Principal Seeks to Replace Student Body, Improve Scores


–Kansas City, KS

In a bold move sure to spark debate in political and education circles, Karen Herbst, principal of J.C. Harmon High School in Kansas City, KS, is making a most unusual request. Principal Herbst has asked the Kansas State Commissioner of Education, Dr. Diane DeBacker, to replace the entire student body at J.C. Harmon High School with students from another high school where test scores are higher.

In a letter to the Commissioner, Principal Herbst writes:

Standardized test scores at J.C. Harmon have dropped or remained stagnant since NCLB started. We have fired all the teachers…three times. We could fill the convention center with a Teach for America reunion from this school. We have fired principals. I am the fifth principal to run this palace of potential in the last eight years. We have increased the number of required meetings and useless documents and documentation of the useless meetings. We have SMART goals and data trackers. We say things like “increase the rigor” and “data-driven” and “authentic assessment” almost constantly. You should hear us. We mutter these things in our sleep.

Plus, we have computers and smart boards and wireless this and that and smart shit connected to the Interweb all over this goddamn place. We have…I don’t know…like, 50 non-profit groups running around here doing tutoring, mentoring, arts and crafts, poetry clubs, science clubs, handing out money, taking people camping who hate camping, and who knows what the hell else.

And, somehow, we still suck.

J. C. Harmon High is…a school. And we are proud to be a part of the State of Kansas, sort of. (That guy from that weird church who protests at funerals sort of creeps us out. And so does Sam Brownback.) But the reality is that, as far as schools go, people don’t seem to be learning all that much and we are sort of out of ideas. Having exhausted all other avenues, I hereby request that you immediately replace all students currently enrolled at J. C. Harmon with students from some other school in the state that has historically performed well on standardized tests.

We have changed everything else here. And all it’s done is branded some good people as bad teachers. People have been demoralized and simply left the profession because of how much they have been told they suck. And that’s all for the good, perhaps. But perhaps not.

But let’s think outside the box. Let’s change the other side of the equation. I challenge you to give me students from the highest performing school in our district and we will see if my lazy-ass, ineffective teachers can keep the scores at J.C Harmon down. I mean, this is what we do, right? Low-Scores-R-Us. If we can bring scores down to regular J.C Harmon-type levels in two to three years, the entire teaching and administrative staff will resign. Let us show you how ineffective we can be, no matter who you put in our classrooms.