Kevin Shelly’s Can Of Worms

He opened it, and it’s a good thing that he did.

In his article, Kevin Shelley explains that there is a graduation loophole that allows more the 60% of some high-school student populations to fail the HSPA in Camden City, yet still receive a diploma by way of an appeals process in New Jersey. I highly recommend that you read the article.

After doing so, I hope that some of the questions that pop into your head are similar to the following:

1. How is this a thing? Among all the hype and anxiety that surrounds state testing, in the end it appears that the tests do not even matter!

2. What does Rouhanifard even mean by saying, “scores go up when teachers stand still”? Maybe scores go down, too, if anyone thinks about that sentence for too long.

3. Why does Rouhanifard think that a more challenging learning environment is in order while the issue at hand is literally saying that something is already too challenging, hence the need for an appeals process?

4. Why is this a Camden issue? Kevin’s article does a very good job at comparing Camden’s passing rates to that of other school districts. Considering an almost 100% HSPA passing rate for a place like Haddonfield, one has to wonder when the lawsuits will begin to rain down due to a clear unequal opportunity to an education.

Well, there I believe is the underlying issue. Camden students are not less intelligent than any other group of kids just because of the way they end up with a diploma. Camden’s teachers are no less equipped to do the job, either. But there is this looming reality that sets Camden apart from its surrounding neighbors and places students at a residential disadvantage.

Camden has the highest concentration of poverty in the entire nation, and evidently alternative routes to high school graduation are what is in order because of the crushing realities that are systemically placed upon this city. If you are born into a poor family in Camden County, simply due to the locations of affordable housing, you are automatically subjected to the systemic statistics of being 75% more likely to live in Camden City than anywhere else in Camden County.

I guess I have a fifth question following this article.

When are the municipal and state lawmakers, all the way up to the governor himself, going to come out and admit that their photo-opp, “grand educational initiative” announcements have not in anyway benefitted Camden’s students? Alternative routes to a diploma should not be sought as policy solutions. Yet, these very solutions are what seems to be used in order to make it past the next election. A true solution would acknowledge the very fact that most of Camden’s students need to worry about more life concerning issues than school, such as food, health, and shelter.

Until a bold representative like that steps forward for election, Kevin will most likely be left to unravel these kind of webs every year in order to shed light on Camden’s true realities.

Kudos to the author, once again.


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