Marion Brothers

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Saving the Black Boy: Performance Based Litmus Test for Educators

From the Baby Moses Project

From Lorraine forte, Deputy Editor, Catalyst Chicago:
What teaching strategies are most effective with young black men? How do you get a large urban system to address the needs of these youth on a significant scale?

Michael Holzman:
Dr. Rosa Smith has suggested that making the success of African-American male students "the litmus test" for the success of the entire system is one approach to systemic change. We could take a leaf from the corporate handbook and tie administrative compensation to the value they add in this regard.

Eddie Griffin:
When educators focus as much importance on the bottom 10% of the student body as it does the top 10%, we might see a shift in resources and more concerted and collaborative educational effort, especially if administrators pay is tied to performance.

If an administrator lost 50% of his or her compensation for a 50% dropout rate for African-American male students (the “litmus test” group), there would probably be a shift in administrative priorities, policies, and strategies. But if failure is as well compensated as success, why succeed- which may be why we keep getting the same results.

Pay for Performance should be part of the overall reward strategy. As we reward our students for their performance, we should also reward our teachers and administrators, based on performance. In a school system with high expectations, our expectation of education professionals should also be high.

Merit base pay in Texas should be viewed from the financial standpoint that each student is allocated about $6,000 a year for the purpose of public education. The pro rata breaks out at so many days per year a student is enrolled in school. There is a hidden financial incentive to keep dropouts on the enrollment books, long after they have disappeared during the school year. The school still gets paid as if the child were present.

The school should be paid only for the days that the student attends classes, and whatever hours the student miss in school or class should be deducted from the school’s allocation. Maybe there would be more a financial incentive to lower the dropout rate.


  1. Eddie,
    how about this one: a performance-based litmus test for parents! if you child continues to exhibit anti-social behavior, is continually tardy or absent from school, then the parents will have to pay increased taxes to compensate the public schools for the increase in manpower and special programs that are needed for their "bad ass" children.

    maybe then, these parents will ensure that their children go to school ready to learn, and ensure that they are properly "motivated" to be attentive and engaged in the learning process.

    i don't see how basing the compensation for an educator or adminstrator will help in a problem that is more than likely exacerbated in the home!

    my daughter is in a private school, not because of the schools in my district, but because of the PARENTS who send their kids to the schools in my district!

  2. There is a performance-based litmus test for parents. Poor parenting reaps more misery than increased taxes. The litmus test for parents? If the parent fails, the child fails. Many already pay multiple court fines and juvenile bonds to the justice system (if they can afford it), not to mention the heartache, headaches, and anxieties associated with troubled kids. Putting another nail in the cross of a stessed-out parent (usually single mothers) will do little to correct the problem, short of forcing the parent to become more frustrated, brutal, and abusive with the child. Sweeping the problem under the home rug may absolve us, as a society, from feeling any obligation to the child. But we have an obligation to help bear one another's burden (Am I my brother's keeper?) There are three (3) points of interdiction, outside the home environment: (1) School; (2) Church; and the (3) Streets. If the parent fails their primary responsibility of upbringing, then rest assured that there is no church influence in the family's life. When the schools assume the position that "parenting" is not their responsibility, that leaves only the Steets to shape the child's values and behavior. As a rearguard street soldier, I must try to catch them before they fall through the cracks or pick them up after they fall. I believe more should be expected of the schools when parents fail. Somebody should take up the slack, rather than say there ought not be any slack.