Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Gloria Romero on Schools Named After Civil Rights Leaders

Gloria Romero echoes Matt Miller’s points about millions of students, year after year, languishing in failing schools, many ironically named after civil rights leaders:

... we have a habit of naming schools after civil rights legends. But should a school that bears such a name also be among our state's chronically lowest-performing schools?

Last May, the Navy launched a new cargo ship, the USNS Cesar Chavez. What reaction would there be if that ship had sunk on its maiden voyage? Would we tolerate the drowning of its crewmembers? Surely, there would be an immediate call for a commission to "get to the roots" of this tragedy.

Yet, we allow schools named after heroic leaders to sink, year after year. Our students "drown" in chronically underperforming schools. Where are the inquiries?

This question is particularly relevant as we await release of California's Department of Education's List of 1,000 chronically underperforming schools. This compilation is based on a law I wrote that mandated giving parents access to these "watch lists," which previously were compiled by bureaucrats and then just left on a shelf in Sacramento. The idea behind the law was to spotlight underperforming schools, to begin their transformation with parental knowledge and participation.

There are some 35 California schools named after Cesar Chavez. Almost all are identified as "Program Improvement" (PI) schools – which is a bureaucratic label meaning "failing." Tens of thousands of students are "drowning" in these chronically underperforming schools. No whistles are blown. We just step back and watch them sink; and we also seem to blame the students for the educational equivalent of not knowing how to swim.

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