Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

August 6, 2013

COMMENTARY: West Goshen is no D-grade school

INDIANAPOLIS — Last spring, a small public elementary school in Goshen won a big award from the private Milken Foundation: It was named one of the four best schools in the nation for teaching excellence.

I thought the recognition was newsworthy so I wrote about it. Unlike elementary schools in affluent communities that are used to winning accolades, West Goshen Elementary School has a student population that few school administrators would envy: Almost 80 percent of its students come from poverty-stricken families and many of them are the children of Hispanic immigrants who speak little English.

West Goshen earned the award by embracing many of reforms put into place by Indiana’s former state schools chief Tony Bennett, who is now under a shadow of scandal. It focused resources on boosting student test scores, provided intense remediation for students falling behind, adopted a teacher-mentoring program modeled by other schools, and recruited community volunteers to provide tutoring, support and encouragement to children so easily discouraged by failure.

In talking to school principal Alan Metcalfe, I could hear urgency in his voice. He was on a mission to raise the reading levels of his third-graders because he knew the odds for students who are poor readers and who live in poverty are grim as they are at a six times greater risk of dropping out.

Yet when West Goshen Elementary School was graded by the state under the nearly-impossible-to-understand A-F grading system that Bennett implemented at the direction of the State Board of Education, the school got a D.

And that is what’s really wrong with the state’s complicated school grading system. Parents, teachers and communities leaders in Goshen knew that West Goshen wasn’t a school on the brink of failure.

The recent allegations that the Republican Bennett rigged the grading system to benefit a charter school founded by a Republican campaign donor are serious. So serious that Bennett has resigned his position as the Florida education commissioner, a post he took after losing his bid for re-election last November to Democrat Glenda Ritz in the race for Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Text Only
Local News
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Poll

Last weekend (July 12) the Goshen Parks Department held its Kid’s Try-athlon to promote childhood fitness and this week (July 18) the new bicycle trail is open to the fairgrounds in Goshen, offering residents a healthy way to get to the annual agriculture exposition. Have you joined the local fitness movement?

Yes, I work at eating healthy and exercising
No, I am happy with my fitness level
Changing my diet and exercise frequency is a work in progress
     View Results
AP Video
Raw: Families Travel to Taiwan Plane Crash Site Arizona Execution Takes Almost Two Hours Gen. Odierno Discusses Ukraine, NATO at Forum Gaza Fighting Rages Amid Cease-Fire Efforts Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-lift Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast