The judge in the long-running North Carolina school finance lawsuit has issued a critical report on high schools in the state, highlighting what he called “academic genocide” in several secondary schools in its largest district.
Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard E. Manning Jr. described what he views as “the high school problem” last month in a 45-page analysis of test scores, trends, and comparisons between similar schools across districts.
“Put any spin on it you want, the raw data on high school performance on the [state accountability index] is not good,” he wrote in the May 24 report.
In the 121,000-student Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district, he wrote, there has been little progress in raising achievement among minority students. “The bottom line,” he said, “is that there is no excuse for these high schools (or for that matter any high schools anywhere in North Carolina with similar disaggregated data and composite scores) to be so academically in the ditch year after year.”
James Pughsley, the superintendent in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, said he agrees that more work needs to be done, but he believes that the judge’s characterization was inaccurate. “It is harsh terminology, used for its shock value,” he said. He added that the district has been working to improve high schools, all but two of which have been recognized in national rankings for the number of students taking Advanced Placement courses.
The judge, who has not issued a final ruling in the 11-year-old finance case, has ordered the state to provide more resources to its neediest districts and to report regularly to the court on the steps being taken to mitigate inequities.