Destroy the Public-School Systems

A local Fox affiliate reports that last year in Baltimore’s largest high school, 77 percent of students graduated reading at an elementary-school level, and many of them at a kindergarten level. Only twelve students at the school were at grade level — that’s under 2 percent. And it was a whistleblower who came forward with this information:

A Baltimore City teacher comes forward with devastating information, showing 77 percent of students tested at one high school, are reading at an elementary school level

The teacher works at Patterson High School, one of the largest high schools in Baltimore with a 61 percent graduation rate and a nearly $12 million budget. We agreed not to identify this source who fears retribution for giving Project Baltimore the results of iReady assessments.

“Our children deserve better. They really do,” the Patterson High School teacher told Project Baltimore. “As a whole, the system has failed them.”

The teacher is a hero. It is a shame that the teacher, and not the administrators, is the one terrified about retribution. Public schools such as Patterson have a state-compelled monopoly on education that traps kids in their perpetually failing institutions. And the more funding they get, the worse they perform. Last year, the Baltimore public-school system — which functioned remotely most of the time — had a $1.4 billion budget for only 78,000 students.

From a devastating piece by Adam Andrzejewski at Forbes:

CEO Sonja Santelises ($339,028) and her chief of staff, Alison Perkins-Cohen ($198,168), collectively earned nearly $700,000 in pay, perks, pension funding, and health insurance benefits.

Santelises’ cash compensation was more than $126,000 higher than that of the U.S. Secretary of Education, a cabinet-level position.

Chief of Schools John Davis made $218,303 in base salary alone. Tina Hike Hubbard, the “Chief Communications & Community Engagement Officer” earned $194,283.

Other highly compensated employees included Jeremy Grant-Skinner, the “Chief Human Capital Officer” ($194,283); Lynette Washington, the Chief Operating Officer ($194,283); Theresa Jones, the “Chief Achievement & Accountability Officer” ($192,827); and Maryanne Cox, the Deputy Chief Financial Officer ($192,827).

In a marketplace, all these people would have lost their jobs a long time ago. It’s not the salaries that are the problem. It’s the failure of the system they oversee.

Few things have undermined minorities over the past 40 years more than inner-city public-school systems. Rich and middle-class Americans already have school choice. They can move. Neighborhoods with high-performing systems have far higher homes values, shutting poorer people out. Teachers’ unions use tax dollars, often through compelled dues, to help elect politicians who preserve the status quo — which, functionally, is the racial segregation of schools.

One of the most popular arguments against school choice is that granting parents the freedom to pick better schools would only weaken traditional ones. Well, imagine making this argument about any other area of life: “Hey, you can’t leave this supermarket because we’re going to suck even more.” No one would accept that logic. Yet they do for their kids’ education. Maybe when 77 percent of high-school graduates can’t make it through Goodnight Moon, someone will do something. We’re not that far off.

David Arsanyi

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