Keeping Score: Numbers Don’t Lie


Ronan Larson rode his motorcycle out of the driveway of his Pacific Heights Victorian townhouse she shared with his fiancée Isabelle. This morning he would drive down the San Francisco hills towards downtown, go west from the Financial District, and just before the Castro he’d turn for the Mission. Ronan hadn’t ridden this route before but knew it would only take about 30 minutes. Last week he landed this contract to improve test score performances for Padua High School. His old college friend had received a panic phone call from a colleague from the Commonwealth Club over abysmal test scores. The problem was not just poor results. It was also the combative math department chair who refused to listen to the consequences or any solutions her Principal came up with.

Ronan had his own anxiety about this contract. He had handled much more complex assignments before but this one would be personal. Ronan knew before her name was mentioned that Kaja Fiscus was the defiant math teacher mentioned in his first client conference call with the San Francisco School Board. He was sadly familiar with her. Sometimes he wondered if Kaja needed a dose of her own medicine combined with some healthy well measured doses of serotonin boosting pharmaceuticals. Since their first meeting at a statistics class during freshman year at college, Kaja has been a difficult person for him to tolerate. She was smart, presentable, had friends, seemed to be intellectually gifted while maintaining a street smarts about her, and strangely well liked by peers and teachers. People who argued with her over issues still liked her when she took off her game face. Even the administrators at Padua High School said they loved her passion but felt her politics wouldn’t turn the test scores around. His never understood how Kaja got accepted to the Oakland Teaching Fellows given his take on her personality. She seemed to resent him personally and just him it seemed. Sure she wanted the TA spot with Professor O’Hare but his final score in the statistics class was in the 99th percentile, one standard deviation over hers. It came down to the final number but Kaja took it personally ever since. It also didn’t help that they had the polar opposite of a love at first sight experience when they first met in Los Angeles.

Ronan made a right turn on Valencia and rode up the street five blocks before making a left to the corner of the parking lot at Padua High School. As he turned to park he saw Kaja walking into the front building. Everything about her posture looked ready to rumble with the school board and him.

“Numbers don’t lie Kaja, remember that,” Ronan muttered under his breath.


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