Friday, July 15, 2011

In The Trenches Of Public Service

No one pulls the heart strings like Doug Monroe.

For the past three years, he has been doing God's work in one of the toughest schools in New York City. His stories of Ann, the bright kid limited by a poor test score, and the "peanut butter kid" will bring many a tear to many an eye. And I'm sure that's partly what Doug intended.

They also expose an oft neglected standard for judging the performance of our children and how they are taught - context. As Doug notes, we have become seduced by the hard numbers. The only results we accept are those that place our most precious resources in silos of data points.

Data does not always tell the story and context matters.

However, as much as we want to empathize with these two wandering souls, context doesn't scale.

We cannot judge our schools on the individual stories of every child whose talents do not fit neatly in a box.We still need some firm way to judge thousands of students spread across patchworks of school yards and districts.

Between the obvious failures of the cold hard numbers mill of the Atlanta Public School system and the poor child quietly munching a PB&J, the solution must lay. It is time to explore that unknown territory and discover if we can bridge the two.