Chalkbeat Tennessee recently reported that the new director of charter schools in Memphis is the former principal of the Charles A. Tindley Accelerated charter school in Indiana. I went to the school’s website and found that the school’s motto, which they have painted in large letters on the walls of one of their hallways is, “College Or Die.”
Students are reminded of this motto each time they go to the ‘Student Life’ section of the website, as it is the first item on it.
They have actually produced a video explaining this. In the description for the video they say:
Located in one of Indianapolis’s roughest neighborhoods, the Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School is promising students not only that they’ll graduate from high school, but that they’ll be accepted into prestigious colleges and universities. The amazing thing is, they’re succeeding with a combination of tough love and academic inspiration.
Over the years I’ve heard so many variations, mostly with charter schools implying that 100% of their cohort were admitted to college when, in fact, it was just 100% of the senior class, ignoring the large percent of students who had started as ninth graders three years earlier. Arne Duncan used Urban Prep’s 100% college rate in a speech at TFA’s 20 year alumni summit. Michael Johnston used it in claiming that the school he was principal of had a 100% college rate. YES prep got a million dollars from Oprah based on the 100% college rate. Now Rahm Emanuel is saying that in Chicago, students should not be permitted to graduate without an acceptance to college or some other kind of post high school education.
Indiana has a pretty good public data site, so I went to check the numbers for this school. I was not so surprised to see that this school had 93 9th graders in 2013-2014. Three years later, their graduating class was 40 12th graders.
This is an attrition rate of 57%. What happened to these other 53 students? Well, they likely did not die, but they certainly suffered what I consider to be emotional abuse having been told in giant letters that their lives are worthless.