The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Saturday, August 21, 2004

A business fails to provide satisfactory service to its customers, and therefore loses them. Said business snivels and whines that its customers should not be allowed to leave -- a contention which San Jose Mercury News supports!

Is this really possible? Not in the case of private enterprise, but when a government bureaucracy attempts to hold its clients hostage, the Merc nods its enthusiastic assent. The the top story on today's web edition of the Merc:

Troubled S.J. school rejects student's transfer, then relents

By Jon Fortt

Mercury News

Chris Cibelli asked to transfer out of troubled James Lick High, but the answer was no.

With 115 students already having left the East San Jose campus -- a number equal to a quarter of the freshman class -- co-principal Rick Esparza wanted to hang onto Chris.

(I have a mental image of Esparza putting Chris up on a block and checking his teeth.)

As it turned out, Cibelli won his transfer this week -- just days before classes begin -- because federal law requires that certain chronically low-performing schools allow students to move to higher-performing schools, usually in the same district.

Amazing! It's like the kid is a human being with fundamental rights or something!

What will they think of next? Giving the vote to women?

The incident reveals one of the challenges inherent in the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001: How do you rescue a struggling school when so many students, often the more ambitious, want out?

<style:all-caps-foaming-mouth>A school is a building full of people with paid jobs. Rescue students, not schools.</style:all-caps-foaming-mouth>

``That's the youngster that's going to raise my test scores,'' said Esparza, part of a turnaround team that arrived six months ago hoping to lift James Lick from the lowest levels of test performance. James Lick is one of 18 schools in Santa Clara County where test scores have remained so low that students are allowed to transfer. ``It's hard to take, that there's a law that says your child has a right to move on.''

Who is worse off when Chris leaves? Certainly not Chris. Not his former classmates, who will score the same on tests with or without him. The person who is worse off is one Rick Esparza. I don't know what's more disgusting: That he uses a teenager for his own gain just like a tennis prodigy's parent, that he's proud of doing so, or that the Merc thinks that his actions represent a positive solution to a problem.

``It's sort of like a vicious cycle or a self-fulfilling prophecy'' when parents start to pull their kids from a school, said Aceves, who is helping the school improve its academic program. She said that while James Lick's new leadership team is already showing results in better test scores, ``perception takes a while to change. It will take a lot of PR, and a lot of looking at the data to show the improvements.''

It's sort of like a system working when a poorly-performing institution fails and is replaced by competitors who do the job better. If James Lick closes, and all students transfer to better schools, then No Child Left Behind will have done good work.

Fortunately, not everyone involved in this story has been brainwashed to believe that the educational establishment can do no wrong:

John Wright, Chris' stepfather, feels the family needed to focus on Chris' future rather than the school's survival.

``The Bible states that if a tree does not put off good fruit, that tree must die. This is how I feel about James Lick,'' he said. ``Maybe this tree deserves to die.''

Preach it, brother!

I doubt if there's a verse in the Bible about how monopoly educrats and their media enablers will be the first ones up against the wall when the revolution comes, but if there is, I might start going back to church.



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