“Let me say at the risk of seeming ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love…” — Che Guevara
On Tuesday our 2008-09 test results finally arrived. They were packaged neatly in a brown box, arriving on our door step like a UPS surprise. A milk delivery. Like an old Western Union Telegram containing some inevitable message that had to come sooner or later.
So we unwrapped the contents of the box and unfolded the scores like familiar laundry– grade level by grade level– and hung them on the clothesline: math next to the lemon tree… while language arts dried in a Bay-soft breeze that otherwise cools the bouganvilla. We figure if we treat our test results with such reverence, if we handle them gently enough, if we sprinkle them with holy water, if we read them by the light of a crescent moon, if we wait until the tides align, if we rub the rabbit’s foot, if we pay tributes to the voodoo altar… the news might be more favorable.
And so disappointment descends and we start to pick through the numeric bones like an autopsy:
“We should have…”
“We could have…”
“This is because the ______ (fill in grade level here) grade teachers neglected to…”
“If only those ______ (fill in demographics here) students had just…”
“It’s all the _____’s (fill in excuse here) fault that we…”
The truth is, of course, we have complete control over our results. El Milagro had record highs in 4 grade levels! Our students are strong in writing and our 8th grade may have been the highest middle school in the South County. There were lots of promising trends. But the NCLB testing game is not just about trends. It is about winning. We are the baseball team that makes great plays and gets lots of hits and looks gorgeous in our uniforms… but can’t score runs. If you can’t score runs… you won’t win games.
So for the first time in the 10-year history of the testing game, Mueller Charter School will join the inglorious club of Program Improvement schools who will be left scratching their heads and waiting for a knock on the door from the local expert who will bring a magic solution on how to terminate your membership from “the club” sooner than later.
We decided not to wait. It is a new season. We are already re-loading. We are organizing to score more runs. We realized that even though we keep getting better results each year, other schools are passing us like we are standing still. We can’t tinker at change… we have to turn El Milagro on its head.
Che Guevara is the face of revolution– but as far as I know he never played baseball. And he didn’t seem like the kind of guy who would belong to any club.