Baltimore Schools Fail Students

There are few things more hopeful than the start of a new school year. But for Baltimore students and their families to remain equally hopeful, they’ll first need to see some major changes in their public school district.

In spite of spending 25.2% above the national average for education, Baltimore City has seen subpar educational results. For example, a 0.13 GPA recently landed a student in the middle of his senior class ranking, 62nd out of 120 students.

Four years ago, Fox 45 News “reported on 13 city high schools with zero students proficient in state math testing . . . [and] six total schools with zero students proficient in any state testing. More recently, [Fox 45] found 41 percent of all city high school students earned below a 1.0 grade point average during the first three quarters of this past school year.” 

Learning loss has been a particularly acute problem during the pandemic. With schools closed, many students were forced to struggle with distance learning. A Project Baltimore investigation found the number of middle school students with one or more failing grades jumped from 35% pre-pandemic to 62% in 2021. Among elementary school students, 26% of second to fifth graders had one or more failing grades pre-pandemic; now 52% do. If Baltimore teachers were grading the district, it would flunk.

So where is the district’s $1.4 billion budget going? According to an audit conducted for Forbes, administrators, including the district’s CEO, are well compensated. In fact, CEO “Santelises’ cash compensation was more than $126,000 higher than that of the U.S. Secretary of Education, a cabinet-level position.”

It’s worth considering: Is it harder to run Baltimore’s school system or the federal Department of Education? Can Baltimore’s taxpayers afford to pay their schools chief more lavishly than all Americans pay the Secretary of Education? Finally, given these dismal educational results, is Santelises worth it?