Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Forbes Article and an Update

Maureen Sullivan, a Forbes contributor, recently took up the charge of questioning the (now) Pulitzer Prize winning Failure Factories Story ran by the Tampa Bay Times.  In doing so, she referred to my blog postings, and the analysis that I've posted here which questions the fairness of the Times labeling all five of these schools "failure factories" (or any of them for that matter, but I'll save that for a later post).

You can read Maureen's article here

I graciously sent Maureen a note thanking her for exploring this topic further, as well as explaining why I had left my analysis where I did.

First and foremost, I was doing the stat work in the evenings on my time off, which became increasingly challenging with family responsibilities (including raising young twin sons with my wife) and my non-profit commitments (many of which are education related).

Second, I was afraid that someone might either maliciously or ignorantly misinterpret my findings and analysis as being somehow driven by racist feelings that I don't have - which happened here unfortunately.  Education research is a hobby for me - something I'm passionate about simply because I care about public education and educators.  My primarily daily responsibility, however, is to my professional career, and the manner in which it helps me to provide for my family.  An accusation of racism, particularly when the witch hunt had reached full pitch fork and torch stage a few months ago, could have potentially caused negative career implications, regardless of how unfair they might be.  Putting my ego aside, and my family first, I stepped aside.

This being said, I've given Maureen permission to use my name.  It's clear that she understands that my goal wasn't to suggest anything ridiculous about Black children or their ability to learn, but rather to determine whether the Times had given these educators and administrators a fair shake.  My concern was, as it is today, that good teachers will be moved out of these schools, and that many of these children will lose a connection to those teachers for reasons that have nothing to do with their dedication or abilities as educators.  Unfortunately, in talking to some of the families of kids at these schools, this is precisely what is happening.

I've been working in the background on issues related to school improvement, including at risk students in these schools.  I'm glad to see the interest in my data, and hope that others will take up the charge as well and look at it from angles I haven't considered.  The truth doesn't always get you a shiny trophy, but that's OK.