Saturday, August 04, 2007

Can't Voucher For That

The good news is that your kid is valedictorian, the bad news is that he's also at the bottom of the graduating class:

Seattle Public Schools removed longtime John Marshall High School principal Joseph Drake Friday after a consultant said the school is ineffective and unsafe.
Better late than never, we guess:

Critics of the school, including former staff and students, said Drake's departure came too late.

"It took 12 years for people to realize that he wasn't the best person for the job?" said Kathy Graves, a graduate of John Marshall who now attends North Seattle Community College. "It took the school closing for people to finally notice?"

In 2004, when Graves was a student in the teen-parenting program, she wrote more than a dozen letters of complaint about her teacher, who was absent 108 days out of that 180-day school year.

She wrote to Drake, then to a district administrator, and finally to the superintendent of schools himself. No one wrote her back.

John Marshall serves 185 students with learning disabilities, teenage mothers, kids returning to school after spending time in jail, and students who have been expelled from other schools. For many, it's their last chance at an education.

The report by the National Dropout Prevention Center, based in Clemson, S.C., blamed the district as well as the school's leadership for the problems there.

....Despite "punitive and heavy-handed" discipline, the evaluators reported, "chaos and disorder" prevailed at the school.

The school was unsafe, evaluators said, and had no security officers or security cameras and no one to check visitors for weapons.

"Wrestling students to the floor and putting them in 'lock-up' is not research-based best practice for special needs students," they wrote.

In a sidebar, we learn:

Only 24 percent of students graduated on time in 2004-05. By contrast, South Lakes High School, which serves at-risk students across town, graduated 66 percent of students on time. Last year only one John Marshall student got a diploma on schedule.

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