by David Safier
Yesterday I posted about a column Tim Steller wrote talking about Edge High School, a charter school that serves students who are generally cast-offs from other schools and has a D grade from the state. The grade reflects the difficulty of the school's mission, not a failure of the school.
One grateful mother commented on a FB post by Steller, saying her son had problems at TUSD but thrived at Edge and graduated on time. Frequent BfA commenter Jana Happel also knows more about the school than I and left an interesting comment on my post.
I am friends with a refugee who arrived in Tucson when she was 18 years old and spoke no English. She was too old to enroll in a regular high school like her younger siblings. A year later, when she had learned quite a bit of English, she enrolled at Edge. They took her even though it was not likely that she would graduate by the time she "aged out" of public school education at what I believe is 21 years old. But she went to school and received education and is better for it. I am so grateful to Edge for serving these students.
The pressure on administrators to push out low performing students or students at risk of dropping out is reprehensible. Where does that pressure come from? From the overly simplistic letter grading of schools and the pressure to raise AIMS scores. Even without Brewer's misconceived idea of performance pay for schools, there are incentives for schools to discourage at-risk students from enrolling in their schools.
How crappy must it feel for a professional educator who wants to give every student a chance to be put in the situation where he or she will be rewarded for pushing that student somewhere else? Dave, you and Steller do well to publicize this travesty. The letter grades do a lot of harm and are not very helpful, although parents are told that a letter tells them all they need to know. One of the TUSD Board members sends his child to a D school. I sent mine to one. Are we crazy or is the grade misleading?
What is fashionably called "accountability" is a way to put objective measurement and labels on schools and teachers without putting the needs of the students first. How sad. Please keep telling the truth.