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View Diary: American public schools -  still unequal (and racist) after all these years (63 comments)

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  •  Yes, but what is the solution? (7+ / 0-)

    Our 7 year old is in public school here in NYC.  He is in one of the best such schools, because of the neighborhood we live in, and NYC makes some efforts to balance things out by having some kids come to the better schools from other neighborhoods.

    So, why is our PS good?
    Well, lots of teachers want to work there; teachers with seniority get more choice in which schools they want to work in, and many choose schools in neighborhoods like ours.

    Another reason is that many parents in our school spend a lot of time and money helping their kids.  Of course, that's a lot easier when you have a two parent family and when you have some disposable income after paying for necessities.

    Many of the parents in our school are highly educated, and that helps, too.

    Our school also has fundraisers, and, because of who the parents are, they raise more money than fundraisers where there are fewer, or no, wealthy or famous parents.

    None of the above four reasons has anything to do with standards, or tests, or anything like that; and none of them are easy to deal with.  Should we require senior teachers to work where they are told?  The union will not like that, and more teachers may quit.  Should we abolish school fundraisers? I don't think so.  And the other two problems are even harder to deal with.  

    I don't know the answers to these problems.  I don't even know if there ARE good answers.

    We all differ in ways that matter. But we're all the same in the ways that matter most.

    by plf515 on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 04:11:13 AM PST

    •  Darling-Hammond has a number of proposals (10+ / 0-)

      and I will explore some of them when I review the book.  Part of it is how we spend money, how we organize schools, how teachers are trained and supported.   In a sense there is nothing magical.  There is hard work.

      We know this -  there needs to be continuity of good teachers, the environment has to be conducive to teachers working together constructively, there has to be an approach that is not punitive either to the teachers or the students, there has to be sufficient educational resources, and for gosh sakes the building cannot be falling apart.

      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 04:14:31 AM PST

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      •  I agree with all of that (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        teacherken, kyril, banjolele, Dichro Gal

        and I think that will improve education; but I think it may well improve education for all, leaving the inequity in place.

        Of course, that would be better than what we have now, but it wouldn't be equal.

        We all differ in ways that matter. But we're all the same in the ways that matter most.

        by plf515 on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 04:18:54 AM PST

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        •  actually, it would make a difference (9+ / 0-)

          because some of what you already have would become more available in schools serving children of lower SES, which as noted are primarily children of color.

          One can argue that MORE funds should be spent in schools dealing with kids of lesser circumstances.  You need smaller class sizes when dealing with English language learners, for example.

          And there is an argument to offer a higher stipend to draw good teachers to such schools to start providing a core of experienced teachers as models, and mentors, for other teachers.

          Instead we go through the stupidity of reconstitution, of dismissing the entire teaching staff, even though we know (1) instability of teaching staff hurts the learning of students; (2) the teachers you get in such a situation are often inexperienced; (3) the track record of such approaches, and that of turning them over to (usually for-proit) educational management organizations does NOT meet the needs of all the students.

          do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

          by teacherken on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 04:24:04 AM PST

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          •  Those are definitely good ideas (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JanL

            (although I dislike the phrase "English language learners" - to me, it lessens the impact that not speaking English has on kids, and is one of the attempts to make a problem go away by giving it a new name).

            Dismissing the entire teaching staff is, as you note, stupid.  But how do we decide WHICH teachers should stay and which should be dismissed?  

            The educational management organizations have an essential problem - they serve shareholders, not parents.  For profit education CAN be good - witness some private schools - but only when it serves the children and the parents, not when it serves the state and the shareholders.

            Some things do seem to be working - for instance, do you know about Townsend Harris HS in NYC?  I can dig up some info if you like.

            We all differ in ways that matter. But we're all the same in the ways that matter most.

            by plf515 on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 04:32:01 AM PST

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            •  there are non-profit EMOs (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JanL, plf515, JesseCW, Dichro Gal

              sometimes done by foundations, sometimes by universities

              I am open to exploring a number of different alternatives

              I will tell you that if you empowered teachers they might be the ones to be hardest on those teachers not carrying their weight.   And a principal who really does the right kind of leadership will inevitably know

              I am part of a group of teachers which is trying to address this particular issue. While we recognize the need for union protection in many situations, we also recognize our professional responsibility NOT to protect teachers who should not be in the classroom.

              Certainly we should first see if we can turn around their performance, because it is so expensive - literally, sometimes with a cost of over 30,000 - to replace a teacher.  And that does not include the cost of defending a law suit for improper dismissal.

              do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

              by teacherken on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 04:38:09 AM PST

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            •  A historical note about English Language Learners (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JanL, Dichro Gal, miss SPED

              Inasmuch as it may sound like it's some sort of doublespeak or political correctness is a term that has come into favor for several reasons.

              Going back about 20 years, the generally accepted term was English as a Second Language student. This ran into the rather obvious problem that for many of the ESL students, English was not their second language but also quite possibly their third or fourth (and so on) language.

              The next term that was used was Limited English Proficient student and that too was problematic. First of all, the term limited, was considered somewhat offensive by some. Second of all, however, was the greater problem that there are many native speakers of English whose language is also limited. Is an illiterate high school student Limited English Proficient?

              The current term, English Language Learners, is also problematic for the same reason above, but most in our profession seem to be tolerating it well. I suspect that it, too, will eventually fall out of favor for the same reason the use of Limited English Proficient has declined.

              But don't forget that most men without property would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich, than face the reality of being poor. (1776)

              by banjolele on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 06:12:30 AM PST

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