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View Diary: The Myth of Failing Schools (216 comments)

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  •  DId You Mean We Spend 10x More Now? (0+ / 0-)

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Aug 27, 2011 at 06:51:04 PM PDT

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    •  No (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gooserock, houyhnhnm, tnproud2b

      I meant if you read your solutions, vs our current public school performance vs 50s-70s performance, you'd think we were spending 10 times more back then. What were we doing better then? More Head Start?

      •  Well of Course Partly, Better for Whom? (24+ / 0-)

        Things have stayed pretty miserable for inner city minorities.

        Don't forget we've been wrecking society for the white majority for almost 40 years now, since the middle class hit its all time economic high water mark.

        % of taxes paid by business dropped half or 2/3, many states and localities began in the 80's offering businesses complete freedom from property and/or income taxes when (as my friend in county government pointed out) it was business property tax that ran at a profit to local gov, while individual property tax ran a net loss considering services needed. So there's potential funding for schools and higher education ending up in new spinnakers at the yacht clubs.

        The New Deal Anomaly [the one brief period our system didn't work as designed] forced the economy to be more democratic in the mid 20th century than it ever was before or since. That put a huge amount of the national wealth out among the people and their modest sizes communities that's not there now that the rich have taken back their country to where it always was.

        But the public school teachers in my immediate family have been long retired so I'm not up on whether and how middle class white schools may be failing. The diarist is commenting on failing schools for poor and inner city etc. and that seems to have remained a problem we never solved except in tiny experimental or narrowly targeted areas or ways more as proof of concept than anything else.

        Here in Ohio the courts found our system of funding schools unconstitutional a long time ago because being based on property taxes it has always since my 50's childhood ensured that the poor areas could never compete in education. There's never been a credible solution put forth and with libertarian Republicans holding so much power this problem will probably never be addressed in my lifetime.

        The more you let the economy work as it naturally does, the more society returns to its 10,000 year norm of a civilization of a percent or two and almost everything else complete wreckage. Wouldn't matter what area you're talking about, it can't work.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Sat Aug 27, 2011 at 07:09:53 PM PDT

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        •  Even the test score data shows that (14+ / 0-)

          Schools do pretty well where the percentage of kids on free and reduced lunch is less than 30%. So the evidence suggests middle class white schools are doing pretty well.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Sat Aug 27, 2011 at 09:34:25 PM PDT

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          •  This data base supports this post. (13+ / 0-)
            The state released the latest round of top-to-bottom school rankings today for Michigan schools. This is the second year the state has created statewide rankings and the methodology has changed; therefore, a school's rank in 2010 is not directly comparable to its rank in 2011.

            Achievement and growth rankings are based on student achievement on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) for elementary/middle school students and the Michigan Merit Examination (MME) for high school students. This year the top to bottom rankings also include achievement gap data for all schools and graduation rates for high schoools.

            The ranking gives the percentage of schools in the state that had lower achievement/improvement. For example, a percentile rank of 90 means that 90% of schools statewide scored below this school's result.

            State ranking scores and federal grant formulas are also used to identify the persistently lowest achieving (PLA) schools. Among the 98 schools that made PLA status in 2011 , more than half (53%) are located in Wayne County, while 14% are in Macomb and Oakland counties.

            Search this database to see how your school ranks.

            All the bottom/failing schools are in poor urban areas.   Meanwhile, state and federal politicians are destroying ALL public schools - even the top performing with their demonization of school personnel, cuts to wages and benefits, and cuts to education.  

            Until we fix the financial and human poverty in which children are raised, we will always have failing schools.  

            With Democrats like Obama, who needs Republicans.

            by dkmich on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 04:29:47 AM PDT

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            •  Oops, bad link. Here is the correct one. (0+ / 0-)

              With Democrats like Obama, who needs Republicans.

              by dkmich on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 05:09:45 AM PDT

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            •  PISA scores (5+ / 0-)

              US data from the PISA testing administered by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (the oft-cited testing where the US fares so poorly against world competition) bear out the connection between poverty and test scores.  Analysis of the data using a school's participation rate for the free or reduced price lunch program as an indicator of the relative socio-economic status of the school's population yielded pretty profound results:

              But data available now tells us that poverty, as usual, had a huge impact on PISA reading test scores for American students. American students in schools with less than 10% of students on free and reduced lunch averaged 551, higher than the overall average of any OECD country. Those in schools with 10 to 25% of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch averaged 527, which was behind only Korea and Finland.

              In contrast, American students in schools with 75% of more of children in poverty averaged 446, second to last among the 34 OECD countries.
              Schools Matter: Poverty has a huge impact on American PISA scores

              Data also reveals performance differences based on ethnicity, but these can likely be linked largely to the increased incidence of poverty among the affected minorities.  There are likely also social behaviors linked to generational poverty and lifestyle circumstances - for instance high mobility among migratory laborers disrupting continuity of education - that impact results beyond the mere availability of resources that is noted in the linked article.

              We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both. - Justice Louis D. Brandeis

              by dsteffen on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 10:13:40 AM PDT

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        •  I can speak on this subject. (17+ / 0-)

          As a Latina I spent my freshman year of high school in a small town with only one high school and one middle school.  And I was one of the top students in my class that year which shocked many people because the majority of the latino kids just didn't try in school.  My teachers were pleasantly surprised but some of the latino kids accused me of "acting white" because I was a good student.

          In fact, I later found out that very few latino kids were ever among the top students.  And it was easy to see why.  For many of the latino students, being cool meant getting bad grades, skipping class, dropping out, never taking an advanced class, etc.  I was the total opposite which made me an even bigger outsider since I was also the new kid in town.  I was also a shy bookworm, another mark against me.

          It can't be argued that throwing more money at this school would have turned many of my latino peers into amazing students.  The white kids who attended the same school were mostly good students.  It was all attitude.  Most of the white kids came from families that valued education and expected their kids to go to college.  Many of the latino kids came from dysfunctional families that didn't see college as a priority, were not bothered by teenage pregnancy or dropping out, and just didn't care how their kids did in school.  Of course a few Latino kids made it out of this town, moved to the city, and are realizing that education is important.  I spent only freshman year in that small town before my family moved away and I was so happy to be away from that place.

      •  We didn't educate everyone (24+ / 0-)

        The mandate for special education etc only dates to the mid-seventies.

        Through the 80s it was common for kids of the wrong color or surname to have their course schedule changed from calculus to woodshop.

        There is no Golden Age of American education, and to the extent it existed at all, it was for talented white boys who were interested in school. (We still do great with those kids, BTW.)

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Sat Aug 27, 2011 at 07:42:04 PM PDT

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      •  What is the actual evidence (15+ / 0-)

        that it was better then?

        Were graduation rates higher?  For all students including low income and minorities?

        I know the kind of testing that is being done today was not being done back then.  That's when I was in school.  I remember taking aptitude tests in eighth grade and that's all the standardized tests I can remember taking until I took the SAT and National Merit Test in high school. Do we know for certain that students would have done better back then if they'd been subjected to the kind of endless (so that they hardly have a chance to learn anything) high stakes testing that kids today are subjected to?

        I can remember some horrible teachers.  One made fun of a girl who'd been in a car accident and suffered brain damage, humiliated a Jehovah's Witness whose faith prohibited him from saying the Pledge of Allegiance, and was eventually fired for ripping a boy's earlobe loose from his head.

        I hated school.  I had intellectual college educated parents, however, who encouraged me to read and think.  I got into one of the top public high schools in the country (14 Merit Scholars in my graduating class).  I was in the honors program.  I didn't turn into a school girl so much as I couldn't help recognizing excellence and responding to it.  My high school experience wasn't typical, though, for the time.

        You mention the fifties, but if you go back to the beginning of the fifties (anytime before 1957, actually, in my part of the country) we were still living in the era of legal apartheid.  Hardly a golden age.

        I don't believe there was one. That's just part of the crock of lies that's been fed to a gullible public by the malanthropists.

        Go watch "Blackboard Jungle".

        Light is seen through a small hole.

        by houyhnhnm on Sat Aug 27, 2011 at 07:58:10 PM PDT

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        •  When I was in school in the 70's (12+ / 0-)

          We took standardized tests every year. EVERY year. It wasn't to evaluate the teachers although many took it as a personal failure if a student didn't pass, the scores were used as an independent verification the student was ready to move up to the next grade. If you didn't pass you repeated the grade. We usually took them about 6 weeks before school ended for the year.

          The real problem right now is we have a one-size-fits-all mentality when it comes to education. We expect children regardless of their background, mental capacity, emotional state, socioeconomic status, etc., to all learn the same way at the same rate. Any educator who has spent more than a millisecond in a classroom will tell you every student is unique. Yes there are broad categories of students - some who learn best visually while others learn best verbally and all points in between. Some students never seem to have to study (I was one of those lucky kids) while others have to cram every day and still have difficulty understanding. We've gone from a mostly monolithic society to an incredibly diverse one where people of different ethnic and social backgrounds have different cultural references. Yet most textbooks do not take this diversity into account.

          There is no one reason why some schools do better than others. The reasons are as diverse as the children who attend them. Private schools are not the answer either. Many are as bad if not worse than public schools. A good friend of mine teaches in a private school and he openly talks about the corruption and graft at the very top where grades are changed based on how much a parent is willing to pay to have that grade changed. They aren't subject to NCLB so many do not do standardized tests. If they did I think the results would bust a few myths about private schools.

          Don't get me started on church schools in this country. By and large the majority of them do not exist to educate but to brainwash.

          When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace. -Jimi Hendrix -6.0 -5.33

          by Cali Techie on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 01:42:20 AM PDT

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          •  Just FYI... my nieces & friends kids went to... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            angelajean, Dave925

            Catholic schools for part of their school years and got a reasonably good learning environment and were not indoctrinated to become catholics.

            IMO even the standard public school curriculum has a lot of conventional wisdom built into its assumptions which some would say rise to the level of brainwashing.  The framing of history in the curriculum.  Even more so an authoritarian governance model which may "train" students to be obedient consumers of products and learn to respect authority figures without question, rather than to question authority and be active democratic citizens.

            Maybe its economic rather than religious brainwashing!

            Cooper Zale Los Angeles

            by leftyparent on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 08:16:41 AM PDT

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          •  I had 6 years of public and 6 years of Catholic (10+ / 0-)

            schooling, and I can tell you that the parochial schooling was much better than public except for poorly equipped laboratories for HS Chemistry/Bio classes.

            The High School I went to was in a wealthy community whose public schools were held up as national models.  Each year this school system's SAT scores were amongst the highest in the US.  It was a matter of pride for our little parochial school to out-do that public school, which we did year in and year out.

            The reason?  Ties right back to what the diarist is pointing to.  Attitude.  We were motivated by our successes.  Our success was supported by an atmosphere of learning.  The bar was set high.  We were expected to do well.  And we did.

            One of the biggest factors in our success was this atmosphere of learning.  The was no bad behavior...ever.  Private schools don't have to put up with bad behavior.   Three strikes and you're out.  Public schools not only have to accept every child within its district (including troubled kids, and those that are evicted from private schools), it also has to accommodate kids with special needs, and kids who don't speak English as their primary language at home.  

            I grew up in the 'projects.'  We were very poor.  My desire to learn came from my Dad.  He encouraged me from a very early age.  I wanted to learn, and I credit my Dad with that desire.  That desire was strong enough that I walked 3 miles from a neighboring town to go to that parochial school.  And I worked in a grocery store to pay for my own tuition.

            Today's parents are frequently unable to provide the support that their kids need to do well in school.  Perhaps parents have despondency brought about by feelings of hopelessness because they never really had a chance themselves.  And maybe they see that same deck is stacked against their kids.

            It saddens me because each child has potential, and education can help uncover and develop that potential.

            I fall down, I get up, I keep dancing.

            by DamselleFly on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 09:47:56 AM PDT

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            •  Well said & an important story to share... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Cali Techie, angelajean

              about the value of "many educational paths".

              Cooper Zale Los Angeles

              by leftyparent on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 11:02:04 AM PDT

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            •  I don't disagree (0+ / 0-)

              I wasn't thinking about Catholic schools when I was talking about church run schools. Traditional Catholic schools as I understand are usually very good. The protestant schools tend to indoctrinate though, they have risen in response to restrictions on teacher led praying in public schools and they exist specifically to promote a very specific (and misguided) world view.

              Parental involvement is key. From what I've seen the best schools public or private encourage a high level of parental involvement. The students do better because their parents are involved and encouraging them to do better. Schools where parental involvement isn't encouraged tend to do not as well.

              There's no one single factor though.

              When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace. -Jimi Hendrix -6.0 -5.33

              by Cali Techie on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 02:59:07 PM PDT

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              •  I agree - educational problems are complex (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Cali Techie

                and there is no easy answer.  And I don't know where to begin to help.  Other than casting my vote carefully.

                On a side note:  Evolution was taught in our science/bio classes.  And to my recollection creationism was never taught even in our religion classes, where we mostly read/studied the New Testament.  But I transferred to Catholic schools in middle school, so can't answer to what happened back then in elementary education.

                This was back in the 60's BTW.

                I fall down, I get up, I keep dancing.

                by DamselleFly on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 03:52:37 PM PDT

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