A former Baltimore County teacher says parents are being lied to concerning their kid’s safety in public schools.
After spending 33 years teaching in Baltimore County classrooms, Ed Kitlowski is now running for County School Board. He’s frustrated, because during his career, he saw how student discipline has changed and the effects it had.
“The lie is that what we're doing is working,” says Kitlowski, who states parents are being lied to.
Kitlowski says No Child Left Behind, passed in 2001, drastically changed public education because it shifted the focus to data. For example, Project Baltimore investigated suspension rates. We found in-school and out-of-school suspensions, statewide, have plummeted 58 percent since 2007. Kitlowski says student behavior didn’t improve, the discipline just stopped because principals wanted their school’s data to look better.
“One school I was at, the principal made a policy of not suspending students. Didn't broadcast that to the student body, but after a while the students start to see. Well, so and so did this really bad behavior, and nothing happened to him. I'm gonna see what I can do,” says Kitlowski.
He recalls a time, 25 years ago, when a student called him a “stupid jerk.” He still has the paperwork showing the kid was reprimanded, and his parents were called to the school for a meeting. Towards the end of his career, Kitlowski says a student brought a knife to class. The weapon was taken, but the student was not disciplined.
“What message does that send to the school body when a student brings a knife to school, and then returns the next day?” Kitlowski asks.
After he says he was kicked, punched and sworn at during the latter part of his career, Kitlowski retired in 2016. Now, as a school board candidate, he says it’s time to shift the focus from data back to students and tell parents what’s really happening inside their kid’s school.
“Teachers aren't trained to deal with a lot of the discipline problems they're seeing,” he says. “I find that there's a lack of transparency about what's happening, and Project Baltimore seemed to be looking at that and bringing some transparency.”
We reached out to Baltimore County Schools, which released this statement:
"Every student deserves a safe learning environment, where they are free to discover, innovate, and create. We recognize the importance of having the community play a role in school safety discussions. As a result, BCPS has formed a new Student Behavior and Discipline Council that will bring together students, parents, community members, teachers and Board of Education Members. The council is designed to streamline efforts toward ensuring safe and orderly learning environments.
This is just one of the many ways BCPS is focusing on school climate. Student leaders have made school safety a focus for their 2018-19 platforms. We look forward to hearing their feedback and working with them to ensure safe learning environments."