Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Crime and Security in Baltimore: random thoughts

There's been soooooo much happening with crime and security stuff in Baltimore and elsewhere that it's' been hard to keep up!
  • A teacher's beating on a cell phone camera, which occurred in Reginald F. Lewis High School, is alarming and disturbing--but not entirely surprising at at all. Fighting is apparently an elective at many of the city's zoned high schools. Sheesh. Doesn't that young woman teacher know that? When she told the student to sit down, and she didn't, that was it: the teacher could have told her to leave (the girl probably wouldn't have) or just ignored her and kept on going with her lessons. I hate to say it, but the dumb principal was right in one respect: once you say you're "going to defend yourself", that's a trigger word to these street thugs who just wanna fight. By the way, why didn't the principal report the incident? Betcha, 6-1, because word has come down from Dr. Alonso that our "children" need to be in school, not suspended--and she didn't want her own lack of control in the building to be noticed. (Also, she was probably saving her suspensions for when she "really" needed them.) Besides, don't these city teachers know that fighting skills are important for them as well?
  • Buz has learned from an informed source that "hallwalkers" are really getting prevalent at Reginald F. Lewis, now that the weather has turned warm. Hallwalkers are "students" who check into the school, but don't go to some or any of their classes. They walk the halls of the building all day. Ok, sometimes they run when they see an Assistant Principal or School Police. It's very sad. I see the results every day when I work as a vocational coach at a nonprofit: folks who dropped out of high in order to participate in the fun of the halls, then the streets. They never go back for a GED, and then years later, they lament the fact that they can only get the very lowest level laborer jobs (or too often, no job at all). I spoke with one man who lamented that he was 40 years old, and was washing dishes at a local hospital and he felt awful about it. Well, he had no GED, several arrests, no real work history, and wondered why, perhaps, the hospital wasn't having him help with the surgery.
  • Your consultant tried to teach a couple of classes at Walbrook High School a few years ago, to the Criminal Justice students, no less. Neither I nor my Community Service Officer could control the class for even 5 minutes. The class would not stop talking or fooling around. We eventually gave up and showed them a movie. Because we were not their regular teacher, they felt they owed us no respect or attention: it wasn't going to be on the test. 
  • Baltimore has several "elite" high schools, which require standards to get in and stay in: City, Poly, School for the Arts, Western, Carver and Mervo. If they did not exist, the entire school system would collapse and many middle class families  would move out. 
  • This teacher beating came on the tube the same day that the news broadcast a story about 8-10 kids attacking two others with lacrosse sticks (this is Baltimore, after all). It even showed the attackers running. (Not back into the school, though). And then it showed them running into a building where an adult came out and was showing and  pointing a rifle (this is Baltimore, after all). Police said that part was unfounded. Huh? I guess he was just demonstrating his right to bear arms. 
  • All of this means that if you are relocating to Baltimore, you must find out where the good schools are at the elementary/middle level and move to that area. For example, the Tuxedo Park and Roland Park areas are zoned for Roland Park Elementary and Middle Schools-which are good and have a high level of parent involvement. Otherwise, you must go the parochial or private school route.