Teaching can be a thankless job. Talk to almost any educator in the public school system and you're bound to get a earful about grueling hours, disrespectful kids, infuriating bureaucracy and minimal pay. As such, it looks increasingly like the teachers in Baltimore's public schools have decided to just stop teaching altogether and pass every student that walks through their doors.
In the latest installment of a growing scandal revealed by "Project Baltimore", an investigative reporting initiative launched by Sinclair Broadcast group in March 2017 to examine Baltimore's public school system, a teacher at Calverton Elementary/Middle in west Baltimore has come forward with proof that grade changing is not only common in his school district but explicitly encouraged by senior administrators.
According to Fox45, below is the end of year text message that Calverton teachers received their principal, Martia Cooper, instructing them to "please double check end of the year averages and make sure they are 60 and above." The message went on to say that any "averages below 60" should be "corrected" so that failing students could be pushed through the system.
“Good Morning people! (Secretary) is printing report cards so finally you can get cumes finished. Please double check end of year averages and make sure they are 60 and above, except our four retention candidates (2 elem and 2 grade 7). If you find any grade averages below 60, pkesss (sic) have (secretary) correct and give me a copy of those student names. Thanks!”
The unidentified teacher who came forward to expose the text said it's very clear what the intent of the message was.
A Calverton educator, who reached out to Fox45, claims to have received that text. “[It instructed me to] go into my grade book, make sure no students are failing, and essentially change the grade if they are failing so they will pass with a 60 percent,” said the teacher, whose identity we are concealing upon request.
“I was frustrated as a teacher. We’re public servants. And when we see things like grade changing, that’s self-serving. That’s not helping the kids.”
After watching Fox45’s recent investigations into allegations of grade changing at Calverton, the City Schools employee contacted Project Baltimore to say a couple things. First, according to the teacher, grade changing at Calverton is “very common.”
Second, the educator told Fox45, changing grades is the easiest and fastest way to pass more students, which makes the school and its administrators look better. But, it does a huge disservice to not just the kids, but our entire community.
"Teaching a whole generation of kids that they don’t have to be accountable for their actions, or that hard work isn’t valued or valuable when they are in school, is so discouraging and damaging.”
Adding insult to injury, the same teacher said that he even passed kids who had been on his roster all year but didn't bother to show up for a single day of class.
But this teacher says grade changing at Calverton goes much further than just taking a failing grade and making it a 60. Some students who pass, according to this educator, don’t even have grades because they’ve never showed up to class.
“There were students on my roster all year that I had never met, had never seen. On paper they passed my class and passed onto the next year.”
“I love my job and I love my students,” concluded the teacher. “I want to see the students at Calverton and other schools across the city, get a fresh start. And it’s going to be hard because the students are used to this now. But the students deserve better and our city deserve better.”
Makes you wonder what those "four retention candidates (2 elem and 2 grade 7)" from the principals text above had to do to actually fail a grade.