SL is doing something right

By ART CULLEN

We like Supt. Carl Turner’s candor, always have. It is his greatest strength. We were impressed last week when, confronted with a drop in the Storm Lake High School graduation rate, he almost apologized. “I could make a bunch of excuses about the students and teachers. I won’t. We’ll go through each student and see why they didn’t graduate on time and give them the help they need,” Turner told us.

We would give the guy a raise if we could afford it. Here is what he feels bad about: an 86% five-year graduation rate (SLHS plus the charter school). It’s down from a high of 91% in 2011, and therein lies the rub.

Here is another statistic to chew on:

Storm Lake and El Paso, Texas, each report that about 80% of their student enrollment is immigrant. In El Paso the Latino rate is slightly higher.

In El Paso, the graduation rate is 75% overall and 71% among English Language Learners. Storm Lake knocks that rate out of the park. And, you could say that it is more difficult in Storm Lake where more languages are spoken — around 30 languages or dialects. And yet, 86% of our students graduate with a high school diploma and, in most instances, an associate’s degree from Iowa Central Community College.

Surely Storm Lake will try even harder to help every student graduate. But 86% is not too shabby, considering that the Iowa average is 90%. Also, remember that our rate would drop dramatically were it not for the charter school that keeps students engaged.