Are there bad public schools? Absolutely. But schools don’t fail because of bad teachers and bad kids. Schools fail because of leadership failure and/or political design.
Show me a school that is failing, and nine times out of ten it is failing because of one or more of the following reasons:
A Weak / Ineffective Principal (Leadership Failure)
A campus with a weak or ineffective principal will always underperform. Note: Underperforming and low performing are not the same thing. There are many “low performing” campuses that consistently outperform their peer campuses. There are even more “acceptable” campuses that consistently underperform their peer campuses. Guess which group of principals have their jobs at risk, right now.
Local Racism (Political Design and Leadership Failure)
I’ve seen this more times than I want to admit. A district that puts resources, money and experiences staff in affluent, mostly white schools. While squeezing resources, money and poaching experienced staff from poor, mostly minority schools. All under the approval and watchful gaze of local power brokers.
State Sanctioned White Flight (Political Design and Leadership Failure)
This is common practice in all too many areas. But I’ll use the Texas example because it sickens me the most. There will be a couple of mostly minority and poor school districts in an area and a neighboring, mostly white, more affluent school district. The mostly white, more affluent district advertises that it is now an “Open” enrollment district. It touts its academic “success” and available bus service. But it’s really not open enrollment. There are test score requirements, academic credit requirements and behavioral requirements that must be met in order to be accepted. In the eyes of the poaching district there are the “right” kids and “those” kids. And “those” kids need not apply. And here is the kicker, not only is this legal, the state funding follows the student to the new district making white flight a cash cow.
Inept / Corrupt School Boards (Political and Leadership Failure)
Elections have consequences. Have a community elect enough people to a school board that should never be on a school board and the school system will soon suffer. And that is if they are just inept. Elect the corrupt and it is just a matter of time before the schools are on life support.
Structural Segregation (Political Design and Leadership Failure)
This is an all too common occurrence. There is a large, traditional high school that is now serving a more impoverished community. The school is struggling and is making the district look bad. The solution? Create a high interest, high aptitude magnet program at another campus. The magnet campus then takes the most motivated and/or academically strongest students from the traditional campus. This creates a shiny, successful school that the earns the district accolades and a traditional campus that is now struggling even more.
The obvious reason why schools fail in most cases is obviously incorrect.
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