Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Is Anyone Responsible?

Is anyone responsible?

Here’s the deal.  Teachers commonly complained that their classrooms were overcrowded.   So Baltimore City Schools CEO Gregory Thornton took some walks through classes.  Funny, the classes were not overcrowded.  So he dug further.
Turns out there are lots of “ghost students” in Baltimore City Schools.  These are kids who show up in the annual September 30 count of students that is reported to the State Department of Education every September 30 for funding by the State.  But they are not showing up in classrooms, overcrowded or not.  There are about 1,900 of those students, representing a great deal of money that would need to be refunded to the State. 
Who is responsible?   Now therein lies the question.
The teachers’ union says teachers are not responsible.   Yes it is true that they are the ones who do the actual counting and submitting the numbers to the principal.   But they are under pressure from the principal to keep kids on the record books who have not been to school in months.
With that line of reasoning, the principals must be responsible for submitting knowingly incorrect information to the central administration.  But the principals’ union explained that their members were not responsible either.   Their members had received pressure from the central administration to keep up enrollments.  AND with the new budgeting system, principals received allotments according to student count. 
So it must be central admin’s fault.  Well of course, it was not the fault of the present central administration.  Thornton has only been in office since 2014 so he and his staff are not responsible for these irregularities.  They have a system in place, it just has not been followed.  The previous administration did the deed.
Tisha Edwards was interim superintendent before Thornton was appointed and after Alonso left.  Of course she is not responsible, she was only the interim superintendent.   We won’t mention that she was second in command under Alonso who declined to comment on the situation.
Where oh where are we left to go to find someone, anyone, who might accept some responsibility- even a tiny bit. 
Not the Board of School Commissioners.   They could not be responsible because no one ever told them about the issue.   Of course, their job is to oversee the school system, but I guess they just wait until someone tells them.
The City Council announced last week that they were not responsible since the city gave some authority for appointing the school CEO to the state in return for money when the system was destitute.  “Destitute” could happen again with the City Schools 60 million in debt and may need to refund money to the State for this latest irregularity.

So it is clear, no one is responsible and mistakes were made.   Perhaps this should be the tag line for Baltimore City Schools.  No one is responsible and mistakes are made.   No wonder no one wants to send his or her kids to be educated here.

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