BY MARY ANNA TOWLER
It’s hard to start your day angry, but that was me this morning. News from several quarters had me in a froth before I could finish breakfast.
And so, a blog in three parts:
Angry Blog 1: Yesterday this region got yet another release of really bad news: The Rochester School District had the worst test scores of any of the state’s big cities in the latest State Ed Department report .
And, let me note, the state’s big cities have worse scores than the average district.
You know the reason that urban school districts have the worst scores: that’s where the state’s poor children are concentrated. Why did test scores in Rochester drop when those of the other Big 5 cities rose a bit?
Seriously. Who cares?
Next year it could be Buffalo that drops a bit, and Rochester that goes up a bit. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the long-term trend, the long-term performance. And long-term, urban school district and their children are doing really, really poorly.
According to this latest report, in Rochester, nearly 80 percent of the students in third through eighth grade didn’t meet state standards in English proficiency. Nearly 80 percent.
In math, nearly 73 percent of them didn’t meet state standards.
How are children who do that poorly in third or eighth grade going to succeed in high school? What are the chances that they’ll graduate? Get a job?
Are you angry yet?
We’d all better be. But get angry at what? At whom?
This community’s traditional reaction is: Damn the teachers. Damn the parents. Damn the school board. Damn the superintendent.
Shouldn’t we have that out of our system by now?
All those people can improve. But we’ve using that excuse for decades. And the test scores get worse and worse. And children’s lives are wasted.
Concentrated poverty is the reason. It’s not an “excuse,” as some of the district’s critics like to insist, it’s the reason.
We can address that, or we can keep looking away.
I suspect that we’ll keep looking away. It’s a pity that the only damage from that is to our own conscience.