Monday, February 16, 2009

The fights: City versus Mervo:scary school days

Buz has read with interest Sara Neufeld's article and blog in the Sun about the fights between kids who "attend" Mervo and "attend" City College here in Baltimore. Some commenters think that it's nothing and shouldn't even have been reported. Sorry: I disagree.
  • It seems that these weren't really "fights" at all: merely group attacks on lone students who appeared to be associated with the Other School. (Rodney King: "can't we all just get along"?) Typically, these  cowards find a student who is alone and attack as a group. It appears that a group of City students did just that--injuring a Mervo student.  Did they attack him because he did something to them or were they just out to find somebody to "bank"? Then, later, a group of Mervo students went to beat up on a City student.
  • City and Mervo are supposed to be two of the city's elite high schools, where students have to apply to get in and somehow be screened before being accepted. Wonder how Dr. Alonso's new policy will apply if the "investigation" finds a group of City students were the attackers/instigators here. We wonder if they would be expelled and sent to their zoned high school? He has recently stated that students in these schools couldn't be kicked out under standards used in the past. The schools are supposed to "work with" these students and not just flunk them out. Wonder if assaults perpetrated off school grounds mean anything. [We think Dr. Alonso is a great guy, but if the city's select high schools (City, Poly, Western, School for the Arts, Carver, Dunbar and yes, Mervo)  evolve to be just like any other of the city's high schools, the middle class in the city, who are committed to public schools, will just move out.]
  • We're glad the School Police intervened; perhaps that will put an end to it. Usually warm weather brings a rash of this stuff out, and this is not a good premonition of spring.
  • There was a really a scary post by someone claiming to be a teacher at Mervo. Apparently the hall walkers and druggies and gamblers are running amok there. When Buz worked at Walbrook a number of years ago, there were often lots, perhaps dozens, of hall walkers on many days (kids who check into school, but cut one or more or all of their classes, but not the "hundreds" cited by this teacher. I remember there was a disturbance at Mervo last year where a teacher was taken to the hospital. At Walbrook it was not unusual to have fires set in trash cans or in bathrooms {the school was never evacuated and staff put the fires out.}
  • Since City's swimming pool (like others at high schools in the city) is not usable, City's swim team has been going up to Mervo to use its pool. Since the heavy street action has occurred, a decision has been made that the team will simply not practice at Mervo since the season is almost over.
  • Several posters on Sara's blog indicate that they think this is no big deal, just kids fighting. Your consultant thinks this is a big deal, because these two schools are important in our city. City is surrounded to the east and south by the neighborhood of Coldstream-Harford-Montebello (CHUM), recently one of the most violent in the city last year, and so far this year. A young adult was recently found shot to death just on the edge of  campus on a recent weekend. Last year a student in the Baltimore Algebra Project was murdered at a bus stop just off campus. And to the north of Mervo is the Northwood shopping center, which has struggled with street crime, the scene of Councilman Harris' murder.  So, this tit-for-tat violence could very easily get out of hand. Neighborhood non-student youth could become involved.
  • An acquaintance was robbed on school property last year as he left the building after a sports meeting. Though several attackers were arrested, he declined to press charges, since "they know what I look like, and where I go to school." 
  • Buz believes that far too little is done to separate violent bullies from the school population. He believes that bullying, harassment, fights, other violence, potential violence and having to travel thru the neighborhoods on Others' Turf is what is a big factor in causing a lot of kids to drop out of school. Of course, we know there are lots of other factors, but this is the biggie-in my humble opinion.


Kofi Bofah said...

Former Marylander (Silver Spring) floating past to see what's happening in Baltimore.

I was just up on Roland recently - well I was all through Baltimore last week...

John said...

I agree that it is unfortunate that people have to take such severe steps to safeguard their property, but it is common sense and necessary. I do wish they would make a stronger effort to arrest and prosecute smash and grab operations as well as those who profit from the sale of stolen property.

One step would be to charge repeat offenders with Theft Under $500 as oppossed to Theft Under $100, if applicable, as well as seeking enhanced penalties.