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February 24, 2012

Molloy P loy Backfires

by at 6:17 pm.

The other day, I read this:

But if Lowell is ever to make an upward transition, in my opinion the biggest change that needs to happen is in the school system. First, education is still the major road to increased earnings. Many studies by Andrew Sum at Northeastern can tell you how much of a drag drop outs are on our economy, and my guess (no data to back this up though) is that most drop outs tend to stick around here.

Which got me to wondering, so I poked around the intertubes. Guess what?!!

Lowell’s Drop Out rate shot up, from 4.4% to 8.1%. - Dropout Rates in Massachusetts Public Schools: 2010-11

It’s hard to determine exactly how this spike occurred. It could be that the relatively new and certainly defiant (the homeless shelter pushback ain’t the half of it) Headmaster is counting better, or worse, as the case may be. Or, it could be that what goes around, comes around? Does anyone remember when a former, purple clad school committeewoman made a fuss about students falling through the cracks? Try harder, folks. I realize, It’s ONLY the School Committee, but you can do it. Here’s some help.

Consultants, students’ transfer caused tensions between Scott, Lowell school board
From The Sun, Jennifer Myers, 31 Jan 2011, Archived Offline

At last week’s special-education subcommittee meeting, some School Committee members took exception to what they characterized as a change in policy regarding the structure of the Molloy Alternative School program without their approval.

Last summer, committee member Dave Conway made a motion to close the Molloy School and transition the students, many of whom suffer from learning disabilities and behavioral problems, back to Lowell High School in an effort to save money.

At the time, Scott told him such a move was not advisable because the high school does not have the support services needed to serve those students.

But between June and November, the Molloy’s population fell from 90 students to 55.
-snip

“This sounds like a policy-level decision that the School Committee should have been involved with,” Doherty said. “These changes were made without School Committee approval.”

Scott disagreed with Doherty’s characterization, stating that the Molloy program was designed to be a 45- to 60-day program, but it had become a place where some students stayed for years. The school does not have the resources to be a four-year program, Scott said.

“I have to make a formal objection to the assertion that there was a change in policy,” she added. “We thought we were doing our job. There was no disrespect intended to the committee.”

Former Molloy School guidance counselor Judith Flood said she spoke to several of the Molloy School upperclassmen who were transferred back to LHS and they said they did not want to go.

“They were told there were not going to be any more 11th or 12th graders there anymore,” she said. “Some dropped out because they could not go to a school the size of Lowell High for their own reasons. We have lost a lot of students, we have lost them to the streets.”

I remember this meeting because it appeared that Jackie Doherty caught Headmaster Rozmiarek in a ‘misrepresentation of the truth,’ as they say.

From the February 7, 2011 School Committee minutes:

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Please note:

When the students were transferred at the beginning of the school year from the Molloy back to the high school, procedures took place that to his understanding (and he is equally new to the school) these procedures we followed had always been in place.

(bold mine)

Jackie Doherty followed up with this:

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Please note:

It is an email from Headmaster Rozmiarek to the high school community and a number of people, dated August 24th, which is a week before school started, Tuesday, August 24th at 4:15 pm.
-snip
Thank you for your flexibility on this. I realize this represents a change in the way things have worked in the past, and I realize that adjustments are going to be needed. I know you Housemasters and Guidance will probably be running into inference in explaining this ”New System” …

(bold mine)

This all plays out in the clip below, from 25:04 to 1:04:07

.

Excerpts from the MA DOE 2010-2011 Drop Out Rate Data:

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2 Responses to “Molloy P loy Backfires”

  1. C R Krieger Says:

    I remember the meeting.   The dropout rate is a problem.   Granted, the economy is a problem.   But, there is a reason the Armed Forces look to recruit High School graduates.   It is a powerful discriminator.   High School graduates are much more likely to complete Basic Training and to complete an enlistment.

    If Victoria’s numbers from a recent comment on this blog are correct, we have a problem.

    It is 70% overall but only 67% for boys.  Anyone think that is a problem for our community?  What are all those boys doing, if not graduating?
    A graduation rate in the 70% range says a lot of our children are not making it.   And note the comment about boys.

    Problems in school lead to students not applying themselves, leads to interests outside school, leads to gangs, leads to trouble with the law, leads to incarcerations, leads to a loss of human potential.   And the rest of us pay for it in a number of ways.

    And, when we think gangs what comes to mind is those boys.   Blame it on Darwin.   Boys are more rambunctious.   By nature.

    If we would like to reduce our local taxes (and our state and federal taxes) we need to fix this problem where it starts, in the schools.   Or before it starts.

    On “City Life” a while back Victoria raised the question of grading.   Does our grading lead to improvement or frustration?  (While she is booked for other appearances on “City Life” (LTC Channel 8) she is booked on Tuesday, 22 May to again talk education.)

    Former City Councillor Franky Descoteaux has raised the question of if the issue should be preparing the parents for their children to be students in school.   I remember reading a comment by an Army Officer in the recruiting business.   He noted that you could tell the difference in High School performance by sitting in the family living room.   For the good performers there were books on the bookshelves and magazines on the coffee table.   Not a comment on the kind, just the existence.

    The current paradigm is exhausted.   It is, firstly, destroying human lives.   Secondly, it is costing taxpayers twice, once for schooling, and then again for police, courts and incarceration, but worst of all in terms of lost production.   And, what scientific, engineering and artistic accomplishments never came about because the talent of our students is wasted?

    Hope springs eternal.   A year ago we had the “Tiger Mom” discussion.   In the current issue of The New York Review of Books we have Diane Ravitch reviewing Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland?, by Pasi Sahlberg.                                                

    I am not sure I have seen the future and I am not sure it works, but what we have is not sufficient.   I have concerns about “high stakes” testing, but I am not clear on why there are waivers to No Child Left Behind.   Notwithstanding having read Ms Ravitch’s review I am not convinced in the concept of an educational priesthood.   I like the American idea of local accountability.

    For sure, we need more of our residents involved in terms of observing and voting.

    Regards  —  Cliff

  2. C R Krieger Says:

    That should read LTC Channel Eight (8).

    Regards&;nbsp —  Cliff

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