Tuesday, November 25, 2008

oh, baltimore.

Whatever happened to our motto, "The City that Reads"?

Last year, HBO, along with directors Alan and Susan Raymond bravely set their sights on my city's crappy school system and decided to feature a documentary about one of (MANY) the troubled schools here. Hard Times At Douglass High: A No Child Left Behind Report Card chronicles one turbulent school year at the historic Frederick Douglass Senior High School. Since I live in Baltimore, and my brother graduated from this same school in 2007, watching this documentary was technically redundant, but I wanted to see if the media really shed light on what goes on in that school. Long story short, I think they did a pretty good job in showing what really goes on with the Baltimore City Public School System...and that's exactly nothing at all. School books dated back to when Frederick Douglass himself attended the school? Not really, but close enough. And oh, "we can't afford to give you new books, but here's this shiny new SCOREBOARD for your football field! Keep running, niggers." Not an actual quote, but I figure that's what's being said in these shady school headquarters meetings. And please don't get me started on the violence--the gang fights, teachers fighting students--wow.

One year later, and the shit is still hitting the fan. This story hits me harder because I've worked at this school before, and the stories that I have just at this school are ridiculous and endless. Example: on my way to work one day, I get a phone call saying that the after school session for the day had been canceled and all students had been sent home. I found out later in the day that a student decided to drop a chair on a teacher--landing directly on his face--from two floors up. The teacher had been taken to the emergency room with a broken nose and other injuries. W.T.F. Last Friday, it was reported that a student had been fatally stabbed multiple times right outside of the school--by another student--at Lemmel Middle School, ironically a few blocks away from Douglass. Please feel free to click the link for the full story and updates that have followed. Apparently the young man who killed his schoolmate was constantly bullied. It's also reported that he went to school authorities multiple times and no action was taken, so he finally and unfortunately took matters into his own hands.

In keeping up with this story, there are always two things that continuously surface to the front of my mind:

-We have POLICE OFFICERS working in city schools. No, not the rent-a-cop, with a whistle and iron-on "security" badge. The good ole boys (lmfao@ the irony) of the BCPD have special divisions and departments specially designed to provide safety to our schools. Where the hell were they? Just last year at the same school, a student stabbed one of his classmates in the neck with a pair of scissors. He was also a victim of bullying but to a different extreme; being bullied by gang members. Where are my taxes going?!
-This is pretty twisted that this thought came to mind, but check this: the two boys in this story are 14 and 15 years old. Why are they still in middle school?

This city is jacked, and the school system is even worse. And now we have another issue facing us, with the passing of Question 2 in Maryland, we'll soon be welcoming slots into the state. Guess where the money's going to go? The goverment is saying schools...I don't see it happening. Of course I'm not being asinine by not listening to both sides of the Question 2 argument, but when it came time to vote on 11/4, I did myself and my younger brothers and sisters a favor a selected no.
It's hard to believe this city is about change for our schools when I can drive past Douglass High, with no new renovations, books, or anything severly beneficial for the students being done; and look right across the street at Mondawmin Mall practically getting a facelift. It was arguably the worst mall in the city, in ALL aspects. You wouldn't be able to find anything you were looking for...and hopefully you made it out and to your car without being robbed. And hopefully you got into your car without someone already being in it, waiting to rob you. But now, check us out! We've built a brand spanking new Target, AJ Wright, and a Shoppers; and there's also been some significant work done to the inside of the mall. Now there's a Forever 21 in the hood. Damn.

That's right across the street. And to the left of the school, a new football stadium is being built for Coppin State University.

Way to go, B-More. Way to go.



Mike Valentino said...

I hear all Maryland's got is football and crabcakes. Obviously violence and ignorance need to be added.

PS. Don't feel bad. I'm from South Carolina.

Ziggy Za. said...

Mike-I'm don't eat crab, and although I'm entitled to show some spirit for the Ravens by default, I'm not really a fan. Looks as though I'm screwed.

What's in SC? Liquor and firearms, right? I need options.

amirah: the uncool said...

I soooo agree with this joint! I went to City and graduated in 06, but even though City's a good school, we have those old torn up textbooks like everybody else and we have an alumni association that's there for show. plus there has been crime too [like last year when my old principal got hit by a car in the faculty parking lot] but nothing as drastic as somebody dying.

question 2 was a bunch of ish...def voted against it.

oh and middle schools! I flipped out because...

one: boy was 15 and still there
two: kids should have the opportunity to go to school and not be afraid of what may happen to them. It's the school's responsibility to protect all of their students--the one who died, the one who was being bullied, every single one of those students.
three: they had metal detectors. smh.
four: security guards and police officers alike do not really do their jobs in school settings. some of them try to mingle with the kids instead of doing what they are paid to do.

I'll stop here...lol.
hope you're having a good thanksgiving.

Ziggy Za. said...

Amirah-There was a time in Baltimore where you could distinguish the bad schools from the worse, but that line is far gone. I have a little cousin that goes to Lemmel and he told me the metal detectors are brand new! The fact that there has to be metal detectors in a middle school is still astonishing.

Thanks for your comment.