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Baltimore Schools Will Not Hold Back ‘Tens of Thousands’ Of Students Who Failed This Year

Baltimore Schools Will Not Hold Back ‘Tens of Thousands’ Of Students Who Failed This Year

The district said that “[A]bout 65% of secondary students and 50% of elementary students in the system are failing at least one class.”

Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Sonja Santelises announced the district “will not hold back tens of thousands of students” who failed the 2020-2021 school year.

The district has 78,000 students.

District officials blamed the COVID-19 pandemic since they had to keep the schools closed. You know, even though private schools around the country opened in September without a lot of problems.

But I digress.

From Fox News:

“As we approach the end of the 2020-2021 school year, we all recognize that students have experienced incredibly significant challenges and interruptions in their learning,” Santelises said. “With that in mind, the district has developed a fair and straightforward process for evaluating and recording students’ progress in the current school year.”

Santelises added that the district has taken advice from faculty, families, students, support staff, school leaders and others during virtual group meetings since February.

The Baltimore Sun wrote the decision affects the “tens of thousands of students failing classes this year.” The district said that “[A]bout 65% of secondary students and 50% of elementary students in the system are failing at least one class.”

Baltimore has 78,000 students. I know I wrote that number before, but come on. Tens of thousands of failing students out of 78,000 students. Geez, Louise.

Chief Academic Officer Joan Dabrowski said the district would test the students in the fall “to determine what skills they have missed and the schools will create a plan for each student designed to catch them up.”

The district will adjust grades as well:

Elementary students who have an “unsatisfactory” grade in a course and middle school students with a failing grade will get a “not completed.” High school students with a failing grade will get a “no credit.”

To hold students back “feels punitive,” she said. “It feels in contrast to a spirit of hope and a commitment we are going to make to students.”

Those numbers are proof that children of any age need in-person teaching to succeed.

Or is it in the case of Baltimore? Is the school district using COVID-19 to cover up its failure?

In March, Mike wrote about a student who passed three courses at Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts but placed near the top of his class.

Project Baltimore discovered many students failed at the school.

Officials told Tiffany France, his mother, that he needs to go back to ninth grade.

I used to teach. Do you know what I did when a student did not perform well? I called and emailed the parents. If they did not reply, I kept trying to contact them.

France has three kids and works three jobs. The school kept promoting her son, so why should she question his standing at school? I remember not wanting to tell my parents if I did not do well in school:

“He’s stressed and I am too. I told him I’m probably going to start crying. I don’t know what to do for him,” France told Project Baltimore. “Why would he do three more years in school? He didn’t fail, the school failed him. The school failed at their job. They failed. They failed, that’s the problem here. They failed. They failed. He didn’t deserve that.”

France’s son attends Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts in west Baltimore. His transcripts show he’s passed just three classes in four years, earning 2.5 credits, placing him in ninth grade. But France says she didn’t know that until February. She has three children and works three jobs. She thought her oldest son was doing well because even though he failed most of his classes, he was being promoted. His transcripts show he failed Spanish I and Algebra I but was promoted to Spanish II and Algebra II. He also failed English II but was passed on to English III.

France’s son should have told her his struggles and grades at school. However, if the school withheld grades or changed grades on his report card, how would he know?

Baltimore has a history of pushing through students who fail. So I don’t buy their COVID-19 excuse.


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Sick! This is paid for child abuse. The school to prison, or worse, racket.

Baby Elephant | May 31, 2021 at 8:43 am

Columbus, Ohio city schools are also not holding any children back who failed this year.

It’s not so much that they are going to be granted diplomas or advanced to the next grade. It’s the reality that they are being flushed out of the system to make room for new students who in theory will be back on schedule. That these schools are failing to educate students in the first place is an even bigger issue.

So these flushed out students can take their diplomas and present them to prospective employers who cannot hire them. Or they will apply to colleges and either outright rejected or forced into remedial programs to get up to speed.

Time to shut down a lot of these public schools and flush the teachers’ unions and public school administrations down the toilet. I don’t think the current system can be redeemed or rehabilitated. It needs to be rebuilt from the ground up or eliminated. Give the taxpayers their money back and allow them to choose private schools that actually work. Then keep your grubby hands off!

    Lucifer Morningstar in reply to Pasadena Phil. | May 31, 2021 at 2:08 pm

    This has nothing to do with “flushing out the failures” from the past year. They’ve always had this problem and they’ve always solved it the same way. Just shove the minority students (that’s who we’re dealing with here) through the system and those that succeed will do so and those that continually fail will eventually age out and leave the public school system and will no longer be a problem.

    The only difference this last year was the pandemic. Which brought this problem to a head in regards to the sheer number of minority students failing that the Baltimore School Board could no longer hide these failures under the carpet and it has become a matter of public comment.

    But give it enough time and this will be forgotten and the outrage will move on to something else. Guaranteed.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to Pasadena Phil. | June 1, 2021 at 2:28 pm

    Generally they are flushing students who did not want to learn. The they start the final stage of their lives, usually a life of crime.

That’s not what’s holding them back.

2smartforlibs | May 31, 2021 at 8:48 am

The dumbing down of America started years ago.

How is this different from any other year in the last two to three decades?

Government propaganda and indoctrination centers — AKA public ‘schools’ — in major Democrat run cities haven’t been holding students back for poor performance for decades. While continually degrading what is considered acceptable performance.

Now we are told that having any performance standards at all is racist. A manifestation of ‘systemic racism’ and ‘white privilege’.

Most American colleges are no longer using SAT and ACT scores for admissions. Skin melanin content, XX chromosomes, and non-binary sexual orientation are more important. Except for east Asians.

I am in Gwinnett County Georgia. We have the third largest bus system in the nation to support our students getting to and from school.

The local middle school has about a third of the students that will be attending “Summer Enrichment” classes so that they can progress to the next grade. The teacher I am friends with expect a 75% turnout. The powers that be re-named summer school to summer enrichment. The on-line learning was a waste of time.

    Chicklet in reply to Tsquared. | May 31, 2021 at 10:11 am

    Baltimore plans to ‘test the students in the fall’ to learn what they have missed.
    If students are getting report cards with the cutesy “NC” they already know. And ‘tests’ are racist these days anyway. How many children is “tens of thousands”, give us a number?

    So why can’t the teachers, who have essentially had over a year off, teach some of this stuff now, during the summer? I doubt these kids have summer camps lined up, and Ms. France doesn’t sound like she’ll be taking off during July and August to hand out and take the kids to the beach.

    The unions and politicians enjoyed a year of unprecedented power over citizens and students. They won’t even pretend they have 3 months right now to try and help these kids catch up. Wanna bet some of them get into medical school in a few years? Bah!

daniel_ream | May 31, 2021 at 9:24 am

Do you know what I did when a student did not perform well? I called and emailed the parents. If they did not reply, I kept trying to contact them.

The number one factor impacting student success is parental investment. It’s so powerful it overrides socioeconomic status and overall quality of the school. Keep that in mind when you read this:

“He didn’t fail, the school failed him. The school failed at their job. They failed. They failed, that’s the problem here. They failed. They failed. He didn’t deserve that.”

“France has three kids and works three jobs.”

The father(s) could not be reached for comment.

    kyrrat in reply to daniel_ream. | May 31, 2021 at 2:30 pm

    My son had in person classes this year (private school, we got a decent scholarship to help us with cost.) Last year he only had remote the final quarter. His Honors Algebra II teacher, myself, my husband and he ALL worked our butts off because he needed the face to face class. He managed but he did not grasp everything he could have. Fast forward to this year’s Honors Pre Calc. He has had tutoring after school every day because of the loss in prep from remote the previous year. It has sucked the joy out of math for him. Yes, he is doing well but the cost is a loss of his joy.

So a bunch of students failed courses. Naturally the school wants to blame it on COVID. What was their excuse for students failing before the pandemic came along? Now they want to falsify academic (government) records by saying the students didn’t complete the course(s) instead of failing them. And they want to try to justify that by claiming they don’t want to hurt the students’ feelings?

It might be interesting to examine the numbers from the pre-pandemic school years to see how the failure rates compare. Is it possible that the school system that was failing the students before COVID just compounded their failure after the lockdowns and other measures? Are they just trying to shift the focus, and the blame.

Of course their jimmying with the records resulting in a sharp decrease in the failure rate will make the administrators and faculty look like geniuses if nobody looks to closely. That can’t be the motivation, can it?

The Left has been in charge of public school education for a couple of generations. Don’t be surprised by a diploma being little more than a participation certificate. Future employers will note the ignorance of these “graduates”and hire them accordingly. I wonder why some wages are stagnant?

    Chicklet in reply to Romey. | May 31, 2021 at 10:18 am

    It’s worse than that, imagine receiving a dozen applications for office work and not a single one even remotely qualifies. If they appear to qualify, nothing written down can be verified, it’s all ‘fluff’. Managers end up hiring people who they think they can train, mentor and get them to do something, anything in a year.

    That’s a cost that drags the business down. It keeps wages low. Wonder why you were on hold for 40 minutes, why very few things the person tells you on the phone are true, this is it. Finally, the youngster you invested a year in to teach them can leave and use the skills you taught them to make .50 an hour more somewhere else. We all pay when uneducated students with ‘diplomas’ hit the work force. Bah!

      JusticeDelivered in reply to Chicklet. | June 1, 2021 at 2:51 pm

      Even worse is when they have good verbal skills, you hire them, and you have paid them2-3 months, with lots of your time or other employee’s time wasted in the process.

nordic_prince | May 31, 2021 at 10:09 am

Well duh. How else do you expect the totalitarians to maintain their grip on society? Educated people are harder to control. Bread and circuses – keep ’em dumb and happy and they will obey like good little sheep.

Every Child Left Behind

That said, they will compensate at the universities at 10x the cost, shared responsibility, and affirmative discrimination to keep up appearances.

    henrybowman in reply to n.n. | May 31, 2021 at 11:12 am

    But that’s less of a problem than in the past, because all the colleges will be required to “teach” them now is no-brainer propaganda, at which nobody will be allowed to fail (yes, they can make that sort of “success” happen when they really want to).

    artichoke in reply to n.n. | May 31, 2021 at 11:58 am

    In the case of Baltimore, I doubt it. A whole city full of those who have completed their entitlement to public school, but with a third grade reading level at best, many are probably illiterate which is why they never learned anything else in school. Hopefully everyone can agree that they need to age at least 10 years in the world of work, gain some maturity, before anyone should waste more time or money trying to deliver an academic curriculum to them.

      JusticeDelivered in reply to artichoke. | June 1, 2021 at 2:54 pm

      I is more likely that they will move on to jailhouse schooling….for the rest of their life.

        artichoke in reply to JusticeDelivered. | June 6, 2021 at 4:28 pm

        If the argument is that it’s cheaper to keep recycling them in high school than to pay for prison space for them, perhaps that’s true. But the cost has to come from a general fund, not local property taxpayers.

henrybowman | May 31, 2021 at 11:10 am

Look, the solution is easy. Just stop calling it a diploma. Instead, issue Participation Permits.

“The Bearer of this Permit has had his stupidity officially sanctioned by the State of Maryland.”

“Government doesn’t work.” — Harry Browne

Lucifer Morningstar | May 31, 2021 at 11:11 am

So the Baltimore Public School Board is punishing the students that actually succeeded and passed their courses the previous year with slower and more dumbed down courses covering material they’ve already mastered by shoving the “tens of thousands” of students that failed into the next grade level and expecting teachers to deal with the educational deficits of the ones that failed. Yeah, that’s gonna work out well in the end.

    What choice do they have? You can’t have everyone repeating the year. Eventually they have to be moved on and told their taxpayer funded education has concluded. There’s not enough lipstick in existence to cover up this pig, no matter how it’s applied.

      Lucifer Morningstar in reply to artichoke. | May 31, 2021 at 12:38 pm

      Yes, you can have every student that failed their classes repeat the year.

      The Baltimore Public School Board shouldn’t be penalizing the students that actually put in the effort to pass the classes the last year by forcing them into slower, dumbed down classes that are simply re-teaching the previous years material that the passing students have already mastered. Period.

The obvious solution is to mandate the teaching of Critical Race Theory (a.k.a. Starting a Race War 101) and jack up spending on public education several hundred percent. Rinse and repeat.

    That’s no fun for them. There’s nobody white there for them to shame.

      Just as the Joseph Goebbels media invented the category of “white Hispanic” (of the entirety of human history George Zimmerman is the sole member of that category), why not a brand new “white Black” or “Oreo” category to keep the white supremacy shtick going?

        There are lots of white Hispanics. Hispanic is an ethnicity, not a race. When firearms buyers fill out an ATF form 4473, they have to check a box if they’re Hispanic and then they have to choose their race. For years, the media fed the narrative that there was a “brown” race. Once Zimmerman popped up on their radar, they had to suddenly find another way to characterize him.

I understand how this approach benefits the teachers and administrators but what about the students? (a rhetorical question)

    Lucifer Morningstar in reply to NYBruin. | May 31, 2021 at 1:44 pm

    According to the linked article there is educational “research” that purportedly shows that black students (and that’s who we’re dealing with here) that fail their courses in one grade level somehow benefit from being socially promoted into the next grade level and play the futile “catch-up” game trying to learn the material they should already know while attempting material they cannot hope to understand at their level of education because they didn’t learn the basics the year before.

    Oh, and then we don’t want these students to actually think they are failures because they failed all their classes the previous year. Their widdle egos just couldn’t handle that shame and humiliation. So paradoxically we pass them on to the next grade level so that they can experience even more failures until they graduate without any skills whatsoever.

    It’s all liberal educational bullshite but there you go and here we are.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to NYBruin. | June 1, 2021 at 3:32 pm

    Those students are lost, there is a golden period of learning for children, When that is squandered, it cannot be fixed.

They are going to need a lot of participation trophies instead of diplomas

    JusticeDelivered in reply to Skip. | June 1, 2021 at 4:01 pm

    Going back to the Bell Curve, Most of these children simply cannot function in college We have seen again and again that many, most cannot even get through high school.

    To the degree that they can be educated, it needs to be basic life skills. Home economics, obeying rules and law, taught empathy and morals.

    Their education needs to be tailored to their capabilities.

Students were doing no better before the pandemic. There was a story a year ago about a kid who passed 4 or so courses that got all the way to graduation, then they denied the diploma because he hadn’t passed all those courses. And he was in the middle of his class!

I am sure a lot of money is spent on these schools. I am sure the teachers have at least bachelor’s degrees and teaching certificates. I am fairly sure the school is not mainly at fault because it does about the same thing as other rule-compliant K-12 schools in the United States.

But the students aren’t learning. Maybe it would be better if cops were in the schools; I think they aren’t, then if you get out the troublemakers the others can try to learn and a few will try.

But given the amount of money spent on these students every year, for 13 years K-12, I will not mainly blame the school. Sometimes the miracle can’t be done. Maybe the illiterate parents don’t teach the child to read. I suspect reading is a big problem. Maybe common core is even worse than whatever they did before it. But within the structure of our K-12 system, there may not be much more to do.

I blame mainly the students. The material was presented, surely many times. They did not learn it.

Those numbers are proof that children of any age need in-person teaching to succeed.

Having a father around doesn’t hurt, either.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to moonmoth. | June 1, 2021 at 4:16 pm

    When mother and father are both illiterates, and are openly hostile to education, even if the child lucks out with some intelligence, how can they achieve their potential?

healthguyfsu | May 31, 2021 at 12:50 pm

Most of you have it wrong. The excuse parade is the biggest problem.

Now, a majority have a circumstance or “disability” that holds them back. At one point, we said to hell with it and said do whatever you have to do to meet this standard or repeat until you can (or drop out at 18). That was actually the better way because now everyone’s excuse is given validity to keep them failing upward or passing without merit.

There’s no instilment of urgency or responsibility on their own part. There’s always some externality that can explain away their shortcomings. This causes quite a few to meltdown in college and is the real cause in the rise of mental health traffic in college therapy programs. Failing upward is the epitome of the hippie liberal mindset of make everyone feel good now and pass the buck so those same feel goods have an existential crisis later.

my parents made me show the report card each time.
not wanting to tell them was not an option.

    Lucifer Morningstar in reply to dmacleo. | May 31, 2021 at 1:50 pm

    My parent’s had to sign the report card, and I was expected to return the signed copy to the school as proof that they actually saw the report card. And if it wasn’t returned then the administration called your parents to find out why it wasn’t returned and to make sure they were aware of how we were doing. No exceptions were made.

This is understandable. A lot of these Baltimore Scholars will be needed for Affirmative Action slots , in better Universities, around the nation.

Besides, who thinks this has not been going on in Baltimore schools for many years?

We wouldn’t want to see disparate results in outcomes, as measured against the affluent suburbs, would we?

Trickle up corruption. Creeping dysfunction. Social progress for profit.

How is a student that failed Algebra I supposed to succeed in Algebra II?

I can’t even imagine the confusion for the students in Bawlmore when they fail Critical Race Theory 101 and are propelled into Advanced CRT but it may not end well for some other citizens.

Just how bad can a failing student be in a system that is ALREADY promoting UNEDUCATED students ?

I believe the millenial generation has completely copped-out and joyfully bought into the narcissim offered to them by their schools and media. And they know they’re full of sh*t.

Karma is going to be this: as the millenials age and finally have an investment in society and its future, they’ll be the ones contending with the army of lost causes coming out of inner city schools functioning lower than they ever have – but demanding more than anyone.

We’ll all be dead and gone, hopefully of old age.

“To hold students back “feels punitive,” she said. “It feels in contrast to a spirit of hope and a commitment we are going to make to students.”

spirit of hope & commitment? Shouldn’t they be teaching and expect the students to show up and do the work?

    henrybowman in reply to stylin19. | June 1, 2021 at 4:46 pm

    How noble. But is there no work that the students themselves are expected to do, and is there no penalty for not meeting that expectation?

Biden has mentioned Government subsidies to HBCUs so they can lower their tuitions.

Why not give every one of these Baltimore scholars a full ride scholarship to an HCBU? They are superbly prepared and the coming Woke Nation will need many more Africana and Gender Studies grads from HCBUs.

The Baltimore City School District has failed in its mission, But hey, they are celebrating Pride Month!!!

Mission: Provide a foundation for learning that acknowledges diverse needs and common goals to prepare students for success in college and in the global workforce