Everyone who wants to blame schools and teachers for what’s going wrong in American schools needs to read this special series from the Tulsa World, “Inside an ‘F’ School,” which details the factors that go into making a “bad” school:
Every other Friday without fail, Judi Wilson, LaChelle Harris and Kenneth Stanley Sr. can be found at Hawthorne Elementary School selling sour pickles and fresh-popped popcorn to raise money for the PTA.
It’s a good thing they do, because they’re three of only five parents in the PTA at a school with 386 students. In December, teachers were the only ones who attended the monthly PTA meeting.
… Faculty and staff say they’re simply not getting the support they need from parents. The office staff grapple with chronic absenteeism. This is evidenced in the school’s student mobility rate, which counts every enrollment and withdrawal after the first day. At Hawthorne, it was 108 percent for 2012-13, primarily because of enrolled students being dropped from the rolls for excessive absences — sometimes multiple times throughout the year.
By comparison, the mobility rate at A-plus neighborhood school Carnegie Elementary is 24 percent.
Hawthorne counselor Janice Watkins recently had to resort to home visits because parents or guardians of 15 students weren’t responding to repeated phone calls over the course of three weeks about the possibility of their children having special education needs.
Early-childhood education teachers say a significant portion of their students enter school profoundly behind in basic skills and knowledge.
“I have students who can barely form a sentence or who don’t know their own first names because they’ve only been spoken to in basic commands or called a nickname,” said Patricialynn Holweg, who teaches prekindergarten. “They’re so far behind that even when we make great strides, they’re still behind the others.”