Forty Percent of Baltimore’s Public Schools Do Not Have a Single Student Proficient in Math

I have previously written about the near total meltdown of our public education system in some major cities. Prominent in these discussions has been Baltimore, which continues to fail inner city children in teaching the most basic subjects. This week, that failure is on full display with a report that forty percent of Baltimore’s schools lack a single student who has achieved grade-level proficiency in math.  In various cities, the response of administrators has often been to lower the standards to continue to move kids out of the system without the skills needed to thrive in this economy.

In a prior column, I was particularly moved by the frustration of a mother in Baltimore who complained that her son was in the top half of his class despite failing all but three of his classes. Graduating students without proficiency in English or Math is the worst possible path for these students, schools and society.

The crisis continues with the new report that looked at 32 high schools administering the standardized test and found that 13 produced no students who proved proficient in math. Three-fourths of the Baltimore students taking the test were given the lowest possible score of one out of four.

At the five “elite” high schools, only 11.4 percent of students were math proficient.

We previously discussed the Baltimore public educational system as an example of where billions of dollars have been spent on a system with continuing failing scores and standards. Recent data adds another chilling statistic: 41 percent of students in the Baltimore system have a 1.0 (D) GPA or less.

Public schools and boards are making the case for school choice advocates with failing scores and rising controversies.

Baltimore City Public Schools responded to this shocking report with an effective shrug: “We acknowledge that some of our high school students continue to experience challenges in math following the pandemic, especially if they were struggling beforehand.” However, the system was failing these students long before the pandemic.

BCPS has a $1.7 billion dollar budget and was given an addition $799 million of federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds this school year. Despite the massive infusion of money, the administrators have demonstrably failed these students who are left with few options in the workplace beyond low-level jobs.

Baltimore is not alone. The entire state of Minnesota reported a zero percent math proficiency rate in 75 of its schools during the 2022-23 school year.

What is baffling is that voters do not blame their political leadership for this disaster. Whole generations are being lost due to the inability of these districts to reach mere proficiency on basic subjects. Yet, there seems few political consequences for political leaders. Many seem to just accept that this is the fate of inner city children as politicians focus on other issues.

Again, the response of the Baltimore school district is maddening: “The work is underway to improve outcomes for students. But treating student achievement as an ‘if-then’ proposition does a great disservice to our community.”

I am not sure what the “if-then proposition” may be, but the greatest disservice to the community is the failure to offer these inner city kids a basic education  to be able to succeed in the workplace. The “work has been underway” for decades with lost generations of kids lured into criminal activities by the lack of any real opportunity to advance in our society. As a father of four, I cannot imagine how desperate many of these parents must be in cities like Baltimore where schools offer little hope for the future.

We have been discussing these low scores for years with little progress. Baltimore and other cities simply demand more money while deflecting any responsibility for their poor records. The true cost is not borne by the teachers, the unions, or the administrators. It is borne by these families who see the same failures replicated in every generation, processing their children out of school without needed skills.

213 thoughts on “Forty Percent of Baltimore’s Public Schools Do Not Have a Single Student Proficient in Math”

  1. The good news is that Randi Weingarten has gone to Ukraine multiple times and she has also marched with the striking UAW workers. How does this help our students? How did closing schools for two years help our kids? How did masking up 6 year old kids help? How does teachers striking help? HOW DO LIBERALS EVER HELP?

    PS. The UAW wants a 40% raise and yet our poorer people, many times minorities, cannot afford a new car. But we have the president of the teachers union marching with them and the black’s self proclaimed greatest champion, Joe Biden supporting them too. The Democrat coalition cannot hold. Unions work against minorities. Open borders harms blacks. Hispanic people usually don’t agree with the trans kid thing and abortion up to the 9th month. Poor people, supposedly the Dems base, or it used to be, are getting crushed by inflation that was exacerbated by the “green new debacle”. The Dems are now the party of white suburban women, corporate big wigs, black activists and the open border crowd.

    1. HullBobby,
      Yeah, I priced out one of those electric pickup trucks with the extended battery: $85k.
      That is over twice what I paid for my 2016 F150.
      Even the price of a low end EV is above what most Americans can afford.
      This autoworkers strike, let us see how it plays out and what the industry looks like as a result a year or two from now.

      1. how much can that EV truck pull/carry and for how long? My brothers enviro group wanted to convert to EV pickups, but they were ‘shocked’ to find the trucks don’t do much work.

    2. Thomas Sowell: Oh, it matters because if you can get people to believe that their problems are all due to racists, you will get their votes. But if you look at a lot of data on different things, you’ll discover that’s not the case. It’s very doubtful if all the racists in the country today have half the negative effect on blacks as the teachers unions have because the teachers unions keep the schools lousy in areas where the people who send their kids to school do not have the option to send them to a private school if the schools are bad.

      1. I rarely get to see Dr. Sowell online or on TV but did see an interview this week online that I really enjoyed. He was born in Gastonia NC but moved to NY! He may be 93 but still has his richly blessed brain!

    3. Communists (liberals, progressives, socialists, democrats, RINOs, AINOs) are the direct and mortal enemies of the American thesis of freedom and self-reliance, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, actual Americans and America.

      How is it that America’s enemies have taken over America?

      Answer: The judicial branch, with emphasis on the Supreme Court.

      The legislative and executive branches were expected to engage in wholly unconstitutional overreach.

      The judicial branch was designed to rein those branches in and place America firmly back on the clear meaning and intent of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

      1. George- you can still leave your name on comments. Just hit the icon that looks like an envelope and the process is the same as before.

  2. Just remember that Education Secretary Cardona “has no respect for parents that don’t behave.”

    There are reports almost daily that teachers are having sexual relationships with students. And the union leadership is silent.

    Public schools are failing to produce students with a basic proficiency in core subjects. Union leadership passes blame on parents who complain and then demand more funding.

    I agree with Dan Bongino: The Republican Party may not be the solution to all of our problems, but the Democratic Party is absolutely the cause of all of our problems.

    1. @OLLY

      I agree with Dan, too. Simply applying the brakes would be a good start, and the dems proverbial car only has a pedal on the righthand side.

      1. Simply applying the brakes would be a good start…

        Refusing to fund the US Government past Sept 30, would likely get everyones attention. Maybe then Congress critters would come together and fondle each other fund the most dire Federal programs. If Lauren Boebert and her ex-bf, Democrat, gay bar owner, Quinn Gallagher, can hookup, Eric Swallowswell & MTG can as well. OTOH, Lauren and Quinn are no longer praying together in the missionary position dating so this idea could be akin to shooting blanks

        NB: If Darren can post corny jokes……

  3. Urban schools have been failing for decades because of democrats and teachers unions. Here’s how: The teachers unions shower democrats with enormous contributions. In return, the democrats fight against charter schools and school choice — even those democrats who once advocated for school choice quickly oppose it when bribed with the unions’ contributions. There are numerous examples, most recently the Pennsylvania governor. The unions also protect both mediocre and truly bad teachers. The winners are the democrats who get big union payoffs and the teacher vote, the unions who get protection from competition and ever-increasing funding for unproductive programs and accelerated salaries, as well as the high-profile minority “reverends” who make a fortune supporting democrats and race-baiting while doing nothing to help their brothers and sisters. The losers are inner-city children and families who are stuck on the democrats’ urban plantations, but continue to vote for democrats because they are told lies about republicans being racists who will take away benefits. And, of course, society as a whole loses. Meanwhile, the democrats continue to spend more and more on social programs that enrich NGO administrators, keep the urban plantations placid, and destroy the self-respect of inner-city people reliant on the hand-outs. Those programs provide no improvements to the status quo. And when the next election comes up, the democrats will claim to care oh-so-much about the plight of the inner city inhabitants. If there is systemic racism anywhere, it is in urban schools and it is caused by democrats and teachers unions.

  4. The origins of this mess are to be found in numerous places a long time ago. I majored in physics with a minor in education over 50 years ago. I quit education in short order because the courses were a nothing — no rigor, just BS sessions. I couldn’t waste the time and money. Then in graduate school at the U of Utah there was a student newspaper expose’ about how the college of ed was teaching its own math courses because the education majors couldn’t succeed in the math department; also education majors had the highest GPA (near 4.0) but were composed of the lowest one-third of SAT and GRE scores. Once again no rigor, low expectations. It was a scandal, but no effort to correct the problem.

    Those majoring in education never had a reasonable idea about rigor nor accomplishment nor high expectations. Continue this for 20 years and the education graduates of the late 1960s-1970s now dominate the profession and are taking over administration. Thirty years and the disaster is complete. Yes, the growth of “marxist” ideology with its focus on victimhood didn’t help, the unions were complicit in every turn of the downward spiral, and the Democrats have aided and abetted the entire process — they provide monetary rewards. Yet, what really happened is a perfect example of the adage that “soft men make for hard times.”

    Fifty years later and the infection has reached medicine, law, and engineering. Expect hard times.
    Kevin T. Kilty

    1. These “leaders” have no interest in an educated populace. Makes them more difficult to manipulate. The ones who make it out without being aborted are essentially aborted post birth.

  5. Jonathan: This is your latest column attacking public education–this time K-12 education in Baltimore. You only feign interest in the low proficiency of Baltimore’s inner schools. Why do I say this?

    First, some figures about how public education is funded. More than 90% comes from state and local sources. Only 7.8% comes from the feds. In Maryland 25.2% for public education comes from property taxes. In contrast, in more wealthy Massachusetts 52.2% comes from the same source. That’s partially why over 96% of students at Boston Latin School are proficient in reading, science and math. Adequate funding is essential to a quality education. You don’t get that if you depend on property taxes. And that’s why many educational experts have proposed a substantial increase in federal funding for education.

    Second, there is a racial component to why Baltimore schools under perform. 75.75% of Baltimore school children are Black-only 7.55 are White. Historic racism has left Baltimore inner city schools without the resources they need–a crumbling infrastructure without essentials like air conditioning.

    Third, is the political component. Republican politicians are opposed to adequately funding public education. House Republicans want to cut Title I funding by 80%–or $15 billion, that provides money for low-income children. The GOP also wants to eliminate Title II that provides professional development to teachers. The DJT administration was against funding for public schools. Under Betsy DeVos’s Dept. of Education’s proposed budget for 2021 it called for cuts of $15.6 billion. DeVos wanted to give away billions in tax credits to subsidize private school vouchers–that would have primarily benefit White families.

    And now the MAGA Republicans in the House are showing their disdain for public education. They are prepared shut down the government–refusing to come up with a budget that would provide more funding to public education and other essential services. McCarthy is speaker in name only. DJT is calling the shots who wants to shut down the government–to prevent the criminal prosecutions against him. Public education be damned!



    2. “Republican politicians are opposed to adequately funding public education. “

      Dennis is pumping more BS in the system. Democrats fight charter schools and prop up the teachers union that protects administrators and teachers rather than students. Read data provided by an expert. Dennis lacks date and doesn’t have the ability to form an opinion despite his constant barrage of them. Democrats in NYC are destroying the education possibilities available to blacks by trying to tear down charter schools.

      “Thomas Sowell: the public school is run by the teachers unions, the charter schools do not have unions at all in most cases. One of the most extreme examples was a school that I went to when I was in Harlem. In that particular school, only 7% of the regular public school kids passed the math test. In the charter school, 100% passed it. They have different levels. Proficiently means you’ve passed and there’s a level above that when you’ve done more than what is necessary for that. In that particular school, only 2% of the charter school kids scored as low as proficient. The other 98% were in the top bracket above proficient.”

        1. Verarains, at the Uncommon Knowledge site, you can see the Sowell interview on another book dealing with charter schools. The study performed was excellent and provided more data. The book provides the actual data with scores from the comparative schools.

          Those in charge, earning large sums of money for administrating this disaster, should be sued for malpractice or perhaps jailed for the willful destruction of a child’s future. It sounds unreasonable, but the same happens to professionals such as doctors and lawyers.

    3. You’re dodging, misdirecting: “Look, a squirrel!” Read Thomas Sowell and the empirical data and studies he presents. The enslavement of the black youth by Dems for the goal of political power is tragic.

    4. Dennis – it was shown as far back as 1966 in the Coleman Report that there is not a positive correlation between spending on public education and postive results.

  6. The blame for this lies squarely with those who worked to destroy the traditional family unit, who became enthralled (and later addicted to) the progressive ideology of “perfecting humans through government programs and indoctrinations) and the parents who decided that they would follow the easier path of appeasement in parenting rather than the more difficult path of instilling values and discipline.

  7. The true doomsday recipe: The Witches’ Brew for Self-destruction from Incompetence

    Add two parts government bureaucracy
    —school system members, school boards, school administrators, state Departments of Education and the US Department of Education continues to pump out poorly educated citizens
    Add one part innocent children
    —hordes of poorly educated kids/citizens that have little hope of becoming productive and self sustaining citizens
    Add one part poorly educated citizens
    —poorly educated and/or uninformed parents are an essential ingredient

    Cook for at least 10 years for a very poor product (incompetent student) that will be highly unsatisfying to themselves and the rest of society. This poorly educated citizen product will now be suitable for:
    —becoming a non-self sustaining member of the citizenry
    —becoming of becoming life-long ‘on the dole’ citizen
    —becoming dependent and vulnerable to the extent of being manipulated, threatened and otherwise trained to support any organization (political or otherwise) that promises to maintain their ‘on-the dole’ status

    The involved bureaucracies, poorly educated citizens and society will likely find the product of the brew recipe unpalatable. So they add:
    —a generous sprinkling of lowered standards, so as to accommodate the poorly educated citizens and disguise the evolving witches’ brew of incompetence and dependence as an ‘enhanced’ product
    —a heavy frosting of lowered thresholds for awards, degrees and promotions is a valuable aesthetic addition

    Now feed this recipe product to all of society. Convince society it will be improved by demanding and throwing in more $ in the cooking process.
    After several more cycles of production, the enhanced ‘products’ of the brew now run the kitchen because the standards are so low that nobody dares to question their ‘expertise’.

    Evidence of the ‘The Witches’ Brew for Self-destruction from Incompetence’ is working and having the desired effect?
    —lower and lower and lower test scores despite lowered standards for in the testing process
    —enhanced’ products of the witches’ brew now becoming the cooks (bureaucrats) administering running the kitchen
    —increase in non-functional products of the kitchen (homeless)
    —increase in ‘enhanced’ products expanding their authority into areas beyond their very limited ‘expertise’ e.g. supervising sexual development of other people’s kids
    —exponential increase in ‘on-the dole’ citizens


  8. The Democrat Party owns this disaster….it has its grimy fingerprints all over it.

    One thing the Democrats shall never do is admit that.

    Baltimore is just another of those Leftist Utopia’s.

    1. You are quite correct, the prog/left owns all of our societal, economic and government failures except one. And that failure, the failure to hold feet to the fire and expose the graft, corruption and pure vapid and evil ideologies of the prog/left belongs squarely with the timid middle of the road republicans.

  9. Public schools operate on a constant if-then proposal: “If we were given more money, THEN we would be successful.”

    And, society continues to pour money despite the fact that public schools continue to have zero results to show for it.

    Another problem is that a majority of parents think that THEIR public school is doing ok. THEIR kids’ teachers are ok. The “bad” schools are somewhere else.

  10. Sad and tragic for these students.
    What kind of future do they have?
    As others have pointed out, it is not just the school system but the family at home.
    Or lack there of.

    1. @Upstate

      It isn’t just them: what kind of future does anyone have when these are the people that will eventually be handed the keys to society? The story itself, and all of our other current ills, are the answer to that question. We are already seeing this playing out in earnest, and by all appearances, without serious intervention, it’s only going to get worse.

  11. And the person in charge of the Baltimore public school system is making $593,000 this year. We are talking about evil here, not just corruption. These are people who have turned away from life and to the darkness. It’s part of the global spiritual battle between light and dark. Put up your Light Shield and shine it into the darkness.

    1. @KBigg

      I think so too, though I personally don’t ascribe spiritual connotations – human greed, laziness, narcissism, and depravity suffice just fine on their own. The machinations of the global elite are absolutely something more than misguided or even arrogant. We haven’t seen this in the West in nigh on 80+ years, and it is entirely comprised of the modern Left. It’s time to stop pretending otherwise.

  12. In teachers defense it’s quite taxing to find time to squeeze in subjects like Math & English when teaching CRT and gender dysphoria, then go home and post on a TikTok account.

  13. “As a father of four”…… While not the only reason for the abysmal student results, it’s a large part of the problem IMHO. The lack of fathers. Thank you, Jonathan, for an excellent article.

  14. 𝐋𝐚𝐭𝐜𝐡𝐤𝐞𝐲 𝐊𝐢𝐝𝐬

    There is no incentive for some of these Kids (most – depends where located, like Baltimore and other Cities/Areas),
    School is a ‘prison’ for them, Their interest are not academic, but are social and survival. They are forced to go to School more as a Day Care because the Parents are trying to survive the conditions They are given (making ends meet). And that the Government requires that them to attend (enforced by truancy Rules), and that being a ‘High School Graduate’ carries such a status for Employment in our Society.

    The myth is that this only happens in low income Families, is 𝐍𝐨𝐭 𝐬𝐨, It happen from Upper-Middle Class to Lower Class households.
    In Upper-Middle Class households it may be cause by Parents both working ‘Professionals’ that also are involved in 2nd and 3rd After-Work activities. Like Investing in Rental Properties and doing the work to Flip them, or running a side business to build that retirement Nest Egg (Alter Ambitions). 2nd & 3rd Jobs. Which make them an absentee when it comes to their Children. Further the problem’ Children tend to be the 2nd or 3rd Child, the 1st and Last or only Child tend to fair better under these circumstances.

    I would say that ‘Parenting’ is very low in Baltimore, as in really getting down and working with their Children.
    It may not be so much Academic work but the providing of ‘Rearing & Nurturing’ – The Parents for their part will tell you that they are doing all that they can. With some of Them you can take that with a grain of Salt, Others truly don’t have the Time.

    An outcome for these Kids is that later-on when they are Adults and things settle down around them, They can find a state-of-mind to Learn (Late Bloomers 20s-30). Unfortunately for some they will have become Parents themselves by that time.

    No amount of Public Funds can’t redress these realities. In addition the Global Population is 8 Billion, Jobs for these Kids have not been invented yet. And it is clearly evident by the Refuge-Immigrant influx that Governments cannot or have given-up on trying to compete with the waves of Over Population. It is not “Sustainable”, hence We will eventually end up with Caste, right here in the Untied States.
    (Thank you very much AOC – You’ve killed U.S.)

  15. Keeping the huddled masses depending upon the state requires depriving them of the skills they require to provide for themselves. It’s simple when the masses don’t even realize what is being done to them. Biting the hand that feeds them in not in their best interests. Lenin woke them up.

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