Monday, April 28, 2014

Bright Flight

The recently published CCRPI scores paint the expected and unflattering picture of a DeKalb School System in complete failure. Outside of Austin (who knew?) if your child is not in one of the well rated boutique schools they are attending a school that sucks. If you want spin go to the DeKalb School websites because you're not going to get it here.

And, as has been pointed out many times before it really is just us. Within a stone's throw there are systems doing a far better job. You are well advised not to believe this because you read it here but a quick check with the AJC reveals a handy map showing some areas with schools as good as ours are bad.

The question at hand is "can this be fixed" or are we simply throwing good money after bad? Some say all our good teachers have been poached by neighboring systems. Others claim the system spends too much money on administration and too little on the classroom -- considered synonymous with "teacher pay." Even hinting that teachers only perform to the level of their pay does not speak to the admirable traits of the teaching profession leveraged in other attempts to boost their paychecks. But that's just the money which time and again has been shown to negatively correlate with desirable outcomes.

What if the best and brightest--teachers, principals and administrators--have indeed fled the scene of this crime? Or what about the parents and students? What if the cream of this crop have left for the greener pastures of magnet programs? After all isn't that exactly why the defenders of public school status quo are so adamantly opposed to even this mild form of school choice? And heaven forbid parents have moved out of DeKalb to gain access to a better opportunity for their children.

The nearby systems that are better beg the question of "why can't we?" The answer is that their community, their parents, their students and their schools place a much greater emphasis on academic achievement than we do. We need a system that addresses our community and our needs, not theirs. We ignore these realities at the risk of continuing our downward spiral not because that is where we want to go but because we futilely attempt to be something we are not.