Tag: Eugene White


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This is Dropout Nation: Indianapolis Public Schools


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As chronicled here and elsewhere, Indianapolis Public Schools exemplifies the problems of the nation’s worst public school systems. This Midwestern district suffers all the faults of urban districts that aren’t…

The price of neglect: James and Julie Johnson, shown in 2005, are among the thousands who have dropped out of Indianapolis Public Schools for more than four decades.

As chronicled here and elsewhere, Indianapolis Public Schools exemplifies the problems of the nation’s worst public school systems. This Midwestern district suffers all the faults of urban districts that aren’t involved in any reform effort, from bureaucratic incompetence to political intransigence to high levels of teacher absenteeism.

Chart 1: A portrait of failure -- Poor instruction, lackluster curricula and terrible leadership from schools and families alike contribute to a graduating class that barely makes it out.

Chart 2: IPS graduation rates for its classes of 2007, 2008 and 2009

But IPS’ failures can be best summed up through its woeful graduation rates. The district remains home to one of the nation’s most-comprehensive concentrations of dropout factories, with all but one of its high schools (a specialized high school) graduating fewer than 60 percent of its students. The graduation rates for black and white males (based on 2006 data) are tied with Detroit’s abysmal district for the worst. But as seen in chart 3, the five-year Promoting Power Rate (or Balfanz Rate as Dropout Nation calls it after its creator) for females — especially, oddly enough, white females — is almost as atrocious.

Chart 3: Promoting Power Rates for the Class of 2008

With the school district’s superintendent, Eugene White, entering a rare fifth year into the job as its chief executive, one wonders if IPS will eventually go the way of New Orleans. Because there are 10 other school districts within Indianapolis, this may not happen. But the State of Indiana may just end up taking over the district anyway.

Either way, it’s the children who suffer, not only in being denied the fulfillment of their educational and economic destinies while in school, but afterwards, as many make their way through Indiana’s prisons, end up on welfare rolls, and, in many cases, may not even make it past 30. It’s high time that IPS and other districts are either fully revamped or completely shut down. These children deserve better.

Chart 4: IPS grad rates for the Class of 2009 by group.


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The Dropout Nation Podcast: Beyond Dropout Factories


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On this week’s Dropout Nation Podcast, while profiling one of  America’s worst school districts, I explain how the failures of every school district isn’t just a problem of teachers unions….

Dropout Nation Podcast Cover

On this week’s Dropout Nation Podcast, while profiling one of  America’s worst school districts, I explain how the failures of every school district isn’t just a problem of teachers unions. School leadership at every level is critical in turning around dropout factories, the academic failure mills that feed into them, and the school districts that operate them all.

You can listen to the Podcast at RiShawn Biddle’s radio page or download directly to your iPod or MP3 player. Also, subscribe to get the podcasts every week. It is also available on iTunes, Blubrry and the Education Podcast Network.

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Read: Weekend Watch Edition


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What’s happening in the dropout nation: – The Foundry takes aim at the opposition among some D.C. politicos to reviving the soon-to-be-shuttered D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program. Harry Jaffe of the…

More opportunities to learn. Photo of St. Anthony Catholic School, Washington, DC

More opportunities to learn. Photo of St. Anthony Catholic School, Washington, DC

What’s happening in the dropout nation:

The Foundry takes aim at the opposition among some D.C. politicos to reviving the soon-to-be-shuttered D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program. Harry Jaffe of the Washington Examiner offered his own thoughts — and gave one of the District’s city councilmen the business earlier this week. Jaffe thinks vouchers “will get funded for another five-year program.”

– Meanwhile, in The Catholic World Report, I take a look at one of the key alternatives to D.C. Public Schools: The Archdiocese of Washington’s Catholic schools. Two years after Archbishop Donald Wuerhl decided to spin off several of its financially-lagging schools and convert them into charters, the proverbial Mother Church is working hard to ensure educational opportunities for its poorest families while fostering additional funding and support from the flock.

– One of the three School Reform Andys (Rotherham, in this case) and Education News Colorado take aim at the Denver school district’s decision to hire a counselor to help school board members with their marriage problems (among other personal issues). Why should the kids — half of whom are likely to never graduate — count for anything? Well, at least it isn’t all going into administrators’ salaries, as it seems to be happening in the case of Indianapolis Public Schools.

– Will the AFT embrace school reform? Based on its New York City affiliate’s response to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Race to the Top efforts, keep the money off the betting line.

– In California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger prods the Democrat-controlled legislature to take further steps in competing for federal Race to the To funds. The president of the state’s AFT affiliate isn’t thrilled with any of it.

– In research: The Center on Education Policy surveys state government uses of federal stimulus funds for education. The conclusions are mixed.

– Joanne Jacobs takes a look at the Deloitte study on the disconnect between the expectations of high school from parents and children, and the expectations of those who teach the latter. My thoughts will come later.

– In Charleston, S.C., one school superintendent is lambasted for winning an award, one that doesn’t have to do with improving the education of the children in the district’s care.

More news coming the rest of the weekend. Meanwhile, follow Dropout Nation on Twitter for continuous news and updates.

– Parent Revolution’s Ben Austin offers his own reasons why California needs to reform public education and prepare for Race to the Top.

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Schools That Work? Why Manual High Isn’t One of Them


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An Indianapolis high school is one epicenter of America’s dropout crisis.

Jammyra Weekly is a rare graduate of Manual High.

Jammyra Weekly is a rare graduate of Manual High.

Education advocates have a tendency to want to present ‘examples’ of schools that go against the grain of academic failure. But isn’t without problems. Sometimes the examples aren’t nearly as good as they may seem, especially when facts are borne out against rhetoric.

Take Emmerich Manual High School in Indianapolis, the subject of this video by the Annie E. Casey Foundation for its  Schools that Work series. As Eugene White, the superintendent of the Indianapolis Public Schools likes to point out, the high school has increased the number of students heading to college by 50 percent. The problem? Manual has long been — and remains — one of Indiana’s (and America’s) most-persistent dropout factories.

Just 39 percent of the school’s original Class of 2008 graduated four years later, according to the Indiana Department of Education. Just 24 percent of the original Class of 2009 were promoted to 12th grade (2009 graduation rates have yet to be posted). In fact, within the past three years, at least 40 percent of Manual’s freshmen have eventually dropped out, at least according to official numbers. The real dropout rate, when one considers that fifth-year students aren’t likely to complete, is more like 60 percent.

manual

The woefulness of Manual’s performance — and IPS’s problems overall — can be seen in the broken-down graduation rates for each socioeconomic group counted in the No Child Left Behind Act. Fewer whites graduate from the school than blacks. Meanwhile the graduation rates for middle-class students is nearly as abysmal as that for poor students receiving free or reduced lunch.

Unfortunately, Manual is also a microcosm of IPS and of many parts of the nation. After all, IPS is home to the worst graduation rates for both black and white males. The city itself, more white than black, is representative of other urban locales. The graduation rates in other districts within Indianapolis, although slightly better, are also not where they should be.

Ultimately, increasing levels of college completion doesn’t matter if one out of every two students is dropping out of high school in the first place. In any case, a high school that inadequately educates its students isn’t likely to do a good job of college preparation; the kids will just flunk college once they get there.

Now, the Annie E. Casey Foundation is an great organization. Its staff, including Bruno Manno, does admirable work in improving the lives of America’s children. Unfortunately, the problem Casey faces, as does many reformers, is that the nation’s public schools aren’t helping much in offering examples of successes in college attainment and completion. This, of course, is should be a concern to the communities in which these schools are located. As Indianapolis can attest, poor-performing schools can hinder economic and social growth for the city and all of its residents.

Manual High proves, as I have mentioned earlier, that the issue isn’t whether enough children are attending college — or if too many are attending, but whether they are adequately prepared to take advantage of every educational and economic opportunity before them. A child who isn’t adequately prepared for higher education — be it college, trade school, or apprenticeships — also isn’t likely to be fit for work at McDonald’s or Family Dollar. In this economy, every job is likely to be knowledge-based, and thus require high levels of math and English competency.

Manual High represents a lot of things. But it doesn’t represent a school that works for its students. The video, however, is nicely shot.

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