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Posted at 1:06 PM ET, 02/ 1/2011

Not a Rosa Parks moment

By Valerie Strauss

An Ohio mother of two was sent to jail for nine days because she falsified documents so her children could attend a school outside their district that was better than the school for which they were zoned.

The episode, which unfolded in Summit County, Ohio, is now being tagged by some a “Rosa Parks moment for education,” a view that likens this mother, Kelley Williams-Bolar, to civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks.

It isn’t.

Parks, of course, was the seamstress who, on Dec. 1, 1955, famously refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger and was arrested for violating a city ordinance. Her act was one of several that launched a movement to end legal segregation in the United States.

Williams-Bolar was convicted by a jury of two felony counts of tampering with records -- lying on registration forms and applications for reduced/free school lunch -- then sentenced to 10 days in jail, though she ended up serving nine, as well as two years of probation and 80 hours of community service, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.

A single mother attending college and working as a high school teaching assistant, Williams-Bolar lives in subsidized housing in Akron. Her father lives in nearby Copley Township, which has predominantly white schools, and Williams-Bolar wanted her children to enroll there because the Copley-Fairlawn School District has higher performance ratings than the school in her home district.

The school system prosecuted her, estimating that her children had cost it approximately $36,000 by attending illegally.

Now some people are saying that she was singled out for prosecution because she is African American and that she took a principled stand on the issue of poor public education and the right of parents to have a choice about their children's school. Hence, the Rosa Parks of our time.

The Summit County prosecutor, meanwhile, maintains that Williams-Bolar deserved her felony convictions.

"There are many single mothers and families in similar situations who want the best for their children who are not breaking the law," Sherri Bevan Walsh wrote in a statement. "In fact, dozens of other similar cases in recent years have been resolved at the parent level prior to prosecution because they either removed their children from the school district, paid tuition or moved into the school district.

"Ms. Williams-Bolar was the only case that could not be resolved at the parent level because she would not acknowledge that she did anything wrong and she refused to cooperate in any way."

According to the Akron Beacon Journal,

"From 2005 through Friday afternoon, the Copley-Fairlawn School District formally confronted 48 families whose children were illegally attending its schools. The breakdown:

• 29 families were black.
• 15 families were white.
• two families were Asian.
• one family was Pacific Islander.
• one family was multiracial."

It is, of course, easy to sympathize with a parent who wants the best for his or her child. What parent doesn’t?

But that doesn’t mean parents should be given carte blanche to lie to public school systems about where they live. Making a felon of Williams-Bolar and sending her to jail was wrong. But declaring her the modern equivalent of Rosa Parks is, too.

Rosa Parks had the courage of her convictions. She broke an unjust law knowingly and knew there would be consequences -- and she didn’t make her stand through subterfuge. What catapulted Parks into the history books was bravery, transparency and honesty.

Williams-Bolar didn’t take a public stand, nor did she decide to give up her public housing subsidy and move in with her father so her children could legally go to the school she preferred.

The real lesson is that the issue of equity should be front and center in the education debate.

The real question is: Why isn't it?

-0-

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By Valerie Strauss  | February 1, 2011; 1:06 PM ET
Categories:  Equity  
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Comments

Valerie,

I disagree with you on this one. I think that this woman could be to education what Rosa Parks was to civil rights.

It was only during the last few years that I found out Rosa Parks was part of a civil rights group that chose her to be the one to refuse to sit at the back of the bus. So in that sense she was somewhat involved in a "subterfuge." Her action was planned, and not "spontaneous" as many of us were led to believe. And she also broke a law that was unfair.

I am not a lawyer or even knowledgeable about the law, so I'll just say this:

It doesn't seem right or fair that a child should be forced to attend a low-performing school just because of where he lives. Is it constitutional to force any child to attend a school that his parents deem dangerous or ineffective? Does "equal protection under the law" apply here? We need to have answers for this.

I am hoping that in the near future a child who is trapped in a high-poverty area will be given a voucher to attend any tax-supported school, whether it is in his district or not. Perhaps the case of Ms. Williams-Bolar will go all the way to the Supreme Court. If she wins, this could mean a real educational victory for our poorest children. This would be a victory for all of us because we can no longer afford to deny so many of our children equal access to a good education.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | February 1, 2011 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Our housing and schools are so segregated by income that all this talk of school "reform" is absolutely ridiculous. None of the reform is truly reform unless you share resources and even out the playing field. This lady obviously knows this. I think she is kind of like Rosa Parks. She is drawing attention to the issue.


Posted by: ubblybubbly | February 1, 2011 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Valerie,

You are right on point. Criminality, no matter how moralistic the spin, cannot be condoned. Black Voices writer, Jay Anderson comes to the same conclusion that Kelley Williams-Bolar is not a political prisoner. She committed housing fraud, employment fraud (not reporting her actual income), and stole from the residents and students of Copley-Fairlawn school district.

Yet Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and the media are turning her into the "Rosa Parks of Education" reform. What about personal responsibility? Why didn't she and Mr. Bolar help improve the Akron Public School district with tutoring services, parent-teacher meetings, community involvement? It's much easier and faster to break into another's home and school district, taking the fruits of another's hard work and labor. Valerie - people will discount your article because of your skin color. But they can't discount success stories like Compton, California where residents took action and made their section 8 housing and school districts better and safer in 2011.

Posted by: MollyBrown | February 1, 2011 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't Ohio rank as one of the most progressive states in terms of education funding distribution? Which would suggest maybe it's not about equity?

Posted by: frankb1 | February 1, 2011 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Black Voices article entitled Unpopular View on Kelley Williams-Bolar who is not a political prisoner, nor heroine.

http://conversations.blackvoices.com/welcome-forum/450a25f7fbcc46f78b3459f6f6a8438a/an-unpopular-view-o%20.../ed76aa9a745048f08593b7e6581aa804

Posted by: MollyBrown | February 1, 2011 2:31 PM | Report abuse

As a 51 year old white male, originally from Kentucky, my demographic may lead you to expect a view point as is represented by this article. However from the first day, I was thinking Rosa Parks. A greater Rosa Parks of this century (in terms of the goal, lack of support, length of the battle, and penalty paid).
Public School (not private) should be the first place where the cake is cut by one and the choice made by another, insuring equality. Sadly, this spot in Ohio is “segregating” by income and therefore race for the most part, a small group of 3500 property tax funded students, calling it a "District", (where laughably it would hardly be a single school set (grades K-12) where I currently live), thereby using the law to create effectively a "private school" funded by enforced (and thus not voluntary) property tax.
The inequity, unfairness and level of “just plain wrong” here is difficult to overstate. By their own statistics their system is able to initiate segregation against poor blacks vs. poor whites at a ratio of 2:1, where I suspect the ratio becomes greater when you compare who in the final resolution has the resources to pay, buy-in, versus leave.
The “legal” argument is a travesty of the system, where a quick review of the cases settled out of court by this prosecutor in the last year would undoubtedly educate all at the inequity of this particular pursuit of a felony charge. Possibly the Post could do some real reporting here instead of blogging an opinion.
Ohio, you can have your better house(s), car, art, jobs, clubs, boat, private schools, and vacations, but the term “Public School” should be the equivalent of equality fairness, opportunity for all.
I thank Kelley Williams-Bolar for bringing this to my (and our) attention, and for the 177,000 results on Google for Kelley Williams-Bolar, that keeps it there.
Kelley Williams-Bolar, you are the hero of 2011, and you no longer need to be called the Rosa Parks of our time. You are the Kelley Williams-Bolar of this century.
To all who underestimate the shock this event has had on my demographic, and further amplification and insult in the attempt to defend this activity, I offer a subtle smile and shake of the head in disbelief. See you in 2012.
Thank you again Kelley Williams-Bolar!

Posted by: TheMan6 | February 1, 2011 2:53 PM | Report abuse

It's not wrong for her to do what she did. No way of spinning it can change that. The woman wanted the best education for her kids. It would be nice for her to confront the school to which her kids were zoned, but perhaps the people make the decisions in Ohio should do that. Changing schools doesn't require more money - it requires willpower.

Posted by: peonteacher | February 1, 2011 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Kelley Williams-Bolar will never be considered the Rosa Parks of Education reform by law-abiding, educated people. Had she not willfully falsified documents, no felony charges would have been against her. Rewarding criminal behavior is hurting our nation and morality standards. Crime has no zip code. Good school districts are the result of involved, caring adults and responsible parenting.

Posted by: MollyBrown | February 1, 2011 3:43 PM | Report abuse

The scopes (monkey) trial was a set-up too - for a perceived worthy cause for society. They chose a teacher who did not intend on staying in the profession so his career wouldn't be ruined when the case was lost(as they expected would happen)

This is situation different from that and Rosa Parks. It was one woman's way to make the system work for her and her alone.

The fact that it's held up by school reformers like Kevin Huffman (in yesterday's Post)* makes it in my mind, as I commented yesterday, a "Kevin Huffman moment" - all about exploiting this woman's individual actions to make school reform look like a populist cause. It isn't.

*
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/30/AR2011013003556.html

Posted by: efavorite | February 1, 2011 3:45 PM | Report abuse

peonteacher,

I agree. I think this happens more than we think and, for the most part, districts overlook most of it unless there are other pressing problems (poor student behavior, unable to contact parents, etc).

I do have a concern with her position, though: Once she was caught, she should have owned up to it and moved on. She didn't. She felt that she was entitled to do what she did. She felt that the district should bend to her will, her personal law. Perhaps she wanted her children to have a better education, and I commend her for trying; but they will never achieve it until she learns to have some integrity.

Posted by: DHume1 | February 1, 2011 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Has it occurred to anyone that if all parents are successfully encouraged to send their kids to "good" public schools far from home, that those schools will eventually become overcrowded and not so good any more? While the "bad" schools are left to empty out and leave whole neighborhoods unserved?

Does it register that demographics affect scores no matter where the school itself is physically located? DC is a perfect example of this. Wherever there are "diverse" schools, there are diverse scores, with family income, as usual, being the biggest factor in achievement levels.

Moving kids around may help some individual kids, and it works fine for magnet and private schools, but it's not a long term public school solution.

Posted by: efavorite | February 1, 2011 4:29 PM | Report abuse

You are completely out of line in writing this article. First, where do your children go to school? I don't understand how you or anyone else not living in a housing project and sending their kids to a terrible school has any right to criticize this woman.

Again, if you have the arrogance and justification (at least in your mind) to criticize a woman you don't know on her decisions, then, you should reveal where your children go to school. Do they go to public or private? What kind of public school? Private--then how exclusive is it?

Is she Rosa Parks? Who knows, it is impossible to compare the two. However, I would not at all be surprised if there were white "liberal" journalists like you who wrote the same kind of story as yours saying that Rosa and King and others broke the law and should have done things differently. Maybe 20, 30 years from now this woman will have had a mobilizing effect on school reform.

I also do not understand how you can simply state that if she really cared she could have moved her family in with her father. How do you know what her choices were? Do you know for certain whether that was even a choice? How do you know she didn't try? If she did, then tell us. Based on your article it sounds like you are just idling speculating from a glass enclosed office in one of the wealthiest business districts in the world.

I understand that when you write columns every day, you make mistakes and might publish things that on retrospect you shouldn't have. Do what is right. Apologize for this column and say you shouldn't have written it. That woman is doing everything she possibly can to help her family fight through poverty. Segregation is wrong, and to insinuate that "legal" segregation is fine is ridiculous. THose schools are segregated.

Please retract and apologize and give us some hope that the Washpost can still be an independent voice for justice (at least some of the time).

Posted by: mfalcon | February 1, 2011 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Efavorite:

I agree with much of what you've said, but I think once all public schools offer access to every child, the mores of that community will do much to ensure a certain decorum and level of achievement at the neighborhood school.

For example, when my older son was in kindergarten in a middle class school, one of his classmates threw frequent tantrums, interfering with the teacher's lessons. After a number of parental complaints, the parents of the child were ordered to take the child out of school until he could behave. The child was taken out for a week, but afterwards the grandmother stayed with him each day to guarantee good behavior. This went on until the child developed self-control. In contrast to this, in the low-income school where I taught, this type of behavior went on all the time and nothing much was done about it.

So if all children were allowed to apply to all schools, I think we'd see some major changes, especially in regard to behavior. State laws allow schools to enforce certain standards but most low-performing schools just seem to tolerate all kinds of infractions. This is a major reason why these schools are "bad."

The school across the street from me is probably a model for what would occur with open enrollment. This school, situated in a professional community, accepts applications from all over the city. However, the children from out of boundary must demonstrate good attendance, behavior and effort. Also, the school can refuse out-of-boundary students if there is no room. Neighborhood children get preference, so the school reflects the predominate character of the neighborhood while offering seats to low-income children (mainly poor African-Americans and Hispanics) from other parts of the city. It's worth mentioning that this school has very high scores.

I must admit I am concerned about the character of the Ohio mother, especially because she lied about her income in order to get "free" lunch. But I think her cause is the right one and will prevail in the end, even if it happens with another family.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | February 1, 2011 5:12 PM | Report abuse

DC already offers this exact option for parents. Any child can apply to any school whether it is in their neighborhood or not through the Out of Boundary lottery, and many do. However, there are limited numbers of spaces in what are viewed as good schools, so the slots fill quickly. As a result, engaged parents have little choice but to push for better schools where they live (a phenomenon playing out in Capitol Hill elementary schools), move, go private, or decide they didn't care as much as they thought they did and send their kid to whatever school is closest. The point being that simply allowing people to send their kids where ever they want does not in and of itself solve the problem. And praising this woman for breaking the law glosses over the fact that in DC, at least, she would have been taking a slot that some other family who played by the rules did not get.

Posted by: horacemann | February 1, 2011 5:27 PM | Report abuse

It's probably also worth noting that Akron, the district she was trying to avoid, spends 48% more per pupil than Copley-Fairlawn, the district she was trying to get into.

Posted by: tomtildrum | February 1, 2011 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Why does a black mom risking jail in order to educate her children have to be a Rosa Parks? Who among us could live up to the standard set by Mrs. Parks? Could you? People resist systemic school and housing segregation in many ways. Some in open defiance and civil disobedience, like Mrs. Parks. Others by finding ways to evade the system or work around it. Your denigration of Kelley Williams-Bolar falls well below your usual high standard of education commentary and reportage.

Posted by: MickeyK | February 1, 2011 6:23 PM | Report abuse

I agree that the real concern in this case is equity. The punishment is way out of line.

And I also agree that this is not a Rosa Parks moment and was extremely surprised that it would be likened to such a historic moment. Parks was defiant in the face of an injustice she was forced to endure as a result of her race. Williams-Bolar flat out lied.....like thousands of other parents of various races but similar circumstances do yearly to give their children the opportunity for a better education in a superior school system. This is not just a black thing. This effects US as Americans...across racial lines.

As an African-American who grew up in a southern state, in a region where all school systems were not created equal, it was normal to come across families who took a similar route as Williams-Bolar. However, when I first read of this situation what immediately came to my mind was "Have things gotten this bad!?!?!"
We have to do better.

Posted by: brandymanderson | February 1, 2011 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Let's bring some realism to this column. First look at the last two lines of the article:

"The real lesson is that the issue of equity should be front and center in the education debate. The real question is: Why isn't it?"

1. So, we have Ms. Strauss and Ms. Williams-Bolar. Who has done brought the "issue of equity front and center?" Was it Strauss or Williams-Bolar?

Seems clear to me it was Williams-Bolar.

2. Who has paid a price: Strauss or Williams-Bolar?

First, who has suffered inequity, particularly "inequity in education?" Clearly it is Williams-Bolar and her children.

Second, who has suffered significant consequences for bringing this issue front and center: Strauss or Williams-Bolar? I hope that we all agree that 2 felony convictions and several days in jail is the much steeper price that Williams-Bolar paid as opposed to Strauss reading my (and a few others') comments from her Wash Post glass office over a starbucks.

Conclusion: It is Williams-Bolar who has brought this issue front and center not Strauss or any other of these supposedly "liberal" major media outlet bloggers. And, of course, it is Williams-Bolar that has paid the price not Strauss.

So, back to Strauss's question: "Why isn't it?" Well, the answer is very clear: No one other than irresponsible, felonious, lying, single, minority mothers in housing projects will risk jail and felonies to bring it to our attention least of all glass office journalists.

Too much irony (which is also too polite a word to describe this article) for me to take. Shame on myself for using "irony" to describe something as nefarious as this article.

Posted by: mfalcon | February 1, 2011 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Linda RTT--you live in a bubble in California. The admission rules governing to that school across the street would be impossible in the nation's capital.
efav.--yes, I actually did visualize what would happen to the schools parents would run from. Your idea of sending our best teacher to the "bad" schools is still a good one, but the unionista colleagues of yours would never agree to that.
Those who want to take the woman's conduct and tactics as a model need to recognize that, yup, we District citizens are capable of reducing still more the quality of education. To propel further decline of "good" schools in every ward, this is the way to do it. No one's going to bail us out, though.

Posted by: axolotl | February 1, 2011 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Ax:

The school across from me is a magnet school. Anyone can apply but it is selective. Parents line up early in the morning on the first day of registration. From what I've read, D.C. DOES have schools like this. Even if it's just a "first come, first served" school, it will attract only the engaged parents and they are usually the ones with the well-behaved, higher-achieving kids.

It is not the job of a union to make certain poor kids get excellent teachers. That is the job of administration. We just got a good example of what happens when superintendents have the opportunity to place highly qualified and experienced teachers in low-income schools, but fail to do so. Because of the recession and the money from philanthropists, Michelle Rhee could have hired experienced, fully qualified teachers with proven track records of success for DC children. She could have scoured the nation for people who have succeeded with at-risk students. Instead, she hired young people right out of college and we all know why.

Hiring qualified teachers is a job for administration, but citizens can help. Let school leaders and politicians know that you want to see excellent teachers hired for the district.

If you read the newspapers, you will see that there are no "bubbles" in California.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | February 1, 2011 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Mfalcon - It was the media who brought the issue (whatever it is) front and center - and not Strauss - she's coming in at the tail end of reporting of this. Why do you force it into a choice between the mother and the journalist?

I don't know the Mom in question any more than anyone here - but just from the facts, it appears that she was simply trying to get a better education for her kids and broke the law to do it.

While I don't think it was a Rosa Parks moment, it sure is a hot button issue with so many people jumping to conclusions about the mother's motives and the motives and acceptable family situation and political leanings of anyone who writes about her.

Posted by: efavorite | February 1, 2011 8:46 PM | Report abuse

I think readers have a perfect right to disagree vehemently with columnists' views.

I don't believe readers have a right to demand that columnists have a certain set of life experiences in order to be permitted to express their views and then to demand that writers retract based on lack of those experiences.

You don't accuse Strauss of misreporting the facts, but for having opinions and analyses about the situation that are different from yours.

When writers start retracting opinions because of readers' demands, I'm afraid we've lost freedom of speech.

Posted by: efavorite | February 2, 2011 7:00 AM | Report abuse

above comment meant for Mfalcon

Posted by: efavorite | February 2, 2011 7:09 AM | Report abuse

Linda RTT -- another well-meaning but naive suggestion from your bubble of California common sense and liberalism. We don't have those good qualities here. In magnet school apps, those rules are not applied or enforced; that's the difference. Thus, we get magnet schools full of contentiousness and ugly socio-economic charges among parents that the school system limply watches but does not resolve. There's none of the goodwill you might find in, say, N. Calif., where I used to live in a diverse area.

As for the unionistas, they certainly are in a position of oppose and successfully suppress ideas put forth by the administration. And there is little doubt--we have seen it already on these blogues with respect to this issue--that they would resist the assignment of highly rated teachers involuntarily to weak schools. Maybe that would not be the case in California, but it surely is here.

Posted by: axolotl | February 2, 2011 7:52 AM | Report abuse

efavorite:

I always appreciate your thoughtful comments, and I almost always agree. However, this is not the case. As you point out, I am expressing my opinion, and it is just my opinion that Ms. Strauss retract this article.

The issue I have is too complex to discuss at length here, however, I think in general there is a lack of empathy and humility in how people respond whether it is in a column or at the water cooler. I know that I am not in position to criticize Ms. Williams-Bolar because I have been fortunate to have never faced the circumstances she has.

Further, the media is covering the story---yes that is true. However, the media doesn't cover many stories that I know of when out of boundary students are asked to leave schools because they were found out to have falsified some document or other.

However, the reason the media is covering this story is that Ms. Williams-Bolar went to jail and has two felony convictions because she took a stand and wanted the best education she could get for her children. She is the reason---not journalists or media that this issue of equity in education is being looked at so closely. And it has everything to do with the consequences she has faced.

Posted by: mfalcon | February 2, 2011 7:59 AM | Report abuse

FWIW

- Williams-Bolar has publicly stated that she was *NOT* sending her children to Copley because she thought they could get a better education in Copley.

- Williams-Bolar (who is employed as a teacher's aid in the Akron Public School System) has publicly stated that she has no issues with the quality of the Akron Public Schools her daughters would attend.

- Williams-Bolar has stated the *ONLY* reason that she enrolled her children at Copley is so that they would not be latch-key children, but would instead come home from school to their grandfather's house.

The felony conviction comes from the fact that she applied for and received public housing assistance in the city of Akron under the guise that her two daughters were living with her in Akron. At the same time, she applied for and received free/reduced meal assistance in Copley with the claim that her two children lived with her grandfather in Copley (on his income, not hers).

Whatever one thinks of the merits of the case, and whether she deserved to be tried and convicted of a felony (by a jury that included 4 other African Americans) - the larger narrative that this was somehow about a single mother attempting to get her kids out of a struggling school system is objectively, demonstrably false.

Posted by: FYIColumbiaMD | February 2, 2011 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Part II:

But no. Huffman resorts to conservative ideas (charters, vouchers) to validate conservative policies and practices that create the very substandard education problem(s) he claims to want to solve. It’s a merry-go-round of an argument, never mind that there’s little if any research to support the ideas he proposes.

Perhaps that’s not unusual for Huffman. For many Teach for America graduates, teaching is considered a very short-term “do-gooder” resume’ padder. They teach a few years and move on to “bigger and better” things, like Michelle Rhee, Huffman’s ex-wife, or Huffman himself who abandoned the classroom for law school. Of course, while they were there, they were “oh so good,” even if there isn’t any substantiation. It should not be a surprise that Huffman’s job as vice president of public affairs at Teach for America is to spew propaganda for that group. Nor should it be surprise that the Washington Post, a shameless promoter of charters and more testing and Michelle Rhee, decided to print it.

http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh071107.shtml

Huffman cites the latest PISA scores to raise the snarky “global competitiveness” alarm saying that poor students are “on track to scrap it out with Bulgaria and Mexico,” and failing to note that in the developed world only Mexico has a higher poverty rate than the United States.

Robert Samuelson, economics columnist for the Post and Newsweek, pointed out in a recent column that “persistent achievement gaps demonstrate the limits of schools to compensate for problems outside the classroom - broken homes, street violence, indifference to education - that discourage learning and inhibit teaching.”

Rather than simplistic ideas (charters, vouchers, more testing, “merit” pay) the road to real, sustained reform of pubic education requires “overcoming the legacy of history and culture” that are the sources of the problems.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/09/AR2011010903418.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Genuine, meaningful education reform requires time and commitment, and honesty. Too many charlatans peddle magic elixirs,. Huffman is one of them.

Posted by: DrDemocracy | February 2, 2011 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Part I:

The column by Kevin Huffman was a badly-reasoned argument for school choice. It was inaccurate. It was propaganda.

Huffman sets up a straw man problem (“bad” public schools) and offers a Hobson’s choice as the fix. But he’s got it wrong all the way around. Not only that, but Huffman deliberately left out all the data cited by Valerie Strauss (there was no racism involved) and that Williams-Kolar continually lied about income and child support to game the welfare system. Huffman also failed to note that’s “what a jury decided unanimously — a jury that included four blacks.”

[Note: Yesterday Huffman refused to address questions about his lack of honesty in providing readers with that information.]

Public education and democratic citizenship are the cornerstones of governance in a republic. Critics of public education (and Huffman is one) blame schools for social and economic problems (the real gem is big business blaming schools for a “lack” of our “global competitiveness?). They pile on “accountability” standards and testing regimens that undermine quality education, and they demand more charter schools and vouchers, and they deny that poverty is an obstacle to achievement.

Huffman correctly cites the statement from the American Association of School Administrators that "The correlation between student achievement and Zip code is 100 percent. The quality of education you receive is entirely predictable based on where you live." Then he simply sweeps it aside to say that “intellectuals” fiddle around and argue about “poverty or culture” while educational opportunity burns.

This is the point at which Huffman might have argued against pernicious conservative efforts to destroy and prevent successful, quality public education for all students. He might have taken issue with the Wake County, NC Tea Party-backed school board’s vote to reinstate segregation even though some of its “best, most diverse schools are in the poorest sections of this capital city.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/11/AR2011011107063.html

Or Huffman might have called out conservative leaders in Shelby County, TN who are desperately trying to avoid a merger with the Memphis city schools. The chair of the school board in Shelby County maintains it’s a matter of “principle,” yet the general consensus is that it’s more “a showdown charged with issues of money, politics, class and race.” In Memphis students are “overwhelmingly poor” with 87 percent “eligible for free or reduced lunch, compared with 37 percent of suburban students.” Ninety percent of poor students from the two school systems live in the city.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/28/us/28memphis.html?pagewanted=1

Posted by: DrDemocracy | February 2, 2011 9:37 AM | Report abuse

mfalcon says, "it is just my opinion that Ms. Strauss retract this article."

Good to hear that. It sounded like a demand.

I haven't fact-checked DrDemocracy's and FYIColumbiaMD's statements, but assuming they are accurate, Huffman and other segments of the media have been very misleading and sensationalist about this incident.

It would be a misrepresentation and distortion of facts on the scale of "Waiting for Superman" and possibly a bigger coup, if it brings people actually opposed to many of the beliefs and tactics of the "reformers" over to their side.

Posted by: efavorite | February 2, 2011 10:17 AM | Report abuse

efavorite,

Here's the Bob Dyer article reporting on the Williams-Kolar case:

http://www.ohio.com/news/first/114889499.html

Here's a more recent article in the Beacon Journal

http://www.ohio.com/news/top_stories/115068284.html

And here is an excerpt form the second article:

"Conservative commentator Kyle Olson told NPR last week that ''a lot of people are seeing this as the Rosa Parks moment for education and education reform.''

On Monday, the Washington Post published an opinion piece online by Kevin Huffman headlined ''A Rosa Parks moment for education'' that cites Olson's comment."

I think you see my point.

Read the Bob Dyer piece and you see all of what Huffman left out, and what he refused to discuss yesterday on the Post Q & A "discussion" online.

My questions for Huffman are:

(1) Did you FAIL to adequately research your information before misleading readers, or did you mislead them on purpose?

(2) And, a follow-up, is this typical practice for the head of public relations at Teach for America?

Posted by: DrDemocracy | February 2, 2011 11:28 AM | Report abuse

DrDem - thanks for the links and doing the research involved. Please include links in future comments, when mentioning other sources.

It's typical practice of PR folks to put a positive spin on things -- that's their job.

Lying is another issue, however. Some people will do it blatantly if they can get away with it and the folks at TFA can.

Posted by: efavorite | February 2, 2011 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Just for the record. Rosa Parks was NOT just an ordinary citizen/seamstress, she was the Executive Secretary of the local NAACP, was being prepared for such a "sit in" and she did not sit in the white section of the bus nor in the back. She was in one of the first "black" seats behind the white section which was full. She refused to give up her black seat. She was a brave, brave woman, but also extraordinarily prepared to stand/sit and fight.

Posted by: charlottehummel | February 2, 2011 12:26 PM | Report abuse

When someone such as Kelley Williams-Bolar becomes the repository for what some people think is the essence of a social ill, the nimbus of their transferred outrage can often blow away the facts of the specific case.

I still have questions about the facts, however. For instance, it has been reported that Williams-Bolar sent her children to the school district that served her father's residence so they wouldn't come home to an empty house. The children qualified for free lunches at school, and usually free-lunch children also qualify for free or reduced extended programming that can run up until 6:00 p.m. or later. Were the children enrolled in this? Did the school offer aftercare?

Finally, I am looking for some advice. I took a temporary job last summer. There was a lot of downtime, so I got to know most of the people on the job with me pretty well. One day, a woman told everyone about how her daughter, who lives in in PG County with her three young daughters, used the grandparent's DC address to enroll the children in a DC public charter elementary school. Another worker pointed out that this wasn't permitted, and this woman said, "Who's going to tell?" If those three students go all the way through DC schools, that means about $500,000 of taxpayer money will be improperly spent on them. So, I really want to tell. But should I? One other fact--although the grandmother seemed proud of the school choice, there was also clearly a large factor of simple convenience involved (mother's workplace, etc.). What would you do?

Posted by: gardyloo | February 2, 2011 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Google "Williams-Bolar" and you have 646,000 results, up from 85,000 last week.
If it was just a case of someone accused of fraud, who was farely judged by their peers in a fare and free system, why the growth?
Furthur, the establishment has been on all over the outlets stating their case, while we have not heard from Kelley.

Interesting don't you think? One would imagine that if the "pro status quo" or "systems" arguments held water, the story would have diminished.

Furthur several results mention that "In 1997, and in several other rulings since, the Ohio Supreme Court declared
Ohio's school funding system inequitable and ruled it unconstitutional".

However as many have implied and as was suscently stated above "Rewarding criminal behavior is hurting our nation and morality standards."

So one must then ask, to which criminal, inequitable or unconstitutional behavior is the "system" currently rewarding?

Posted by: TheMan6 | February 2, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

"Doesn't Ohio rank as one of the most progressive states in terms of education funding distribution? Which would suggest maybe it's not about equity?"

I live in Ohio.

Several years ago (1980s, I think), The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the legislature should find a more equitable way to fund the public schools so funding was not based primarily on real estate taxes. The state began supplying more money to the schools (until recent budget cuts) and gave school districts the right to propose income taxes but never changed the basic way of financing. To make it worse, many communities offer generous tax breaks to encourage businesses to build in that community, so more business income does not result in more money for the schools; with the current unemployment, a new business in town doesn't even result in new taxpayers moving in to work there. School tax levies in Ohio have a high rate of failure not just because taxpayers don't want to pay more money but because taxpayers resent the state's failure to deal with the issue as other states (Michigan, for example) did.

Posted by: sideswiththekids | February 2, 2011 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Regarding whether or not to "tell" see the Posts own article:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/18/AR2010031804937_2.html?sid=ST2010031805090

It seems the "DC Charter schools act like private schools" and play by their own rules. Additionally it seem that they meet various parts of the requirements in that income is earned in DC, and a guardian owns property and pays takes in DC. Additionally they seem to want enrolment, and the PG schools systems may be actually a better system.
Thus even if it went beyond "telling" and when for example it was published in the paper as several cases were in the above link, it may not have the same result as you expect.

It seems that the person telling the story was not aware of the intricacies of the reality in DC charter schools.

Posted by: TheMan6 | February 2, 2011 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Theman says, "If it was just a case of someone accused of fraud, who was farely judged by their peers in a fare and free system, why the growth?"

Apparently you have the answer to that question and expect others to believe that the number of google hits a subject gets has a specific meaning.

Lady gaga got 127,000,000 hits. What does that mean?

Posted by: efavorite | February 2, 2011 2:46 PM | Report abuse

TheMan6--

Thanks for the link. I had seen the article, which was about a charter school called KIMA importing ringers for their high-school basketball team. Did you know that the DC Public Charter School Board revoked KIMA's charter about five months after the article was published?

As far as I know, the charter school I was talking about knows nothing about the residency fraud being committed. Just to be safe, though, I was going to report it not only to the school but also to the PCSB.

Posted by: gardyloo | February 2, 2011 3:03 PM | Report abuse

eFavorite:

Thanks again for adding to the article and discussion. Sincerely, your comments always extend the article and our discussion. I haven’t read what you linked to yet, but I will.

I think it is important to make one more point.

This talk about whether Ms. Williams-Bolar is or is not Rosa Parks and whether she lied or what her intentions were or should have been, or what other options she could have explored ARE COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT!

That discussion detracts from the issue, and I think Strauss’s article does exactly that whether it is intentional or not. Ms. Williams-Bolar is not the issue, her personality is not the issue. And, allowing/enabling and talking about this story at that personal level is an attempt to obfuscate the issue. We shouldn’t let that happen. It is an incredible disservice.

The basic facts are:
1. kids were in a poor performing, segregated, failing school

2. a mother was put in JAIL and convicted of TWO FELONIES for trying to get her kids in a better PUBLIC school: a school that is better performing, less segregated, not failing, and better for her kids (latchkey, or whatever).

Our country is putting a parent in jail and giving out felonies because a parent tried to get her kids into a better public school.

And, the other fact is that MANY OF US have much more school choice (not only private school choice, but better public school choice) than this woman.

Rather than address this fundamental inequality which also stands in direct opposition to our nation’s creed (the think one of the most fundamental creeds our nation has) that EVERYONE should receive a FREE and APPROPRIATE education we are reducing this issue to petty gossip about this woman’s intentions and how she lied, etc.

Who cares whether she lied! Who cares what her intentions are. That has nothing to do with the fact that she was put in jail for trying to get her kids into a better public school.

Posted by: mfalcon | February 2, 2011 5:16 PM | Report abuse

@ efavorite:

In the Part I and Part II pieces I posted, all the links were hyperlinked, and they don't show up in the comments section.

I'm going to repost both parts WITH relevant links.

Posted by: DrDemocracy | February 3, 2011 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Part I

In an erroneous column in the Washington Post, titled perniciously “A Rosa Parks Moment for Education,” Kevin Huffman makes a faultily-reasoned argument for school vouchers.  In an erroneous column in the Washington Post, titled perniciously “A Rosa Parks Moment for Education,” Kevin Huffman makes a faultily-reasoned argument for school vouchers.  

In his column Huffman describes the case of Kelley Williams-Kolar who was convicted of multiple felonies in Ohio, ostensibly for the innocent and understandable offense of wanting a “better education” for her children because the schools they attended “were lousy.”  As Huffman presents it, all Williams-Kolar did was “lie” to get her kids into a “better” school district.  He ends his column with the question, “What would you do?”

(Williams-Kolar link: http://www.ohio.com/news/top_stories/114692469.html)

Huffman sets up a straw man problem (“bad” public schools) and offers a Hobson’s choice as the fix. But he’s got it wrong all the way around. Not only that, but Huffman deliberately left out all the data cited by Valerie Strauss (there was no racism involved) and that Williams-Kolar continually lied about income and child support to game the welfare system. Huffman also failed to note that’s “what a jury decided unanimously — a jury that included four blacks.”

[Note: Yesterday Huffman refused to address questions about his lack of honesty in providing readers with that information.]

Public education and democratic citizenship are the cornerstones of governance in a republic. Critics of public education (and Huffman is one) blame schools for social and economic problems (the real gem is big business blaming schools for a “lack” of our “global competitiveness?). They pile on “accountability” standards and testing regimens that undermine quality education, and they demand more charter schools and vouchers, and they deny that poverty is an obstacle to achievement.

Huffman correctly cites the statement from the American Association of School Administrators that "The correlation between student achievement and Zip code is 100 percent. The quality of education you receive is entirely predictable based on where you live." Then he simply sweeps it aside to say that “intellectuals” fiddle around and argue about “poverty or culture” while educational opportunity burns.

This is the point at which Huffman might have argued against pernicious conservative efforts to destroy and prevent successful, quality public education for all students. He might have taken issue with the Wake County, NC Tea Party-backed school board’s vote to reinstate segregation even though some of its “best, most diverse schools are in the poorest sections of this capital city.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/11/AR2011011107063.html

Posted by: DrDemocracy | February 3, 2011 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Part II

Or Huffman might have called out conservative leaders in Shelby County, TN who are desperately trying to avoid a merger with the Memphis city schools. The chair of the school board in Shelby County maintains it’s a matter of “principle,” yet the general consensus is that it’s more “a showdown charged with issues of money, politics, class and race.” In Memphis students are “overwhelmingly poor” with 87 percent “eligible for free or reduced lunch, compared with 37 percent of suburban students.” Ninety percent of poor students from the two school systems live in the city.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/28/us/28memphis.html?pagewanted=1

But no. Huffman resorts to conservative ideas (charters, vouchers) to validate conservative policies and practices that create the very substandard education problem(s) he claims to want to solve. It’s a merry-go-round of an argument, never mind that there’s little if any research to support the ideas he proposes.

Perhaps that’s not unusual for Huffman. For many Teach for America graduates, teaching is considered a very short-term “do-gooder” resume’ padder. They teach a few years and move on to “bigger and better” things, like Michelle Rhee, Huffman’s ex-wife, or Huffman himself who abandoned the classroom for law school. Of course, while they were there, they were “oh so good,” even if there isn’t any substantiation. It should not be a surprise that Huffman’s job as vice president of public affairs at Teach for America is to spew propaganda for that group. Nor should it be surprise that the Washington Post, a shameless promoter of charters and more testing and Michelle Rhee, decided to print it.

http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh071107.shtml

Huffman cites the latest PISA scores to raise the snarky “global competitiveness” alarm saying that poor students are “on track to scrap it out with Bulgaria and Mexico,” and failing to note that in the developed world only Mexico has a higher poverty rate than the United States.

Robert Samuelson, economics columnist for the Post and Newsweek, pointed out in a recent column that “persistent achievement gaps demonstrate the limits of schools to compensate for problems outside the classroom - broken homes, street violence, indifference to education - that discourage learning and inhibit teaching.”

Rather than simplistic ideas (charters, vouchers, more testing, “merit” pay) the road to real, sustained reform of pubic education requires “overcoming the legacy of history and culture” that are the sources of the problems.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/09/AR2011010903418.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Genuine, meaningful education reform requires time and commitment, and honesty. Too many charlatans peddle magic elixirs,. Huffman is one of them.

Posted by: DrDemocracy | February 3, 2011 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Part III

Huffman ignores blatantly the relationships between social and economic class and achievement, and he says not a word about efforts by conservative politicians to circumvent quality education for all students.  He distorts the data on  international test scores.  But Huffman’s most egregious error – and the one that undermines completely his credibility – is that he apparently falsified information on the case he calls the “Rosa Parks” moment. 

(link, Class and the Classroom: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:xiQRR2nbCj8J:www2.widener.edu/~spe0001/266Web/266Webreadings/class%2526edRoth06.doc+class+and+the+classroom+by+richard+rothstein&hl=en&gl=us)

The facts of the case, as reported in the Akron Beacon Journal, are these:

“From 2005 through Friday afternoon, the Copley-Fairlawn School District formally confronted 48 families whose children were illegally attending its schools. The breakdown:

• 29 families were black.
• 15 families were white.
• two families were Asian.
• one family was Pacific Islander.
• one family was multiracial.

Question: If Copley went after Kelley Williams-Bolar because she is black, why didn't Copley take the 28 other black families to court?

Answer: Because those families didn't do what Williams-Bolar did. Those families paid what they owed and immediately withdrew from the school or made arrangements so their children were legally residing in the district.

Williams-Bolar was not singled out because of her skin color. She was singled out because — unlike 47 other families of varying colors — she openly and continually defied the school system, insisting that her kids lived in the district when they were living with her in Akron, and lying about her income and child support so her kids would get free lunches.

That's what a jury decided unanimously — a jury that included four blacks.”

Huffman also failed to tell readers that the Willams-Kolar case had been investigated by the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education, which concluded there was no "racism" involved.

(link, Akron Beacon Journal article: http://www.ohio.com/news/dyer/114889499.html)

If one were to be charitable, perhaps it would suffice to say that Kevin Huffman failed to adequately research the Williams-Kolar case before misleading readers.  More likely, given Huffman’s position at Teach for America, his unabashed promotion of that group and his constant bashing of public schools, he deliberately withheld information and misled the public.  In that sense, he lied.

Here’s the end question for Kevin Huffman:   Is this behavior usual practice for the head of public relations at Teach for America?

Posted by: DrDemocracy | February 3, 2011 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Two days later I am still just as outraged by this article first and some of the comments.

From the article: "Williams-Bolar didn’t take a public stand, nor did she decide to give up her public housing subsidy and move in with her father so her children could legally go to the school she preferred."

That statement is unconscionable especially coming from this column.

Ms. Strauss you are completely wrong. As far as I can see (which is speculation just like this article and 90% of the comments---let's just be upfront about it):
1. Ms. Williams-Bolar did act very bravely. She refused to cooperate or back down. That is has been stated over and over again---even as an attempt to discredit her the school system.
2. Unlike "the Answer Sheet" is faced down the entire school district. The Answer Sheet called for Rhee to stay as Chancellor until she left. Then the rocks started flying.
3. While this focus on not comparing her to Rosa Parks is complete subterfuge (in my opinion--which I guess I must directly state now) despite the columnists last line, let's do some comparing. Since it takes no courage, vision, empathy or self reflection 50 years after Rosa Parks took a stand on bus (instead it only takes a textbook as long as you don't live in VA), we can all agree about the heroic merits of Rosa Parks, whom I am sure had newspapers filled with petty accusations and mean spirited personal attacks. However, for Ms. Williams-Bolar, there are some basic differences that support her acting courageously.

(1) She was by herself---she was completely alone with no one else as far as we know.

(2) It was not a strategic stand or a planned "public" stand which would have won some support or audience , or which would have helped to keep bureaucratic bullying in check. No. She, completely alone, without support, had the courage to take on that school system which I am sure leveled threats left and right, and then was put in jail and given two felonies which looked like it was going to cost her her job and everything she was working for.

To suggest that she was simply a liar and acted without courage and didn't take a stand, and to do that from this column is utterly disgusting and shameful.

And, lastly, who cares if there were 4 african americans on the jury. That, again, is irrelevant especially in the context of this story. Open your eyes a little wider please. The trial and jury was not an evaluation of whether she stood up, or whether there should be more equity in education and school choice. HELLO!!! It was about whether she filed false information on public documents. What other verdict is there? YES YES YES YES YES we all know she falsified information on documents.

Is that really the point? I desperately hope it isn't.

Posted by: mfalcon | February 3, 2011 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Ms. Williams-Bolar has done our country a great service whether intentionally or not.

She has advanced this issue of educational equity more than this column has or ever will.

She has undoubtedly been courageous whatever her motivation was.

She has suffered far more for doing this than this columnist has or ever will and more than I have or ever will (fingers crossed!).

We don’t need and shouldn’t need Mother Teresa or Superman to advance these issues. Flawed human beings are enough.

Posted by: mfalcon | February 3, 2011 8:31 AM | Report abuse

The debate seems to be centering on a parent's right, or lack of right, to send their children to a better school. My parents, faced with a really deplorable school system, sent my brothers to adjacent districts. (The district consolidated with the others by the time I started.) They scraped up money for tuition--with some difficulty--and arranged transportation to do so. Ms Williams-Bolar was sending her kids to a better school without paying taxes or tuition to that school. I belive this is known as theft of services, the same as tapping into a neighbor's electric box or refusing to pay when you finish a cab ride.

Posted by: sideswiththekids | February 3, 2011 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Google "Williams-Bolar"
868,000 results
This is 10 times what it was only a week ago.

Google "Williams-Bolar Rosa Parks" and you achieve 23,400 results. Also sadly you are introduced to authors having a less than elegant choice of words.

It seems that each side (if it were only that simple) is just as convinced that her actions were "wrong" or "right".

The main question asked by this article is whether Kelley is or is not the "Rosa Parks" of our "generation" or "education".

To Efavorite: I don't have the answer. To that or whether Google results are significant.

It does seem that we are beginning to have the national debate that we have evidently needed to have for some time.

Posted by: TheMan6 | February 3, 2011 9:27 AM | Report abuse

I cannot figure out what mfalcon's point is.

"YES YES YES...she falsified information on documents."

If you actually take the time to read DrDmocracy's posts, and the attendant articles that are linked, then it's more than clear that the WIlliams-Kolar "story" is one about a welfare scam. Multiple ways. And she got caught. And she lied, Repeatedly.

There was no principled "stand" involved.
None. Read the articles.

mfalcon makes the unsubstantiated claim that the school system "I am sure leveled threats." What is the source of this certainty? How do you know?

And yes, when this scam is blown into a civil rights parable, and it most assuredly is NOT one, then it is absolutely relevant that:

“From 2005 through Friday afternoon, the Copley-Fairlawn School District formally confronted 48 families whose children were illegally attending its schools. The breakdown:

• 29 families were black.
• 15 families were white.
• two families were Asian.
• one family was Pacific Islander.
• one family was multiracial."

And it is absolutely relevant that Williams-Kolar was the ONLY one taken to court.

It is absolutely relevant that Williams-Kolar kept "lying about her income and child support so her kids would get free lunches."

And it is absolutely relevant that the jury that heard the case "decided unanimously" and that the jury "included four blacks.”

It is absolutely relevant that "the Willams-Kolar case had been investigated by the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education, which concluded there was no "racism" involved."

All of those things are, indeed, relevant.

What is irrelevant, mfalcon, is unsubstantiated speculation.

Posted by: mcrockett1 | February 3, 2011 10:29 AM | Report abuse

mfalcon,

"And, lastly, who cares if there were 4 african americans on the jury. That, again, is irrelevant especially in the context of this story. Open your eyes a little wider please. The trial and jury was not an evaluation of whether she stood up, or whether there should be more equity in education and school choice. HELLO!!! It was about whether she filed false information on public documents. What other verdict is there? YES YES YES YES YES we all know she falsified information on documents.

Is that really the point? I desperately hope it isn't."

It is impossible to divorce the two issues when they are interconnected for this particular case. In order to do what she did, she had to lie and steal. A more measured approached is probably a better tactic for you in this case: we need to focus on why she did what she did and not on how she did it.

In addition, because people are claiming that she acted as a "hero" in this manner, evoking her personal ethos, all ad hominem arguments become admissible as a way to counter the claim that she acted in a courageous manner. It is NOT "utterly disgusting and shameful," but the nature of argumentation in a public forum when a person's character is put front and center. If you want to shift the focus from her character to educational equity then YOU need to stop bringing up her character. Focus only on the issues that you think matters.

Posted by: DHume1 | February 3, 2011 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Equity & opportunity, Part I:

If equity and opportunity are the issues (and public schools were created, in part, to advance both) then a god place to start is with this article by Richard Rothstein, "Class and the Classroom:"

http://new.abanet.org/child/PublicDocuments/educ-2.pdf

Some excerpts:

“Widely repeated accounts of schools that somehow elicit consistently high achievement from lower-class children almost always turn out, upon examination, to be flawed. In some cases, these "schools that beat the odds" are highly selective, enrolling only the most able or most motivated lower-class children. In other cases, they are not truly lower-class schools -- for example, a school enrolling children who qualify for subsidized lunches because their parents are graduate students living on low stipends. In other cases, such schools define high achievement at such a low level that all students can reach it, despite big gaps that remain at more meaningful levels.”

“If a society with such differences wants all children, irrespective of social class, to have the same chance to achieve academic goals, it should find ways to help lower-class children enter school having the same familiarity with books as middle-class children have. This requires rethinking the institutional settings in which we provide early childhood care, beginning in infancy.”

“An international reading survey of 15-year-olds, conducted in 2000, found a strong relationship in almost every nation between parental occupation and student literacy. The gap between the literacy of children of the highest-status workers (such as doctors, professors, and lawyers) and the lowest-status workers (such as waiters and waitresses, taxi drivers, and mechanics) was even greater in Germany and the United Kingdom than it was in the United States.”

Posted by: DrDemocracy | February 3, 2011 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Equity & opportunity, Part II:

Excerpts from Class and the Classroom:

“Twenty years ago, Betty Hart and Todd Risley, two researchers from the University of Kansas, visited families from different social classes to monitor the conversations between parents and toddlers. Hart and Risley found that, on average, professional
parents spoke more than 2,000 words per hour to their children, working-class parents spoke about 1,300, and welfare mothers spoke about 600. So by age 3, the children of
professionals had vocabularies that were nearly 50 percent greater than those of workingclass children and twice as large as those of welfare children.”

“Deficits like these cannot be made up by schools alone, no matter how high the teachers' expectations. For all children to achieve the same goals, the less advantaged would have to enter school with verbal fluency that is similar to the fluency of middle-class children.”

“The Kansas researchers also tracked how often parents verbally encouraged children's behavior and how often they reprimanded their children. Toddlers of professionals got an average of six encouragements per reprimand. Working-class children had two. For welfare children, the ratio was reversed -- an average of one encouragement for two reprimands. Children whose initiative was encouraged from a very early age are more
likely, on average, to take responsibility for their own learning.”

Posted by: DrDemocracy | February 3, 2011 11:38 AM | Report abuse

DHume1:

Very thoughtful comments. I don't see why we simply can't divorce the two---but I agree that it is obviously not happening and they seem frustratingly too interconnected.

It is very disheartening to me. As one reader put it, trying to get your kids into a better public school illegally is like stealing cable TV.

And, I guess that as outrageous a comparison as that seems to me, maybe it is a good summary for a good chunk of washpost webpage.

Equity in education (which is the only issue for me in this case) is now just the equivalent of someone stealing cable TV.

Maybe, a big part of it is that I just can't articulate my thoughts on this and I am so upset by it, but I just don't understand this focus on the lying which is now being interpreted as stealing.

And if people are calling it stealing---then say what she is stealing----she is stealing an education for her children and school lunch for her children not cable TV or diamonds or luxury cars.

Is that a better way of saying it? That in the United States of America, we are giving felony convictions to mothers for stealing a better public education and school lunches for their children.

And, then we are justifying it by saying the mother was cowardly somehow (opposite of courageous) and a liar and thief.

I really don't understand it.

Jesu* Chr***, why do mothers have to steal public education for their children, and why do we have to make mothers felons for doing it?

There, I'm not accusing, I'm not angry, not making inflammatory statements, I'm just asking a question.

Posted by: mfalcon | February 3, 2011 5:07 PM | Report abuse

mfalcon,

Sorry about the frustration. And here's a bit of an answer for you:

My guess is that you did not know that Ohio is not like most states for how they fund public education. Ohio pays for its public educational services in special taxes that are probably different from the way most of the country pays for its public educational services (in Ohio, some funds come from the state and some funds come from the local area in which parents live; in most parts of our country, educational services are paid with property taxes, so everyone pays into the system, but not in Ohio). If you live in a certain district in Ohio, you pay special income taxes to send your kid to that district's schools (I think about half of a school's funds come from this local tax revenue). The taxes for each district are "different" and "individualized" for the schools in which they attend. Ohio made this change about ten or eleven years ago.

Now let's look at what we know happened with Williams-Bolar: She sent her kids to a separate district--one in which she did not live. She did not pay the necessary taxes to fund the services that her children were receiving from this district. She lied on the district's paperwork and on the state's income-tax paperwork. She is getting services that she did not pay for/pay into. There are other issues here as well, but the underlining problem is that she was only paying for half of the services that her children were receiving. Obviously the district wanted to recoup some of those lost funds. Because Williams-Bolar did not work with them to solve this problem, she went to court and then to jail.

If Williams-Bolar were in any other state, her kids would have been kicked out of the school once district officials found out. However, she would not have gone to jail. And no one would have known anything about what happened with Williams-Bolar and her children. However, she does not live in any other state. She lives in a state where it is a crime to do what she did. She lives in Ohio and therefore, she follows Ohio's rules and procedures.
Technically, she wasn't really "stealing." She was committing fraud and denying the district the necessary funds to adequately educate the children it has under its umbrella.

Perhaps stealing someone's cable television is the wrong metaphor to use in this situation. Personally, I like the cowbird metaphor. This bird lays its eggs in another bird's nest and expects the other bird to nurture it without helping that other bird out at all. The other bird shoulders the burden for nesting the eggs while the cowbird watches from a distance to ensure that the other bird does not remove the egg from her clutch. In this case, Williams-Bolar is the cowbird and the district is the other bird that is denied the necessary resources to help educate her children.

Yes, in this Rome where she lives, she is a felon.

Posted by: DHume1 | February 3, 2011 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Copley Fairlawn covers most of Copley Township, (which is one of 9 townships in Summit county Ohio, where Copley is only 20 square miles or approx 4 miles x 5 miles in area, with approx 3000 houses and 13500 people. There are a few private schools, a few public elementary schools, one public high school and one public middle school.
Distance from center of Akron to center of Copley is 6.3 miles
Copley avg income 55 K, avg house sales $170 K

2807 Mull Ave, 800 sqft condo for 52 k, $127 month + $100 taxes, HOA dues $185 per month "ouch" part of Copley School District.

Using 1 weeks pay every month for this (assumes 25% taxes of some sort), would need to make $26,368 per year?

Would this work?

Posted by: TheMan6 | February 4, 2011 3:23 PM | Report abuse

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