Veteran Teacher on City Schools: “It’s a complete disaster”
Project Baltimore’s investigation into allegations of grade changing continues to expand as more teachers come forward.
Since August, Project Baltimore has interviewed a number of current and former teachers, who say grade changing is happening at their schools. But fearing retaliation, none have been willing to reveal their identities, until now.
“I’m angry. Somebody’s got to say something about it,” stated Scott Miller Phoenix.
Phoenix spent 25 years as a social studies teacher in Baltimore. Last year, he was laid off. He calls the quality of education in City Schools a complete disaster.
“It’s an emergency,” he explained.
Phoenix tells Project Baltimore, he worked at four city high schools where the heating systems would often break. He says the halls, had plenty of violence, marijuana smoke and rodents. But the classrooms had few supplies. And, according to this teacher, all his high schools had something else in common - grade changing.
“I know other schools have done this,” said Phoenix.
“But in this particular school, this is what we were instructed to do.”
Northwestern High School closed in June. But Phoenix says when it was open, it was common for grades to be rounded up to the nearest 5. So, for example, if a student earned a 56, which is failing, Phoenix says it would be rounded up to a 60, which is passing.
“That happens all around the city, administrators change grades,” said Phoenix. “I think they are scared to actually see and have demonstrated how poorly academically the kids are doing.”
Scared, because of numbers like this: In its final year, Northwestern had more than 500 students. 2017 state testing data, analyzed by Project Baltimore, show that of the 371 students who took the state tests, zero were proficient in Math. Three students were proficient in English.
Saeed Hill was the final principal of Northwestern. He now runs KASA, Knowledge Achievement Success Academy in west Baltimore. We reached out to him requesting an interview to discuss his former teacher’s claims concerning grade changing. But Principal Hill did not return our calls or emails.
Meanwhile, Phoenix says public education is now so bad in Baltimore, he transferred his own kids out of the school system where he worked for a quarter century.
“If I’m not willing to have my own kids in the school, what does that say?” asked Phoenix.
“I was very disappointed that I wasn’t able to keep my kids in the school system that I taught in. [It] drove me crazy. It was very upsetting. What choice did I have?”