Within the past ten days or so we have had a number of stories in our morning paper relating to the performance of the Columbus public school district, as well as the current superintendent, one Gene Harris (don't be misled by the name; Gene is a female, FYI).
One story had to do with a new statewide report card comparison in which the state ranked 936 traditional and charter public schools, from 1-936, in a measure of various criteria. The Columbus district ranked 725th out of the 936, and 600th out of the 611 traditional public school districts.
That is a record of poor performance, any way you measure it.
There was also a story in which a group of past Superintendents of the Year named Gene Harris the title of Superintendent of the Year this past week. The award was based on "her work and experience, specifically as related to leadership, communications, professionalism, and community involvement." One of the past supers was quoted as saying this award was long past due for her. You will note there was nothing in there about actual education.
And then we were treated to Ms. Harris offering her version of targets to be reached for the district's students to improve their reading performance before the end of next school year, as the students in grades 3-8, and 10-11 are currently failing to meet the state standard. In other words, they are "earning" a failing grade in reading. Ms. Harris presented a non-detailed "plan" to the board to bring about a double-digit increase in reading performance by next year, after which the board president said if the district fails to meet these goals, (as set forth by the superintendent, whose job it is to lead the district), it was "unclear" whether or not it would be used against her in future evaluations.
So, to sum up, the Columbus school district ranks very far down the list of Ohio schools when it comes to performance, as indicated by (among other things) 8 grades failing reading, the woman in charge gets honored as Supt of the Year, and failing to improve reading to meet the state standard might not have an affect on her future evaluations.
Better yet, by virtue of being named Ohio's Superintendent of the Year, she is automatically in the running for National Superintendent of the Year!
If she is our best, I cannot fathom how bad our worst superintendent is.