Trenton Fails, The World Blogs

There’s a surge of education blogging, dateline Trenton. Skip Harrison at Schooled: Public Education in Trenton,NJ and “Chrissie” at Trentonkat have been scrupulously covering circumstances at Trenton Central High School where more than 200 seniors may or may not graduate with the Class of 2010. (Other bloggers worth checking out are Dan Dodson at Reinventing Trenton, an economist who advocates county-wide districts and vouchers, and The Ruins of Trenton.) Along with the rest of NJ’s high school juniors, these Trenton students took the state HSPA exams last March; the problem is that many of them never found out whether or not they passed the tests. Meanwhile, the two other scheduled dates in October 2009 and March 2010 to retake the test have come and gone. Is it on to the Special Review Assessment? Is it too late to begin that process? 200 potential graduate await the answer.

A few data points: according to the last School Report Card, there were over 800 freshman at Trenton Central. However, so many kids drop out (24.7% of White students) that there were only 440 seniors left last year. 51.6% of these students failed the language arts HSPA and a stunning 79.5% failed the math HSPA. 43% of the student body was suspended during the 2008-2009 school year. Total cost per pupil is $16,843. 4.4% enrolled in an Advanced Placement class; the state average is 19%. Average SAT scores are 364 Math and 369 Verbal.

What has the Trenton School Board have to say amidst this bleakness? Here’s Board Member Donald Shelton:
"All of those kids…can’t even pass a damn test. What the hell have they been doing all of these years? They haven’t been educated from kindergarten to high school. I’ve been told that some of our high school students can’t even read at a second-grade level. Tell me, how the hell does that happen,” Shelton asked.
School choice, anyone?