A long article in the Washington Post takes readers to school with Khalil Bridges, a senior at one of Baltimore’s poorest and most violent high schools, Renaissance Academy High School. Three students from the school were killed during a three-month span this school year. (The article is by Theresa Vargas, with photos by Jahi Chikwendiu.)
Khalil has no parents at home and works multiple shifts at McDonald’s to earn the money he needs, but at his school are adults devoted to helping him make it: a social worker, a community activist, a principal, a mentor, and others.
Even before a year of record violence in their city and in their school, a team of adults at Renaissance had seen too many of Baltimore’s black boys derailed or destroyed by the mayhem around them. If they could help it, Khalil would not be one of them. In him, they saw promise, a young man who could graduate in June and go on to find success. But they also knew what they were up against: hallways filled with students so neglected and angry that a bumped shoulder could lead to a fight or worse, and a community still so divided by the riots that some days it seemed — forget all, black or blue — no lives mattered.
They could offer hope and help, but only Khalil could answer the most crucial question: Could he pull himself together in a city that was tearing itself apart?
If, after reading about Khalil Bridges and Renaissance Academy, you’d like to know more about the Baltimore City schools, please read “Incomplete Reform in Baltimore,” in the new issue of Education Next. In that article, Betheny Gross and Ashley Jochim describe how an energetic superintendent tried to give schools greater autonomy and families more choices, but ran into many obstacles.
– Education Next