Apr 4, 2009

No Money For You DC Teachers !

In article that appeared in the DC Wire on April 3, 2009- the title says it all "No Dough for Teachers in Funding Formula." Just like DC students, DC teachers have been pawns in Rhee's political game and are still being mislead by Chancellor Rhee and her company spokesperson- Dena Iverson. I also blame the Washington Teachers' Union President George Parker, the Chief Negotiator for the predicament DC teachers are presently in as well. Parker created a controversy when he allowed Rhee to present a pay proposal to DC teachers last summer that was not legally feasible and encouraged teachers to believe that they did not have seniority rights. Both Rhee and Parker have all of us "Going In Circles" for these last 20 months like lyrics to the song,

"We're an ever rolling wheel without a destination real and we're an ever spinning top, whirling around 'till we drop Oh, but what are we to do ? our
minds are in a whirlpool, give us a little hope - one small thing to cling to
you got us going in circles Oh, around and around we go, going in circles Oh, around and around we go.... going in circles"

It is Parker not Rhee who should have been looking out for the best interests of ALL teacher union members. After all we pay Parker a hefty six figure salary to be our union president and chief negotiator which implies that he is our chief agent and should be adept in labor relations and negotiations, responsible for oversight of the WTU contract negotiation team as well as responsible for the interpretation and application of contract language, negotiations, and implementation of collective bargaining agreements and settlements. Rather than work with the WTU negotiation team in the best interests of DC teachers and related school personnel - Parker chose to meet privately with Rhee and company in order to craft some 'clandestine deal' that even members of the WTU negotiation team have complained that they had minimal input and knew little about. This is a NO-NO in labor negotiations.

WTU Chief Negotiator, George Parker should have first explored with our the WTU law firm- O'Donnell, Schwartz and Anderson whether DC teachers had seniority or not. Had Parker done this, initially he would have been advised that teachers have seniority under the Merit Comprehensive Pay Act and Rhee nor anyone can negotiate, take away these legal statutory rights. Reason being- statutory rights are not contractual and cannot be negotiated in labor negotiations.

Parker should have also determined whether a privately funded contract was feasible for DC teachers who are also District of Columbia Government employees. Had Parker done this - he would have learned that city regulations require before any raises can be guaranteed to city workers- they must first be in the city coffer. Makes sense to me. The reason being- should a private funder (hypothetically speaking) like Bill Gates wake up one morning and decide to withdraw his private funding for teacher raises - then the city still would be required to pay out these hefty raises because of a legal binding contract. Had Parker done his homework, he would have saved all of us a lot of time squabbling over red and green tiers and fantasy pay raises that will never come to fruition . In other words, Parker should never have allowed Rhee to try to convince DC teachers into thinking that teachers do not have seniority. He should not have allowed Rhee to present a pay proposal last summer that wasn't legally feasible in the first place .

Turque's DC Wire piece reveals that there is a proposed 2010 budget for a performance based teacher contract under the per student funding formula. According to William Singer, mayoral budget expert's March 25th email - he stated that the District and other funds will be sufficient to support a compensation structure that is consistent with the Chancellors statements. Here's the catch- Rhee's spokesperson, Dena Iverson states that it ain't so. According to Iverson : "the payroll increases and performance pay system we have proposed are dependent on funding from foundations." Seems like Rhee isn't the only one not listening to DC Government's Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Natwar Gandhi.

Where are we in terms of getting closer to a teachers' contract that is good for DC students and fair to DC teachers ? ... We're an ever rolling wheel without a destination real, we're an ever spinning top rolling around to we drop... (posted by The Washington Teacher). Quotes courtesy DC Wire.

30 comments:

Jeff Canady said...

Candi,

Thanks for telling the truth.
Parker misled teachers and Rhee has no reason to stop telling her the union blocked a vote fable.

Jesse said...

We'll ask about this on Thursday at the council hearing. Thanks, Candi.

jarpaul said...

Sounds like Rhee has put DCPS in a song, and a dance!

Anonymous said...

Interesting - at the teacher listening session held last Monday, when asked about funding for the schools, Rhee waxed eloquent about the Mayor's determined and successful efforts to protect the schools from the many slashes in the new DC budget.

Also, she seemed to be encouraging going charter. When a teacher complained about the red tape necessary to get certain certification credits, Rhee pointed out that if their school had autonomy, it could set up its own certification system and avoid dealing with the bureaucracy at the school board.

lodesterre said...

There is a great comment on Rhee and Fenty's attitudes on school boards and unions by Richard Layman at this blog: http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2009/04/missing-most-fundamental-point-about.html

He sums up very well the problems with the approach that has been used in DC and demonstrates, using Montgomery County and other systems that are achieving results, how it is possible to actually cooperate and make improvements that are good for students AND teachers.

The Washington Teacher said...

Lodesterre: I read that article as well. I agree with you that Layman made some excellent points and all should check it out. It was interesting how Dr. Jerry West from Montgomery County turned things around in schools that had low achievement levels and higher concentrations of poverty.

Progressive Educator said...

Candi,

This is an exciting story in the Washington Post. Research shows that children who grow up in poverty have serious problems remembering information.

Guess what. Remembering information is crucial to academic success. So, there is research proving that many of our DC children may be failing in school because of the poverty they live in.

Look in the Washington Post for the article, and I also posted the link at includemetoo.blogspot.com.

andrew said...

In the midst of the economic wreckage Rhee looked around the other day and her financial backers were gone. Gates, and Broad, and Dell, and Robertson went to see about their own survival. Rhee still longs to be a superstar in the dismantling of public education. She will miss the Time magazine covers and the mention of her name in presidential debates. And she still dreams of smashing teachers seniority rights and thus their unions but that whole project was built on collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps, in other words, on financial quicksand.

When the history of Michelle Rhee's brief tenure in Washington, D.C. is written it will go something like this. Lacking any discernible qualifications, her shocking appointment as Chancellor of D.C. public schools, can be understood only when you realize that Rhee was brought in to inflict maximum damage on the district's public schools and its children. And as a cultist (Teach For America, New Teacher Project) and true believer she came at a bargain basement salary. Really qualified superintendents were courted (Fenty visited Miami with several members of the D.C. commission to interview Dr. Rudolph Crew) but those candidates would have asked questions. They could not be counted on to mindlessly take a club to D.C.'s public schools. The havoc and chaos that Rhee caused was no accident. It was the plan!

But Michelle Rhee appeared on the scene because and when the "global economy" was riding herd on this planet. Globalization is at the very foundation of business model for schools, charters, vouchers, data driven instruction, merit pay, standardized testing, and most perversely of all, paying students to consume their version of education. It was the reason the Business Roundtable and Bill Gates were interested in public education at all. The CEO's wanted a profit making private school system and Gates wanted visas for Indians and Taiwanese who work for less.

Michelle Rhee got humble and then disappeared as the global economy crashed and burned

Heather said...

I find it strange that "Progressive Educator" is saying poverty is the cause of student failure in DC. Of course, plenty of people agree with that sentiment, but most wouldn't call themselves progressive.

That's why I love the KIPP schools so much. They prove that success at the highest levels is possible for poor children. The high poverty kids there beat middle and upper class suburban kids. So tell me again how some study says poor kids can't succeed.

Anonymous said...

Heather, you say " KIPP schools]prove that success at the highest levels is possible for poor children. The high poverty kids there beat middle and upper class suburban kids."

Please provide links to the scholarly research that supports this statement. I would love to see it.

Heather said...

http://kippdc.org/results

Kipp DC 8th graders are in the top ten percent of the country in math. The vast majority of these kids live in poverty.

andrew said...

Heather, I doubt the sincerity of your concern for poor children but just in case I'm mistaken, consider this definition from Wikipedia:

"Poverty pimp or "professional poverty pimp" is a sarcastic label used to convey the opinion that an individual or group is benefiting unduly by acting as an intermediary on behalf of the poor, the disadvantaged, or some other "victimized" groups.

Those who use this appellation suggest that those so labeled profit unduly from the misfortune of others, and therefore do not really wish the societal problems that they appear to work on so assiduously be eliminated permanently, as it is not in their own interest for this to happen.

The most frequent targets of this accusation are those receiving government funding or that solicit private charity to work on issues on behalf of various disadvantaged individuals or groups, but who never seem to be able to show any amelioration of the problems experienced by their target population. Some even suggest that that if profit was eliminated as a factor, greater steps in the alleviation of the oppressive situations could begin to truly occur."

You see Heather, that's what KIPP founders Dave Levin and Mike Feinberg are, poverty pimps. After they came out of the cult Teach For America in 1994 they saw a road to riches through the misfortunes of the poor. And they are now making the kind of money no public school teacher in America can dream of. Again from Wikipedia, "Doris and Donald Fisher, co-founders of Gap Inc., formed a unique partnership with Feinberg and Levin to replicate KIPP’s success nationwide. Established in 2000 with a $15 million grant from the Fishers."

Do you make a lot of money being concerned about poor children Heather?

andrew said...

Just some more information from a progressive to curl your hair Heather about the relationship of poverty and academic achievement as measured solely by test scores.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/05/AR2009040501719.\html?nav=hcmodule

The ideologues executing the corporate attack on public education have actively suppressed the fact that poverty and test scores dance in perfect balance. The fact has always been dismissed as an "excuse" for low test scores. Poverty's twin evil, as identified so many years ago by Dr. Martin Luther King, racism has also been modified to the point its victims are blamed for it.

Gates, Broad, Duncan, Klein, Rhee, the whole gang fully intend to leave behind African-American, Latino, Native American and immigrant children, but they will wring their hands in public over the "achievement gap" because it helps obscure their true intentions. If they had an honest bone in their bodies all the "gaps" in our nations social fabric would concern them. There's America's household assets gap, the average white family owns 14 times the average Black family. Then there's the infant mortality gap, more than twice the rate for Black mothers, the life expectancy gap, the health care gap, nutrition gap, the employment gap...

They are forced to buy influence in the Black community as the recent alliance of NYC billionaire mayor Micheal Bloomberg and Al Sharpton is demonstrating once more. The African-American community is enemy territory and snake oil salesmen like Armstrong Williams and charlatans like Rod Paige must front their message. The US Department of Education had to pass thirty pieces of silver to Williams for his No Child Left Behind promotion. Paige put a blackface on the phrase "the soft bigotry of low expectations" after he authored the biggest education fraud in history. Paige called it "the Houston Miracle" with a straight face and he was rewarded with a spot in George Bush's cabinet.

Their game day slogan is "No Excuses" because it helps excuse away certain damning realities. Historically low levels of federal education spending and lower state funding of public schools can't be used as an excuse. The perfect correlation of poverty and low standardized test scores can't be cited, it's an excuse. The re-segregation of America's schools is an excuse. Excuses are reserved for corporate downsizing, the outsourcing of jobs, escaping from pension and health care plans through bankruptcy filings, corrupt accounting practices and insider trading, offshore tax avoidance schemes, and obscene profit making. Excuses are reserved for Wall Street bankers and the Business Roundtable.

Heather said...

That's just so asinine.

No, I don't make a lot of money.

Dave Levin and Mike Feinberg are heroes, plain and simple. They started their program when they were just as broke as any other young teachers. They put their careers on the line for something they believed in. And if you ever meet either man, you will understand this.

Quite simply, they are doing what other schools can't or won't. I don't know if the KIPP model is scalable. But I do know that from now on, no one can say it is impossible to take thousands of poor students and make them among the most successful students in the country.

And it's just silly to say that working with the poor makes you a "poverty pimp."

Sorry for clogging your board, Candi, but I've never heard something so ridiculous.

andrew said...

Heather, throwing words like asinine and silly around does not substitute for rational argument. All poverty pimps are possessed of great social skills, they are master manipulators, so I'm sure the KIPP boys are charming in person. Sounds like you have met them. Yes?

And Heather please reread the definition of a poverty pimp. Mother Teresa was not a poverty pimp, she "worked" with the poor. But look up poverty pimp in the dictionary and there's a picture of Levin and Feinberg because they "profit from the misfortune of others".

I guess I should apologize to Candi too. I'm sorry Candi.

Anonymous said...

Heather, thanks for the reference to the KIPP results. Can you also reference the statement and the people you’re referring to when you say, “From now on, no one can say it is impossible to take thousands of poor students and make them among the most successful students in the country.”

I’ve honestly never heard anyone say that.

Back to KIPP – what a great accomplishment. Bravo to them. Looking through the site, I see that they have an extended school day and extended school year and required Saturday classes. They also require a commitment from parents and I understand they have a high drop-out rate of families who don’t want to or can’t make the commitment. I say this not as a criticism, just to note that it required a lot more than “great teachers” to get this kind of result.

Heather said...

You've never heard anyone say that? I have. In fact, I've heard it too many times to count. My initial post here was in response the "Progressive Educator" saying that poor children have bad memories, which explains why they have academic problems. Similar excuses are made daily. They might have some weight, except KIPP has proven that you can take these same children and make them successful.

KIPP's success is not due to great teaching alone, and I have never made that claim. But great teaching is a part of it. The extended school day and school year are critical to their success, but DCPS has this, too, through extended day, Saturday School, and Summer School. Of course, in DCPS, these out of time programs amount largely to babysitting, especially the extended day programas, so I realize that it is not the same.

lodesterre said...

I have a problem with both sides of the argument - on one side the devils out to nefariously destroy education for anyone not a WASP, on the other the heroes wearing capes who have come to save mankind from certain doom.

I have problems, Andrew, with painting so many different people with a simplistic brush and divining their motives for why they are involved in education. The motives of any of us can be questioned if it comes to that. It's one thing to disagree with their approach or philosophy, it is wholly another to call them disparaging names (so tread a little lightly when you lecture Heather about rational argument).

Heather, the only study you cite is KIPP's own study. Ummmm, they have a dog in that show and reasons for wanting a study to show such positive results. Another thing is that their study simply shows how they succeeded with the students they kept after weeding out the undesirables and the families that quit. The very kids that KIPP ends up not taking, for whatever reasons, are the kids that need help the most. These are the kids who are the most disruptive in our schools due to the very conditions examined in a whole host of studies on the effects of poverty on education - not just "some study".

I know the kinds of kids that end up at KIPP. They are the kids we have had in our public school classes that we said to ourselves (those of us who have taught in such schools where these issues exist)"if these kids could be in a more controlled environment, where the time spent teaching was more than the time spent being a social worker, they could do very well."

It's like saying Vouchers work. Of course they work. You give me any family that understands what is needed for their child to succeed and put their child in a successful environment like Sidwell Friends and that child will improve and might even succeed on a high level.

The families who take the time to get their kids into a charter school are the families who are, on average, better educated, more knowledgeable about the resources available to them and some inkling of what they need to do for their children. Whether single parents or couples, grandmothers or foster parents, they have a stronger grasp of what is needed for their child.

That is not to say that the parents of the "other" children - the ones who couldn't or wouldn't make it at KIPP - don't want the same things for their children. I have met time and again parents who are really too young to be parents, who haven't any other notion on how to raise a child than how they were raised (which, in large part, led to their becoming teenage mothers), who simply aren't aware of the variety of resources available to them or who think that those resources are certainly not meant for people such as they. They want the best for their children but don't know how to deal with their child's behavior and, quite often, have issues of their own(usually drugs, alcohol, prison and sexual situations) that makes their ability to deal with the problems their children have, and the subsequent behavior that follows, impossible .

I don't have a problem with the success that the KIPP schools have demonstrated WITH THE POPULATION THEY HAVE WORKED WITH. The problem I have is with the idea that KIPP will work for all because of the success they have had with only one part of that population. Would Kipp succeed at the same level if they were given, say, the entire student body of Nalle Elementary School. Let's just take your class that you had at Nalle when you were teaching, how about that. Do you think those boys (and their parents)who made it impossible for you to stay in teaching could succeed in KIPP? Do you think their parents would do anything differently given the chance? Or do you think they would end up thrown out of KIPP and sent back to Nalle?

I know I can answer that question for my school because we have kids that went to KIPP and have ended up back with us, to no surprise for any of us.

There are many studies that show the effects of poverty on education and that also suggest ways to offset those problems without it always being a matter of money (although at some point we, as a society, will have to face up to the need for better funding for these problems). The Chicago Longitudinal Study (http://www.waisman.wisc.edu/cls/index.html) looks at the effects of early and extensive childhood intervention and also the contributions of family and school practices to children's behavior.

Other books and articles I might suggest are:
"The Effects of Poverty on Parenting Young Children" by Kaiser and Delaney in the Peabody Journal of Education, Vol. 71, 1996.

Promising Practices for Urban Reading Instruction by Mason and Schumm is an excellent collection of articles on teaching methods in poverty stricken schools that have demonstrated effectiveness as well as analysis of many of the problems these schools face.

There are others if you are interested.

I think it would be helpful to this discussion if we started citing a variety of actual studies instead of studies done by an organization on its own practices (kind of like a study by Bayer on the effects of aspirin), articles in the Post and Wikipedia.

andrew said...

Good day Heather and other fans of KIPP!

Hey, if you get a chance read this book and you will get an enhanced idea of how the poverty pimps operate.

http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/book_charter_school/

It's called "The Charter School Dust-Up," and the authors say that KIPP's admission process self-screens for students who are both motivated and compliant, from similarly motivated and compliant -- and supportive -- families. Parents must commit to a required level of involvement, which rules out badly dysfunctional families. You know the families that seek refuge in the public schools.

Reports of KIPP's discipline policy, which involves shunning the miscreant student, and other KIPP policies such as teaching students how to "walk briskly down the hall" (according to one admiring description of KIPP practices), might further tend to discourage willful, defiant or simply independent-minded students from applying.

In addition, some KIPP schools show high attrition, especially for those students entering the schools with the lowest test scores. A 2008 study by SRI International found that although KIPP fifth-grade students who enter with below-average scores significantly outperform peers in public schools by the end of year one, "... 60 percent of students who entered fifth grade at four Bay Area KIPP schools in 2003-04 left before completing eighth grade."

I don't know Heather, is it appropriate to apologize to Candi again? Well just to be on the safe side, I'm sorry Candi.

Heather said...

Actually, Andrew, you are helping me to make my argument to Lodesterre about Kipp. KIPP is extremely structured, even to the point that it raises our eyebrows. I visited the school once and was surprised to see a line of 6th graders waiting outside the classroom for their next class, and every single one was reading a book. I was told that, in an effort to use every minute of the school day, students are told to read while waiting, if only for a minute or two. Crazy? Depends - look at their reading scores.

Lodesterre, I appreciate you being civil and considerate, and even defending me to this Andrew character. But, as you might expect, I still don't agree with you.

It is just not the case that the kids at KIPP are the ones we knew would succeed. It's not true that KIPP selects certain students and weeds out others. That practice would violate charter school law. While students are always free to change schools, and most charter schools have a highly transient population, KIPP simply has no history of expelling students. (Suspensions and Expulsions are reported to the DC Public Charter School Board and are available to the public.)

I had a student last year who was a terror. We did our best to apply consequences, but very often, our consequences were overruled when the guardian complained to the principal. He, like many students, got away with so much simply because the school had no discipline structure. He applied to KIPP and was lucky enough to be selected in the lottery. We just knew he would get kicked out, or maybe that the parents would get sick of him getting in trouble and pull him out of the school. Neither happened. He was benched a few times at the beginning of the school year, but once he and his family saw that rules were RULES, he straightened up. He's doing well at the school still today.

My very favorite part of the KIPP program is intense structure, concrete, non-negotiable rules, and firm consequences. My last school lacked all of those components, and I don't think a school can be successful without them.

lodesterre said...

Private schools don't kick problem children out either, they just have a discussion with the parents where they say "We don't think our school is best suited for your child, you might want to find a school that better fits his/her needs." No KIPPS don't throw anyone out but we still end up with kids that are no longer at KIPP and, lo and behold, they happen to be the most disruptive child with a low academic record. I'm sure other teachers at other schools can attest to this.

Kipps structure, quite frankly, sounds to me about as fascistic as possible. The chanting, the marching, the order all reek of fascism. Sorry for such a strong term but the image is just that strong. Using every available minute to the point that at no time they aren't reading a book? Yes, their reading scores now might be great but what will their attitude towards reading and education be in 10 years. There are more than enough studies to show that the quality of work drops the more, non-stop hours are spent on a particular job.

Here is a quote from Jim Horn from his blog Schools Matter:

"In the KIPP schools, children are routinely broken down into a state of learned helplessness through inescapable surveillance (by school and parents), academic drudgery, repeated testing, and isolation and labeling as "miscreants" for any infringement of rules. From this broken, passive, and depressed state of affairs, the followers of Seligman at KIPP then apply his learned optimism techniques that aim to replace the previously-held pessimism of broken-down students with a grandiose optimism toward achievement that, simultaneously, turns blame inward at any hint of failure, thus redoubling the doubter's efforts to maintain the programmed regime of learned optimism."

The Seligman Horn mentions in this post is Professor E.P. Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania. The same work that KIPP relies on was also used by the CIA (without Seligman's permission)for interrogating prisoners at Abu Graib. It is based on his "learned helplessness" theory in which a subject is reduced through learned behavior(in Seligman's case dogs being repeatedly shocked for no apparent reason)to a servile and compliant individual, one that will not fight back or challenge the prevailing authority.

Here is a quote from a NY Times article that Kipp posts on its own website:

"Toll and Levin are influenced by the writings of a psychology professor from the University of Pennsylvania named Martin Seligman, the author of a series of books about positive psychology. Seligman, one of the first modern psychologists to study happiness, promotes a technique he calls learned optimism, and Toll and Levin consider it an essential part of the attitude they are trying to instill in their students."

I find it interesting that "learned optimism" is basically guided by the same principle as "learned helplessness" and equally interesting is the change in the description of Seligman and his work.

Sorry, I find it too scary for words.

I recommend reading up on Seligman, his work and the influence on Kipp schools. We saw how well his influence paid off for the CIA given the recent spate of articles that showed little information was gleaned from the "enhanced interrogation techniques" at Guantanamo.

Here are a couple of articles:

http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/07/22/torture

http://www.avoicecriesout.com/2008/08/22/brainwashing-techniques-worthy-of-the-cia-at-kipp-schools/

Also Jane Mayer's book on Seligman and the CIA, THE DARK SIDE, is quite informative.

Heather said...

Plenty of people dislike KIPP schools, including the bloggers you sited. But no one else is producing the results KIPP produces, so I'm not convinced.

I also think it is a bit much to compare the school's practices to Abu Graib.

lodesterre said...

I was not comparing Kipp to Abu Ghraib I was stating that the same practices they use at Kipp are founded on the very same work used by the CIA at Abu Ghraib. And I suggested that the end result may be the same - that we might end up with less than what we thought.

I feel that saying that the end justifies the means is a tricky place to go and can lead to a lot of questionable practices. If it is true what was said in the earlier quote about the school ostracizing children for behavior by labeling them "miscreants" or any other such term; and that they are using Seligman's learned helplessness in order to instill his learned optimism, than I find that highly alarming. First of all using learned helplessness is abuse. This entire paradigm is classic abusive relationship. Maybe that's exactly what is needed, depriving these children of their humanity in order for them to learn how to read. If that is so I won't eat that bread. What I am curious about is the long-term effect such practice will have on these children. Will they burn out early? Will they end up suing the Kipp academies in a string of suits that remind everybody of the catholic Priest scandals?

I have heard stories about Kipp from teachers who worked there. By and large these teachers were concerned about many of the practices they were asked to perform. Many of them left feeling that, in the end, the means to Kipp's ends were not healthy. What I have read, both from sources that like Kipp and from those that do not, makes me worry.

andrew said...

KIPP=CULT

Levin and Feinberg=Poverty Pimps

Heather, why should children go to military schools and be subjected to a learning culture which lodesterre rightly describes as fascist because they are poor? Is poverty a sin in your world?

Finland runs a state-sponsored school system generally recognized as the best in the world. Check out their approach. "Finnish children, who score at the top on international tests, remain in a true kindergarten situation, with play being the focus of their day, until age seven. Then, they don't have long school days. Many days end by one o'clock. School lessons are broken up by lengthy recess periods of play every hour. Finnish students take off ten weeks in the summer. According to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Finnish pupils spend an OECD record low total of some 5,523 hours at their desks, compared to the average of 6,847 hours."

Thanks for the info Susan O.

Anonymous said...

Heather, regarding making excuses, you say, " My initial post here was in response the "Progressive Educator" saying that poor children have bad memories, which explains why they have academic problems. Similar excuses are made daily."

This is not an excuse, this is a finding of scientific research. You may not accept the results, but it's not an excuse.

Seems to me that your definition of a person making an excuse is a person not sharing your point of view.

It's a way of writing off information that doesn't fit with what your entrenched beliefs and a way of closing yourself off from additional knowledge.

The Perimeter Primate said...

Oh, Heather, if it were all so simple...

Here's the story about KIPP's school in Oakland, using data for 2007-08. I've looked at parent education levels (PEL) and presence of students w/disabilities in middle schools, charter and non-charter.

California documents the average Parent Educational Level at each school. The figure is an average of all responses where:

* "1" represents "Not a high school graduate"
* “2” represents “High school graduate”
* “3” represents “Some college”
* “4” represents “College graduate”
* "5" represents "Graduate school"

The PEL at the charter middle schools was 2.42. The average for our non-charter schools was 2.08. Charter middle schools in Oakland have a more educated parent body.

The Oakland KIPP school was third from the charter school top, at 3.27 (the highest charter PEL was 3.63). In comparison, the PEL’s for the two middle schools in the same neighborhood were 2.20 and 2.15.

Heather, don't you realize that the children of more educated parents are more likely to do better in school?

Out of all of Oakland's middle schools (a total of 36 schools, charters and non-charters combined), the KIPP parent body is the fifth most educated.

In addition to the variation in parent education levels between charters vs. non-charters, a wide variation is also reflected in the percentage of students w/disabilities they teach. Oakland's charter middle schools are managing to avoid dealing with equal numbers of these most-difficult-to-educate students.

KIPP had 3% students w/disabilities. The two other middle schools in the same neighborhood had 4% and 11%.

Our district's non-charter middle school average for students w/disabilities is 9%. It reaches a high of 17% at one traditional middle school here. The charter middle school average was 3.9%.

The average test scores for students w/disabilities are the lowest of all, by far. If schools manage to avoid enrolling these students, their scores will look better, too.

Your "KIPP is the answer" argument can only be made if you are wearing blinders.

The Washington Teacher said...

Far be it from me to interupt your dialogue. I do respect all who post here desire to at least try to adhere to my blog rules on civility. I think that reasonable minds can certainly disagree.

Check out my latest blog entry on the Hyprocisy of Mayoral Control, courtesy of Ed Notes On Line in NY and Angel Gonzalez's video. It is a must watch and bears some similarities to whats happening right here in DC. Thanks for stopping by Y'all.

The Perimeter Primate said...

Here’s one more thing to add to my above comment.

Statistics do point to an income/educational attainment connection, but this does not tell the whole story. The issue is about having a certain type and amount, of positive social capital, or not, and how that social capital helps kids do better in school. If enough families at a school have enough of it, it will help bring up everyone at the school. This is something which is very strong.

Positive social capital can be present in families from all subgroups, even if they are poor. We can see its effects operating with the charter school phenomenon of self-selection (as with the parent education level of the KIPP school I described above). Some groups are lucky to have more of it than others; it is connected to how historical events have affected family groups. Also, the more affluent you are, the more of it you are likely to have acquired.

As an example, the power of positive social capital is most evident in the poor Asian immigrant families such as those I know in Oakland (specifically east Asian). In this case it is derived from their values from being part of a Confucian tradition (where a supreme value is placed on attaining an education, the honor given to one’s family through academic achievement, the high value placed on maintaining marriages and extended family connections, etc.). Those values are working for their kids, even though the families are quite poor. I am speaking about Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese families. The Asian cultures with weaker Confucian traditions don’t do as well.

By the way, the medium household income of this subgroup in Oakland is in the poverty range, yet the academic achievement of their children approaches that of the White students. Consider the fact that most of these kids have parents who don’t even speak English, and then you can get a sense of the power of what is going on.

Median family income (2004):
African American = $31,184
Asian = $33,614
Latino = $38,779
White = $57,399

The best thing that types like Kopp, Levin, Feinberg, Gates, Rhee, Bloomberg, Klein, and all the other affluent-highly-educated-school-reform-blabbermouths-who-support-them could do would be to send their kids to school with the kids who are in the struggling urban public schools, and make all their peers do the same.

Heather said...

Perimeter, you said this: "Heather, don't you realize that the children of more educated parents are more likely to do better in school?"

I hear the argument that that KIPP parents are "better" than non-charter parents pretty often. Some say, like you, that they are marginally better educated. Others say these parents are more involved. Still others say they are higher income.

But these arguments are not sturdy.

First of all, KIPP uses a lottery. "Good" parents don't get priority over "bad," so there is no reason to think the population is so very different.

But most important is this fact - the kids coming in are not proficient. I, too, used to think that KIPP schools must just have these magical parents in order to account for their breath-taking success. But then I realized that, if the parents were the deciding factor, why were the kids coming in not already proficient? The kids scores upon entering KIPP are terrible - basically congruent with DCPS. So the only variable is the influence of the school.

The Washington Teacher said...

I have a problem with comparing apples and oranges. What is of concern to me is when our public schools are underfunded like the 31DC schools that did not receive the funding they were due for fiscal year 08-09 and could not hire the necessary teachers and staff, etc. This was revealed in Mary Levy's study which came out at the end of last school year. It is a travesty when public schools are unable to hire the necessary teachers and staff, have classes well above established ratio's ( some as high as 40), have substitutes teaching all year which leads to a revolving door of unqualified staff, teachers teaching outside of their certification, not to mention do not have the option like many charters of kicking out students with a disability or behavior problems charters don't want to address. Don't tell me it doesn't happen because I am on a team that reviews these cases in public school after it happens.

If we want to compare- then we need to compare things that are alike, not things that are different. We also must take a look at what happens when we hold schools accountable especially poorer scools who often have not been given the minimum resources needed to be successful. Even though there are certain minimal funding schools are required to receive based on student enrollment, this did not happen in DCPS this year. Some of the poorer schools in our lower socio-economic neighborhoods got less money even though they had higher student ratio's while more affluent schools got more money. Had it not been for the Levy study we would not have known how pervasive this problem was this year.

We know the playing field is not level. Go look at a charter school and compare it to a public school particularly in a poor neighborhood even today.

Let's put a period at the end of this sentence and move on. The bottom line is that unless we are planning on closing all public schools- then we are going to have both public and charter. If that be the case- level the playing field for urban public schools. This happened in Montgomery County when Dr. Jerry Weast made the decision to provide more monies to Title I schools in lower socio-economic districts in Montgomery county. It made a positive difference too.

Schools in lower socio-economic areas need more money than our more affluent schools. Either fund urban public schools at appropriate levels so our poorer students can get a quality education as well or get off your soap box !