March 31, 2005
Schools seek funding for Mission Impossible
Three dozen school district superintendents signed an open letter to legislators this month in which they asked for more education dollars to accomplish a mission they claim “has changed from providing universal access [to a quality education] to insuring universal success for all students.” [emphasis added]
They need the same reality check many critics have wisely voiced in the face of President Bush’s federal education mandates: No amount of money or time will ever make it possible to achieve universal academic success. Period. There is no virtue in denying this reality. Utopian ideals may sound nice, but few things are more destructive than utopian policy.
Consider the cost of assuming that universal academic success can be achieved through state policy: Short of complete control over all the factors contributing to a child’s ability to learn (nutrition, sleep patterns, relationships, family, habits, discipline, etc.), state education officials will never accept accountability for academic failure.
We see this happening already. State officials are not questioning their own policies in the face of stagnant and falling academic performance over the last two decades (as shown by every measure except the highly controversial and subjective WASL). Instead, they’re pressing for more money (claiming the current spending level of $125,944 over the lifetime of a K-12 student is not enough) and more involvement in the personal lives of students and their families.
Our schools cannot and should not try to become all things to all students. Parents cannot and should not expect them to.
We need to adopt realistic goals like the one outlined in our state constitution, which says it is the state’s paramount duty to “make ample provision for the education of all students.” Understanding that student capacity and motivation are not something the state can control, it does not attempt to guarantee that every student will succeed. Rather, it says every student will have an equal opportunity to succeed by earning a high quality education.
We know the elements of an excellent education: High quality teachers, clear and rigorous academic standards, strong school leaders, and local control and accountability. These should be the foundation of our education policy. When they are, we’ll see the outcome we desire: a large majority of students who are proficient in reading, writing, mathematics and the sciences, and who have a solid understanding of our cultural, scientific and historical heritage.
The three dozen superintendents who wrote to legislators this month need to abort Mission Impossible and adopt Mission Possible. Until they do, the only thing they can guarantee is failure.
Posted by Marsha Michaelis at March 31, 2005
10:20 AM | Email This
It's amazing how much opposition there is to getting parents involved in our schools. One of the common complaints is that parents won't get involved because they don't.
I wish federal and state legislators and administrators would back off, and point the finger for failure squarely on the local communities. That would do more for encouraging local participation that anything else. As it is, they get far too involved and people feel comfortable standing on the sidelines.
It reminds me of an anecdote - that may be true or not. A tourist in Yellowstone park was feeding the bears from his car. The ranger drove up and scolded the tourist, telling him how dangerous bears are and pointing to the signs that explicitly state that you must not feed the bears. The tourist nonchalantly replied that if it was so dangerous, the federal government wouldn't have allowed the bears to get so close to the car.
As long as we have state and federal intervention, the citizens in our communities will behave like that tourist, unaware of the dangers of a failing school system and ignorant of all the experts and signs pointing to the consequences of irresponsibility.
Over Easter we had a chance to talk to our family members who were teachers. They relate that the curriculum is based upon dumbing down the smarter kids to make things even. They weren't happy.
I always thought the idea was to bring the slower kids up rather than dumbing down the quicker ones.
And then, another student related she wanted to go to college (she is a sophomore) and I said she needed to go to that early college thing- Fast Start or whatever. She said she was too late.
So now, she has to take the high school curriculum which is complicated enough to get her a GED and she will have to go to college longer to get her degree.
And now, they want more money. Truthfully, that is the Locke, Gregoire, Gardner method. Throw enough money at a problem and it will disappear. My mom liked that strategy when she was a super at the DSHS, where she got to know these clowns.
3. Utopian ideals may sound nice, but few things are more destructive than utopian policy.
Carve that in stone.
The only single element of excellent education is: the passion to learn new truths (and how to synthethize and apply them).
Nothing else matters.
If the students do not have the passion (hopefully they get it from their parents since they won't be getting it from their peers), no amount of money or "strong leadership" or even "rigorous academic standards" will make much difference.
5. What the hell ya’ complaining about, after 12 years in the public education system your kid will be guaranteed to know how to put a condom on a banana isn't that what they are there for anyway?
6. Unfortunately, the superintendents don't have the choice to declare universal success Mission Impossible. The law now requires it. (Wasn't this one of the great accomplishments of Bush's first term?) I agree it won't work, but you can't really blame them for trying to get the funds to do what the law requires.
The No Child Left Behind Act should have been called the No Child Left Back Act -- to point people toward this book
I believe the idea that underpins "NCLB" is the elimination of the "soft prejudice of low expectations" which has reduced the quality of the education offered in too many public schools.
In most cases, I doubt that it will require more money -- but it will require the public schools to change the way they spend the available revenue.
For most of the 20th century, people who called themselves progressives searched for ways to offer something other than a sound academic education to all children in our common schools.
Their changes generally revolved around the idea of sorting children by ability and cutting short the number of years every child spent in common schools that offered the same educational opportunity to all. For example, until the early 20th century, the common schools went through the 8th grade -- with high school for only about a quarter of the students and the job market and apprenticeships for the others. Junior high schools were begun to shorten that period spent in common schools to the 6th grade and allow for a divergence of curricula in the 7th grade.
While "NCLB" cannot overcome the failure of some children (through unwillingness or inability) to learn, it could perhaps drive out the dinosaurs in our public schools who dogmatically believe that many children must be diverted into "dumbed down" curricula.
It will no doubt take a long while, but eventually we may know at what grade level the common school curriculum must end and different curricula must be offered.
While we search for that point, we must presume that all children can benefit from a common school curriculum -- rather than presume as did the progressives that most children cannot benefit and should be shunted onto a siding.
Passion and desire are great for adults but have little to do with educating children. What matters with children is discipline and repetition. You make that kid realize there really is no choice but to learn, all other choices are worse than studying, and that kid will learn. Period.
No, they will not all learn the same. Some will learn more. Some, amazingly, and despite all the discipline and boring repetition, WILL develop a passion to learn. But this will be rare, as always it has been and ever will be!
But a passion for learning simply isn't required to teach a kid to read and write, or to learn a little of history and science. What IS required is a classroom where INSTRUCTION rules, and not PC indoctrination.
There's a very simple way to get this result, and it will cost less money not more. Simply give parents a check for the same amount of money already being spent on their child, and then allow them to choose the school where that money and their child will go.
The market will do the rest. Wouldn't surprise me in the least to see per student costs fall even as test scores rise.
Barring something like this happening you can be sure I will be leaving the area by the time my kids are ready for school!
Agreed all the way down the line.
We need to take money away from education in order to save the kids from socialist communist indoctrination. We should move the administration of education back into the communities. Charter schools are a great way to go because parents are invested in the process, have authority over the curriculum and policies and are invested in the outcome. I don't know what the legalities are, but they are worth looking into.
It is not the building, but the essence of discipline and focus on learning---instead of indoctrination. Lets have schools teach respect for America through a study of history not the re-invention of it. Lets have students learn that the military is the leading edge of our efficacy as a nation not illicit carriers of dreaded firearms who plunder and murder. Lets have teachers teach math and science as math and science, not games where attempts at an answer are acceptable substitutes for the correct answer. Lets have social studies and government classes encourage critical thinking and individuality rather than coercing students into accepting degenerate liberal democrat political correctness as they do today.
The liberal morons that come to this website from time to time accepted this garbage and that is why they are incapable of thinking clearly now. I don't dispute the right of an idiot to be an idiot, but I object to paying school teachers to coerce bright capable students into being useful idiots.
Sure it costs money, but not what we are currently paying and certainly not what they (liberals) would have us pay. I would bet that the best teachers would love to work in an environment where they are allowed to teach instead of indictrinate under the supervision and constraint of the WEA, and the NEA.
Chuck, think about it . You may be the very one to push for something like this for your own kid's sake and for the health and wealth of the community in which you live.
10. Does anyone here even know what the provisions of ,"No Child Left Behind", are? I know what they are and I can see you don't. The utopian goals you are accusing liberal educators of foisting on the public ARE the provisions of ,"No Child Left Behind." You say they are impossible to attain and you are correct. When the unobtainable and unfunded goals are not achieved by 2014 it will be cited as proof that public schools are failing and the voucher system will be pitched as the solution. Do you think that educators can not organize and put together a program that will get parents to give them the vouchers? Wake up!
11. Headless, Why are you so afraid of vouchers? I always thought Choice was a good thing.
If I wrote you a check for 1 million dollars- tell me what you will spend it on, and what the measurable difference will be in 1 year and 5 years that you are not achieving now and who gets fired when that doesn't happen.
I have not once seen this from a public school.
Absent that commitment, the cost of inaction is zero.
13. I'm not. I'm already prepared to give parents more for their money than any greed- based corporation could envision.
Truly educating young people takes more vision than either public schools or corporate back-to-basics "take the money and run" schools can do. Do you really think anyone is going to teach for cheap? These private schools you think are going to do so much better than public schools are going to fall flat on their faces unless they are willing to pay the teachers a good wage. Private schools pay poorly compared to public schools. Many teachers are smart enough to organize themselves and out perform any potential "private" competitors.
14. Andy:Educating someone is not as cut- and- dried as programming a computer.You are right to want some numbers to give you an idea where the school is headed and how they intend to prove they will accomplish what they say they will. I think that a school's philosophy of education is as important as any quantifiable goal they might give you. Look at it this way: Would you expect a driving teacher to give exact statistics on how many tickets his students will or won't get after completing the course or would you consider that the instuctor's philosophy of driver- education might be a better predictor of student performance? Without the past as a predictor, you just won't really know until a track record is established.
15. I think one other problem that no one has brought up is not so much that parents dont get involved but that they get involved in ways that aggravate the problem. If a kid brings home a failing grade too many parents go to the school to chew out the staff. They dont take action against their child. A lot of schools will not allow a kid to fail just to receive financials aid from the goverment but to avoid lawsuits and harrasment. I have been through this myself with my child. He had 2 F's on his online grade report so I laid in to him. He lives with his mother though and one phone call to the principal from her and he was allowed to do some lame makeup projects and got both his grades up to a C a week after the grades were supposed to come out on his report card. They held his report card until he could finish the projects. It might help if parents punished the kids when they failed instead of the school.
16. Good point, Lesterman. An effective program of discipline in a school need not be Draconian, but it does have to be consistent and lay the main responsibility for failure on the individual that did the failing work. My own personal story on this is that I have a smart, achieving 17 year-old that has very poor basic math skills. I have told everyone for years that the calculator needs to be taken away and all mathematical manipulations must be done manually. Everyone now agrees that I was right and have dumped the responsibility for tutoring her on me. I'll do it, but understand this: I'm not a liberal with low standards and a long fuse. I ,too, insist on performance from students.
Headless, then why haven't the private schools fallen flat on their face? They seem to be doing very well.
It says a lot about public schools that teachers are willing to have less pay to be able to work at private schools. These schools on average are doing better than the average public school. Doesn't that say anything to you?
If you feel that private schools will fall flat on their face, why is there so much resistance to vouchers? How does organizing themselves improve their performance as opposed to their salary?
Out of interest, which companies do you feel are "greed-based"? Also does price enter into any purchasing decisions you make?
18. Got that backwards - private school teachers getting paid less than public school teachers...
19. I believe the reason students perform better at private schools is in large part because the parents are actually writing a check every month for their childs education and you better believe that this check is not a pittance. I dont know of too many parents that would do this and not hold their child accountable for his performance. It is too bad that public schools are completely free. If we had to pay for our children's transportation, books and supplies I bet parents would be a lot more involved in making sure that they got a return (passing grades) on their investment.
Q: Do I feel convinced I should part with additional investment?
Acceptable metrics for my dollar. A significant increase in:
% going on to higher ed. PLUS
% with above average earning after grad for non secondary school.
% outperforming other districts on SAT's.
% decrease in drop out.
% [increase] going on to start/own their own business.
If you can't deliver these simple metrics, don't ask for my money. If I cut the funding in half, tell me exactly and specifically what gets lost and what metrics will be missed. This is fundamental and the fact that schools can only communicate in fuzzy nonspecifics tells me funding really isn't that tight.
Don't sell voters a pig in a polk, we ain't buying it. If teachers could correlate a 20% pay raise to those or similar metrics, bet your farm I'm for it.
Our son graduated from high school with decent grades. When he hit the college campus, though, he found himself having to take preparatory classes in English and math because the local high school, where he received his passing grades and qualified for his high school diploma, had not adequately prepared him for college-level coursework.
Should I be willing to dump more of my hard-earned cash into a school system where teachers whine about how hard it is to meet standards, and yet fail to prepare their students for basic college-level courses?
Should I dump more money into a system that does everything it can to resist a performance audit conducted by a disinterested out-of-state firm?
Should I dump more money into a system that's more interested in indoctrinating my kid in a series of school administration-sanctioned agendas instead of teaching him how to think independently and equipping himself with the tools he needs to perform well as a productive member of society?
I think not.
Home-schoolers are taking most of the independent competitive academic awards. Most home-schooled kids I know are well adjusted with their age cohorts, are active in community activities, and can actually hold their own in conversation with me. The public school kids who can do the same are generally enrolled in Running Start programs because their public schools don't provide the challenge they need for their personal goals. Running start kids are punished by the public education system for participating in Running Start by being placed at the back of the line when it comes to participating in extracurricular activities. In the school district where I live, they are not allowed to be on campus at lunchtime if they have a Running Start class on either side of their lunch block.
(How dare they seek education opportunities that take money out of the school district's pockets??? They have to be made to pay for the error of their ways!!)
If our public school teachers and administrations are going to continue this line of attitude, I darn sure don't want them to get more funding than they already do.
Thanks headless for the perfect example.
Headless is the perfect case in point. She is a liberal with low standards and a short fuse who believes that money is the key to improved education. Everything she says is evidence that she wouldn't know the truth if it walked up and slapped her on the a$$. She is a perfect example of the type of person who is "teaching" our children and why many of them are so clueless and twisted when they leave High School. Thankfully even children can see through her and many of her contemporaries' arrogant idiocy.
Anyone can get a teaching degree if they will abide politically correct liberal stupidity long enough. Headless is proof of the very reason why we should make radical changes in our edicational system. If we really want to make sure no child is left behind, insist on strict testing of teachers that would rid school staffs of morons like Headless Lucy. The test would be fair, just ask her to answer a simple question without equivocation and/or idiotic no-sequiturs.
Thanks again Lucy, perfect place for the perfect person.
Oh, I forgot to mention. We will have to wait until tommorrow for Lucy to reply----while she is on school district time.
Thanks again headless, you are a doodle.
1 : amusing or laughable through obvious absurdity, incongruity, exaggeration, or eccentricity
2 : meriting derisive laughter or scorn as absurdly inept, false, or foolish
Headless Lucy, a public school employee (and presumed educator), commenting on this blog between 1:32 pm and 2:37 pm on a school day, while complaining about the voucher system and getting upset that we don't want to give public schools unlimited money.
Headless, you're wasting our money every day by getting indignant on this blog. Do you understand why we don't want to give public schools any more money until they show the ability to educate our children to some reasonable level? Do you understand why we don't want to give you more money until you stop screwing off your workday on the internet and start educating?
Actually, given your totally upside-down bassackwards worldview, maybe we should be glad you're here and thankful that you are not teaching any more.
The not-so-subtle true goal of NCLB is to undercut the current "educational" power structure and provide the basis for dramatic change.
Talk to the teachers at your schools. They aren't just against the WASL, they are against any attempt to measure their performance, and will be happy to provide any number of reasons that measurement is impossible.
The WASL is a joke test(for instance, you can't pass the math portion unless you are good at verbal skills, but you can do very well on verbal with no math skills). NCLB doesn't do what it was sold to do, but it probably does what we need it to do, which is point out the widespread failures in current practice.
The real point of all of this is to attempt to measure and evaluate the performance of our schools. If you don't like NCLB, suggest an alternative. No whining.
26. Most private schools have a religious agenda. They don't perform better academically. Most of the teachers jump ship when they find a job that pays better. And how do you know they're happier teaching in private schools?
To say that "most private schools have a religious agenda" is to reveal that you don't know a whole lot about private schools. I, on the other hand, am a real live honest to goodness preppie, in that I attended and graduated from a bona fide New England prep school.
We certainly performed a heck of a lot better academically than our public school counterparts, and that was in a time when public schools were still teaching civics and history, instead of a variety of social studies and current issues substitutes. My school, and the majority of other private schools are still teaching solid coursework that actually prepares students for college and the "real world".
My school, along with most other private schools, did not have a religious agenda. Although we attended a short non-denominational chapel session every morning in my day, that was taken out of the school's routine years ago.
Our teachers were not paid as well as public school teachers, and our school was not at the mercy of the teacher unions. There was virtually no turnover in teaching staff at the school, a tradition that continues today. The physics teacher I had when I was there in the late 1960s retired four years ago. He remained there, even through a tussle with cancer in the 1980s, without missing a year.
Another teacher I had began teaching there in the late 1940s, retiring in 1998. He kept coming back for a variety of things from the time he retired until shortly before he died two years ago.
They were not at all exceptional in my experience with private schools. Most of the schools we met in sports competitions had a majority of teachers and staff who had spent entire teaching careers with them, and knew many a student's father from when he was one of their students. A few would know grandfathers for the same reason.
I'd say that would tend to indicate that those teachers were happier teaching in private schools than they would have been in the public school sector. We had professional teachers...which is a world of difference from those teachers who chase the almighty dollar...and only see teaching as a job.
I'd rather have a professional teacher any day, and if our son had been willing to get out of town to a private school, I would have been delighted. Had wanted to go to my alma mater, he would have taken some of his classes from the same teachers as I had. Whatever else the experience did for him, he would have been prepared for college coursework before he even signed up for his courses. Chances are he would have been accepted at better universities, too.
Your one paragraph above speaks volumes to me. Perhaps you should explore some of the private schools available around here in a bit greater depth. You might find a whole lot more quality and dedication in them than you seem to believe possible.
28. Actually Headless, they all have a good acedemic agenda and some add religious teachings on top of that. You also say that as if it were evil, or saying that public school is the place where religion is completely left out.
29. Gaelwolf: Just because you went to a good private prep. school back East does not make you knowledgeable about most private schools. One school is not a valid representative sample---unless you're a Republican. Private schools, by and large, pay alot lower than public schools. And, knowing the vast amount that you do about free enterprise, you surely must realize that a starting salary of of $26,000 will attract fewer competent educators than a starting salary of $32,000.
Chuck wrote "What matters with children is discipline and repetition. You make that kid realize there really is no choice but to learn, all other choices are worse than studying, and that kid will learn. Period."
I won't go into the details of my past here (which you can read in my blog), but what you're advocating is what Toffler foretold long ago:
mass education ...taught ...three courses:
one in punctuality,
one in obedience, and
one in rote, repetitive work.
-- The Third Wave, 1980, p 29.
Which was good for the industrial age but not what I want for my children living in the 21st century.
Besides, if you read "Eintein Never Used Flash Cards : How Our Children Really Learn-- And Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less", play (we call it "self-directed studies" at our home) is far more important part of education than memorization.
Headless, I never thought I would hear such capitalist language being uttered by you! You obviously think, from your last post, that it is $ and only $ that drive people. What a greedy capitalist point of view! When companies do that, though, you label them "evil greedy big corporations".
One reason that teachers will accept lower pay is that the working environment is much better and no union dues. You see, not everyone fits your stereotypical view of republicans.
By any relevant measurement, private schools that have a religious agenda perform decisively better academically than public schools. For the most part, the leaders of the future will continue to come from such schools. Gaelwolf has discovered the little concealed secret that many more of us would be wise to heed. Public school education is broken in a serious way, and it won't get any better with the approach reiterated for the millionth time by the liberal pinheads.
Test scores are far higher, enrollment much more stable in private scjools, and the drop-out rates are far higher in public schools than private ones. Issues of discipline and the pretense at virtue of diversity (cultural division) and zero tolerance are absent in most private schools. When allowed, students become united in academic acheivement rather than liberal socialist dogma. Imagine , they can call Christmas Christmas in private school too!
For these reasons many public school teachers are afraid of discussion about private schools and they spread the type of superficial lies headless tells. These "teachers" fear loss of control over the captive audience of children who hate school because they instinctively know they are being cheated out of an education. They resent being told by idiots like lucy what to think rather than being shown by example how to learn. And they won't curse again at being passed through high school like cattle only to find that they are utterly unprepared for college.
Many teachers, especially conservative ones, look for opportunities to teach where they are not required to deal with the NEA, WEA, political correctness, and bigoted arrogant idiots like Headless Lucy. Thanks again lucy just for being you.
33. Now, I think that's a little harsh there, Amused.
Headless is busy on another thread trying to define "dimwit".....
If you had those figures, you would have produced them and gave me your source. I would then impeach your source, that you know.
I am, as ever,
Amused by your Hot Air
You indulge in many generalizations about private schools yet fail to offer any facts that demonstrate any real understanding of private schools.
My wife taught math in Connecticut public middle and high schools for 7 years before taking a job at a private school in North Carolina. At the time, CT had the highest average teacher salaries of any state (I think they still do), yet she was happy to make the change. Salaries at her new school were virtually dead-even with the area's public schools. The salaries weren't great, but they were in fact comparable, but the key was that the quality of the students was exponentially better than in the public schools. My wife constantly remarked how much more advanced the curricula were, and how hard the students had to work to meet the requirements of the school.
Due to a change in my job, we have moved to Los Angeles and she was able to get a teaching job at one of the best private schools in LA. It is a part of an Episcopal church parish, so the kids wear uniforms and attend chapel once a week. If that constitutes a "religious agenda" then so be it. That "agenda" helps develop true character and compassion in contrast to the mealy-mouthed "tolerance" the liberals push in public schools. What can't be disputed is that the school's faculty salaries are in the top 5% of any school in Los Angeles, and that the private schools in this area tend to pay significantly better than any of the public schools. The students are held to far more rigorous standards than a public school would even dream of. As in NC, my wife tells me that she teaches topics to 8th graders that public schools generally don't cover until 10th or even 11th grade.
It's also instructive that private schools, especially religiously-connected ones, require extensive parent participation in school activities. Contrast this with the government day care approach so often seen in public schools.
Does this mean all private schools are like this? Obviously not. But I can tell you that I have had up close and personal involvement in private schools in two very different states, and the bottom line is that your generalizations are embarrassingly uninformed. I experienced the public/private comparison, and the public schools don't hold a candle to the private.
Again, the arguments made by lucy are illustrative of her judgment and her lack of poise and balance. One look at the claims presented by her on this thread reveals a person who demands evidence and proof from others after she provides absolutely nothing of the kind to support her own hasty unsupported contentions. She obviously "feels" that she can get away with this peremptory approach with those outside of her authoritarian classroom control as well.
Her opinions are counseled only by the fear that she may lose the power to control others with untempered and ill-gotten authority. A would-be bully, she bashes ideas she doesn't understand and I imagine childrens ideas as well if they don't tow the liberal fascist line. She believes that money is the whole solution to everything (so long as it is someoene else's money) and she belies her own claims of virtue by making the claims on school district time while being paid instead to teach. She gets away with arrogant shiftless tactics with students who cannot fight back, so it is understandable that she would think everyone will accept them.
Personally, I couldn't care less if lucy agrees with anything I say, but I am appreciative that she chooses to use this forum to expose her rambling desultory nonsense, and her utter lack of reasoning skills for our examination and benefit.
I ask you all. Is this the type of person you want teaching your children?
37. I think the question to ask is why do the small midwest States do better than the liberal northwester State, or did I answer my own question?
38. I'm multi-tasking. I'm the professional, not you. You don't have a leg to stand on.
39. Lets not forget the school systems other way of passing unprepared students through. Have them diagnosed with ADD, give them adderal and file a 504 form and then excuse every missing assignment and failed test with that form. Just another typical liberal policy. "No one is to blame for their own actions as long as there is a living parent, disease or syndrome to take the fall"