BALTIMORE — Members of People Empowered by the Struggle, fed up with performance at Baltimore City Public Schools put their words into action holding a rally at City Hall Tuesday evening.
The group is demanding three actions: the immediate resignation of Baltimore City Public School’s CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises, the dissolving of the current school board and creating an elected school board, and for the State of Maryland’s Delegation to take a deep look at legislation aimed at returning local control of the school system.
PEBTS calls it upsetting that BCPS’s CEO received raises while 52% of elementary school students had at least one failing grade in the first 3 quarters of the year.
At the high school level, 41 percent of students earned below a 1.0 GPA in that same time frame.
“We have families that are calling us telling us that they’re watching their children fail and they’re watching their children get passed through the system,” said Jason Rodriguez with People Empowered by the Struggle.
A quick snippet will show just how prepared one Baltimore city student is for the future and her mom is at her tipping point.
“Like my daughter should be able to read numbers. Come on that’s something we’ve learned in elementary school,” said Vanessa Hanlay, the mom of a BCPS graduating senior.
We showed her daughter Isabella the number 65,123 written out and asked her to tell us what that number was and she wasn’t able to do it easily.
Her mother says this is just an example of how Isabella and many other students are being set up for failure in Baltimore City Public Schools.
“You have to know how to count to pay bills. You have to know how to count to go grocery shopping, pay your rent, everything that she has to do independently in life depends on her being able to read numbers,” said Hanlay.
“Our silence is consent. So as long we sit silent they take it as we agree with it and I don’t agree,” said Yolanda Pulley, the founder of People Empowered by the Struggle.
Isabella just turned 18 last month and her graduation is what she fears most because she says she’s just not prepared and that her teachers didn’t seem to care.
She tells WMAR-2 News life beyond graduation already feels like a challenge but she’s hopeful students coming up behind her get a more enriched education.
“To teach them and take their time with the students,” Isabella said.
The group says Tuesday’s rally is just one of the steps they’re taking to get results they call long-overdue. They say they'd consider filing a lawsuit against the school district.
WMAR-2 News reached out to BCPS for a comment regarding the protest and haven’t heard back.