When bad ideas hit the ground running, run for cover
Busted! The Big Apple’s “transfer” high schools—the city’s schools-of-last-resort for struggling teens—saw more students drop out than graduate in 2011–12—seventy-eight more at the forty-four such schools surveyed, to be exact. By contrast, last year at the same forty-four schools, 619 more students graduated than dropped out. The schools’ principals attributed the flop to midyear changes in graduation requirements (tightened to match state requirements), while city officials—claiming that their own policy changes were “minor”—cited increased Regents standards, instead. For our take, see this week’s Education Gadfly Show.
School districts considering arming their teachers and administrators may need to think twice: Insurance carriers have threatened to raise their premiums or revoke their coverage altogether. This is not universal (Texas, for instance, has made it fairly easy for districts to arm employees and insurance providers have hardly batted an eye—now, whether these employees can actually use their weapons is another matter altogether); nevertheless, it is certainly an important development in the guns-in-schools debate.
As contentious as the New York City mayoral race is, the turbulence in K–12 education facing the new leader is more. New York City public schools must deal with implementation of the Common Core standards and the hard-fought (and still-controversial) teacher-evaluation system—and let’s not forget the conundrums of whether or not to continue the Bloomberg-Kline-era reforms, whether to close the city’s failing schools, whether to allow charters and traditional public schools to share space, and how to increase the disturbingly low percentage of students who achieve “college readiness” upon graduation (22 percent for the 2012 graduating class). So—congratulations, future winner! Gadfly got you confetti, champagne, and a brown paper bag to breathe into.
A few weeks ago, a superior court judge ruled that Paul Vallas must step down as superintendent of the school district in Bridgeport, Connecticut, because he did not complete a standard leadership course—and yesterday afternoon, the judge ruled that he must vacate while the previous ruling is appealed. Lawyers for the city of Bridgeport have requested that the Connecticut Supreme Court “review the case quickly,” giving Vallas an extra ten days. All we can say: Connecticut, you’re better than this.