Tuesday April 15, 2014
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Governor Brewer is touting "performance-based" school funding. Works like this: The better a school does on tests given to the students, the more money the school gets.
What a great idea!
Except for one thing.
Hundreds of separate studies show that no matter what you do you cannot do the impossible.
And the impossible is?
Get a lower than average kid to perform like an average kid.
If the "average" child can do six roods of crib and four chips of glarg by the third grade, does that mean that every child in the third grade should be able to do it?
No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No!
Averages do NOT mean that everyone can reach that level. So when someone writes a law that says that if kids in a school do not reach the "average" third grade level in blurg mandling their school loses money, he is actually saying that no matter what the school does it will lose money.
It is a charter school filled with little brains who can easily reach the average level.
See what they're up to?
If a school has a large number of low-achieving kids, and needs help in getting them to do as well as they can, a "performance-based" system will TAKE AWAY money from it.
I hate to point this out, but for every little genius we have whose IQ is 150, we have some poor kid with an IQ of 50.
And there is no power on this planet that can change that!!!
What does all this mean?
It means that the Governor has her head up and locked.
She is trying to siphon off money to charter schools which will then be able to attract the best and brightest, make megabucks, and laugh all the way to the bank.
Either way, the program is pure unadulterated s--t!
Payson, by the way, like many rural schools, has a large number of lower than average kids.
MyOp: How SHOULD we fund schools? Easy. We first test the native ability of each student. That sets goals for that student which say, "This student is only capable of doing THIS MUCH no matter how well we teach him and no matter how hard he tries. So from now on, if he achieves his goal he will be patted on the back. And if he doesn't achieve he will be given special attention, even if 'special attention' means a boot in his nether regions."
You know who's telling you all this?
Listen, I sat in school for 12 years doing almost nothing and graduated 7th in a class that started out with 363 kids. At the same time, I watched 185 of those 363 kids drop out because they were just not able to cut it, not because they weren't trying, but because no matter how hard they worked they could not meet the age-level standards you hear talked about so much!
How fair is that? I do nothing and get praised, while kids who bust their butts get told they're worthless.
Do you really want a school system like that?
No? Write, phone, or e-mail AZLEG telling them that SB 1444 better not pass!!!!!!
Not all people are born with equal academic ability. Although we are not sure exactly what IQ tests measure, the one thing they do with complete accuracy is predict academic success. You can take IQ tests and compare them with success in school and they are in perfect agreement.
So what we do when we set up a pass/fail level for children on tests based on the "average grade level performance" in--say--English or math is make it impossible for some schools to make the grade.
Two kinds: Inner city schools and rural schools.
No need to go into why those two categories of school have lower achieving kids. It's a fact. All we need to do is involve ourselves with the facts.
Why would anyone deliberately, and with malice aforethought, rig the testing so that some schools MUST fail?
Answer: To chase brighter students into the arms of private charter schools in order to get state funds into those schools.
What happens then? The kids--already brighter--do better in the charter school, and parents, lacking expertise in education, make a logical error. They attribute the greater success to the school rather than to the fact that the kids are in an environment where there are fewer slow kids to reduce the amount that can be taught.
How does that happen? As any teacher will tell you, you do not just teach and test. During each lesson there are evaluation points, times when you use verbal questioning techniques, worksheets, homework, or other methods to see how much the students are absorbing. The more interaction you have with your students, the better you know how effective your teaching is at any given moment. The worst teachers are those who just slap it out there and keep on going.
However, there is a drawback. When you discover that a material number of your students are not grasping what you are teaching, you MUST fall back and reteach--both on the spot, and later by means of additional approaches. That ALWAYS means that in a class with a larger number of slow students you cover less ground that in a class with a smaller number of them. The effect is to limit how much can be taught.
(This, by the way, is a VERY powerful argument for grouping kids into classes by ability, something rarely done because of the socialist mentality of some educators, who call it "tracking" and rail against it, but that's another issue.)
So the real reason that kids do better in charter schools is that we are grouping them, selecting the best and brightest, taking them out of a public school, putting them into a private school, and teaching more. It has nothing to do with the school itself. A complete fool can teach more to brighter kids than to slower ones. Trust me. I have been in charter schools and seen them doing it.
So, the system is once more about to be rigged, as it was under NCLB, to siphon off YOUR tax money into private hands.
Disagree? Show me another reason for what the Governor is suggesting.
You nailed it on the Charter schools. Check out Basis Schools. Their M.O. is to hire folks with Master's and PhD.'s as teachers and lure the brightest and best students. My daughter works for them. She teaches English. Her kids are definitely the brightest and best. High achievers on Advanced Placement and pre-college classes. Most are children of high level professionals. Here is something to think about. The majority are of Asian and East Indian descent.
In many cases, charter schools such as Basis Peoria or Basis Scottsdale are successful in getting best kids out of the local district. This increases the achievement disparity. It is the way education is trending. We really can't blame the parents. They have an obligation to try and give their kids the best educational opportunity possible. Public schools have got to create solid advanced tracks and lure the best teachers for them or they will be out of luck.
Right now, public schools are not attracting the brightest and best. Not only that, but if they by chance land the best, they are unable to retain them. You cannot blame a kid who is good enough to teach math at the high school level, if they come in at $37000 and deal with discipline, endless paperwork, lazy students, unresponsive administration, club and extra-curricular duties and standardized test score flogging, if they awaken one day and say, "Hmm, if I'm going to work this hard, be this tired and put up with all of this, I think I'll just go back and get an engineering degree or MBA and do it for $95000 instead of 37K." And that is just what they do.
You certainly see the picture as it is.
Parents cannot be faulted for searching out the best educational oportunities for their children. If it cost no more to get the best, then...? The only places where I see the disparity between charter and public schools falling on the side of public school are in two areas.
One is high school science courses. No charter school can afford the cost of fully equipped chemistry or physics labs, and even where biology is concerned, primarily because of the cost of purchasing and properly maintaining microscopes, the plus sign falls on the side of publlic schools. I have many times been in labs in charter schools, and one and all they were woefully inagequate. However, if we concern ourselves only with those things a youngster can carry away with him, much of that is--and should be--knowledge, which requires little in the way of lab work, and if a charter school were to hire well educated physics or chemistry majors they could walk away with the prize.
Unfortunately, charter schools rarely hire the kind of phsyics and chemistry teachers public schools can attract. Almost without exception, the teachers I saw in those hard core science classrooms in charter schools were not teaching in depth science, presumably because they lacked in-depth knowledge.
The other place where charter schools are woefully inadequate is in teaching skills. I found them even worse than some community colleges in that regard. They seem to hire anyone off the street who comes to them for a job, and since Arizona does not require much in the way of certification their teaching skills are often very low. Where they shine, though, are in Engish and history. It seems that they attract for fine people in those areas.
I see public education ending up as the Medicaid of the educational world if we do not stop the current trend: "Affordable" education for the poor and voiceless.
This string only touches the tip of the iceberg where public education is concerned. I'd be really curious to know, and I think everyone else would be, how you feel about what is happening, and what may happen, in public education.
Here's a summary of the problem.
In the past public education was largely a local matter. Although some funding came from the state, most of it came from town and county. The amount that was spent on education depended on how much the community was able, and willing, to spend. When schools were funded with direct taxation it was very obvious how much was being spent. People, looking at their property taxes, let it be known in no uncertain terms how far they would go.
Back in the days of Lyndon Johnson, and primarily because of the civil rights movement, Washington got into the act. School integration became a major issue. To enable its enforcement without using the Army or the National Guard, the federal government added a carrot to the stick. The carrot came in the form of funds which would be withdrawn if certain rules were not followed. And that is when our schools began to change. Washington had discovered a lever it could use to pressure states into doing things they would never have done on their own, and it began to use the schools as a way of intrudijng into an area in which the Constitution gives the federal goverment no authority.
Next, the obvious result:
In an effort to level the playing field for all ethnic groups Washington began to create programs, Head Start being the first. For the first time in U. S. history the federal government became a major player in local education. Soon, fertile minds in Washington came up with ways of using education as a political weapon. How? By pumping billions in funds into states, and threatening to take them away if we didn't knuckle under to political goals. If illegals were sent home instead of being educated in our schools, for example, school funds were cut.
Because school funds were now funneled through the states, control of schools, even the control of what was taught passed from local hands into the hands of the state, and through the state into federal hands. And although we didn't see it because most of the additional funding was done by raising the national debt, the amount of money we were spending on education skyrocketed. A reasonable baseline year is 1960, a year when the federal government was just getting into education. That year, the entire United States, including federal, state, and local levels, spent just $375 on each school child in schools that were doing an excellent job, for a total of just $14 billion.
However, like so many federally run programs, education began to cost more and more every decade with no major improvement in the final product--the high school graduate. We went from $14 billion in 1960, to $40 billion in 1970, to, $97 billion in 1980, to $205 billion in 1990, to $372 billion in 2000, and finally to $562 billion in 2010 and are now spending $10,337 per kid instead of $375, or an incredible 28 times as much.
However, all that luscious school money created a backlash. Businessmen, eying all that lovely tax money money, were hungry to get their hands on it, but the only way they could do it was to "prove" that our schools could not do the job they did quite well in 1960 with just 3% of what we spend today.
You see the results: Phony international test results where Americans are never told the actual truth--that we are still the best. Phony tests which are advertised as tests of school efficiency, but are actually IQ tests. Laws that allow public funds to go to private schools. Programs that take money away from schools and give it to business. Programs that require public schools to be tested, but allow private schools to do as they please. Programs like Head Start which have been proven to be worthless, but are still with us because someone is profiting from them.
Is there an end in sight? Maybe. But that end may very well be the "end" of public education as we know it.
So, the big question: Do we just quit, or do we fight back?
And if we are going to fight back, how the hell do we do it?
Everyone needs to talk to thier kids and grandkids that are in school. Ask questions about what they are learning or doing in school. The younger they are the more you learn about the school system and the teachers. Teachers are there to teach the three R's not pry into parents business.
Tell them not to ever tell things that don't pertain to the subject they are supposed to be learning. If they need to talk to a counselor fine. That is their choice.
If a teacher thinks a child is being abused there are ways to find out. Don't have kids filling out forms.
I could not believe some of the papers my kids were asked to fill out when they were in school in Mesa in the 60's and 70's. When I found out, I told them do not fill out any of the papers until I see them first.
No I did not abuse my kids.
"I could not believe some of the papers my kids were asked to fill out when they were in school..."
That never occurred to me, no doubt because the kids never filled out any forms in my classes, but that would be great way to collect information you have no right to collect. The kids don't know any better. You stick a piece of paper in front of them and tell them to fill it out and they just do it. I wonder just why kind of infomration is being gathered that people don't know about?
"If a teacher thinks a child is being abused there are ways to find out."
When Lolly worked as a school secretary in Texas she sometimes used to go on home visits. The visits were not part of her job. She was just there as witness because you never know what is going to said or done.
Some of the things she told me were hard to take. One time, she and someone else went to a small house not far from the school. Nice little house in a decent neighborhood. There were three kids in the house, all of school age but quite young. The cupboards were empty. There kids had no beds, just blankets laid out on the floor. There were no bureaus; the kids clothes were neatly stacked in piles on the floor.
Lolly told me a lot more but I don't remember it. That visit was so sad she told the school she wasn't going on any more of them.
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