By Eddie Griffin
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
The school board meeting last night was too much fuss over too little that mattered. The reckless assertions of Trimble Tech High School cherry-picking its students from the pool of high school applicants, based upon their academic performance, at the expense of other schools, were harmful both to students and public.
A school that pulls its academic achievement up by its bootstrap should be lauded and emulated, and not undone. Like some supporter said during the meeting, “Other high schools should be like Trimble Tech.”
I am particularly astounded that these faulty notions of cherry-picking were not nipped in the bud by senior board members who predated the 1995-1996 Trimble Tech Improvement Plan- a plan that led to the school achieving an “exemplary” rating with the state.
On the other hand, as I recall our little coalition of parents, businessmen, and civic leaders who drafted the improvement plan, there were certain board members who never took time to participate in the workshops, never read our reports, and only gave us verbal lip-service for support. Now these same surviving board members are asking ignorant questions about why the school uses the current application screening process.
The Tech students were right last night. The criteria for entrance should be based upon the student’s career goals and essay. That was our objective as architects of the plan. We wanted students who were serious in their career aspirations, something we could easily discern from their essays.
The School Board, on the other hand, was wrong. By tweaking the entrance policy for the simple sake of change, members of the board have made the student application and review process part of a new bureaucratic function. Beginning in the 2009-2010 school year, students applying for entrance into Trimble Tech High School would be required to submit their application to the central office.
It seems to me that the students themselves are more qualified to judge their peers and determine who best fit into their school environment, rather than someone so far removed as the central administration which already has a problem figuring out how to raise other high schools up to Tech’s level.
Maybe I should have added: If it’s not broke, don’t tweak it.