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Posted at 6:30 AM ET, 08/10/2010

The truth behind the get-tough success stories in school reform

By Valerie Strauss

My guest is Sabrina Stevens Shupe, a teacher and education advocate who created and blogs for the Failing Schools Project, an effort to reveal what really happens inside chronically failing schools. Take a look. You can find it here, at http://failingschools.wordpress.com/.


By Sabrina Stevens Shupe
Joe Clark and his baseball bat.

Michelle Rhee and her broom.

These images were highlighted in a recent piece by master teacher Patrick Ledesma, who wrote about how compelling media images and narratives iinspire the public to care about public school reform. But the most enduring stories seem to be those of the bullies. They have successfully appropriated the term “sense of urgency” for themselves, casting their critics as laggards or defenders of an indefensible status quo.

Ledesma encouraged defenders of teacher professionalism and civility to share their own equally compelling narratives. If we are to have a chance at convincing the public that they should care about how teachers are treated, or that bullying isn’t a necessary precondition for turning around low-performing schools, then we need to offer counter-examples.

As a teacher, I wholeheartedly agree, and have recently decided to devote at least a small portion of my professional life to promoting these under-appreciated perspectives.

However, I think the problem is less that the “nice” teachers haven’t shared their stories of effective, respectful work environments. I think the bigger problem is that the public has been deprived of the full story where the bullies are concerned.

Because bullies have convinced enough members of the public (and virtually all of the mainstream media) that real reformers don’t waste valuable time with “consensus-building” or smiling, they’ve largely escaped the kind of scrutiny that would reveal the sham they’re promoting.

Let’s put aside for a moment the question of whether or not marinating in other people’s stress day-in and day-out might have a negative impact on impressionable young minds, or whether or not humiliating low-income children and their teachers would be a fair price for higher test scores.

When it comes to these get-tough tales, the stories can depart pretty significantly from reality. Some of the changes these kinds of leaders produce have turned out to be pure illusion.

Take the case of Joe Clark, the principal at Eastside High School in New Jersey and the “hero” portrayed in the movie “Lean on Me.” In real life, Joe Clark was reportedly even more pompous and abusive than he was in the movie. In January 1989, Mother Jones published an article that profiled him alongside George McKenna and Deborah Meier.

He was quoted in the article as saying that he deserved “to be crowned Lord of Lords and King of Kings” for restoring order to Eastside by wearing down unruly students and teachers. Further revealing his Messiah complex, he stated that his trademark bullhorn gave him a sense of omnipresence. He was also quoted as saying that he hoped the school deteriorated after he left: “I hope Eastside blows up after I leave ... and it will, in a twinkling of an eye. I want the nation to know what it took to bring this place from disgrace to amazing grace.”

Some community members appreciated Clark’s style, and he was celebrated in many contemporary media outlets. Leaders such as Ronald Reagan and former education secretary William Bennett sang his praises. (For the folks keeping score at home, yes, that’s the same William Bennett who would later suggest that the national crime rate could be reduced if all black babies were aborted.) Bucking the trend, the journalists at Mother Jones acted like journalists, and investigated the situation more thoroughly instead of just taking Clark's word that he had made miracles.

They discovered that much of the success Clark had at Eastside—especially those miraculous test scores from the movie’s climax—could be attributed to the relatively large number of troubled students who dropped out or were pushed out of the school under Clark’s reign.

The school board, union leaders, and others who opposed him at the time were not against him because he was taking tough action to improve the lives of poor black and brown youth, but because of the poor black and brown youth he quite literally turned out into the streets (66 in 1987 alone).

These weren’t all menaces and gang-bangers as he would have everyone believe, though some certainly became as much when denied their right to an education. Likewise, while the test scores increased somewhat, they remained quite low when compared to other New Jersey schools. The school’s college acceptance rates barely changed. It took a particularly egregious talent show strip-tease incident to begin to defeat the persona he constructed.

Yet by and large, his myth persists.

Keep in mind, too, that the test score increases associated with the Joe Clarks of the world—then and now—may not necessarily tell us much about the learning students do under their rule.

Are they learning critical thinking skills during all of this, or just test-taking skills? (Yes, you can do both, but it’s not necessary to temporarily raise test scores.) Are these students prepared for an intellectually demanding 21st Century world, with its complex dilemmas that can’t be conveniently resolved by picking one of four possible choices? Are they engaged citizens or productive workers in the new economy? Do they love learning? Who knows?

As a person who values means as much as their ends, I don’t understand why so many people are willing to sacrifice basic norms of decency or respect for increased student achievement in low-performing schools.

I can’t see how it’s ever all right to intimidate students with baseball bats, or handcuff them to desks, or harass and/or fire teachers en masse, even if it’s being done in the name of so-called reform.

Regardless, none of that is necessary in the first place. Bullies such as Joe Clark have only short-term spikes in test scores—if that—to recommend their behavior. Meaningful, sustainable improvements in learning are the result of sustained action, coordinated by dedicated individuals who respectfully collaborate to serve the best interests of children.

That doesn’t mean they all like each other, or that conflicts don’t occasionally arise, but that these differences are managed productively. Numerous studies—as well as the living examples of the thousands of high-functioning learning environments where trust and respect are the order of the day—bear that out, if only we care to look.

Professionalism and respect are not luxuries undeserved by the teachers and students in low-performing schools. Present-day school officials (and their defenders) who argue otherwise are presenting us with a false choice, and they should be called out for it.

Members of the general public who idolize bullies like Joe Clark should be asked if the environment he created would be considered acceptable if it were they, or their children, who experienced it. And the current crop of school “leaders” who emulate him should be asked whether they’re trying to serve the needs of children, or if they are—like he was—merely fueling their own delusions of grandeur at poor children’s expense.

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By Valerie Strauss  | August 10, 2010; 6:30 AM ET
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, Urban reform  | Tags:  joe clark, joe clark and baseball bat, michelle rhee, rhee and broom, school leadership, urban school reform  
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Comments

This is an excellent article. The deconstruction of Joe Clark's tenure was quite good. However, the author didn't touch on 2 current stories on "reform" that should be examined. One is in New York and the other in D.C.. Both have contributed mightily to the disruptive, contentious reform process in their schools. Neither it appears have achieved the transformative miracles that such drastic change should engender. Both share a validity problem with the very tests allegedly designed to assess their students' progress.

Posted by: Nikki1231 | August 10, 2010 7:14 AM | Report abuse

Nikki, my impression is that the author was focused on the New York and DC reformers, albeit in an indirect fashion.

I agree that the "messiah" delusion needs to be deconstructed. At the same time there is a need for authority and strong leadership (call it "mild fascism") if a school or system is dysfunctional.

Use the Redskins as an analogy. Shanahan is a disciplinarian and that is just what the organization needed after the kid glove approach of Zorn that resulted in last year"s meltdown (yes, I'm ignoring the pink elephant in the room - Daniel Snyder's ownership).

The fact is that the DC school system is in shambles after decades of poor politics and administration. A hardliner like Rhee, who is unpleasant to listen to and who has virtually no people skills, is potentially the only type of school chief capable of turning around the system within 8-10 years.

From my perspective and personal experience in the schools, I can say that she made a tough, but correct call to replace a principal, closed down a school that should have been closed down, ensured teachers are paid on time, and delivered on a pay raise. Previous chiefs paid lip service, while she has delivered.

I'm not a devout believer by any stretch, but a little bit of credit needs to directed towards Mayor Fenty and Michelle Rhee. Perhaps after September 14th people can get back to having a more balanced view of the matter at hand?

Posted by: thetensionmakesitwork | August 10, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

"As a person who values means as much as their ends, I don’t understand why so many people are willing to sacrifice basic norms of decency or respect for increased student achievement in low-performing schools."


Because basically this country doesn't like or respect children. I recently heard a teacher correct a student who had interrupted a conversation by telling the student, "Two adults were speaking; you should wait your turn." She was speaking gently to him, but notice he was supposed to wait because "adults" were speaking; presumably it would have been all right to interrupt another student. I also remember a teacher who, years ago, would push her way through a crowded hallway. When another teacher asked her why, she replied, "I'm the teacher--they have to give way to me." Another former teacher told me she had tried addressing her elementary students as "Mr." and "Miss," having heard that could produce better behavior. She said it was working a bit. When the principal found out and ordered her to quit the practice--"Those kids will forget their place if we treat them like adults."

The only debate now is because some principals have started treating the teachers like they, a lot of teachers, and society in general has always treated the students.

Posted by: sideswiththekids | August 10, 2010 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Thetensionmakesitwork says, “From my perspective and personal experience in the schools, I can say that she made a tough, but correct call to replace a principal, closed down a school that should have been closed down, ensured teachers are paid on time, and delivered on a pay raise”

The fact that she may have done a few things right in personal experience with DCPS, does not justify her despotic style and the fact that she’s done many things wrong that could have a long lasting negative effect. Besides, I know of teachers not paid on time, principals who should not have been replaced and as far as I know, teachers haven’t seen that promised pay raise yet.

A leader can be tough and strong without being a bully.

Posted by: efavorite | August 10, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

sideswiththekids says, “The only debate now is because some principals have started treating the teachers like they, a lot of teachers, and society in general has always treated the students.”

I don’t know about that, but I do think disrespectful behavior in any context should be called out and stopped – no need for debate, justification or payback.

Posted by: efavorite | August 10, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

This is a great article. I wish the media would stop promoting bullying as an effective school management tool.

Posted by: educationlover54 | August 10, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for this article, Valerie and Sabrina Stevens Shupe. It sure sounds like Michelle Rhee is Joe Clark without the miraculous test scores. She a little more subtle on the Messiah comparison, too, though her supporters often fill in for her, as if any criticism or Rhee or her methods is heretical, for example:

“Who amongst you can cast the first stone? …The more supportive and less condemning we are of a team and system that works non-stop to improve the system and the students and teachers it serves every year, the better the results we’ll yield.”
http://www.eduwonk.com/2010/08/d-c-going-back-is-not-an-option.html

Rhee did make it clear early on that it was her intention to inspire this kind of following:
The September 1, 2008 issue of Fast Company Magazine, said this: “...every free weekend since her appointment, Rhee has gone to church, not because she believes -- when I ask if she'd grown up religious, she shoots back, ‘Oh, God, no!’ -- but because she wants the people to believe in her.” http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/128/the-iron-chancellor.html

That article also says, “Although the latest test scores show significant improvement over 2007 results, Rhee says it will take at least three years to begin to see sustainable academic progress in DC.”

Oops! She’s been here three years now and the scores are going down!

Posted by: efavorite | August 10, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

If u want a better sense of teacher sentiment -- at least broader than some of the prevaricators here -- go to thewashingtonteacher blogue.

Read how our teachers express themselves, what they think of parents. Notice that the children are hardly ever mentioned; to be fair, though, the blogue is about teachers' thoughts and concerns. But, again, the kids and their educational state hardly ever come up.

To her credit, Candi, the moderator of this blogue will shortly be the No. 2 person in the WTU. She is a fine moderator and allows multiple views, but her aim is ironclad job protection for teachers. Leave No Teacher Behind.

More broadly, there is a vein of educator sentiment that is strongly favoring separating out the disruptive students, usually cited as just a handful in each class. The startling thing is these experts, such as some teachers commenting on this and other comment board, propose no solution for these disruptive kids. One can infer the teachers are consigning them to separate but unequal education in contravention of Brown vs. Board of Ed. Irony of ironies.

Posted by: axolotl | August 10, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

axolotl,

This is probably why Candi believes in job protection for teachers.

http://www.salon.com/life/feature/2010/08/06/teacher_who_replaced_me/index.html

Experienced teachers are more effective than new teachers, but more expensive. And some male principals put a woman's sexual appearance above anything else.

In business, managers constantly fire experienced highly productive workers to replace them with less experienced less productive workers. It's a disaster, and business managers keep doing this over and over again. And some male managers do hire based on a woman's sexual appearance (perhaps hoping to have sexual contact). Men don't have to go through this.

Teachers do need protection. If they don't get any they should leave teaching.

Posted by: educationlover54 | August 10, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

axolotl,

I usually ignore your comments and dont' read them because you are so hostile to everyone on the board. But this time I did.

I won't be reading anymore of your comments.

Posted by: educationlover54 | August 10, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

The only debate now is because some principals have started treating the teachers like they, a lot of teachers, and society in general has always treated the students.

Posted by: sideswiththekids
_________________________
I agree that there are a few teachers that treat students this way. In my experience, however, most teachers try to model the behavior they expect from the kids which includes treating everyone with respect. Perhaps I'm just lucky enough to teach in a school where we've made this a part of our basic culture.

Posted by: musiclady | August 10, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

The same 9/08 FastCompany article cited above notes that, “In the five-year history of No Child Left Behind, [Dunbar High] has never met the law's benchmarks; in 2007, just 24% of its sophomores tested "proficient" in reading and only 20% made the grade in math.” It goes on to say that the principal was fired in the spring of ’08.
Here are the proficiency numbers for Dunbar from 2007 until 2010*

Dunbar Reading: 2007 = 24.31% 2008 = 22.46% 2009 = 18.00% 2010 = 29.46%

Dunbar Math: 2007 = 20.00% 2008 = 19.25% 2009 = 24.71% 2010 = 23.08%

*Source: http://www.nclb.osse.dc.gov/index.asp

So, after firing the principal, scores went down a little, then went up and down and up a little and three years from the time she arrived are still in the 20th percentile of proficiency for math and reading.

This is Michelle Rhee’s school reform at work.

Posted by: efavorite | August 10, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I'm home writing a book after 18 years in the inner city classroom, and I'm going through my records from 2000. I'm reminded of the energy that was created when collaboration became the model. Then came NCLB, and top down managment reversed the progress. But treat people with respect, and most people will respond.

Posted by: johnt4853 | August 10, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Thank you for such a thoughtful take on this. We need more teachers speaking up. So many of our education reformers seem to have spent little time (Rhee) or no time inside a K-12 classroom!

Quoting Clark “I hope Eastside blows up after I leave ... and it will, in a twinkling of an eye. I want the nation to know what it took to bring this place from disgrace to amazing grace.”

What arrogance! If he really cared about the students rather than himself he would want to develop a program that would be self-perpetuating. A legacy that would continue long after he left the school.

Of course that kind of a program has to be built by getting students, parents, teachers, community members, and administration to collaborate. Hmmm! This would take time and effort! NCLB wants instant results!

Posted by: Jutti | August 10, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Joe Clark: "I hope Eastside blows up after I leave ... and it will, in a twinkling of an eye. I want the nation to know what it took to bring this place from disgrace to amazing grace.”


Rhee is looking more and more subtle compared to Clark. She simply said she would leave if Fenty were not re-elected and implied that this would be a terrible fate for the schools.

Posted by: efavorite | August 10, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

My theory has been that Principal's treat teachers according to the students they teach. Unfortunately elementary teachers get the least professional treatment because Principal's have figured out that because they tend to be more nuturing, they can be easily intimidated and manipulated by authority.

High school teachers are, for the most part left alone and treated more professionally. Middle school is all about rules.

I'm glad someone is starting to address the professional treatment of teachers. Studies show that teacher working conditions affect student learning.

We don't accept bullying behavior from students, so why, as adults, do we tolerate bullying from administrators? I have worked for a Superintendent whose emotional toll on teachers was akin to the characteristic's of spousal abuse.

I have been called names at a public school board meeting; been transferred to multiple schools; assigned to a cart; had my thumb twisted; been denied career advancement; accused of not-liking-children; assigned to the lowest schools; because I spoke up on behalf of teachers and kids. It's not about my teaching...it's about insecure administrator's.

It happens and it is a major problem inside those places that are suppose to be so safe and supportive. And why?

Posted by: ilcn | August 10, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Of course we do not need principals that carry baseball bats.

At the same time Valerie Strauss does not mention the billion of dollars that are spent every years for the principals that follow the idea of Joe Clark without baseball bats. These are the public charter schools where students that are found to be disruptive and prone to violence are simply dumped back into the Title 1 poverty public schools.

The only advantages of public charter schools are that these schools are safe with classrooms that allow teachers to teach and children to learn.

Large numbers of parents in poverty neighborhoods apply for the lottery whenever a new public charter schools is available.

If sufficient public charter schools were opened at the start of a new school year to accommodate the children of every parent that wanted an alternative to the unsafe and chaos of the public schools, the public schools would be empty, and only ultimately contain the students that are disruptive and/or prone to violence.

It is time for Valerie Strauss and Americans to recognize the glaring problems of the Title 1 poverty public schools and that the disruptive and/or prone to violence can not be placed in normal classrooms.

The Title 1 poverty public schools are inferior schools since nothing is done about students that are disruptive and/or prone to violence.

The truth about teachers in Title 1 poverty public schools are that they are almost all ineffective. No teachers can be effective in a classroom environment where the disruptive and/or prone to violence are accepted and tolerated.

The idea of an effective teacher in a school where it is considered normal for teachers to constantly prevent the disruptive and/or prone to violence from taking over classrooms is ludicrous.

It is easy to be appalled at a principal carrying a bat, but at same time where is the recognition that millions of children, every day during the school year, go to inferior Title 1 poverty public schools that are plagued with disruptive and/or prone to violence students that do not belong in normal classrooms.

The glaring problems of the Title 1 poverty public schools that make these schools inferior should be dealt with and not ignored.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 10, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

@bsallamack--I teach in a title I school and don't have the issues you talk about. I think a distinction needs to be made between inner city title I poverty schools and those in other places. Inner city schools are notoriously underfunded. The societal issues are much greater in those areas and they are further exacerbated by tight budgets.

There was a book that came out in the late 80's or early 90's called "Savage Inequalities" by Jonathan Kozol. This book dealt with conditions in inner city poor schools. If you haven't read it, I suggest you do. In fact, I think all those who call themselves "reformers" should read it.
Just yesterday I heard on the news that Camden, NJ was going to have to permanently close all of their public libraries. Camden is one of the city systems profiled in Kozol's book. So now these poor kids, will have no access to books or computers outside of school. How can a teacher possibly make up for that?
I teach in Montgomery County and we have a number of poor title I schools. The difference for us is that we have a system that is able to put more resources in those schools--more personnel, smaller classes etc.--things that a system that is predominantly made up of poor schools cannot afford to do.

I have found that given the right combination of resources and personnel, many--if not most--of the poorly behaved students can learn and adapt to the demands of a classroom. There are always a few that continue to have issues and who need more intensive measures, but I object to the idea of simply removing these kids from the classroom right from the get go. Many of these kids have never been taught the basics of manners or acceptable behavior--things we in the middle class take very much for granted. If a positive, consistent discipline/behavior plan is in place, they do learn what acceptable behavior is and they adapt. It takes work on the part of all adults involved in the school, but the effort is well worth it.

Posted by: musiclady | August 10, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

We don't accept bullying behavior from students, so why, as adults, do we tolerate bullying from administrators?
Posted by: ilcn
.........................
Sometimes I believe that teachers live in an another world.

Parents in poor neighborhoods want public charter schools because they are safe and do not allow the disruptive and/or prone to violence students that are accepted and tolerated in the inferior Title 1 poverty public schools.

Teachers in the inferior Title 1 poverty public schools face being penalized for report incidents of student violence.

The Title 1 poverty public schools fully accepting the bullying of students by allowing the disruptive and/or prone to violence students to be in normal classrooms.

Yes, Ms. Rhee is wrong for blaming teachers instead of addressing the problems.

But the teachers are also to blame for accepting teaching in Title 1 poverty public schools as anything other than teaching in inherently inferior schools.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 10, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

@bsallamack--I teach in a title I school and don't have the issues you talk about. I think a distinction needs to be made between inner city title I poverty schools and those in other places. Inner city schools are notoriously underfunded.
Posted by: musiclady
............................
I agree with you and the problem is the Title 1 poverty public schools in urban areas.

But these are the majority of problem public schools in the nation.

The Title 1 poverty public schools in D.C. are an example of these problems schools.

Violence in these schools are high and teachers are penalized from reporting incidents of student violence.

I really do not think it is not a matter of funding but instead an unwillingness to accept the reality of these schools and devise solutions.

Billions of dollars spent on public charter schools to create schools that are without disruptive and/or prone to violence students is simply the unwillingness to accept the problems and devise solutions.

Yes in twenty years, and billions more on public charter schools, the problem will be solved in urban areas where the Title 1 poverty public schools will simply contain the disruptive and/or prone to violence students.

Title 1 poverty public schools not in urban areas may be dealing with the problem, but the reality is that the problems in the Title 1 poverty public schools in urban areas is simply ignored and accepted as normal.

Americans need to learn the rule that children learn in children shelters and orphanages: Every child gets a fair amount of food. The thin children are not deprived because of fat children.

Fix the problems of the Title 1 poverty public schools in urban areas that are inferior so that the students that are not disruptive or prone to violence get a fair amount of food.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 10, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Valerie:

This is an excellent post by Ms. Shupe.

A while back I prayed for a journalist in one of our great newspapers to tell the truth about education. I even wrote to the WP asking for a Woodward and Bernstein to defend our schoolchildren and teachers from liars and bullies.

You are the answer to those prayers! Thank you!

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | August 10, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

I have found that given the right combination of resources and personnel, many--if not most--of the poorly behaved students can learn and adapt to the demands of a classroom. There are always a few that continue to have issues and who need more intensive measures, but I object to the idea of simply removing these kids from the classroom right from the get go.
Posted by: musiclady
.............................
Smaller Title 1 poverty public school may not be able to remove these children since they are too small to allow separate classrooms.

The large schools systems of Title 1 poverty public schools in urban areas have the facilities for removing the disruptive and/or prone to violence children to separate classroom.

This does not have to mean permanent banishment from normal classrooms, but it does mean that the children that belong in normal classroom in Title 1 poverty public schools in urban areas do not have to have their opportunities of the benefits of education drained away because of the focus of children that do not belong in a normal classroom.

No teacher would believe that it was fair to give too much attention to a bright child at the expense of other children in the classroom. Yet teachers believe that a great deal of focus and attention should be placed upon the children who do not belong in a normal classroom without any consideration that the needs of the other children in a classroom are being ignored.

My background is from the lower classes and I am intelligent enough to be aware of the problems of poverty.

At the same time the children that have survived and that belong in normal classrooms in Title 1 poverty public schools in urban areas should not have to be further burdened with classrooms with children that should not be in normal classrooms.

These school system are large enough for separate classrooms for the children that do not belong in normal classes.

There is no excuse for the inherently inferior Title 1 poverty public schools in urban areas where the needs of the large majority of children that belong in normal classrooms are denied and ignored.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 10, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

We don't accept bullying behavior from students, so why, as adults, do we tolerate bullying from administrators?
Posted by: ilcn
____________________
Teachers seem to think that they are not worthy of respect. We've been conditioned to think that we should put up with anything--whether it be low salary, lack of supplies, or disrespect from administrators, parents or students --because we are doing what we do "for the kids." Sadly, administrative bullying does not contribute to the culture of respect that so many schools are striving to build. Bullying on the part of administrators happens a lot and it is ignored by school system personnel until parents get involved and start complaining. Teachers' complaints, while heard by their union, are basically ignored. There are no contract guarantees to being treated as a professional and the bullies typically know the contract so as not to violate it. This behavior makes for a really hostile work environment. How can one expect to inspire and motivate children when they are living in fear the whole time?

There was an excellent chapter in Ravitch's book about the San Diego schools and the bullying that went on there. Data showed that the health plan was spending considerably more money on stress related illnesses. Is that really what we want to do to the people we entrust our kids to?

Posted by: musiclady | August 10, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Teachers seem to think that they are not worthy of respect. We've been conditioned to think that we should put up with anything--whether it be low salary, lack of supplies, or disrespect from administrators, parents or students --because we are doing what we do "for the kids."
Posted by: musiclady
.................................
I wonder if this is really true of public schools in this nation or simply the failure of recognition of teachers of the two tiers of public schools in this nation.

There are the middle class and affluent public schools, and the inferior poverty public schools in this nation.

At most middle class and affluent public schools there does not appear to be animosity directed towards teachers or contempt. These schools are well funded and I question whether the teachers really see any need to buy basic supplies.

Teachers at these schools are expected to report immediately problems to administrators and not simply ignore them since the parents will be quickly aware of the problems from their children.

Administrators are expected to be managers of resources and not simply get blood from a stone in an environment of no resources. I doubt that a bully administrator would last long in this environment where parents are well informed of problems from their children. I assume there are the normal number of incompetent administrators but these school systems are anxious to spot problems and address them.

A candidate such as Ms. Rhee, with her qualification, would never be accepted by any of these public schools for even a position as a teacher.

I believe that teachers in this nation have to recognize the two tiers of public schools and that the inferior poverty public schools are not a reflection of of the majority of public schools in this nation.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 10, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Here is another story of a school that was turned around in New York by a bully principal, and now years later without this principal and his methods is now on the list of the worst public schools of New York city.

His name was Frank Mickens and the school he tuned around was Boys and Girls High School in Bedford-Stuyvesant of Brooklyn New York. At the time of Mr. Mickens this was a school with 5,000 students.

How did this bully turn around this school?

Simple, he got the students that would not allow teachers to teach and other students to learn out of the normal classrooms, and created an environment where teachers could teach and children can learn.

He recognized that the best teachers in the world would be totally irrelevant in an environment that hindered learning.

Instead of calling for class room management he simply removed from the classes the student that were preventing other students from learning.

Many of these students found themselves continuously in an auditorium doing nothing, but simply getting them out of the classrooms turned this school around.

"In interviews during his tenure as principal, Mr. Mickens and like-minded administrators and parents maintained that disruptive students should not be forced on the school, causing distractions for their peers who want to learn."

Legacy of Discipline at a Bed-Stuy School
New York Times

So why is the school now on the list of the worst public school.

The actions of Mr. Mickens were deemed in a later lawsuit illegal.

Mr. Mickens was right, and if you do not provide those who are willing to learn with an environment where teachers can teach and students can learn, education will fail.

The poverty public schools in urban areas are failing since these schools do not provide an environment for learning. All the failing results of national tests for these schools are not an indication of poor teachers, but simply an indication of schools that do not have an environment for learning.

Urban areas have the facilities for separate classrooms for those who do not belong in normal classrooms.

Students can only learn in an environment where teachers are allowed to teach and children are allowed to learn.

Frank Mickens was a bully but taught us that.

No movie was made of Frank Mickens but some of his former students did go to his funeral.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 10, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Linda/RetiredTeacher,

I join you in thanking Valerie. I would like to thank you too for praying for such a journalist and for the insightful comments you post. I came across your post in the NYT article, "Inexperienced Companies Chase U.S. School Funds" 8/9/2010 - excellent.

Posted by: shadwell1 | August 10, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

@educationlover54

I usually ignore your comments and dont' read them because they are content-free.


Posted by: axolotl | August 10, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Shadwell1:

Thank you. I believe the tide is turning in favor of teachers and children now because journalists are waking up and President Obama is getting the message from citizens that teacher-bashing will not be accepted in our country. This is what I think we'll see in the fall:

Most laid-off teachers nationwide back in their jobs;

People like Ms. Rhee dismissed for moral and ethical reasons;

President Obama making certain that the nation's teachers are treated with respect and gratitude (I think he's getting strong political pressure right now);

Real help for our nation's poorest children in the form of medical and social supports, as well as fully-qualified and experienced teachers.

Let's hope I'm right. Thanks to you too, and to all the people who are speaking out in defense of children and their teachers.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | August 10, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Linda,

"I believe the tide is turning in favor of teachers and children now because journalists are waking up and President Obama is getting the message from citizens that teacher-bashing will not be accepted in our country."

I believe the Gates Foundation and Arne Duncan are together in working against teachers and good education. I think there is still quite a battle ahead.

Posted by: educationlover54 | August 10, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

axolotl,

"I usually ignore your comments and dont' read them because you are so hostile to everyone on the board. But this time I did.
I won't be reading anymore of your comments."
Posted by: educationlover54 | August 10, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I'm with you, educationlover; I avoid axolotl and HappyTeacher like the plague!

Posted by: lacy41 | August 10, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

@educationlover54
I usually ignore your comments and dont' read them because they are content-free.

Posted by: axolotl
........................
Great you indicated comments we should read.
See AXOLOTL you can perform any function here.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 10, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

How many of you making these comments have actually spent time in a classroom? I don't mean just for a minute or hour, but actually seeing what a teacher does for a day or even a week! I take offense to the comment principal are just treating the teachers they way they treat the students. I treat my students as if they were my own. I love, doctor, discipline, mother and teach them. Most of all I ask for and give them respect. I know that if I changed jobs with all of these so called experts who think they can do my job, they would be running back to their jobs and may have a new appreciation for mine.

Posted by: whatzupwiththat | August 10, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

@educationlover54
I usually ignore your comments and dont' read them because they are content-free.

Posted by: axolotl
........................
Great you indicated comments we should read.
See AXOLOTL you can perform any function here.

Posted by: bsallamack
************

I try to avoid axolotl, especially when she comes on to me, but I'm drawn to her comments like a drunk to a bottle.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | August 10, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

@Bsall: While I generally agree with you, I do think you have a tendency to overstate the wretchedness of Title 1 schools. I'm starting my 18th year at one (a high school) on Monday, and the chaos and turmoil you describe as typical of such places doesn't exist. I'm on the west coast and have no experience as a student or teacher anywhere else, so I'm open to the idea that things are different in other areas of the country. However, your position seems to be that a Title 1 school is by definition a cesspool where little if any learning takes place. My school has such a high percentage of kids eligible for FARM that everyone gets it, regardless of their actual income. Something like 40% of our students are ELs, and our test scores reflect the impoverished educational backgrounds from which the population comes. I'm sure that suspension and expulsion rates of the schools like mine in our district are higher than those in the affluent areas (we have a few), but for the most part, the hallways and classrooms are orderly. Long before I had them, I would have been content to send my children there. I still would. My point here is that it's too simplistic, IMO, to say that schools in which the majority of students have more stable socio-economic backgrounds are de facto "better." It's been awhile, but when I did my final student teaching in a neighboring district (which home builders love to call 'prestigious' in advertising), what went on in the classroom was not appreciably different than the Title 1 school where I did my initial student teaching.

All of the above has, admittedly, little to do with the premise of this article, but after reading the comments on this piece and some others in recent days, I'm encouraged enough to be more than just a lurker. More people need to be exposed to some of the unsavory truths behind education "reform," and the bankrupt philosophies espoused by people like Michelle Rhee and Arne Duncan. I'm cautiously optimistic that the conversation can be steered away from how and why public education in the US is supposedly "failing" to what its purpose ought to be. Certainly NOT just "higher test scores," I'm convinced.

Posted by: Coachmere | August 10, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Teachers seem to think that they are not worthy of respect. We've been conditioned to think that we should put up with anything--whether it be low salary, lack of supplies, or disrespect from administrators, parents or students --because we are doing what we do "for the kids."
Posted by: musiclady
.................................
I wonder if this is really true of public schools in this nation or simply the failure of recognition of teachers of the two tiers of public schools in this nation.

There are the middle class and affluent public schools, and the inferior poverty public schools in this nation.
______________________
The affluent schools have many of the same problems. It's common for parents to be too busy to be involved or they all expect the teacher to be giving their kids all the attention. Many of them are disdainful of educators because after all, they are only teachers--not doctors, lawyers or wall street tycoons. Wealthy kids often have a sense of entitlement that knows no bounds. I've taught in both kinds of schools and I'll take my diverse title I school over a wealthy suburban school any day!

Posted by: musiclady | August 10, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

coachmere,
is the Title 1 school you teach at in a urban area?
Or what type?

Posted by: edlharris | August 10, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

@Bsall: While I generally agree with you, I do think you have a tendency to overstate the wretchedness of Title 1 schools. I'm starting my 18th year at one (a high school) on Monday, and the chaos and turmoil you describe as typical of such places doesn't exist.
Posted by: Coachmere
................................
The poverty schools that I went to did not have these problems even though my high school later had the distinction of being the first school in NYC to get a metal detector.

I personally know of a Title 1 poverty public schools where in a primary school where there was a problem of disruptive and prone to violence children simply left in normal classrooms. One child was a drain for five years on the education of other children in the class. At one point this child was encouraging other boys to feel the private areas of girls. This child was continuously sent to the principal's office but this had no effect on his behavior. Ultimately he was simply passed on the middle schools.

The fact that the Secretary of Education stated that teachers for teaching in the poverty schools had to be taught class management struck me that this indicated a problem. Why else should teachers going to the poverty schools be taught something different from teachers not going to poverty schools?

I also note that D.C. does not have any policy in regard to disruptive and/or prone to violence children. My conclusion is that teachers on their own are supposed to deal with these problems with classroom management.

I noticed that the evaluation method for teachers contained items for classrooms that were in disorder which I found unusual. In my day if any teacher could not keep a class in order was dismissed. So it appears that now in D.C. this is considered in the same way as a child sleeping in class.

Some teachers have posted comments in regard to the large amount of time spent in bringing a class to order. I saw this as simply the outcome of accepting and tolerating disruptive behavior.

The NAACP and Urban League in their opposition to Race To The Top indicated that they wanted more emphasis placed upon safe schools.

Last years I saw articles in the W Post regarding the claim of teachers that they were penalized for reporting incidents of school violence.

There was also an article in the W. Post where children wanted to stay in the school they were in. One student simply said that this was because he was afraid to go to school he would be required to go to.

The evidence so far is that there is a problem of safety in the Title 1 poverty public schools.

Which schools have these problems or how extensive are the problems is unknown since there surprisingly are no articles specifically dealing with these problems.

But then again we have accepted that skills in class room management is essential in poverty public schools while it is not a skill necessary in middle class and affluent public schools.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 10, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

This is going to be my last year teaching. I have completed 28 and would have gone to 35, but I can no longer accept the role of being someone else's patsy. One thing I have to say. The administrative bullies that tinkle into our educational pool really have nothing to worry about. Most teachers are either too busy to notice or too involved taking potshots at other teachers who have a different opinion. So the bullies win not because they are right, but because teachers (including me) have been taught to be critical of each other and subservient. I really do not think this is a "union" thing because teacher bashing takes place everywhere regardless of unions. It really boils down to whether those that allegedly lead understand that education is a "business" focused on the development of human beings, not widgets. This time next year, I plan on shoving back without the fear of being fired by an educational idiot or quack!

The whole topic of "educational reform" is a joke! (Except for the part that quick fix schemes, and educational garbage has become fast money for the industrial predators in our society.) We have been fixing education through my whole career and to be frank, what needs to be fixed are those that think that our public schools are failing. Schools do not fail. Students fail. Perhaps it is time to address their needs rather than the image created by a test score. Education takes time. Live with it!

Posted by: jdman2 | August 10, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

How many of you making these comments have actually spent time in a classroom? I don't mean just for a minute or hour, but actually seeing what a teacher does for a day or even a week! I take offense to the comment principal are just treating the teachers they way they treat the students. I treat my students as if they were my own. I love, doctor, discipline, mother and teach them. Most of all I ask for and give them respect. I know that if I changed jobs with all of these so called experts who think they can do my job, they would be running back to their jobs and may have a new appreciation for mine.

Posted by: whatzupwiththat
..............................
Do not take it serious. There are the few teacher bashers that can be ignored.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 10, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse

This is going to be my last year teaching. I have completed 28 and would have gone to 35, but I can no longer accept the role of being someone else's patsy.
Posted by: jdman2
....................................
Here a thought of mine for the high mucky muck of educators.

Educators are insane.

Standards are of very little importance.

We need to think beyond the ideas of education of the little red school house.

In 1995 there were commercial software products that would aid children in learning on inexpensive computer systems.

Where are these in the public schools with the billions that were spent of worthless drill programs or expensive computer networks that access the internet?

Only educators could dream up the ideas of expensive drill programs on computers.

Where are the computer labs in primary schools where children can access hundreds of children books on their own and each child can press a mouse to hear the sound of a word.

The technology of this was available in 1995. Thousands of children books can easily be converted to this technology.

We need to start to revolutionize education in the primary schools instead of senseless standards on phonics.

Of course teachers would still be necessary but their role would be to prepare and guide children in each child learning on their own.

Imagine the improvement in education when children see school as a place of self learning.

The reality of education is that when a child has learned to read that child has been enabled for life to learn anything.

The technology that was available in 1995 has to be brought into the primary schools with the goal of every child being able to read in primary school. Imagine primary schools where schools are not measured on on a 4th grade reading level but rather the number of children reading on a college level.

Oh and by the way this same technology can be used with Hispanic children that have difficulty with English.

The expense of this does not require the expense of a moon shoot and would probably far less than the money that has been wasted on worthless computers system in schools.

But this does require imagination and perhaps the educators are not up to that.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 10, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

The affluent schools have many of the same problems. It's common for parents to be too busy to be involved or they all expect the teacher to be giving their kids all the attention. Many of them are disdainful of educators because after all, they are only teachers--not doctors, lawyers or wall street tycoons. Wealthy kids often have a sense of entitlement that knows no bounds. I've taught in both kinds of schools and I'll take my diverse title I school over a wealthy suburban school any day!

Posted by: musiclady
...........................
I do agree with you on "kids often have a sense of entitlement" that I have seen in an upper middle class neighborhood but this is not that common. Imagine it is worse in the affluent neighborhoods. I did not see much disdain for teachers but again this was not the affluent. From my own experience disdain is always to be expected from the wealthy. I always imagine the wealthy in the morning looking at themselves and practicing displaying disdain.

The affluent and wealthy are not noted for their understanding of "there but for the grace of God go I".

Posted by: bsallamack | August 10, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Violence in these schools are high and teachers are penalized from reporting incidents of student violence.

TRUE!

I really do not think it is not a matter of funding but instead an unwillingness to accept the reality of these schools and devise solutions.

VERY TRUE!

Posted by: educationlover54 | August 10, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

White House in dispute with 'professional left'
By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press

The White House was on the defensive Tuesday after press secretary Robert Gibbs lashed out at liberals he dubbed the "professional left," saying some of them should be drug-tested.

Among Gibbs' comments: "I hear these people saying (Obama's) like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested. I mean, it's crazy."

"Is there ever some frustration from anyone who works in this building about the way it's being covered? Sure," Burton said when asked if Gibbs' comments reflected Obama's views.

Good to know the opinion of the President in regard to the critics of Race To The Top which included the NAACP and the Urban league saw as no better as No Child Left Behind and wanted an educational program that included the policies of safe public schools.

The comments of the President last weeks was that critics of Race To The Top were only interested in the status quo.

Now we understand the President really wanted the NAACP and the Urban League to be drug tested.

Surprised that press secretary Robert Gibbs did not tell the liberals that the President is in full support of nation building. So what if it is Afghanistan and not the United States.

REMEMBER NOW. If you are opposed to Race To The Top see your doctor immediately for drug testing.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 10, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Very good job, Valerie.

Posted by: celestun100 | August 10, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

From 7th grade on, I went to school with the children of doctors, lawyers, and other professionals. Most of my classmates' parents had at least some college, if not an actual degree and beyond. The quality of teachers I had was what I suspect is true for any district: a few were amazingly good, and a roughly equal number were guilty of educational malpractice; the majority, however, were simply competent. So when BSall says "But then again we have accepted that skills in class room management is essential in poverty public schools while it is not a skill necessary in middle class and affluent public schools," I'm not sure it's that so much as that children in middle class and affluent schools are much more able to "survive" a bad teacher. Or two. Or three. Which is why I believe that teachers who work in Title 1 schools ought to get some form of "combat pay" after a certain number of years. As has been pointed out, if we continue to move toward using test scores as the SOLE indicator of teacher quality, the percentage of truly awful teachers in high poverty schools will grow, unless we can provide some incentive for the good ones to stay. I try very hard to be a good teacher, and student feedback indicates that I'm mostly successful. I love my school and my students, and the personal satisfaction I derive from working with kids who didn't have the advantages I did has always been enough of a reward. Sadly, I'm beginning to worry that it won't be enough to overcome the increasing criticism that is directed at the staff in schools like mine, from people who have no clue what a truly "effective and highly qualified" teacher looks like.

To edlharris: I'm not sure what the "technical" definition of an urban school is. The population of my city is nearly 500,000 and several years ago we had the distinction of having the highest concentration of poverty in the country. My school is located close to the middle of the metro area.

Posted by: Coachmere | August 10, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Coachmere.
I travel across from DC to the midwest to take and bring home my child from college.
I make sure that I travel the highway as well as the backroads.
Just based on what I see, I imagine that any Title 1 school I see in the rural farmlands of Ohio to be different from the Title 1 schools of Oakland or South Central LA.

I could be wrong as I don't get close enough to examine in depth.

coachmere, bsallamack,
here's an interesting story of two Teach For Americans who went into a poor (and I believe Title 1) school in Washington DC:

On a typical day, DeAngelo (a pseudonym, as are the other children’s names in this and the next paragraph) would throw a wad of paper in the middle of a lesson. Whether I disciplined him or ignored him, his actions would cause Kanisha to scream like an air-raid siren. In response, Lamond would get up, walk across the room, and try to slap Kanisha. Within one minute, the whole class was lost in a sea of noise and fists. I felt profoundly sorry for the majority of my students, whose education was being hijacked. Their plaintive cries punctuated the din: “Quiet everyone! Mr. Kaplowitz is trying to teach!

http://www.city-journal.org/html/13_1_how_i_joined.html

The Washington Post magazine retold this story along with the story of another TFAer at the school.
Here is the online discussion:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/liveonline/03/regular/magazine/r_magazine_fisher040703.htm

Posted by: edlharris | August 10, 2010 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Some more from Jay Mathews:
http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/_washpost-finding_a_lifeline.htm

Posted by: edlharris | August 10, 2010 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Where are the computer labs in primary schools where children can access hundreds of children books on their own and each child can press a mouse to hear the sound of a word.
Bsallamack,
The technology of this was available in 1995. Thousands of children books can easily be converted to this technology.

We need to start to revolutionize education in the primary schools instead of senseless standards on phonics.

Of course teachers would still be necessary but their role would be to prepare and guide children in each child learning on their own.

Imagine the improvement in education when children see school as a place of self learning.

The reality of education is that when a child has learned to read that child has been enabled for life to learn anything.

Bsallamack,
Why do you think technology will do this? This is my goal as a teacher: To get kids to think for themselves etc. Having a computer program read a word to a student? Really, that's revolutionary?

Posted by: tutucker | August 10, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Where are the computer labs in primary schools where children can access hundreds of children books on their own and each child can press a mouse to hear the sound of a word.
Bsallamack,
The technology of this was available in 1995. Thousands of children books can easily be converted to this technology.

We need to start to revolutionize education in the primary schools instead of senseless standards on phonics.

Of course teachers would still be necessary but their role would be to prepare and guide children in each child learning on their own.

Imagine the improvement in education when children see school as a place of self learning.

The reality of education is that when a child has learned to read that child has been enabled for life to learn anything.

Bsallamack,
Why do you think technology will do this? This is my goal as a teacher: To get kids to think for themselves etc. Having a computer program read a word to a student? Really, that's revolutionary?

Posted by: tutucker | August 10, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

This editorial lacks any support of evidence whatsoever for its finding. In fact, it's just complete nonsense! This is just another teacher who wants to teach and collect a paycheck and not be held accountable for delivering student results. Collaboration, consensus and caring school culture are just terms to replace what they really are--slowing things down, listening to whiners and enabling ineffective teachers to remain in the school system. How much of this can we take? As a teacher I am so offended by the teacher who thinks they have a right to dictate to their principal (their boss( what he or she should be doing to move the school. Botton line: if you can't teach in DC under the currect expectations then leave and teach somewhere else--oh, I forgot--that would mean someone would actually have to hire you...good luck...you can't start your interview something like this- "I'm here to teach-I have no clue whether my students will learn beacuse of all their problems. But, if they don't learn it's their fault!" Good luck with that!

Posted by: teacher6402 | August 10, 2010 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Add Thaddeus Lott to the list of bogus bullies. He was the darling of Houston in the 1990's when Rod Paige was superintendent. He was featured on 60 Minutes, Oprah, etc. for his miraculous success in getting his low SES kids at Wesley Elementary to earn high test scores.

As it turned out, kids who went through his school could do nothing but take standardized tests. They couldn't write papers or read books very well. They were so badly prepared for middle school, they dropped out in droves.

Once they were beyond elementary school, even their test scores plummeted. Why? Because of massive systemic cheating encouraged by Lott. A few years ago, some of the teachers finally blew the whistle on him.

This is a specific example of a nationally acclaimed "success" that was used to develop NCLB.

Posted by: aed3 | August 10, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse

@aed3: Where can I find information about the cheating? I have only found articles about the success of Thaddeus Lott. I have come across no news articles regarding the issues that the students had when moving to middle school.

Posted by: musiclady | August 10, 2010 11:40 PM | Report abuse

So when BSall says "But then again we have accepted that skills in class room management is essential in poverty public schools while it is not a skill necessary in middle class and affluent public schools," I'm not sure it's that so much as that children in middle class and affluent schools are much more able to "survive" a bad teacher. Or two. Or three. Which is why I believe that teachers who work in Title 1 schools ought to get some form of "combat pay" after a certain number of years.
Posted by: Coachmere
............................
I agree with you about the combat pay.

But the powers that be are thinking just the reverse and are hiring Teach for America in D.C.

It is all a sham with this administration.

They are never going to make these schools safe or with an environment for teaching.

I repeat my call for Democrats to select another Democratic candidate for President in 2012.

As a liberal I like being called a ineffectual bleeding heart by the right wing nutters and now a member of the professional left by the President. An individual should always be judged by their enemies.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 11, 2010 12:17 AM | Report abuse

Bsallamack,
Why do you think technology will do this? This is my goal as a teacher: To get kids to think for themselves etc. Having a computer program read a word to a student? Really, that's revolutionary?

Posted by: tutucker
.........................
Because with my daughter I saw in 1995 what was being offered by computer technology.

Teaching one child is easy. Teaching a group of children is more difficult.

Teachers would lead and guide the class and then computers could be used for the one on one experience.

Note this not the nonsense idea of drilling but a reading program where the computer is acting almost like a parent ready to give help when it is needed.

No penalty or embarrassment in pressing the mouse to repeat the sound of the word. The computer would keep a record of the child and could offer automatic insight to problems for teacher.

The child would be learning at their own level and there would not be the problem of a class where there is always the problem of which level should be taught at.

Learning would almost be play to children. Once children can read actual physical books can be given to children.

Teachers would be actively participating in this process and would require some retraining.

This should be attempted on a small scale and tested. No need to spend large amounts of money at the start.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 11, 2010 12:30 AM | Report abuse

Oh, I absolutely agree that TPTB at the moment are clueless at best, knowingly and malevolently contributing to the destruction of the public school system at worst. I actively supported Obama in 2008. To say that I'm disappointed by his stance on this particular issue would be an understatement.

Posted by: Coachmere | August 11, 2010 12:36 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: teacher6402
Poor garbage.

The procedure teacher6402 is that you quote items or people that you are criticizing so that others have some idea of what you are talking about. Otherwise people think you are a complete idiot.

Botton line: if you can't do this and make any sense "under the currect expectations then leave".

Posted by: bsallamack | August 11, 2010 12:40 AM | Report abuse

I make sure that I travel the highway as well as the backroads.
Just based on what I see, I imagine that any Title 1 school I see in the rural farmlands of Ohio to be different from the Title 1 schools of Oakland or South Central LA.

I could be wrong as I don't get close enough to examine in depth.
Posted by: edlharris
.........................
One post from another article indicated that the smaller Title 1 schools are handling the problems better. Of course with a smaller population there should be less problem students.

The problem student that I had personal knowledge of was in a rather small city. All the abilities of a natural born gang leader.

Thanks for the documented info on the problem. Nice to know that I have not gone gaga yet.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 11, 2010 12:54 AM | Report abuse

Would like to hear comments or questions on the idea of using computers for aiding in teaching reading.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 11, 2010 12:59 AM | Report abuse

It seems like all those who are in charge of school reform understand little about how students learn. They're still under the assumption that students will respond as behaviorists expect them to and they fail to see the role choice plays in intrinsic motivation.

As well, those who are in charge of school reform don't seem to agree as to what the purpose of school is. How can we reform a system if we do not agree on what the goals of that system should be? Is education merely college training? job training? citizenship training? Is is something to bring out the best in everyone? to create individual thinkers? Is it all these things? Is it none of these things?

Lastly, those who are implementing school reform are implementing plans that they hope will work. There is no evidence that the things the reformers are implementing will actually work. And, again, they'll never work without a clear understanding about what they are supposed to do. (And if raising test scores is the only purpose of the reforms, I'm even happier that my children are not enrolled in public schools.)

Posted by: thesilverback | August 11, 2010 2:25 AM | Report abuse

Would like to hear comments or questions on the idea of using computers for aiding in teaching reading.

Posted by: bsallamack

+++++++++++++++

Totally unnecessary, and probably counterproductive. There was a study done a few years back that showed that the 2 billion dollars a year that schools spend on educational software had no difference in learning outcomes. The money was spent in vein. Smartboards, computers, etc. will never replace a great teacher, paper, pencil, and books, especially with regard to reading instruction.

People should stop looking for miracle cures and quick fixes. Walking in nature, reading great books, calculating and experimenting, bouncing ideas off one another, writing down one's thoughts, making errors, these are what helps a person become educated. Notice no where in that equation do computers, tests, or grades come into play.

Posted by: thesilverback | August 11, 2010 3:24 AM | Report abuse

The title of this article is misleading. It's basically an attack on Joe Clark, but it broadly paints educational reformers as bullies. Imagine if a principal wrote an article broadly painting teachers as bullies.

Without data and evidence to support your claims this piece is basically subjective opinion and personal experience. Many people can cite teachers who are and have been bullies to both children and colleagues. That does not make it true for the majority of teachers.

Posted by: 12345leavemealone | August 11, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

"The title of this article is misleading. It's basically an attack on Joe Clark, but it broadly paints educational reformers as bullies. Imagine if a principal wrote an article broadly painting teachers as bullies."

I disagree - the article describes a principal with the characteristics of a bully. We all pretty much know what a bully is from our own experience. There are bullies in all walks of life. Being a Bully is frowned upon in society and discouraged among children, yet, they exist, wherever the strong want to take advantage of the weak.

Posted by: efavorite | August 11, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Hey educationlover... your statement about how men view women at the job-level was quite one-sided. This is just an observation...Rhee has fired more women than men....Rhee has hired more men than women. So can one imply that she's casting her eyes upon the chosen ones?

Again the story points out the obvious of the old-way versus the new-way. Yes, the old-way was to put out the undesirables and the older-way was not to accept the undesirables. Therefore you had intergration, busing and lawsuits. So, what is happening now...the "application only" has become the sacred ticket. We have designed "specialty schools" where the disguise it to let EVERYONE in but if they don't conform we systematically put EVERYONE out.

Also the Joe Clark lore...when adults viewed the movie-picture, it was not many who said that they wished they had a principal like Joe Clark...there were groups who said they already had a principal exactly like Joe Clark and even more outrageous.

Who doesn't remember the era when that movie was used as a teaching tool for every new principal's training session in this nation? Sad to say those teachers who were former students of the Joe Clark rationale of training...are now the remnants of what were getting as New Leaders for New Schools.

I came up in the era...where the principal had to depend on the "power of the ink pen" to get his or her point across in the most accurate way. Where a carbon-copy was your only evidence of being a bully. LOL

Posted by: PowerandPride | August 11, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

This will be my 3rd year teaching in a Title I school in a area of Va that is considered middle class. And I have taught in schools where the student body ran the gamut: from poverty to upper middle class.

The difference I see...which the so-called reformers neglect to acknowledge...is the kids in the Title I school are much needier (not just intellectually or materialistically, but emotionally). I have never taught in a school with more criers, temper tantrums, and where students feel they own the building.

(I can relate to the comment about one student throwing a piece of paper which ends up disrupting the whole class. And it is not just one person whose behavior must be addressed, it is a whole class...then it starts all over again the next time they come to class.)

This is not fair to those kids who want to learn.

But, I also see some questionable behavior/response on the part of teachers/administrators/counselors. I wonder why they allow themselves to go home and "cry every night" and why many of these students, who are now about to move from elementary to middle school, have been allowed to disrupt the education of others for years.

Is their lack of response due to poor classroom management or is it a reflection of the lack of support from administrators or parents or other faculty? (The Principal was a devisive figure...so is this part of the puzzle?)

There is much, as most of us realize, that must be addressed in order to improve our public schools, but the strategy of administrative bullying and excessive high-stake testing is not going to get at the core of the problem.

[The U. S. now ranks 12th in graduation rates...could it be that high stake testing has, in one area, accomplished something that was predicted? More students dropping out. Is this evidence that high stake testing, sadly, is not working?]

Until the REAL TEACHERS of PUBLIC EDUCATION are included in the discussion...I'm afraid we will see another decade come and go and still be trying to figure out what is wrong.

Posted by: ilcn | August 11, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Phillip.
You can still get the help you may need. You deserve it. They owe it to you.

Posted by: axolotl | August 11, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Silverback...if we all stopped looking for miracles. Then wouldn't we all stunt our growth. I think that we shouldn't stop looking for miracles. I think we should recognize it for what it is and that is; it's an improvement albeit small or monumental. Analogy...what Bell did by inventing the phone was a miracle...but what Apple has done with the recognized miracle is only an improvement. Which for some they can't live without.

I love the statement about going back to the woods to get back with nature. Yeah, the average person right now...will have to use all types of technology (improvements) to fulfill that little miracle.

Posted by: PowerandPride | August 11, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

@music lady: Here in a link to one of the articles. The cheating was common knowledge among anyone familiar with that school at the time. The first suspicions were raised when the central office initiated a followup study of the students' success after going through Wesley. They wanted more positive publicity for the great miracle. But when it became apparent that the kids were underperforming in middle school, the study was quietly swept under the carpet and was a taboo topic in administration. Subsequent scandals have shown that the district doctored dropout rates at many high schools and there were testing irregularities at many schools. Rod Paige's "Houston Miracle" was really the "Houston Mirage" that became the foundation NCLB. Not enough national reporters seem interested in the history of what really happened in Houston, in spite of some very good reporting by a handful of journalists in Texas.


http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/longterm/stories/123104dnmetcheating.add1e.html

Posted by: aed3 | August 11, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

The difference I see...which the so-called reformers neglect to acknowledge...is the kids in the Title I school are much needier (not just intellectually or materialistically, but emotionally). I have never taught in a school with more criers, temper tantrums, and where students feel they own the building.
Posted by: ilcn
...............................
The problem with teachers and Americans is in in accepting the idea that the political leaders are concerned with school reform.

They are not.

The political leaders are simply using the pretense of school reform to furthur their political ambitions.

"Every child deserves an effective teacher in the classroom."

"Teachers in classrooms are responsible for addressing all of the social inequalities for children in a classroom."

"Teachers are responsible for addressing the achievement gaps."

These are the accepted sound bites that simply illustrate the pretense at school reform.

They are as absurd as saying a doctor should cure all his patients.

There is no school reform in this nation but simply those responsible for education simply shifting the blame to teachers in a pretense at concern for public education.

No different than No Child Left Behind.

The United States will spend 28 billion for two years of Afghan policemen while this President pretends that the 4 billion for Race To The Top is all that is required for the problems of public education.

This President is not concerned with public education. He is only concerned with his reelection. To that end he is willing to shift all blame in regard to the problems of public education to teachers as was done by the previous President.

Look at his speeches where there are no mention of poverty or the specific problems of the Title 1 poverty public schools.

His speeches boil down to:
Teachers must do their jobs to fix the problems.

Teachers and Americans need to recognize that there will be no reform in public education until there are political leaders with ideas of real changes in public education and not simply the opportunists willing to blame teachers.

There will be no reform in education until we have a new President that will speak of the problems of the inferior Title 1 poverty public schools and not meaningless sound bites such as the achievement gap.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 11, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Would like to hear comments or questions on the idea of using computers for aiding in teaching reading.

Posted by: bsallamack
+++++++++++++++

thesilverback I am aware of the billions that have been wasted on computers in schools.

My question was in regard to my previous post of a new approach to using computers directly with teachers in an attempt to teach every child in primary schools to read.

Using a blackboard and chalk is not very effective if the individual simply throws the chalk against the blackboard. This should be seen as the characteristic of the wasted billions that were spent on computers for schools.

If you have a chance look at my previous post Posted by: bsallamack | August 10, 2010 7:22 PM

Posted by: bsallamack | August 11, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Bsallamack,
Look that the work of Dr. Richard Allington. Kids need to be reading books that they can read. A computer program doesn't need to do this.
I don't teach reading using a chalk board. I use books to teach reading. I read out loud, I help students learn how to select books, I help students learn how to think at a different level around all types of text.
I use technology for blogging, storing and organizing information, but I don't use it for things that can be done authentically.
A few years back, we practiced e-mailing with the class across the hall. How stupid. We can talk to that class.
Bsallamack,
Please look at the post education reform verses reformers or however that's written. I'm curious to hear your thinking.
Also, look up restorative justice.

Posted by: tutucker | August 11, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I have no problem pushing bad delinquent kids out of mainstream classes. In that way Joe Clark SAVED 2000 kids at the expense of 66 that he pushed out. Seems like a fair tradeoff to me. The city can supply another learning environment to those 66 pushed out, but they have no business in mainstream schools.

Also, the reason why computers have been a failure in schools is because the average 45-50 year old teacher is not smart enough or capable enough to use on without training. You can't teach an old dog new tricks. So they come up with technology curricula like "write a book report in WORD" or "do your math in EXCEL". That's not technology no matter how you spin it. It's a waste of time and a waste of resources.

Meanwhile schools like TJ have teachers who are well trained and smart enough to properly incorporate technology.

Teachers: you're the reason why kids are failing. You're the only constant for the past 30 years of DCPS dysfunction. Mayors, city councils and regimes have come and gone, but the result is the same.

Posted by: FormerMCPSStudent | August 11, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Bsallamack,
Look that the work of Dr. Richard Allington. Kids need to be reading books that they can read. A computer program doesn't need to do this.
I don't teach reading using a chalk board. I use books to teach reading. I read out loud, I help students learn how to select books, I help students learn how to think at a different level around all types of text.
.....................................
Teachers still need to read and work with children. But this idea is for the primary schools and for when children are taught to read.

The computer would simply be a new medium for books just like e readers are today.

The difference would be where the child could use the mouse to hear a word or phrase read out totally by themselves.

This has been available since 1995 and an example is Winnie the Pooh from Disney without the games that are added on.

The program allows a child to read a book. When the child wants to hear the sounds of words a mouse is used.

Yes if a teacher would work all the time with an individual child in reading there would be no need for this with computers. But there is not 30 teachers in a class of 30 students.

Imagine the books of Bill Peet with children reading these books on a computer and later the books of Raoul Dahl.

The idea is do devise a method to allow for the big jump for children into reading.

These ideas are not necessary in the middle class public schools but are for the poverty Title 1 public schools with 56 percent failure rates in 4th grade reading.

A 56th percent failure rate can not be significantly changed by conventional methods.

I agree using email with children is a poor idea as was most of the wasted billions spent on computer technology in public schools. This is like standardized tests in science when children can not read.

Think in terms of the computer programs that help in learning a foreign languages.

Think in terms of chess programs that allow a player to practice their skills.

Now as an adult, think in terms of any electronic book of the plays of Shakespeare where you could use a mouse to point at any phrase and see the foot note associated with that phrase instead of looking at the bottom of the page in a paper book.

The computer technology exists to aid children in learning to read and it has been available since 1995.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 11, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

I have no problem pushing bad delinquent kids out of mainstream classes. In that way Joe Clark SAVED 2000 kids at the expense of 66 that he pushed out. Seems like a fair tradeoff to me. The city can supply another learning environment to those 66 pushed out, but they have no business in mainstream schools.

Also, the reason why computers have been a failure in schools is because the average 45-50 year old teacher is not smart enough or capable enough to use on without training.
Posted by: FormerMCPSStudent
..................................
I also believe that the poverty public schools need to deal with the disruptive and prone to violence.

You are wrong about the billions spent on computers. These computers should have never been purchased in the first place. No one buys a computer unless there a clear gain seen in the purchase. Schools bought computers because the Federal government was handing out money.

This was a failure from day one.

A toaster has more functionality than a computer if you have no clear need and/or use for the computer.

The Federal government has wasted billions on computer systems for public schools without developing any programs for these computer systems.

Computer programs to aid children in learning to read could have easily been developed.

Where was the ten million or less for a program developed by the federal government that could be used freely by every public school?

Unfortunately this requires thought which has been clearly missing in the policies of the Federal government in regard to public education.

If the Department of Defense worked under the same idea as the Federal government in public education there would be millions of computers sitting idly without programs and only suitable for target practice.

The Federal government should have bought toasters for the public schools. They would have been cheaper and of more use.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 11, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Teachers: you're the reason why kids are failing. You're the only constant for the past 30 years of DCPS dysfunction. Mayors, city councils and regimes have come and gone, but the result is the same.

Posted by: FormerMCPSStudent
................................
I disagree. Poverty public schools have been a problem for over 50 years.

The constant of DCPS has been poorly managed and inferior schools. I still do not see any intention on the part of Ms. Rhee to deal with unsafe schools and the disruptive students that are a problem.

Time to stop blaming the foot soldiers that have very little if any control on policy. No one can pretend that the violence in the poverty of schools is because of the teachers.

We do not blame the foot soldiers for our failures in Afghanistan.

Time to stop blaming teachers.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 11, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Bsallamack,
Look that the work of Dr. Richard Allington. Kids need to be reading books that they can read.
Posted by: tutucker
..........................
I looked up Dr. Richard Allington and yes there can be better method of teaching a child to read, but a computer program to aid children to learn to read can also include any method that is effective.

The problem is 56 percent failing rates in 4th grade reading in poverty public schools, and methods for teaching children to read will not fix this problem unless an individual teacher is assigned to work constantly with each student.

New solutions are required.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 11, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Too many politicians want to apply a business model to student achievement, which is why I appreciated this article. A successful student has many levels and competencies. The same ingredients and formulas do not a successful student make. Standardizing curriculum is a great thing because it creates common content goals, but grade level performance has many layers and levels of success. To a child who has never passed a test, a C is a great accomplishment. Just as with many levels of performance, there are many levels that affect student success. Those can be school, teachers, environment, parents, grandparents and role models. There is no one formula for success, but using just standardized test scores tries to say there is. Often you will find that teachers that can tolerate the more troubled children get the most of them in class. There are bad teachers, but that is not just the schools problem. Society, parents, school, media, and distractions all affect student achievement.

Posted by: benathornton1 | August 11, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Bsallamack:

There's no substitute for a human being teaching children how to read--it's not accomplished while isolated and immobilized in front of a screen. Reading, writing, and speaking are all about communication WITH PEOPLE. Language is inherently social. Solid research shows that children learn to read best when it's started with the family and followed up with a variety of rich reading experiences during which they can share ideas, ask questions, and enjoy the company.

Struggling readers need 1:1 time with a real human they trust and who can reassure them with body language, kind words, and a real relationship that computers won't ever match. A bond with a teacher or reading buddy can do much more for a child's self-esteem, going far beyond one skill. Teachers--not computers--can provide specific feedback; that's what they're trained and paid for. Children already spend too much time with technology--actual social skills and a vital learning community are needed before kids can get much from independent assignments.

Words are symbolic representations of enormous complexity that machines can't sense or convey. A reader's tone of voice and facial expression provide crucial clues that can improve a child's pronunciation, comprehension, and fluency.

Reciprocally, teachers need to see and hear their students in person to assess their reading skills and take in a myriad of other clues that non-teachers don't necessarily appreciate. (We learn crucial details about our students--their whole development--throughout the day IF we actually have contact with them. Face time between teachers and students is one of the most precious commodities in school.) Teachers can also assist students with introductory discussions, by modeling comprehension techniques during the readings, and guiding students' deeper explorations via many different activities which can also tie in to other lessons the class is involved with. A real teacher can adapt the lessons on the spot, too, because they know their students' motivations, backgrounds, and needs. A machine can keep score, but that's about it.

You say that using computers more to teach reading "does require imagination and perhaps the educators are not ready for that." Do you really think that parking a child in front of another d@mn machine is CREATIVE?! Creativity is sitting personally with students of all levels and bringing more to the lesson than just the mechanics of it. Creativity is the choice, application, and re-analysis of authentic materials and tasks. Computers have better things to offer than electronic worksheets, and the children and teachers have better things to do.

Posted by: EdgewoodVA | August 11, 2010 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Shupe’s article is worthless.

Posted by: motherseton | August 11, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Bsallamack:

There's no substitute for a human being teaching children how to read--it's not accomplished while isolated and immobilized in front of a screen.

Struggling readers need 1:1 time with a real human they trust and who can reassure them with body language, kind words, and a real relationship that computers won't ever match.

Posted by: EdgewoodVA
.......................
I agree with your first idea and second point. A teacher dedicated to each child constantly to aid that child to read would be far better than any computer program.

But that is impossible in classroom with n students, where n is the limit of the number where a teacher could not give undivided attention to each child while aiding each child to to read.

At one point there has to be recognition that in a classroom there is not a 1 to 1 relationship.

A computer program that aids in learning to read should be seen as a tool. It does not remove the role of a teacher or face time. It simply deals with the fact that total focus on a child can not be given in a classroom with more than n children.

It does though provide a new element in that children can learn on their own when they overcome the basic hurdle.

While some children in a class may be dealing with reading on a 2nd grade level others in the class may be dealing with reading on a higher grade level.

You second point though is a little weak. Every child in a classroom is not struggling to learn to read at the same level. The level of each child is different.

Remember also that we are not speaking of children that have learned to read with their families before entering school.

Also there are many children who learn how to speak in very hostile environments. Of course learning would be better in a non hostile environment but they are able to overcome the hostile environment and learn to speak.

In learning to read I believe that the key is where a child recognizes the words that the child can speak are the symbols on a page.

In regard to "Words are symbolic representations of enormous complexity" I think that you are going a little overboard since any symbol can be a representation of enormous complexity. Think of the symbol for infinity.

"A real teacher can adapt the lessons on the spot, too, because they know their students' motivations, backgrounds, and needs. A machine can keep score, but that's about it."

This would be only with one on one. This does not hold and teachers simply adjust to the "average" of the class which may have very little to do with individual children.

This is not correct since a computer program can be created to react given a finite set. A simple case would be keeping tract of the words that a child has asked for the sound of. The next children book can be selected based upon this list. This does not have to included in the first version of the software but it is possible. In fact this reaction would be better than a teacher reacting to the "average" of the
class.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 11, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Bsallamack:

There's no substitute for a human being teaching children how to read--it's not accomplished while isolated and immobilized in front of a screen.

Posted by: EdgewoodVA
.......................
Continued part 2

Teachers are extremely important but at the same time computer programs can be very useful to aid in assisting children to learn to read. This will be true until teachers develop the ability to instantly split themselves into multiple clones so that they can give one on one attention to all of the students in their class at the same time.

The reality of a classroom has to be recognized.

Each child is different and has vastly different needs.

In teaching a teachers can only teach to the "average" of the class which is a correct teaching methods but this does not mean that this method of dealing with multiple children in a class, is always the best method for dealing with each child.

There is limited amount of face time in a classroom.

Some children are not open so there is not always spontaneous connection in one on one inter reactions.

I fully admit that this idea goes against all current ideas of education. This is an attempt to teach children to love reading. The purpose is not that children can read on a 1st grade level in the 1st grade but for children to read at the highest grade level as possible in the 1st grade through self learning.

Teachers are an essential part of this idea.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 11, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: shoestrade111 | August 11, 2010 11:23 PM | Report abuse

CONTINUED
You say that using computers more to teach reading "does require imagination and perhaps the educators are not ready for that." Do you really think that parking a child in front of another d@mn machine is CREATIVE?! Creativity is
sitting personally with students of all levels and bringing more to the lesson than just the mechanics of it. Creativity is the choice, application, and re-analysis of authentic materials and tasks. Computers have better things to offer than electronic worksheets, and the children and teachers have better things to do.

Posted by: EdgewoodVA
..............................
Yes it does require imagination since I have sat with my child with computer programs in 1995 and seen the possibilities.

Imagination means that one can understand the thought that children at a very young age are fascinated with computers when the programs are interesting, and not some dull drill program that an educator with out any imagination or common sense decided to purchase for a school system.

Imagine if the same lack of imagination and creativity that went into selecting possible movie scripts. Big surprise when movie goers hate the movie.

Apparently when I write of a program developed by Disney in 1995 a supposedly creative and imaginative teacher see this as electronic worksheets.

The reality is that poverty public schools have 56th percent of failures in 4th grade reading.

Some teachers can pretend that new ideas are simply a waste of time but so far all of the current methods of teaching have not worked with 56th percent of failures in 4th grade reading.

Like it not computer programs will be aiding children to learn to read in the future. Teachers will be part of this method.

The only question is how many years of 56th percent of children failing 4th grade reading will occur before it is seen that this idea should be tried.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 11, 2010 11:43 PM | Report abuse

bsallamack:

The creativity of working in the classroom with tutoring software comes from the programmers (I'm married to one, by the way0, and that sort of thing is already in use. The program you're apparently talking about is designed for parents and caregivers to enrich what their teachers are ALREADY doing in the classroom.

You question my creativity and imagination; you have no idea what that means. I taught at-risk toddlers and two-year-olds in a highly-successful intervention program for 14 years. I'm currently in a Title 1 school teaching autistic preschoolers in a program that can make a world of difference...because we start early, we base our instruction on current research and results, and we have the knowledge, skills, and innovation to reach these children in a way that computers can't. Don't get me wrong; we use computers (whoops, we're not married to the past after all) but that's not where the real learning happens.

The facts: low-income students often have trouble reading because of many factors that computers in the classroom don't--and can't--make up for:

1. They are more likely to come from homes where English isn't the first language and their parents' reading skills might be compromised, along with time to read with their kids. Across the income scale, the literacy rates of parents is closely linked to their children's. That's where the programs you're talking about can be helpful--for the parents; they need help before they can help their children.

2. These same children don't have the early exposure to print-rich environments that middle-class kids get years before they register for school, and some of them can't even get safely to a library, if there even is one nearby in the first place.

3. Lower-income students experience a greater summer backslide in reading--roughly 80%, which middle-income kids don't usually experience. Lower-income families can't always make up for the loss of that in-class time.

4.Children who have greater backslides have a harder time catching up, which can set them on a snowballing track. Those summer months add up; by the time a low-skilled reader reaches fourth grade, they've possibly lost a full 12 months' worth of instruction time.

What works? In counties and states that have improved their reading scores, it's because of more time with reading coaches, instructional assistants or even volunteers, a greater focus on assessment from the teachers--leading to more individualized instruction--and more reading in other subjects. They also raise the standards and accountability of teachers and principals.

I refer to computers as electronic worksheets because in the early years, they're useful for practice. All kinds of educational software is already in use in the schools, but it's an accessory, a supplement. Teachers already know what works, and in well-supported schools, they're applying it and succeeding nicely.

Posted by: EdgewoodVA | August 12, 2010 3:29 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: EdgewoodVA

The program you're apparently talking about is designed for parents and caregivers to enrich what their teachers are ALREADY doing in the classroom.
................................
The programs I am referring to are to allow a computer to take the place and improve on a physical books.

Imagine children roaming in a room of physical children books where the books have the power to pronounce a word when a child presses on the word, or to automatically read a line or a story.

The books still have all the drawings in color of children books. Hispanic children with difficulty in English can even hear words in Spanish.

These programs are for a normal classroom of children such as exists in the poverty public schools and not for special education. Special Ed may find some use for these programs but the programs are designed to maximize the benefit for the majority of children as possible.

The programs allow children to learn at their own levels since there are multiple books and the programs keep track of a child's progress to use in the selection of the next book.

Some features of the programs go into effect when a teacher decides it is time to use these features, such as simple tests to indicate when a child should advance. The programs can also inform a teacher when a child has problems.

The goal is not for children to only learn to read but also for children to love the idea of reading. This love is the key factor in reading since it is the constant reading of new books that allow children to obtain the benefits of reading.

My background is from the lower classes so I am aware of the problems of poverty and public education.

"Reading coaches, instructional assistants or even volunteers", may be effective but I am more concerned with ideas that are economically feasible. The coaches, etc. may not be qualified. It is easy to speak of the benefit of one on one answers but the costs are a problem and there are no guarantees of the ability of these individuals. I do not see the Federal government sending out reading coaches to American homes to reach children at the best time for teaching children to read. I know this is sometimes done with special education but even this is only a limited basis.

Besides this is simply saying a one on one relationship with a teacher and a child is the best method to teach. This is true but does not deal with the reality of classrooms with 1 teacher.

Computer programs that aid in children learning to read are the answer for classrooms with multiple children with different skill levels.

Since these will be in a computer reading lab extra staff can be involved since this resource will be used by the entire school. If the method is effective it might be better to have two or more labs. The lab should also have a separate section with a large number of books where children that have improved can even read and enjoy physical books.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 12, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Teachers already know what works, and in well-supported schools, they're applying it and succeeding nicely.

Posted by: EdgewoodVA
..................................
This is not true for the poverty public schools.

Also your "well-supported schools" is meaningless. Does this mean that a school with a child that requires 4 million dollars for primary education will spend 4 million dollars for this child?

Just because computers and software programs are in schools now is meaningless also. Most of the expense was a simple waste of money. In fact there will be more billions spent on the worthless programs to evaluate teachers on test scores when this is mathematically impossible.

"The facts: low-income students often have trouble reading because of many factors that computers in the classroom don't--and can't--make up for:"

Nice to know this. Apparently though you have not considered the large failure rates that appears to indicate that teachers are not making up for the problems of poverty children in learning to read.

I see a closed mind.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 12, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

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