“Don’t Tell Me We Are Failing”

Jae Skinner teaches at Erwin Intermediate, a 3rd-5th grade school in the Jefferson County system.  When the state department of education said that Center Point High School, which takes students from Erwin, is failing, Skinner spoke out loud and clear.  Like many educators, she does not appreciate it when folks take swipes at what she does.

(The ONLY reason we have a failing school list is because the legislature passed the Alabama Accountability Act in 2013 and decreed that the bottom six percent of all public schools are failing.  Where did they get six percent?  Your guess is as good as mine.  There is always a bottom six percent.  If every school in the state scored 90 or above, we would still say the bottom six percent are failing.

Makes sense doesn’t it?  But then, what do you expect when politicians–not educators–conjure up education policy?)

Here’s Jae:

“Let me tell you how our schools are not “failing.” You cannot base something off of a standardized test. As a student, I did horrible on SAT and OLSAT. I was an A student. I graduated with honors in my undergrad and now teach in this “failing” school feeder pattern.

Come and spend a day or two with us.  I assure you that you will not see teachers and students “failing.” We are working our rears off and our kids are growing everyday. We are celebrating successes in a few weeks for the past nine weeks. There is much to celebrate.

I would also encourage you to look at the transient population in our school.

I had 16 kids on the first day of school, by day five, I was at 21. By October, I was back to 19, then 21 again. Since Christmas break, three have withdraw. Guess what, those three slots will fill back up and they will be tested and be on our accountability report. Let’s say I get them in February they count on our scores in spring. So even though I have them less than three full months, they are in that score.

Stand at the school front office door watching parents come and go, students get tardy passes, checkouts, checkins, teachers interacting with students, dismissal, car line .  Spend a day in a classroom volunteering and you will see we are not “failing.” One test may say that. Two or three standardized tests may show that, but unless those tests are used in August as a baseline and May as an assessment, what are they really telling you?

For anyone who would like to volunteer, we are Erwin Intermediate. Our number is 379-3350. We would love community support from parents and those who would like to see our kids continue to soar!

We had a date with two different time slots for parents to come to the school. We have over 700 kids. You know how many came? 40.  Yes, people work. I get that.

We offered extra credit over the break to get on campus learning and work as little as 30 minutes. You know how many of those 700 plus logged in? 43. The 43 that don’t need extra credit.

With that said, I have had some incredible students with incredible parents over the years. 

My point is, we–the teachers and kids are not FAILING. We may struggle to play so many different roles but we are not failing.”

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