I’m as surprised as you are but we’ll get to the reasons in a moment. If you’re a regular reader then you know I’ve written many times about the horrible conditions in Baltimore City schools. This is a school system dubbed a “failure factory” by the local Fox News affiliate. It’s a system where some students graduate high school without ever learning to read. It’s a system where 41% of high school students have a GPA lower than 1.0. And it’s a system that has been credibly accused of engaging in fraud by putting “ghost students” on the books as a way to bump up the amount of money those schools receive.
In short, Baltimore schools have some of the highest funding of any public schools in the country and deliver some of the very worst results. So back in January a married couple, Jovani and Shawnda Patterson, with ties to the Republican party filed a lawsuit against the city and the school system:
A former Republican candidate for City Council president and a former city school teacher have filed a lawsuit against Baltimore City and its public school system for what they describe as a sweeping failure to provide an adequate public education, wasting public funds and defrauding taxpayers in the process.
Jovani and Shawnda Patterson, who live in Baltimore’s Mount Holly neighborhood, filed the suit Wednesday in Baltimore City Circuit Court alleging that city residents received “no benefit” from a school system that “completely fails to perform its most important function” of educating children.
The couple say they have one child, who is not named in the suit, enrolled in the city school system…
“Simply put, the School System is failing to teach its students basic skills each year, then giving up and advancing them without equipping them with the knowledge needed to succeed at the next grade level,” the complaint states.
Based on the links above, I’m not sure how this is even arguable. Baltimore schools are a disaster for any child unfortunate enough to live there and it has been that way for a long time.
And that brings me back to the surprising thing which attorney Benjamin Crump did. Crump is an attorney best known for representing families in various police cases connected to Black Lives Matter including families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake and George Floyd among others. Last week, Crump decided to join the lawsuit against Baltimore’s schools.
“This lawsuit is about the system and its performance and how it continues to fail our children,” Crump said at a news conference Wednesday. “It goes to the crux of the matter that educational injustice leads ultimately to racial injustice because it puts our children our Black and brown children especially on a fast track to the school-to-prison pipeline.”
The Pattersons, who have a child in the city school system, started off with representation from Marder, who is with Baltimore-based Thomas & Libowitz law firm. Jovani Patterson has Republican Party ties and lost a bid for Baltimore City Council president in 2020. Shawnda Patterson used to be a Baltimore City teacher…
Crump said he was asked a year ago to join the case, and as he learned more, he decided he wanted to take part…
“I think you can kill people in many ways,” Crump said. “You can kill them with a racist criminal justice system. You can kill them by them not having adequate education. These slow deaths are what we’re focused on today.”
So, yes, it’s finally happened. I agree completely with Ben Crump about something and I sincerely hope he bring attention to this and helps the Patterson’s win this case. Crump gave an interview to Fox45, the local station that has uncovered some of the awful conditions in Baltimore’s schools, explaining why he belatedly decided to join the case.
“The system is broken and we need to try to fix it,” Crump said. He’s right about that. The abject failure of Baltimore City Public Schools and the apparent lack of interest in doing anything about it should be unacceptable. The only hope for Baltimore’s schools, in my view, is to have someone outside the city hold them accountable. This lawsuit is probably the best way that could happen.