[John H Reagan High School principal Anabel] Garza works to meet the state’s goal for the "completion rate," an approximation of the number of students who graduate or get a GED in four years. Garza points out that if students fail to enroll or are absent often enough that she can kick them out, then they won’t be counted among the students who are expected to finish. And voilà! Reagan’s completion rate rises.
While almost everybody wants to improve public schools, very few know how to do so. Both sides in the debate assume that some outside force (teachers’ unions, profiteers) is actively stopping educators from doing good work. But there’s little evidence to back up Brick’s nostalgia for the American high school’s halcyon days as a happy melting pot. Set educators free, and they will still struggle, because education is really difficult work.