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  • Writer's pictureArmstrong Williams

Armstrong Williams: Crisis in the Classroom | STAFF COMMENTARY

PUBLISHED: February 14, 2024 at 9:59 a.m. | UPDATED: February 14, 2024 at 12:22 p.m.

The public education system in Baltimore City has gained notoriety for being among the worst in the nation. Investigations launched by area news media into the school system over the past decade revealed shocking discoveries. There were schools where none of the students tested were proficient in math. There were instances of non-existent ghost students being counted to pad school enrollment numbers and funding. There were more than 12,500 examples of changing failing grades to passing over a four-year period. 

This all contributed to a massive, ongoing lawsuit, financially supported by Baltimore Sun co-owner David Smith, which has already survived a motion to dismiss. It accuses the school system of misappropriating taxpayer funds, among other ills. 

Issues such as these in Baltimore and elsewhere in public school systems have sparked a reform movement that has now found itself in Oklahoma.Currently, Oklahoma schools are at a crossroads, marked by challenges and promising opportunities. Unfortunately, the statewide Oklahoma school system is one of the worst in the nation. Where Maryland ranks 25th in education, Oklahoma ranks 49th, according to the 2023 Kids Count Data Book published annually by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

However, with the appointment of a new superintendent, Ryan Walters, there is hope for fresh perspectives, new ideas and overcoming existing obstacles. Can Baltimore learn from their efforts?Superintendent Walters told me, “We need our left-wing indoctrination out of the classroom, and we’re getting back to a focus on the basics.” This is particularly refreshing in light of the fact that a former principal in the school system was forced to resign in disgrace as a result of the revelation of his hobby of drag performing.The Oklahoma school system faces hurdles that require innovative solutions to solve. They face problems such as a lack of school choice, which poses issues for students, parents and school districts alike. As Superintendent Walters stated, “We’re also taking on parent rights and parent choice. I want school choice so parents can choose for their kids where they go to school.” 

In order to adequately prepare students for success in the future, it is essential that these concerns be addressed soon. After all, students from all backgrounds should never have to fear poor outcomes. They should have the opportunity to have access to a high-quality education without fear of failure.Under its new administration, Oklahoma schools are presented with a unique opportunity to assume the lead in confronting and surmounting obstacles within the field of education. Their power allows them to prioritize the needs of students and encourage the development of problem-solving strategies. Oklahoma possesses the capacity to emerge as a model of excellence on a national scale. This crucial juncture is overflowing with potential. The possible impact could be a significant paradigm shift in the education landscape of the state and the nation.

And while Baltimore is a very different landscape from most of Oklahoma, it too could stand to “get back to a focus on the basics.”

Armstrong Williams (; @arightside) is a political analyst, syndicated columnist and owner of the broadcasting company, Howard Stirk Holdings. He is also part owner of The Baltimore Sun.

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