Hillside High School Principal Hans Lassiter believes a Wake County judge finally "got it" when it comes to public education.
Lassiter, along with other school officials, was in a Wake County court last week as Durham, Guilford County and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County schools explained to Superior Court Judge Howard Manning how they were improving their low-performing schools. Manning threatened to shut down 66 high schools across the state, including Hillside, in 2004 due to low test scores.
"The judge 'got it' and wondered in writing and aloud: 'How on earth are the Dudleys, Hillsides and Carvers ever going to grow and demonstrate above average performance if they continue to receive students from their feeder patterns who are woefully undereducated and unprepared for high school work,'" Lassiter wrote in a recent blog post to school staff.
He added that early indicators show possibly up to 60 percent of Hillside students could pass this year's state tests, which would be the most in school history.
"Judge Manning seemed surprised by the growth that our school has enjoyed during the first semester and was impressed with preliminary benchmark data that points to continued growth and unprecedented success in June," Lassiter wrote.
Lassiter told his staff to continue focusing on the curriculum, plan their review sessions with help from other teachers and end of course summary reports and continue to be "very communicative and transparent with your students regarding the importance and significance of the next three weeks."
"I left the courtroom with a promise from Judge Manning that our data would be examined closely and that if he needed to speak with me/us about how we performed during the 2009-10 school year, he would contact me for an opportunity to provide insight as to our achievement or possibly the lack thereof," he wrote. "I certainly choose the former topic and not the latter!"