When you set the bar for success so low, you’re not rewarding success, but mediocrity.
But what happens if there’s no bar at all. That you are declared a success for accomplishing absolutely nothing.
That’s what’s happening at Ballou High School in a poverty stricken area of Washington, D.C., before last school year started, school officials had a mission: Every kid graduates and every kid is admitted to college.
Of course, that’s a difficult task at even the ritziest schools, but it proved so difficult at Ballou that they essentially threw out any standards and gave every single student a diploma.
And – believe it or not – every student was accepted to college.
Despite strenuous objections from teachers and other educators, students who missed more class than not, students who were truant so often they would normally be expelled and students who were failing every class were given a high school diploma and accepted to college.
NPR and WAMU launched an exhaustive investigation into the school and found that a majority of the graduating students did not attend more than six weeks of school – of a 36-week school year, a shocking number that would have quickly and easily found them expelled.
Of the students, only 23 missed fewer than 30 days of class in a 180-day school year. 55 students missed between 30 and 60 days, 53 missed between 60 and 90, 9 23 missed between 90 and 120 days and one student – who graduated – missed more than 150 days of the 180 day school year.
And most of those absences were unexcused.
The District of Columbia Public Schools system policy states that students who misses a class more than 30 times should fail that class.
But for this school, exceptions were made.
The district declined to say exactly which college accepted these “students,” but NPR discovered that 183 of the students were accepted to the University of the District of Columbia. Of those – only 16 enrolled for classes in the fall.
The school received high praise for the accomplishment of graduating every student. This is a school where at one point, only three percent were reading at grade level.
“Everybody just, they was betting on us failing, and we all came together and we graduated,” said student Me’Ashja Hamilton.
Yeah, well, Me’Ashja … that’s not much of an accomplishment.
Teachers said they were under extreme pressure to graduate students and pass them from high school administration. Dozens of teachers have resigned.
“This is [the] biggest way to keep a community down. To graduate students who aren’t qualified, send them off to college unprepared, so they return to the community to continue the cycle,” one teacher said.
The high school principal, Yetunde Reeves, refused to be interviewed, but amazingly, district officials defended the decision to graduate every student.
“It is expected that our students will be here every day,” DCPS Chief of Secondary Schools Jane Spence said. “But we also know that students learn material in lots of different ways. So we’ve started to recognize that students can have mastered material even if they’re not sitting in a physical space.”
Read that quote again. Have you ever heard so much nonsense in your life? The feds need to take control of that district immediately. It is unforgivable that we are sending young people out into the world without even the most basic level of education.
And they’d better act fast. In seven months, Ballou high School will celebrate another graduating class. They’re shooting for a 100 percent college acceptance rate again.
H/T: The Daily Caller.