Thursday, November 19, 2009

School Performance

This article illustrate one of the problems with the educational system here in the United States:
Over the last three years, high schools that received the lowest marks from the city have been the ones with the highest percentages of poor, black and Hispanic students, despite an evaluation system that was meant to equalize differences among student bodies, according to an analysis by The New York Times of school grades released this week.

Read that again.

The problem, as described in this article, is not that poor black and Hispanic students are doing poorly. It's that the evaluation system for schools doesn't take into account that poor black and Hispanic students do poorly and subsequently compensate for it.

It reminds me of this quotation:
“When schools are labeled as underachieving, I don’t see what it serves other than just to call them out,” Azer said. “When the town hears ‘underperforming,’ the average person thinks these students are underperforming.”

This is pernicious and what President Bush rightfully called the bigotry of low expectations.

The argument, as far as I can tell, in favor of this type of stuff is two fold. First, it makes the teachers and administrators in those schools look bad. They correctly argue that they have a tougher job than their counterparts in wealthier, whiter and Asianer schools. Second, that it makes the students feel bad and stupid, which will further discourage them academically.

Both of these are flawed. On the first point, I don't really give a shit if the teachers and administrators look bad. Shame is a very powerful motivator to get the school up to snuff. On the second point, it's simply wrong to lower the bar for minority and poorer students. Yes, they often have more to overcome because of their background, but that's unfortunately the fact of the matter. We should provide more educational resources to them, but it still won't change the facts on the ground. They'll have to work harder than other kids their own age. Lowering the sights so as not to hurt their or their teachers' feelings is not going to help them catch up.

Again, like the math issue, this shit would create the illusion of equality by exacerbating actual inequality and it pisses me the fuck off.

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