Rolley criticizes Rawlings-Blake on school cheating
Former city planning director Otis Rolley, who is challenging Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake for her job, questioned gains in education touted by the mayor following revelations today that two city elementary schools practiced widespread cheating on state tests.
Rolley said the cheating scandal described by Sun colleague Erica L. Green today, is "extremely disturbing, not just because of what it means for our kids, but for our city."
Rolley challenged statements by Rawlings-Blake, who has touted recent gains in test scores, and said she needed to hold the school system and school board accountable.
"We are not giving a quality education to our kids," said Rolley. "It's not good enough for my kids and it's not good enough for any children in Baltimore City."
"At the end of the day, the buck stops at this building behind us," said Rolley, who held a press conference in front of City Hall.
Rolley called for the immediate release of Maryland School Assessment tests for all city schools. Principals received the data earlier this week, but it is not slated to be made public until next week.
'Enough with the drama. Enough with the spin," said Rolley. "She must act in the best interest of our kids."
A spokeswoman for Rawlings-Blake campaign said "We can't undermine the progress that Dr. Alonso is making with our schools."
"Anyone who reads can see that our schools are making progress," said spokeswoman Keianna Page. "Test scores are up. Enrollment is up. Drop-out rates are declining. African-American males are graduating at a higher rate. Who can deny we are making progress?"
"Fixing Baltimore City Schools isn't an overnight process," said Page, adding that Rolley was "using an old political trick to divert attention away from the fact that his voucher plan is catching a lot of heat from educators and parents."
"Baltimore city schools do not need their right wing agenda placed on it," she said.
Rolley has proposed issuing vouchers to students at the city's five-worst performing middle schools to enable them to attend private schools. The city teacher union's president strongly opposed that plan in an editorial this week.
Rolley wants to restore control of city schools to the mayor, an idea floated by former mayors Martin O'Malley and Sheila Dixon, but opposed by Rawlings-Blake.
In 1997, then-Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke signed a consent decree that turned over control of the school system to a city-state partnership, resulting in a $254 million boost in state aid over three years. The school system was embroiled in several lawsuits at the time that could have resulted in a forced state or federal takeover.