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Author Topic: Why School Choice Fails
philnotfil
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It works well for the people that can make a choice, or that don't need to, but it doesn't do much for everyone else. It doesn't raise the overall level of education, it makes the best better and the worst worse.

nytimes.com

quote:
IF you want to see the direction that education reform is taking the country, pay a visit to my leafy, majority-black neighborhood in Washington. While we have lived in the same house since our 11-year-old son was born, he’s been assigned to three different elementary schools as one after the other has been shuttered. Now it’s time for middle school, and there’s been no neighborhood option available.

Meanwhile, across Rock Creek Park in a wealthy, majority-white community, there is a sparkling new neighborhood middle school, with rugby, fencing, an international baccalaureate curriculum and all the other amenities that make people pay top dollar to live there.

Such inequities are the perverse result of a “reform” process intended to bring choice and accountability to the school system. Instead, it has destroyed community-based education for working-class families, even as it has funneled resources toward a few better-off, exclusive, institutions.

quote:
Competition produces winners and losers; I get that. Indeed, the rhetoric of school choice can be seductive to angst-filled middle-class parents like myself. We crunch the data and believe that, with enough elbow grease, we can make the system work for us. Naturally, I’ve only considered high-performing schools for my children, some of them public, some charter, some parochial, all outside our neighborhood.

But I’ve come to realize that this brand of school reform is a great deal only if you live in a wealthy neighborhood. You buy a house, and access to a good school comes with it. Whether you choose to enroll there or not, the public investment in neighborhood schools only helps your property values.

For the rest of us, it’s a cynical game. There aren’t enough slots in the best neighborhood and charter schools. So even for those of us lucky ones with cars and school-data spreadsheets, our options are mediocre at best.


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PSRT
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The NY times finally figured this out? Many educators in the trenches have been saying that since school choice was first proposed.

[ December 05, 2011, 11:53 AM: Message edited by: PSRT ]

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jasonr
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The quality of the schools is related to the quality of the families that send their kids there. Garbage in, garbage out. Good families will flee bad neighborhoods and bad schools.

I like the idea of giving motivated good families an escape valve to permit them to take their kids away from the rubbish.

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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
The quality of the schools is related to the quality of the families that send their kids there. Garbage in, garbage out. Good families will flee bad neighborhoods and bad schools.

I like the idea of giving motivated good families an escape valve to permit them to take their kids away from the rubbish.

Everyone likes the idea. The problem is that in practice, the families that really need this have larger barriers, generally time and transportation, keeping them from changing school even when the school district allows it.
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AI Wessex
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"The quality of the schools is related to the quality of the families that send their kids there. Garbage in, garbage out. Good families will flee bad neighborhoods and bad schools."

The quality of schools is related to the school environment, too, don't you think? In many cities, education budgets have been slashed and school buildings are not maintained. Teaching staff is cut and teaching materials are replaced or updated less and less often. Sometimes schools inside cities go downhill because well-off neighborhoods siphon away funding and staff.

I think you're saying that if poor neighborhoods with broken families or families with too little resources to attend to their children's educations produce children with lower achievement than neighborhoods with well off families, then we should let the poor neighborhoods suffer their just desserts?

Is segregation the answer, or is this an opportunity for eugenics?

BTW, what is a "good family"?

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Adam Masterman
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Indeed. "School choice", in the abstract, is an idea with pros and cons. "School choice", the contemporary political issue, is nothing but a scam to siphon off public funds.
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jasonr
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quote:
In many cities, education budgets have been slashed and school buildings are not maintained. Teaching staff is cut and teaching materials are replaced or updated less and less often. Sometimes schools inside cities go downhill because well-off neighborhoods siphon away funding and staff.
Mehhh. I think funding for materials is basically irrelevant. You need a half-decent teacher, a piece of chalk and maybe a few second-hand textbooks.

If the kids are motivated and come from good families then they'll do well. If the families are no good then any money you throw at them is just being flushed down the toilet.

If the problem could be solved by throwing money at it, then it would have been solved. It's never that easy.

Basically it all comes down to the families and what they value. Families have to value education.

Here in Toronto they have built supposedly Afrocentric Schools

If I were a black family of limited means I'd send my kids to such a school in a heartbeat. Not because of any BS "afrocentric" curriculum, but just because the competition to get into a limited spot in one of these schools would probably eliminate alot of riff raff and leave behind kids from motivated quality families who actually give a damn.

Supposedly this school is outperforming the regular public schools. Competition to get in is fierce.

[ December 05, 2011, 09:23 PM: Message edited by: jasonr ]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
but just because the competition to get into a limited spot in one of these schools would probably eliminate alot of riff raff
Which is of course why many public schools -- and public school teachers -- justifiably feel completely screwed over by the "school choice" movement. Because if you wind up only sending the riff-raff to public schools, of course the private schools are going to outperform them -- and this just leads to a particularly terrible self-reinforcing problem.
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cherrypoptart
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"...he’s been assigned to three different elementary schools as one after the other has been shuttered. Now it’s time for middle school, and there’s been no neighborhood option available."

Maybe someone can explain to me how closing the schools helps anything.

It reminds me of how a noose was hung from a tree in the town square so they chopped the tree down.

How does closing down the building help? Was there a problem perhaps with indoor air pollution in it that was affecting learning? If there were bad teachers, or bad parents, or bad students, how does closing one building down and moving them all to other ones, now even more crowded, help anything? Just asking...

I wrote an essay once about the diseconomies of scale in education. There was already plenty of research out there about it, and I find much of the evidence compelling. It only makes sense that closing down one school and making other nearby ones even more populated is more likely to hurt than help matters.

The solution I offered involved numerous much smaller schools, for instance the size of charter schools but they are public schools, only tiny compared to the behemoths we have today, and they serve the children in a neighborhood who are all within walking or bicycle distance. When everyone knows everyone such as in a neighborhood, there is more likely to be greater accountability and the kids hopefully won't get lost so much in the crowd, both to get away with things as well as to get the help they need.

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cherrypoptart
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Oh the wonders of the internet... I have the essay saved in my email so at the risk of parading it in front of a group of teachers in the audience who may throw rotten fruit at it, here it is anyway in all it's glory. I hope it's short enough not to bore, and the formatting isn't going to show up well. This may not have been the last copy so if there are mistakes hopefully I corrected them in the final draft.

--------------------------------------------

Diseconomies of Scale in American Education

You get what you pay for. If you’re lucky! While Americans spend a lot of money on education, we also try to save money by building mega schools of thousands of students and herding them in there, sending buses throughout cities and into the suburbs to corral our children into their pretty yellow cattle cars in a bid to mass produce the next generation of productive Americans. While in our whole foods industry we are finding significant benefits to allowing more organic, free range handling of animals, for our own children we are increasingly treating them the way we used to treat animals, and badly. Examining this comparison further, we find some of the same problems in our overcrowded mass education system that we find in animals which are packed together in cramped, unnatural conditions. Sickness increases and is passed more easily from one sick child to another just like with animals, and this necessitates excessive use of treatments like antibiotics which is causing more resistant strains to develop and hurts the natural health of our children unnecessarily. We see the same sad situation in a semantically appropriate enough setting with schools of fish raised in cramped fish farms where they are forced to swim all over each other instead of given room to stretch and grow to their full potential. It’s also incredibly sad to see our “hyper-active” children effectively being treated like animals who get tranquilized when they are upsetting the rest of the herd instead of getting the individualized attention they require.
With overcrowded schools it’s all too easy for people to get swallowed up in the surge, both students as well as teachers, and this leads to a lack of individual accountability as well as a lack of attention and focus on those students who may need it most. There exists in large groups the easier possibility for the strong to carry the weak, the stronger teachers as well as students masking the weaknesses of those who are not performing up to standards. While it’s generous to help people who need it, this serves exactly the opposite purpose and hides within the masses those who could use some help but now don’t receive it. Perhaps it’s less like they are being carried and more accurate to describe their experience as being painfully dragged along. The solution, as we saw working well with small charter schools, is to have schools and classes of a size where everyone gets to know each other more personally. Bad teachers will not be able to hide the results of their failures in competence or caring and will receive immediate feedback to either better their performance or to seek alternative employment. This touches on the issue of tenure and there absolutely needs to be a quicker way to replace teachers who are failing their students. It must also be considered that people over time may lose the fire in their belly, get worn down by hard experience or in some cases simple aging and loss of energy and our helpless children should not be left to the mercy of teachers who have lost their ability to teach effectively, or even worse, their capacity to care.
This is not at all to say that seasoned teachers can’t be invaluable to our educational system and to our children, but the decision must be made on a case by case basis with the flexibility built into the system to get rid of the people who are counterproductive. While tenure is certainly a factor in our failing school systems in America, it must also be considered in the broader picture of the diseconomies of scale in that the bigger the system and the more people in it, the more powerful the influence of those people on the system itself. This manifests itself in the power and influence of the unions who in the recent past have unfortunately been observed to work harder to protect bad teachers than they have shown interest in assisting students who desperately need help. Smaller systems inherently offer greater flexibility which can be expressed in numerous constructive ways such as principals and vice principals who have schools of a size sufficient to allow time to sit in on classes more often. This shows involvement, concern, and attention for the students and impressionable children often reciprocate through paying attention in class and making an effort to learn as well as to please. It also indicates to the teachers that they are being watched and evaluated with constructive criticism or praise for a job well done available on a timely, immediate, personal basis. Waiting until the end of the term for test scores to come back can be too little effort and it comes too late. In a school of thousands of students with over a hundred teachers such oversight just isn’t possible because the diseconomies of scale are simply too disproportionate to the resources available to oversight tasks.
Professor emeritus of human ecology at the University of California who is best known for his essay on The Tragedy of the Commons, Garrett Hardin, has his ideas put into perspective with an interpretation by Canadian journalist and environmentalist Andrew Nikiforuk:
“To ask "what are the numbers?" is really to ask questions of scale and their effects. Such inquiries are as old as Galileo. The Italian once noted that if you put three dogs on top of each other, the bottom one would do just fine. But if you stacked three elephants on top of each other, the results for the first animal would be gruesome. In numerate terms, scale makes a difference when it comes to the strength of long leg bones or even the size of schools. A high school with 700 students remains a personable community; a high school with 2,000 wards becomes an alien mall selling credits and condoms. There are always scale effects involved." (Nikiforuk).
Just as teachers can get lost in massive schools, so too can students, especially those who need help the most. Smaller schools promote an atmosphere of community which is lost when schools become so large that principals and teachers can no longer know the names of all of the students they manage. Many times the students who have trouble the most and could be greatly assisted by even just a little bit of attention instead, because of embarrassment or shyness, attempt to hide the fact that they require a bit more effort to teach them than other students. Sometimes it can be as simple a matter as missing a few days of school because of illness and needing help getting caught back up. Other times it can be a reading or learning disability that would benefit most from expert attention.
With smaller class sizes and perhaps just as importantly, lower overall student body sizes in each school, it would be much less likely for a child to fall through the cracks or hide their need for help. It is critically important that children get the attention they need as they need it so they can keep up with the natural flow of the educational process. Thinking of this as a flowing progression offers further insights because with flow through a pipeline, in this case the learning pipeline, a temporary blockage if not cleared results in a significantly decreased delivery of knowledge over time. If never treated at all it can cause, just like in our arteries, a complete stoppage as represented by the heart attack of the educational process: a student dropping out. Gluttonous schools need to stop gorging themselves on students like ravenous giants or bonbon hungry gourmands, constantly grubbing for new tasty morsels. It’s just not healthy, not for the system and especially not for the children who get chewed up, swallowed whole, or spit out. Moderation in all things, school sizes included.
In some cases, school districts take exactly the wrong approach to failing schools as is currently the case in Detroit. According to Dr. Lester K. Spence, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins University and 2009 recipient of the Johns’ Hopkins prestigious Excellence in Teaching Award, Detroit’s school system is failing, “But state education officials have ordered the district’s emergency financial manager to close half the city’s schools, increasing class sizes significantly” Lester K. Spence. The solution is exactly the opposite of this conglomeratization approach to education. Small and local schools should be spread throughout cities into neighborhoods close to where the students live. The triumph of the best charter schools isn’t because of their semi-private nature but instead because of their smaller sizes which facilitates the greater accountability necessary for any successful organization.
American public schools, when they were smaller and much less crowded, were the envy of the world. Even today some smaller, rural schools with humble budgets manage to outperform their high rolling, big city counterparts. An example of the spending disparity is noted by researchers J. David McCracken of Ohio State University and Jeff Barcinas of the University of Guam as they point out in their study of differences between rural and urban schools:
Per-pupil expenditures averaged $2657 in rural schools and $3527 in urban schools. It was interesting to note that one administrator was responsible for a rural high school enrollment of 309 students, but five administrators were used with an urban high school enrollment of 1368. The larger setting appeared to offer no advantage in administrative efficiency. It appears that there are disadvantages to being either very large or very small. The challenge is to provide stimulating learning environments with the broad educational programs characteristic of large urban schools along with the supportive social structure characteristics of small rural schools. (5, 38, 40)
There is still much debate about the performance of rural schools versus urban schools so though the issue is hardly settled definitively and people in both rural as well as urban settings may suffer in brutal poverty, researchers Edward Reeves and Robert Bylund note that:
Large rural schools are particularly low performing, and there are marginally significant tendencies for lesser performance by large schools in adjacent and small town locations. The explanation for these results probably lies in the negative consequences of school consolidation. Howley (1996), for example, shows that consolidation adversely affects the achievements of students in rural West Virginia schools. (377)
So in the end the question of rural versus urban may not be the one to answer so much as the question of large schools versus smaller schools, as both types can exist in urban, rural, or suburban settings. The final answer may be smaller public schools dappled in neighborhoods throughout our major modern cities and even throughout our rural landscapes.
A dispersion approach provides some of the benefits that are derived from the diminutive nature of charter schools while sidestepping the political perils of challenging the unions and entrenched bureaucracies and the danger of a mass marketed education mentality that may accompany mega-schools. We don’t have to take down the system, just spread it out. And it doesn’t have to be done all at once. We can try it in some locations and see how things work out. Instead of continuing to merge expanding populations of students into a growing colossus of a building with populations so large in some cases they can only be accommodated by housing them in temporary buildings and even trailers as I’ve seen in my own school, the students can be dispersed to charter schools and new, smaller public schools which are planted in neighborhoods and blossom like flowers of opportunity and enlightenment across our cities and countryside.
We need to try something new, which somewhat ironically in this case means trying something old, moving forward by taking a step back and reducing the scale of some of our educational operations, perhaps to what they were a few decades ago when test scores were higher. This more local and small-community minded education represents the type of environment that propelled Americans to the moon in a time when slide-rules still adorned shirt pockets and all the computing power of the world could fit into a child’s handheld calculator, let alone an iPad. Opposing the idea that “bigger is better” may seen heretical in the day and age of mega-mergers especially when coming from a Texan, but the most priceless presents can come in small packages. A solid education cultivated in the kinship of a close-knit community with a right-sized school at its root, whether it flourishes in the middle of the heartland or in the heart of a downtown metropolis, may be the most valuable gift of all.


Works Cited

McCracken and Barcinas. Differences Between Rural and Urban School Student Characteristics,
and Student Aspirations in Ohio, Journal of Research in Rural Education,
http://www.jrre.psu.edu/articles/v7,n2,p29-40,McCracken.pdf, Winter, 991,
Vol 7., No. 2: 29-40.
Nikiforuk, Andrew. http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/lnacademic/, Fifth Column Education,
Globe and Mail (Canada), 23 July 1993.
Reeves, Edward and Bylund, Robert. Are Rural Schools Inferior to Urban Schools? A
Multilevel Analysis of School Accountability Trends in Kentucky, Rural Sociology 70
(3), (2005): 360-386.
Spence, Lester K. http://blacksmythe.com/blog/2011/02/22/detroit-closes-50-of-schools-
increase-ratio-to-60-studentsclass/.

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JWatts
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Both Sweden and the Netherlands use a version of vouchers for the entire school system. The Netherlands has done so since 1917. Both of these countries generally rank better than the US on educational performance.

So it's silly to quote an editorial as some kind of evidence that vouchers won't work in the US. Particularly, when the editorial is about the Washington DC school system which is one of the worst performing in the country.

Furthermore, the author really doesn't provide any evidence that school vouchers are the problem. What she seems to say is a lot of schools have closed in her area. She doesn't actually say that the closures were linked to vouchers at all, but instead makes the very tenuous statement:

"The closures were the inevitable outcome of policies hatched years before.

In 1995 the Republican-led Congress, ignoring the objections of local leadership, put in motion one of the country’s strongest reform policies for Washington: if a school was deemed failing, students could transfer schools, opt to attend a charter school or receive a voucher to attend a private school. "

So a Republican Congress decided to close schools that were consistently failing? And that's a problem why? I can just imagine the Liberal response if a Republican Congress decided to keep consistently failing schools open.

And here is another opinion:
quote:

DC Schools Shine

Will Marshall is the president of the Progressive Policy Institute.

Long one of urban America’s ugly ducklings, Washington D.C. is beginning to shine as a national showcase for school reform.
...
The Fordham study gave the District high marks for attracting talented educational entrepreneurs and organizations, like Teach for America and the New Teacher Project, that recruit and train highly qualified teachers. It praises D.C.’s new contract with the Washington Teachers’ Union, which permits teachers to be paid according to performance, and merit-based layoffs.

The study notes that, with the help of private philanthropy, the District invests generously in school improvement and innovation. The city’s “thriving charter sector” also comes in for praise (full disclosure: I’m a member of the Public Charter School Board here), though the chronic shortage of suitable and affordable facilities for charters is also acknowledged. D.C. also gets high marks for quality control in both the traditional and charter sectors.

Rising test scores in the District attest to Rhee’s single-minded devotion to closing achievement gaps, as well as the charter board’s increasingly tough stance toward persistently low-performing schools in its portfolio. Last spring, 40 D.C. elementary schools achieved double-digit gains in pass rates on the citywide math exams, while 19 had double-digit losses. In reading, 26 elementary schools gained at least 10 points in pass rates on standardized tests, while 19 lost ground. Scores also rose at public charter schools, which enroll fully 38 percent of D.C.’s students. While far from perfect, these numbers represent dramatic progress for a school system that has habitually dwelt in the cellar in comparisons with other urban systems.

Link
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AI Wessex
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"Because if you wind up only sending the riff-raff to public schools, of course the private schools are going to outperform them"

Not in Michigan. Charter schools perform (i.e., test) no better and in many cases worse than public schools.

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AI Wessex
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Ran across this story this morning:
quote:
Some 80 percent of Michigan's 225 charter schools are currently run by for-profit companies, while nationally the figure is close to 30 percent. In addition to opening the field for more charters, SB 618 would also lift restrictions on out-of-state charter operators, many of which are for-profit.

Several education reform groups are asking the House to add quality control measures to the charter bill that would affect all operators, both for-profit and nonprofit. The groups include Michigan Democrats for Education Reform, Progressives for Quality Public Schools, StudentsFirst and the Education Trust. They distributed a letter Monday encouraging House members to amend SB 618.

"Should existing charter authorizers and operators who have a portfolio of schools that consistently perform at horribly low levels ... deserve to automatically expand their number of schools without any accountability or responsibility?" the letter's authors wrote. "The answer, we believe, is obvious: Absolutely not."

Excellent Schools Detroit, a reform coalition, has criticized the measure and made statements showing the limited success of charter schools in Michigan. Only three of the nine charter operators in the state have a majority of schools performing above the 25th percentile, according to the group.


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D.W.
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quote:
Good families will flee bad neighborhoods and bad schools.
Poor families regardless of if they are “good” or “bad” can’t flee bad neighborhoods and schools. Even if you could confirm that there are only bad parents and broken homes in a specific area that is no reason to skimp on education. If anything those children would need MORE help.

Blaming parents for the behavior or engagement of their child in schooling is legitimate. Punishing the kids is reprehensible. No child should have to compete for opportunity. If they do not, or are not able to, take full advantage of opportunity then so be it.

Quality of education should be uniform for everyone. I’m personally against any form of private or charter school and think they should be outlawed. If you want better education for your child the only option should be to raise the quality of education across the board. The underprivileged are not there to inconvenience your child or cripple their opportunities. They are getting screwed and yes, I’m all for this type of blackmail and hostage holding to get the system fixed. And yes, I know that is hopelessly unlikely…

I agree blindly throwing money failing districts isn’t a solution. Throwing money at base line national teacher pay and then making them compete for much higher pay might be. If the pay was high enough then we would get a lot more people interested in teaching. Better teachers does equal better education. Offer bonuses for troubled / failing districts. Make teachers compete for those jobs. At a minimum the government should pay off school debts of all public teachers. Perhaps over 20 years or so. It would have to be long enough to make it a worthwhile investment so they aren’t “doing their time” putting in minimal effort then fleeing to higher paid jobs somewhere else.

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Wayward Son
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quote:
If the kids are motivated and come from good families then they'll do well. If the families are no good then any money you throw at them is just being flushed down the toilet.

If the problem could be solved by throwing money at it, then it would have been solved. It's never that easy.

Basically it all comes down to the families and what they value. Families have to value education.

This is all well and good, jasonr, but I think you're missing the big picture. Educating those from bad families and those who are not motivated is important, too. And school choice does nothing to address that.

And if you think that may not be so, consider this: which of these two countries would have a stronger army?

Country A, with a literacy rate of 50 percent, or Country B with a literacy rate of 95 percent?

Which would be more innovative with new technology? Country A, with 0.5 percent scientists and engineers? Or Country B, with 5 percent scientists and engineers?

Which country would you expect to have a more robust economy? Country A, with a 50 percent high school graduation rate? Or Country B, with a 95 percent high school graduation rate?

School choice may help the best students be a bit better, but it doesn't do squat to actually help the country those students live in.

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AI Wessex
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"Quality of education should be uniform for everyone. I’m personally against any form of private or charter school and think they should be outlawed. If you want better education for your child the only option should be to raise the quality of education across the board. The underprivileged are not there to inconvenience your child or cripple their opportunities. They are getting screwed and yes, I’m all for this type of blackmail and hostage holding to get the system fixed. And yes, I know that is hopelessly unlikely…"

Hear, hear!

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
The quality of the schools is related to the quality of the families that send their kids there. Garbage in, garbage out. Good families will flee bad neighborhoods and bad schools.

I like the idea of giving motivated good families an escape valve to permit them to take their kids away from the rubbish.

Let's say this is true. So what is your solution? We decide that some families are just "garbage" and then...what? What do we do about these "garbage" families and their "garbage" children?
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jasonr
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quote:
Which is of course why many public schools -- and public school teachers -- justifiably feel completely screwed over by the "school choice" movement. Because if you wind up only sending the riff-raff to public schools, of course the private schools are going to outperform them -- and this just leads to a particularly terrible self-reinforcing problem.
I'm just being pragmatic. I'd rather salvage the 10% or 20% (or whatever) of quality kids from quality families and let the other ones sink than let everyone sink (including the quality kids, who are dragged down by the riff raff)

Throwing money at the problem has proven useless. You can't make people value education with money. You can't instill a respect for education and learning by throwing money at people.

quote:
Let's say this is true. So what is your solution? We decide that some families are just "garbage" and then...what? What do we do about these "garbage" families and their "garbage" children?
We don't "do" anything. I'm not proposing that we have some kind of committee that divides people into "alphas" and "betas". I'm simply suggesting that we have an escape valve for particularly motivated families. Rather than flush money down the toilet of public schools, try to set up separate schools and programs that require some initiative to get into.

quote:
This is all well and good, jasonr, but I think you're missing the big picture. Educating those from bad families and those who are not motivated is important, too. And school choice does nothing to address that.
You presume that it is practical or even possible to "educate" kids who have no motivation, who come from families with no motivation.

If the current approach was working we wouldn't be having this discussion.

The current system, in the name of political correctness, throws all the kids from the lowest most disruptive and violent to the special ed all into a big soupy mix that drowns out and drags down the students with real potential.

If we're talking about the black community and other underprivileged communities, my personal opinion is we need to start being elitist. We need to find out who the real gems are and get them away from the rubbish so they can reach their potential.

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jasonr
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quote:
Quality of education should be uniform for everyone.
It can't be and it never will be. Not while the quality of the students isn't uniform.

The reason white kids do better than black kids is because the white families tend to be more educated and education is self-perpetuating. Even the mediocre kids, when introduced into an environment where familial expectations are high, tend to achieve more. The rising tide lifts all boats.

The converse is true. If you throw the good kids into a cesspool with the rubbish, they will be drowned out. Blacks probably underperform because the flowers are being stifled by the weeds. Instead of obsessing over the reason why black education and advancement is so low (it is what it is) and instead of tilting at windmills trying to educate everyone (we can't) we should be finding ways to isolate the gems and nurture their talent.

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
quote:
Which is of course why many public schools -- and public school teachers -- justifiably feel completely screwed over by the "school choice" movement. Because if you wind up only sending the riff-raff to public schools, of course the private schools are going to outperform them -- and this just leads to a particularly terrible self-reinforcing problem.
I'm just being pragmatic. I'd rather salvage the 10% or 20% (or whatever) of quality kids from quality families and let the other ones sink than let everyone sink (including the quality kids, who are dragged down by the riff raff)

Throwing money at the problem has proven useless. You can't make people value education with money. You can't instill a respect for education and learning by throwing money at people.

quote:
Let's say this is true. So what is your solution? We decide that some families are just "garbage" and then...what? What do we do about these "garbage" families and their "garbage" children?
We don't "do" anything. I'm not proposing that we have some kind of committee that divides people into "alphas" and "betas". I'm simply suggesting that we have an escape valve for particularly motivated families. Rather than flush money down the toilet of public schools, try to set up separate schools and programs that require some initiative to get into.

quote:
This is all well and good, jasonr, but I think you're missing the big picture. Educating those from bad families and those who are not motivated is important, too. And school choice does nothing to address that.
You presume that it is practical or even possible to "educate" kids who have no motivation, who come from families with no motivation.

If the current approach was working we wouldn't be having this discussion.

The current system, in the name of political correctness, throws all the kids from the lowest most disruptive and violent to the special ed all into a big soupy mix that drowns out and drags down the students with real potential.

If we're talking about the black community and other underprivileged communities, my personal opinion is we need to start being elitist. We need to find out who the real gems are and get them away from the rubbish so they can reach their potential.

Well, we have to do something. It isn't like they are going to disappear. Jailing them gets expensive. We have to find some way to help them become employable citizens when they grow up - and some of them are going to become adults. We are going to have to live with them. Ooooo...and their guns!

You do realize that it is children you are calling rubbish, right? Actual human children who do have potential, even if they aren't "gems".

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Wayward Son
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quote:
You presume that it is practical or even possible to "educate" kids who have no motivation, who come from families with no motivation.

If the current approach was working we wouldn't be having this discussion.

Except, of course, the current approach is working.

Compare the literacy rates from the 1959 with those today (or at least from 1979). Literacy is up. Education is up. The country is smarter than it ever was.

Everyone wants it to work better, of course. That's why we are having this discussion. And sending the "smart" kids to good schools and letting the others rot isn't going to help matters.

Do you want to throw away the progress we've made?

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TCB
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Jasonr said:
quote:
I'm not proposing that we have some kind of committee that divides people into "alphas" and "betas". I'm simply suggesting that we have an escape valve for particularly motivated families. Rather than flush money down the toilet of public schools, try to set up separate schools and programs that require some initiative to get into.
I don't see a way to implement your solution without an admissions committee judging whether a student's family is of sufficient "quality".

[ December 06, 2011, 06:42 PM: Message edited by: TCB ]

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AI Wessex
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I think the "smart" kids set an example for the underachievers to follow. Taking them out of the environment merely because they are more successful is exactly the wrong thing to do if you want the rest to catch up.

FWIW, my daughter is a social worker in the DC public charter school system. That means she works with kids who have behavioral or emotional problems that make it hard for them to succeed. Many of them have poor role models at home and some even live on the street. Every year some of the kids she counsels and oversees are expelled or are pushed out of the school back into the regular schools because of poor performance. But every year some of her kids knuckle down, straighten out their lives or otherwise come to grips with their personal responsibilities and succeed to different degrees. It's a tough problem for which there is no solution except perseverance and caring. Abandoning them would lead to many personal disasters that none of us would want to see happen.

[ December 06, 2011, 07:06 PM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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jasonr
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quote:
I don't see a way to implement your solution without an admissions committee judging whether a student's family is of sufficient "quality".
No need. People who don't give a **** about education don't give a **** about which school they send their kids to. They're not going to lift a finger to get their kids into a better school.

quote:
Well, we have to do something. It isn't like they are going to disappear. Jailing them gets expensive. We have to find some way to help them become employable citizens when they grow up - and some of them are going to become adults. We are going to have to live with them. Ooooo...and their guns!
You do realize that it is children you are calling rubbish, right? Actual human children who do have potential, even if they aren't "gems". [/quote]

I know. I'm sorry if I'm being really callous. But the system needs to be a little more callous. It seems like in the name of helping everyone these days we end up helping no one. Instead of equal gardens we end up with equal graveyards. The system would rather drag down an entire class worth of students by burdening them with disruptive "special" students than risk hurting their feelings by segregating them. We'd rather work to the lowest common denominator than seek to promote greatness.

You see it in the social housing projects, where entire buildings are infested with bed bugs. Why? Because we refuse to evict or remove people who are mentally ill, hoarders and others whose bad habits literally endanger the entire building and make it impossible to improve conditions. A few bad apples are literally allowed to spoil everything. In one case in Toronto a fire nearly consumed an entire building because a hoarder's stash was set ablaze. They couldn't have evicted this person even if they wanted to. The system is so skewed toward protecting the tenant's rights that there's almost nothing a landlord can do. And when things go horribly wrong, of course the landlord is blamed and here come the lawsuits.

quote:
Except, of course, the current approach is working.

Compare the literacy rates from the 1959 with those today (or at least from 1979). Literacy is up. Education is up. The country is smarter than it ever was.

Everyone wants it to work better, of course. That's why we are having this discussion. And sending the "smart" kids to good schools and letting the others rot isn't going to help matters.

Do you want to throw away the progress we've made?

Are we talking about literacy in the aggregate across the entire country? What about in specific underprivileged communities. What about in the past 10-20 years (never mind 50 years ago).
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kmbboots
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Again, you fail to propose a solution. What are we going to do with the rubbish? It will still be with us - just more ignorant and less capable of earning an honest living. You think that the rubbish should be evicted from housing projects as well? Fine. Evicted to where?
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TomDavidson
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quote:
I'd rather salvage the 10% or 20% (or whatever) of quality kids from quality families and let the other ones sink...
You understand why this cannot be the mandate under which public schools operate, right? Or are you comfortable allowing the government to decide which "quality families" deserve to have successfully-educated children?
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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
Ran across this story this morning:
quote:


Excellent Schools Detroit, a reform coalition, has criticized the measure and made statements showing the limited success of charter schools in Michigan. Only three of the nine charter operators in the state have a majority of schools performing above the 25th percentile, according to the group.


[LOL]

Epic Math Fail

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TheRallanator
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
The quality of the schools is related to the quality of the families that send their kids there. Garbage in, garbage out. Good families will flee bad neighborhoods and bad schools.

I like the idea of giving motivated good families an escape valve to permit them to take their kids away from the rubbish.

I like the idea of crushing the poor underfoot by institutionalising generational poverty through substandard education too, but usually I put it a tad less bluntly than you in case the proles hear me [Smile]
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
Ran across this story this morning:
quote:


Excellent Schools Detroit, a reform coalition, has criticized the measure and made statements showing the limited success of charter schools in Michigan. Only three of the nine charter operators in the state have a majority of schools performing above the 25th percentile, according to the group.


[LOL]

Epic Math Fail

There are more schools than charter school operators (including non-charter schools). Nothing wrong with the math there at all.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Excellent Schools Detroit, a reform coalition, has criticized the measure and made statements showing the limited success of charter schools in Michigan. Only three of the nine charter operators in the state have a majority of schools performing above the 25th percentile, according to the group.
Each charter school operator can operate more than one school; in fact, the sentence explicitly mentions a majority of schools operated per operator. Additionally, not all schools in Michigan are charter schools.
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AI Wessex
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JWatts, the quote refers to Education Management Organizations (EMOs), private companies that are hired by the Charter School Boards to run schools for profit. The EMO hires the teachers and controls all operational aspects of the education in the schools. The parents have a fairly free hand in deciding what kinds of things their children should learn, as long as they stay within legal constraints. Since the EMOs get the same money from the state per pupil, they direct some of it away from the needs of the students' education to pay themselves and increase their bottom line.

In theory this can work (KIPP is a very successful EMO), but Republicans in Michigan have hopelessly confused their own agenda with the purpose of education. It's a good example of how dysfunctional Michigan has become under Republican legislative leadership over the years. Another way they did that recently was by passing an anti-bullying law a few months ago that explicitly allowed bullying if done by people with religious or moral beliefs in which the person they were bullying was considered inferior.

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D.W.
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I’m for equal opportunity. I don’t expect equal results. If a kid is disruptive to the rest of the class get them out of the way. Until the point where child screws up sufficiently to be cast aside they should not be punished. If the kid’s parents are “garbage” or “bad people” or just poor they should not be at a disadvantage. As soon as the kid decides they would rather be disruptive than try to learn something they deserve every opportunity the wealthy child from a “good” neighborhood deserves.

Give everyone a shot. Be as strict as you want after that determining what it takes to ruin that shot. Make it the same across the board. If the solution is to kick them out of one school then the rich trouble maker and the poor trouble maker should again have the exact same opportunity in whatever safety net (if any) is provided.

Al, I’m pretty sure the first anti-bulling law did not pass specifically because of the moral loophole. The one that just did pass has no such loophole. You’re point is valid but we haven’t all jumped on the crazy train here in Michigan and the first one was stopped.

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AI Wessex
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It didn't pass in the Senate specifically because of that provision, but that provision was specifically included in it in order to assure passage. It was stopped, but it got further than a democratic and unbiased legislature should have allowed.
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D.W.
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Oh absolutely! I’m ashamed as a Michigander that it got that far. I’m thrilled as a liberal that the right made a blatant link between morality and bigotry without any outside help. And did so with the safety and wellbeing of children on the line no less.

I should add, "...when it has no additional cost to put forward as an argument." The banning of same sex partner benefits for instance can be seen as a fiscal issue. Not that I think it's a particularly good argument but it makes for a nice shield to hide behind.

[ December 08, 2011, 11:58 AM: Message edited by: D.W. ]

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