The staff report and supporting documents have been released in advance of the City Council meeting, it’s a lot to get through so I’ll try to start tackling it tomorrow.
I’m deeply disappointed in a piece that recently aired on NPR. In discussing what worked and didn’t work about the No Child Left Behind law — honestly though I’m pretty sure most people would find very little to recommend NCLB — the reported honed in on one school in North Carolina that was held up as a shining example of NCLB working.
This school lost its principal (who was retiring anyway), changed to a Montessori model, and became a magnet school. From the narrative. While the school itself is heralded as having changed for the better, what really changed were the demographics: ethnically and socio-economically:
Before the makeover, more than 80 percent of Watts students were black and 8 percent white. Today, 21 percent are black and 37 percent white (35 percent are Hispanic). Roughly 90 percent used to qualify for free- or reduced-price lunch. Since the change, that number has dropped by more than 30 points.
As many commenters mentioned, the success of the school would have been a lot more meaningful had the changes been made with the population that existed previously.
And even though the reporter recognized this:
Today, Watts is a vibrant, beloved neighborhood school. It’s also more diverse. Segregated, high-poverty schools aren’t just bad policy; they’re wrong.
He failed to recognize that schools that ended up on the wrong side of NCLB ended up more segregated and with higher level of poverty because as soon as those schools ended up in Program Improvement status the families with the means not socioeconomically disadvantaged would immediately abandon the school for greener pastures. We see the same phenomenon still happening today in Alameda even with NCLB being shelved, its legacy still impacts schools today.
To surmise that an almost completely different school is a success story is not a reasonable thesis. The reporter even wrapped up by indicating that not much improvement was made in surrounding schools that still were performing at pre NCLB levels. Which is where all the children who used to go to the school ended up to make room for magnet students.