Trenton Wreck, Union Dreck

Here's Trenton School Board member Marcellus Smith’s description of Trenton Central High: “a ninth-to-twelfth-grade disaster.” How bad is it? The freshman class typically numbers 800 students. By senior year 440 kids are still there. In 2009 79.5% juniors and seniors failed the high school math assessment test in 2009; the same year 51.6% failed language arts. 43% of the student body at Trenton Central High was suspended last year. Average SAT scores are 364 Math and 369 Verbal.(DOE data here.)

But wait! Good news: the federal government chose 12 schools in NJ to award grants to aid in transformation. Trenton Central High got $3.9 million.. A small portion of the money is to be used to buy “Teacher of the Month” certificates, $1,000 awards to supplement classroom supplies, and opportunities for professional development in order to reward effective teaching.

Here’s the Trenton Education Association’s reaction to this attempt to reward teacher effectiveness: "Basically that violates our contract," TEA president Naomi Johnson-Lafleur said yesterday. "That will not be happening. We do not have merit pay in our contract."

Let's see. Extra supplies for the classroom. More educated teachers. The Trenton Times says that union resistance may “torpedo” the $3.9 million grant. Glad it’s all about the kids.