A teacher in Philadelphia wrote a terrific article explaining why her school is “incredible.”
The state labeled it “low-performing.”
Now her students will be allowed to “escape” to another school.
But, she points out,
A staggering 95 percent of our students come from poor families, nearly 30 percent are learning English, and at least 16 percent have special needs. You will never hear me use those numbers as excuses, though. I tell anyone who will listen that my students are some of the most intelligent, engaging, enthusiastic, and resilient children in Pennsylvania.
She describes the many successes of her students, each of whom has achieved a personal triumph this year and concludes:
Each and every child in my classroom had his or her own successes. Will those successes be reflected in their test scores? I hope so. But even if they are not, that doesn’t diminish their triumphs.
Yet when these students come back to school in September, they will hear that they go to an underachieving school, and that they can go to a “good” school. What message will they take away?
It would never cross my mind to call a student “bad.” But now the state is labeling entire schools — and, in turn, communities — “bad.” That is distressing not only because I know my colleagues and I are committed to excellence, but also because it will be one more way society is telling our students they are unworthy.