(BALTIMORE – January 10, 2018) – Over the years, the Baltimore City Public School System (BCPSS) has become increasingly worse. In my honest opinion, the dumbing-down of our students appears to be the order of the day. If this were not so, we would be seeing a much more progressive attitude and approach to effectively preparing our young people for the next level, be it college, trade school, the military, or a career. It’s that simple. The end product today is not what it used to be. Instead, we see a continuation of the days of the inept leadership of for schools CEO Dr. Andres Alonso.
There is plenty of blame to go around, including our teachers. In many cases, teachers get all of the blame while doing most of the work. And too many parents play a part, also. As a parent, it is my sworn duty to ensure that my child understands his role in this whole educational experience. A veteran teacher told me last night that while the cold is the dizzying focus at present, behavior is a long-term issue also – and on a daily basis.
And then there is the administrative component to public education. For Baltimore City, that – I honestly believe – is where the fiscal malfeasance festers. It’s only common sense.
I have seen with my own eyes as companies have viciously milked the system, over-billing at every juncture, and maintaining just a flagrant disregard for the sanctity of public education.
For me, the color of the culprits does not matter. It is time for accountability. Something is fundamentally wrong with the BCPSS, all the way down to having a public board meeting scheduled at 5 pm, when working parents are typically just leaving the job. Does that make any sense?
And then, when the parents do show up, they are subjected to watching school executives give each other certificates of achievement for an hour. Really? Talking about out of touch ….
What has always baffled me, I must admit, is how the city school system is surrounded by some of the most phenomenal colleges and universities in the world. Why isn’t such knowledge spreading from these incredible institutions of higher learning to our struggling school system? Common sense says to me that it is a win-win when our beloved public school students are excelling in the classroom, and if schools like Morgan and Hopkins and Loyola can help make academic excellence a reality, then why haven’t we implored their assistance?
And so, I have to state unapologetically that blame also goes to the unwillingness of certain powers that be whom elect to continue to strengthen institutional racism and/or elitism in Baltimore City.
I think what is missing most in all of this, however, is a loving, caring, nurturing spirit that celebrates education across the city – not one that treats parents like yesterday’s garbage. Such vision and wisdom can only come from a bona fide leader, and we seem to have so few of them these days.
Instead, we have ego-filled glory seekers who are shamelessly failing to properly educate our seeds.
On that note, it was wonderful to see Delegate Antonio Hayes and Baltimore City Councilman Zeke Cohen last night at the school headquarters. I also saw Hassan Giordano, Marques Dent and Kevin Parson. I thought I would have seen more elected officials and political candidates – you know, this being a statewide election year and all.
In any event, what we have are some exorbitant salaries being paid at school headquarters along with some poor corporate outcomes, and there is this obnoxious stench that wreaks of mismanagement, if not corruption. I ask myself, if I have well-paid administrators on my staff, then they ought to be able to effectively handle the business of operating our school system. Otherwise, why are these people making six-digits working for BCPSS?
If I am paying top dollar in the region, then I am suppose to have to best personnel (Period). Anything less is simply bad business.
Sure, the problems that have lingered in our aging system are not new. However, if the people running the show cannot do the job, find someone who can. After all, we’re paying some of the highest salaries ever and our per-pupil spending is the 4th highest in America.
I think the challenge, quite frankly, is the politics. Someway, somehow – the business is not being handled. Instead, all we hear is that the schools need more money, money that it is owed from the State of Maryland. Some even want to blame Gov. Larry Hogan, who has been in office for 3 years.
The funny thing is that when the last governor, Martin O’Malley, was in charge of Maryland (after 8 cantankerous years here running Baltimore City) – many of the currently vocal people were as quiet as a church mouse. They were scared of O’Malley, but will quickly swing on a Republican who has been ten-times more pro-active when it comes to healing Baltimore. O’Malley had a way of silencing otherwise strong adults. Further, he ushered in the infamous Dr. Andres Alonso who gutted the system of 75% of its principals. Imagine all of the intellectual capital that we lost with that move. Alonso is the one who also chased Dr. Barney Wilson out of Poly over to Reginald F. Lewis High School.
Wilson, the first African American principal of Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, is a Baltimore icon. Not only is he an educator, he is a mentor to some of the brightest minds to ever come out of Baltimore. To say the least, Alonso caused Poly to slip from a national leader to being ranked 60th in the State of Maryland, according to US News & World Report. The Baltimore School for the Arts is actually ahead of Poly, Western and City.
Wilson became so distraught that he opted to go and lead a school in Nigeria, half way around the world. This is what happens to strong black people who love Baltimore too much: They get chased out!
This is also why tough times like these require a voice of reason that will speak life into all Baltimoreans. A lot of harm has been done to indigenous Baltimoreans – quite often by people who are not from here or people who are so caught up with their own resumes and careers that they cannot see the forest for the trees.
It is high-time that education be once again revered in Baltimore City. Education should be the topic du jour every single day – whether in the synagogue or the church or the mosque. From the barbershop to the beauty salon, the only thing we all should be talking about is the well-being of our school system with specific focus on our youth’s empowerment.
In the long run, we are all failing our kids. Thank God for the freezing schools because it has put light on issues that many teachers were too afraid to speak up about because they probably feared losing their jobs. And thank God for the soldiers across this city who looked beyond the politics to bring much-needed attention to the need for heaters. Samierra Jones, Aaron Maybin and Stephen Wise Baltimore have helped galvanize international support for Baltimore’s freezing schools by raising $80k. May God bless their souls, for they are our heroes, indeed!
One good thing to report is that there will be a Town Hall meeting on Monday, January 22, 2018 at Paul Laurence Dunbar Community High School, my alma mater. Dunbar, the school with no windows, is a fine place for such a town hall. Why? Because summer is quickly approaching, and just like heat is an issue now because of a fractured heating system, air conditioning will soon be an issue as well.
Stay-tuned to www.bmorenews.com, the news before the news where we uncover the truth!
Rhonda Wimbish wrote on Facebook this morning: Dr. Sonja Santelisis AKA “Can’t Get Right” (BCPSS CEO) has a salary of $298,000/yr +car and driver. Her salary is more than the Governor and Lt. Governor combined. She can’t get right … education curriculum, the discipline of students, appropriate education and maintenance of school buildings.
When Governor Hogan questioned spending in a Baltimore Sun article in May 2017, this was the CEO’s statement: “We have made strategic choices over a number of years,” Santelises said. “These were all good choices. They are not incidental. They are not mismanagement, nor are they frivolous.”