The governor didn't use O'Malley's name in his brief announcement speech, but he attacked the mayor, calling him a whiner and promising a sustained attack on the failures of Baltimore City schools. (From here.)
God, I hate that guy. First of all, the mayor has very little to do with the schools, and, in fact, it could be argued that he and the governor have equal hands in the schools; after all, both jointly appoint the school board. The Ehrlich- and O'Malley- appointed school board is called by one politician to be "improving" and one politician to be "horrific." Second of all, Baltimore City schools have a lot of good going on that always seems to be ignored. Third of all, Ehrlich has continually denied to fund the Thornton Commission report, which found that Baltimore City Public Schools were being unfairly shafted in funding. Fourth, the only visible state program our school has had during Ehrlich's term was a very sneaky abstinence-only sex ed program that proclaimed itself to be about self-esteem.
One of the things we've studied in my Master's class is the 1983 speech given by Reagan that proclaimed American public schools in jeopardy and far behind the rest of the world. I remember hearing about that, and I was only in the 2nd grade. I specifically remember a crotchedly old substitute teacher we had who yelled at us, "I see now why we're so behind the Japanese in everything! You guys don't know how to act!"
However, the Japanese really weren't ahead of us in everything. In fact, they only test their top 25% of students, while we test all of ours. The speech fabricated statistics, told only partial truths, and in general was a load of BS. The thing about it is, it benefits no one to say our public schools are doing a good job. During that particular time period, Reagan was attempting to get the things he felt were important into the schools - prayer, for example, as well as eliminating the Department of Education altogether (gosh, if he had done that, maybe we wouldn't be in this NCLB mess right now), so it was good for him and the rest of the right to make the schools look bad. The liberals felt that even though the report was factually inaccurate, at least it would focus some attention and resources on schools and bring about some much-needed school reform. Unfortunately, the strategy backfired, and the report stuck in the public's minds.
But it's a good example of how public education becomes a whipping boy for both sides. Heck, the NCLB was a product of that - it benefits neither side wanting reform to make schools look good, and thus we now have this unfunded, mediocrity-breeding mandate. This situation in Maryland reminds of that now. Baltimore City Public has its problems, sure, but find a large urban school district that doesn't. And you never hear about the good things - like the way that the small high schools have increased student achievement, about how Baltimore City boasts the highest African American graduation rate of any large urban school district, about how four high schools in the system can give a kid an education that matches any private school education, about how test scores in the elementary and middle schools are steadily rising (high school results aren't out yet this year). No, we only hear about how Bonnie Copeland decided to leave after three years, which is the average tenure for CEOs of superintendents around the country. We only hear about the bad test scores at some schools and other problems of the system.
It benefitted Duncan to make the Baltimore City Schools look bad, and it will benefit Ehrlich throughout the campaign. I guess since he's got nothing positive to stand on from his four years as governor, that this will have to do.
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