You Down Wit AYP (Yeah You Know Me)?
It's called Adequate Yearly Progress, and not a single South Carolina public school district made it this year.
That's right, not one.
A central component of No Child Left Behind, AYP is supposed to tell us whether schools are meeting specific proficiency goals year-in, year-out.
This morning's Charleston Post and Courier has an interesting article by reporters Diette Courrege and Mindy Hagen explaining AYP and giving substantial ink to its detractors.
Critics say South Carolina's standards are much higher than the rest of the nation, thus making it more difficult for schools to achieve AYP.
"We continue to feed ignorant regional bias against our state and our public schools by participating in this farce," Berkeley County Assistant Superintendent for Learning Services Mike Turner told the Post and Courier.
"I don't think the measuring stick is measuring effectively," said Dorchester superintendant Joe Pye.
And from our State Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum in this morning's edition of The State: "No Child Left Behind says that every school in America must be perfect, and that's not going to happen."
To be fair, South Carolina's standards are among the toughest in the nation, but that's probably a good thing in a state with the worst graduation rates and SAT scores in the country. Tenenbaum has petitioned the federal government for a uniform measuring stick, but let's be honest - is setting up a system where more schools make a less-stringent AYP standard really a victory?
One of the quotes we found most interesting in this morning's coverage was from Colleton County superintendent Charles Gale, who said that No Child Left Behind was a "political move to make public schools look bad."
Actually, South Carolina's public schools already looked (and were) pretty bad prior to No Child Left Behind, and the progress we've made in the intervening years has failed to even remotely keep pace with the increased taxpayer investment.
There's a reason AYP gets tougher every year, it's because every year the world we live in gets that much more competitive.
So let's have the annual debate over standards. And let's watch as both sides spin the isssue as either another indictment of our public schools or an indictment of No Child Left Behind itself.
But as we argue over AYP, let's not lose sight of the fact that one out of every two South Carolina schoolkids isn't graduating.
We are leaving thousands of kids behind - and we're doing it every year.
Sure, we'll pour another couple hundred million dollars into our public schools again next year, just like we poured another couple hundred million in this year, and last year, and the year before that. Every year it's the same thing, and if you happen to oppose these massive funding increases or support any proposal that veers from the monopoly view, then expect Inez, The State newspaper, the SCEA, the S.C. School Boards Association, the S.C. Association of School Administrators and the rest of the educrat establishment to put out press releases saying you hate public schools.
Maybe one day we'll realize that if we want our kids' test scores to go up by any yardstick, we've got to accompany all that new money with real, market-based accountability.
And maybe one day we'll also realize that supporting that kind of thing doesn't mean you hate public schools, it just means you're ready to try something new to help them.
The old formula - by any standard - isn't doing the trick.