Taxpayer-funded “publicists” at the SC Department of Education like to use “awards” as a measure of public school “success.”
In the first four months of 2009, there were 20 press releases issued by the department that included the term “award” in the title or first sentence.
The problem is that many awards and accolades are not actually tied to student achievement, and some seem designed to distract from a school’s performance failures by improving parents’ perceptions of the school.
Here are two recent examples:
Allendale Elementary School
In March, Allendale Elementary School was awarded “a gold certificate and banner by USDA Food and Nutrition Service Southeast Regional Administrator Donald E. Arnette for meeting USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge”
“The HealthierUS School Gold award is one of the highest honors a school nutrition program can achieve and reflects a strong commitment to provide students with additional healthy food options throughout the school campus, and to emphasize nutrition education and physical activity in the school curriculum.”
Allendale Elementary is classified by the State and Federal governments as a “persistently failing school” and has again been identified this school year as “at-risk.” There are 569 students forced to attend this failing public school.
Morningside Middle School
In February, a list of the finalists for annual state School Improvement Council awards was released. “The SC School Improvement Council’s annual Dick and Tunky Riley School Improvement Award was created in 2002 to recognize the significant contributions made to public education by the more than 15,000 local school improvement council (SIC) members who volunteer in public schools throughout the state.”
Included on the list of finalists was Morningside Middle, in Charleston, ranked as one of the nation’s absolute 25 worst public schools. Despite the persistent failures and the statewide budget cuts the school principal at Morningside actually received a “performance” salary bonus this year.
More to Come….
Also, as the school year nears an end, be sure to look out for:
New Palmetto Silver and Gold awards, tied to yet-lower standards
The completely baseless Red Carpet awards, given to schools so inadequate that they don’t qualify for any other recognitions.