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Posted at 3:00 PM ET, 07/26/2010

Civil rights groups skewer Obama education policy (updated)

By Valerie Strauss

It is most politely written, but a 17-page framework for education reform released Monday by a coalition of civil rights groups amounts to a thrashing of President Obama’s education policies and it offers a prescription for how to set things right.

You won’t see these sentences in the piece: “Dear President Obama, you say you believe in an equal education for all students, but you are embarking on education policies that will never achieve that goal and that can do harm to America’s school children, especially its neediest. Stop before it is too late.”

But that, in other nicer words, is exactly what it says. The courteous gloss on this framework can’t cover up its angry, challenging substance.

The “Framework for Providing All Students an Opportunity to Learn” is a collaboration of these groups: Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Schott Foundation for Public Education, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Coalition for Educating Black Children, National Urban League, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

Leaders of these groups were scheduled to hold a press conference Monday to release the framework but it was cancelled because, a spokesman said, there was a conflict in schedules. The delay was, presumably, not connected to public appearances this week by Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan at the convention marking the 100th anniversary of the Urban League in Washington D.C. Obama is making a speech on Thursday; Duncan on Wednesday.

The framework’s authors start the framework seeming conciliatory, applauding Obama's goal for the United States to become a global leader in post-secondary education attainment by 2020.

But quickly their intent is clear. They take apart the thinking behind the administration’s education policies, and note a number of times the differences between what Obama and Duncan say about education and what they do.

To wit:

About Race to the Top,
the competitive grant program for states that is the administration’s central education initiative thus far, it says:

“The Race to the Top Fund and similar strategies for awarding federal education funding will ultimately leave states competing with states, parents competing with parents, and students competing with other students..... By emphasizing competitive incentives in this economic climate, the majority of low-income and minority students will be left behind and, as a result, the United States will be left behind as a global leader.”

Ouch.

About an expansion of public charter schools, which the administration has advanced:

“There is no evidence that charter operators are systematically more effective in creating higher student outcomes nationwide....Thus, while some charter schools can and do work for some students, they are not a universal solution for systemic change for all students, especially those with the highest needs.”

And there’s this carefully worded reproach to the administration:

“To the extent that the federal government continues to encourage states to expand the number of charters and reconstitute existing schools as charters, it is even more critical to ensure that every state has a rigorous accountability system to ensure that all charters are operating at a high level.”

Double ouch.

But there’s more.

The framework says that the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, formally known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, “should seek buy-in from community advocates.” But it notes that Obama’s Blueprint for Education reform makes "only cursory mention of parent and community engagement in local school development.”

It blasts the administration’s approach to dealing with persistently low-performing schools, saying that closing them in the way now being advanced is wrong, and it says that the administration is not doing enough to close gaps in resources, alleviate poverty and end racial segregation in schools.

And it says that the government should stop using low-income neighborhoods as laboratories for education experiments:

“For far too long, communities of color have been testing grounds for unproven methods of educational change while all levels of government have resisted the tough decisions required to expand access to effective educational methods. The federal government currently requires school districts to use evidence-based approaches to receive federal funds in DOE’s Investing in Innovation grant process. So, too, in all reforms impacting low-income and high-minority communities, federal and state governments should meet the same evidence-based requirement as they prescribe specific approaches to school reform and distribute billions of dollars to implement them.

“Rather than addressing inequitable access to research-proven methodologies like high-quality early childhood education and a stable supply of experienced, highly effective teachers, recent education reform proposals have favored “stop gap” quick fixes that may look new on the surface but offer no real long-term strategy for effective systemic change. The absence of these “stop gap” programs in affluent communities speaks to the marginal nature of this approach. We therefore urge an end to the federal push to encourage states to adopt federally prescribed methodologies that have little or no evidentiary support – for primary implementation only in low-income and high-minority communities.

This is really tough talk, and it is about time that America’s civil rights leaders are speaking up.

The only question is whether anybody in the Obama administration is actually listening.

-0-

UPDATE:

Now we know why civil rights leaders suddenly cancelled today’s press conference at which they were going to talk about their new powerful framework for education reform, which includes a withering critique of the Obama administration’s education policies.

They met instead with Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., head of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, said in an interview that he and other leaders felt that meeting with Duncan to discuss policy differences was “a better use of our time” than holding a public press conference.

Considering that most press conferences are a waste of time, Jackson makes a point.

But in this case, the postponement -- or, perhaps, cancellation -- left the impression among some that the civil rights leaders chose not to publicly criticize President Obama’s education policies any more than the framework already does.

The press conference was originally called for 10 a.m., which, it turned out, was exactly the time that the Duncan meeting started.

Jackson said Duncan listened as he and other civil rights leaders explained their concerns about ensuring equitable resources for each child and about how education reform should be part of a comprehensive urban renewal strategy that involves the Departments of Justice and Labor.

If quiet diplomacy can actually get Duncan to change some of his ill-conceived policies, then we can applaud this effort.

But if it doesn’t, it will be incumbent upon the civil rights leaders to shout to everyone who will listen that this administration is not doing what it must to ensure an equal education for every student.

They have to be as tough on a president that they like as they would be on a president that they don’t.


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By Valerie Strauss  | July 26, 2010; 3:00 PM ET
Categories:  Charter schools, Education Secretary Duncan, Equity, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top  | Tags:  civil rights and duncan, civil rights leaders and education, duncan and urban league, framework for education and civil rights groups, framework for providing all students an opportunity to learn, obama and urban league, obama speaks to urban league, the urban league, urban league convention  
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Comments

"“For far too long, communities of color have been testing grounds for unproven methods of educational change while all levels of government have resisted the tough decisions required to expand access to effective educational methods. "

Like Stanton Elementary, which Michelle Rhee has given up on.
The lady, whose Baltimore Miracle took kids from the 13th percentile to the 90th percentile, was unable to replicate that miracle at Stanton, so she turns it over to a private company.
One benefit from this- their scores won't count for DCPS next year.

Posted by: edlharris | July 26, 2010 5:40 AM | Report abuse

What do you have to say about this Dr. Steve Perry? Read this guy's tweets http://twitter.com/drsteveperry I'm sure he will blame everyone but Obama & Duncan for this report by a coalition of civil rights groups. Perry blames teachers, local educators' unions & boards of education for "the failure of our public schools."

Posted by: ultimatewarrior | July 26, 2010 8:24 AM | Report abuse

I have worked in an inner city urban school and I have observed the following facts. Fact No. 1: It's the parents! Fact No. 2: It's the parents! What is the main difference between inner city schools and suburban schools? The parents. Why do children turn in almost no homework in the inner city? It's the parents. Why does no one come to the Parent Teacher Conferences for these struggling kids? It's the parents and their lack of commitment to the child's education. No student in the two fourth grade classes I worked with, indeed, the sixth grade classes, had a dictionary at home. Many had no supervision when they got home. Our after school program at one point contained 4 to 6 kids from one family (single parent) who had to be personally taken home from school at 6:30 because they could not reach the parent. When they arrived at home, the lights were out and no one was there. These are young children and no parent to be found. Some kids would come in with their parents for breakfast and their parent would take food from the cafeteria for themselves. One student, really nice kid, his father killed his mother so he was being raised by his grandparents who were elderly. The kid was 10.

Many of these children are just as smart as their suburban counterparts but the parents not only do not do their job, they interfere and resent when the school does theirs causing more long term damage to the child. Example: Many times calls were made to the number for abuse of children. Reason: The child of 10 was not attending school because they had to babysit for their younger siblings. In another case, the student was afraid to ask her parent to take her to school because the parent would blow up into a rage! Some did not attend school because their mother was out all night hooking and was too tired to get them to the bustop on time. And the list goes on.

This has nothing to do with standards, it has nothing to do with teachers, who at the most have the kids 6 hours a day. It has to do with the irresponsible parents for whom education means nothing. There was no importance given to it in the parents' house when they were growing up, and the message was to live off the government as much as possible so you don't need an education. You have entitlement.

This is the problem with education. Not testing, not scores, not teachers, not buildings, not curriculum. It is the parents, stupid! But no one mentions the P-word because that would require the parents accepting responsibility for having 4 or 5 kids with no visible means of support, without the children in many cases even knowing who their real parents are, or if they exist.

Scores will never rise until parents are REQUIRED to accept responsibility since they do not possess it when they have act irresponsibly and have children with no visible means of support except the government. In surburbia, the kids already have this foundation and their scores reflect that.

Posted by: xplanes | July 26, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

xplanes---Thank you!! While I agree all students deserve the best facilities and top notch teachers the parents play the biggest role in their children's education.

Posted by: Redial1 | July 26, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Valerie,

Finally, someone who knows something about education is saying something! I am so heartened to read that all these groups are joining.

You say it is tough talk. The children of poverty are the ones being affected by the "stop gap" measures.

I agree with them, stop doing idiotic experiments with our kids.

To all those who object to "pouring money into schools" remember, these kids will be the ones taking care of you when you are old someday. these kids are the future of our country whether you like it or not.

Posted by: celestun100 | July 26, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

@xplanes

I have worked in several inner city schools as well. I have also worked in a high income area. High income areas also have problems, believe it or not.

There are high income parents who cannot admit failure or any flaws in their kids.They don't always get help for their kids and sometimes the "entitlement" that they feel leaves their children virtually unteachable. They do not lack money, but sometimes use it as a substitute for everything else. I have seen parents who think that rules are for other peoples' kids, not theirs.

While people in crisis without a safety net are truly in tragic situations, some wealthy kids have alcoholic parents, suffer child abuse, go through horrible custody battles, etc.

Because the parents have money, they can cover up their problems and threaten anyone who intervenes with a lawsuit.

Posted by: celestun100 | July 26, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

WoW! The letter is right on target and so is your response, xplanes.

But, they can't force parents to be parents...so, they are forcing the teacher (I mean, can you imagine if they did force parental participation in their children's education). Afterall, the ones who make these decisions have practically forced us to raise these children, anyway...I can remember an administrator lecturing a group of educators saying that teaching was "24/7."

While the "reformers" keep comparing public education in America to education in other countries, they forget that parenting and attitudes toward school are different in those other countries...which is where the answer to this dilemma lies.

Posted by: ilcn | July 26, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

"We invoke the leadership and drive of the candidate and the Senator from Illinois who told a nation, "Yes, We Can!"

The Administration cannot ignore this document. Don't let them ignore it.

I'm not a card carrying member of those groups who thoughtfully authored this document. I'm a caucasian parent, a businesswoman, a volunteer to public schools with a front row seat, a non union member. I see what is happening. The claims in this document are spot on. The recommendations are excellent ones.

It's everyone's responsibility to speak out on this atrocity--now is the time.

Democracy rules in our nation. If our citizens are not educated, our entire nation suffers. This is not what JFK nor Senator Ted Kennedy envisioned. The system is flawed terribly. I believe they, too, would want it fixed and would work tirelessly to make that happen.

Fix this flawed system which is based entirely upon two standardized high stakes tests. Use them only to diagnose the symptoms not to punish the children, the teachers, the schools and the communities they serve.

Don't lose another year.

It is time to raise all our voices now.

Posted by: rsolnet | July 26, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

There is far too much "the federal government must" in this document. While its recommendations sound noble, the execution, especially if mandated from the federal level, would further hamstring quality schools from doing quality work.

More cynically, this document is another push for more government jobs, which will only benefit those getting the jobs.

Nowhere in this document does it address one of the biggest impediments to having 'a quality teacher in every classroom': the union contracts which restrict a principal's hiring authority.

Using the federal government to institutionalize parent involvement is cumbersome, inefficient, and hasn't worked in a generation. Replicating the Harlem Childrens' Zone' at every low-performing school is cost-prohibitive on so many levels; demanding more of the principal and teachers means paying them more, or hiring another level of professionals for whom the principal is responsible. Nowhere in this document does it recommend how to pay for this, from where the funds would come, or how much all of this would cost. Saying 'the federal government must' implies either tax-dollar redistribution, or tax increases to pay for it, but of course the authors never mention that directly.

Also, how would you hold these programs accountable? Again, there's no mention of that. I wonder often about the howls of protest you would hear within the federal government if other government entities had to abide by NCLB-style guidelines for success.

While I applaud the publishing of this document, I believe the focus of the authors is mis-directed. It's easy dealing with a big federal government but inefficient and dubiously successful; what's more difficult, yet more necessary, is engaging neighborhoods and families to make real change.

Fixing education requires a 'counter-insurgency' strategy, engaging the 'people on the ground' vs. the politicians at the top.

Posted by: pdfordiii | July 26, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

@xplanes & celestunn100

Both of you have shared the ugly truth, the 800 lb Gorilla, that politicians generally, and those on the Left particularly, don't want to accept because it implies those 'right-wing' ideas of responsibility and discipline that are the root of these education dilemmas. Xplanes, as an urban school educator I have to expect minimal or no parental involvement, yet I engage the student as much as possible and seek to instill a sense of self-reliance in the student, which at some point they appreciate. These students know their parents are 'wack'; we HAVE to be the responsible, committed adult because we may be the last ones they have before they're adults. Sadly in urban schools there aren't enough teachers willing to do that, and the only way the federal government could fix that is turning all public schools into a 'US Education Force', assigning teachers/administrators based on need vs. a union contract, like replacing McCrystal with Patraeus.

Posted by: pdfordiii | July 26, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

These recommendations should be the core of ESEA reauthorization. They challenge the current paradigm of NCLB reform. Rather than placing the focus on children AFTER they fail, the new recommendations put in place a positive, tough, well reasoned and researched based focus on assuring that our students succeed. These recommendations do not apologize for public schools that need improvement, but neither do they rely on "bashing" public schools and teachers as a means of change and reform. They answer the question of "what conditions and opportunities should exist in ALL of our schools and communities for assuring that ALL students get into college or are prepared for a living wage career." This is an important equity and excellence debate for the Administration and Congress to have if we are serious about increasing academic achievement for ALL children. This report also recognizes the importance of linking public schools with communities and families--a commmon thread that the Administration has resisted, does not understand, and has mostly paid lip service to. The DIPLOMA Act, S. 3595 introduced by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) would integrate community with the academic program of schools, and fits neatly into these recommendations. The stronger the democractic links are to our public schools, the greater the chances are that ALL of our students will have access to quality schools--not just those students who are fortunate to be living in the right zip code. The civil rights organizations who are proposing the recommendations should be commended for their thoughfulness, realism, commitment and a set of recommendations that should have broad based support among both sides of the aisle. But Valerie Strauss's question: "is the Administration listening" is valid. The extent to which they are not listening is the extent to which they move at their own peril.

Posted by: ArnoldFFege | July 26, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

pdfordii

In my experience it is the middle class, lower middle class and the poor who believe strongly in discipline and responsibility. I am generalizing, but it seems to me that the less money one has the less likely they are to cater to their kids.

I don't know if you consider those groups to be on the right or left. They are certainly conservative on many issues depending on many factors.

The government should do something to stop the false quick fix reforms that they are currently pushing on school children.

If the problem were the teachers unions, then everyplace without strong unions would be doing well. And they aren't.

Why shouldn't the government help out people in poor schools? They bail out bankers don't they?

We pay child care workers and preschool teachers so little in this country and we know that education starts early. How can parents working 2 jobs educate their children? How can they choose quality childcare?

Posted by: celestun100 | July 26, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

pfordii
I also disagree that in urban schools the teachers aren't willing to help out the kids. The fact is urban school kids have many more needs and rely on the schools for help.

The teachers are outnumbered in urban schools.

When I went from an urban school with needy students to an upper class system, the first thing I noticed is that the students didn't "need" me in the same way. They had all their needs met.

There are problems in upper class schools also. However they don't compare in numbers to the poverty area schools.

Posted by: celestun100 | July 26, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

@Arnold,

We've known for years what every school should have; the system itself has prevented schools from achieving this equity.
1) As long as funding is tied to property values, schools in affluent neighborhoods will always have more resources. We must either decouple school funding from property values, or assign an 'absolute value' of school funding per student.
2) As long as teacher staffing is a function of seniority vs. need, poor schools will NEVER have the best teachers. Principals/schools must be able to hire the best teachers, not be told whom they can hire or staff.

In all this grandiose talk about school reform, it's almost funny that we hear NOTHING from the primary customers: parents and students. When you're a parent, trying to rear your child and keep food on the table, you don't have time for 'standards-based assessment' or 'differentiated instruction.' Yet, like a modern art gallery, you know 'good education' when you see it for your child. I advocate parental choice because you only get one shot to rear your child, you can't wait on the system to reform. If parents had the freedom to choose the best education fit for their child, you'd see reform faster than you could spell 'race to the top.'
I have no problems 'marketing' myself to my 'customers,' and working to satisfy them. If I'm not doing my job, I deserve not to have students in my classroom, but the PARENTS should be making that choice.

Posted by: pdfordiii | July 26, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

pfordii

Often teachers begin at urban districts because they have many openings, then they see that teachers in affluent areas have it easier and are payed more. Affluent areas higher a few new teachers, but not many people without experience are wanted.

That is because new teachers make many mistakes. Of course they have enthusiasm and energy and good ideas, but excellence in teaching takes time.

Posted by: celestun100 | July 26, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, that should be "hire" not "higher"

Posted by: celestun100 | July 26, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

@celestun100

That urban schools have so many openings is an ugly truth about the teaching profession. Some people like to blame it on 'poor working conditions' or 'poor leadership', but quite frankly those are just codes for not wanting to work in 'da hood' with 'those children.'
Teaching in urban schools is hard, and those that do it should be compensated for doing so. My engineering mind is quite simple: if you have to put in more work, you should get more energy out.

As I said before, either you assign teachers based on need or give administrators the freedom (and resource$$) to hire the best staff.

Posted by: pdfordiii | July 26, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Arne Duncan's so called reforms in Chicago were only in the poorer low income areas. He didn't touch the middle or upper classes. He experimented on the children of the poor.

Posted by: educationlover54 | July 26, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I was hoping that there was some "good" reason for calling off the press conference - and meeting directly with Duncan sounds like it. However, I agree, Valerie, that this document has to be as public and as in-Obama's-face as possible.

Most of all, I want to thank the educational and civil-rights leaders who wrote it. I just finished reading though it and think it makes perfect sense - at long last a document on education that makes perfect sense. Let's make it official.

Posted by: efavorite | July 26, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

But, they can't force parents to be parents..
Posted by: ilcn
................................
Parents of Title 1 poverty public schools want the schools to deal with the problem students.

No parent want their child in a class room where a disruptive student is tolerated.

The large number of parents that participate in lotteries for public charter schools indicate that there are parents that care.

These parents are realist and do not want their children infected by the problems that the public schools will not deal with.

And this is a problem since in the elementary schools the low number of problem students that are not dealt with, suddenly become an epidemic in the middle schools.

The national tests are bleak but also indicate that many children can overcome the problems of the adversity of poverty.

Get the disruptive and those that hinder education out of the class room so that teachers can teach and the children that enter willing to learn can learn.

The idea of class room management for Title 1 poverty public schools indicates a serious problem. No public schools should need class room management.

American have to stop being prejudiced. Poverty areas contain many working families that know education is the answer.

They want safe environments in the public schools where their children will have a chance to learn.

They want public charter schools and inexpensive private schools since these schools get rid of the disruptive that will hinder their children in learning.

Teachers at Title 1 poverty public schools should stop blaming the parents. Those well behaved children that enter kindergarten and 1st grade are from parents that know education is important. Stop blaming these parents when your school has no policy to remove disruptive students and the only policy is to place them in classes with normal children. This is not the policy of the middle class and affluent public schools.

Teachers at Title 1 poverty public schools should stop hiding behind this pretense of the fault is the parents. Teachers know the disruptive students hinder their teaching and the education of other students. The fault is a school system that will not deal with this problem and remove these students from normal classes. This problems has been ignored so long that chaos in a class is the norm.

Blacks that have come from poverty know the problems. They want middle class and affluent public schools where schools deal with the problem students and not allow them to remain in normal class room and disrupt the education of their children.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

But, they can't force parents to be parents..
Posted by: ilcn
................................
Parents of Title 1 poverty public schools want the schools to deal with the problem students.

No parent want their child in a class room where a disruptive student is tolerated.

The large number of parents that participate in lotteries for public charter schools indicate that there are parents that care.

These parents are realist and do not want their children infected by the problems that the public schools will not deal with.

And this is a problem since in the elementary schools the low number of problem students that are not dealt with, suddenly become an epidemic in the middle schools.

The national tests are bleak but also indicate that many children can overcome the problems of the adversity of poverty.

Get the disruptive and those that hinder education out of the class room so that teachers can teach and the children that enter willing to learn can learn.

The idea of class room management for Title 1 poverty public schools indicates a serious problem. No normal public schools should need class room management.

American have to stop being prejudiced. Poverty areas contain many working families that know education is the answer.

They want safe environments in the public schools where their children will have a chance to learn.

They want public charter schools and inexpensive private schools since these schools get rid of the disruptive that will hinder their children in learning.

Teachers at Title 1 poverty public schools should stop blaming the parents. Those well behaved children that enter kindergarten and 1st grade are from parents that know education is important. Stop blaming these parents when your school has no policy to remove disruptive students and the only policy is to place them in classes with normal children. This is not the policy of the middle class and affluent public schools.

Teachers at Title 1 poverty public schools should stop hiding behind this pretense of the fault is the parents. Teachers know the disruptive students hinder their teaching and the education of other students. The fault is a school system that will not deal with this problem and remove these students from normal classes. This problems has been ignored so long that chaos in a class is the norm.

Blacks that have come from poverty know the problems. They want middle class and affluent public schools where schools deal with the problem students and not allow them to remain in normal class room and disrupt the education of their children.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Thanks once again, Valerie, for saying in print what all the rest of us need to be saying, too. The current school reform agenda does nothing to change the system, which is precisely what needs to be changed in deep, fundamental, and creative ways.

I hope these civil rights leaders are reading WaPo and your blog and don't let Duncan talk them out of going public with what needs to be a civil rights issue for ALL kids. Despite all of us out here who voted for CHANGE, particularly in schools, this administration is doing it wrong:
1) Buying into the "standardized testing" fallacy that has driven our public education system into the ground over the past 25 years.
2) Attacking teachers as if they were the problem instead of the victims of our top-heavy, bureaucratic structure (along with students and parents, of course).
3) Following someone else's "charter school" agenda instead of reinventing the system for ALL children.

This NCLB fight needs to be a civil rights movement for ALL kids (and parents and teachers) to set us all free from an inhumane "factory" system that is as outmoded as high-button shoes. We need to be REINVENTING public education with a faster, smarter system that mandates TIME for teachers to reinvent their work and MONEY for modernizing/downsizing horribly bloated bureaucracies that are holding back all of our kids and American society.
Patricia Kokinos, www.ChangeTheSchools.com

Posted by: changemkr | July 26, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Teachers really need to stop dancing around the problem.

You have a disruptive student in your class room because you have a school system that allows placing disruptive students in normal class rooms.

Can we really stop this charade. There are children early on that can early on identified as most likely to wind up in gangs and in jail. I know of one case of a boy in the 4th grade that was encouraging other boys to touch the private areas of girls. This boy was a continuous problem and simply remained in normal classes.

Years ago there were few problems of discipline in poverty public schools. Do not follow the rules and create disruptions repeatedly and you were sent to an undesirable alternative. This allowed teachers to teach.

Now it appears that chaos in the poverty public schools is regarded at the norm.

Teachers that blame parents should understand that this is not that different from Ms. Rhee who blames teachers.

There is an obvious problem and it should be fixed.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Good for these groups. I hope they don't compromise and back down.

This turn of events ties in with Maureen Dowd's recent NYT piece, "You’ll Never Believe What This White House Is Missing."

Excerpts:

"The Obama White House is too white.

"It has Barack Obama, raised in the Hawaiian hood and Indonesia, and Valerie Jarrett, who spent her early years in Iran.

"But unlike Bill Clinton, who never needed help fathoming Southern black culture, Obama lacks advisers who are descended from the central African-American experience, ones who understand 'the slave thing,' as a top black Democrat dryly puts it.

"The first black president should expand beyond his campaign security blanket, the smug cordon of overprotective white guys surrounding him..."

(and)

"Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.’s House delegate, agreed: 'The president needs some advisers or friends who have a greater sense of the pulse of the African-American community, or who at least have been around the mulberry bush.'”

---
Duncan's (AKA George Bush's, Bill Gates' and Eli Broad's) plan is to continue to label schools in poor communities as "failures" so he can close and reopen and close and reopen them (etc.). Duncan, the millionaire private-school boy (who in 2008 sat on the Broad Center's board of directors), doesn't see a problem with keeping all those families in perpetual upheaval. He even thinks it's good for them and probably imagines it as their "civil right."

What a stupid, insensitive, ineffective idea; no family deserves to be subjected to that. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the tide will turn.

Posted by: pondoora | July 26, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

It is a good sign that more Americans are not willing to drink the kool aid.

The following is for teachers who blame the parent.

In 2002 I spoke to an assistant Principal of a middle school Title 1 poverty public schools.

A database showed that this school had very high reports of student to student violence.

I asked if this was correct data.

I was told it was true and he went over the problem.

At the end I asked him if he would recommend to a parent of a well behaved child entering the school, that the parent should buy their child steel shoes and train their child in effectively kicking an attacker.

He did not reply.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

pfordii
You are suggesting that teachers who choose not to work in urban schools are racist.

Are you under the impression that in suburban schools there are no children of color? That assumption is incorrect.

Are you under the impression that all principals and teachers in suburban schools are white? That is also an incorrect assumption.

As you said, affluent areas have more resources due to property taxes. So, they pay their teachers more.

Posted by: celestun100 | July 26, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

I read the 17-page framework for education reform.

Yes it repudiates the Federal government policies of Race To The Top.

It is also against evaluating teachers strictly on test results.

It is placing an emphasis on requiring safe schools with access to a superior education.

Whether this will mean any real methods to deal with the unique problems of Title 1 poverty public schools I can not answer.

As usual this is danced around.

I am always amazed that teachers in Title 1 poverty public schools really do not realize that the chaos and disruptive behavior that is common in their class rooms is totally absent from the public schools that are not Title 1 poverty public schools.

These teachers also probably do not realize that high incidences of violence are also not a problems with the public schools that are not Title 1 poverty public schools.

It is interesting that when you daily live with chaos and violence you assume that this is the norm.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

@bsallamack
I agree with you.

Schools need to have a system in place so that if a student is frequently disruptive they are removed from the classroom so that the other kids can learn.

We are always worried about the rights of the disruptive student. What about the kids who are trying to learn?


Posted by: celestun100 | July 26, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Quick question for bsall:

What should we do with all the disrupters once they have been kicked out?

Posted by: tfteacher | July 26, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Yet, like a modern art gallery, you know 'good education' when you see it for your child. I advocate parental choice because you only get one shot to rear your child,

I have no problems 'marketing' myself to my 'customers,' and working to satisfy them. If I'm not doing my job, I deserve not to have students in my classroom, but the PARENTS should be making that choice.

Posted by: pdfordiii
..................
But parents do have this choice. It is called private schools. Pay enough and you can even get specific teachers since you will know a good teacher intuitively just like you will a good painting in a modern art gallery.

Good to know that marketing is very important in public schools.

Perhaps teachers at public schools should be required to attend an afternoon tea with parents and parents could fill out their dance cards oops I meant class cards for their selection of teachers.

This certainly would be an unique solution for the Title 1 poverty public schools.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

@bsallamack
I agree with you.

Schools need to have a system in place so that if a student is frequently disruptive they are removed from the classroom so that the other kids can learn.

We are always worried about the rights of the disruptive student. What about the kids who are trying to learn?


Posted by: celestun100
..............................
Apparently in the case I mentioned the child was allowed to stay in normal classes for five years. Then he was shipped to a normal class in middle school.

The Secretary of Education can speak of class room management in Title 1 poverty public schools. To me it is just accepting chaos that limits the opportunity of other children to learn.

The only policy in place at Title 1 poverty public schools is class room management.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Right, well the thing that they are always saying now is that if the teacher has good organization, and everything is carefully planned and the children are learning at the proper level, there will be no behavior problems.

Those things will keep most kids working, but some kids are angry at the world or whatever and have no intention of going along with the plan.

There are endless stories we could tell of what would be considered criminal behavior or at least vice by the police if adults were involved.

I don't know what the answers are for the kids who do this stuff, they surely are victims themselves, but the principals and teachers should have the authority to protect the other students.

Posted by: celestun100 | July 26, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Teachers not only have the authority, but the responsibility to create a "safe learning environment" as it is called in the law.

I agree misbehavior ruins a class.

My question is what should we do with the kids we boot from the class, because the law also states that every child has a right to a free public education?

Posted by: tfteacher | July 26, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Quick question for bsall:

What should we do with all the disrupters once they have been kicked out?

Posted by: tfteacher
...................................
Depends on the budget and also the problems of the child.

Some children that later fully understand that they can not disrupt classes can be put back in normal classes after a time in a class room set up for these children.

The child that I mentioned was also violently aggressive to other children.

Children that demonstrate that they can not be in normal classes should be removed from these classes.

Some children can be corrected early on simply by calling parents and making them come to school from work to pick up their child. Of course this can not be done with all parents.

The city of Chicago is spending millions on a program where they used computer to identify older youths. The 1st grade teachers probably could have identified these children. The Chicago program came about after a student that was performing well in a poverty schools was beaten to death in the street.

There is very little point in spending millions for children in normal classrooms while totally ignoring early on problems that guarantee an inferior education for children. It is ludicrous to speak of effective teachers in Title 1 poverty public schools when problem are ignored that effect the teachers and the children that want to learn.

Most large urban areas have the ability to set up separate schools to deal with these problems. Some of these children may be able to be helped while other may not. Children that totally lack the social skills for normal classes if dealt with early on can probably be sent back to class rooms.

The problem has to be dealt with.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Teachers not only have the authority, but the responsibility to create a "safe learning environment" as it is called in the law.

I agree misbehavior ruins a class.

My question is what should we do with the kids we boot from the class, because the law also states that every child has a right to a free public education?

Posted by: tfteacher
...............................
This is not ruin a class.

This is chaos in classrooms in Title 1 poverty public schools. This is student apathy in a system where nothing is done. This is a plague where other students join in since nothing will be done. This is teachers spending perhaps a quarter of their teaching time on teaching to achieve order in a class. This is rising violence in schools.

For years problem students were dealt with in poverty schools by placing them in special schools. This fulfills the government responsibility to public education.

Middle class and affluent use special public schools to deal with this problem and do not simply ignore it.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, bsall.

Any idea why so many inner city kids have these problems? Could their impoverished status have anything to do with it?

I think so.

And if I am correct, booting them to another room full of others who've been booted is great for the well-behaved, but the troubled kids get screwed.

Perhaps we should look at our schools as a symptom of a much larger problem, be honest about it, and try to deal with it instead of placing all the blame and all the hope on schools and teachers. The problem I am referring to is, of course, poverty.

Posted by: tfteacher | July 26, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse

I am amazed.

I went to a poverty public schools 50 years ago. A child was expected to sit quietly and listen to a teacher. No child was disruptive since that child would be out and in a special public school.

There were gangs in the neighborhood.

Yes you had disruption students but these were all the students removed from normal classrooms and placed in the special schools. Some of the violent ones were actually sent to state mental hospitals.

Now apparently everyone believes that for Title 1 poverty public schools chaos and violence should be simply accepted and handled with class room management.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

No.

I am asking these questions because, as a teacher, I am faced with it.

If we kick 'em out, they have to go somewhere. They will be put in a special class? Not without a change in the law. We don't track, and only kids with special services get to be segregated.

And what about root causes? These kids act this way for a reason. Can't we try to get at that?

Usually these kids are from the worst part of town and have the worst supervision, housing, health and the rest. Unless we want to parent them, nothing I or my school can do will help them.

So we need their parents to be able to be helpful. A stressed life produces what we see in schools. The behavior is a symptom of a larger problem.

And since we're not going to end poverty, the least we can do to help is provide early childhood education and universal healthcare.

Posted by: tfteacher | July 26, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, bsall.

Any idea why so many inner city kids have these problems? Could their impoverished status have anything to do with it?
Posted by: tfteacher
...................................
We all neglect our children to some extent. That is human.

But then there is total child neglect and violence against children. There is also verbal abuse against children.

These are probably the causes of the hard cases that are seen early on.

This really is a problem that grows the longer that it is ignored since many children in a poverty area will see acceptance of behavior by teachers as a sign to mimic the behavior to gain attention. Remember this is young children and seeing acceptance of disruptive behavior simply can be seen as that society will accept and tolerate disruptive behavior.

If this is the model that teachers allow there should be no surprise when more children accept this model.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

This really is a problem that grows the longer that it is ignored since many children in a poverty area will see acceptance of behavior by teachers as a sign to mimic the behavior to gain attention

Seriously? Do you even know any teachers?

Posted by: tfteacher | July 26, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

And since we're not going to end poverty, the least we can do to help is provide early childhood education and universal healthcare.

Posted by: tfteacher
...............................
Noble aim but will not work for the mistreated problem children.

A parent that hits a child two year old or younger will not be prevented from doing so by these programs.

I remember discussing this with a assistant DA once who thought I was a liberal.

I told him that children should be removed from parents when they are mistreated by their parents and placed in state homes. This might prevent these children as later parents from mistreating their children.

He did not understand that I was an old school liberal.

Early childhood education would work with other children to raise their capabilities when they enter public schools. Firm believer that the brains of preschool children can benefit from stimulation. The Head Start programs probably need work as this should be the place to really get young children prepared for school.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

This really is a problem that grows the longer that it is ignored since many children in a poverty area will see acceptance of behavior by teachers as a sign to mimic the behavior to gain attention

Seriously? Do you even know any teachers?

Posted by: tfteacher
.................................
Yes the case I earlier presented.

Over time other children mimicked the behavior of the problem child. He was the alternate teacher in the classroom.

Why the big surprise?

Children learn from what they see around them all the time.

Do you really believe telling a child to not to do something is effective when the child sees your toleration and acceptance of another child doing what you warned the child from doing?

Of course this is not true for all children and some will simply see an impotent teachers and know that they should not behave in such a matter.

Do you really think that children in a classroom with a teacher constantly dealing with a disruptive child has no effect on these children?

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

xplanes has it correct. It's the parents (or lack thereof) that makes the difference in most kids' school experience.

Unfortunately, it's not politically correct to go down this road. Funny, in most states in this country you have to pay for a license to drive a car, go hunting, or go fishing, but not to be a parent. I wonder why that is?

Wouldn't it be something if you had to first purchase a license to become a parent? Isn't parenting the most important job/responsibility on the planet? I mean, really, THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB ON THE PLANET?! It's certainly more important than being able to go fishing or hunting, yet we need a license to do either of these relatively unimportant activities but nothing, bubka for parenting? There's absolutely nothing limiting the right to enter into the holiest of agreements, that of being a responsible adult given the care of YOUR child.

How about we price this license on a sliding scale based on the two consenting adults' ability to pay? It would certainly make people at least think a bit before they decided to make such an important decision.

Posted by: phoss1 | July 26, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Who would licence these parents? You?

bsall,

You are assuming that teachers allow the bad behavior. They don't. They do their best to deal with it, and they rarely accept it.

I suppose this is where I actually agree that administration needs to help, as now they are indeed a hindrance.
But to say that kids behave badly in class because teachers accept it is just nonsense.

I had kids who behaved badly, and I sure as hell didn't accept it. They did it anyway, and I dealt with them again and again. If anything, the other students saw their teacher NOT accepting the bad behavior.

You should get into a classroom and try it for yourself.

Posted by: tfteacher | July 26, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

@celestun100

That urban schools have so many openings is an ugly truth about the teaching profession. Some people like to blame it on 'poor working conditions' or 'poor leadership', but quite frankly those are just codes for not wanting to work in 'da hood' with 'those children.'

As I said before, either you assign teachers based on need or give administrators the freedom (and resource$$) to hire the best staff.
Posted by: pdfordiii
....................................
Teachers do not go into teaching for money. Certified public accountants make more money than teachers.

Contrary to your opinion I do not believe that teachers are racists. In the past many white teachers have worked in D.C. public schools and I doubt that all of the teachers are now black.

Urban schools will continue to have more and more openings.

Teachers do not like being accused of being lazy and the type of individuals that will only do their jobs when are offered more money.

Teachers do not like the idea of investing time and effort in a public school system that will fire them based upon test scores.

It is expensive to move to a new area with the high possibility of being fired at the end of the year.

Ms. Rhee and educators with similar ideas of teaching in Title 1 poverty public schools have only been effective in convincing qualified teachers to avoid Title 1 poverty public schools like the plague.

.....................................
My engineering mind is quite simple: if you have to put in more work, you should get more energy out.

I do not understand an individual with engineering qualification as a public school teacher. But then from a previous post I believe you are also an expert on Modern Art.

Throw more coal on a furnace that is already producing enough heat and you have simply wasted coal.

In many cases more work simply produces diminishing returns since the effectiveness of any individual lessens with the more hours put into the job.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

bsall,

You are assuming that teachers allow the bad behavior. They don't. They do their best to deal with it, and they rarely accept it.

I suppose this is where I actually agree that administration needs to help, as now they are indeed a hindrance.
But to say that kids behave badly in class because teachers accept it is just nonsense.

I had kids who behaved badly, and I sure as hell didn't accept it. They did it anyway, and I dealt with them again and again. If anything, the other students saw their teacher NOT accepting the bad behavior.

You should get into a classroom and try it for yourself.

Posted by: tfteacher
..................................
"I had kids who behaved badly, and I sure as hell didn't accept it. They did it anyway, and I dealt with them again and again."

You accepted the fact that you had to deal with it again and again.

This is the message teachers are sending.

Imagine the problem at boot training if soldiers saw instructors accepting this behavior repeatedly instead of dealing with it immediately in such away that this behavior would not be tolerated. At the end of boot training you would have a company of soldier totally unfit to be soldiers.

I am not blaming teachers but when nothing is in place to deal with this problem which appears to be endemic of the Title 1 poverty public schools it should be no surprise it is a large problem.

"You should get into a classroom and try it for yourself."

Why would I want to since I am fully aware of the problems?

I once turned down a contract that I knew could not be completed because the firm would not follow a workable plan. The company sold the entire unit 3 years later after spending millions on a plan that was flawed from the beginning.

Teachers in Title 1 poverty public schools should get out. There is private education and the Department of Defense needs teachers on bases. Try for more education as a math or science teacher and get into a public school without problems that will not dealt with and that make any teacher ineffective.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

xplanes has it correct. It's the parents (or lack thereof) that makes the difference in most kids' school experience.
Posted by: phoss1
................................
Blaming the "parents" would be totally ineffective if a child comes to school with lice. Instead the school deals effectively with the problem.

It is the Title 1 poverty public schools that will not deal with the problem of students who turn a class room into a place of mayhem. These school are poorly performing for the parents of the children that are not creating the problem.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

"Years ago there were few problems of discipline in poverty public schools."

Wasn't that before Least Restrictive Environment, when schools felt freer to remove disruptive students from the classroom. Now they feel they have to leave them in.

Posted by: aby1 | July 26, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

"Years ago there were few problems of discipline in poverty public schools."

Wasn't that before Least Restrictive Environment, when schools felt freer to remove disruptive students from the classroom. Now they feel they have to leave them in.

Posted by: aby1
............................
Big surprise today that children from poverty families that want to learn find themselves in violent schools with teachers that spend so much time on children that do not want to learn.

This a major problem in Title 1 poverty public schools and there will be no improvement until this problem is dealt with.

The problem starts in the 1st grade and is ignored. No surprise that the problem simply grows worse until students are in the high schools.

There really was a time when children in poverty public schools were expected to behave and listen to a teacher or be sent to a special school. At least the children that wanted to learn had a chance.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Least Restrictive Environment

This sounds like a phrase that came from the management of a prison.

There is an achievement gap and not a poverty gap.

Class room management instead of chaos management.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 9:41 PM | Report abuse

"Least Restrictive Environment" is part of Special Education law. I don't think it helps children like it was supposed to.

Posted by: aby1 | July 26, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

"Least Restrictive Environment" is part of Special Education law. I don't think it helps children like it was supposed to.

Posted by: aby1
..................................
I believe that Special Education was originally for both physically and mentally disabled children.

Mentally retarded children were never a problem years ago in poverty schools. They were placed in special classes since they could not be placed in regular classes. Almost none of these children were prone to violence or threats to other students. They were placed in special schools because of their limited ability to learn.

I believe the law required teaching these children with special education teachers. I can not see how these children can now be dumped into a normal class room.

I have no idea when poverty public schools stopped removing disruptive children from class rooms and the poverty public schools became a chaotic shambles.

In high school chaos was for after school at 3 p.m. when gangs would start fights outside of the high school. Later on I found out that my high school had the distinction of being the first school in the New York City with a metal detector.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

In the Answer Sheet Blog comments for "The problem with how Rhee fired teachers", PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large writes in regard to IMPACT:

"In the "cool" blue background of the opening statement, superimposed mission statements are repeated as a pattern to make everybody feel good about what the school system is committed to. It all sounds pretty good, until you reach the two following statements:

"Achievement is a function of effort, not native ability",

and...

"All children, regardless of background or circumstance, can achieve at the highest levels."

Both of these statements are lies, and everyone knows it.

-----------------------

PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large is right, and the implications of the Chancellor's rhetorical support for IMPACT and her insistence that all "Neighborhood Schools" can achieve similar results should disturb us all.

Valerie Strauss has also provided her readers with the work of respected education policy researchers such as Dr. David Berliner and Richard Kahlenberg who both argue that the high concentrations of poverty and home/family instability in urban school systems are not environments that can be overcome by great teachers or administrators alone.

I would suggest that the Chancellor's insistence on the importance and equal potential of "Neighborhood Schools" is in many ways a justification of a "Separate, but Equal" education policy that has made DCPS perhaps the greatest example of educational apartheid in our nation.

My children attend some of the best DCPS schools in Ward 3, and as the NAEP data clearly shows, these are not representative of a failing school system. In fact, we consistently outperform every other public school system in the country when it comes to White ethnicity and income.

Those urban school systems that have effectively reduced the concentrations of poverty are described in an article by Kahlenberg entitled 'Levelling the School Playing Field: A Critical Aim for New York’s Future', which can be found here:

http://www.drummajorinstitute.org/pdfs/Levelling_the_School_Playing_Field.pdf

In this article Mr. Kahlenberg makes a strong argument that there are very important measures that focus on the socioeconomic integration of our schools that are the most effective means to increase overall student achievement. He writes, "School districts have learned a great deal about how to integrate students with different backgrounds since the crisis over busing in the 1970s. Today, most districts rely primarily on systems of magnet schools and public school choice, rather than compulsory busing, to achieve their goal of socioeconomic integration."

The idea that such "socioeconomic integration" could be an effective education reform policy (until we achieve economic prosperity for all) is an anathema to those in power, and so... "Neighborhood School" policies that perpetuate the myth of "Separate, but Equal" is the Pop-Education Policy du Jour of our DCPS Chancellor.

Posted by: AGAAIA | July 26, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

WARNING!!! ENTERING:BLUE WALL... Our schools must be caring and supportive environments.
Except to teachers who are lazy and ungrateful for the leadership of Ms. Rhee.

Our decisions at all levels must be guided by robust data.
Teachers should not go to toilet without checking the data.

All children, regardless of background or circumstance, can achieve at the highest levels.
Parents should not be concerned about beating their children. This will not affect the performance of their children in school.

It is critical to engage our students’ families and communities as valued partners.
Their votes are important.

Achievement is a function of effort, not innate ability.
Ms. Rhee has taught the blind to see, and the deaf to hear.

We have the power and responsibility to close the achievement gap.
The "We" is the royal we for Ms. Rhee since she has all the power and do not forget it.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 10:47 PM | Report abuse

The people behind this report are as blind as the idiotic NCLB criteria. Shutting down a school because it has kids in it that aren't smart enough to pass a test is a really bad idea. If you don't do longitudinal tests that compare how students perform before and after, you are punishing teachers and schools for kids that simply start out behind.

I can make every school in this country satisfy the NCLB criteria simply by busing kids around to different schools so the dumb or unfortunate ones are more thinly distributed, without changing the scores of a single student. Big districts like Fairfax can accomplish this by redistricting and spreading out the poor (who statistically trend to be lower performers, although that generalization is overused).

Both of my kids were reading, writing, and doing basic math at age 3 before they ever saw a public school. Is it fair for them to have to get slowed down by being put in non-tracked classrooms with kids that are learning their ABCs, so they can wait for other kids to catch up and close the "achievement gap"?

Instead of categorizing people as kindergarteners or 1st graders, we should run things by concept. Social promotion and a lack of decent standards lets kids that can't count do single digit addition pass kindergarten. They need to keep practicing and memorizing until they get it. Our system stinks.

Posted by: staticvars | July 26, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

It always amuses me the ideas of the educators. Apparently educators should know about teaching but this does not mean that they have any knowledge regarding learning.

This appears to be especially true when they totally avoid the problem of the mayhem that is a characteristic of the class rooms of Title 1 poverty public schools.

Would it not be nice to actually hear from the child psychologists that specialize on learning?

I have long suspected that perhaps the inability of children to learn to read in the public schools is because they are not taught to read at a much earlier age.

Children can speak quite well at three years old and perhaps that should be when children should be first taught to read.

The start of a formal education of children in the 1st grade only grew out of the need of children to be old enough to leave their homes and travel to schools.

At three a child has mastered the speaking of words and association of sounds with words. Perhaps this would be the most productive time for a child to understand that the symbols on a page represent a word that they can speak and hear.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

bsallamack posts:
"Would it not be nice to actually hear from the child psychologists that specialize on learning?"

As I mentioned him in my post above, please read the following article by Dr. David Berliner, 'New analysis of achievement gap: ½ x ½ = 1½' to be found here:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/guest-bloggers/new-analysis-of-achievement-ga.html#more

His bio:

David C. Berliner is a Regents' Professor in the College Of Education at Arizona State University. His books include Educational Psychology (6th edition)(with N. L. Gage), The Manufactured Crisis (with B. J. Biddle), and The Handbook of Educational Psychology (edited with R. L. Calfee). He has served as president of the American Educational Research Association and of the Educational Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association. Berliner is a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and a member of the National Academy of Education.

Posted by: AGAAIA | July 26, 2010 11:23 PM | Report abuse

What I find very strange is the fact that President Obama seemed to have a firm grasp of the factors critical to a child's education. In an interview in Essence magazine (March, 2010) he had this to say:

"I've never been shy about parents. It remains absolutely true that you can have all the money in the world, you can have the fanciest classrooms in the world, the best computers in the world, nicest textbooks in the world, but you are not going to succeed if parents aren't instilling in their child at a very early age - We are going to set high standards for you. I'm going to check that you do your homework. I'm going to read to you until you get to the point where you're reading on your own, and then I'm going to make sure that your're reading books instead of watching TV and playing video games." And then he adds this gem:

"I know in my own life it's only because I was pushed and prodded by my folks that I was able to succeed."

There it is, the "secret" to a good education. So why is Obama pushing a "teachers can do it all" approach to education? Does anyone know?

The framework presented by the civil rights people stresses proven strategies: parent participation, preschool, opportunities to apply to successful schools, and experienced teachers with proven records of success (NOT kids right out of college).

I'm still hoping the president will get back on the right path in education - the path based on "what works."

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | July 26, 2010 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Please read the following article by Dr. David Berliner, 'New analysis of achievement gap: ½ x ½ = 1½' to be found here:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/guest-bloggers/new-analysis-of-achievement-ga.html#more

And Dr. Berliner's conclusion bears repeating; "... when poor children go to public schools that serve the poor, and wealthy children go to public schools that serve the wealthy, then the huge gaps in achievement that we see bring us closer to establishing an apartheid public school system. We create through ... school districting policies a system designed to encourage castes—a system promoting a greater likelihood of a privileged class and an under class."

Richard D. Kahlenberg, of The Century Foundation, has also contributed to this Blog and written extensively about the impacts of high concentrations of poverty and family instability on the potential of our schools. He is one of many voices who argue that in schools systems where neighborhood boundaries reinforce extreme economic differences, we need to take steps to increase the diversity of socioeconomic status (SES) within each school. And such integrated schools have been shown to create successful learning environments that are faithful to the purpose an ideals of public education.

The DCPS Chancellor's support of 'Neighborhood Schools' has in some cases resulted in a decrease student diversity of socioeconomic status (SES). In schools such as Hardy Middle School, where affluent in-boundary families are underrepresented, the school could indeed benefit from increasing neighborhood enrollment.

But, Hardy is probably DCPS's best example of a high achieving school that represents every Ward and SES in Washington. And one should consider that the DCPS is the worst example in the nation when comparing the achievement of white students with their minority counterparts.

In her attempt to accelerate in-boundary enrollment, the Chancellor removed Hardy’s Principal, Patrick Pope; and deliberately shut the immediate Hardy MS community out of any discussion regarding the future of it’s leadership. Instead of increasing enrollment, her stubborn and ham-handed management of this whole affair has resulted in lower enrollment from both in-boundary and out-of-boundary children. And the resultant school instability has raised significant uncertainties about Hardy’s immediate and long-term future.

What a shame.

Posted by: AGAAIA | July 26, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

As Goldie Hawn says, "Though our children represent only a percentage of the population, they represent 100 percent of our future". I am a single parent of two young boys. A year and a half ago my wife and I separated, I was the stay at home dad for over 7 years. I had to move out, managed to find a part time job, 50% shared custody of the kids, food stamps and all of us on medicaid and the kids were on free lunches. But I volunteer in my kids classrooms, have not missed a parent/teacher meeting, ever. I am involved in my kids lives because I LOVE THEM! I brought them into this world. I can't understand for the life of me how a parent can't see that their children need them to be involved in their young little lives. Things for me have changed greatly, for the better financially since then, but I will not stop supporting my kids and their teachers. Ya, okay, some teachers should choose a different profession, but most I have met are passionate about what they do, and I for one appreciate what teachers sacrifice for our kids. The least we can do as parents is support them and do our part in raising our own kids. Rich or poor, if you are a parent you have an obligation to love and support your children. I am also an author of character education/ social and emotional learning programs for kids, and I am co=producing a FREE event in October for parents and teachers. The list of guest experts we have for this event is impressive. Please check out www.happierkidsnow.com and register for free, and please tell every parent and teacher you know about this amazing event. Its all about our kids, isn't it? Parents need to step up and love their kids to the point they will be there for them and wish for their own kids happiness and success in life.

Thanks for listening:) Patrick

Posted by: KidsCanDoAnything | July 26, 2010 11:52 PM | Report abuse

@celestun100,

No, I'm not suggesting these teachers are racist, but that they are fearful of the challenge of teaching in those schools.

@bsallamack:
You shone another ugly light: disruptive students. One reason Title 1 schools don't handle this properly is simply one of space.
If you have a 1,000 student school, and every class period 95% of the students conduct themselves appropriately, that means 50 STUDENTS are removed from a room EVERY PERIOD. NO school is equipped physically to manage 50 students out of a classroom every period.

While there are many things teachers can do to mitigate disruptive behavior, the sad truth about urban schools is the number of students who come to school angry, hurt, or fearful, totally not in the frame of mind for the classroom. Urban schools do not confront the magnitude of this problem, and it typically degenerates down to 'keep them in the classroom,' or 'if you're putting too many people out you have bad classroom management.'
As you pointed out, this is one of the primary reasons urban families beat down the doors to charter schools, especially in middle school. In all this reform talk I hear no one dealing with this, because it challenges the current paradigms. If you don't confront this issue you'll never 'fix' schools as best they could be.

Posted by: pdfordiii | July 27, 2010 1:10 AM | Report abuse

I have to wonder why Obama is so enamored of Duncan. (Duncan being so enamored of all this edu-data-NCLB-teacher firing-charterizing/privatizing rw bs.)

Is it because he finds his comfort zone when leaning rightward or is it just because he wanted a worthy basketball player around the WH, for shootin hoops? Perhaps both of the above?

Teachers - who are voters - ought to devise a nice rubric for him, re his education plan. .

Posted by: NYCee | July 27, 2010 1:29 AM | Report abuse

bsallamack posts:
"Would it not be nice to actually hear from the child psychologists that specialize on learning?"

As I mentioned him in my post above, please read the following article by Dr. David Berliner, 'New analysis of achievement gap: ½ x ½ = 1½' to be found here:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/guest-bloggers/new-analysis-of-achievement-ga.html#more
Posted by: AGAAIA
.................................
I have read what I have been asked to read.

"It is not pleasant to contemplate, but when poor children go to public schools that serve the poor, and wealthy children go to public schools that serve the wealthy, then the huge gaps in achievement that we see bring us closer to establishing an apartheid public school system."

This conclusion to me is not unpleasant.

It is simply something that I have known most of my life.

Does anyone really believe that George W. Bush earned a degree at Yale and an MBA because of merit?

Perhaps this will be a surprise to smug Americans who believe that their present prosperity was achieved simply because they deserved it, and they will have to rethink their existence.

I doubt that they will do this rethink.

By the way this is not the child psychologists I am interested in hearing about. More interested in the work of someone that is more advanced than Piaget who performed work on studying learning.

How do children learn to speak?

How do children learn to read?

Should the government start to teach children to read at the age of three?

I learned to read at three and I can not conceive how children who can not read when they enter school, learn to read in school.

Phonic is a method of teaching reading but is it effective in learning?

I tend to not think it is effective since I believe the key to reading is the almost intuitive association of sound and symbols on a page. The alphabet is important but I wonder. Do we see the symbol cat or c a t. I believe it is the symbol cat as a whole word in learning to read and not individual letters.

My abilities in reading were totally based upon experience or simply on the basis of reading a great deal, yet the schools have nothing to duplicate this.

There appears at least in my mind a large difference in teaching and in learning.

In many ways I do even see that what is done in the schools is teaching and would call it instead training.

Teaching would require stimulating thinking and thought and not simply the repetitions of facts and rather dubious interpretations of these facts.

In my mind any real significant gain in learning will come from understanding how children learn.

Need to stop and finish in another post as would be past limit.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 27, 2010 2:00 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: AGAAIA
........................

I cheated and scanned the article briefly.
Explanation of standard deviation left me cold.

Only like math in articles or texts about mathematics.

Prefer state the findings, and then the evidence. Not much sense in going through all the evidence unless the findings seem unbelievable. Going through a document like this would take a day of thought and I would not want to spend that much time unless for some valid purpose.

.............................
Now incorrect findings.
"Famously, that report found quite small school effects on student achievement, finding instead, quite large family effects. The conclusion was that family poverty and wealth mattered much more than did schools in determining the life chances of America’s youth."

These researchers must have never gone to a poverty school. A secret for the researchers. There are also differences in poverty schools. There would be different results for poverty schools based upon the amount of violence. Poverty schools in areas with less violence in the neighborhood would do better than poverty schools in areas with less violence in the neighborhood.

Researchers really have to start using their brains more.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 27, 2010 2:15 AM | Report abuse

@bsallamack:
You shone another ugly light: disruptive students. One reason Title 1 schools don't handle this properly is simply one of space.
If you have a 1,000 student school, and every class period 95% of the students conduct themselves appropriately, that means 50 STUDENTS are removed from a room EVERY PERIOD. NO school is equipped physically to manage 50 students out of a classroom every period.

Posted by: pdfordiii
..........................
This problem is handled by removal from the class to a special school for the students that do not belong in a normal class room.

This is one way of putting reform into schools.

You do thi when necessary when children are young when there is some possibility of correcting these behavior problems and not waiting until a student is beaten to death in the streets as in Chicago last year.

This also provides an environment where teachers can teach and children can learn instead of the mayhem that seems to characterize Title 1 poverty public schools.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 27, 2010 2:26 AM | Report abuse

I have to wonder why Obama is so enamored of Duncan. (Duncan being so enamored of all this edu-data-NCLB-teacher firing-charterizing/privatizing rw bs.)

Posted by: NYCee
.................
They both are in this as thick as thieves.

Really a great plan. 4 billion prize money that you release over time until the reelection of 2012 with fanfare each time you release money on how much the President is doing for education.

Remember the goal of politicians is to pretend that something is being done until the election. After the election is does not matter that the whole program was a fake and worthless.

Worked for Bush with No Child Left Behind.

NCLB was real genius and Race To The Top is simply a copy cat. I wonder which staff member thought of NCLB. It certainly was not Bush on his own.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 27, 2010 2:35 AM | Report abuse

I can't understand for the life of me how a parent can't see that their children need them to be involved in their young little lives.

Parents need to step up and love their kids to the point they will be there for them and wish for their own kids happiness and success in life.

Posted by: KidsCanDoAnything
...................................
I wish that people would get off this parent kick.

They have obviously never lived in a poor neighborhood where children have problems not because of neglect of their parents, but because of the parents that have totally neglected and beaten their children or subjected them to other abuse.

These are the children that turn poverty public schools into mayhem.

Expecting that these parent would have not done this to their children misses the fact that this is perhaps how these children were treated as children.

What is the point of saying that a parent should be a parent when a parent totally neglects the well being of their child?

You can make the point that perhaps the state should have removed the child permanently from the parent but that is all.

Stop complaining about parents and instead recognize this is one of the most glaring problems of Title 1 poverty public schools and that these schools need to get these children that can not be in a normal class room out of normal classes as soon as possible.

Yes parent involvement might be helpful, but only if the parents demanded that school systems deal with this problem early on instead of ignoring it.

When this problem is seen in a middle class or affluent public school it quickly dealt with by removal of children to special schools. It is not ignored.

The majority of parents in poverty areas do not neglect their children but their children still have to deal with children that have been totally neglected. The poverty schools need to deal with this early on instead of ignoring it.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 27, 2010 3:13 AM | Report abuse

"While there are many things teachers can do to mitigate disruptive behavior, the sad truth about urban schools is the number of students who come to school angry, hurt, or fearful, totally not in the frame of mind for the classroom. Urban schools do not confront the magnitude of this problem, and it typically degenerates down to 'keep them in the classroom,' or 'if you're putting too many people out you have bad classroom management.'
As you pointed out, this is one of the primary reasons urban families beat down the doors to charter schools, especially in middle school. In all this reform talk I hear no one dealing with this, because it challenges the current paradigms. If you don't confront this issue you'll never 'fix' schools as best they could be."

This is the absolute truth. Duncan, Rhee, Obama, and Gates are not dealing with this. And the media such as Newsweek, Time and others like them are not dealing with this.

Posted by: educationlover54 | July 27, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse


It is much easier to generalize about other groups of people. For example, as bsallamack is constantly pointing out, we are assuming that it is "normal" for kids in urban schools to act up, because there are a few who have not been dealt with. He is right that children copy other children's behavior. They also pick up really quickly what the teacher will put up with.

I worked at a school where all the students did their homework. Really. They did. So, one September a new student was in the class from another school. I was going around checking to see who had completed their homework. He shrugged and acted as if it were no big deal not to have his work. But I saw him look around. Every other kid had his/her paper out and was waiting for their stamp.(to show they were on time) I didn't have to say or do anything to get that one kid to do his work. He never forgot his homework again the whole year. He copied what was perceived as "normal" behavior.

If this only had to do with poverty and not the system itself failing to deal with off the wall kids, we wouldn't have the common example of extremely poor immigrant(educated in even poorer areas of the world) children coming into urban schools and at the beginning behaving like model students, looking around them and in a few months acting completely different.

Why do we allow a few students to ruin our schools while we cater to them? They don't need catering, they need consequences, a structured setting, someone who cares etc. If a teacher has one student like this he or she can deal with the student even though that student will get an inordinate amount of attention. If a teacher has 5 of these "off the wall" students, the teacher is working just to keep people in their seats. If the principal doesn't support the teacher by providing at least a time out for the kids so that the other students can work, then all those kids learn about half as much as other kids.

In today's education "theories" I often see these ideas:
1) it is better for acting out student to stay in the classroom because then they can learn. No mention is made of the other students' learning.
2)a good teacher can teach anyone even if they are on drugs, depressed, grieving, suffering culture shock, sitting next to a rival gang member who just killed her cousin, etc.

Since none of us can really learn under those conditions, why do we think the kids can?

The absurdity of all this is never recognized in the education world even though parents know all about it. It is not mentioned because it has a label of "negative thinking". That is why so many teachers quit.


Posted by: celestun100 | July 27, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

@bsallamack

You wonder about reading, I have wondered the same thing and actually took courses in how to teach reading. In education, this seems to go back and forth between a phonics approach and a whole language approach (where you see the word in context, like they read you a story about Pinocchio and you see the words "his nose grew" and since you have heard them over and over you somehow read them).
It seems to me that different people learn this different ways. I would even go so far to say that highly intelligent readers don't do the phonics thing very much at all.
Some kids rely on phonics a great deal. For most people it seems to be a combination.

Reading at age 3 is pretty smart. I read to my children from babyhood and they still didn't really "read" until first grade. I guess everyone is different.

Posted by: celestun100 | July 27, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

There appears to be a great deal of research supposedly about public education in the United States.

Not one of these researchers mention the environment of Title 1 poverty public schools.

There is no mention of the problem of schools where there is mayhem in class rooms since disruptive students have been allowed to take over classes or the high rate of violence in these schools.

Turn these schools around and from the youngest age remove from these schools the students that should not be in a normal classroom.

Provide an environment where the majority of children have a chance of obtaining the benefits of education instead of an environment of chaos and violence.

Turn these public schools into a sanctuary from poverty instead of simply a reflection of the disadvantages of being poor.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 27, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Reading at age 3 is pretty smart. I read to my children from babyhood and they still didn't really "read" until first grade. I guess everyone is different.

Posted by: celestun100
.................................
My daughter was able to read before the first grade.

I used computer programs from Disney, Winnie the Pooh and Pocahontas where there was a follow the bouncing ball for words. Do not know your age but this was once used in movies for sing a longs.

There was a continuous repeat reading of favorite children books where in many cases my daughter memorized the words of these stories before being able to read them.

At one point there was full recognition and understanding that the symbols represented words.

Instead of all the research money on rather dubious research, there should be research in using computers to teach reading and the age and methods for teaching reading.

Just imagine a computer room for young children where each child on their own have their choice of a large selection of children books.

My starting to read at age three was more a matter of environment. Probably 4 at the time and not three. Not certain. Give a child a prayer pamphlet at a time of adversity and the child will see the prayers as a method to ward off adversity.

I would not suggest this approach for teaching reading since it is difficult to duplicate. It does though give a child recognition that the symbols on a page represent sound.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 27, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

You could have been three. I remember I picked up my daughter and her friend from preschool. My daughter's friend read aloud a little note that my older son had written. I knew she was actually reading. She was four and her mom told me she started at three.

I still don't think everybody learns the same way though. But, maybe it is a matter of what they are concentrating on. My kids always amaze me when they focus on something that I didn't even notice. I think that babies are constantly learning. When one doesn't speak early it is usually because they are busy doing something else, some are fascinated by shapes, some by music and some like faces or words.

Posted by: celestun100 | July 27, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Can someone who says our system fails people of color explain to me why all the smartest kids with the most achievement at my school were not white....but Asian.

Yeah we really screw over minorities here, NOT.

Posted by: louisp3 | July 27, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

My kids always amaze me when they focus on something that I didn't even notice. I think that babies are constantly learning.
Posted by: celestun100
...............................
I agree and with my child found out that children were like sponges in their ability to be aware of their environment.
Every word that a very young child hears is being processed.

Always amazed at adults that are totally unaware of this.

When my child was very young and eating from a bowl I had to prevent her grandmother from telling a story of a child that placed a bowl of food on the child's head as a hat.

If they ever fix the problem so that schools are safe and teachers can teach in classrooms perhaps it will be the time to research the introduction of public education to young children.

We really are a backward nation without universal free quality child care. But then we can not even provide public schools with basic standards.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 27, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Can someone who says our system fails people of color explain to me why all the smartest kids with the most achievement at my school were not white....but Asian.

Yeah we really screw over minorities here, NOT.

Posted by: louisp3
................................
I have not seen one post about color. Most of the posts have been about poverty.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 27, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Most of the people who post here are trying to define what exactly needs to be done to reform schools. Most agree that schools in high poverty areas have the most need of reform. Then we discuss why and how to fix the problems. Anyone in a chaotic school setting has a difficult time learning compared to someone in a calm environment. It doesn't matter what color they are. Maybe you are referring to the original article. Well, whatever color they are, these groups sound like they actually know something about education. They are not suggesting simple solutions to complex problems.

Posted by: celestun100 | July 27, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

"“The Race to the Top Fund and similar strategies for awarding federal education funding will ultimately leave states competing with states, parents competing with parents, and students competing with other students..... By emphasizing competitive incentives in this economic climate, the majority of low-income and minority students will be left behind and, as a result, the United States will be left behind as a global leader.”"

What ridiculous histrionics. At most, Race to the Top amounted to a one-time expenditure of less than ONE percent of the money our nation spends on K-12 education every single year. That's going to leave behind the "majority" of students and keep the US from being a "global leader"? What idiots.

Posted by: educationobserver | July 29, 2010 8:05 PM | Report abuse

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