As this week marks the end of the school year for Baltimore City schools, I thought I'd share a piece sent to me by a first-year teacher that draws a rather provocative conclusion that many of the district's struggles are fueled by its own low expectations.

The reflection piece, titled "Low Expectations for Low-Income Students," documents some of the more tumultuous times in this teacher's school this year, which she says were mostly supported by policies that encourage poor academics and behavior and affirmed by manufactured statistics.

In the end, she questions whether some of the widespread sociological theories--such as the fact that "zero-tolerance" policies drive the so-called "school-to-prison pipeline--are as applicable to Baltimore as some may proclaim.

Or, she asks, if the district's own policies (such as lax discipline policies that make it nearly impossible to suspend students and an academic policy that doesn't allow teachers to give students below a 50 percent), are the biggest obstacles to the students' growth into educated, productive citizens.

From her experience this year, she concluded:

"In my experience, students are also set up to fail or to be imprisoned because of the lack of expectations and consequences in public school system itself. The Baltimore City Public School system is a system that sets lower academic and behavioral expectations for its students than do systems in more affluent communities, leaving Baltimore students woefully unprepared. These low expectations seem to result from schools’ need to generate good statistics. In addition, low expectations for low-income students are often set by people attempting to be sensitive to their socio-economic backgrounds."

The teacher supports this conclusion through vivid descriptions (and just a warning: sometimes in very explicit language) of some of the classroom activity that she and her colleagues experienced in the (unnamed) school. 

You can read the entire post, published on a blog called "The White Rose Reader," by clicking here.

erica.green@baltsun.com

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