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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Camden High School Performance Indicator - Graduates

Thanks to Camden City School Board member, Sean Brown, for posting the most recent report on graduation rates from the City's high schools. Here is the link.

The most well-known schools are Camden and Wilson. There are 3 other high schools that are special curriculum schools but are in-district. The report does not include charter high schools such as LEAP Academy.

The facts are the graduation rates. The definitely graduating rate for Camden is 59% and Wilson is 51%.  There are several other categories of possible graduates that could raise the rates a bit. The 4 other schools have much, much higher rates and their school populations are much, much smaller than either Camden or Wilson.

What this data does not show us is the number of dropouts that contribute to the graduation rates. How many students dropped out to yield only 500+ students for graduation between the 2 main high schools? Those students are the casualties of a poorly performing school district.

The city of Camden cannot afford to have a poorly performing school district. Period. It's success should be included as one of the top 3 Economic Development goals of the city. Period. Charter schools are fine, as long as they produce. There is nothing magical about a charter school. If they produce great results, then they should be rewarded and replicated. If they do not produce results, they should not be rewarded and should not get special treatment. Performance is the ONLY thing that matters.

The Mayor of Camden now controls the entire school board through appointment. The Mayor MUST be held accountable for the performance of the school board and the board must be held accountable for the performance of the district. Unfortunately, voters only have access to accountability through the Mayor, since they no longer elect the board. The residents, however, can turn this to their advantage by actually holding the Mayor accountable.

Residents of Camden need to be packing the School Board meetings with demands for improvement. School Board members need to be soliciting resident involvement and through engagement, improve the schools. Let the district staff and superintendent focus on performance in each school building and hold them accountable. Does the board have annual performance criteria for the superintendent? If not, set them. These are not negotiable items in a contract, these are merely annual goals.

This is a Public Relations campaign and either Camden is going to fight for its future or it is not. I'm willing to bet on the good people of Camden and their desire to see their city do well and their children succeed as a component of that future. Let's see who steps up.