An old classmate and myself was discussing our former high school a few days ago. We focused mainly on our former principal who according to him was fired not long after we graduated from there. He let it be known that he didn't care for her pointing to certain qualities that she has as a high school principal that may have been detrimental to the school.
To be sure I had no strong feelings for or against her since I really didn't know her. What I did know came from mostly outside sources such as the teachers. I can say for certain that two of my teachers have criticized her right in front of us. My algebra teacher came back to our class after stepping outside for a moment howling mad about something she said to him (something critical I thought) and my French teacher on another day letting us know that she knew nothing about teaching. I would say there may be some truth to that since I saw in old yearbooks that she was once a counselor at the school where she had become principal.
While my friend tried to have a positive view of that period of time, I started with my rather negative view point about my time in high school. I felt it was dreadful because of the general behavior of students who had no problem cursing teachers and faculty out and the teachers firing back at the students. A lot of this activity is unacceptable but at the time since I was living it, that could be considered normal behavior. Until at least, one gets out of that environment.
My classmate didn't necessarily blame her for everything, but just didn't have the qualities necessary to turn around the school. He says that the school could have used some programs that probably could have attracted those students who were about something. He cited that there should have been a wrestling team there or at least additional classes other than typical academic fair. In fact one of my extracurricular activities held a meeting in a room that was once home to drafting classes. Across the hallway was the woodshop where young men could literally learn to use their hands. When I attended high school courses in home economics was considered obsolete.
What was hoped to be accomplished was that those who were attracted to bad wouldn't be attracted to school where there was so much to do as far as class and other activities. Of course it all depended upon what was available and who was interested in what. Also what could be done about those who were interested in nothing but trouble.
My time at that place and my time in college has caused me to develop some very cynical ideas on the issues of education, especially public education. As a result perhaps I'm harder on my old high school now than I should have been years ago. On the Sixth Ward blog I would often post crime reports courtesy of EveryBlock that is reported from the address of that school. Thanks to that blog I know that efforts are being made to raise the bar for the school from where it was when I was there.
Still I have my idea as to where I wished the school was in my time and where I hope it will be one day. I call it the "Whitney Young" standard. When I was in high school Whitney Young was the top high school in the city, even if it was merely a magnet school. Well my only contention is that if you want to raise the bar for all students in a public school system then one should look no further than the top schools in the city. Perhaps emulate what has worked there and bring it to those schools who aren't performing very well.
Well that's my idea. What are yours?