Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Secret Sauce Revealed

No one knows how to "fix" schools. After all, a prime reason they are "broken" is that many kids come from homes of poverty. Many parents have to work multiple jobs and haven't got time to spend with their children. Then, of course, folks like Joel Klein cry out that the schools suck and teacher heads must roll. It's the tenure that explains why everyone is failing! It's those step raises! Why can't we just fire any damn teacher whose salary gets too high? The bastards.

But Satellite West Middle School has found a solution. They're gonna change their name and move to a new building. Impressive, huh? Oh, and they're also gonna start being selective about who they let in. No more of that "community school" nonsense. They're gonna try and select more "gentrified" folk. After all, those folk might not want to mix with those, you know, other folk, so let's make sure we get all the right folk in place. Well, it worked for Carmen Fariña, and now she's chancellor.

So, while other schools struggle over how to get better test scores and avoid closures, this one just follows the charter school playbook. Well, not exactly. Charters have to go through the motions of a lottery, then interview those who win and let them know what's required. If parents have to go in and do work, or show up to meetings, or get on buses with Eva Moskowitz, well, that's just what it takes. And if they suspend your kid dozens of times until they withdraw you, well, there you go. Or if they place your kid on a "got to go" list, well, your kid's gotta go. Oh, and when they dump those kids back into those awful public schools, they don't have to replace them.

Now this school can't dump kids so easily, being ostensibly public, so it's decided not to bother with any of that lottery nonsense. We'll just take who the hell we please, thank you very much. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the much sought-after secret sauce. It's not charter schools, or vouchers, or tax credits. It's not Campbell Brown, or what's-her-name who runs that parent union. It's, "We'll take these kids, the ones who get high scores and everyone else can just go to hell."

No more improverished kids who've developed learning disabilities. No more kids who don't speak English. No more behavior issues. No more of those inconvenient special education children who need smaller classes and more attention. None of those classes that require two teachers at a time. It will be just like a private school that's gotten rid of all those bootless and unhorsed, and you don't even have to worry about all that riff raff that moves into the neighborhood, because no one gets in until you damn well let them in.

That's how you beat that test score game. Let all those other schools who have to take everyone worry about it. Your asses are covered and that's pretty much all that matters.
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