Parents in Baltimore, Maryland, are calling on officials to fix Baltimore City Public Schools after an investigation revealed zero students at nearly two dozen schools tested proficient in math at their grade level on state assessments last year.
According to ABC15 News, at 23 of 150 public schools assessed on the 2022 Maryland State Department of Education test known as MCAP (Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program), not one student tested at their current grade level in mathematics. The state tests every student between the third and eighth grades annually in math and English.
During a town hall meeting at Edmondson Westside High School on Feb. 8, several parents expressed their anger at the school district for passing their children through grades despite them being unable to read. Parents called for a new curriculum, while others want Baltimore school administrators to resign.
One parent named Judy Bellamy told the school commissioners that something had to be done immediately. “Some of our kids are afraid to go to school,” she said. “They’re not going to make it if we don’t do something now!”
“Our kids are not caught up, but we’re passing them,” said another parent. “But they can’t read.”
Another parent named Nichelle Watkins was so worried about her son’s education that she wrote a letter to WBFF News alerting them of the poor public school system. She told the outlet that her son and daughter learn nothing at school.
“Nothing up there for them,” said a tearful Watkins. “Nothing. They go there to get babysat for eight hours and come home, and I feel like they don’t care. It’s not their children. They don’t care.”
Watkins’ son is a fourth grader at Johnston Square Elementary School. She said that she begged the school to hold her son back because he’s unable to read. Watkins said that the school kept passing her son through each grade despite not teaching him to read, prompting her to contact WBFF last October.
“He can’t even read he’s in the fourth grade,” she said. “How is he supposed to be productive if he can’t read?”
When Watkins saw the story about the MCAP on the news, she saw her son’s school on the list. “I wasn’t surprised,” she noted. “Yeah, they get a whole lot of money, and it’s coming out of my check. I see it.”
Watkins said that she plans to move away from the city as soon as she’s saved enough money to give her son a better chance at surviving once she’s gone.
“I have a Black son who’s gotta grow up in Baltimore City. That’s why. That’s why I’m so emotional,” said Watkins. “That means in Baltimore City, you having a Black child, a male child who at that, there is only two ways out. You’re either gonna be dead or locked up. And I don’t want that for my son.” Watkins was asked if she thought her son was getting the education he needed to survive when he grew up, and she replied. “Absolutely, he’s not.”
Davida Allen, who has a first-grader in Baltimore City Schools, said local politicians and school officials need to step in to resolve the issue.
“I think it’s about holding our administrators accountable,” Allen told Fox News’ Dana Perino on Monday. “You have to be vocal. You have to be involved. You have to question. You have to challenge, and I think that when we look at our CEO, and we’re seeing how much money she’s making, we’re still seeing that our students are not thriving, you’re starting to question where the funds are being allocated.”
School commissioners blamed the problem on the COVID-19 pandemic and said they’ve invested millions. “We’ve invested millions of dollars in tutoring,” explained Board Chair Johnette Richardson. “We’ve given out devices.”
However, it doesn’t appear that enough has been done. According to ABC15 News, Baltimore students had the lowest math scores in the entire state. Councilman Eric Costello replied to a request from WBFF and said he has no control over Baltimore schools.
“This is not the performance that we expect for Baltimore’s children,” said Costello. “The council can do very little when it comes to school performance and can’t even withhold funds.”
One family decided to sue the city over the poor public education system. Jovani and Shawnda Patterson filed a lawsuit against Mayor Brandon Scott, the Baltimore City School Board of Commissioners and the Baltimore City Council for misusing tax dollars and potentially fraud regarding enrollment numbers in January of 2022.
“We, the taxpayer, are funding our own demise,” Patterson said. “This has got to stop. This is why we have decided to sue the Baltimore City School System.” When Patterson heard the 2022 MCAP assessments, he said, “My immediate reaction is, take your kids out of these schools.”