Are Buildings More Important Than Children?

Lurking behind the (entirely justified) outrage about the condition of Richmond’s school buildings is a much more important issue: What happens – more to the point, what doesn’t happen – inside those buildings.

The SOL results give us a measure of that larger problem.  Richmond last year had the second lowest division average reading pass rate in the Commonwealth

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and the third lowest math pass rate.

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Of course, some schools did worse than the average.  In Richmond some schools, especially some middle schools, did much worse.  For example, here are the bottom ten Virginia schools in terms of sixth grade reading and math:

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More data are here showing, inter alia, that MLK Middle is the worst performing school in Virginia.

Surely we need better school buildings.  Before that, however, we need (much!) better schools. 

It’s a puzzle why we are expending so much energy and passion (and, perhaps, money) on the lesser problem.