Saturday, May 31, 2008

AISD and hamburgers

"If you serve a child a rotten hamburger in America, federal, state and local agencies will investigate you, summon you, close you down, whatever. But if you provide a child with a rotten education, nothing happens, except that you're liable to be given more money to do it with." --Ronald Wilson Reagan

Food for thought when AISD's Johnson High School, rated 'unacceptable' for the past 4 years and in danger of closure, is reporting progress in TEKS tests in May 31st Statesman. What 'progress'? If any, its from abysmal to merely awful: 35% of black students are passing math TEKS, last year a pitiful 14% did. Overall passing rates in 2008 are in the mid-60% range, still below the 70% score that is minimal for being considered acceptable. To put it another way - 2/3rds of black students are failing in math; 1/3 of all students are failing overall to learn the basic minimal curriculum and skills required.

The comment was made that 'buildings don't teach', which is certainly correct:

"Buildings do not teach. You can't hold a building responsible for the education of a child," said Trustee Cheryl Bradley

Yet that is used ironically as a reason for keeping Johnson open; those buildings certainly are not teaching what needs to be taught, and neither is AISD and the teachers there. No, don't blame the building - blame AISD! The interference by Senator Watson and defensive attitude of AISD to keep it open and under current management looks more like CYA status quo defense than the real fix that is required, and it will only continue the failures.

If AISD was a hamburger, would you serve it to your kids? If Johnson High was a McDonald's and causing harm to those consuming its product, would the Government wait five years to keep it open?

There is a simple solution to the dilemma of shutting down a school in a neighborhood vs keeping open a bad school: School choice. Let the students be given the opportunity to escape schools that are failing to teach. Over 10% of Texas schools are rated 'unacceptable' and that means that hundreds of thousands of Texas schoolchildren are forced to go to bad schools. Save the children through school choice. Johnston High itself however has had millions spent ($100,000 per child in K-12 education), with a far from adequate outcome. Perhaps Johnson High should be made into a charter school under non-AISD management. AISD had 4 years and didn't make it. Enough is enough.

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