The McKeel Empire Soars to the State Average in Writing


I will be the first to admit that this is a stupid and petty game, but those of us partial to the ideals of public education didn’t start it. What follows is a (partial) list of a few of the Lakeland-area elementary schools that equalled or surpassed both elementary schools in the McKeel Empire on the recent FCAT writing test. McKeel’s two elementaries scored 4 and 4.1. Four is the state and county average.

Cleveland Court, 4.2
Dixieland, 4.3
Crystal Lake, 4.1
Phillip O’Brien, 4.1
Jesse Keen, 4.1

There are more, but I think that’s enough. Do yourselves a favor, McKeel parents, and take a drive around Jesse Keen and see the neighborhoods that school pulls from. You’ll find at least some similar neighborhoods feeding the other schools. Your free and reduced count, last I checked, was between 15 and 20 percent. Care to guess if that’s comparable to the traditional schools above?

In what ought to be McKeel’s cohort, the magnet and special schools with similar demographics and self-selecting enrollments, here’s a sample:

Lincoln Academy, 5.0
Lakeland Montessori, 4.7
Bartow Elementary Academy, 4.5

How much are you paying the McKeel director to meet the state average so successfully and get trounced so thoroughly by your elite peers? I hear it’s quite a bit, far more than the principals at the eight schools cited above make. What are you paying for exactly?

Now, it’s true that the McKeel 8th graders hit 4.3, better than the 4.1 state average. Congratulations.

But it’s also true that the dumping, eerrrr, voluntary transfers of poor kids accelerates in McKeel Junior/Senior High. For instance, in 2009-10, 130 of 1,042 students in McKeel’s junior-senior high left the school for one reason or another. That’s 12.5 percent of its enrollment.

One wonders about the balance between correlation and causation in those numbers. Of course, in 10th grade, McKeel writing scores settle back to 4.0, also causing one to wonder about correlation and causation.

Remember back when McKeel staff was taking heat for hanging at the beach for training and the director had this to say:

“We’ve got to be doing something right,” he said. “If you look at the traditional public schools, that’s not us. We like to do things differently.”

Yep, I would agree. You don’t perform as well as a lot of them, at least as judged by testing. I’d love to hear your excuses.

Maybe writing just isn’t that important to you. Or maybe you better crank up the dumping a little higher and little earlier.

Creative Commons License photo illustration credit: Carlos Almendarez