Sunday, January 30, 2011

President Picks Wrong Thing to Brag About

Jan 30, 2011. In his State of the Union Address last week, President Barack Hussein Obama, D-Kenya, cited the example of  the Bruce Randolph School in Denver.

He said this was an example of a public school that was a huge success. Making the point that school vouchers and home schooling are not the solution. Public schools are.

“Take a school like Bruce Randolph in Denver,” he said.

Three years ago, it was rated one of the worst schools in Colorado. Last May, 97 percent of seniors received their diploma.”

In order to appreciate what a poor example President Obama picked to illustrate "the success of public schools," you have to know something about the history of this school, and how it came to be so successful. The deadwood had to go.

Bruce Randolph School has succeed precisely because it isn't run like any of the other public schools.

To put it bluntly, every reason for their success involved something that the Obama Administration opposes, and conservative critics support.

Five years after it opened, that school was given permission by the state to run completely autonomously and free from school district and UNION rules.

And then, in in a shocking move, the principal made every teacher reapply for his/her job.

Only SIX teachers made the cut. It's actually pretty amazing that the Union allowed this to happen, but they should be commended for doing so. Because this was the key to the turnaround at Bruce Randolph School.

The principal who oversaw the transition said the success was simple:

Having the common expectations about what it means to be a student at Bruce Randolph school, and what it means to be a teacher at Bruce Randolph school. And every teacher agreeing to have the same rules and expectations.”

According to their own government sponsored website, Bruce Randolph School:

Principal Kristen Waters turned the school around
"serves a predominantly Hispanic student population, is one of a dozen schools in the district undergoing reform and revitalization.  

Waivers recently granted by the District and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association will give Waters and her staff significant flexibility in .... hiring, teaching loads, and the ability to pay staff above the levels stated in the collective-bargaining agreement for certain assignments."

The school 83% Hispanic, while the state average is 27%.
They have more crowded classrooms with 21 students per teacher; the state average is 17.
They have 94% of their students on the free lunch program; the state average is 33%.

The President was right about one thing. This school is a raging success. But only because it breaks every principle that he and the liberal Democrats hold dear. The Union doesn't run this school, and neither does the centralized school board.

The Principal and the teachers do.

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