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   All modern education reform is predicated on one thing.  Michelle Rhee, Students First, Arne Duncan, all Republicans, many Democrats, and even President Obama have based their major reform efforts at one target: bad teachers. You would think the profession is overwhelmed by terrible, terrible teachers, and the only way to fix education is to eliminate any and all professional protections for teachers. The theory goes, that if you discount and disregard all factors that affect a students life except teachers, then you can blame teachers for everything.

   This theory goes double for our poor, urban students and their teachers. Not only do we need to fire those teachers, but we need to close those schools down. Displacing the most disadvantaged students and destroying all of their relationships with teachers is certainly sure to fix the problem! We've gotta burn the school to save the school.

    Well, the most recent research out of John's Hopkins University should throw more cold water on the education deformers out there. It won't, but it should. The rate of learning increases are almost identical for low income and better off students during the school year. That horrendous achievement gap? It almost all happens during the summer months.  It is not just that underprivileged students are not getting enrichment, but that those already ahead are getting further ahead.

So, John's Hopkins attributes 2/3 of the achievement gap to something teachers have no control over whatsoever. I am certain we will just add this to the list of factors to ignore so we can continue to blame teachers.  Watch the upcoming sessions for what is emphasized in education reform. Taking away the job protections for the 99% of good teachers will be number #1. Cheap replacements for these teachers, once they have lost their protection, will be the next reform on the agenda.

    Finally, just to head off any idea that unions (teachers) get in the way of reform, my own children attend a year round, public school. It has been around for almost two decades. It's not new, but it is not a sexy as closing schools and firing teachers. The school is majority poverty, and majority minority. This year round has been supported and staffed by strong union teachers the entire time.

Cross Posted at MN Progressive Project

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Comment Preferences

  •  Charter Schools = Lower Operating Costs (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koosah, George3

    That's what the movement is about.

    Many Dems have concluded that the public schools system in major cities can't be supported with the current tax base, not unless the Democratic Party significantly increases regressive taxes and fees on its constituents.

    It won't go to war with the public school system.  But it will undermine it via charters schools, both for- and non-profit ones.

    That's my take, anyway.

    Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

    by PatriciaVa on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 07:54:53 PM PST

  •  Interesting Point. And I Like the Education Deform (0+ / 0-)

    ers bit. Hopefully the phrase will spread around.

  •  Summer "school" (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AlecMN, martini, Naniboujou, salmo, spacecadet1

    Growing up in a small town wiith upper middle class advantages, summer meant extra education for me.

    Camping with Scouts for a week or two, and doing everything from learning wildlife to canoeing.

    Learning history and literature and music and crafts and poetry -- and even some religious lessons --  for a couple of weeks of Bible school at the local Methodist church.

    Tagging along with my sister to her art classes.

    Enjoying swimming lessons and organized recreation at the municipal pool and park.

    Riding with my father as he visited the sites where he was the building contractor. Living for one summer in a nearby city, the state capital, when my father's business was active there.

    Staying a couple of weeks with an aunt and uncle who lived near the shore. My aunt worked near the big city library (where she parked me for teenage 'child care'). They taught me to do crossword puzzles.

    Touring neighboring states on road trips with my parents and older sister. Visiting state parks on weekends. Crossing to visit border towns in Mexico (before the War on Drugs ruined that).

    Sometimes 'studying' with my mother who was taking college courses to finish her degree, reading along with her American history texts and English grammar, asking her questions as if I were in class too.

    Appearing in the local history pageant, as a costumed 'spear carrier' or as the lead playing the frontier hero.

    Spending summers with a different aunt and uncle who owned a small business. My uncle talked me thru his business and took me along on his trips calling on clients from New York to Chicago. He and my aunt showed me everything from Niagara Falls to Falling Waters to Tidewater Virginia.

    Working my way thru the science fiction shelves at the local library, and reading at random in the encyclopedia my parents bought for me to use at home.

    Taking typing class at the local business college because my father had a typewriter at home and my parents thought it would be good for me to learn to use it.

    I know that I always went back to school in the fall having learned much more since I finished classes in the spring. I know that I was blessed.

    Of course most households, like struggling single parent families of very limited finances, can't provide those experiences. They just don't happen.

    Yeah, the teachers' fault. Somebody has to take the fall. Real solutions, like 12-month schools, earlier childhood classes, smaller classrooms, well, that kind of stuff costs money.

    State and federal taxes should pay for it, but the rich don't want to pay their fair share, and the racists don't want to pay anything at all to educate black and brown people.

  •  Don't buy it. Schools in other countries (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    (Scandinavia for instance) have nice summer vacations and far longer winter vacations than here in the US, and I am not reading of any learning losses there causing them to have lowly ranked education systems.  Besides, learning loss is easily mitigated through brief reviews, active use of the already learned materials, and various other techniques.   It is not a phenomenon that in any way justifies 52 weeks worth of school per year.

    •  Did you even bother reading the article?? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Triscula, Naniboujou

      The learning loss does not affect those who are already better off. In fact, those of moderate income or status and above improve. The problem is not the summer, but the opportunities available.

      ALL of those countries you mentioned do not have the inequality we have. Better off students don't suffer in this country either. That is the entire point of the article.

      Did you just read the headline and then jump to the comment?

      •  Still don't buy it. Even as you suggest, the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        learning loss effect would not require an across the board fix and thus would be a niche solution to a niche problem while having negligible effect everywhere else.  Furthermore, if it is socioeconomic related, then a lot more needs to be done on a lot more fronts than just changing the school calendar for a subset of students.  To reiterate, lots of other countries, even ones with far lower per capita incomes have good education success without 52-week school years.

        •  Who said it should be universal? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          That was not even implied. In fact, it should be a targeted solution. In addition, the achievement and graduation gap are not niche problems. I suppose they are part of the America that doesn't exist for a lt of folks though.

    •  I think the point is about what happens, not when (0+ / 0-)

      Other countries do have longer vacations than we do.  But, children aren't sitting around on their keysters.   Parents have vacations, too, so the children go places, see things, and do things.  

      And in fact, in most of these countries, you see gaps like ours, but they're much smaller.  They arise for similar reasons... including summer activities.  As far as summer goes, better-off families can afford activities for their children that push them further than families that can only afford to let their kids play around all summer.   The effects are lower than they are here since the effects of inequality are lower overall, and because of government intervention with summer programs for the disadvantaged.

      Conservatives need to realize that their Silent Moral Majority is neither silent, nor moral, nor a majority.

      by nominalize on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 09:44:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  WOW! (0+ / 0-)

    That is amaziing. This needs wide distribution. Thanks for posting it.

  •  Australia (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AlecMN, grollen, Cedwyn, Triscula, carver

    has a better way to manage the school year, IMHO.

    They have only a 6-week summer vacation, from mid-December to late January.

    They then build 2-week breaks around Easter, winter (June-July) and spring (Sep-Oct).  Each school term is 10 weeks.

    That way everyone can get a much needed break -- which feels like more often, but in actual fact is the same as the break time in the US, just spread out -- and yet the kids don't need to do nearly the same amount of review at the beginning of the school year.

    Also, families can thus take vacations at any time of the year instead of having to cram it all into the summer or pull their kids out of school.

    ‘‘For Barack, success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the differences you make in people’s lives.’’ ~ Michelle Obama, DNC, 4 Sep 2012

    by harchickgirl1 on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 09:40:00 PM PST

  •  Just from an investment point of view, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    9 month schools are crazy. Our school buildings and infrastructure are one of our biggest public expenses, but we leave them empty 1/4 of  the year (actually half the year, since most schools operate for 180 days).

    That is why many universities have been pushing summer and evening classes. It is much cheaper to offer classes at times when the classrooms are otherwise empty instead of building more classrooms.

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