The News and Observer this morning attempts its own analysis of performance in Wake County schools. Unfortunately they failed to clarify matters. In response I sent the following letter to the editor.
Your article on five big questions fails to clarify the reality in Wake schools. On question 2, whether higher-poverty schools have higher teacher turnover and lower test scores, your response conceals a more discomfiting truth; that poor children perform comparably poor regardless how much of the student body they comprise.
You cite Salem, for its low poor enrollment and high passing rates, and Brentwood, for its high poor enrollment and low passing rates. Inconvenient to your “healthy schools” conclusion, 39% of Brentwood poor kids pass and only 26% of Salem poor kids pass. By focusing on school pass rates, your story obscures the fact that we are failing to educate the poor.
Worse still, like too many in this debate, you mix unrelated issues. Suburban parents want proximity and, more importantly, stability in school assignment – a fair request. The poor want, or ought to want, increased academic achievement beyond all else. The one size fits all system struggles to serve both ends.
It’s time that we get on with adopting some of the successful programs that are making huge strides at raising academic achievement among the poor, and stop trying to spread the failure around.