The Baltimore Post has had a number of conversations with parents that have children in the Baltimore County School System and the local parochial schools.
All we can say is, “What a contrast!”
Here are the stories provided to us:
One young mother told the Post her daughters attend a Baltimore County elementary school, and her youngest just received her first school packet since schools closed on March 16.
That’s correct, folks. It took more than a month. Sadly, that woman’s oldest child is still waiting for a school packet.
The young mother was exasperated that her children have been without any professional education guidance. She said she’s been doing her best to give her daughters reading assignments and other educational assignments to keep up their skills, but the woman is guessing at best.
She said she was disgusted with the county school system, and we can’t blame her.
The Post received a call from a father whose son attends a Baltimore County elementary school. The child received a packet that was, to summarize the father’s words, poorly prepared and containing “busy work” assignments at best. (Publisher’s note: we took the liberty of cleaning up the language/expletives used in his verbal attack on the school system.)
The man ended our conversation by saying he was removing his son from BCPS, and the man will be homeschooling his child moving forward.
Another woman, the parent of two high school students, called and said she was at her wits’ end with trying to get her children’s schooling back on track. She could not understand what was taking so long for the county to distribute online assignments. She also was concerned about the lack of internet service in the northern part of Baltimore County. That means, when the assignments finally arrive, she will need to drive her children to the school parking lot so they can access the internet.
The Post spoke to a woman whose daughter attends a local parochial high school. This parent said her daughter’s school started online learning the first day schools were closed. She said the education content was grade-level and took up where her daughter had left off in school.
We heard a similar response from a man whose two children attend a local Catholic elementary school. Both parents were very complimentary of the online learning experience their children were receiving.
The Post has received too many calls to post here, all from dissatisfied parents of Baltimore County schoolchildren. The majority of those calls were from parents upset that no learning was taking place. Meanwhile, The Post did not receive any negative calls from parochial school parents.
It makes us wonder how a school system that made the purchase of computers for learning a major budget priority (to the tune of $203 million) can fail so miserably in providing online instruction.
The Post searched for any comments from the school board that might provide justification for the enormous amount of money dedicated to the computer purchases. Board member Charles McDaniels provided comments to the Baltimore Sun supporting the massive expenditure, stating that he couldn’t imagine a high school student today getting an education without technology. “Many students don’t have the technology and resources to allow them to compete,” he said.
Well, Mr. McDaniels, it appears they still don’t after spending $147 million on the technology initiative.
The Post reviewed the more than 60 questions the school board asked the computer vendor in March 2018. We could not find one question about provisions for online learning. Astounding, isn’t it folks? How could all these so-called educators and advocates for computerized learning not have questioned the use of these computers for online learning?
To relay a famous quote, “Houston, we have a problem…”
One month into this pandemic, the BCPS is still fumbling around with educating our children, which is its primary mission. If the school system was a private company, the entire leadership would be fired. But not in Baltimore County–the land of ‘transparency’ (or severe lack thereof) where the superintendent remains cloaked behind a “no comment” shield and parents can’t reach board members.
If you ask BCPS leadership, they’d tell you that everything is running smoothly. At least we think they would. Fox 45 has asked a number of times, but their news department can’t get any answers either.
Despite the fact that the BCPS budget is $2.3 billion (yes, with a “B”), that massive amount of tax dollars doesn’t buy much efficiency or accountability.
We will admit that we agree with Mr. McDaniels–we can’t imagine any county school student getting a decent education without technology. But after spending $147 million of a $205 million contract, and after securing a $2.3 billion budget, it appears that our school children are still well behind the curve.
It is especially galling for taxpayers to have their income taxes raised and cable/telephone bills increased to throw another $81 million at a dysfunctional school system that doesn’t live up to its mission.
The county executive and council members should be ashamed of themselves for tolerating such a slipshod excuse for educating our children.