Eleven schools in Baltimore managed to dodge the accountability bullet one more time this week. The city successfully beat back Maryland Superintendent Nancy Grasmick’s plans to take over its worst-performing schools after Martin O’Malley—Baltimore’s mayor—led a successful charge in the state legislature to postpone the action for one more year. O’Malley claimed that the eleven schools were making progress (if small), and that Baltimore can, should, and will fix its own schools. Gadfly hopes Charm City’s schools can accomplish in one year what they’ve failed to do over the past five, but we doubt it will. U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings took Grasmick’s side in the debate, noting that “to sit idly by with the kind of data and results and chronic failure that has been demonstrated is education malpractice. Accountability is meaningless if there is no end of the line.” Could this telling episode (and this excellent statement in support of school choice) hasten the end of the kinder, gentler U.S. Department of Education? Let’s hope so.
“Senate blocks city schools takeover,” by Jill Rosen, Baltimore Sun, April 12, 2006
“Should state take over city schools?,” by Andy Smarick, Baltimore Sun, April 6, 2006
“U.S. education secretary applauds state move,” by Liz Bowie, Baltimore Sun, March 31, 2006