The real systemic problem with public schools is teacher unions

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Most parents probably wouldn’t be devastated to hear their kids rank in the middle of their class. Not Tiffany, the mother of a high school student at the Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts in Baltimore. His son’s GPA was 0.13 and it wasn’t a typo.

Fox News Affiliate in Baltimore reported that her son had only passed three classes in four years and “was late or absent from school 359 days”. Yet the school continued to promote him to the upper class.

Tiffany’s son ranked 62nd out of 120 in his class, meaning 58 of his classmates had a GPA of 0.13 or less. In 2019, two of the 434 students at his school were found to be proficient in math, as were two in English.

The rest of Baltimore City Public High Schools (BCPS) did not fare much better – approximately 41 percent of high school students achieved a GPA of less than 1.0 in the 2020-2021 school year. Only 21 percent of high school students achieved a 3.0 GPA, which equates to a B GPA.

Funding isn’t the problem

There is no doubt that prolonged school closures during COVID-19 severely crippled student learning. Yet even before the closures, about a quarter of high school students in Baltimore had a GPA of 1.0 or less. BCPS serves nearly 78,000 students, of whom about 76% are black and 14% are Latino. The teacher / student ratio is 1:15.

Baltimore Democratic Mayor Brandon Scott blame the catastrophic performance of the school system on a lack of funding. But Augusta Fells, the school that failed Tiffany’s son, receives more than $ 5.3 million a year, or more than $ 12,000 per student.

As for BCPS, Adam Andrzejewski from Openthebooks.com find the district has a budget of $ 1.4 billion. That’s about $ 18,000 per student, more than 40 percent more than the national average of $ 12,612. Additionally, Andrzejewski noted that BCPS’s $ 1 billion budget was in place before Congress softened the district’s coffers with an additional $ 85 million in 2020 as part of its COVID bailouts.

So where did the money go? Andrzejewski’s research shows that BCPS spent nearly $ 650 million on payroll that year. For example, he paid 24 “classroom monitors” $ 698,639 even when schools were closed most of the school year and hallways were empty. Together, BCPS ‘top 20 directors made $ 5.5 million last year, including CEO Sonja Santelises ($ 339,028) and her chief of staff, Alison Perkins-Cohen ($ 198,168).

Believe it or not, BCPS has a “fulfillment and accountability” office with six employees, although it does not appear that any of them have been held responsible for BCPS ‘disastrous lack of success. Last year, all six earned six-figure salaries, including Theresa Jones, “Chief Achievement & Accountability Officer,” who made $ 192,827.

BCPS also has a dedicated “Office of Equity” with a goal to change “the results of young people so that race is no longer a predictor of academic success”. Its manager Tracey Durant made $ 143,800 last year. The offices resource page provides a long list of recommended reading, including self-care tips and articles such as “To white leaders of organizations: Silence is violence. Here’s what you need to do now, “and”12 ways to be a white ally of black people. “

Racism is not the problem

BCPS administrators and educators have abundant resources to help their students succeed in school. So why have nearly half of its majority minority students only earned 1.0 GPA or less? Teacher unions and critical advocates of racial theory like to blame systemic racism. They claim that anything that leads to uneven results between different racial groups is racist. They have already judged math, Science, good english grammar, and standardized “culturally biased” and racist tests.

There is a national push to “decolonize” the curriculum, eliminating standardized tests, gifted programs and tough entrance exams to elite high schools, all in the name of “racial equity”. It is only a matter of time before the same activists decide that surrogates are racist and call for their elimination.

What is really racist, however, is the insistence that black and Hispanic children cannot understand Shakespeare, do not need to know 2 + 2 = 4, or that the differences in test scores between these children and their white peers can never be bridged. Black and Hispanic children from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds have proven they can excel academically. Just look at New York, where charter school students (who are mainly black and Hispanic children) consistently outperform their peers in union-controlled public schools.

For example, in 2019, “63% of charter students in Grades 3 to 8 passed the state math exam… compared to 46% in traditional public schools. And 57 percent of charter students were fluent in English, compared to 47 percent in regular public schools.

Math and English proficiency rates at Success Academy, one of the city’s public charter school networks, have exceeded 90%. These impressive results invalidate claims by teachers’ unions and CRT activists that the programs and tests are “racist.”

The real problem? Teachers’ unions

The real systemic problem with poorly performing public schools like BCPS is neither funding nor racism, but teacher unions. The K-12 public education bureaucracy was put in place to benefit these unions, not the children. With the support of Democratic allies, teachers’ unions have become an obstacle to any meaningful reform in education.

They opposed anything that could challenge their status quo, from pay for performance to responsibility or competition. They have kept failing schools such as Augusta Fells open to reach children and communities because these schools offer unionized workers well-paying jobs. They have spread disinformation about charter schools and have done everything in their power to prevent parents from choosing the schools that are best suited for their children.

During the pandemic, they fought to keep schools closed even though the risks of COVID-19 for children are minimal, while school closures extended considerably injured mental health and children’s education. People from disadvantaged backgrounds suffered the most.

Teacher unions are perpetuating the dismal results of K-12 public education in this country and have condemned some of America’s most vulnerable children to lifelong poverty. Now they want get rid of standardized tests, so the public does not know how so many adults who run schools fail their students.

But parents know it. The pandemic has become a turning point for them. Through distance learning, parents had the opportunity to witness both the content and the quality of their children’s education. Parents began to demand accountability.

Tiffany, the mother who found out her son was earning a 0.13 GPA, has no illusions about what such devastating school performance will have for her boy’s future. “What does that do to his confidence?” it request. “And as he gets older, the years to come. What are his dreams?

“I refuse to let it be a statistic, and really be nothing,” she added. “It won’t happen under my watch.”

As a nation, we cannot look in Tiffany’s eyes and continue to pretend that public schools let down her son because of racism and lack of funding. Teacher unions prevent parents like Tiffany from having the same educational choices as well-off parents, which is the real systemic problem with our public education system.

We can only solve this problem by running for office, rejecting teacher unions and their Democratic allies, and supporting school-choice candidates.



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