Monday, August 02, 2010

Miraculous Mr. Perry

There are principals, and there are principals.  But even Leadership Academy grads may admit few actually walk on water.  Yet press accounts suggest Steve Perry has defied expectations:

You probably saw Steve Perry on CNN’s "Black in America 2" special. He was the featured educator who started and runs the Capital Preparatory Magnet school in Connecticut. The high school, over a five-year span, has sent 100 percent of its graduates – mostly Blacks and Latinos - to four-year colleges.

Wow.  100%.  That's perfect!   The only possible conclusion is everyone else is doing something wrong.  I mean, if he can do it, why can't we all do it?  Maybe all the "reformers" are right, and the only factor in education worth a darn is the teacher.  If only I'd stayed up all night and tutored those kids who hung around at the pizzeria instead of showing up to class, maybe I coulda been on CNN talking about what a genius I was...

But wait a minute, what's this? A few weeks ago, 107 kids were gonna graduate, and now there are only 95.  What happened to those other 12 kids?  Was there a typhoon I hadn't heard about?  A crime spree?  An epidemic?  And hey, look here--there are 50 more kids who disappeared before that!  Wow, talk about your sloppy attendance policies.  I wonder what my principal would say if I lost 62 kids.  I'm thinking the whole raise and promotion thing would be out of the question.  In fact, I'd say a teacher who lost 62 kids, well, that goes beyond the rubber room--I'm thinking prison.  For a long, long time.

It's more likely, of course, that these kids are dropouts, or simply landed in default, non-magnet public schools.  But Mr. Perry got himself on CNN, Good Morning America, ABC World News, and in People Magazine before this came out.  In fact, it appears 57% of his students got into four-year colleges.  I can't say whether that's good or bad, as I don't follow such statistics all that closely.

But it ain't no miracle.  And our press does us an extreme disservice by presenting it as such.

Thanks to Nick
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