Most of us know school grades are bogus, yet we all use them to attack opponents when grades fall. We need to cite actual facts instead.
Corrine Brown and the NAACP are justified to take issue with Vitti’s and the Board’s record. But this quote gave me pause:
President Isaiah Rumlin says the district’s 59 “D” and “F” schools, many with large populations of African-American students, is unacceptable.
There are plenty of reasons to question the effect of DCPS policy on minority populations. School grades are not one of them.
There are two components to School Grades:
1. Components outside administrators’ control. We should not measure administrators on factors outside their control.
2. Components within administrators’ control. Most of these components are poorly conceived, easily manipulated or both.
So, when we use school grades to criticize the Superintendent and School Board, we forfeit credibility, and even cause people to come to the defense of those who deserve criticism.
There are real things DCPS has done that disproportionally hurt minorities, or at-best are only for show:
1. Changing the way DCPS counts dropout percentage then claiming victory when little has truly changed.
2. Redrawing borders and converting “underperforming” schools into magnets. I agree with Mr. Rumlin that both are smokescreens:
(a.) Vitti is currently trying to expand magnets despite research showing they exacerbate racial segregation.
(b.) The border redraws are likely for political show and school grade manipulation. Because if it’s a matter of pairing the right staff with the right students, DCPS can simply move staff where they are needed without redrawing borders. In fact, shuffling principals around like they’re pieces on a Risk board seems to be Dr. Vitti’s hobby: 65 changes in the past two years.
So when Mr. Rumlin calls the border shuffling “a charade”, I agree. I’m not sure what it’s supposed to accomplish.
3. Vitti closing almost all middle/high school libraries disproportionately hurts poor students without rides to the Public Library (who are disproportionately minorities). It wasn’t too expensive; it just was something DCPS was content to kill.
Again, the NAACP is justified to take issue with Vitti’s and the Board’s record; they simply need to leave school grades out of it.