Time for action

Published 9:47 pm Friday, August 13, 2010

It’s still a bit early to have a well-reasoned, comprehensive opinion about the news on Thursday that 14 of Suffolk’s schools failed to meet the federally mandated adequate yearly progress toward math and English proficiency for all students under the No Child Left Behind Act. As with all things related to the federal bureaucracy, the annual report produced in support of NCLB is long and complicated, full of footnotes, exceptions and qualifications. It will take some time for pundits and even educators to understand the import of all of the benchmarks that were reported.

Still, some conclusions are obvious, and some observations beg to be made. First, there were improvements at some schools and in some social groups. Nonetheless, two fewer schools made their AYP goals this year than last year. And the 14 city schools that failed to meet the standards represent 66 percent of the Suffolk school system. Not only does the school system have a long way to go to be able to meet the standards — it’s also losing ground.

School Board members are in the process of finding a replacement for Dr. Milton Liverman, who retired in July from the position of school superintendent. Thursday’s report shows just what is at stake in that appointment. Whoever is chosen as the new superintendent, he or she must have a solid plan for turning the school system around. For too long, Suffolk has been satisfied to study the problem and look for a solution. It’s time for action.