A Baltimore high school student failed all but three classes at Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts over four years and almost graduated this June near the top half of his class with a 0.13 GPA, 62nd out of 120 students.
The single Mom blamed the school. “The school failed at their job. They failed. They failed, that’s the problem here. They failed. They failed. He didn’t deserve that,” she said after learning that her son was being sent back to 9th grade to give high school another try.
That is the subject of today’s 10 minute episode.
Let’s jump right in and list, in order, the entities responsible for this student having to repeat all four years of high school:
- Mom. No other choice for the top spot. Parents have the primary–not sole–but primary responsibility for raising their kids. This includes education, food, clothing and housing, medical care and instilling a firm grasp of right and wrong, a work ethic, etc. It is more than a bit frightening that the Mom here not only does not agree with that, but that she is outraged at what she sees as solely and exclusively the school’s failure.
- Local and state politicians and educators (I use the term loosely) in the area. In January 2006, due to standardized test results, Augusta Fells Savage was identified as one of seven low-performing city schools that would require a “turnaround specialist” to assist the administration with increasing student achievement. In January 2007, the school board recommended relocating the school to the campus of Harlem Park Middle School, a site it would share with several other schools. The school was moved, but the results appear to be the same. How do these people sleep at night knowing what they are doing to the youth in their community and the community itself?
- The school itself. If any of the teachers, administrators or academic staff draw a salary, they should be ashamed of themselves. With only 434 students and 25 teachers, the ratio at all Black Augusta Fells Savage is 1:17. In return for their salaries and pensions, here is what the teachers delivered: a student body where less than 5% are proficient in math, and the same less than 5% are proficient in English. In 2019, two (2) students tested proficient in both English and Math. Yet they graduate 48% of the Seniors. How many of them can even read their diplomas? When these “graduates” try to get jobs and get turned down, accusations of racism are likely to be bandied about. And I agree. The cruel racism of low expectations. The School’s motto is “Pride Inside.” Pride in what?
And, get this, 29%, go on to college. In round numbers, half of these students are lied to when they are handed a high school diploma, and one third of them are lied to when they are admitted to college. All of them know that they did little or nothing to earn those honors, and will no doubt expect that continuing their low- to non-existent level of attendance and effort in life will allow them to continue to “succeed” in life with work, finances, and overall in life. And, inevitably when they fail, they will be told that they are victims, and that they deserve to have things taken care of for them. And they are victims, They were not victimized by white privilege; they were victimized by a system that feeds off of them. A school system that gets paid for under serving and lying to them. Politicians who keep getting reelected, demanding more money for public schools while mightily resisting charter schools, and raising welfare amounts and lowering voting qualifications. Mouthing platitudes about poverty while lying to the poor about why there are where they are. And promising that more government money will fix everything. Just vote for me. I hope God has a special place in hell for all of them.
Today’s Key Point: Parents have the primary responsibility for raising their kids. Not the state. This includes education, food, clothing and housing, medical care and instilling lessons like a love of learning and a strong work ethic.
And ducking responsibility is going on everywhere, causing lasting damage–and not just in schools. When was the last time you heard anyone admit making a mistake, taking responsibility, for example:
- A politician. “The program I sponsored was a failure. We need to fix it.”
- A student. “The borrowed money I spent on a poor paying major was a mistake. It will be a struggle, but I will pay it back. After all, I promised.”
- A cop. “I lost my temper; when he fought back, I overreacted.”
- A suspect. “If I hadn’t resisted arrest, I would likely be home by now.”
- A #MeToo suspect. “I did it. Back then, lots of people got away with it, and I thought I was okay.”
- Antifa/Qanon member. “I have an inconsequential life, and enjoy playing dress up and being accepted in a group. The damage I cause is explained away by the group’s leaders.”
- Involved in an accident: “Yup, it was my fault. I did not stop at the stop sign.”
- Cancel Culture supporter. “I believe that breaking up my neighbor’s furniture makes mine better. So, if I can help cancel someone, I am better by comparison.”
We could go on, but you get the idea.
“I am not responsible.” is the most self-destructive thing anyone can say. After all, if you are not responsible, then by definition you can’t fix it. You have put your fate in other people’s hands.
The Reverend Jesse Jackson once said, “You may not be responsible for being down, but you are responsible for staying down.” “Where have you gone, Reverend Jackson.” Sung to the tune of, “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?”
You may have noticed that I did not list the student as having any responsibility for his failure. This student is very much a victim, victimized by the irresponsible and self-serving adults around him. He is being sent back to the 9th grade, right about when he thought he was going to graduate. With nothing around him changing, what are his chances the second time around? And what are his chances in life like?
Do you have any action items here? Pushing for school choice in your community? Being aware of taking more personal responsibility? Asking those in leadership positions around you to take responsibility? Other action items?
We’ll close with an ironic twist. The school’s namesake, Augusta Fells Savage, was a black woman of great courage, skills and determination. Despite the odds being heavily stacked against her, she made a huge success out of her life. And should have been an inspiration to the school as she was to so many others.
Tell me what you believe. I and many others want to know.
As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty. 1 Corinthians 16:14
As we get ready to wrap up, please do respond in the episodes with comments or questions about this episode or anything that comes to mind, or connect with me on Twitter, @willluden, Facebook, facebook.com/will.luden, and LinkedIn, www.linkedin.com/in/willluden/. And you can subscribe on your favorite device through Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and wherever you listen to podcasts.
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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.
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