The Electric Commentary

Friday, November 11, 2005

A School That Works

While I was admiring the Jello San Fran at Virginia Postrel's place, I also read an interesting article about a charter school in San Jose:

It really is an inspiring story. The average Downtown College Prep student comes from a Mexican immigrant family and enters ninth grade reading at a fifth grade level; 100 percent of graduates have been accepted at four-year colleges and 97 percent are on track to earn a bachelor's degree. DCP now scores well above the state average on the Academic Performance Index, ranking in the top third compared to all high schools, including affluent suburban schools. DCP follows what I call the work-your-butt-off philosophy of education. Its leaders analyze what's not working, adapt quickly and waste no time on esteem inflation or excuses.


That's Joanne Jacobs talking about her new book, Our School. Sounds interesting.

3 Comments:

  • That sounds too good to be true. There must be heavy self selection going on. Which is good, don't get me wrong, the kids serious about learning can do so with less distractions. Still, seems fishy.

    By Anonymous Phil, at 3:19 PM  

  • Yeah, phil, that was exactly my reaction. When you hear about these great schools, invariably when you do a little digging you find out that they're the schools that get the kids who want to learn. As a former teacher at Compton High School, I can assure you, it's really easy to teach the kids who want to learn. Unfortunately, at Compton High School I wasn't allowed to kick the other kids out of my class, and keeping the kids who wanted to learn safe from those who didn't took up most of my time and energy. I once read an article about this Christian high school that was taking poor kids and getting them into Stanford and Brown and other top schools, and it was only mentioned in passing in this article that the Christian school had a strict discipline rule of expulsion on the first offense. Well, guess what? Public schools aren't allowed to kick kids out.

    By Blogger MDS, at 9:24 AM  

  • I'm skeptical too, and I'll almost certainly read the book, and then post on what they're expulsion rate is, but there were a few reasons to think that this school might be different. This statement in particular:

    The average Downtown College Prep student comes from a Mexican immigrant family and enters ninth grade reading at a fifth grade level.

    If that is the how the average student comes in, I don't think they're shying away from the difficult people, it seems that they're seeking them out.

    But I won't believe it fully until I read it.

    MDS, you taught at Compton High School? I think that if anyone is ever bragging to you about anything they've done that you can put them to shame just by mentioning that.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 11:28 AM  

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