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Baltimore's school troubles

February 07, 2006

Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich on Saturday said he expects a federal judge will give the state more, not less, power over the Baltimore City school system. Baltimore officials quickly trotted out a familiar refrain - the state hasn't given us enough money.

If we were confident that a lack of money is what ails the Baltimore schools, then we would be more sympathetic toward a request for more funds.

This is the system that settled a lawsuit against the state by agreeing for $250 million in new aid in Parris Glendening's first year in office. Despite all that new cash, by 2004, the system had run up millions of dollars in debt.

The city school system dug itself a large financial hole when, in an effort to improve students' test scores, it sent thousands of children to summer school without charging anything - even to those whose parents could afford to pay!

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Last summer, Nancy Grasmick, the state superintendent of schools, told The Herald-Mail she was fed up with Baltimore school officials. Not only do they make promises they have no intention of keeping, Grasmick said, but their failure to deliver mandated services to special-education students led federal officials to threaten to withhold money from every system in the state.

The victims in this case are Baltimore's children, many of whom need extra help because they are raised in poverty.

That's why the state shouldn't appropriate any more money for Baltimore schools until officials there can demonstrate they're dong good things with the cash they've already received. Money spent that doesn't help is money wasted.

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