Posted on July 12, 2022

Squeegee Kid: ‘If They Were Teaching Me Something, I’d Be In School’

Mikenzie Frost, WBFF, July 11, 2022

It’s a sunny day at the corner of Mt. Royal and North Avenues as traffic zips off Interstate 83 and drivers, sometimes, blow the red lights to get to wherever they are going. As drivers idle in the turn lane, a group of squeegee kids gear up to weave between cars to make a little money.

The kids are equipped with a bottle of cleaner and a squeegee. They are at the corner now, while just days earlier, a driver was shot and killed by a squeegee kid after the driver got out of his car and came to confront the group with a baseball bat at a different corner in the heart of the city.

The incident hasn’t deterred one squeegee kid, who didn’t want to show his face or give his full name, only telling FOX45 News he wanted to be identified as Jay. Jay said he’s been squeegeeing since 2019 and the only concern he has isn’t about getting hit by a driver.

“We worry about getting shot out here,” Jay said. “You gotta give respect to earn respect.”

“If he would have stayed in his car and never got out, none of that would have happened,” Jay said, referring to Timothy Reynolds, 48, who was identified as the man who was shot and killed at the corner of Light and Conway Streets. “They always trying to act tough and think they can get out of the car, but they don’t know what we have. They gotta stop doing that. It’s 2022.”

Jay works on the corner where there’s an abundance of traffic. His corner isn’t far from Baltimore City Public Schools Headquarters; the main building for the school system sits atop several steps on North Avenue.

“Them City Schools, that’s bullshit,” Jay said.

He dropped out of high school when he was in the 9th grade, he said, after feeling like he wasn’t truly learning anything. He called the school system phony.

“They [are] not teaching us. We’re learning the same shit over and over and over,” he said. “They not really teaching us about our Black history, nothing. Shows you the school system is not no good.”

FOX45 News’ Project Baltimore has been investigating and documenting the failures in some Baltimore City schools for more than five years. When looking at the first three-quarters of the 2020-2021 school year, 41% of high school students in Baltimore City Public Schools earned a 1.0 GPA or lower; that means nearly half of the 20,000 public high school students earned less than a D-average during that time.

Enrollment is also dropping across the school system. From 2016 to 2021, City Schools lost about 6,000 students, according to Project Baltimore’s findings.

Jay is one of those 6,000 students who dropped out of school in Baltimore City. He said if he wouldn’t have dropped out of school, he probably wouldn’t be standing on the corner of Mt. Royal and North Avenues squeegeeing.

“I’d still be in school. I swear I’d still be in school,” he said. “If they were really teaching me something I would be in school. {snip}”

But even if Jay would have stayed in school, there’s a chance he wouldn’t have graduated high school. In 2021, the graduation rate in Baltimore City dropped to 69%, according to Project Baltimore; three years prior, 72% of high school students were graduating. The Maryland average high school graduation rate is 87%.

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Meanwhile, squeegee kids – like Jay – continue to weave in and out of cars at whatever corner they are at in Baltimore City. From downtown to uptown, drivers in the Baltimore area know all too well what it’s like to either have a kid squeegee their windshield or wave them off. The kids do the work despite the fact that it’s illegal.

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Baltimore Police can often be spotted at the same corners as the squeegee kids, or nearby, most of the time not telling them to leave. {snip}

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