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Saturday, June 10, 2023

Baltimore, ‘Strong’ by the Numbers?

The Baltimore Times’ allegiance is to the citizens of Baltimore City and the region. We tell it like it is and advocate for what is in residents’ obvious best interests. We extend a vigorous open invitation encouraging public response to all our editorial pronouncements. The Baltimore Times is a purveyor of fact. We promote robust debate regarding the pressing issues of our time by all who would like to communicate with their neighbors through our publication.
The Times recognizes ourselves as a community resource for public discourse, the exchange of ideas, critiques, and potential remedies to challenges and crises confronting our city, as well as heralding Baltimore’s triumphs and supporting our community’s ambitions.
This includes any elected leader who may feel maligned by our editorial content. Please speak up. Tell us where you think we’re mistaken. Share your reasoning with our readers who are your constituents. The Baltimore Times’ intense research informed our evaluation of the State of the City report card. We would be ecstatic if the mayor would prove us incorrect. The Times has always championed a strong Baltimore.
It is not Mr. Scott’s fault that the city’s murder rate has averaged one killing every 32.5 hours, 24/7, for nearly half a century. However, the buck stops at City Hall. The same is true regarding nearly 95% and 85%, respectively, of Baltimore public school students who are failing at math and reading. As former Baltimore City councilmember, Carl Stokes, lamented in 2019 about city youths’ miseducation: “It’s killing the lives of thousands of black kids.”
Instead of taking our findings under advisement, it is unfortunate that any like-minded Baltimore booster might feel personally slighted by the Baltimore Times’ revelations identifying conditions that signal continued high mortality and low achievement for our students. We are an ally of any individual or institution, public or private, who shares our commitment to this city’s well-being.
Considering the frightening prospects for a Baltimore that will be largely inherited by recent generations of residents barely proficient in reading and writing, who will be expected to manage a plethora of contemporary challenges, plus overcome inevitable roadblocks surely to arise in our city’s future, it is unsettling that anyone would consider our newspaper’s watchdog role on Baltimoreans’ behalf as a personal affront. Baltimore City’s current condition requires an urgent all-hands-on-deck effort by those of us who love Baltimore. Umbrage should not be taken personally by any city leader when confronted with indisputable data.
Read below, ask yourself, is The State of Our City Strong?
The city’s four-year adjusted graduation rate decreased from 70% in 2020 to 69% in 2021; losing us nearly 1 in 3 Baltimore teens educationally. However, the eleven high schools listed below graduate 50% or less; two schools graduate less than 5% each:
Benjamin Franklin 50%
New Era Academy 47%
Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts 42%
Independence School Local I 40%
Bluford Drew Jemison STEM Academy West 38%
Joseph C. Briscoe Academy 29%
Renaissance Academy 25%
Achievement Academy at Harbor City 19%
Excel Academy at Francis M. Wood 18%
Claremont School <= 5%
George W. F. McMechen <= 5%

In our April 21, 2023, edition, The Baltimore Times’ editorial recalled a 2019 suggestion to then newly elected city council president, Brandon Scott, that 800 unsolved murders in the city between 2015 and 2019 is powerful evidence that an unknown number of unapprehended killers may be on the streets of Baltimore continuing to commit murders.
Further review of the data reveals a strong correlation between ten Baltimore City neighborhoods whose residents are incarcerated most frequently, and therefore, we surmise, receive the most returning ex-offenders among the 10,000 annually released to Baltimore City. These same ten communities: the Central Business District, Old Town, Orangeville, Frankford, Belair-Edison, Park Heights, Sandtown-Winchester, Charles Village, Brooklyn, and Edmonson Village, have accounted for 67% of all murders in Baltimore City from 2017 through April 2023.
In the last six years and four months Park Heights has led Baltimore City in murders with 230, 11% of the city’s total over this period; Number 2, Sandtown-Winchester, with 212 murders, 10% of citywide total since 2017; Third, Belair-Edison, a community adjoining Mayor Brandon Scott’s Frankford neighborhood, with 176 killings, 8.4% of Baltimore murders over the last 6.3 years.
Under these circumstances, the Baltimore Times cannot reconcile how new playgrounds and rec centers, in lieu of a bold, effective gun violence reduction strategy and the implementation of rigorous educational standards for city students, translates to a ‘strong’ Baltimore. If you see something, you must say something.

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