Same Kids, Same Building, Same Lies
He says then “Same children, same community, same poverty, same violence, same building, different adults, different expectations, different sense of what’s possible and that made all the difference”
I recommend you watch the one minute and 45 seconds from 10:50 to 12:35 in the video link below to see this:
Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education from TFA 20th Anniversary Summit on Vimeo.
Pretty amazing and convincing that all we need is harder working teachers to overcome poverty and turn failing schools into wildly successful ones. Unfortunately, it’s a lie. This is what happens: Charters exaggerate (lie) about their stats then the stats get used to convince politicians and billionaires to change public policy. The fact that Duncan is using this story shows that this farce goes all the way to the top. Surely Obama believes this story.
When I heard it, it sounded pretty far fetched. So I did a little bit of Diane Ravitch style investigative reporting to get to the truth behind that facade.
According to this article, it was not the ‘same children’ attending Urban Prep as would have attended Englewood High School. They had the typical lottery which excludes certain families. It also had a mandatory three week program for students who got accepted, which eliminated even more students. And then, they did the typical ‘weeding out’ of kids who weren’t performing.
Then this article points out that the 107 out of 107 does not account for the fact that the original group was not 107 but, according to the schools wikipedia page, 150 students. Suddenly 107 out of 150 doesn’t sound quite as good. It’s about 71% which is a lot better than 40%, I know, but considering they had ‘creamed’ to begin with, I don’t know how good even that is. Here’s another good post about the Urban Prep myth.
Then it gets worse when you look at what their test scores (and I know that test scores don’t tell the whole story of what’s going on in a school). You can see their results at the official Illinois site. Basically, they’ve got about a 16% pass rate while the rest of the district is 64% and the rest of the state is 76%.
It’s scary that even the Secretary of Education would resort to this type of bending of the truth to advance an agenda that fails to meet the needs of the hardest to educate kids.
If he was going to give just one example of a school that worked, couldn’t he have come up with even one that was a genuine success in the whole country?