The bright hot autumn sun burned down into Compton, California – right onto the shoulders of a busy nine year-old boy. The boy was respectful, working on hurrying up his chores for his mother so he could play ball with friends. The boy eyed the last pile of leaves and thought “last one, then I’m done”. He heaved the rake over the pile and pulled back – and stiffened in shock as the rake revealed two automatic hand guns, still warm, hidden in the leaves.
To this day Fred Martin does not like leaves. Buried under high piles of leaves are where the Compton gangs he grew up with hid their guns – at the safe house of “the Church family” – Fred’s family. The police never searched there; his father was a minister. Soon enough at ten years age Fred, a music prodigy, found himself playing organ in church on Sunday mornings – he later figured the music carried him away from the leaves.
On July 19th, the Mooresville Graded School District in North Carolina will be hosting a 3-day symposium called “Summer Connections 2011”. The training program will detail how Mooresville took a technology initiative four years ago and transformed itself into one of the largest success stories in USA K12 public education today. The symposium will bring together superintendents, administrators, technicians, teachers – and millennial students -- all interested in learning the Mooresville recipe, and how to bring that back to their home districts.
What is the story? It’s simple, really. Two points – 1. Test score changes over the four-year period have been profound -- proving the technology initiative was wildly successful, and 2. It’s a district-wide success story – all 8 schools have seen a significant rise in test scores. Not just a high school here or intermediate school there. Since 2007, Mooresville district-wide dropout rates are down 20%; at the Mooresville High School graduation rates are up from 64% to 86%; District North Carolina composite scores are up from 73% to 86% in 2010, with the District arcing toward 90% in 2011. It’s now the 4th highest achieving school district in North Carolina, even though it ranks 99th out of the 115 state districts in school funding.