldgeller Member
    Goldgeller
    @Goldgeller

    I had to look it up but per-pupil expenditures includes basically everything but building and construction costs. So if there is administrative bloat the statistic would be a biased statistic and not really reliable as anything more than a heuristic. For instance poor schools that require more resource officers (cops?) and spend more money on food assistance could have the same per pupil expenditure as a school that mainly hires more teachers. 

    This whole thing is really interesting and I’m surprised to find out how hard it is to get the numbers I’d like to get (Baltimore schooling hours compared to a state or national average).

    This article + dashboard suggests that from 2014-19 Baltimore students “lost about 1.5 million hours or the equivalent of 221,000 full days of school, on top of missed school from weather-related events.” That wouldn’t be directly observable from the per-pupil expenditures because my guess is that statistic is probably not that useful except for the fact that it exists, is continuous, and is regularly collected. This article looks at schooling hours during covid but it is clear, I think, that there is a large distribution in hours of education received. It’s also a pretty cool article. Why education hours? It’s very predictive of success. Expenditures per pupil are probably only useful to the extent they correlate with education hours. Though they do measure slightly different things and aren’t replaceable.

    • #15
  16. GlennAmurgis Coolidge
    GlennAmurgis
    @GlennAmurgis

    I spend 20 years in the Detroit area, It never recovered from the 68 riots.  

    • #16
  17. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Ansonia (View Comment):

    Outstanding post !

    And what do we do about this new and improved approach of today’s Democrats (an approach that’s very superior to the one they used in the antebellum South) to keep children who happen to be black or brown from learning to read and do basic math ?

    One of the biggest questions that continues to go unanswered; who did/does the most damage; the KKK nightriders or the Democratically supported teacher’s unions?

    • #17
  18. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    CACrabtree: A reason for this somewhat inadequate performance (along with that of the other students) was readily explained by an ad hoc group called “Baltimore City Votes”. According to the group, wait for it; the real reason is systemic racism. And, the only solution for the situation is (unsurprisingly) “more funding”.

    So how come in the days of actual anti-black systemic racism (early to mid 20th Century) black students were gaining faster and moving into productive work at a faster pace than they are today? If they think today’s “systemic racism” is the reason for failure, how do they explain how much their grandparents achieved?

    It seems to me that, as more race hustlers appear on the scene, the quality of education drops.  It used to be that the only one getting ink was Jesse Jackson.  Now, we have them sprouting up everywhere.

    I suppose one needs to be told repeatedly that he/she is disadvantaged before they begin to believe it.

    • #18
  19. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Great post

    • #19
  20. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    Boney Cole (View Comment):

    I would like to see a list of the cities according to their spending per student, and their testing results.

    @boneycole

    The testing results are available and are particularly depressing.  No   Wrong word.   Scandalous.   If a foreign power imposed these results on US children we’d probably consider it terrorism or an act or war.

    Nationwide, only 24% of public school high school students are at or above Proficient in Math.   Only 36% in reading.   Worse, students perform worse the longer they’ve been exposed to the public school system.    Public school acts like a toxin.  In Math, 40% of 4th graders are at or above proficient.   33% of 8th graders.   24% of 12th graders.   

    • #20
  21. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Great post

    Thanks Doc.

    • #21
  22. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    Boney Cole (View Comment):

    I would like to see a list of the cities according to their spending per student, and their testing results.

    @ boneycole

    The testing results are available and are particularly depressing. No Wrong word. Scandalous. If a foreign power imposed these results on US children we’d probably consider it terrorism or an act or war.

    Nationwide, only 24% of public school high school students are at or above Proficient in Math. Only 36% in reading. Worse, students perform worse the longer they’ve been exposed to the public school system. Public school acts like a toxin. In Math, 40% of 4th graders are at or above proficient. 33% of 8th graders. 24% of 12th graders.

    Thanks for the info, even though “depressing” doesn’t begin to cover it.

    • #22
  23. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    Boney Cole (View Comment):

    I would like to see a list of the cities according to their spending per student, and their testing results.

    @ boneycole

    The testing results are available and are particularly depressing. No Wrong word. Scandalous. If a foreign power imposed these results on US children we’d probably consider it terrorism or an act or war.

    Nationwide, only 24% of public school high school students are at or above Proficient in Math. Only 36% in reading. Worse, students perform worse the longer they’ve been exposed to the public school system. Public school acts like a toxin. In Math, 40% of 4th graders are at or above proficient. 33% of 8th graders. 24% of 12th graders.

    I’m not sure that’s what this means. The decline might also indicate that as the complexity of the proficiency grows, lower IQ students reach their maximum capabilities pull down the average. 

    Of more concern is how we are doing when compared to other countries and other time periods. 

    It is difficult, though, not to conclude that time spent on non-‘three Rs’ is largely wasted. 

    • #23
  24. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    Goldgeller (View Comment):

    This article + dashboard suggests that from 2014-19 Baltimore students “lost about 1.5 million hours or the equivalent of 221,000 full days of school, on top of missed school from weather-related events.” That wouldn’t be directly observable from the per-pupil expenditures because my guess is that statistic is probably not that useful except for the fact that it exists, is continuous, and is regularly collected.

    That whole article was trying to justify the poor performance of Baltimore school children due to the infrastructure of the buildings being so old.  They were saying that schools closed too often because of air-conditioning breaking down or heating issues.  I don’t buy this argument for one minute.  It is just an excuse for underperforming students whose parent(s) lack the will to raise their children with high educational standards or high disciplinary standards.  We didn’t even have air-conditioning when I went to public school in Cleveland, and the schools never once shut down due to heat.  Snowstorms would occasionally close the schools, but that was distributed equally among all schools, public or private.  Baltimore cannot claim worse weather than the rest of the State.

    Cleveland has been on a massive spending spree to build new schools for the last ten years.  At great expense they tore down schools that were less than 40 years old instead of simply maintaining them.  It has done zero to improve the testing scores or abilities of students.  I’ve calculated that with spending per student of $16,000.00 per year, you could scrap the whole system and hire private tutors at $48,000.00  per year for every three students and hold classes in their private homes.  With the elimination of the massive school buildings and staff to maintain them, and utility bills, maybe you could have one teacher for every two kids.

    It used to be that Catholic Schools spent something like 1/4th of the money that public schools spent per child.  And the Catholic students fared something like one or two two grade levels higher than their public school counterparts on standardized tests.  I don’t know what the latest ratio is on that but it says a lot about public education in this country.

    • #24
  25. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Money spent has little to do with education. 

    Power and leverage does; the power to get children to do the work. 

    • #25
  26. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    TBA (View Comment):

    I’m not sure that’s what this means. The decline might also indicate that as the complexity of the proficiency grows, lower IQ students reach their maximum capabilities pull down the average.

    I seriously doubt that IQ is much of a factor for pulling down averages.  You would have to have 50% of students borderline retarded to not be able to read at fourth or fifth grade level when graduating high school.  I once tutored my next door neighbor’s 16 year-old daughter in reading.  Her mother told me she had a “learning disability,”  and was several grade levels behind in reading.  I knew the girl because she had been doing outdoor work for me for a couple of years, and there was nothing wrong with her.  I told her that and to get any ideas of “learning disability” out of her head.

    When I started lessons I quickly learned that she had never been taught phonetics or the sounds of each letter of the alphabet in her public school(!)  That is absolutely astounding.  When shown little by little how letters sound she was able to pick it up and progress.  She went on to graduate high school and get several jobs.  This is a Black girl whose mother is on welfare.  The reason I bring this up is because so many people think Blacks are trapped by their circumstances in big inner-cities.  The only trappings are ones brought about by their own self limitations, not just for Blacks but for all people.

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  27. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    TBA (View Comment):

    Money spent has little to do with education.

    Power and leverage does; the power to get children to do the work.

    I had a lady tell me 40 years ago that all the best teachers and public funding in the world are not going to do much good for students if the parents are not on board.  I believe she was right.

    • #27
  28. Goldgeller Member
    Goldgeller
    @Goldgeller

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Goldgeller (View Comment):

    That whole article was trying to justify the poor performance of Baltimore school children due to the infrastructure of the buildings being so old. They were saying that schools closed too often because of air-conditioning breaking down or heating issues. I don’t buy this argument for one minute. It is just an excuse for underperforming students whose parent(s) lack the will to raise their children with high educational standards or high disciplinary standards. We didn’t even have air-conditioning when I went to public school in Cleveland, and the schools never once shut down due to heat. Snowstorms would occasionally close the schools, but that was distributed equally among all schools, public or private. Baltimore cannot claim worse weather than the rest of the State.

    Cleveland has been on a massive spending spree to build new schools for the last ten years. At great expense they tore down schools that were less than 40 years old instead of simply maintaining them. It has done zero to improve the testing scores or abilities of students. I’ve calculated that with spending per student of $16,000.00 per year, you could scrap the whole system and hire private tutors at $48,000.00 per year for every three students and hold classes in their private homes. With the elimination of the massive school buildings and staff to maintain them, and utility bills, maybe you could have one teacher for every two kids.

    It used to be that Catholic Schools spent something like 1/4th of the money that public schools spent per child. And the Catholic students fared something like one or two two grade levels higher than their public school counterparts on standardized tests. I don’t know what the latest ratio is on that but it says a lot about public education in this country.

    Thanks for reading it. I was shocked at how many hours were being cut from the school day. To your point, we know parents have a major impact on children’s educational outcomes, and that necessarily all the variation in performance can’t be solely due to school closures. But we also know time spent being instructed has a major impact as well. They are two of the most solid and replicated findings in the literature. 

    As I said in the post, per-pupil expenditures are biased and mask a wide range of educational hours. Perhaps it would be better if the schools didn’t close even it were hot. That would increase their time being instructed. Probably on the balance a good thing for improving educational outcomes. Unfortunately, school closures seem rampant. Still, measures of per-pupil expenditures seem to have poor construct validity and so comparisons relying on them, at least without controlling for administrators, are probably not going to be reliable.

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  29. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn
    @Caryn

    An aside: your invocation of the book Cry the Beloved Country is one that comes to my mind often when I hear or see the particularly damaging things being done to the US.  You remember correctly that the story takes place in South Africa and it’s very tragic.  There is a Kurt Weill song of that name that went with a musical version of the book, called “Lost in the Stars.”  It’s quite haunting.  That’s how I hear the phrase in my head when I feel pain for the loss of our republic.

    • #29
  30. notmarx Member
    notmarx
    @notmarx

    GlennAmurgis (View Comment):

    I spend 20 years in the Detroit area, It never recovered from the 68 riots.

    Neither did Baltimore, though I suppose the decline has been slower.

    • #30