Given our prosperity as a country, the academic achievements of contemporary American students are modest compared to those of others in the westernized world. But, if such is true of the average American student from the middle class, then the performance of particular ethnic groups and students from poorer households is deplorable. Even if students are no longer segregated by Jim Crow laws, the effects of historical social segregation and the lamentable attitudes of personnel employed by and associated with failing educational systems are practically criminal.
Research historical high school academic performances in the city of Baltimore, Maryland. In 2016, at thirteen of Baltimore’s thirty-nine high schools, not a single student scored proficiently on the state’s mathematics exam. At six other high schools, only one percent tested proficiently in math. In raw numbers, 3,804 Baltimore students took the state’s math test, and just fourteen demonstrated proficiency. Citywide, only fifteen percent of Baltimore students passed the state’s English proficiency test.
Yet, school administrators parade these students across stages annually, allowing equally unskilled and poorly educated parents and family members to proudly applaud the conferring of diplomas to these children. And, a minute fraction of these students receives financial achievement awards and college scholarships. But, the majority graduate with knowledge and skill levels unlikely to be sufficient to gain admission into and graduate from colleges with the resources to help them manage, overcome and succeed beyond their deficits.
However, do not invest more money the Baltimore system as a reparative response. Please, note the fact that Baltimore schools are not underfunded. Of the nation’s 100 largest school systems, Baltimore schools rank third in spending per pupil. This means those who have been perennially responsible for leadership and management of the educational system and accountable for student performance have failed to effectively apply their substantial budgets. Moreover, the community-social, political and government entities that are traditionally responsible for evaluation and oversight of the system have also failed. The system has invested in buildings, infrastructure, equipment, books, personnel, service contracts and all manner of other resources without being accountable for positive student performance outcomes; everyone into whom money has been invested has done well except for the students.
The objective is not to create and maintain systems, rather produce well-educated diploma conferees, who are well-prepared, fit and skilled to excel in the market and/or gain admission into and thrive at the next level of education (trade school, college/university). In Baltimore, MD and in many municipalities around the country, public education systems have not been sufficiently accountable to anyone, much less the students and their families.
Adding insult to educational injury, most civil service positions and many other quality jobs now require applicants to take qualifying examinations that these students cannot pass, as well as ask them to complete electronic applications requiring computer skills that they often do not have. So, with the socially-uninformed liberal thinkers supporting vastly porous borders, and creating biased support networks for millions of aliens, just where do you believe our under-educated and skilled citizens will be employed? And, how do you believe they will support, educate and encourage the next generation of minority citizens from Baltimore and elsewhere? As a result of these practices, multi-generational dependence on government-funded social services becomes a way of life, with few efficient welfare-to-work supplementary education/training programs and associated quality jobs as described in political slogans.
When you saw these poor, angry, often inarticulate persons in the media, or meet them in person, would you have previously understood even an inkling of their generational plight? Given that this has been a way of life for many, can you also recognize the fear and anger that is precipitated when suggestions that even their multi-generational, meager, urban share-cropper lifestyles may go away before new, interim “safety nets” are offered? Baltimore is just a tip of the iceberg and is by no means unique. It’s a small part of the ongoing education disaster for black students across the nation.
You and your student can succeed beyond the system’s expectations. However, you must be your own advocate.