Ignoring a problem has never made it go away.
But that’s exactly what some are suggesting Gov. Paul LePage and the Maine Department of Education do after our new A-F grade system was announced last week. Those opposed to the state’s first true school accountability grading model argue that poor communities are treated unfairly, as though the grading system itself is responsible for the fact that schools in less affluent areas often struggle to perform as well as those in wealthier communities.
We knew, of course, that the data would show this to be the case, so we were left with a choice: Do we put forward a grading system that honestly reports how well students are doing, or do we establish some kind of two-tier system, where schools in poorer communities are held to a different set of standards than those in wealthier communities?
We chose the former — a system that holds all schools to the same set of standards — for the simple reason that we don’t believe, as some evidently do, that a student’s destiny is determined by demographics.