Labeling Of Schools

The schools in our target neighborhoods continue to struggle to achieve high rates of student success. There is progress, but a long way to go.

This summer we are applying for new federal funding to support several of our school partners. We have learned the confusing taxonomy used to categorize schools. A lot of this taxonomy began with the “No Child Left Behind Act” under Bush and has continued with “Race to the Top” under Obama.

For example, some funding is directed to “Persistently Low Achieving” schools (definition is bedtime reading). Turns out three schools in West Humboldt Park are “Persistently Low Achieving”, but others are not. Yet these other schools seem to have similar challenges. In fact, Orr High School is not on the list due to a technicality, but everyone knows it has been an under-performing high school.

We are thinking hard about the value of school labeling. Ultimately, it feels like a label on the staff, teachers and students at these schools. Accountability is absolutely needed, but sometimes the current accountability regime feels shallow. It seems like schools are being managed like a production line, complete with an all-knowing “Inspector 12”.

I recently came across a You Tube video from a recent rally in Washington.. it is an impassioned speech by a School Superintendant who has dedicated his life to improving education for students of greatest need. I can’t say that he has all the answers, but it is clear that his work is his “calling”. These are the types of people we need in the schools.. passionate folks willing to make it their life work. When I see someone like this indicting today’s accountability system, I think it should make us think twice.