There is much pearl clutching this week as the results of the Inspector General’s report on rampant grade changing in Baltimore City Public Schools have been released.
If it wasn’t so detrimental to the education of the children who “graduated” from these schools, the sudden anger of the Governor and other State Officials would be laughable. Remember, the ones who create the problem are always the most “outraged” at the problem.
Here is a link to the report:
As you can see, over 12,000 grades were changed from failing to passing. And this was in a school system where EVERY student starts out with a grade of 50% when he/she walks in the door. Ten percent of these changes were in ONE high school.
The grade changing in itself is awful, because kids graduate without having the academic skills they need to be successful in college or in a career. What is more insidious is that teachers and staff were too frightened to speak about how they had been coerced by administration to change grades. You can see the instructions that were sent to teachers regarding grades: (pictures are included in the story).
We’ll deal with the hypocrisy of Governor Hogan’s feigned anger in a bit. But first, check out what teachers were told in those pictures. It’s not the first time teachers have been given those directions.
Some of you who have taught before may say, “What’s the big deal. Teachers change grades all the time to allow students who worked hard to pass.” Did I mention that these students come in with a grade of 50% without sitting in class for a single day? We are not talking about students who started at zero and then worked their way up to a grade of 57%. We are talking about students who probably got points for showing up. Show up enough and you could probably get the passing grade. Show up all year and you might graduate at the top of your class. Sign your name to worksheets a couple of times and you might be Valedictorian. (That is if your school didn’t get rid of that to save the feelings of the other students.)
It is a huge deal. Especially when administrators are pressuring teachers to do it.
Now, back to Larry Hogan who is absolutely outraged by this practice. I don’t think I have seen him this angry since he told us all to “wear the damn mask.”
What a hypocrite. Ever since the ‘No Child Left Behind” debacle of the Bush Administration in 2001, state and federal governments have demanded accountability of the schools. They introduced a concept called “AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) that schools had to achieve. This concept included high attendance rates, high graduation rates, high test scores and high grades. If a school couldn’t achieve their goals, there could be a replacement of school administration and school staff as well as a reduction in government funds. What did most schools do?
They made damn sure they achieved their goals whether in reality or by deception. It was a “whatever it takes” attitude, even if that meant cheating. Even if it meant lowering standards.
(To be clear, accountability is a good thing, but you have to make sure the spirit and letter of the law are followed. )
The Obama administration then introduced race into the mix with “Race to the Top.” Same precepts except now all data was continuously monitored by race, gender, etc. Same result. I remember being told in a teacher’s meeting that teacher performance would be tied to how many students in each subgroup passed a class. If any subgroup didn’t do well, teachers would be called on the carpet. So, teachers made sure they did what they had to do by hook or by crook.
While Larry Hogan hasn’t been in office from 2001 to 2013, he was from 2014 on. And, during that time, teachers in many schools complained about pressure to change grades. Here’s an article from Prince George’s County Public Schools:
In case you don’t want to read the whole article, this is the letter teachers from Prince Georges’ County sent to Larry Hogan AND Maryland Superintendent Karen Salmon in 2017 (for those of you who hate math, that’s FIVE YEARS ago.)
It wasn’t just happening in Prince Georges County. It was happening all over the state. Hogan did call for a state investigation of PGCPS:
And this was the result:
Hogan was “deeply disturbed.” But he was also busy getting ready to run for Governor again. I’m not sure what the State Superintendent thought.
But now Hogan is really, really upset. Criminal charges are in order.
I call BS.
Larry and every other State Official, State Superintendent or MSDE staffer, State and Local Board of Education member, and school administrator have known for years this is going on. They know that federal and state funding to school systems depends on academic and attendance data, as false as it may be. And they make damn sure teachers do what they tell them.
(By the way, has either Teacher’s Union spoken up to defend these teachers against this coercion? No? I guess their budget of 10 cents per dollar of income to advocate for teachers has been spent.)
You may think this is not a problem. After all, graduating from high school even though you don’t deserve it doesn’t hurt anyone, does it? Parents get to watch their kid walk, take pictures, and the kid gets a great party.
And then what? These students who don’t earn graduation also don’t learn anything. Wait, I take that back. They learn how to do nothing and still expect accomplishments.
If they go to college, most of them will quit. If they go to trade school, most of them will quit. They will NOT be equipped with the skills or desire they need to be successful at either. Nor will they be ready to have a job.
There are two things they will be prepared for, a life or crime or a life of dependence on the government to survive.
And all those millions awarded to school systems for their great graduation rates, they will be spent, and the systems will have their hands out for more. BRIDGE TO EXCELLENCE IN MARYLAND EDUCATION will supply those millions and more. The parameters for funding will be the same and schools will continue to graduate students who shouldn’t graduate.
Want to solve the problem? It’s going to take time. But the first step is to VOTE OUT the officials who have let this go on and VOTE IN people who won’t.
Maryland Primary, July 19
AND attend the Family Advocacy Alliance/ Moms For Liberty Talbot Chapter Meeting, June 28th, 7-9, Easton Fire Department