The Glover Report: Asleep at the wheel at Baltimore City Public Schools HQ :: Maryland Has the Best Schools in America? Really?
(BALTIMORE - Octboer 8, 2012) - This is in response to the recent article (Baltimore Sun, 10/6/12): “City schools criticized in financial audit: Legislative audit from 2010 finds millions in uncollected debts, unjustified payouts, unreported conflicts of interest.” To say the least, I am speechless. A recent audit found the Baltimore City Public School system is in pure disarray. If the school headquarters is not on top of the listed items, heaven knows what else is going wrong.
Here we go: $2.8 million in unwarranted overtime; 3 people getting a check from the State of Maryland and the City of Baltimore simultaneously; $1.5 million uncollected; $336,000 in bonuses for no reason; and hundreds of missing computers. This is just a partial list of what’s gone awry.
First, a special thanks to Erica Green of the Baltimore Sun (10.6.12) for a quality education piece highlighting the Baltimore City Public School system’s overt climate of waste. A fan of her work, she has laid out in plain view the gross negligence and utter disregard for what ought be a noble profession. Adults are asleep at the wheel at school headquarters. I wonder if their children attend the city’s schools.
Back in the day, Baltimore City Public Schools had quality educators – men and women who understood the basics of educating a majority black and low to middle income blacks and white students.
The past five years at Baltimore City Public Schools headquarters has been a series of stunts designed to make us think that progress is being made. However, as the Baltimore Sun report demonstrates, there is serious need for concern. And it is beyond pathetic to think that people carry on like this. I thought the field of education was supposed to be about making this world a better place. I didn’t know that the realm of education is more like a free-for-all where you can get away with robbing our children. The guilty should be ashamed of themselves.
I wanted to share a couple of things with the folks on North Avenue. Since the madness continues to go unchecked and since the well-being of the children in the Baltimore City Public Schools is clearly no more than an experiment on population control at best – why not just pack up and go home? My dad always said you can stay home and get a “D”. However, if you are going to school every day and doing your work, you’re supposed to get good grades. More importantly, you’re supposed to get smarter. That’s just how it works.
Additionally, I was also taught by Mr. Kermit Williams in the 5th and 6th grades at Matthew Alexander Henson, School #29 that one should – when lost – ask for directions. As the folks say, “If you don’t know, you better ask somebody.” Well, we are clear that North Avenue doesn’t know the direction in which it is going. And that is irresponsible. It is flagrantly violating the moral code of the education profession. You’re supposed to have a plan and there is supposed to be accountability.
Now, I can’t speak for you. But, in my work career, I learned that those who do not do the job at-hand eventually get fired. It’s not complicated. You show up late, you are ineffective, you lack the know-how? Guess what? You go home! Why no one has stepped in by now is a dead issue. At this point, everybody – including all of our elected officials - are grossly failing the citizens of Baltimore and by virtue – failing the future of this city. I submit: This is treason. How long can this circus unfold before someone steps in? Do we need to pull out the protest move from the 60’s at North Avenue school headquarters?
Anytime we have allowed Dr. Andres Alonso and his mafia minions to remove 75% of the principals without recourse is about as negligent as it gets. Who does this? Who gets rid of the intellectual and historical knowledge garnered by these educators over the past four decades and nobody says a word?
Now, if I recall correctly – Gov. Martin O’Malley made “same sex marriage” an issue this year in Maryland and pushed it through legislators like Grant went through Richmond – and now to voters for referendum in November. Kumar Barve said to me that “same sex marriage” was the single most important issue of the 2012 Maryland General Assembly. I disagreed then. And I beg to disagree now. For me – and thousands of other parents in Baltimore City and the rest of the state of Maryland, the education of our children as mandated by the state Constitution is the critical issue – the top priority – the straw that broke the camel’s back.
As she entered the mayor’s seat at City Hall, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake promised more transparency in local government. On the heels of a Sheila Dixon administration, she was eager to show she could outdo the previous mayor in all categories – I presume. I remember as Sheila Dixon’s trial ensued, Rawlings-Blake’s staff jeered at the Dixon staff and taunted them. I remember it clearly. Rawlings-Blake wanted the mayor’s seat so very badly and everybody knew it. One commercial on education is particularly poignant. Check out the verbage: “We’ve made so much progress” – “enrollment is up three years in a row” – “I wanted to make sure I did my part.” – “The success in the school system”: Blah, blah, blah! What universe are you in, Madame Mayor?
I also remember Alonso getting a new contract a year before it even came due. What was that all about? How long will grown men and women allow people who clearly do not care about our children to stay in play?
$1.5 million in uncollected funds? $336,000 in unwarranted bonuses? Really? This is criminal!
Yet, Maryland supposedly has the "best school system in the nation". I have never believed this. But, that’s what Gov. Martin O’Malley says on national TV. However, this is flawed in two ways. First, it's based on averaging (if you make a $1million/year and I make $1/year, then the average person earns $500,000/year in our sample...sounds good...), and likewise, having excellent schools in Montgomery County, Howard County, etc. does not necessarily balance poorer schools in other areas – like Baltimore City.
Secondly, what does this say about the quality of schools in the rest of the nation? Hint: The USA is 16th in education compared to the rest of the world. How’s that for a world leader?
Sorry, I just don’t believe the press about the schools getting better. I just don’t. These people can lie to the rest of the country. But, I am not buying it. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and all the rest – then it’s a damn duck. That’s the state of the schools! And either these so-called leaders are idiots or afraid – but they are certainly not doing what they said they would do if put into office. They are, instead, allowing the ill-performance of the schools to continue. When it comes to providing the children with the skills they need in order to succeed, everybody has failed.
Bottomline: Dr. Andres Alonso must go! Even more, the parents of the students in the city must flood the city school board meeting on Tuesday, October 9th. Address these people! They are failing our children. Their acts are treasonous. At minimum, they should all be fired for playing Russian roulette with our children’s lives.
$2.8 million in unsubstantiated overtime in 2010 – in the middle of a recession? Double-dipping on the clock for the City and the State at the same time? Really? This is the same City of Baltimore that closed swimming pools in the middle of the heat wave of 2010. Do you see why I’m outraged? This is the same city that spent $8 million in 2011 on a Grand Prix that’s yet to pay for itself. And too, come next month – these politicians have the audacity to be associated with television and radio commercials promising – once again – money for schools.
The Baltimore Sun column reads: “The auditors also found financial oversight to be so inadequate that officials paid millions of dollars in contracted work that wasn't verified, lost 1,400 computers and allowed dozens of employees access to adjusting payroll even though it wasn't required for their jobs.”
Now, Alonso wants more money for the system. Why? Because there is no money! Sounds like a crack addict move to me! Tell me: What should happen to people who steal millions of unchecked dollars directly from the cause of educating our children, tell us everything is progressing, and aren’t really accomplishing anything?
According to Wikipedia: “Prior to his arrival in 2007, the Baltimore City Public Schools system was in a state of decay and decline with several of its schools performing so poorly that the state of Maryland was poised to intervene and take over much of the system. Fewer than half of students entering Baltimore's high schools graduated and proficiency levels in reading and math were far below both the state and national averages. By 2010 both state elected and local elected officials were touting the job done by Alonso in turning the failing school system around. Under Alonso's leadership millions of education dollars were diverted from the systems administrative offices to the schools themselves, failing schools were closed and principals were given more fiscal autonomy. A December 2010 article in the New York Times characterizes the school system as having improved under the leadership of Dr. Alonso.”
Somebody is lying. Waste takes money out of the classroom and away from the many things that really are needed to improve schools: teachers’ aides (thus reducing teacher-student ratio), better books/facilities, etc.
The truth is that the Baltimore City schools have had a dismal half decade. It has long been time for Dr. Alonso to leave Baltimore. When will the City of Baltimore throw in the towel on this non-educator and call it for what it is: a failure? Despite an amazing PR snow job on the rest of the country, the schools are actually not producing – because adults are seriously slacking and simply there to get a check – with plenty of unsubstantiated overtime. Way to go, team! You make us so proud!
What do you think?
1 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.
Although I may not agree with your solution. I do agree that there are serious problems on North ave. not just with the budget,but with the low regard,lack of support and respect that they give to hard working employee's. Few in our elected leadership want to address issues of accountability. To many friends ,so much money ,so many contracts. I was always taught to follow the money trail and the relationships.