Business First Bites

I’m warning readers right up front that this is not going to be a positive post. I’ve struggled with how to post about this topic, I’ve avoided it, but it’s all that’s on my mind this week. It’s much of what’s on most administrators’ minds, if they’ll admit it or not.

Business First ranks the school districts in 8 counties, then the individual schools. I haven’t even seen the high school ranking yet, but history will show me I’ve no reason for optimism. That and the fact that our district fell overall doesn’t indicate I’ll have much reason to celebrate.

I was up this morning at 4:30 checking the stinking website to see if the high school rankings were out there. They only give partial information in the on-line reports prior to Friday’s publication, and that’s not the bottom 20 where we’ll most likely sit, it’s the top 20. I’ve no idea what our “number” is, our ranking. As they say, “it ain’t gonna be pretty.”

Please don’t post a comment telling me that it’s skewed or based on socio-economic status. Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter. Please. I’m not comparing us to Williamsville. I’m comparing us to other similar schools and we’re still falling short.

I’m frustrated, ticked off, exasperated, disappointed, and NOT in a positive frame of mind about this ranking. This feels like the ultimate judgment of everything we do and it really fries me. I KNOW we are doing tremendous things in G-Town, I’m not delusional or full of political crap. I live G-Town, all day, every day, 10-12 hours per day. I KNOW what kind of effort is going into our curriculum and instruction, into our kids.

I literally cannot think of one thing that I’ve asked our faculty, staff, or students to do that they’ve not done. And I’m an idea girl, I read and research while others are watching CSI. I hold full responsibility for our building. We have made significant improvements, and yes Jennifer, I remember that many either haven’t been in action long enough or even yet, but when will we see the results? Readers will just have to take my word on the improvements or read through my posts on this blog for the detail.

I want every educator, in every district ranked above ours, to stop and realize that you are welcome to come and visit any time you like, I’ll take any suggestion that makes sense for our kids, we work as hard or harder than any one of you, and we have a rock solid school. Don’t you dare judge us based on a Business First ranking until you’ve come here and walked in our shoes. And don’t even consider judging my kids as less than yours. Not for one moment. At least not to me.

You cannot imagine what it feels like to work this hard and make such little progress. And don’t give me any cliches about working smarter or anything like it.

I promise to be back as G-Town’s #1 cheerleader tomorrow, but for today, read how this part of it honestly feels too.

  1. I agree that the ranking is frustrating! I too, challenge any one to come to our school and actually experience what goes on at Gowanda High School. Over the past three years, our principal has worked very hard to create challenging classes for our students who are more than able to compete with students at other schools. The rewards at Gowanda are very heart felt. We are able to build relationships with students who really need us and are also able to experience fantastic victories. Does the ranking really matter? We know we are working hard and doing a great job! In my mind, that is what matters!

  2. Kim (and the rest of G-Town!)
    I have long hated “Business First Week” as I affectionately call it. The week of spitting out the top 10 districts in every category – hearing about the “volley ball match” between the top two high schools. And most importantly – what it does to teacher/administrator morale.

    Since we all hate it and don’t think that it values what we value (after all – it is called Business First!) what do you say we create our own list? How about a “Kids First” listing from each school district out there about the success they have had in their building or district? There are enough folks out there reading just your blog that we ought to have a solid list of what really matters – our students.

    Anyone game?

  3. I’m proud of G-towns accomplishments and the bond that we all have. Kim, keep up the fantastic job-you are an inspiration to all of us and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  4. I saw our ranking yesterday during lunch. Channel 2 was nice enough to have all of the good, bad, and ugly listed on their website so I saw who we beat and didn’t beat. Seeing us at the bottom like that was just depressing. It wasn’t a total surprise; I read the State Report Card and know what our test results are like. But when you’re here everyday, working really hard with great colleagues and some of the toughest kids, seeing their accomplishments, no matter how small; you don’t feel like a loser who’s ranked #91.

    When I got to sign an award certificate yesterday for a kid who was a complete pain in the butt at the beginning of the year, but has improved his grades and behavior dramatically, I didn’t feel like a loser. When a Senior who I’ve known for the past 3 years (through good times and bad) comes to my room during lunch and tells me how excited he is about next year because he got into his dream school and insists that I have to come to his graduation party, I don’t feel like a loser. When I get an email from a former student who dropped out, but is now almost done with her GED and looking forward to a career that will allow her to be a good mom, I don’t feel like a loser.

    I know the rankings matter to a lot of people. They don’t tell the whole story, but they matter. So for the next few days, while the media pounds us with the Top 20 and reminds us that we’re nowhere near that, I’m going to try to think about the positives, because to the kids who actually live in G-Town, and will probably never read Business First, that is what really matters. We have an amazing Principal who has changed the climate around here for the better. We have programs that look promising, and lots of professional development opportunities coming up to help us achieve the goals we’ve set for ourselves and our school. Miracles don’t happen overnight and I’m confident that we won’t be at the bottom of “The List” forever.

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