Commentary: An Opportunity and Imperative to Change Our Schools

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This weekend, a Stanford professor of education and sociology wrote a provocative editorial entitled, “No Rich Child Left Behind.”  Except, of course, it was neither provocative nor particularly surprising.

Professor Sean Reardon opens by writing, “Here’s a fact that may not surprise you: the children of the rich perform better in school, on average, than children from middle-class or poor families. Students growing up in richer families have better grades and higher standardized test scores, on average, than poorer students; they also have higher rates of participation in extracurricular activities and school leadership positions, higher graduation rates and higher rates of college enrollment and completion.”

As he noted, “This is hardly news.”  However, he adds, “What is news is that in the United States over the last few decades these differences in educational success between high- and lower-income students have grown substantially.”

He argued, “Using information from a dozen large national studies conducted between 1960 and 2010, I found that the rich-poor gap in test scores is about 40 percent larger now than it was 30 years ago.”

He then creates an example to illustrate this phenomenon: “To make this trend concrete, consider two children, one from a family with income of $165,000 and one from a family with income of $15,000. These incomes are at the 90th and 10th percentiles of the income distribution nationally, meaning that 10 percent of children today grow up in families with incomes below $15,000 and 10 percent grow up in families with incomes above $165,000.

“In the 1980s, on an 800-point SAT-type test scale, the average difference in test scores between two such children would have been about 90 points; today it is 125 points. This is almost twice as large as the 70-point test score gap between white and black children. Family income is now a better predictor of children’s success in school than race.”

This is not uniformly the case.  As we have written on these pages a number of times, the achievement gap in Davis is both socioeconomic and racial.  Controlling for socioeconomic factors, there is a large and pervasive achievement gap in our schools.  One of the strongest predictors of success for students is actually education level of the parents, rather than strictly income level.

However, in Davis, if you hold that variable constant, the racial achievement gap remains.  Among college educated parents, African-American and Latino students perform demonstrably and significant lower than their Asian or Caucasian counterparts.

It should not be particularly surprising that Davis students would fare better than their counterparts from elsewhere in the state.  After all, not only is Davis one of the most well-educated communities in the state, but the voters have passed five parcel taxes since 2007.

An article in the Davis Enterprise today bears this out.  For instance, look at the achievement gap “for the percentage of high school graduates in Davis completing all courses required for University of California and/or California State University admission.”  The Enterprise reports: “For Davis, the state reported that 86.9 percent of Asian students and 72 percent of white students met the college admission requirements, but those figures were only 63.7 percent for African-Americans and 39 percent for Latinos.”

On the other hand, the statewide numbers were lower across the board with: “66.5 percent for Asians, 54.4 percent for whites, 38.1 percent for African-Americans and 27.3 percent for Latinos.”

“The higher percentages for Davis are not surprising, given that census data indicates a very high percentage of adults living in Davis have earned a college degree of some kind,” the Enterprise writes. “Numerous studies have indicated there is a considerable correlation between a high parent education level and the likelihood of their children graduating from high school and going on to college.”

Superintendent Winfred Roberson, in noting the high graduation rate, wrote to parents recently that “earning a high school diploma results in an average increase of about 40 percent in lifetime earnings, reduces the rate of incarceration by 35 percent, and opens the door for all the opportunities in college and beyond.”

But our concern remains, whether it is in this set of statistics or the STAR testing that students have been taking the last two weeks, that Davis schools may work better across the board than the statewide average, but they do not work equally well for all students.

With struggles come opportunities.  For the first time in a long time, the district is not dealing with a structural deficit and the need either to cut programs or raise parcel taxes.

The district floated the idea of moving 9th graders to the high school as a means to potentially deal with a budget deficit – a budget deficit that is now gone and, as the reconfiguration discussion blew up in the face of public criticism and concern, the district opted for a more generalized approach.

Last weekend, I floated the idea that, instead of using the newly-devised strategic process to tweak the district on the edges, we actually look at making big changes.

I suggested there are two critical opportunities here.

First, the community has been willing to fund the district.  That is not true in many other communities.  But in Davis, not only have the voters approved five parcel tax measures since 2007, but individual donors have stepped up on multiple occasions to help backfill programs that otherwise would have to be cut.

Second, just as Davis finds itself well-positioned to take advantage of economic development efforts, the same resources exist within this community for our students.  Whether we are looking at tapping into technology companies for supplies or resources, or human capital for their expertise, we are simply not taking advantage of the wealth of resources that we have already.

Floating the idea to the actual policymakers drew lukewarm reception at best.  At worst, they were skeptical that these sorts of changes would work and, at best, they wanted to see a much more specific framework and proposal.

We have it pretty good in Davis and yet, even here, the schools do not work well for everyone.

The data presented by Professor Reardon is eye-opening.  He noted a conference in San Francisco of 14,000 educators and educational scholars gathering around a theme: “Can schools provide children a way out of poverty?”

“We are still talking about this despite decades of clucking about the crisis in American education and wave after wave of school reform. Whatever we’ve been doing in our schools, it hasn’t reduced educational inequality between children from upper- and lower-income families,” he writes.

“Part of knowing what we should do about this is understanding how and why these educational disparities are growing. For the past few years, alongside other scholars, I have been digging into historical data to understand just that. The results of this research don’t always match received wisdom or playground folklore,” he continues.

The core is this: “The most potent development over the past three decades is that the test scores of children from high-income families have increased very rapidly. Before 1980, affluent students had little advantage over middle-class students in academic performance; most of the socioeconomic disparity in academics was between the middle class and the poor. But the rich now outperform the middle class by as much as the middle class outperform the poor. Just as the incomes of the affluent have grown much more rapidly than those of the middle class over the last few decades, so, too, have most of the gains in educational success accrued to the children of the rich.”

What my hope is that Davis can become leaders in this area.  That we can actually be the innovators and fix our achievement gap and, in so doing, help the rest of the nation figure out how to fix its own.

If that means we have to bring in stakeholders to a strategic planning process who are willing to think outside of the proverbial box and bring in new ideas and approaches, then let’s do it.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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78 thoughts on “Commentary: An Opportunity and Imperative to Change Our Schools”

  1. JustSaying

    Excellent points that deserve much more analysis and discussion as the district looks at potential changes. Given the emotion already surfacing, it’s going to be difficult to focus such issues, however.

    What studies have shown that, “Controlling for socioeconomic factors, there is a large and pervasive achievement gap (based on race) in (Davis) schools”? Methodology, etc.?

  2. David M. Greenwald

    It was some of the Star testing analysis, they were able to do basic correlation analyses holding factors like parent’s education level constant and then looking at the scores by racial category.

  3. wdf1

    I don’t know if strategic planning to address the achievement gap counts as tweaking around the edges or as making big changes.

    DJUSD shows 1917 students as “socioeconomically disadvantaged” in the current school year.

    It would be nice to hear a summary report of observations made among academic counselors to see if there are patterns of coursework, programs, and activities that appear to work and those that don’t. The advantage of consulting academic counselors is that they are likelier to know students personally, and could better assess different dimensions of the issue.

    Most academic counselors are employed at the secondary level. I understand that there are some part-time counselors here and there at the elemenary level, seemingly handling bullying and emotional issues among students. I would wonder if employing additional academic counselors at the elementary level, focused more on achievement gap issues, and possibly serving as advocates for target students to navigate various programs in the district and community, would have a positive impact.

  4. JustSaying

    One question is how parents’ incomes and other variables were isolated in order to determine that differences were based on students’ races. Where can we read the studies that found a large, pervasive achievement gaps completely based on race rather any other factors?

  5. Frankly

    Well the perpetual teacher-union-lovin’, left of left, politicians in this state are working hard to “fix” the economic class gap. First, they pushed making California the highest-taxed state in the union… punishing those that produce jobs and wealth the most. Next, they will make sure that the few remaining successful people get less school money for their districts:
    [quote]A controversial plan to shift billions of dollars in school funds toward the poorest school districts is fast becoming a personal mission for Gov. Jerry Brown (D), who this week promised “the battle of their lives” to legislators who dare to oppose it.

    Brown’s program would also allow local administrators to spend their money as they see fit — a vast change from the current system. The proposed system has caught the attention of school activists across the nation who say California would be among a few states to emphasize the needs of disadvantaged students so emphatically while also allowing local control of the money.

    The proposal is set against a backdrop of financial pain in California’s 10,000 schools. Activists, teachers unions and parent groups are all calling for changes. In recent weeks, numerous education bills have been proposed and suspended, including two that would tie teacher evaluations to student performance.[/quote]
    This is a Democrat solution: drag down the successful people to a lower level so the less successful people can feel better about themselves by comparison.

    One big problem with this approach… with less return for being successful there is less incentive to work as hard to be successful.

    Another big problem with this approach… it will not work.

    Another approach… reform the formal education system to do more with less. This is the correct approach because otherwise we will fail closing the gap. We will fail because increase taxation and greater income redistribution will only cut more crappy-education-system-supplementing-families from the maker class, moving them to the taker class. Meanwhile, those fewer successful maker people will just pay a greater share of their wealth and time to ensure that their little darlings achieve that ivy league college experience. The gap will still exist, we will have just increased the costs to increase the number of poorly-educated students.

  6. Don Shor

    [i]”…drag down the successful people to a lower level so the less successful people can feel better about themselves by comparison.” [/i]
    NO, he is proposing increasing resources for the lower-performing schools and lower-performing districts, and providing them with greater flexibility in using that money. I am baffled by your opposition to this.

  7. Don Shor

    Here is the governor’s proposal: [url]http://www.dof.ca.gov/reports_and_periodicals/district_estimate/documents/LCFF_Policy_Brief.pdf[/url]

    For the first time in decades, we have a governor who is committed to a serious funding overhaul of the state’s education system.

    Key paragraph: “Schools would be transitioned to the Formula using Proposition 98 growth funding. No schools will receive less funding than their 2012-13 funding level as a result of the Formula. Over the first five years of formula implementation, per student funding on a statewide basis is projected to increase by more than $2,700.”

  8. Frankly

    He is going to take resources away from some districts to redistribute to poor districts. This will impact Davis school funding. I support the greater flexibility, and the concept of helping the poorer-performing districts. But just giving more funding to schools that are demonstrating the worst outcomes is a stupid idea. It will just drive up the total spending on education without anything close to commensurate improvement.

    We need education reform, not greater spending. Spending has tripled over the last 40 years. Education has gotten crappier. Yet Democrats and the teachers unions still manage to push this false PR campaign that the problem with schools is funding shortfalls. There is no evidence to back up the claim that greater spending on the current system as designed is a good investment. The increases will go into the pockets of the education system employees, and the students will still be stuck with a model that does not prepare them well enough to achieve an economically self-sufficient life.

    All this plan will do is to smooth some of the sharp edges of crappiness to provide cover for the need for reform… so those education system employees can achieve their retirement before the public gets it and demands that the entire corrupt mess be fixed.

  9. Don Shor

    [i]He is going to take resources away from some districts to redistribute to poor districts.
    [/i]
    Nope.

    [i] This will impact Davis school funding.
    [/i]
    No it won’t.

    [i]But just giving more funding to schools that are demonstrating the worst outcomes is a stupid idea.
    [/i]
    Of course it’s not a stupid idea. If they have more special ed students, they need more special ed teachers. Etc.

    [i]before the public gets it and demands that the entire corrupt mess be fixed.[/i]
    Most people are satisfied with the schools that their kids attend.

  10. Frankly

    [i]This will impact Davis school funding.

    No it won’t.[/i]
    [quote]Brown says that districts would be held harmless; no district would receive less than they get now. But that’s not the whole story, because the funding for dozens of special programs, called categoricals, such as teacher training and textbooks, that Acalanes and other districts get now – already 25 percent less than five years ago – will be frozen. Only districts’ base funding and the supplemental money for needy children will get yearly increases. If you’re a district primarily without targeted students like Acalanes (2 percent low-income and 2 percent English learners), all you would get under full funding would be basically the revenue limit.

    Acalanes Superintendent John Nickerson calls the hold-harmless guarantee misleading.
    Acalanes Union High School District Superintendent John Nickerson calls the hold-harmless guarantee misleading.

    “It’s misleading to say hold harmless,” Nickerson said. “Hold harmless is to hold at inadequate funding.”
    [/quote]

  11. JustSaying

    Some good news in Jeff Hudson’s [i]Enterprise[/i] reports today:

    1. DHS and Da Vinci are highly rated in state performance index calculations and U.S. News’ “best high school” rankings.

    2. Graduation rates for Davis students: African-American (100%), Asian (97.5%), white (94.4%).

    One wonders whether the current practice of recruiting “out-of-district transfer students” will affect decisions about changes being studied.

    There are about 550 such kids in the Davis system, including 72 from Dixon and 99 from West Sac, according to a recent [i]Enterprise[/i] story. The number of students from Woodland jumped from 94 five years ago to the present 328.

    This trend has grown dramatically since Davis stopped allowing such students years ago, a move that had one of my co-workers sell his Woodland home and buy in Davis in order to keep his kids in Davis schools.

    While this practice brings in some additional state funding, the high numbers may end up driving decisions that would not be in our interest down the road. Furthermore, the added state support cannot be covering the costs of the outside students now being subsidized by Davis residents’ parcel taxes.

    Without the 550 out-of-district students, the district likely already would have been faced with another neighborhood school closure. We’re effectively able to avoid critical decisions about future educational needs of Davis students by relying on this massive influx of Woodland, Davis and West Sacramento residents.

  12. David M. Greenwald

    “He is going to take resources away from some districts to redistribute to poor districts.”

    Prop 98 precludes that from happening.

  13. wdf1

    JustSaying: [i]There are about 550 such kids in the Davis system, including 72 from Dixon and 99 from West Sac, according to a recent Enterprise story. The number of students from Woodland jumped from 94 five years ago to the present 328.[/i]

    But I also wonder how much of this is happening because of Da Vinci’s Charter School status; I think it would account for a significant amount of the transfer population. It is easier to get into charter schools from other districts than to do a traditional interdistrict transfer.

  14. JustSaying

    It would be good to see the numbers, wdf1. What schools have how many out-of-district students and how have these numbers changed during the past 10 years? On the flip side, what are the numbers of Davis kids attending each school and what is projected for the next 10-25 years?

    Since each out-of-district request requires justifications, the district should know whether Da Vinci’s charter school reputation is drawing these students. I presume they also consider how the imports affect the quality of education provided at each school.

  15. wdf1

    JustSaying: [i]Furthermore, the added state support cannot be covering the costs of the outside students now being subsidized by Davis residents’ parcel taxes.[/i]

    Also, I understand that charter schools work off of their own budgets, not the districts. And that local parcel taxes go to the local school district, not the charter schools.

  16. wdf1

    Frankly: [i]We need education reform, not greater spending.[/i]

    You were on record as opposing the local school parcel taxes because you thought it was unfair that Davis raise revenue unilaterally, whereas other districts couldn’t or wouldn’t. Well Brown proposes something that will address your concern. Also, you were on record supporting Prop. 30.

    You seem to be all over the map in your criticism of education, like a chronic naysayer. But no realistic or workable solutions.

    Davis has a better chance than the state or federal government of creating a workable model for Davis.

  17. Hmmmm...

    [quote]It would be good to see the numbers, wdf1. What schools have how many out-of-district students and how have these numbers changed during the past 10 years? On the flip side, what are the numbers of Davis kids attending each school and what is projected for the next 10-25 years? [/quote]

    Students leave Davis, too. They attend charter (e.g. Natomas Charter School) and private schools (e.g. Christian Brothers, Waldorf), and they drop out. It would be interesting to know those numbers and their demographics, as well. For example, is DJUSD losing capable poor students to Catholic schools? Would the acheivement gap look even worse if the Jesuit students stayed?

  18. Frankly

    [i]frankly is consistent, he’s opposed to public education.[/i]

    I am not opposed to public education, I am opposed to the formal education system as currently designed. However, I do think we should have more private schools and vouchers and choice.

  19. Frankly

    [i]Well Brown proposes something that will address your concern.[/i]

    I don’t think it will. I think it will go into the pockets of education system employees.

  20. wdf1

    JustSaying: [i]It would be good to see the numbers, wdf1.[/i]

    The recent enrollment projection study, present in the agenda packet for the 2/21/13 school board meeting, says 95 students for Da Vinci Charter, grades 7-12. It is the largest percentage of out of district students for any school.

  21. wdf1

    Hmmm… [i]Students leave Davis, too. They attend charter (e.g. Natomas Charter School) and private schools (e.g. Christian Brothers, Waldorf), and they drop out.[/i]

    If they attend Davis schools from 9th grade onward, it’s possible to know something close to the dropout rate.

    I suspect that there aren’t as many Davis students leaving the district to attend elsewhere as might be the case with other districts. I’d base that in part on the fact that the [url]Davis Merryhill School has planned to close[/url] due in part to low enrollment.

    [i] It would be interesting to know those numbers and their demographics, as well.[/i]

    But that will never happen because those schools aren’t required to release such information.

  22. wdf1

    Davis Merryhill School has planned to close ([url]http://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/schools-news/merryhill-school-to-close-south-davis-campus/[/url])

  23. Robb Davis

    Frankly – I am surprised at your reaction to Brown’s proposal. This morning on the local NPR station the focus was entirely on this element (that you quoted):

    [quote]Brown’s program would also allow local administrators to spend their money as they see fit — a vast change from the current system.[/quote]

    Brown used the term “subsidiarity” in the interview I heard. Subsidiarity (especially in education) is something that conservatives (paleo-conservatives anyway) support entirely. I would assume that this aspect would be very appealing to you. Again, Brown focused on this element of his proposal.

    BTW: Subsidiarity as Brown is using it is straight out of Catholic Social Teaching.

  24. Frankly

    The future of education (just a taste…)
    [url]http://schoolofone.org/[/url]
    [url]http://landing.k12.com/[/url]
    [url]http://thevhscollaborative.org/[/url]
    [url]http://landing.keystoneschoolonline.com/[/url]
    [url]http://www.connectionsacademy.com/home.aspx[/url]
    [url]http://www.nuvhs.org/[/url]
    [url]http://lbpoly.schoolloop.com/[/url]
    [url]http://www.apple.com/education/ibooks-textbooks/[/url]
    [url]https://www.udacity.com/[/url]
    [url]http://www.amplify.com/[/url]

    5 Great Ways to Use Technology in Arts and Humanities
    [url]http://www.amplify.com/article/5-great-ways-use-technology-arts-and-humanities[/url]
    [url]http://www.berkleepulse.net/[/url]

  25. Frankly

    Robb – I want parents to get the money in the form of a voucher and I want them to have choice. Certainly local administrators might develop more choice in their districts, but I expect most of them to pursue their own interests. We might get a better education model test lab and new ideas will emerge, but I expect that we will just see more good money being spent on the same or similar education approaches that are way too behind the times for our current and future needs.

    This extra money is breathing a big sigh of relief into many administrators that would otherwise have to accept reform and new models. So, in this respect, it will push back the hands of time and delay a day of reckoning when the need for complete reform will be accepted by enough people.

  26. Mr.Toad

    Frank is right because even the good schools are badly underfunded. You can see this from the ongoing deficits in Davis where class sizes in the early grades are up 50% in the last few years. Brown’s formula doesn’t address the hole we are starting from at the local level even in a community as willing as Davis to fund public education. The rest of Frankly’s rhetoric is the same right wing, bash the unions, Milton Friedman, voucher, charter school nonsense that has been around for 60 years but is yet to prove itself.

    Anyway, if we look at what has happened we can see that here in California the rich have mostly abandoned and de-funded public education since Serrano, bussing and Prop 13. Don’t forget that California has had Republican Governors for 22 of the last 30 years and some of these Governors were so anti-teacher union that they would only put money in the budget for education if it wasn’t available for salaries. This is one reason there are so many categorical lines in the budget that Jerry Brown is trying to reform. Meanwhile, those with money have spent it on education for their children, piano lessons, math tutors, SAT Prep classes, private schools with small classes, computers, you name it. Those with formal education can read to their children daily, help with homework, make sure the kids are in class everyday, feed them breakfast, inculcate in their children that school is important, buy them whatever supplies they need and provide them with a safe and secure home environment where they can thrive and focus on learning.

    To simulate this for all children who come from less fortunate families would cost a huge amount of money but there are some things we know that can help. We know that the earlier you provide intervention the cheaper it is and the greater the benefits. If we were really serious instead of spending money on test scores we would spend it on universal pre-school. Instead of buying tests from McGraw Hill we would pay teachers more to attract new hires from the upper ranks of their classes providing the most dynamic role models available. Instead of worrying about teaching to the test, state and federal standards, teacher evaluation, bench marks, etc. We would spend more time selecting great teachers by watching them teach and let them teach what they know after making sure they know the material that needs to be covered. We would make sure that every class has a qualified teacher.

    There is much we can do but it seems that after 30 years of tax cutting and underfunding it should be no surprise that the rich and well educated can still get their kids a decent education while the rest get left behind.

  27. Mr.Toad

    “I want parents to get the money in the form of a voucher and I want them to have choice.”

    What about kids that don’t have parents? How much do you think such a program would cost in California?

  28. Frankly

    [i]What about kids that don’t have parents? How much do you think such a program would cost in California?[/i]

    All kids should have a gardian, right?

    The voucher should be 2/3 or 3/4 what it costs to educate students in the public schools. Private schools that accept the voucher have to comply with state requirements… including accepting a percentage of special needs kids.

  29. wdf1

    Frankly: As a parent, I don’t see much of anything that would be a fit my remaining kid in grade school. If you think that would be a perfect fit for your kids, more power to you; clearly it’s your right to do what you think is best for them. The ibooks idea I’ve seen in use before. I can see that catching on. Much of what you show appears to be the sort of thing that one could get with DSIS in some fashion.

    I also don’t see how these options provide an autonomous, individualized experience to a low income family who doesn’t have reliable internet access.

    Based on what’s presented, the arts curricula in your choices really suck. I’m sorry to be rudely blunt, but that was my initial and visceral reaction as a potential consumer. Ken Robinson would probably also offer the same criticism in what you’re pushing. I want my kid to have access to a good quality arts program (visual and performing) to have experiences and develop skills from those programs. Davis schools have an especially good music program, and reasonable options in theater and dance. Some good options for visual arts.

    I also question how hands on instruction is adequately delivered. Science labs? Automotive repair? There are also group and social instructional activities that appear limited in online environments.

    Online instruction has only limited success ([url]http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/online-community-college-students-more-likely-fail-withdraw-11581[/url]) at the college level. I tend to believe that at the secondary level, online instruction would fare worse, overall.

    A personal test that I’d use to evaluate the potential effectiveness of distance online education is to look at leading tech companies to see if they are willing to rely primarily on distance online technology to run the core of their business. Of all people, these are the ones who will put their money where it counts. Google, Apple, Pixar, and now Yahoo rely on in house, live, real time interactions for the core of their business. See ‘Serendipitous Interaction’ Key To Tech Firms’ Workplace Design ([url]http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/03/13/174195695/serendipitous-interaction-key-to-tech-firms-workplace-design[/url])

    If this is the future of education, then there’s substantial beta testing yet to do.

  30. Don Shor

    With over 500,000 students in private schools in California who would immediately qualify for vouchers (assuming their school curriculum was up to state standards), the first and most negative impact would be the sucking of about $4 billion out of the current education budget. Are you planning to raise taxes to pay for vouchers for existing private school kids?
    Vouchers would be very harmful to the public schools.

  31. Don Shor

    “The voucher should be 2/3 or 3/4 what it costs to educate students in the public schools. Private schools that accept the voucher have to comply with state requirements… including accepting a percentage of special needs kids.”

    That would reduce the immediate hit to about $3 billion out of the current schools budget. Why a “percentage” of special needs kids? Why not every one that’s within their geographical region that wants to attend, regardless of whether they have sufficient staff or facilities?
    If you set the voucher at 2/3 or 3/4, you continue to leave the poorest of the poor out of the system.
    Your private schools that take any vouchers should have to take anyone that applies within a certain geographic boundary. They should have to take them regardless of how much it costs them to do so. They, of course, have to meet all state curriculum standards. And they can’t teach religion if they are taking taxpayer dollars. And we’d need to raise taxes to cover that $3 billion cost. Should be easy to implement.

  32. Mr.Toad

    “The voucher should be 2/3 or 3/4 what it costs to educate students in the public schools.”

    Laugh out loud.

    Davis Waldorf $10,000/yr
    Sacramento Country Day $16,000-21.000/yr
    Peregrine school $11,000/yr

    So while you complain that public schools should be replaced with vouchers you want to underfund the vouchers by 50%. Therein lies the problem. The reality is that the rich will pay to get their children educated while complaining that we spend too much on the education of the poor.

  33. wdf1

    Mr. T: [i]Davis Waldorf $10,000/yr
    Sacramento Country Day $16,000-21.000/yr
    Peregrine school $11,000/yr[/i]

    Jesuit HS ([url]http://www.jesuithighschool.org/tuition-and-tuition-assistance[/url]): ~$12,500

  34. Edgar Wai

    I think when a school accepts a voucher, the school should not also accept addition tuition or fees.
    Could someone explain the problem about issuing vouchers to students who want to attend private school?

    Isn’t the tuition of private school more expensive than that for public school (that the government pays for)?

    If the tuition of private school is $12000/yr/student, and that for public school is $6000/yr/student, and the value of the voucher is $4000, why would the private school accept the voucher?

    The design of voucher should be that if a school accepts voucher, it can’t charge tuition or fees. As mentioned, the school also can’t discriminate against the applicants. So if a private school accepts vouchers, it would have to randomly accept whoever in the district that applies.

    The quota for special need children is there to protect the school against “bad luck” from the randomly admission process. The assumption is that special need children need more resource to educate. If a school gets bad luck in the drawing, the operation budget of the school could get destabilized. So when a school should have the right to accept only their “fair share” of special need children. A school can certainly voluntarily accept more if they find that they are good at doing it. The quota should be based on a registry of special need students. The district should know how many there are so that they can tell the schools what the quota is. The total should cover all special need students.

  35. wdf1

    E. Wai: [i]Could someone explain the problem about issuing vouchers to students who want to attend private school?[/i]

    Because some students require more services than are provided by a private school, so it’s not exactly as fair and level a playing field for those families as is usually portrayed. Examples are special ed & accommodations for students w/ physical and/or cognitive/emotional disabilities, free/reduced lunch, ELL, busing (how is a family w/o transportation means in the Montgomery Elementary neighborhood district have a fair shot to attend Davis Waldorf, Peregrine, Sacramento Country Day, or Jesuit?). That there may be additional substantial costs beyond tuition. Public schools usually have to address all these issues.

    That not all potential voucher schools are subject to as high a level of accountability as public schools (testing, closing the achievement gap).

    Also, questions about whether taxes should pay for certain curricula — for a madrasa that declares the U.S. evil, religious schools that teach science which has a component of “and then God did His thing”, schools that teach or promote discriminatory practices.

    Vouchers have become a bit passe in recent years in light of charter school options, but Frankly still likes the idea.

  36. Don Shor

    [i]Could someone explain the problem about issuing vouchers to students who want to attend private school? [/i]
    As noted above, a half-million students (515,000 as of 2011) already in private schools would instantly be eligible for vouchers. At the current ADA of $8300 each, that would be $4 billion out of the state education budget. At Frankly’s 2/3 to 3/4 voucher rate, it’s about $3 billion. That is money that would have to be transferred immediately from current school funding.
    On top of that, there are all the issues wdf has enumerated.

  37. Frankly

    We cannot spend more on education without cutting other services or damaging the private economy by taking more from it. The private economy is the landing place for educated students. An economically self-sufficient life should be the primary goal for ALL Americans, so how can we justify continuing to take and take and take from it to give and give and give to the employees of the education system? We can’t. We have to reform the system to do more with less.

    From a recent policy analysis report by the Cato Institute [i]“They Spend WHAT? The Real Cost of Public Schools”, by Adam Schaeffer[/i] [url]http://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/pa662.pdf[/url], 27 cents of every dollar collected at the state or local level is consumed by the government-run K–12 education system, while only 8 cents support Medicaid. Other key findings from that report:
    [quote] Based on the 2005–2006 totals from the National Center for Education Statistics updated to 2009 dollars, state and local governments are spending well over $500 billion on public K–12 education.
    The federal government provides just 9 percent of education funds, compared to 44 percent from local sources and 47 percent from states.
    The National Association of State Budget Officers reports that state governments spent 35 percent of their general funds on K–12 education.
    [b]The amount we spend on education has increased dramatically and consistently over the past century, with a 25 percent increase in per-pupil expenditures, in constant dollars, between 1995 and 2005.11 This upward trajectory shows no sign of flagging, with total state education spending increasing even during this serious recession and amidst plummeting tax revenue, with the assistance of federal stimulus funds.[/b][/quote]
    Looking back about 40 years, per-public expenditures have increased almost 3 times!

    It is VERY clear that Education spending is THE state budget issue, and it is also a big federal and local budget issue. It is also clear that the public is being lied to about the true cost of education and the fact that education funding is NOT the issue… EDUCATION SPENDING IS THE ISSUE.

    But… if we are to be spending this much, we should expect a commensurate return, right? With this much money flowing from each and every taxpayer to end up in the pockets of some adult paid to educate our children, shouldn’t we expect tremendous returns? We should. But we are not getting near good enough returns. We are getting crap. And in return we are constantly told it is our fault. We are not good enough parents. We don’t spend enough time helping our children do their homework. We don’t recognize their struggles early enough and intervene. We don’t support and respect teachers enough. We don’t pay teachers enough. We don’t pay enough in taxes to “adequately” fund education.

    Sorry, but this is all false. It is a well-orchestrated propaganda campaign pushed by the teachers unions, people sympathetic to them, and Democrat politicians that are paid by them. But it is a false crappy information campaign meant to dupe an uninformed public into thinking that this is as good as it gets unless we keep paying more and more and more and more…

  38. Frankly

    If the district costs per student are $10,000 per year, then provide a $6,500 voucher to each student wanting to attend an alternative private school. If the public school is good, then parents and students will want to stay. If it is not, then they will want to leave. For each student that leaves, the public school will see their per-student revenue increase. For example, say there are 1000 students at a cost of $10,000 per, and 100 decide to take their $6,500 voucher and attend a private school. The public school district now has 900 students and $10,389 per student. If 500 take the voucher, then the public school has 500 students at $13,500 per student.

    Again, if the public school is good, then fewer will leave. If the public school is not good, then it should shrink in size, and use the extra funding per student to enhance education for these students. Then if the public school starts to demonstrate greatness, more students will be attracted to it.

    For this to work, the public school needs to adopt a more flexible workforce approach. There are certainly some challenges for growing and shrinking a school based on demand, but that is the same challenge that ALL private businesses face. There is no reason that we should not expect the same from the business of public education… especially since 80% of the school budget is personnel costs.

    Ideally, ALL education will start exploiting technology to deliver education services at a lower cost (greater value per dollar). The idea is to deploy technology where it makes sense, save money doing it, and use the saved funds to increase spending in other areas where it is needed. For example, how many friggin’ Algebra teachers do we have in this state? How many of them are really GOOD algebra teachers? I would guess about 20%. Algebra should be delivered on a high-tech, interactive platform, with 24 x 7 online help, social networking for students to help each other. The program should also include access to tutors (part time employees that are also college students would work well) and topic facilitators. The lectures should recorded video from the best teachers in the state. The software should use graphics to help explain abstract complexity, and it should track each student automatically based on constant quizzing and evaluation of subject mastery or struggle. Reduce the cost and improve the quality of the delivery of Algebra education, and free up money to direct to arts and other subjects that require human teaching.

    Use technology to reduce costs and increase quality of the products and services provided by the enterprise. This approach is not rocket science. It is the same that all businesses that want to survive have to follow.

  39. Don Shor

    [i]If the district costs per student are $10,000 per year, then provide a $6,500 voucher to each student wanting to attend an alternative private school.[/i]

    AS noted before at least twice, that would cause an immediate $3 billion hit to the current level of education funding, unless you advocate raising taxes to pay for vouchers for existing private school students.

    [url]How many of them are really GOOD algebra teachers? I would guess about 20%[/url]
    You would ‘guess’? Always a sound basis for education policy: the guesswork of a rightwing ideologue who detests public school employees.

    Using technology won’t reduce costs. And it’s already being done. As we’ve pointed out to you over and over and over and over again.
    Everything you describe, all these high-tech gee-whiz interactive platforms etc etc etc are already being implemented in the public schools, for those who choose them.

  40. Mr.Toad

    “The lectures should recorded video from the best teachers in the state”

    This is not how you teach algebra. Math teachers only lecture for a few minutes each day. The rest of the time is spent on drills and student examples.

  41. wdf1

    What if algebra is challenging and requires patience, organization, and the ability to delay gratification? What if patience, organization, and delayed gratification are the missing outcomes in student performance?

    I would definitely say that about calculus. I think one explanation or lecture doesn’t quite cut it. You really need to see multiple explanations and approaches to the same concept. Some folks will understand the concept with one explanation. Others might get it better with a different approach. It’s all trial and error. You can’t predict necessarily which explanation will get the point across.

  42. Frankly

    wdf1: Come on now. We know the routine. Teacher has his lesson plan. He tells students to read the chapter ahead. Most don’t. Then he lectures on the subject. A percentage follow along. They do some problems in class and a few more students get it. Then he assigns the homework. About 60-80% of the student do the homework, and a few more get it. But they are also supposed to read ahead to the next chapter and the routine continues. Meanwhile a percentage of the class has fallen behind. Then they lose motivation when they are not helped to catch up. In Davis they lose motivation more quickly and more profoundly because of the percentage of students with genetic academic gifts. It makes the struggling student feel even more out of place.

    There is nothing magical about this routine. It played this way when I attended public school. It was the same when my kids attended public school. It will always be the same unless it changes. There are some good teachers, and some crappy teachers. There are a lot of mediocre teachers. There are also many once good and energetic teachers that are tired and uninspiring. They are still using paper text books and chalkboards. They still maintain this lazy-teacher mindset that they are not the problem… it is the students that “don’t do the work” that cause their own problems. It is their parents faults for not being strict enough about studies.

    All wrong. It is the system’s fault.

    We need a school of one. We need more one-on-one instruction. We cannot afford to hire one teacher for every student. We need technology to help bridge the gap. We need innovation to bridge the gap. We need a new education business and resource model to bridge the gap. A technical interactive instruction platform is just one piece… but an important piece… of the components of a new and improved model.

    It is jut a bunch of bull to accept that we need all these teachers teaching the exact same subject using their own creative lesson plan and the same rote teaching approach invented when buffalo roamed the plains. A uninspired human teacher not giving enough attention to a struggling student does TREMENDOUS damage to that student, even as he, the teacher, might be inspired to save another from the same downward spiral. That teachers job should be changed to stop being the performer and presenter, and to start being the tutor. The software will take care of the performance and presentation and it will do a much better job.

  43. Frankly

    The software will also do a much better job tracking performance, identifying trouble areas, focusing instruction on the trouble areas, communicating to parents, tracking and reporting grades, etc. Many teachers don’t do a very good job at these things… as they are just human.

  44. Mr.Toad

    ” Teacher has his lesson plan. He tells students to read the chapter ahead. Most don’t. Then he lectures on the subject. A percentage follow along. They do some problems in class and a few more students get it. Then he assigns the homework. About 60-80% of the student do the homework, and a few more get it. But they are also supposed to read ahead to the next chapter and the routine continues. Meanwhile a percentage of the class has fallen behind.”

    Actually this isn’t how it works at all. If anything this shows once again you don’t know what you are talking about. In Davis, in just one example, with its 95% graduation rate, almost everyone gets their homework done every night.

  45. wdf1

    wdf1: [i]What if patience, organization, and delayed gratification are the missing outcomes in student performance?[/i]

    Frankly: [i]Come on now. We know the routine.[/i] etc.

    Frankly, this is the point where our dialogue breaks down. You breezily don’t address the question and move elsewhere. How do you teach delayed gratification and patience? What if that kid doesn’t have it at the moment?

    This is where I think you and I disagree. You want technology to have an answer to delivering concrete cognitive material to a student, as if you’re just downloading the latest software onto your brand new computer.

    I’m interested in broadening and varying the curricula to see the development of non-cognitive skills such as delayed gratification, courtesy, character, patience, creativity, empathy, tolerance, and persistance. You know, the stuff you can’t quantify. I want to see performing arts, visual arts, athletics, hands-on CTE in a real-time in-person collaborative environment, debate club, robot club, etc. You know, stuff that DJUSD still has, the stuff that Davis voters supported in the recent school parcel tax elections. The stuff that regularly that gets cut, scaled back and pushed to the side. When students learn those non-cognitive skills, they will perform better at cognitive acquisition for classes like algebra or calculus.

    Frankly: [i]The software will also do a much better job tracking performance,…[/i]

    …on things like creativity, character, and courtesy, etc.?

  46. Frankly

    [i]I’m interested in broadening and varying the curricula to see the development of non-cognitive skills such as delayed gratification, courtesy, character, patience, creativity, empathy, tolerance, and persistance. You know, the stuff you can’t quantify.[/i]

    wdf1: a few comments related to this.

    First, I agree that I want to develop these things in young people too.

    Second, I don’t think the schools should be spending too much time, money and effort on what should be taught in the home and church. Because it cannot be quantified, it is a bucket of stuff that foments a loose cannon curriculum that undermines the system’s ability to focus on what is important.

    Again, I see these things as important but subordinate to what is required for the student to achieve economic self-sufficiency. You seem to see the education system as responsible for molding people into some standard model of a good citizen. First, I don’t trust the education system’s definition of what “that” is. Second, I don’t think it is qualified to address much of the profound challenge for that “soft skill” aspect of the human condition. But, I think they are important. What I want is for us to teach those in the early grades. Because, frankly, if we are teaching them in middle and high school, it is much more costly and problematic… with a much higher failure rate.

    So, how do we get more teachers, counselors, specialist, etc. to help do this in the early grades?

    I think you would have no problem abolishing prop-13, raising other taxes and spending a much greater percentage of our federal, state and local budgets pushing the overall cost to $20,000 – $25,000 per year per student. Do you not believe that continuing to spend more, and the tax increases required to spend more, is hurting the private economy? Do you not care, or not believe, that more and more kids will fail to achieve a life of economic self-sufficiency? Is your model society one where more are patient, courteous, humble, empathetic, tolerant and focused… but still on public assistance?

    Personally, what I learned in grade school was how to survive a hostile social jungle. The rest of my education on these other things developed with family, friends and work… especially work. Because of this, I would prefer that the education system focus on getting students well launched into the working world because that is where much of their education on these things will occur. Case in point… my oldest son learned more about these things in 4 weeks of Army basic training than his public school experience would ever be able to teach him.

    But back to my points… I absolutely KNOW that we cannot spend another dime per-student with the current model. And, I absolutely know we can do much better with less. We just need the resolve to do so.

  47. Don Shor

    [i]And, I absolutely know we can do much better with less.
    [/i]
    How much does it cost for private schools to educate each pupil?
    Apparently, per others here:
    Davis Waldorf $10,000/yr
    Sacramento Country Day $16,000-21.000/yr
    Peregrine school $11,000/yr
    Jesuit HS: ~$12,500
    So why aren’t they spending less than the current ADA per student?
    I think what you ‘absolutely know’ is not true.

  48. Frankly

    Don – the published “per student” cost for public schools is understated. It does not include the entire state and federal education departments, and other local government officials. Private schools have to provide more of their own administrative and operations services.

    Read the Cato report link I sent.

    Also, there are many other private schools that do a very good job for less than this. There are other states that do a much better job spending less per student. There are districts in this county spending almost $20,000 per student and they are getting the crappiest results of all. So, there is really no correlation with spending and education quality. Of course, there is some reasonable amount below at which a quality education could not be provided. That line was a lot lower 40 years ago and the quality was better.

  49. wdf1

    Frankly: [i]I don’t think the schools should be spending too much time, money and effort on what should be taught in the home and church.[/i]

    And if a child’s family doesn’t attend church? And perhaps the child’s parents don’t put the appropriate time and attention into non-cognitive skills?

    [i]Because it cannot be quantified, it is a bucket of stuff that foments a loose cannon curriculum that undermines the system’s ability to focus on what is important.[/i]

    Because something cannot be quantified doesn’t mean it that it should be secondary to quantifiable stuff. Love and marriage would have a completely different (probably negative) dynamic if the quantifiable was all that mattered.

    [i]Is your model society one where more are patient, courteous, humble, empathetic, tolerant and focused… but still on public assistance?[/i]

    If you add creative, disciplined, and curious to that list, then I think fewer folks would be on public assistance.

    [i] I would prefer that the education system focus on getting students well launched into the working world because that is where much of their education on these things will occur.[/i]

    So when you hire somebody, you’re interested just in the cognitive skills (knowledge set) a person might have for the job you want to fill, and you’ll teach them the other things, like how not to be late, rude, lazy, and unprofessional? I doubt it. I think when you’re hiring somebody, your’re looking for the whole package.

    You’ve got it all backwards. A student develops a good portfolio of non-cognitive skills and he will be more successful all round.

    Here’s an example of a music program that appears successfully to be developing non-cognitive traits in students:

    Florida teacher turns failing school around ([url]http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7404214n[/url])

    Doesn’t that kind of story sound familiar to you? A strong coach or teacher brings about life-changing influence in students? It’s not about how well those students scored on their standardized test, or how much math or science they know. It’s about developing a sense of confidence, self-worth, pride, discipline. In short, it isn’t economic self-sufficiency. It is a sense of autonomy. Sure, you can develop those skills in military basic training, and it’s probably a good option for many, but those skills can also be developed in high school.

    Our education system has become unhinged because currently it’s all about improving those test scores, but forgetting the fundamentals. Most school districts get rid of teachers like Mr. Davis, because he’s not teaching reading or math.

    Again, DJUSD is a strong school district because it has managed to keep these programs going at a time when federal and state standards dictated that those programs should go in favor of the cognitive basics — English, math, science, history — in order to get those test scores up.

  50. Don Shor

    [i]Also, there are many other private schools that do a very good job for less than this.[/i]

    Just curious if you can name any in Northern California that educate kids well for less than the ones listed.

  51. wdf1

    Frankly: [i] You seem to see the education system as responsible for molding people into some standard model of a good citizen.[/i]

    Yes, the grade school education system plays an important influential role in that regard.

    [i]First, I don’t trust the education system’s definition of what “that” is.[/i]

    I don’t think you trust the education system for anything, so I’m not surprised. You are at a point where I think homeschooling or possibly DSIS-hybrid (if you were to dare touch government services) would have been your best option.

    [i]I don’t think it is qualified to address much of the profound challenge for that “soft skill” aspect of the human condition. But, I think they are important. What I want is for us to teach those in the early grades. Because, frankly, if we are teaching them in middle and high school, it is much more costly and problematic… with a much higher failure rate.[/i]

    I disagree. You teach them through adolescence, even into early adulthood if necessary (military, for instance), in every context possible — home, school, church, 4H, scouting, whatever. But yes, it is most definitely important to see that the schools work toward modelling good citizenship. I find adolescents and teens to have tribal tendencies. If you don’t have “good gangs” in school such as sports teams, drama, band, choir, and the like, they will go off and form their own cliques or gangs, and what teens create on their own without positive modeling and guidance is likelier to be problematic.

    [i]I think you would have no problem abolishing prop-13, raising other taxes and spending a much greater percentage of our federal, state and local budgets pushing the overall cost to $20,000 – $25,000 per year per student. [/i]

    Not necessarily. I think it’s a waste to spend money on strategies that haven’t worked, like NCLB. I think a lot of good money has been diverted away from music and sports and the like under the illusion of beliefs similar to what you hold — to focus on what is quantifiable and what will allow you to blame the teachers’ union if possible. I think that strategy drains the teaching profession of morale and plenty of great opportunities to make a difference, and simply frustrates everyone.

    Education reform has been driven by fads and the latest shiny objects — New Math, Whole Language, intensely data-driven models (NCLB), technology, a lot of the stuff that you’re currently pedaling. What I’m looking for is something more realistically values-driven, that includes the development of non-cognitive skills like I describe. It isn’t sexy, a lot of it feels “old school”, some of it is new and innovative (project-based education, for instance), but I’ve seen enough to tell me that it works and should be explored.

    [i]Do you not care, or not believe, that more and more kids will fail to achieve a life of economic self-sufficiency?[/i]

    Ultimately I think students who learn to be better citizens (with all those “soft” skills, as you like to say) are likelier to be economically self-sufficient. But putting economic self-sufficiency as the target goal is probably as bad as testing the hell out of students and analyzing the scores to death, like we do now. You miss focusing on key non-cognitive skills development when you do that.

  52. wdf1

    Frankly: To build on my earlier premise. I do regular after school volunteer work in Davis with students from low SES families. What I observe is that often these kids are involved in these after school programs that are meant to reinforce reading and math scores in particular. They are not participating in a number of after school activities that many other Davis students participate in — athletics, theater, music lessons, dance. Nor are they participating in significant numbers during school hours, often because they are obligated to take ELL and AVID classes in addition to the regular curricula. For many students that means fewer elective options.

    There are notable instances of family instability and mental health issues (mostly depression) among parents. From what I see, low SES students have fewer opportunities to develop non-cognitive skills and engage in activities that would socialize them with the rest of the student population. None of this happens with malicious intent, but it is done in response to concerns over their performance on STAR tests. To a grade school student, the benefit of math skills and even reading skills beyond a certain point seem obscure. These “extra-curricular” activities are ideal for developing good non-cognitive habits — working together, discipline, creativity, punctuality, etc. — because the activities have more tangible relevance. If your persistent efforts and teamwork help you to win soccer games, that feels more socially and personally relevant to a kid than mastering the ability to add fractions.

    I would ask for the school district to see that “at-risk” students have reasonable access to such activities, so far as the district has oversight — i.e., school music, after school athletics, ability to participate in school plays, etc.

  53. Frankly

    wdf1: Related to your point about low SES students, do you think governor Brown’s proposal will provide what is needed for what you suggest? If not, how much do you think we should be spending, and where do you recommend we get the money from?

    You may be surprised that I generally agree with you in that low SES students need extra support and attention as you suggest. In my mind/vision for a future K-12 education model, we would be intervening earlier with these kids and providing those opportunities to develop soft skills and enhance creativity… so that they are more mainstream when secondary education kicks in.

    However, in any case, I think that this all needs to be focused on the eventual launch of the student into the private economy. If that student cannot make a good enough living out of school, then the education has limited value, IMO. And, if the education does well launching the student to economic self-sufficiency, two things will also be true:

    1 – Many of these soft skills and at least some introduction to creative outlets will be required.

    2 – With a launch into economic self-sufficiency, most people will continue to develop soft skills, knowledge and creativity. Education does not start with a classroom, and it does not end with a classroom.

    What we do now is too much of NOT… not adequate math, science and language skills… not adequate enough soft skills…. and, not adequate enough creativity. And, last, but most important in my view, not adequate enough launch into a life of economic self-sufficiency.

    If we have to pick one, this last one would have to be considered the most important. Not every kid needs to play a trumpet or catch a ball poorly or read and understand Shakespeare poorly to have a good life. What human’s need is a way to make a living first and foremost. And, if these is not the intended job of the formal education system, then please explain to me who and what IS responsible for it.

  54. Don Shor

    Vocational skills are usually not taught in elementary school, are barely taught in junior high school and high school. The point of community college, trade school, or a four-year university is to provide those skills or specialized knowledge.
    It is the EMPLOYER’S responsibility to teach the new employee the job skills basic to our industries. I teach them what they need to know to work for me. So does MacDonald’s. So do you.
    And you simply never know what a kid is taking in K – 12 that will turn out to be the useful trade skill or the interest that leads in a career direction. The overwhelming majority of kids under 18 have no idea what job they want, or what profession they want to pursue the higher education for. So how is it that you expect the K – 12 curriculum to prepare them for the job market?
    As I said before, foreign language turned out to be crucial for my daughter’s career direction.
    Japanese in high school + USMC –> foreign language training –> fluent in Arabic –> Master’s Degree in three weeks from Columbia.
    So please don’t discontinue Japanese in high school.

  55. K.Smith

    ” If we have to pick one, this last one would have to be considered the most important. Not every kid needs to play a trumpet or catch a ball poorly or read and understand Shakespeare poorly to have a good life. What human’s need is a way to make a living first and foremost. And, if these is not the intended job of the formal education system, then please explain to me who and what IS responsible for it.”

    I second Don’s comment: all employers do job-specific training.

    As to the trumpet playing, athletics and Shakespeare:

    *Music has been proven to help with learning mathematics
    *Physical activity helps with health, plus spatial relations (apparently helps with other learning tasks)
    *Shakespeare and other literary texts are often used as the basis for crafting arguments and writing tasks, key abilities in communications, which most jobs require to a greater or lesser extent.

    So, in many ways these activities that you seem to be dismissing as soft skills can actually be relevant to the more “hard” skills.

  56. wdf1

    Frankly: [i]Not every kid needs to play a trumpet or catch a ball poorly or read and understand Shakespeare poorly to have a good life.[/i]

    No, but the sooner one develops non-cognitive skills that come from involvement in activities like that, then the better prepared one is to succeed in other things in life, academically, socially, psychologically, … and possibly economically.

  57. wdf1

    5/1/13 NBC News:Principal fires security guards to hire art teachers — and transforms elementary school ([url]http://dailynightly.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/05/01/18005192-principal-fires-security-guards-to-hire-art-teachers-and-transforms-elementary-school[/url])

  58. Frankly

    [i]And you simply never know what a kid is taking in K – 12 that will turn out to be the useful trade skill or the interest that leads in a career direction. The overwhelming majority of kids under 18 have no idea what job they want, or what profession they want to pursue the higher education for. So how is it that you expect the K – 12 curriculum to prepare them for the job market?
    As I said before, foreign language turned out to be crucial for my daughter’s career direction.
    Japanese in high school + USMC –> foreign language training –> fluent in Arabic –> Master’s Degree in three weeks from Columbia.
    So please don’t discontinue Japanese in high school. [/i]

    I feel I am on a treadmill repeating myself to explain this type of response away.

    There is nothing I believe in that is profoundly at odds with what you write Don. In this day and age, language skills may very well be valuable to achieve economic self-sufficiency.

    I am not advocating pure vocational school. But I am advocating a change a mindset for the purpose and goal of education. Maybe because I am a business-minded guy that worked my way up from nothing to a level of comfortable prosperity, and I am not a tweedy academic type, I see diminishing returns for a percentage of the effort we spend trying to pound every student into a tweedy academic type. Don, if your daughter is fluent in Japanese and Arabic, she is a tweedy academic type. If she earned her Masters from Columbia in three weeks, then she is super-human tweedy academically-gifted type (I’ll assume you mean “three years”… and even so my comment stands).

    You have every reason to be proud of your daughter’s academic accomplishments and thankful to the Davis schools for helping her launch. However, there is a large enough percentage of Davis students that don’t have the gifts that your daughter has, and could never, no matter how hard they tried, learn two complex languages and graduate with a Masters degree from Columbia (first, they would never be accepted). Some of those kids might have the ability to earn great academic credentials, but the public school system killed their interest in learning. I know a lot of these kids. Smart kids. Typically boys. Typically boys from homes that have parents lacking the time, and/or the money, and/or the education to help them. Typically boys with natural leadership skills that have had those skills beat down by political correctness. Typically boys that have had their education prospects diminished by an elimination of the types of subjects and teaching styles that best match their needs. Typically boys that have had their athletic participation opportunities reduced by Title 9.

    The core issue here is mission. What should be the mission of the public schools? To answer that we should first answer the question for what should be the mission of education in general. The pursuit of anything should have a goal. Education for the sake of education is a fools pursuit. It only benefits the tweedy academic types. It allows for the corruption of otherwise useful and needed curriculum; supplanting it with bias and political-correctness crap. It allows the education system to justify its own crappy performance, and defend its own existence and to resist change.

    I agree that many kids don’t know what they want to do. They don’t know what to do because we have not profiled them for aptitude and skills. They don’t know what they want to do, because we haven’t provide them enough exposure to subjects that connect them to the real world of practical application. They don’t know what to do, because they have not received enough guidance, counseling and direction on what they COULD, and possibly SHOULD do. In the modern working world, we use all sorts of technology and best-practice methods to do just this… we help people understand what color their parachute is, and we help to develop them along a continuum to that end.

    And NO, I don’t hire many people to train. I generally can only hire experienced people. If I hire a student in an entry-level position, that student will need practical work experience. I have hired students with only academic achievement (some with extremely high GPAs and fantastic credentials) but they generally fail. The performance bar is high. My industry is highly competitive. I would give more consideration to a high school graduate with a few community college classes, that knew how to read financial statements and how to spread them in Excel. But instead of teaching this to high school students, we teach sensitivity and multi-culturalism and how US business is killing the polar bears. Crap… it is all crap.

  59. Frankly

    But the bottom line here is that we are out of funding options to support this old education model. I don’t even need to rant about any new model, because necessity is dictating the change. Higher leaning is the first to be transformed simply because it has priced families out of the traditional college education experience, and the kids cannot get a job after mommy and daddy spend $250,000 or more. K-12 is next because the cost to education students has tripled in the last 40 years, and the quality and choice have declined. The trend has not slowed. The system has not learned to do more with less. So, it will keep shrinking choice and quality will continue to decline and parents will increasingly gravitate to the new alternatives that are beginning to multiply like bunnies.

  60. Don Shor

    [i]If she earned her Masters from Columbia in three weeks
    [/i]
    LOL! No, I meant that three weeks from now, she’ll be receiving her Master’s Degree.
    She would not have been accepted into Columbia right out of high school. That came after her service in the Marines.

  61. Edgar Wai

    I agree with the concept that people should be involved in the real world early. The motivation to learn should include the intention to help others and to build the community. As soon as a kid can meet new people and have friends, the community can start to integrate them so that kids are not merely “dependents” but are “assets”.

    I have a comment about hiring. This is not meant to contradict what Frankly said based on his reality. This is about a vision of perfection.

    A perfect company is capable of hiring anyone because no matter what person that company hires, the company knows how to let that person be an asset for the company. As a result, every time the company hires someone, the company becomes stronger. In such a company, the primary role of the Human Resource department is not to be selective and choose only “the best talents”. But to discover and conceptualize roles within the company so that no matter what applicant they get, they can make the company stronger.

    In our context, the company is the productive and cooperative community. The HR department is the education system. The company can do this because it has extremely strong leaders and teachers who can cultivate a culture of autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

    See: RSA Animate – Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us ([url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc[/url])

  62. wdf1

    Frankly: [i]I am not advocating pure vocational school. But I am advocating a change a mindset for the purpose and goal of education.[/i]

    There was a substantial discussion of CTE in tonight’s school board meeting, with plenty of public comment and input. You should check out those meetings sometime.

    Frankly: [i]The core issue here is mission. What should be the mission of the public schools?[/i

    To make better citizens and human beings. To develop a sense of personal autonomy in the world by developing a portfolio of cognitive and non-cognitive skills.

    …You’re welcome.

    [i]They don’t know what to do because we have not profiled them for aptitude and skills.[/i]

    Do you want a more European system where often they test and track you early on in grade school for what general career type you’ll have later in life?

  63. Edgar Wai

    Frankly said: “They don’t know what to do because [b]we[/b] have not profiled them for aptitude and skills.”

    wdf1 said: “Do you want a more European system where often they test and track you early on in grade school for what general career type you’ll have later in life?”

    I would get the same impression if Frankly didn’t also follow the statement above with this following statement: “They don’t know what they want to do, because we haven’t provide them enough exposure to subjects that connect them to the real world of practical application.”

    This statement implies that the students get exposure and choose their own paths. To me this means that if the students gets a clue by themselves, that it is great. If not, the teachers should also have a clue.

  64. wdf1

    Frankly: You seem to selectively filter what and whom you will recognize as an authority on education. In that context, you seem to respect Sir Ken Robinson as an authority, so here you go, a very recent TED Talk of his ([url]http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_how_to_escape_education_s_death_valley.html[/url]).

    Notice how he encourages a broad curriculum, including humanities and the arts, the individual discretion of teachers, and getting away from the rigid data-driven model. He suggests that there are more “crappy” teachers around because they are all being prescribed how and what to teach, and not being allowed more freedom to make decisions and be creative on their own. He doesn’t get hung up on the teachers union red herring that you do, nor does he get hung up on the economic self-sufficiency directive that you want. Notice that he also uses the word, “Finland”. I also see that Davis schools have moved in directions that he would approve. I’m surprised that you have liked him, because in many ways he seems to fit your definition of one of those damn tweedy liberals.

  65. Frankly

    wdf1: I mostly agree with Sir Ken. Your are failing to understand that I have moved beyond conceptual debate and am into implementation. I largely agree with Sir Ken, and I also largely agree with you, on many aspects of a vision of improvement. For example, I want more arts, more creativity, more teachers for younger students, and a much higher percentage of gifted talented teachers.

    It is frankly quite easy to keep discussing a vision for improvement. Where we have zero credibility and track record is implementing the necessary reforms. You and others use funding as an excuse for why we are not reforming. That argument is a crappy as is the performance of our nation’s public schools.

    How do you go about implementing Sir Ken’s vision? The first thing you do is abolish the unions. They are a significant impediment to reforms. They frankly do not share any goals that we can apply to improvement… unless it comes with buckets of more funding that they use to increase membership.

    Implementation requires we abolish, destroy, eliminate, remove… what ever politically-incorrect word you want to assess to my motives… the teachers unions. That is only one step, but an essential one. Until we do this, there is no real hope to improve our public education system enough to satisfy anything close to our needs, and certainly we will not be able to get anywhere close to a Sir Ken Robinson vision with union in the way.

  66. Don Shor

    We’ve already proven that wrong before. So I guess there’s no point in continuing the discussion when you are literally obsessed with unions to the point you can’t discuss any other aspect of education reform rationally.

  67. Don Shor

    [i]They are a significant impediment to reforms. They frankly do not share any goals that we can apply to improvement.[/i]

    Some unions cooperate, some don’t. I gave you examples months ago. Some school districts work with their teacher unions to enact reforms. Any process that begins with your goal of outright warfare against one of the major stakeholders will simply become an unending conflict without results. Enacting reform requires cooperation between administrators, teachers, and school boards (and sometimes the elected officials, in strong-mayor cities). And you need to have the parents and students desiring change and on board with the process. You won’t get that with your approach.

  68. wdf1

    Frankly: [i]I mostly agree with Sir Ken.[/i]

    Where do you disagree?

    [i]Your are failing to understand that I have moved beyond conceptual debate and am into implementation.[/i]

    Right. And you missed a few steps along the way. Like the one Don Shor points out.

  69. wdf1

    Frankly: Adding on to Don’s comments, teachers’ unions have been generally critical of NCLB, and I think that most of their criticisms are valid. You dismiss it all as trying to protect teacher jobs, and also implies a defense of NCLB to those criticisms.

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