Darlings! What makes a good school: Michael Winerip left Newsweek for dead in yesterday’s New York Times.
In his weekly “On Education” piece, Winerip explored the way those lists of best high schools get made. These lists can be highly influential, Winerip cruelly noted at the start.
Soon, he was pounding at Newsweek:
WINERIP (6/4/12): What schools score highest on Newsweek’s index? Of the top 50, 37 have selective admissions or are magnet schools, meaning they screen students using a combination of entrance exam scores, grade-point average, state test results and assessments of their writing samples.Oof. But as he continued reviewing the Newsweek list, matters only got worse. Of the remaining 13 schools in the Newsweek top 50, eight are charter schools, Winerip noted.
In short, to be the best, high schools should accept only the highest performing eighth graders, who—if the school doesn’t botch it—will become the highest performing 12th graders.
Put another way: Best in, best out, best school.
“The two top charter schools on the Newsweek list are the Basis high schools in Scottsdale and Tucson,” he sweetly said. Then, rather brutally, this:
WINERIP: What does the student body look like at a Basis high school? At Basis Scottsdale—the third best high school in America, according to Newsweek—95 percent of the 701 students are Asian or white.Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow! When will the Times make this stop?
Asians make up 2.8 percent of the state population, but 41 percent of the Basis Scottsdale students.
There are 15 Hispanics (2 percent) in a state that is about one-third Hispanic.
There are no Native Americans listed on the State Education Department’s Web site, though they make up 5 percent of Arizona’s population. The site lists 13 African-American students and no children of migrant workers. There are no children who qualify for subsidized lunches or who need special education classes.
Clearly, best schools would do best not to get bogged down serving students considered un-best.
The remaining five of the top 50 schools [on the Newsweek list] are in suburban districts where enrollment is open to all, as long as they are residents.
The one thing that these five schools have in common is that they are full of children from the nation’s wealthiest families.
Let’s state the obvious: Every student deserves a good school. Kids who come from wealthier homes deserve to go to good schools too.
But ow ow ow ow ow ow ow! Winerip continued to pound away at Newsweek’s highly foppish list. We'll suggest that you read the whole thing.
Darlings! This sort of thing just isn’t done! When will the Times make it stop?