For a bunch of smart folks running the Michigan Department of Education, they need to learn a few lessons about the business of education.
Namely, they need to know that not all students who take the myriad number of tests doled out each year come to their desks with the same advantages – if you want to say having enough to eat at home is an “advantage.”
Any number of experts will tell you – and heck, common sense tells you this – that students who live in poverty are likely not to test as well as middle and upper-middle class students do.
Thanks to The Center for Michigan, the poverty factor is used to rank how well school districts perform. Using that group’s analysis, Hamtramck is doing way better than what the MDE says.
Over 80 percent of Hamtramck’s public school students receive a subsidized or free lunch, which is one measuring stick to judge how well off they are, economic-wise.
Hamtramck is certainly a proud community, but it also has a lot of residents who are barely scraping by.
Poverty is like a dirty secret in this country, and it’s one that politicians continuously fail to address. In fact, it’s just the opposite: Look no further than the $8 billion slashed recently from the food stamp program.
The people running the MDE need to take a closer look at how income affects students, and adjust their district ranking appropriately. It’s unfair to ignore the socio-economic effects on districts and punish them with a low ranking.
That’s the predicament Hamtramck’s schools – including the charters — are in. And if the low ranking persists, the state could elect to take over the school district.
America is a land of many resources, and we think it’s clear that educating our youth to the best of our ability comes first.