April 16th, 2010

atheist teacher

Cardinal Sins

Varoujan pointed out a NYT article on a charter school that was denied an extension of its contract due to low performance. The kicker? The school is run by the Stanford Dept. of Ed.

The article is very interesting, and provides more than just some random anecdata supporting my dim views about both Ed schools AND the feeling of superiority that oozes from Stanford. (obquote: “I would have expected that any school that is overseen by Stanford would have the best scores.”)

To their credit, they didn't choose an easy student population of, say, children of Stanford faculty and Google employees. Instead the population is primarily Latino, with 80% non-native English speakers.

Also to their credit: "Still, Stanford New School has had success in certain areas. The state’s high school completion rate is 80 percent, Stanford New School is 86 percent; and an impressive 96 percent of the charter school’s seniors are accepted to college, even though the most current state numbers show that the average SAT scores per subject hover in the high 300s."

The LA Times' truly marvellous school guide puts Stanford New School's SAT average at 1030. Not too horrible, til you remember that nowadays the SAT has three components instead of two. 1030 coincidentally ties for the lowest average SAT score in LA County's schools. Now there must be an effect due to the higher percentage of the Stanford school's students taking the SAT (since so many are applying to college), but I think there's no question that 1030 is abysmal.

And you'd think the Stanford school would be able to do pretty well with a K-12 school with 500 students. 40-50 kids per grade level? Compared to poor Santee Dairy, er Santee Education Complex, with 3400 kids in 4 grades?

And yet, even if the Stanford New School kids are mainly going to community college and junior college, it does seem that the school has imparted a desire for education in its students, and this is laudable. Unfortunately, the school seems to be a failure at imparting an education.

I'm not saying there's an easy answer to the problem of education. Indeed, if the answer really were 'just listen to the eggheads from Stanford,' then there would be an easy answer, and there isn't.