Friday, March 03, 2006

Judge rocks school bureaucracy again

This afternoon Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning issued an order calling for state officials to crack down on low-performing high schools. Schools that fail to achieve a 55 percent pass rate on state tests over a five-year period must change principals or close their doors. Manning's order affects 44 high schools in NC. According to one education equity advocate, today's action is the most far-reaching of its kind in the country:

Although nearly 30 states have faced similar lawsuits, no judge has gone as far as Manning in threatening to close schools or demanding new principals, said Molly Hunter of the Campaign for Educational Equity, part of the Teachers College at Columbia University.
"That's the kind of thing a legislature might say, a state education department might say," Hunter said. "It'll be very interesting to see how this plays out."


Indeed, it will interesting to watch this play out. It points out the problems bureaucratized public education faces in trying to meet the diverse needs of North Carolina students from a structure better-suited to implement a one-size-fits-all type policy.

Update: The Observer has excerpts from the letter Manning released yesterday. This quote shows little wiggle room for schools:

There must be a serious consequence for continued poor performance in high schools. Reduced to essentials, superintendents and principals have run out of room and run out of time. The State is clearly and ultimately legally responsible for these high schools and all other schools.

Here's the News and Observer coverage.

13 Comments:

Blogger Roch101 said...

Damned activists judges.

3/03/2006  
Anonymous Brent said...

We have a law supporting it in NC. Many counties just don't enforce it. Why do you think certain schools cycle principals in and out so much in GCS?

3/03/2006  
Blogger Roch101 said...

Brent, not doubting you, but can you point me to a source for that law? (Okay, I'm doubting you a little bit.)

3/04/2006  
Anonymous glenn said...

Roch, it's judicial activism no doubt. I still haven't determined if it's damned or god-sent.

Brent, I know the NC Constitution requires equal education for all children. That's where all of this got started. You're right in pointing out how counties tap dance around it.

3/04/2006  
Anonymous Brent said...

Thanks for the plaudits Glenn. To satisfy our doubting Thomas up there, here is the link that describes what should be for low performing schools. Principals are blamed for each schools lack of progress.

http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/accountability/reporting/abc/2004-05/backgroundpacket.pdf

Other info is available at the NC Dept of Public Instruction Web site.

3/04/2006  
Blogger Roch101 said...

Brent, you're going to have to point me to a page number and paragraph, because what I read in the document you cite does not provide proof that the judge is simply enforcing law. In fact, the document you cite describes something quite different. It says that the state law allows the state to put assistance teams into low-performing schools and that the state may recomment to the local school board that they fire or re-assign a principal in a low-performing school. Nothing about judges (or even the state) having the authority to close low-performing schools and nothing about anybody other than the local school board being able to make personnel decisions.

If you have any other source to indicate that this judge is merely enforcing existing law (and not a judicial activist) I'm still willing (eager, even) to take a look.

3/04/2006  
Anonymous Brent said...

When a state assitance team is put into a school, the school basically is an agent of the state, not the county, at that time. Therefore, the Department of Public Instruction has discretion regarding schools' personnel. The rule of law for the state to be able to do this is in place. The problem is that the state is pretty lax on things and does not put in assistance teams like it should. It does not crack down on low performing schools. They are allowed to perform below par for years longer than prescribed by law. This judge is simply making NC live up to its end of the bargain.

3/04/2006  
Blogger Roch101 said...

"They are allowed to perform below par for years longer than prescribed by law."

Which brings us back to the original and unanswered question, what law?

3/05/2006  
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