This past week I have had to hold The Albany Herald at an angle — in order to tilt it back to a level perspective — while reading its public education coverage.
Six — or “just six,” as your paper put it — of 26 Dougherty County schools ranked at or above the state average. True, many Albany schools performed much worse, but the newspaper devoted little attention to what three schools earning more than 90 of a possible 100 points did right.
Why is the same school system home to some of the state’s highest- and lowest-ranked schools? Students often excel when they do what is asked of them by a talented staff.
Many of Dougherty’s best performing schools may be attractive to motivated students because they are home to magnet or specialty programs or have some other attractive feature and have performed well in the past.
If you believe the success of six schools does not define an entire system, consider the lead story in Monday’s The Albany Herald in which a single dissatisfied student virtually defined all Dougherty County public schools. The talented student featured in that article proved public education provides alternatives when a GED allowed her to bypass problems in Albany schools and enroll at Darton State College. Clearly, however, the published account of her story provides evidence of struggles in the system that are worthy of attention.
However, school news articles led with breathless accounts of “angry citizens ... ‘waiting to hear what will happen next’” do little to illuminate the education discussion. Additionally, reporting the success of six schools as an exception will not encourage greater achievements.
Your paper will best serve the community with a balanced approach to public education coverage.