Roy Romer wrote today about Andres Alonso, CEO of the Baltimore City Public School District, and the challenges he's facing in not wanting to obfuscate the fact that today his schools are not turning out graduates who are ready for the next step in life (higher-education or the workforce).
This chart shows the gap in test scores for the Baltimore schools vs. the rest of Maryland (thanks to Trulia.com). So let's set aside the question of whether standardized tests are the best approach to this, I wrote about this here.
According to the Washington Post, Blair Ewing of the school board wishes to delay successfully passing the tests as a criterion for graduation by a year to give students a chance. This despite the fact that the school system, parents and students have known about this requirement for many years now.
This is just wrong. Why?
First - knowingly graduating students who do not have the skills to move to the next stage in their lives is a HUGE disservice to the students. They will not be able to get meaningful employment or move to tertiary education simply because they are not ready, and will be rejected. How does that help? Moreover, because they are establishing the reputation of the Baltimore City School District, they're actually making it much harder for students that follow to get a fair shake, even if those students are at or above the required proficiency!
Second - isn't the whole point of a school to educate its students? If so, then how do you turn them out into the world without having done your job?
Third - what of the teachers, curriculum and assessments that have contributed to this? Will any of that change in the year to come? It doesn't appear that Blair advocates doing anything about that.
Fourth - where is the accountability of the board to the parents and students?
Blair doesn't believe the students were exposed to the teaching required to have passed the tests, so let's just graduate them anyway! Unbelievable! Reading this we all know that the only thing Blair wants to do is protect himself, and his reputation. He cares not at all about the students. For shame!
If I were a resident of the city of Baltimore, I'd demand his termination and removal from the board, and maybe even tar and feather him <-- actually that pleasure should go to the students that he is attempting to betray.
Kudos to Andres Alonso for his integrity, as evidenced by this quote: "The notion that it is worse to hold them back rather than pushing them through unprepared is criminal."
We can only hope that under his leadership the District begins to face its problems head-on, take accountability, and attempt to fix things vs. impale their heads in the sand.