- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
We have to burn down the school to save it? The really nice school?
I would encourage everyone to check out this article from the Notebook about Meade Elementary School, located in North Philly. A reporter from the Notebook spent half a day there, and, check out some of the things he says (heavily edited):
But Meade is not just doing breakfast well. Evidence of a positive and nurturing school climate is everywhere…
The halls are warm and inviting - filled with end tables, lamps, rocking chairs, fish tanks, lots of plants, and interesting student work. A "wall of respect" is being constructed…
We visited the mask “factory” where artist Leroy Johnson and a cohort of three other artists from the Clay Studio work along with students and their teachers in creating the masks and mounting them. “This is about conflict resolution and building cooperation,” Johnson explained…
We observed 6th graders seriously engaged in helping the 1st graders. The room was a beehive of activity, with a large group of students, teachers, and the visiting artists…
We also visited several math and reading classes, all of which were characterized by skillful teaching and students on task….
A 4th grade music class blew me away…Students not only enjoyed the lesson, but demonstrated remarkable mastery…
Sounds pretty amazing, right? Meade appears to have mixed everything from wellness (with a well-regarded breakfast program), to interpersonal learning (conflict resolution, older kids working with the babies), to creative use of the arts (including music and mask making) and to teaching the standardized curriculum. I have no idea how many schools there are out there like this. But, if this is the standard for our elementary schools, I feel better about where we are headed as a city.
But, guess what? It turns out, Meade has a target on its back. And it appears that its creative learning is about to be sacrificed to the sacred lord of No Child Let Behind’s standardized testing, and the School District’s Renaissance Schools. Why? Because Meade is now considered a “Rennaissance Alert” school, and the ramifications for all that creative teaching are about to be felt by the students and teachers of the school:
The school recently made AYP in successive years and so it is not a school where restructuring is mandated under No Child Left Behind. Last year it narrowly missed it, meeting 12 of 13 targets, and putting it in "Warning" status. Fifth-grade scores dropped. In small elementary schools where some grades have only one class, this is not unusual – a veteran teacher goes out on maternity leave or illness, someone who turns out to be subpar comes in on special assignment, and down go the scores. A problem, sure, but not the basis for making a sober judgment about school progress.
Meade may well escape the Renaissance treatment but as a result of being on the Alert list it is now an Empowerment School. That means Corrective Reading and Math and the Empowerment version of an after school program. It means say good bye to much of what the school on its own has designed and implemented. From talking to teachers it is clear that morale is taking a big hit.
Get that? An elementary school in North Philly that appears to be doing everything right is about to have its creativity stomped on, because it only met 12 of 13 of the No Child Left Behind goals. Are you kidding?
As the author of the piece says: even if you are for testing, or data driven analysis, sometimes, we have to use something a little more basic: common sense.