Yesterday, we showed how the EOC’s “Closing the Gap” report was an all time low in education spin. But Tuesday the SDE took it took the next (lower) level!
The “Achievement Gap” report was issued by the Education Oversight Committee in early April. It reviews PACT scores across the state. The report looks at specific student groups (low-income, minority, non native English speakers) and compares their scores and their schools to other kids in South Carolina.
As might be expected, even within the nation’s worst public school system there are huge disparities. Sadly, the report finds these gaps are widening. Rather than admitting the problem, the EOC released a report suggesting that the gap was “closing.”
But Tuesday the State Department of Education blew the EOC out of the water. Their “Reducing the Achievement Gap” press release explains:
“The South Carolina Education Oversight Committee (EOC) today honored 141 South Carolina elementary and middle schools for reducing the achievement gap for at least one historically underachieving student group.
Oh, really? But 141 means only 16 percent of the schools examined made an improvement, and thats just in one type of test for one type of student! No mention of the report’s summary that clearly states: the “achievement gaps increased,” “reflecting the general lack of progress” in the state.
Then the press release goes on to highlight one very special school:
The agency noted that Sanders-Clyde Elementary/Middle has been honored three years for progress in closing the achievement gap, although it served a student population of 99.6 percent poverty in 2007. Assistant principal Melvin Middleton believes that schools cannot ignore the basic needs of their students.
Are you serious? Based on the same PACT scores, only one-in-three seventh graders at Sanders-Clyde is proficient in social studies, and one-in-four proficient in science. How does this count as exemplary?
All this begs the question: why are the spin masters at SDE so much better than those at EOC? We think it is the taxpayers’ money. More = better.
… while James (“Jim”) Foster, the PR guy for Jim Rex at Dept of Education made $92,293!
The key factor is closing of an inter-office “achievement gap” (remember, money = achievement): James makes only $286 more per year than his boss Jim Rex ($92,007), while Dana makes $52,500 less than EOC boss Jo Anne Anderson ($124,500).
By reducing total disparities in pay, the State Department of Education has been able to better manipulate communications, and portray public schools as “improving.” Rather than suggesting a pay raise for Jim Rex (or a cut for Jo Anne Anderson) we suggest that Jo Anne raise Dana’s taxpayer financed salary to $124,886 (proportionally higher than hers as James’ is to Jim’s). This will allow Dana the financial freedom and peace of mind to better manipulate student performance data (though admittedly, James has set the bar very high).