The News Isn’t Nearly Bad Enough

Saint Paul Public Schools Superintendent Valeria Silva is giving her state of the district address later this morning, down at the SPPS’ Stalinesque fortress headquarters at 360 Colborne Street.

As the PiPress notes, most of Silva’s goals remain unmet.  It looks pretty bad, but for one little bit of silver lining – or so the PiPress (or perhaps the SPPS’ press release) would have you believe:

By 2014, she said, her overhaul of the school district would lift student proficiency on math and reading tests to 75 percent; four-year graduation rates would climb to 75 percent; and by signing up a greater share of the city’s students, enrollment would jump by 3,500 to 5,000 students.

Four years later, only the graduation goal has come close to fruition — up 8 points to 73.3 percent in 2013. Meanwhile, enrollment is up just 64 students, and math and reading scores have fallen further behind Minneapolis and the rest of Minnesota.

And that’s not all:

  • 42% of St. Paul  3-8 graders hit the state’s math targets in last year’s standardized tests – down a point in the past year.   The figure statewide jumped from 58 to 63 percent; even benighted Minneapolis’ scores, somehow, leapt from 37 percent to 45 percent.
  • Reading proficiency for same sample was 38% in Saint Paul last year – versus 42 percent in Minneapolis and 59 percent in the parts of the state that vote GOP.

But notwithstanding the fact that Saint Paul’s students are performing worse and worse on every other test, at least the graduation rate – up from 65 to 73%.  So that’s good news, and a vindication for Silva – right?

Well, no. As we discussed last year, graduation rates throughout Minnesota jumped last year.  They did it immediately after the DFL-dominated legislature removed graduation testing requirements.  If a student puts in 12-ish years without formally dropping out, trying to stab a teacher or saying anything Republican, they’re pretty much going to get a diploma and a handshake.  And while I can not prove that the correlation leads to a causation, the complete lack of evidence that anything else is improving in the SPPS seems to be evidence in the affirmative.

But notwithstanding the fact that she did nothing that couldn’t be attributed to “political pennies from heaven”, she’s in line to get a raise, to over $200K, plus the kind of perks that’d make a corporate CEO blush.

So I’ll tell you what, SPPS; if you want, I’ll take a run at it.  Pay me the relative bargain rate of $160K.  I’ll make a bunch of promises that I (likely) can’t possibly keep.  At the end of the contract, you’ll have gotten precisely the same results – for a 20% discount!

10 thoughts on “The News Isn’t Nearly Bad Enough

  1. I was just telling my husband the other day that he should try to get a good paying job within the city of St Paul. I told him qualifications and competency on the job don’t seem to mean much in any position these days so it should be easy money. He said that there was one qualification for these jobs and he just didn’t have it. What was that, I asked. The ability to go along to get along, he said.

  2. “I Don’t Care”

    Took 15 years to be able to say that and mean it. You have no idea how liberating it is.

  3. I’ll make them a better deal. You give me a free hand on whom to employ and what they do and what they’re paid, and I’ll work for nothing for three years. If test scores improve, you pay me the $600k. If not, I let somebody else have it and walk away.

  4. Looking at the St. Paul Schools commit values, it strikes me that the superintendent was pledging to raise achievement levels to above statewide levels by a significant margin and somehow miraculously increase enrollment by 10%, and that in a difficult urban district with strong competition from parochial and private schools. And somehow the school district has 40% of students achieving reading and math targets, but 73% are getting diplomas.

    It strikes me that this isn’t just an error or a failure by the superintendent. This is a flat out lie, and the superintendent ought to be fired for it–and then the school board ought to be fired for believing it. And lots of people ought to be fired because close to half of the diplomas they’re issuing are fraudulent.

  5. The real goal of Silva and her ilk (and the public education system) is to get to where no one can do math and will just believe whatever numbers they’re given. It’s apparently already worked in the journalism schools.

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