Why We Must Invent a Successful Baltimore

Opinion

Baltimore, Maryland iStock-508379582
Why We Must Invent a Successful Baltimore

USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- The current Baltimore cannot be fixed.

However, a new successful Baltimore might be invented.

Let’s start with two reminders of reality: The problem is big; and a lot of smart, decent, dedicated people who have invested their lives and money have still been defeated by the problems.

The truth is: Baltimore is a disaster.

Drug addiction and fatalities have skyrocketed. Baltimore has the highest opioid fatality rate in the country. It also has the highest murder rate in the country per capita. It has an underfunded, inadequately sized police force that is deeply distrusted by the people who most need its help – thanks in part to a current corruption scandal. There is no stability in the police force, as there have been five police commissioners in the four years since Freddie Gray died.

As the murder rate reached almost 14 times the per capita rate in New York City, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley told the Economist the number of police in Baltimore fell from a high of 3,278 in 2002 to 2,514 now. The unofficial motto of the city seems to be “crime up, cops down.”

Since 2007, there have been 3,359 people killed in Baltimore. If Mayor Giuliani’s compstat policing reforms had been applied to Baltimore, 2,519 of those people might be alive today (under Giuliani the murder rate dropped 75% in New York City, and it dropped even further under Mayor Bloomberg).

And finally, as the Economist reported: “Of those murdered in 2018, 84% had previous arrest records—as did 86% of the suspects.”

So, why did 2,519 Baltimoreans have to die unnecessarily?

It’s partly because Baltimore has schools that fail to have a single student performing at grade level – even while the system is spending $16,184 per student.

As Sanford Horn wrote for The Federalist:

“Project Baltimore reported that in 13 of 39 city high schools, zero students were proficient in math. Zero. Let that sink in for a minute. In six more Baltimore high schools, only 1 percent tested proficient. In roughly half the schools, 3,804 students attempted the exam, with a mere 14 proficient in math. Not 14 percent, 14 actual students. It’s no wonder the poverty rate in Baltimore is 22 percent.

“Incompetent so-called leaders and teachers’ unions have corrupted the public school system. They hide behind tenure while indoctrinating students instead of educating them, condemning the next generation to the consequences of the corrupt and broken system they created. It’s not all their fault, though: the children they teach have largely grown up in chaotic homes that do not value learning.”

We were warned about the collapse of schools a generation ago. In 1983, The Reagan administration issued A Nation at Risk warning that:

“[T]he educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people.…

“If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves. … We have, in effect, been committing an act of unthinking, unilateral educational disarmament.

Our society and its educational institutions seem to have lost sight of the basic purposes of schooling, and of the high expectations and disciplined effort needed to attain them.”

I participated in press conferences and workshops launching A Nation at Risk 36 years ago. After a generation of effort, disasters like Baltimore have convinced me that we cannot reform the teachers’ union and the bureaucracy which protects it.

From the standpoint of the teachers’ union, the system works perfectly because it pays salaries on time – no matter how many children’s lives are destroyed through a lack of learning.

Furthermore, in most cities the teachers’ unions are the most powerful local power center and can make it too expensive for elected officials to try to reform them. In many ways, the corruption of the school systems, which take money for work not accomplished, is at the heart of the sickness of our most self-destructive cities.

Endemic corruption throughout the local government means a lot of the business community accepts and sustains corruption (politicians don’t bribe themselves).

While there are areas of excellence and prosperity in Baltimore (John Hopkins University and Medical Center for example) they are islands in a sea of poverty, despair, and disfunction. Nearly 81,000 of Baltimore’s 480,000 adults do not have a diploma (and many with a diploma can’t perform at the education level the diploma implies).

The death of Freddie Gray in April 2015, and the riots which followed, spurred a serious effort to turn things around for the poverty- and crime-ridden parts of Baltimore.

President Obama and his administration went to work. Governor Hogan provided state level leadership and funds. Congressman Elijah Cummings worked hard to draw attention to Baltimore’s needs. A number of local leaders committed themselves to helping Baltimore recover. Then, as Erin Cox reported in The Washington Post, “Years before Trump’s attacks, Freddie Gray’s death sparked a huge effort to heal Baltimore. It wasn’t enough.”

The Cox article is a useful outline of the passion, resources, courage, and personal time different people poured into Baltimore in response to what had become an overwhelming crisis. Ultimately, it failed and, if anything, left the reformers more depressed and more discouraged than ever.

Given these realities, I think it is virtually impossible to reform the current Baltimore system. The corruption is too great, the bureaucracies are too powerful, the culture of despair and dependency is too widespread, and the stunning decentralization of authority and activism is too great.

As David Warnock of the Warnock Foundation wrote to me:

“Until we deal with the systematic and pervasive corruption in our city, we will not be able to create the civic institutions that thrive in other cities. Until we prosecute the people who paid off Catherine Pugh for example, another new set will come along to take down the next generation. It’s literally been going on since Garrett ran the B&O railroad in the 1870’s – one white oligarch after another controlling one mayor after another.

“Until the citizens of Baltimore demand better educational outcomes, and that political leaders stand up to the educational status quo that produces some of the worst K-6 outcomes in the country, we are not going to end the cycle of violence in our city and create young people prepared for today’s job market. At Green Street Academy, only two — count ‘em two — out of 125 children who will start with us this fall in 6th grade read at grade level. They were chosen by lottery. Google the probability of a high-quality life if you can’t read by third grade if you want to see the future of Baltimore unless we get serious about educational reform.”

Faced with a problem this large, I always turn to two great leaders and their advice on solving really hard problems.

President Eisenhower said, “Whenever I run into a problem I can't solve; I always make it bigger.”

Albert Einstein asserted, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

We should take the advice of Eisenhower and Einstein and make the problem of Baltimore even bigger and then suggest a dramatically new and different plan for getting to a prosperous, safe, educated, healthy, and honest Baltimore.

We owe it to the children whose futures are being crippled in bad schools, the families whose incomes are being crippled in neighborhoods without jobs, and those whose lives are being threatened by a totally unacceptable level of violence to have the courage to follow Eisenhower and Einstein down a path of new solutions and new courage.

Your Friend,
Newt


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Circle8
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Circle8

The question is real. WHY????? The people most responsible for Baltimore are the residents and voters of Baltimore and Maryland. It is the old saying “You can lead a horse to water but you can not make it drink” If the people of Baltimore and Maryland in general DO NOT want to live in a civilized community should the rest of America care? The FIRST person to help someone MUST be that person themselves. It is the same with cities. Baltimore, Philly, Chicago, LA, San Fran and most DEMOCRAP controlled cities are toilets. They look like toilets, they smell like… Read more »

JPM
Member
JPM

I couldn’t care less about Baltimore, or Chicago, or New York, or California…

Rock22
Member
Rock22

Years ago I visited a pleasant Baltimore. I went to an Orioles game and was really impressed walking away from the ball park, nice neighborhoods, a policeman on every corner. Great time and food on the bay. If they trashed it why should I care about how they want to live now? Eventually big city democrats will trash the entire country.

Huapakechi
Member
Huapakechi

Fix baltimore? Burn the barn to get rid of the rats. What is in evidence in baltimore is the failure of the socialist welfare state, but according to socialists, more money will “fix” things. History has shown us that more money spent to “fix” socialism is money wasted. Our nation is already 22 TRILLION in debt. Reality demands that we institute a triage system. Those municipalities that are beyond help should get no help. The liberals will scream, but what else is to be done that will work? If liberals want to fund failure, they can spend their own money.

Wild Bill
Member
Wild Bill

@Hua, That is a good point. Maybe we should leave Baltimore as it is, to evidence the failure of the socialist welfare state. If we fix it, voters will not know about socialist system results. Leave all the democrat national socialist controlled cities as they are so that multiple failures are plain for all to see.
And maybe we should, also, leave successful cities as they are so that people, young and old, can compare and contrast results. Sometimes doing nothing while people sort things out for themselves is the most difficult thing to do.

Doc
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Doc

I have spent over 35 years in public education. In that time people have screamed that teachers are corrupt, incompetent, lazy, and protected by some sort of super powerful union. I started in Wisconsin where if you wanted a job you HAD to be a member of the NEA as well as the local and state Associations. Your first paycheck went to dues, and not by choice. I ended in Arizona where it is a right to work State (no unions at all). Things I learned: If a student does not want to learn, they will not learn. If parents… Read more »

Wild Bill
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Wild Bill

@Doc, Ok, you wrote some good things. I am not sure how they relate to the article, but I will give you the benefit of the doubt. As to 35 years in public education, it seems like an an overly harsh sentence. Did you piss off the judge?

mgkdrgn
Member

Having lived just outside of Baltimore (like 10 mins) for some 30 years, I can assure you that the only way to “fix” is is to wrest it from the control of the liberal democrats …. for 3 or 4 generations.

Huapakechi
Member
Huapakechi

Cut off federal money and they will be forced to face reality.

neville
Member
neville

Atom bomb would be quick.

Wild Bill
Member
Wild Bill

@neville, poisoning the water would be cheaper, less dramatic, and could be blamed upon lethal illegal drugs.

electrode
Member
electrode

Baltimore will never be fixed without changing the fundamental nature of modern America, including culture, economics, spirituality, and politics. The more important thing would be to take Baltimore as a lesson and prevent its rot from spreading to the rest of America’s cities, but that won’t happen and has already been happening for several decades.

Dave in Fairfax
Editor
Dave in Fairfax

Build a wall. Fill with water. Rinse, repeat.
You cannot build your house on sand.

RoyD
Member
RoyD

I really don’t understand what the problem is. I have been assured that, “poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.” So what’s the problem?

gcm
Member
gcm

Lol.

Will
Member
Will

LMFAO !

ChiptheBarber
Member
ChiptheBarber

RoyD, you sound like my kinda guy. One that prefers truth over facts.