jeudi, mai 04, 2006

Education Minnesota!

Man, there was a time when Minnesota prided itself on its commitment to education. But if my latest Newsweek* is any indication, our high schools are not doing very well. Newsweek published its list of 100 top public high schools, and here are some interesting stats:

Not one Minnesota school made the list.
Florida has three schools in the top ten.
Texas has the number one school.
Texas has two schools in the top ten.***
Both are in Dallas.
Only 21 states are represented.
18 of the schools are in Florida.
16 are in New York.
Red states cream blue states.
Only 7 blue states are represented (NY, MI, CA, IL, WA, MA and NJ)
Also, Bellevue, Washington…
Nashville, Tennessee…
Dallas, Texas…
McLean, Virginia…****
And Miami, Florida…
Should all give their Superintendents a raise.
They all have multiple schools on the list.

So, to me, either great schools are grouped really interestingly, or there’s something funny about the list.

And while I don’t want to disparage the minds at Newsweek, I think it’s okay to challenge their criteria:

Newsweek divides the number of AP and IB***** tests taken at a school by the number of graduating seniors. A fair enough standard, but if you adjust for the traction of AP and IB programs within a state or district, and if you consider other factors (like how many PASS the AP and IB tests, percentage who graduate, percentage who go to college, percentage who graduate from college by age 25, strength of debate team, quality of the cello section, etc.) – I wonder if you would get a different result.

Hard to measure all the public schools and come up with a ranking. But it seems wise to question rankings that leave out so many schools and districts that seem to be doing so well.

*We get it “free”** for being members of Minnesota Public Radio.
**One of my pet peeves is when people say you get a benefit for free as a result of an underlying financial commitment. If you buy a car from this dealership, you get free car washes for a year, should be re-written as “buried within the cost of your car is any expense associated with washing it 12 times.”
***The fact that Bushes were/are governors of Texas and Florida does tempt ILIM to think “no child left behind has merit” but ILIM is practiced at avoiding some temptations (this being one of them).
****Back when I was on Capitol Hill, most of the Senators lived in McLean, VA.
*****AP = Advanced Placement; IB = International Baccalaureate