Media: Everything You Read In That Mother Jones Article Is Wrong
Much of the praise is deserved. The piece (written by Kristina Rizga) is vivid and well written, compelling and challenging. But I'm not sure it's really all that convincing, or fair. It makes some errors of fact surrounding the operation of the NCLB and SIG programs that I have come to find infuriatingly common.
The feature denounces over-reliance on stereotypes of struggling schools and the use narrow slices of data, but then does a poor job (in my opinion) moving past stereotypes of federal policymaking and avoiding false connections.
The suggestion is that there are lots of low-performing schools like Mission High, in terms of either diversity, progress, or other measures like college acceptance rates. But there's really no evidence of this. There may be handfuls of schools like Mission HS, but not enough to make them representative of low performing schools over all. A more typical low-performing school wouldn't have let Rizga in to report on it.
The article is equally misleading when it comes to descriptions of the laws that govern schools. According to the piece, failure to perform on state tests results in "stiff penalities" for schools like the one being profiled here. But this is just nonsense. The principal at Mission High stays on the job - he's a relatively recent arrival. His school gets a windfall of cash. The protagonist -- an immigrant student named Maria -- is dismayed that her standardized test scores are so much lower than her classroom performance but otherwise unimpeded in her academic progress.
So again, much to admire by way of reporting and writing, but not so much when it comes to representing struggling schools or federal law fairly or carefully.