Skip to main content

View Diary: Diane Ravitch calls it "the most brilliant post of the day" (147 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  It's family resources, not the teachers! (40+ / 0-)

    A brief look at two high schools, about nine miles apart in eastern Connecticut, yields some counter-intuitive surprises and strongly suggests that poverty and ethnicity are major factors in the failure of a school. Windham High School is located in Willimantic, an urban center and former mill town; E. O. Smith High School is located in largely rural Mansfield, right next to the University of Connecticut campus. While the towns are adjacent, Willimantic, though it features many fine Victorian homes, is relatively poor, with a median household income of $45,465, and Mansfield is considerably wealthier, with much higher real estate values and a median household income of $66,304. According to test results Windham High is failing, with a GreatSchools rating in the bottom 10%, and E. O. Smith is doing a lot better with a GreatSchools rating in the 50th percentile..

    Some might believe that the relative amount of money spent on these schools is the key to success. Surprisingly, Windham, despite its annual struggle to pass its educational budget, spends slightly more per pupil than wealthy Mansfield, and its school spends a slightly higher proportion of its budget on instruction. The most obvious difference is that of those attending Windham, 60% are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, twice the state average, while at E. O. Smith only 8% are eligible. In addition, only 38% of Windham’s students are Caucasian, while the figure for E. O. Smith is 88%. Though there is little difference in the money spent per student and the resources available, there is a considerable disparity in the proportion of students from ethnic minorities, which in this region are mainly Hispanic. For example, only 4% of E. O. Smith students are Hispanic, while the figure for Windham is 54%. The obvious, if certainly unpopular, solution to this extreme ethnic imbalance would be busing. Most probably, however, busing would be bitterly opposed and would in all likelihood, considering only grades on standardized tests, do little more than raise Windham’s scores a notch or two and lower E. O. Smith’s by about the same amount.

    Instead of focusing on the performance of teachers or waiting for the millennium when poverty and straitened family circumstances will be no more and ethnicity will no longer be a negative factor, why not experiment right now with a structural change in public education? A revenue-neutral revolution would be to change the culture of the schools by turning the system upside-down—literally. In place of a top down hierarchy with mandates from school boards, superintendents, and principals, try a democratic, bottom-up approach. Let the teachers elect a principal for a given term; let committees of teachers, with input from parents and students, determine policies--budget allocation, curriculum, evaluation, activities, and the like. In short, empower the teachers, parents, and students to make all the important decisions  about their school. Such a change in the culture of the school would motivate all parties involved and ensure that everyone is heard and their questions addressed. Motivation is surely the single most important predictor of success in school. Of course, such a change might best be introduced with pre-schoolers and work its way through a system from the primary school, through the middle school, and finally high school. Perhaps some “under-performing” school district is ready for such an experiment.

    •  Exactly. The only predictor of success (30+ / 0-)

      in the data so far has NOTHING to do with expenditure, school size, testing, standards, teacher training, or ANYTHING else.

      The sole predictor of success for a student: Did either one of your parents go to college? If yes, please proceed. If no, suffer.

      Simple. Free college for all, from Community College to Four year college to subsidized Master's Degrees will have FAR MORE effect than any "reform" so far discussed or implemented. College is not a Training program; it is enlarging and enlightening people for the idea that intellectual progress is a GOOD IN ITSELF, and good for your children. Why is this so hard to understand, Democrat "reformers?"

      As usual, American "reformers" are barking up the wrong tree, and will fail in this new Standards-Based reform, after gutting a system and firing personnel who ACTUALLY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING, which is doing pretty well given the economic straits of middle class America.

      Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

      by OregonOak on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 09:14:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This post is so very wrong. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sprinkles, Linda Wood

        To see how wrong it is, take it to the illogical extreme: If nothing matters but socioeconomics, let's fire all teachers and replaces them with minimum wage workers.

        Silly, right?

        But that's the point. Socioeconomic status may be the biggest influence, but it's not the only influence. Schools matter. Teachers matter. Class size sure as hell matters.

        Schools have limited power to effect outcomes, but they are not powerless. We need to do what we can and not give up.

        •  much of what current educ policy pushes (11+ / 0-)

          makes things worse for most students, not better.

          "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

          by teacherken on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 11:57:08 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  MM - (0+ / 0-)

          You're softening up!

          A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. Ralph Waldo Emerson

          by Sprinkles on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 01:58:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Ah Manhattan Man! (5+ / 0-)

          Wondered how long it would take for you to show up! Hi!

          We ARE doing what we can given the insane "rules" of the current and former administrations. Now there are more of them. This is exactly what we dont need.

          I see you are not responding for Free College solution. Interesting. You choose to go to reducio ad absurdum. Excellent. But you are becoming a one-trick pony, I am afraid.

          Education, whether you see it or not, is political. It exists within politics, and yet was mostly insulated from politics over the last 100 years or so until the Reich Wing decided it should be an issue of Govmint Spending about 1985. (A Nation at Risk) Until we get back to consensus based on expert knowledge (teachers) we will flounder. That means, protect your teachers. They are the best resource we have right now to turn this around, if things are as bad as you say, and they are not good, but not as catastrophic as you say things are.  

          Help us to communicate out WHAT WORKS instead of running your freshman logic problems on every post. It is not helping, because we all sense these arguments are not in good faith. They serve some personal agenda, which you will not reveal. (ego? Think tank? Spurned reformer? gadabout? childhood trauma? I cannot figure it out yet..)

          Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

          by OregonOak on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 03:09:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Free college for All is not the answer. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Linda Wood

            As you point out, some kids are unprepared because of their home situations.

            Sending them to college unprepared will not change those situations.

            We will just be spending more money on tougher classes that they aren't prepared for.

            Why should we pay to teach Algebra to the 20-year-old, when we could not teach it to the 14-year-old? Do you think something magical will happen in those six years?

            •  Have you ever heard of "growing up"? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              historys mysteries

              To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

              by UntimelyRippd on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 05:33:04 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  tough question, to be honest (3+ / 0-)

              remedial classes are a money maker for schools. get rid of them. college should be free; kids who can't make the grade should probably do something else; most jobs don't require a degree. let's have better career training at the high school level, along with strong academics. It is done in Germany, it can be done here. This may come as a shock to folks here but a lot of kids don't want to go to college and only do so for lack of any better direction. Most take a few classes and drop out. i say this after 25 years in the schools. i also talk to the janiotrs, maintenance people, UPS drivers and Coke machine vendors. All of them flatly tell me they didn't want to go to college and really had no use even for high school; folks who can wire a building and explain how the boiler can blow the fucking building up, and how you prevent that, often struggled in our high schools which ridiculously continue to emphasize college prep. I know a brilliant technician who operates and fixes boilers, HVAC, plumbing, complex electrical systems, cars, small engines, you name it. He failed remedial algebra at community college, and can't write coherently. Don't tell me the guy isn't smart; his son has a tested IQ of 138 and as the experts tell us, IQ is largely inherited. The son almost failed out of HS. We sadly measure but two things in children; grades and athletics. We're missing the vast majority.

              •  Diversify the skills, styles and assessments (2+ / 0-)

                of learning. Thats what its all about. Even taking two or three college classes during an ADULT lifetime can change a person profoundly, since they are often "ready" later on anyway.

                We dont have to assess the same ways. That is the issue with "standards" We dont have to teach in the same way. Orwell had some pretty pithy things to say about plumbing, and many other "classics" or just good lit speak to a whole range of topics important to the common guy, as well as hydraulics, steam, math for understanding, and psychology.

                This all costs research money and time and funding of course. That is what the Reich Wing hates. Developing people from where they ARE to where they CAN go.

                My great grandfather was a saddlemaker in Germany before WW1. He was not college educated. He became a Union Leader in the Social Democrats movement, and after WW1 ended with the exile of the Kaiser, was asked to form the government. He became Chancellor, then President of the first Republic in Germany, and he had no education past high school. Remarkable. But, perhaps, if he had some experience with economics, literature and psychology to combine with his worldly experience, things might have gone better. I am only saying that there is no one to one correspondence between talent and education, but if talent HAS access to education, one can see how events can be shaped. Having or not having education is not DETERMANATIVE. It is FORMATIVE for every individual.

                I stand by my free college access for everyone.

                Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

                by OregonOak on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 07:35:39 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, something magical DOES happen (0+ / 0-)

              to people in their early 20s. Some people never grow up, however.

              Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

              by OregonOak on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 07:37:44 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Parents matter. (0+ / 0-)

          If one (or both) parent(s) make their kids go to class and do their homework and read, read, read, the kid will excel.
          IIRC the average poor kid hears three million words by the time they are age three.  The rich kid hears forty million words by the age of three.  Talk to your kids about anything.  And, read, read, read.

          "I freed a thousand slaves, I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves" Harriet Tubman

          by BrianParker14 on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 09:15:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Corporate education dephormers posting here... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          historys mysteries

          ...interested in in maintaining high stakes corporate reform agenda. expected in this diary.

          I think a growing number of people have had it with high stakes testing and the rampant Pavlovian behaviorism associated with it.

          Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

          by semioticjim on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 06:26:49 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Wish I could tell who are paid here.. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            semioticjim

            to promote Corporate For-Profit Wall Street "Edumacation."

            There are so many on Dkos for some reason who go all Rand Paul on public education that I am starting to think the site should be called DRand.

            The hatred of the left for the only institution which has a CHANCE of maintaining their social democracy astounds me and gives me a sense of how powerful corporate messaging and propoganda has been in the last 50 years.

            Public education is very mixed in the US. Most of it has been co-opted already to push Corporate Marketing via starvation. Most teachers have been required to stop teaching and just give out drill and kill worksheets or computer programs which only profit the producers of it.

            And yet... we must preserve what is left. In a high school career, if a student has ONE teacher who knows how to think, to speak, to write and to be their Orwell, one life for liberty has been saved. At enormous expense, for that one glimmer of light, its true.

            Those sparks of light and intellectual independence still exist in public education, and as during the time European Fascism they are willing to go to the last ditch to save Liberal Humanism and Enlightenment values. I know some personally, and they are the most courageous Americans I have ever met.

            Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

            by OregonOak on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 07:15:16 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  So true... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              OregonOak

              ....public education, within the World's most diverse country has been a mixed bag for good reason....but now an intensification on the part of deformers to nationalize curriculum, learning experience and assessment...this is so dangerous...the corporate oligarchs are solidifying their control over society, and the guy I campaigned for in '08 is facilitating the take over.

              Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

              by semioticjim on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 08:03:30 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Make. Him. Not. Do. It. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                semioticjim

                The more rabble I can rouse, the more crap I can sling, the more blood money I can intercept, the more calling out I can do, the more people hear what crap is being peddled, the more people know snake oil salesmen when they see them, the more likely that;

                President Obama

                will fire Arne Duncan, renounce Rahm Emanuel, gut No Child and Race To, and hire some experts who KNOW WHAT THE HELL they are talking about.

                I guess there is no reward, yet, about being RIGHT about nearly everything for the last 40 years in economics, geopolitics, education and heath care. I want to see people who were RIGHT promoted for the first time in 40 years, not merely great suckups and panderers with nice hair.  

                The President could change this tomorrow. I expect him to.

                Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

                by OregonOak on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 08:10:28 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Interesting point (0+ / 0-)

          If, however, the teachers at Parish Hill and Windham High changed places, there probably would not be much difference in  performance. All I'm saying is that in this case, the problem does not appear to be poor teaching.

      •  I have wonderful new neighbors (0+ / 0-)

        The retired pharmacist and his wife have excellent verbal skills.

        They have two daughters, one is an electrical engineer and the other is going to med school.

        The electrical engineer daughter is married to another electrical engineer. Together they have nearly paid off the mortgage on a 3,000 square foot house in a mere five years.

      •  The key to affluence is now (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        yoduuuh do or do not, Orinoco

        personality.

        Education alone is no longer enough. Hard work alone is no longer enough.

        The most successful young man from my street is Mike. He is very handsome and personable. He also has an excellent work ethic and is building up his contracting business quickly. He is married and recently became a father.

        •  Is Mike's mother college educated? n/t (0+ / 0-)

          "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

          by Orinoco on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 01:18:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Mike's mother (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Orinoco

            is a nurse a step below an RN. I forget her title. I think it might be LPN.

            His father is a highly skilled carpenter.

            •  LPN usually requires at least an Associate's Degr (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Orinoco

              So that's Community College.  Finishing a 2 year degree shows some ability to stick with schoolwork.

            •  So chances are his looks and affability (0+ / 0-)

              are less of a factor in his success than his mother's educational accomplishments. There seems to be a correlation, statistically speaking.

              Good looks don't hurt, though, especially for someone in buisness for himself. People hiring contractors trust good looking people more than others not as handsome. People are funny that way.

              "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

              by Orinoco on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 10:44:03 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  For Biological Determinists, its true. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Orinoco

                The less liberally educated a person is, the more likely they are to distrust someone who doesn't look like them. Shown many times in research.

                Ergo, plain looking people, of whatever race, usually have to sell their services to people who have very limited Liberal Education; a four year degree in Literature, Arts, Economics, History, General Science or a combination of these will usually give people enough of the big picture to conclude that plain looking people are not to be discriminated against, since moral character is not shown on faces or body type.

                People who are educated liberally get over the stupidstitions of the past, and learn to deal rationally with the world, and give equal opportunity to all looks and shapes.

                Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

                by OregonOak on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 08:59:38 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Until we say it isnt... (0+ / 0-)

          and that time is coming when looks, charm and dick size simply dont matter as much as competence and intellect. The system is awash in sloppy money for the picking, and the charming and dickish can get it, but it is not the basis of a real economy.

          Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

          by OregonOak on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 08:34:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Handsome, personable and good work ethic (0+ / 0-)

            and somehow you read dick size and dickish? Sounds like you have an axe to grind.

            "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

            by Orinoco on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 10:49:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I know these "contractors" Orinoco (0+ / 0-)

              and anyone who touts the "success" of a charming young guy who is a "instant success" without an education is likely to be one of the arrogant, Rand Paul hypocrites whose self-esteem outstrips his talent. I understand how its done. These are the cookie cutter Salesmen/Grifter types our "false economy" generates into "all show and no go" "instant successes." I believe you should look beneath the surface a little more and question the charming family guy celebrity success stories you are so fond of. It ain't talent which gets them ahead.

              Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

              by OregonOak on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 04:12:18 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  You seem to be saying (0+ / 0-)

                that singlevoter, who touts the success of Mike, is a Rand Paul hypocrite with more self-esteem than talent. You also seem to think I am fond of charming family guy celebrity success stories, whatever those are. I think you are reading more into singlevoter and my comments than is actually there.

                "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

                by Orinoco on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 09:33:58 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Why tout someone who does it the Republican Way? (0+ / 0-)

                  They are not the rule, they are the exception. That is Republican style argument. Its not rational, its pure anecdote as symbol. Singlevoter doesnt get it. You can pull out a hundred of these guys and show me their "success" and I will show you statistics about how college educations help people live more productive, successful and happy lives. Dont stand up for those who dont get what "significance" means.

                  Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

                  by OregonOak on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 09:37:37 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Ah. I see. (0+ / 0-)

                    You are argueing with ManhattanMan and it seems to be coloring your interactions with me. You are not the first to suggest he is a one-trick-pony.

                    Well, keep at it. I find that when I have the time to research and refute his charter school talking points, he generally leaves the thread. But he is a persistant fellow.

                    "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

                    by Orinoco on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 03:49:58 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

      •  My former neighbor (0+ / 0-)

        has only an eighth grade education. She was once married to an oil field worker from Texas who died from lung cancer.

        Her daughters each make over $100,000/year.

        My former neighbor is a very smart and gracious lady. Her daughters are also very polite. Grandma is now ensuring her grandchildren will also be polite and well-behaved.

        She had to quit school for economic reasons (I assume her father was unemployed/disabled for a period of time).

    •  And getting rid of Stephan Pryor (0+ / 0-)

      would be an excellent first step to ensure Windham's success.

      A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. Ralph Waldo Emerson

      by Sprinkles on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 01:58:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site