Earlier this week the Texas Senate has passed a bill that will publicly rate schools on an A-F scale. (Note: this bill still has to pass the House if it is to become law.) The supposed reason for this bill is to better inform the public as to how their neighborhood school performs. As if “Unacceptable, Acceptable, Recognized and Exemplary” wasn’t clear or “Did Not Meet Standard, Meets Standard” is overly complicated.
So either the Senate believes that:
A. The general public is stupid. B. This new system will further their real agenda. C. Both A and B.
But that is an entirely different topic to explore. Instead I want you to consider the following.
A school’s rating is driven primarily by the performance of its most fragile learners. These fragile learners are the students that are predominantly poor (economically disadvantaged) and LEP (limited English proficient). There is nothing “WRONG” with these students. It is just recognized that due to circumstances beyond the control of either the student or the school, the fragile student is less prepared for academic success than his/her affluent and English as a first language peers.
Even though a school has little control over the external variables that affect student performance, schools work diligently to ensure that these most fragile of learners receive a quality education. Along with instruction, schools provide transportation, meals, basic health services, student and family counseling, clothing, reduced class size, and extended day and extended week learning opportunities, all in an attempt to level the playing field and to ensure the success of every student that enters their doors.
Juxtapose this with the Texas Senate, a body that through its actions, has a more direct impact on the variables of student performance that schools do not control.
- Meals: The state has made it more difficult for the poor parents of school children to receive welfare support. This means there is an increasing number of hungry students on campuses. All things being equal, it is more difficult to learn when you are hungry.
- Housing: The state has made it more difficult for the poor parents of school children to receive welfare support. This means there is an increasing number of homeless students on campuses. All things being equal, it is more difficult to learn when you are sleepy and stressed due to not knowing where you will live day to day.
- Health Care: The state has made it more difficult for the poor parents of school children to get health insurance. The state has purposefully decided not to expand Medicare. This means there is an increasing number of sick and unhealthy students on the campus. All things being equal, it is more difficult to learn when you are in poor health.
- Social Services: The state has cut social services to the bone. Drug counseling, child protective services, and mental health and mental retardation services are just some examples. And though this exacts a toll on all families, it impacts the poor and marginalized families the most.
- School Funding: The state has significantly cut per pupil student funding. This act has had a detrimental impact on all schools but the impact is felt the greatest at the schools that serve the highest percentage of students harmed by the state’s purposeful inaction.
So if there is a need to rate a public entity that is under-serving the school children of Texas, it would be for the Texas Senate. And right now the Senate has a long way to go before it earns an “A.”
Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…
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