Monday, February 25, 2008

The Real Issue By: Jon Narcisse



On behalf of John McCain, and myself, believe everything you read in print, especially if it is in the Des Moines Register. Meanwhile, what you haven't read about in the paper Iowa depends on is the severe and documented academic crisis of our state's largest school district.

The Iowa Department of Education just released graduation data for all Iowa's school districts. Using the formula the Des Moines School District has defended so aggressively the state's report documented that the Des Moines' graduation rate declined by ten points this past year and is the state's second worse, leading only the Council Bluffs School District. The two districts combined to produce five of Iowa's eight Dropout Factory High Schools in the recent Johns Hopkins National Study.


On Tuesday, February 19, 2008, Dr. Sebring's achievement report to the School Board documented declines in eight of nine academic areas for 4th, 8th and 11th grade proficiency on the ITBS and ITED and that less than 60% of our 11th graders tested proficient in reading, math or science. In a recent analysis Des Moines ranked 331 out of 341 districts in Iowa in 4th and 8th grade reading and math proficiency.

We as a District promote failing students from kindergarten through the eighth grade. Literally a student can get straight Fs can 150 days of school and get promoted through our District until he enters high school. Here's an email I received from a teacher recently:

"Our district has a serious issue with promoting students that have no business being in the next grade. I teach the same students for three years. I am one of the only middle school teachers in the district that has this perspective. I have had students who have failed for three years that still are passed to high school? How and why is this acceptable? They then get to high school, fail, and what? 'I am not being passed on.' They then fall behind and eventually will drop out. We are not teaching students to be accountable for their actions in middle school. This is the crucial make or break time. I can about predict my students that will successfully complete high school and the ones that will unfortunately drop out. Why can we not end social promotion? How is this benefiting our students? I want someone to answer this question for me as a teacher and as a parent."

Violence, discipline problems, bullying are rampant in our district. We represent just over six percent of the state's enrolled student population yet nearly 20% of the students suspended or expelled in this state are enrolled in the Des Moines School District. Bullying is also a huge problem.

Since the arrival of our new superintendent the board tripled the number of superintendents, created three executive director positions, have tons of administrative staff yet not a single one of our three dozen elementary schools and only one of our middle schools has a full-time librarian. Why hasn't the register addressed the top heavy nature of our district and the role it plays in our current academic crisis?

As a student of history I understand that at times the 4th estate has not been the independent voice informing and educating the public but the "champion" of the status quo. Although our local media in general has failed to cover a number of major Des Moines School District storylines, The Register has singularly failed this community by going the extra step of shielding this community from fundamental truths regarding our District.

I can understand the political motives of a Board that has been silent on key academic concerns crippling this District for years. The voters will decide if this has been acceptable.

In recent years Des Moines School Board incumbents have found the public isn't happy with the board's failures. Name the legislators representing districts covering Des Moines defeated in re-election bids, the county supervisors or the city council members? I can but most can't because such defeats are so rare.


Now name the incumbents of the past few years running for re-election on the Des Moines School Board that haven't been defeated, especially sitting board presidents? On the other hand the voters don't get to weigh in on The Register's manipulation of the flow of information regarding the Des Moines School District. I did a search of The Register's archives. In the last six months I've been in the paper about 50 times, including a Duffy spoof this past Friday. Yet the litany of concerns expressed in this instant commentary, and many other pressing concerns, have rarely warranted Des Moines Register ink or investigation.

Why aren't these issues important to The Register? That's the question those of you that care about this district, and the education of our children, now need to start asking The Register.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great Post! Thanks Jon

you ans Ted look like brothers...

Anonymous said...

Keep their feet to the fire Jon. We are tired of our electeds just goin along to get along. They act like these are all social clubs for their own personal benefit and have completely forgotten whom they serve - the employing public.

RPI has forgotten for whom they exist also - the voting public and NOT the consultants.

Anonymous said...

Central Iowas favorite media whore has found a new home. Welcome aboard (now try to get something accomplished besides getting your name in the paper)

KenRichards said...

Jon,

I know you're a great chess player and no doubt all of your skills will be necessary to outsmart those you face. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Jon - what's your perspective on the role of the NEA and it's state and local chapters, the ISEA and DMEA, in the decline of education?

Anonymous said...

No shit Jon, the district failings have been known for years. Now that you are an elected official you need to identify how to fix this. Your "8 steps" response is pathetic at best and was mainly lifted from the district's strategic plan session last year. Acting like a child and bickering with the Board will get zero accomplished and makes you look like the same loser that bilked Iowa State for all the money you could.

Anonymous said...

What is this trash? I mean really, what is this trash supposed to be?

And shave that crap off your face, BOTH of you. Looking a like slobs, or Shaggy from Scoobie-Doo, makes you look ridiculous, not to mention less intelligent.

Show Some Guts, Libs... said...

Anon 1:27..

First off..who the hell are you to be telling someone how they should appear..

Cmon..if you Democrats have any friggin guts..quit posting anon..

Its apparent enough that Narcisse has put the finger right on the problem in the Des Moines School District..and..wow..look what happens..the rats are scurrying once the light gets shined on them.

There is no way..no way in hell that I would transfer my child to the Des Moines school system..EVER...i'd quit my job and home school them before I resorted to sending them there.

The other members of the Des Moines School Board and quite frankly the Superintendent should be so ashamed of the state of the school district they manage that they should RESIGN...

Yet..they'll continue to paint a rosy picture of how everything is all hunky dory in Des Moines..and the Democrat machine in Polk County will funnel a little more money their way when its needed...

Its always facinating to see the "wolves" coming out to try to intimidate those who dare to speak out in dissent..especially against entrenched powers that be such as in Des Moines...

Anonymous said...

I'll tell you why this isn't an issue with the Register. First of all, every single problem that the school system has starts and ends with the blacks. They have absolutely no home life, no responsible parents, no responsible guardians, and they promote a culture of violence and stupidity with the glorification these filthy animals otherwise know as rap stars. The Register would be vilified if it were to print the truth such as this. We've thrown billions at this "problem" over the past 40 years, given every available hand out there is, made it easier to get jobs, free lunch, free housing, Food Stamps, and every stinking last nickel of it has been squandered. Not to mention the fact that they've taken Dr. King's dream, torn it to shreds, and shat on the pieces.

KenRichards said...

I'm just wondering when we'll get a return on our local option sale tax investment (1998) that was supposed to fix everything.

Jon may be right or wrong but at least he's asking questions since I want to know what happened to all the money.

It is time to end the Liberal practice of money throwing which has yet to pay off in the classroom. To be fair it has paid off very well for the union and friends of friends. I hope Jon stays the course and provokes a debate long overdue.

Anonymous said...

If Jonathan spent half as much time calling out the parents of these uneducated hoodlums as he did griping about the other board members we might start to see some improvement. Students with shit for a home life where education (and rules/discipline) doesn't matter are never going to reach "proficiency". Time to put the parents on notice that they need to get their crap together.

Anonymous said...

"Media Whores seperated at Birth"

Jonathan and Steve Deace

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Jeff Smith said...

I love how all the people with negative comments use the name anonymous. Cowards. Why don't you grow some nuts, and put your name where your mouths are. If you want to hide behind your computer screen, who cares what you have to say anyways. Narcisse 2010!!!

Say no to Terry Braindead, or Chubby Ca$ino Chet, who was bribed by the casinos. They're just more status quo.

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