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Education

Baltimore Schools CEO sends letter addressing recent killings of youth

Baltimore city schools CEO Gregory Thornton recently sent a letter to educators and staff to inform them of a somber reality they will face when they head back to school this year: There are some -- too many -- students who won't be returning with them.

In the letter obtained by The Sun, Thornton informed staff of the death of three teenagers last week, two of whom were students at Baltimore Community High School, and one who was a former student at the Achievement Academy at Harbor City.

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The teens were the recent victims of a historically deadly summer. The number of 2015 youth homicides reached 16 on August 19 -- the total number of all youth homicides in 2014.

"Words cannot adequately express my sense of loss and the depth of my regret in the face of such tragedy," Thornton wrote. "The fact that these and other young people are dying on the streets of our cities every day underscores our failure as a society to establish standards of respect for the lives of others.

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"Every day, as educators and parents, we try to teach these values to our children," he continued. "Sadly, a few come to believe that brute force trumps decency, and that violence is more effective than hard work and discipline in getting what you want.

"Our challenge -- as an educational community, as a city, and a nation -- is to replace these so called "lessons" of the street with a belief in decency and mutual respect."

Thornton went on to thank staff for their efforts in keeping city students focused and safe, which he said has contributed to the district's progress. But he said the students' deaths remind the district that it still has immense challenges ahead.

"In memory of these young men and so many others," he concluded. "As we start a new school year, let us rededicate ourselves to the safety and success of every child in our schools.."

The deaths have taken a toll on teachers, one of whom called The Sun recently to verify that one of the students he helped get on the graduation track was, in fact, one of the homicide victims. (The Sun reached out to the district to see if there was any support for teachers as they head back after a violent summer for youths, and have not heard back.)

erica.green@baltsun.com

twitter.com/EricaLG


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