Chicago Charter Puts Seattle Schools To Shame
Seattle Schools is applying for federal funding to target three failing schools with large minority populations. Cleveland High, Hawthorne Elementary and West Seattle Elementary are on the state’s lowest-performing list, making them eligible for federal grants of up to $2 million a year.
At all three schools, the district plans to pilot a new evaluation system for teachers, in which teachers will be judged in part according to how much their students learn.
Should teachers be evaluated? I think we need to know if a teacher is not effective in the classroom. On the other hand, do teachers have all the resources to successfully teach students?
I know a few teachers in Seattle who say “no”. Severe budget cuts the past ten years have stripped resources, materials and staff to unacceptable lows- yet the demands on teachers to reduce the education gap, get students to pass standardized tests, graduate to the next grade level and leave high school with a diploma continue to rise.
But Seattle Schools says it aims to prepare kids for the future.
And how exactly are they doing that?
School officials have spent years traveling the country looking at successful models of teaching minority students as successfully as their white counterparts, but they rarely ever pick one and stick to it long enough to see whether it really works.
An attempt to open charter schools in Seattle and across the state was met with almost irrational opposition. Voters were so convinced Black and other minority students would be mis-educated or taken advantage of, the battle was over before it was fought. It didn’t help that Seattle’s failed African American Academy, well, failed.
It was supposed to successfully educate Black children where other schools couldn’t. It didn’t. It was supposed to be a model for success. Instead critics used it as an example of why schools targeting specific populations are a waste of tax dollars.
Even though Seattle continues to struggle, there are examples all over the country of successful charter models that do have success getting students past a diploma and into college. That’s what public education should do- have every student college-bound. We don’t send our kids to high school so they can leave with a diploma and find a random job making minimum wage.
Chicago’s Urban Prep Academy Charter High School made history when it opened in 2006 as the first all-boys charter school in the nation, determined to take African-American boys from “tough backgrounds” and get them into college.
Four years ago, every member of the freshman class was given a wrist watch and told they had no excuse to be late for class.
Now those students are seniors in Urban Prep’s first graduating class. They are the true test. Did a new model of teaching and a new level of rigor get at least some of these kids into college?
Of the 107 students, how many do you think have been accepted to a 4 year college?
None? Half? Half would be good, right, I mean, it is their very first graduating class.
But it isn’t half of the class. It isn’t even two thirds. It’s all of them. Yes, all 107 students in the senior class and Urban Prep have been accepted to at least one, four year college.
In four years this college figured out what needed to be done to achieve student success. Then they figured out how to do it. Then they did it.
They have a recipe for success, while Seattle Schools can’t even find the kitchen.