As teachers’ unions struggle to keep schools closed, the real cost is borne by students who get poor grades, drop out of virtual classes, increase drug use, and increase their numbers of suicides. In response, some union officials such as the President of the Los Angeles Teacher’s Union have flagged calls for a return to class examples of white privilege despite the science overwhelming resumption of teaching. For minority students, however, this shutdown has taken a dire situation and turned into a free fall disaster. The pandemic resulted in the closure of an already failing public school system, as shown by a shocking story from Baltimore. As recently reported, a high school student completed nearly the top half of their grade after failing every but three in four years. He has a GPA of 0.13. His mother eventually went public, upset about the failures in the public schools.
Tiffany France is understandably upset. She is the mother of three children and works three times to support her family. She was never told that her son failed 22 grades and was 272 days late or absent in the first three years of school. She was only invited to one teacher-student meeting, and that meeting never took place at the Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts.
France eventually had to pull his son out of school and enroll him on an accelerated program so he could graduate in 2023.
We have spent a lot of money in school districts like Washington, DC and Baltimore for decades because those cities and their leaders failed to fix these flaws. We have had a lost generation of children who are neither educated nor trained to thrive in society. However, there is no accountability for the political and educational leaders in these cities.
Meanwhile, school officials seem anxious to evict high performing students from their systems in Boston, New York, and other cities where advanced programs are suspended or suspended. Mayor Bill deBlasio stated that public schools are a means of redistributing wealth as students continue to fail at all levels of the system. Other education officials have condemned the “meritocracy” as racist. These officials, including a recently held congressman, are attacking standardized tests as racist instead of making real progress to improve the performance on such tests for these children.
The public school districts with the highest spending are also among the poorest performing school districts. New York exceeded its per capita spending at $ 24,040 per child. Washington, DC is close to $ 22,759. Baltimore is often ranked in the top 3 spending districts per capita.
According to a 2019 study, more than half of New York’s public school children cannot handle math or English. On tests, Asian children show 74.4 percent proficiency in math, with 66.6 percent for whites, 33.2 percent for Hispanics, and 28.2 percent for African Americans. Thus, more than two-thirds of African American children were unable to master basic math in a school system with one of the highest per capita spending on students in the country. For example, public schools can be a vehicle for deBlasio to “redistribute wealth”, but it does not distribute education or learning to those who need it most.
In Washington, with the highest per capita spending on students, education officials “celebrated” a small improvement in scores in 2019. Most people, however, would flinch at the scores. Only 21.1 percent of black students were proficient in math (compared to 78.8 percent for white students).
In Wisconsin, 2019 results (for students in grades 3 through 8 and 11) showed only 39.3% of students who mastered English or language, and only 40.1% showed a proficient or better understanding of math. Both showed drops. The racial differences were particularly shocking, however. Ironically, the gap narrowed slightly as the white students scored fewer points. In the eighth grade, however, only 12.1 percent of black students were proficient or advanced in English. There was still a 30-point gap for black students.
In the meantime, the pandemic has led to delays, reductions or the complete abandonment of standardized tests in many districts. Now students no longer go to school all day and in some districts are not tested for their subject knowledge. It’s like they don’t exist, which is exactly what the problem is. Politically, they don’t seem to register in terms of importance or influence. They are useful objects for politicians to use in campaigns for more money or power. They seem completely detached from the actual benefits, however, as these guides allow public schools to continue on the same course of proven failure.
For many of us passionate about public education, it has been particularly difficult to observe this in public schools. I grew up in Chicago during the massive exodus of white families from the public school system and stayed in public schools for much of my early education. My parents organized a group to persuade wealthy families to stay in the system. They feared that if such families left public schools would not only lose diversity, but also political influence and support. They also wanted their children to benefit from this diversity. My wife and I believe in this thing too, and we kept our four children in public schools through college. We believe that public education plays a key role in our national identity and citizenship. They shape our next generation of citizens. My children have benefited greatly from the public schools and the many caring and talented teachers they have taught over the years.
Reading reviews like Tiffany France’s is a shame. She works three jobs and relies on the school system to provide education for her three children. . . and a chance. Yet Baltimore and other cities have abandoned such children for decades. There is no accountability in the system. These leaders fail entire generations, leaving them to an endless cycle of poverty and crime. However, they are re-elected or reappointed every year. Education leaders ask for more money but show little progress or success. The money evaporates and nothing seems to change for Tiffany France or her children.
The problem is not standardized testing. It is the lack of education that a student with a GPA below 1.0 could qualify for Honors Recognition in Baltimore. Decades and billions of dollars have been depleted with no significant improvement. However, the real cost of our failure is borne by these students who find little comfort in knowing that if their scores continue to decrease, their per capita spending will continue to rise. If we operated our freeway system like this, we would have billion dollar gravel roads for freeways. We spend billions in our education system, but kids like Tiffany’s son don’t go anywhere fast.