“This what we do,” Audie said about a bunch of students roaming the halls and standing around aimlessly. “Just walking the halls all day, baby. [Bleep] class. That [bleep’s] for clowns, man. Don’t nobody go to class around here, man. Man, [bleep] academics. Academics? We gon’ leave that to them nerd-[bleep] [bleeps]. We gon’ keep [bleep] straight ‘hood. All my [bleeps] out here, we gon’ keep it gutter.”
Kane quotes the English department chairman, Mr. Connally, who says that only three incoming ninth graders tested at grade level in reading out of 300 to 400 students. Most enter high school reading at the fourth- or fifth-grade level.
It’s almost as if no one wanted to admit that the students were passed to high schools with third- and fourth-grade reading levels. And I’m not talking about special-education students, either. I’m talking about regular students in regular classes. It’s a crime — been one for years.”
This is a crime, perpetrated and aided and abetted by those who don’t want to “demonize” poor black folks. As a former poor black person myself — who grew up in an era when all black folks were demonized, regardless of class — I’m left to ponder whether it’s better to be demonized and well-educated, or patronized and miseducated.
The problems predate No Child Left Behind by many years, writes Chris Cross, who chaired the Maryland Board of Education, in an e-mail to Eduwonk.
The State Board stopped short of reconstituting Douglass in the 90â€™s when it became clear that the problems were systemic; Douglass was the recipient of many students who had been simply passed down the line from grade to grade, school to school, all too often never mastering the basics.
An attempt to bring in outside management was blocked by the legislature in 2006. Cross hopes Baltimore’s new superintendent will shake things up. He’ll have to start in elementary school, where Audie failed to learn the skills and values that provide an alternative to the gutter.
Update: If you want to hurl insults at Liam Julian, be literate about it. And know the difference between The Old Man and the Sea and Moby Dick. Ahab wasn’t hunting the Great White Marlin.