The High Graduation Rate of Black Students Is Troubling to Maryland’s Governor, So He’s Launched an Investigation

The High Graduation Rate of Black Students Is Troubling to Maryland’s Governor, So He’s Launched an Investigation

Overview

By
David Love

White supremacy dictates that Black prosperity, excellence and empowerment must never be allowed to see the light of day and shine of its own accord. The latest story emanating from Prince George’s County, Md., is a case in point. Republican Governor Larry Hogan has decided to investigate the predominantly Black county, which is among the most prosperous Black communities in the nation over allegations of grade inflation and rising high school graduation rates.

In a letter, the governor has asked Maryland State Board of Education President Andrew Smarick to look into potential wrongdoing in the Prince George’s County school system amid allegations students’ grades were fraudulently altered in order to boost graduation rates, as AP reported. The county has an 81 percent graduation rate, which some state board members and local officials claiming it was due to manipulation of grades and credits, according to WTOP.

Kevin Maxwell, chief executive of the county schools, issued a statement maintaining the allegations are false. “From the beginning, I have maintained that politics lie at the root of the accusations,” Maxwell said in a statement. “There has been no systemic effort to promote students in Prince George’s County Public Schools who did not meet state graduation requirements in order to inflate our graduation rates.

“We look forward to collaborating with the Maryland State Department of Education to resolve this matter.”

Maxwell makes a valid point when he argues there is a political motivation behind the governor’s actions. After all, Hogan is a white conservative Republican going after a Black county, that voted against his election as governor. As Stephan Neidenbach wrote in The Method, Prince George’s County is home to 7 of the 10 of the wealthiest Black communities in the U.S., and among the best educated in the country. More importantly, Rushern Baker, Prince George’s County Chief Executive, recently announced his run for governor against Hogan just days before.

Under Baker’s leadership and due to a neighborhood initiative, violent crime has dropped 36 percent and homicides 40 percent. This, as graduation rates have increased. If Hogan’s motivations were sincere, Neidenbach suggests, he would have investigated the overwhelmingly white Carroll County, which is at the head of the class in state graduation rates, yet has witnessed a troubling spike in crime. More crime and more graduations are an unlikely combination that raise suspicion. What is likely, however, is that Hogan will not come for the school system in a white county that voted to put him in the governor’s mansion.

White politicians in the Republican Party have perfected the art of scapegoating Black populations, conjuring the image of Black fraud and incompetence to justify neocolonialist policies that usurp the rights of Black people, depriving them of democracy and autonomy. In Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder invoked his state’s emergency manager law, signed into law in 2011, to take over financially struggling cities and school districts such as Detroit, Flint, Pontiac, Benton Harbor and Ecorse. Coincidentally, the municipalities targeted for state takeover have been majority Black. Assigning unelected officials to control these Black-controlled cities amounted to reversing and eliminating the electoral process for those people who voted for their mayor, city council and other local officials. The Flint water crisis, in which the city’s residents have suffered from the lead poisoning of their drinking water, was an outgrowth of the emergency manager law.

Looking at the case of Maryland, it is by no means surprising that white officials who are hostile to the interests of Black people would react to signs of Black prosperity and success with open aggression. A prime example of this mentality is the destruction of the booming Greenwood community in Tulsa, Okla., —also known as Black Wall Street — by a white mob in 1921.

It is established that white conservatives regard the high academic achievement of Black children with great consternation, seeking to steal our children’s thunder and downplay their intellectual capabilities and educational achievement. They often accomplish this by changing the rules of the game after the fact. For example, the mother of the first Black valedictorian at a Mississippi high school has filed a lawsuit alleging her daughter was forced to share her title as “co-valedictorian” with a white classmate who had a lower GPA.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (Source: Flickr)

As Prince George’s County is faced with claims of fraudulent grading, allegations of fraud as a pretext to clamp down on the rights of Black folks is taking place on a national level. Trump has enlisted the aid of white supremacist Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State, to lead a national commission on “election integrity” whose purpose is to legitimize unsubstantiated and imaginary claims of massive voter fraud — presumably on the part of Blacks, Latino and other nonwhite voters — in order to justify the Republican Party’s voter suppression efforts against these groups. Kobach’s requests for voter information have been rebuffed by 44 states and the District of Columbia, as CNN reported. Maryland’s Deputy Secretary of State Luis Borunda informed the Hogan administration that he resigned from the commission, as the Baltimore Sun reported.

The recent inquiry by Hogan into the high graduation rate of Prince George’s County — the county with the highest concentration of Black wealth in America — smells a lot like an assault on Black excellence and deserves our collective side eye.