Michael Winerip has a great article about Bushwick Community High School, a transfer school–essentially the last stop for failing students. And by failing, I mean students who, at the age of seventeen or eighteen, have only accumulated ten out of the 43 credits required for graduation, and whose lives are definitely behind the eight ball:
To sit with a dozen of the students at a community center not far from the high school was to watch as one girl nursed a baby and another spoke of living with her child in a shelter. Two had been tossed out of their family homes. Another lived with her grandmother on Coney Island — she commutes one and a half hours each way to this high school in Bushwick.
These are nonlinear kids with nonlinear lives.
In spite of that, the state gives the school high marks. But Hizzoner Bloomberg won’t let a hard reality fog up those rose-tinted glasses–or aggregate test scores:
Yet Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, whose insistence that he has presided over an educational miracle recognizes few bounds of contrary fact, has proposed laying off the principal and half the teachers before it can reopen for the next school year. City officials complain that a majority of students fail to graduate in six years.
This bill of indictment appears math-challenged.
If students enter at 17 or 18, with less than a year’s worth of credits, the chances seem strikingly good that the students will not graduate within six years of freshman year. (The State Education Department takes the view that the metrics, rather than the high school, are most likely broken.)
…This is a particular problem for a transfer high school, whose faculty takes children bruised by years of neglect.
But don’t worry, Hizzoner’s spokecritters can make noises that sound like language, but actually are HR-speak:
The city’s Education Department has adopted a resolutely cheery tone.
“This really empowers them to take ownership of this school,” a department spokesman said. “What kind of change can they imagine?”
Well, they’re probably imagining what it will be like with the principal fired and half the teachers axed, which is what Bloomberg wants. Is that ’empowerment’ or ‘ownership’?
Or just the Triumph of the Assholes?
Metrics are good, but, as with any type of data, you have to understand their limitations.
I’m going with Triumph of the Assholes.