Run and hide: Baltimore City Schools CEO dodges questions on recent state test scores

There are several previous installments in this story starting with David’s post here and my two follow-ups here and here. The short version is that Baltimore City Public Schools are some of the best funded in the country but the results of all that spending are dismal. Local Fox affiliate WBFF Fox 45 revealed earlier this month that state test scores found 23 Baltimore City Schools had not one student capable of doing math at grade level. Another 20 schools only had one or two students in the entire school who were doing math at grade level.


Efforts to speak to Baltimore City officials and state representatives about the test scores have mostly been in vain. But reporter Chris Papst hasn’t given up. He went to an event where Baltimore City Schools CEO Sonja Santelises was speaking. But as soon as her speech ended Santelises darted out the back.

“Dr. Santelises, can we just get a quick word with you? Can we ask you a couple questions about the recent MCAP scores that came out for math for the school system?” Project Baltimore’s Chris Papst said while trying to catch up to the CEO…

“I think parents would like to hear directly from you,” said Papst after catching up to Santelises.

“They do,” replied Santelises. “Chris, parents have heard. They’ve heard at board meetings. We’re rolling out our plan. We’re visiting schools. We have, Chris. Thanks so much. It’s really good to see you.”

Papst also tried to talk with Maryland’s State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Muhammad Choudhury and got the same brush off from the the Deputy State Superintendent for Organizational Effectiveness, Dr. Sylvia Lawson.

“We’ve been trying to get a hold of you and Dr. Choudhury,” Papst said to Lawson.

“Whenever we have an opportunity, we will contact you,” replied Lawson.

“We’ve been trying for months,” said Papst. “You haven’t had an opportunity for months?”


Dr. Lawson next tried to claim that she’s responded to questions from Papst but as you’ll see in the clip below, that never happened. No one responded to any of the dozen or so emails that Papst sent.

As Papst mentioned at the end of that clip, he finally just signed up for public comment at the state department of education where he was at least able to point out that no one had been willing to respond to any questions about state test scores.

“Good morning, I came here today with significant concerns about transparency and accountability within the Maryland State Department of Education,” Project Baltimore’s Chris Papst said during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s state board meeting…

“In Maryland, it has been my experience that MSDE is the most difficult organization to get answers from,” Papst said to the board…

“This body oversees billions of tax dollars. You are commissioned to educate nearly a million students. And the media can’t get a response to simple questions about how some that money is spent, or how some of the students are educated?” questioned Papst. “Last week, I spoke with Dr. Sylvia Lawson. I said directly to Dr. Lawson that no one has responded to my emails and calls. Even after I said that to her, I still didn’t get a response to my emails or phone calls. This is transparency, according to MSDE?”


As I’ve said before, this should be one of the biggest scandals in the country but it’s not because the people who are responsible are either a) unionized teachers or b) progressive officials and administrators. The media just doesn’t have any interest in holding any of these folks up as failures. And so the only attention this gets is basically generate by this one reporter at one local station.

The city of Baltimore just keeps churning out kids who can’t read and can’t do math and no one getting paid to educate them feels they should even be bothered to explain why they keep failing so badly year after year. Lucky for them they only have to dodge one reporter.

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