Tuscaloosa Superintendent: Schools not failing - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Tuscaloosa Superintendent: Schools not failing

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Tuscaloosa City School Superintendent, Dr. Paul McKendrick. (abc3340.com) Tuscaloosa City School Superintendent, Dr. Paul McKendrick. (abc3340.com)
TUSCALOOSA - AL -

   Tuscaloosa City School Superintendent, Dr. Paul McKendrick waited more than 24 hours to speak publicly about Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary, Westlawn Middle and Central High Schools being on the Tuesday's list of the state's failing schools.

   McKendrick expressed his frustration during every other sentence while talking to the media.  "Puts a dagger in the heart..."  "Just a kick in the gut..." "I'm sort of ticked with this...because it just should not have happened," McKendrick said.

   He seemed especially angry that MLK Elementary is being labeled a failure. "It is not a failing school. You've got 85 percent of the students passing...you're going to tell me that failing. What's passing," said a clearly upset McKendrick.

    McKendrick is referring to data showing overall math and reading scores at MLK have steadily climbed more than 20 percent over the last three years.  The other two schools are seeing similar improvements.  But, the Alabama Accountability Act looks at the last six years back when the schools in question were struggling.  McKendrick says that is a problem.  "Its a classic example of legislators getting in the way of school reform. Its incredible and its insulting and it does nothing to help those schools celebrate their successes and do better."

   In the meantime, McKendrick plans to stay the course of doing what they've been doing to improve scores. "Curriculum specialists in schools and getting in classrooms and modeling lessons," he said.

   But, since all three of these schools are in one cluster zone, he has a message. "No one can point the finger and say children on West Side didn't do well, children on West Side can't learn...Children on West side are poor children. Well poverty is there but it has absolutely nothing to do with the child's intelligence and that's what bothers me about this darn law. It's not fair for the families who are looking for hope."

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