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Home/Rod Dreher/How To Succeed In School Without Really Trying

How To Succeed In School Without Really Trying

Tiffany France, a Baltimore mom, said nobody from her son's school told her he was failing and skipping class (Fox 45 Baltimore screenshot)

We live in a time when people are losing faith in institutions. This story from Baltimore offers a vivid illustration of why:

A shocking discovery out of a Baltimore City high school, where Project Baltimore has found hundreds of students are failing. It’s a school where a student who passed three classes in four years, ranks near the top half of his class with a 0.13 grade point average.

Tiffany France thought her son would receive his diploma this coming June. But after four years of high school, France just learned, her 17-year-old must start over. He’s been moved back to ninth grade.

“He’s stressed and I am too. I told him I’m probably going to start crying. I don’t know what to do for him,” France told Project Baltimore. “Why would he do three more years in school? He didn’t fail, the school failed him. The school failed at their job. They failed. They failed, that’s the problem here. They failed. They failed. He didn’t deserve that.”

France’s son attends Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts in west Baltimore. His transcripts show he’s passed just three classes in four years, earning 2.5 credits, placing him in ninth grade. But France says she didn’t know that until February. She has three children and works three jobs. She thought her oldest son was doing well because even though he failed most of his classes, he was being promoted. His transcripts show he failed Spanish I and Algebra I but was promoted to Spanish II and Algebra II. He also failed English II but was passed on to English III.

“I’m just assuming that if you are passing, that you have the proper things to go to the next grade and the right grades, you have the right credits,” said France.

As we dig deeper into her son’s records, we can see in his first three years at Augusta Fells, he failed 22 classes and was late or absent 272 days. But in those three years, only one teacher requested a parent conference, which France says never happened. No one from the school told France her son was failing and not going to class.

Read it all. You can say that Tiffany France ought to have been more on top of things with her kid’s grades, but she’s right to say that if the school was passing him, there is a basic trust that every parent has to have in their children’s school — and this school violated it.

This is how the school advertises itself on its website:

Of course, the Augusta Fells Savage Institute lied. If this kid was near the top half of his class with an 0.13 GPA, think about those lower! Does any learning happen in this school?

Clearly not, but I bet Woke Inc. can explain why. It’s probably on account of racism!

Maybe the Augusta Fells Savage Institute leaders need to rebrand themselves as at the forefront of woke pedagogy. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in collaboration with a number of California educational institutions, have produced Equitable Math, a guide to teach “anti-racist mathematics.” In what ways does mathematics instruction uphold white supremacy? Well, check out the guide:

Perhaps Tiffany France’s ire at her son’s school is misdirected. Perhaps the school was practicing antiracism by not holding him to perfection on his classroom attendance, and his classwork.

Sarcasm over. The thing is, sensible middle class parents of all races are not going to subject their kids to this kind of garbage pedagogy. They are going to move to school districts where their kids are taught actual math, or put them in private school. It’s going to be the children of the poor, especially the racial minority poor, who suffer the most.

UPDATE: I can tell from some of the comments, and letters I’ve gotten, that some of you think I was blaming Baltimore public schools for teaching woke math. Sorry for the confusion — that’s on me. I was making a point about the claim that teaching woke math will lead to better math learning for minority kids. Tiffany France’s kid has problems that no pedagogy will solve.

Pete from Baltimore adds these remarks, responding to a reader’s comments:

I dont think that you can accuse a woman that holds 3 jobs in order to feed,house, and clothe her kids as putting “Zero effort” into raising her children

In this past week, 5 children under the age of 17 were shot in Baltimore. .One was a ten year old girl who was walking to a store.She got shot in the chest by a stray bullet

Im all for personal accountability. But it should be realized that life in many Baltimore neighborhoods is incredibly stressful. The Mother is working 3 different jobs.If she doesnt own a car, then she has to deal with Baltimore’s awful public transit buses. Where you are lucky if the bus comes on time .And even luckier if you get a seat. She also has to worry about her kids getting shot by a stray bullet when they are outside.

In another comment on this thread, i mentioned an ex-employee of mine who had gotten a bad education from Baltimore’s school system. This employee never did or sold hard drugs.And had no criminal record. He raised three children with his wife.But even though he did his best to live a decent and Christian life, he still had to deal withthe problems that Baltimore has. One of his [ and mine] best friends died of a heroin overdose in 2018.And he couldnt go to the funeral with me, because he had to attend the funeral of his cousin , the same day.His cousin was shot 26 times in the face . 26 times! For personal reasons relating to his ex-girlfriend

A couple of weeks later, his Wife was threatened by local drug dealers.Because she had asked them to not sell drugs behind her house. And his Mother also had asked drug dealers not to sel drugs in front of her house.So drug dealers shot a bullet through his Mothers door

Thats just one month of my ex-employee’s life. Can you imagine going through that kind of stress and trauma, month after month?

I have begged and pleaded with friends not to do drugs.Only for them later to die from overdoses. I have had to tell a 13 year old girl that i knew in the neighborhood, to go home and not sell her body on the street at 4am [ i saw her on my way to work]. I have dealt with these sort of things for many years in my neighborhood.And i live in a GOOD part of Baltimore. And i have no children

The parents in many Baltimore neighborhoods are living in war like conditions. So yes, under these types of conditions, i can understand why the Mother may not have been aware of how badly her son was doing at school. Especially if she was someone who herself, didnt ever get much of an education

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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