We’ve all seen them. Something that pops up on our computer or in an email and we immediately go, “WOW.” Often it is an email talking about some politician and a conspiracy they are leading.
Makes for interesting reading. But normally I can spot them a mile away. Perhaps it is just the cynic in me. For as I read I begin to hear an alarm and think, “No way is this true.” Usually, a bit of time on the internet confirms the suspicions.
Here is a great example that I happened across a couple of days ago. A story by a TODAY reporter telling us that at one of the Chicago all-male Urban Prep charter schools, 100 percent of the new graduates are going to college. The article is lavish in its praise of the school and its founder, Tim King.
However, the story fails to point out a very important number. There were 154 freshman in this class, but only 67 graduated. That means 56 percent of the class dropped or moved to another school. Suddenly a lot of luster is gone from this “feel good” article.
This is not to demean those who made it through graduation and are going on to college. That is wonderful for them. But where are the other 87 classmates from the ninth grade? What happened to them? What are their stories?
Noel Hammatt is a retired professor from LSU who has studied Urban Prep in the past. He pointed out in 2014 that only 17.2 percent of the school’s students passed the Reading and Math portion of the Prairie State Achievement Exam, a key high school test in Illinois.
Efforts to claim education miracles are hardly new. Diane Ravitch recalls in 2005 when New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg held a news conference at a Bronx school to announce a 49-point jump in fourth grade reading scores. But the following year, fourth grade reading scores fell by 41 points at the same school.
As we’ve all heard endless times, “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.” Education is no exception.