Ravitch, Darling-Hammond, Damon

Save Our Schools headliners please crowd
By

The heroes of teachers’ rebellion against No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and high-stakes standardized tests fired up the thousands of teachers at the Save Our Schools March in Washington on Saturday.

“We protest the imposition of business values in education. We protest the idea that principals and teachers will work harder if they’re offered bonuses and if they live in fear of being fired,” author and education historian Diane Ravitch told those assembled at the Ellipse preceding their march to the White House. “Carrots and sticks are for donkeys, not professionals.”

As many as 8,000 marchers – estimates varied – came from across the nation to voice their dissent against federal policies of the Bush and Obama administrations and to call for equitable funding of public education. Organized by Oakland Unified science teacher Anthony Cody, four days of events ended Sunday with a conference to determine the next steps in organizing. (Go here for a video of the three-hour march on Saturday.)

In addition to Ravitch, speakers included author Jonathan Kozol, New York educator Deborah Meier, noted author and Stanford University School of Education professor Linda Darling-Hammond, and actor Matt Damon, whose mother is an activist and  childhood development professor at Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass.

The remarks of Darling-Hammond, Ravitch, and Damon at the march follow.

Linda Darling-Hammond

“…We are here because we are committed to a strong public education system that works for all our children. We are here because we want to prepare children for the 21st century world they are entering, not for an endless series of multiple-choice tests that increasingly deflect us from our mission to teach them well. We are here to protest the policies that produce the increasingly segregated and underfunded schools so many of our children attend, and we are here to represent the parents, educators, and community members who fight for educational opportunity for them against the odds every day.

“We are here to say it is not acceptable for the wealthiest country in the world to be cutting millions of dollars from schools serving our neediest students; to be cutting teachers by the tens of thousands; to be eliminating art, music, PE, counselors, nurses, librarians, and libraries (where they weren’t already gone, as in California); to be increasing class sizes to 40 or 50 in Los Angeles and Detroit.

“It is not acceptable to have schools in our cities and poor rural districts staffed by a revolving door of beginning and often untrained teachers, many of whom see this as charity work they do on the way to a real job. And it is not acceptable that the major emphasis of educational reform is on bubbling in Scantron test booklets, the results of which will be used to rank and sort schools and teachers, so that those at the bottom can be closed or fired – not so that we will invest the resources needed to actually provide good education in these schools.

It is not acceptable to have schools in our cities and poor rural districts staffed by a revolving door of beginning and often untrained teachers, many of whom see this as charity work they do on the way to a real job

“We are here to challenge the aggressive neglect of our children. With 1 out of 4 living in poverty – far more than in any other industrialized country (nearly double what it was 30 years ago); a more tattered safety net – more who are homeless, without health care, and without food security; a more segregated and inequitable system of public education, in which the top schools spend 10 times more than the lowest spending; we nonetheless have a defense budget larger than that of the next 20 countries combined and greater disparities in wealth than any other leading country. We have produced a larger and more costly prison system than any country in the world (we have 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent  of its inmates), populated primarily by high school dropouts on whom we would not spend $10,000 a year when they were in school, but we will spend more than $40,000 a year when they are in prison – a prison system that is now directly devouring the money we should be spending on education. …

“And while many politicians talk of international test score comparisons, they rarely talk about what high-performing countries like Finland, Singapore, and Canada actually do: They ensure that all children have housing, health care, and food security. They fund their schools equitably. They invest in the highest-quality preparation, mentoring, and professional development for teachers and school leaders, completely at government expense. They organize their curriculum around problem-solving and critical thinking skills. And they test students rarely (in Finland, not at all) – and almost never with multiple-choice tests.

“… None of these countries uses test scores to rank and sort teachers – indeed the Singaporean minister of education made a point of noting at the recent international summit on teaching that they believe such a practice would be counterproductive – and none of them rank and punish schools; indeed several countries forbid this practice. They invest in their people and build schools’ capacity to educate all their students.

… “Our leaders seek to solve the problem of the poor by blaming the teachers and schools that seek to serve them, calling the deepening levels of poverty an “excuse,” rewarding schools that keep out and push out the highest-need students, and threatening those who work with new immigrant students still learning English and the growing number of those who are homeless, without health care, and without food.

“Are there lower scores in under-resourced schools with high-need students? Fire the teachers and the principals. Close the schools. Don’t look for supports for their families and communities, equitable funding for their schools, or investments in professional learning. Don’t worry about the fact that the next schools are – as researchers have documented – likely to do no better. If the banks are failing, we should fire the tellers. [And whatever you do, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.]

“But public education has a secret weapon: the members of communities and the profession like yourselves who are committed first and foremost to our children and who have the courage to speak out against injustice… This takes considerable courage – of the kind that has caused each of you to be here today. Remember, as Robert F. Kennedy said:

“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.

“Thank you for each ripple of hope you create – for each and every time you do what is right for children. Thank you for your courage and your commitment. It is that courage and commitment that will, ultimately, bring our country to its senses and save our schools. Keep your hand on the plow …. Hold on!”

Diane Ravitch

Her remarks, punctuated with applause and shouts, can be found here on YouTube.

“This is a historic day. I’m a historian; there has never been a spontaneous, grassroots organization of teachers, parents, and students all coming together to say ‘save our schools.’

“Today we’re together, all of us, parents, students, school leaders; promise yourself you will never forget this day. Today we join to protest the status quo, the status quo of high-stakes testing, the status quo of attacks on the teaching profession, the status quo of privatization. The status quo is wrong. Don’t let them say you’re defending the status quo; the status quo stinks!

“We’re here today to protest No Child Left Behind and the Race to the Top, which are the same thing. Today we protest the mindless closing of public schools, their communities’ treasure. We protest punishing schools simply because they enroll large numbers of high-needs children. We protest the wholesale firing of principals and teachers under the euphemism of turning them around and transformation.

“We’re here to insist the public schools are a public trust; they’re not shoe stores. We insist when children have low test scores they need help, they need attention; they don’t need to have their school closed.

“We protest. We protest the billions and billions spent on tests, the billions spent on test prep, the billions spent on test security. And that’s not enough, more billions for test security. We protest the imposition of business values in education. We protest the idea that principals and teachers will work harder if they’re offered bonuses and if they live in fear of being fired. Carrots and sticks are for donkeys, not professionals.

“We protest the idea of turning education into a race. Education is a right, not a race. Races have one or two winners and everyone else loses. Our goal is to prepare all children to be winners in their own lives. No losers. We protest the federal government’s insistence on evaluating teachers by student test scores; it’s wrong.

“We protest the idea that state legislatures have the wisdom to know how to evaluate teachers; it’s unprofessional. We are here to stand up for basic American values. We speak for millions of parents, teachers, children, school leaders. We speak for the towns and the cities and the villages and the communities of America which depend on their local public schools. And their teachers will be there long after these terrible ideas have bitten the dust.

We protest the idea of turning education into a race. Education is a right, not a race. Races have one or two winners and everyone else loses. Our goal is to prepare all children to be winners in their own lives.

“Free public education, open to all, with no lottery, is a cornerstone of our democracy. The shame of our nation is that we lead the developed world in child poverty.

(Leads the crowd in chant of Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!  Shame! Shame!)

“And if you look at the latest international test scores, our schools that are low-poverty schools are number one in the world!  They’re ahead of Finland, they’re ahead of Korea. Number one, the schools that are less than 10 percent poor, and the schools that are 25 percent poverty are equal to the schools of Finland and Korea, the world leaders.

“Our problem is poverty, not our schools.

“The federal government should support equity for our neediest students. All students, regardless of their origin, their neighborhood, whoever they are, should receive a great education, the same kind of education that children get at Sidwell Friends just a few miles from here. An education that includes the arts and history and geography and civics and foreign languages and physical education and health and literature and languages. That’s what we want for all of our children.

“Education policy should be designed by educators, not by politicians!

“Every school in America should have the resources it needs to succeed for its children. We call on Congress to support programs that help children arrive in school ready to learn. Prenatal care for poor pregnant women. That alone would reduce the learning disabilities by a third, at least. High-quality early childhood education. Secretary Duncan, the achievement gap begins before children arrive in school for the first day.

“We march today to support the dignity of the education profession and the importance of families as educators. Let us go home to our communities, let us stand together with civic leaders, with local business leaders, with community leaders, with our parents, our teachers, our administrators, and everyone who cares about our children and our future.

“We are many, they are few!

“Great schools can never be built on a foundation of fear, punishment, and threats. Let us pledge instead today to build schools that reflect the best of our democratic heritage. Let us strive for excellence and insist on equity. Let us build schools that reflect our love of children, our love or learning, and our belief in the highest ideals of education.

“We shall persist and we shall prevail.  Thank you so much.”

Matt Damon

“I was raised by a teacher. My mother is a professor of early childhood education. And from the time I went to kindergarten through my senior year in high school, I went to public schools. I wouldn’t trade that education and experience for anything.

“I had incredible teachers. As I look at my life today, the things I value most about myself — my imagination, my love of acting, my passion for writing, my love of learning, my curiosity — all come from how I was parented and taught.

“And none of these qualities that I’ve just mentioned — none of these qualities that I prize so deeply, that have brought me so much joy, that have brought me so much professional success — none of these qualities that make me who I am … can be tested.

You have an army of regular people standing right behind you, and our appreciation for what you do is so deeply felt. We love you, we thank you, and we will always have your back.

“I said before that I had incredible teachers. And that’s true. But it’s more than that. My teachers were empowered to teach me. Their time wasn’t taken up with a bunch of test prep — this silly drill-and-kill nonsense that any serious person knows doesn’t promote real learning. No, my teachers were free to approach me and every other kid in that classroom like an individual puzzle. They took so much care in figuring out who we were and how to best make the lessons resonate with each of us. They were empowered to unlock our potential. They were allowed to be teachers.

“Now don’t get me wrong. I did have a brush with standardized tests at one point. I remember because my mom went to the principal’s office and said, ‘My kid ain’t taking that. It’s stupid, it won’t tell you anything and it’ll just make him nervous.’ That was in the ’70s when you could talk like that.

“I shudder to think that these tests are being used today to control where funding goes.

“I don’t know where I would be today if my teachers’ job security was based on how I performed on some standardized test. If their very survival as teachers was based not on whether I actually fell in love with the process of learning but rather if I could fill in the right bubble on a test. If they had to spend most of their time desperately drilling us and less time encouraging creativity and original ideas; less time knowing who we were, seeing our strengths and helping us realize our talents.

“I honestly don’t know where I’d be today if that was the type of education I had. I sure as hell wouldn’t be here. I do know that.

“This has been a horrible decade for teachers. I can’t imagine how demoralized you must feel. But I came here today to deliver an important message to you: As I get older, I appreciate more and more the teachers that I had growing up. And I’m not alone. There are millions of people just like me.

“So the next time you’re feeling down, or exhausted, or unappreciated, or at the end of your rope; the next time you turn on the TV and see yourself called “overpaid;” the next time you encounter some simple-minded, punitive policy that’s been driven into your life by some corporate reformer who has literally never taught anyone anything, please know that there are millions of us behind you. You have an army of regular people standing right behind you, and our appreciation for what you do is so deeply felt. We love you, we thank you, and we will always have your back.”

Tagged as: , , ,

27 Comments

  1. While I share the revulsion to the apparent reflex these days to say “fire ‘em if they don’t succeed” the answer is not to decry testing or accountability because that isn’t going away.  If anything teachers should welcome some objective measures of performance because the alternative is far, far worse.  The IMPACT program is just a way of getting rid of teachers based on the arbitrary evaluations of self-described experts on teaching.
     
    Darling-Hammond seems to have taken up Ravitch’s method of cherry-picking and misrepresenting data to “prove” their point by selecting Finland, Singapore, and Canada as poverty free zones.  The Wikipedia entry on world poverty by country is here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_percentage_of_population_living_in_poverty
     
    The “Factbook” poverty rates aren’t available for all countries so let’s look at the poverty rates and PISA scores for those that are (Country – Pisa Score – Poverty Rate):
     
    Korea – 539 -15% Poverty
    Canada – 524 – 9.4%
    Japan – 520 – 15.7%
    Netherlands – 508 – 10.5%
    Belgium – 506 – 15.2%
    Estonia – 501 – 18.7%
    Switzerland – 501 – 7.4%
    Poland – 500 – 17%
    US – 500 – 12%
    Germany – 497 – 11%
    Ireland – 496 – 5.5%
    France – 496 – 6.2%
     
    You can enter this into a spread sheet and run a correlation coefficient but it is equally clear by just eyeballing it that there is no correlation between poverty and PISA scores.
     
    The idea that students in other countries don’t take high stakes standardized tests is a total fabrication – it is just that the high stakes are for the student not the teacher.  See:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Japan
    See also my description of the Japanese educational system in an earlier TOP-ed post here:
    http://toped.svefoundation.org/2011/07/20/out-of-frustration-theyll-march/comment-page-1/#comments
     
    Standardized tests are a fact of life – ask anyone who wants to get into college, med school, law school, or the military.  The teaching credential test in California is a standardized test.  And there is accountability for professionals in terms of job security and salary – ask any lawyer about billable hours, or engineer about job security, or military staff about the jobs available to them based on standardized tests.
     
    The sad fact is that we don’t really know what makes a good teacher so we can’t really evaluate whether what a teacher is doing effective or not except by the results from testing.   The value-added method that the LA Times showcased demonstrated that even the most dedicated teachers were not very effective and they were doing everything they could and taking all the advanced certification classes available.  It also showed teacher effectiveness was not related to student family income.  High poverty areas had great teachers and low-poverty areas had not-so-great ones.  What is really needed is determine what makes a good teacher and the highlight on teaching accountability is FINALLY getting ed schools and foundations to actually try to figure that out.  Until the ed schools stop awarding tenure based on useless theoretical papers and put their resources to figuring out what actually WORKS in the classroom, no teacher should be fired for anything other than gross dereliction of duty – as is the case now.
    I am starting to think of demagogues like Ravitch and now Darling-Hammond as leading a “rhetoric-based community” much like the “faith-based community” that Bush-II used to talk about.  Those of us stuck in the real world have to confront data, not just cherry-picked talking points.

    Report this comment for abusive language, hate speech and profanity

  2. To me (someone who strongly agrees with Ravitch’s and Darling-Hammond’s messages) this is a key point: “The idea that students in other countries don’t take high stakes standardized tests is a total fabrication – it is just that the high stakes are for the student not the teacher.” That’s clearly true. I’d say that everyone at the SOS March would agree that it’s the student taking the test who should be impacted by the results of the test.
     
    I think it’s sometimes shorthand, or carelessness, that leads opponents of the current fire-the-teacher-close-the-school thinking not to make that distinction. Also, sometimes we do see people making points that are overly inside baseball, understood by those with significant knowledge and incomprehensible otherwise. An example was when Ravitch commented that she’d like to see KIPP take over an entire school district. Her point (a challenge calling out KIPP for cherry-picking) was obvious to me and others who follow ed reform closely, but baffled some listeners.
     
    For the record, the value-added method that the L.A. Times used (in violation of professional and ethical standards of journalism) has been discredited and refuted by every possible expert and authority except those whose paychecks are provided by the education-reform industry. (Also for the record I disagree that Darling-Hammond and Ravitch are demagogues who are ignoring data — it’s the so-called reformers whose ideas are not supported by data.)

    Report this comment for abusive language, hate speech and profanity

  3. Demogogues are an apt description of the speakers featured at the demonstration….”socialist demogogues”, calling for more government intervention which would only be administered by the Federal Government whose education programs  they portend to oppose.

    It is too bad teachers are lured into protesting the “script” instead of the “author” of it on the national level, The Department of Education itself.  It is teachers and educators who should be lobbying and calling for getting rid of the Department of Education.  National testing, Common Core Standrds, et al are inevitable results of national planning, programming and budgeting.  But neither the protestors nor the “demogogues” they cheered, called for doing away with the source of their objections, but instead called for more  and bigger government.   Unless and until teachers and others understand you can’t have Federal Funding without Federal control, this kind of protest will not remove the noose, but may indicate to the Federal planners that a different model to complete the nationalizing/internatinalizing education will have to be speeded up as the NCLB, the concept of charter schools, commom core standards and other transitional means run their course  toward the end agenda of Distance Learning.  Teachers need to grasp the idea that Distance Learning is in the wings before planned extinction of  classroom environments in which teachers themselves will be expendable  and their jobs outsourced and offshored.

    Report this comment for abusive language, hate speech and profanity

  4. Is this the same Darling-Hammond who’s spent most of her recent energies angling for grants and plum positions in the Race to the Top federally directed mandatory testing of all students, one of whose mandates is to assess teachers with student scores?   And she’s now angling to be a populist leader of  teachers?  Now that takes gall!

    Report this comment for abusive language, hate speech and profanity

  5. Caroline,  the line of yours “discredited and refuted by every possible expert and authority except those whose paychecks are provided by the education-reform industry” seems to be both “ad hominem” and circular.  Two logical errors in a single phrase, unless I am mistaken (certainly possible):  “ad hominem” because it only accepts as valid the opinions of those characterized by you as accepting paychecks from people you approve of; circular because if they agree with you they are valid and if they disagree with you they are invalid.   You also omit any references so we can independently evaluate your thesis.  I look forward to supporting evidence.
     
    To balance your characterization of KIPP schools here is Valerie Strauss’s blog with a letter from a KIPP administrator who is also a product of Teach for America:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/a-response-from-kipp/2011/06/10/AGXWzRSH_blog.html
    I forgot to provide a site  for PISA test results:  www.pisa.oecd.org
     
     
    Mary, you are quite correct – them that pays the bills calls the tune you dance to.  Do without Federal money and you can ignore their rules.  Do without state money and you can ignore their rules.  Do entirely without any public money and you can ignore the wishes of people that in aggregate elected the state and federal legislators that passed laws you dislike.  Or you might think about what the people are looking for when they elected those people and address those issues – a majority of whom seem to like charter schools and generally buy a house largely based on what the published school scores are.

    Report this comment for abusive language, hate speech and profanity

  6. My dictionary describes “professionalism as “the methods, manner or spirit of a profession”. Teachers profess to being professionals and are referred as such in this article. Sadly, actions of today’s teachers do not meet the standards of a professional. Federal education laws lower the bar of knowledge. Where are teachers and administrators demonstrating against the demeaning of their industry? Where are the objections to the stripping away of academic subjects and methods in favor of social training. Where is the study that challenges teachers colleges content and objectives. Education problems are deep and have widened since the Federal Department of Education was established. Education has been usurped by collective forces. Money is not the problem. Until a serious return to knowledge based education, starting at the college level, begins, there will be nothing but fluff, division in the ranks and more millions spent on tweaks promising the moon but accomplishing nothing.
    Controlling organizations in education are getting exactly what they have planned. John Dewey forces must be purged from the system and replaced by leaders truly interested in providing students with the tools they need to survive and build both themselves and the country.
     

    Report this comment for abusive language, hate speech and profanity

  7. Well, I know Wikipedia isn’t authoritative, but still: Ad hominem ” is not always fallacious; in some instances, questions of personal conduct, character, motives, etc., are legitimate and relevant to the issue.”

    I’ll restate my point. Many experts have stated that the value-added method applied by the L.A. Times in its teacher-evaluation project is not a methodologically sound way to evaluate teachers. I haven’t seen any who defended that method who weren’t employed by one or another organization that’s part of what’s currently viewed as the education-reform movement.

    If the PR person for Applebee’s says Applebee’s has the best food in the country and recommends that we all eat at Applebee’s tonight, we know to view that statement through a certain lens, because the person is paid by Applebee’s to say that. If I pointed that out, it would be “ad hominem” in the exact same way, but it would be perfectly valid.

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.” — Upton Sinclair

    Report this comment for abusive language, hate speech and profanity

  8. Caroline,
     
    ” I haven’t seen any who defended that method who weren’t employed by one or another organization that’s part of what’s currently viewed as the education-reform movement.”
     
    Ignoring the obvious falsity of your statement — I, for one, defended them and I am not employed by any educational organization, whether reform or anti-reform — I would like to logically extend this argument of yours.
     
    Would “I haven’t seen any who defended anti-competitive and coercive public education methods who weren’t employed by public schools or another organization that’s part of  the government-education complex” work for you? Just wondering.
     

    Report this comment for abusive language, hate speech and profanity

  9. Have to think about that one. If an Applebee’s employee said Applebee’s was the best place to eat, but promoting Applebee’s as PR wasn’t specifically what they were paid to do, I’d say that would be a gray area. But fair enough, Ze’ev. I was referring to expert sources quoted in news reports and so on.

    Report this comment for abusive language, hate speech and profanity

  10. I see. “Expert” sources. I spent a couple of years at the U.S. Department of Education supervising its Policy and Program Studies Service (http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/opepd/ppss/index.html) that — among others — collected data and published evaluation reports on exactly these types of questions. Is this “expert” enough, or do you think one needs to be at least a former copy editor in a general newspaper to gain sufficient expertise? Just wondering.

    Report this comment for abusive language, hate speech and profanity

  11. Countries by poverty and CHILDREN living in poverty are 2 different things. 1 in 4 children live in poverty in this country, and in Chicago, it’s closer to 42% now. The Finland is 1/4 that number, Korea 1/2.

    Report this comment for abusive language, hate speech and profanity

  12. To be an elementary school teacher in a public school in CA you have to:
    1) take the CBEST, the CSET and the RICA (all multiple choice + essay based tests)
    2) get a preliminary credential, which represents 50 post-BA units and is   for up to 5 years
    3) complete the new teacher induction program, which represents 2 years and another 10 units equivalent and must be completed in those 5 years
    4)  complete 150 hours of professional development simultaneously to apply for the clear “finished” credential, and 150 hours every 5 years
    5) complete whatever other additional training is required by the state and NCLB articles, which in the last 20 years has included Ryan/CLAD, GLAD and others specific for job titles.
    And after all that, MANY teachers go on to get a Masters (30 more units), an additional credential (more classes, more testing), and even aim for National Board certification.  It is not atypical that after 10 years, a teacher would have 90 post-BA units.  A Boalt graduate would have 85 units and two tests, the LSAT and the bar exam, for their JD.  The path to being a special ed teacher looks more like a medical doctor with a specialty in time and training to a clear credential.
    JUST EXACTLY WHAT would it take before you’d consider a teacher a professional?  Because teachers do all the above AND treat children with snot/illness/bathroom accidents and more dignity every day.

    Report this comment for abusive language, hate speech and profanity

  13. I don’t recall reading anything so depressing. How can these speakers, Cody and the fellow travelers be so blind? Testing may not be a panacea, but to say it’s in fact worthless, that the problem just needs more money thrown at it, flies in the face of the facts.
    Read it and weep:  Ravitch, Darling-Hammond, and Matt Damon
     
    CARPE DIEM: Education Spending Doubled, Stagnant Test Scores
    http://mjperry.blogspot.com/2009/09/education-spending-doubled-stagnant.html
    Since 1970, inflation adjusted public school spending has more than doubled. Over the same period, achievement of students at the end of high school has stagnated according to the Department of Education’s own long term National Assessment of Educational Progress (see chart above). Meanwhile, the high school graduation rate has declined by 4 or 5%, according to Nobel laureate economist James Heckman.

    Report this comment for abusive language, hate speech and profanity

  14. In addition to the comment that the poverty rates cited by Michael G are for the entire population, not children, and that we have about 20% of children in the US in poverty, I’d point out that most of those PISA scores are not significantly different.
     
    Sure, on the list, you see the US ranked 9/12. But, looking at the scores, what I see there is that Korea, Canada, and Japan fell in one bracket that was pretty similar, and every other nation fell into a second bracket that was pretty similar. The difference between 501 and 500 is certainly not statistically significant, and yet +/- 4 points would reshuffle all but the top 3.

    Report this comment for abusive language, hate speech and profanity

  15. 1. The prevailing philosophy of the SOS marchers and speakers is not that testing is worthless. It’s that high-stakes testing, with the stakes being punishment or rewards for the teachers and schools rather than the test-takers, is harmful. Corollary views are that bubble-in tests are less-effective gauges of student mastery of subject matter, and that EXCESSIVE testing is counterproductive.
     
    2. If “throwing money at education” does no good, why do most of the voices of reform send their kids to schools that cost $30K/kid/year and up? I just saw Whitney Tilson’s kids’ school named and looked it up — I think it was $37K. And of course one of the primary themes of the march is that those schools operate on philosophies directly counter to the policies advocated by the so-called reformers. I have a problem with advocates espousing one kind of school for THOSE kids — bare-bones funding, regimented practices, beginner teachers, strict-basics curriculum, lots of tests, large classes — and a wonderfully nurturing, creative, rich, amply funded environment for their own kids.
     
    3. I don’t have the bandwidth right now to go research high school grad rates, though I would place a large bet that the claim that they’ve fallen since 1970 would readily be debunked. I graduated from high school in Mill Valley in 1971, and at that time and even in that place, it was the norm for working-class and poor kids to drop out of high school at 16 to go to work. There no crusades to keep them in school. But that’s anecdotal and based on my memory. I do know that the high school graduation rate only reached 50% around World War II — one source is Nicholas Lemann’s book “The Big Test.”
     
     

    Report this comment for abusive language, hate speech and profanity

  16. Had to look.
    “Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States, 1972-2008″
    National Center for Education Statistics
    “Status completion”rates among 18-24-year-olds nationwide — that includes GEDs etc.
    1972 — 82.8%
    2006 — 87.8%
     
    No, it doesn’t go back to 1970 and I don’t know why it says 2008 but only gives 2006.

    Report this comment for abusive language, hate speech and profanity

  17. In 1970, there was no legal obligation for public schools to educate disabled and special needs students as we understand it today.
     
    In 1970, our expectations of students and their academic achievements were dramatically lower. Minority kids especially were shut out from a lot of the upper level classes.
     
    In 1970, we did not do as much standardized testing. :-)
     
    And, the rate of inflation – which is a national measure – does not reflect the way housing and health insurance costs of skyrocketed. When you compare teacher salaries to other salaries for similar education levels, you see them still below those levels. Teachers are perhaps less underpaid relative to other professionals than they were in 1970, though.
    Since 1970,

    Report this comment for abusive language, hate speech and profanity

  18. Wow, that’s full of typos and weird lost sentences. Sorry!

    Report this comment for abusive language, hate speech and profanity

  19. Caroline: ‘If “throwing money at education” does no good, why do most of the voices of reform send their kids to schools that cost $30K/kid/year and up?’
     
    Recognizing this as a typical populist bait I will still pick it up.
     
    Rich people send their children to private schools mostly for the same reason that rich people travel first-class paying 10X over economy tickets: because it makes them feel good and they can afford it. Both bring them more or less at the same time to the same end-point, but the experience on the way is very different.
     
    A more relevant question is why such a large number of *teachers* do not send their kids to public schools. Teachers tend not to be rich and their choices of non-public schools tend to be more along the $10-15K annual costs rather than $35-50K, yet they still do it. Why? Clearly not because the spending per student is  higher there — often quite the opposite — but because they have first-hand awareness of the inefficiency, unresponsiveness, and the frequent curricular wrongheadedness, of the typical public school.
     
    In any case, if Caroline’s argument that low per/pupil spending in public schools drives people to private schools, we would see a low private school enrollment in the North-East, and high everywhere else. What we see is just the opposite. And with DC being the poster case, with the highest per student spending in the nation, and with parents trying to escape it in droves.

    Report this comment for abusive language, hate speech and profanity

  20. Oops… last paragraph should have been:
     
    In any case, if Caroline’s argument that low per-pupil spending in public schools drives people to private schools WAS CORRECT, we would …

    Report this comment for abusive language, hate speech and profanity

  21. 1. I know quite a few people who send their kids to $30K private schools, including friends and relatives. (Undoubtedly many posters here are among them.) None of those whom I know appear to believe that they’re blowing money just to pursue lavish luxury. They truly believe the education they’re paying for is what their kids need; many have told me it’s to get their kids out of the bubble-in test environment and ensure that they get art, music and other enrichments. Also, many high-net-worth people I know are very savvy with their money and simply wouldn’t blow it on what they felt was a frivolous luxury (including first-class air travel, for that matter). So I dispute that.

    2. I also dispute the notion that teachers know better than anyone how bad public schools are and thus avoid them. There used to be a supposed statistic widely quoted among public-education opponents from a report by a reformy type whom I can only remember as Denis (French pelling). It purported to show that teachers disproportionately choose private schools. Only when the data — such as they are — were broken out by education and income level, teachers didn’t disproportionately choose private schools. (Even though teachers make less than other professions that require equivalent educational credentials, they still can’t be lumped with the very poor, obviously.)  In challenged, high-poverty urban school districts, educated middle-class people are more likely to choose private school, and teachers are among them.  In suburbia, you’ll find that teachers are as likely as everyone else in their social class to send their kids to public school.

    3. That wasn’t my argument, Ze’ev, so don’t twist my words. “….if Caroline’s argument that low per-pupil spending in public schools drives people to private schools was correct…” My point is that the kind of enriched, creative, nurturing education the so-called reformers want for THEIR kids –as opposed to the harsh, regimented, gritty, bare-bones environment they advocate for other people’s kids — costs $30K.  That’s not the same as your distorted version.

    Report this comment for abusive language, hate speech and profanity

  22. Caroline: ” I know quite a few people who send their kids to $30K private schools, including friends and relatives. (Undoubtedly many posters here are among them.) None of those whom I know appear to believe that they’re blowing money just to pursue lavish luxury. They truly believe the education they’re paying for is what their kids need; many have told me it’s to get their kids out of the bubble-in test environment and ensure that they get art, music and other enrichments. Also, many high-net-worth people I know are very savvy with their money and simply wouldn’t blow it on what they felt was a frivolous luxury (including first-class air travel, for that matter). So I dispute that.”
     
    Are you by any chance a journalist? So many words to simply say “Trust me! I know what I am talking about!”

    Report this comment for abusive language, hate speech and profanity

  23. With all the various “Springs” going on all over the world (even the dead of winter Wisconsin events could fall under the “spring” umbrella) it was time for teachers, parents, and their supporters to unite, rise up, and throw off the chains of the “billionaire boys’  club.”
    Of course, Ravitch takes the most heat. She was there at the “big bang” of reforminess, when the pawns of corporatism initiated the cascade of silver-bullets that would, costing them not one extra dime in taxes, close the “achievement gap.” After a decade of collateral damage with no improvement she finally realized what a nightmare she’d helped unleash. She finally said, “The reformers have no effective policies!” This makes her unpopular, even if she has the empirical data on her side. The little boy who finally said, “The emperor has no clothes!” wasn’t popular either. He, too, had the empirical data on his side.

    So, Ze’ev, you were with the Bush Department of Ed? Do any moon-lighting over at Defense?

    NAEP reading scores did flat-line for most of a decade. That was during the period of NCLB, the further dismantling of the social safety-net, more kids living in poverty and, to top it off, the Reading First Initiative. I recall Rep. George Miller, after emerging from a hearing on RFI, as using words like “criminal conspiracy.” Wasn’t any great shakes as instructional policy either (see NAEP scores).

    That Ayn Rand movie, was it Atlas Shrugged (wasn’t around long enough to get a handle on it), but her “ideas” seem to have taken hold in some quarters. Pity.
     

    Report this comment for abusive language, hate speech and profanity

  24. College students and other Facebook friends who are uninvolved in ed-policy debates are posting and reposting the clip of Matt Damon at the SOS March (the “maybe you’re a s#!++y cameraman” comment) — it’s wildly viral now. How many thousands of people who were utterly unaware are now clued in to the protest and got a good glimpse of the issues behind it? That sad reporter for Reason TV (the mind boggles) may have done a huge favor to public education.

    Report this comment for abusive language, hate speech and profanity

  25. To Michael G.
    I appreciate your interest in the data.  Regarding statistics on poverty, speeches are not generally places to find research citations, but the sources for my data on poverty levels are cited  in The Flat World in Education in table 2.2 and reproduced in part below.  I don’t generally go to Wikipedia for my data, but if I did, I would look for a different statistic.  The relevant issue for schools is not the rate of population poverty (which your source in Wikipedia uses), but the rate of childhood poverty — and the rate of “effective” poverty, after government supports (for housing, health care, food, tax credits) are taken into account.  That measure, from a 2007 OECD report by Pete Whiteford and Willem Adema, shows the US with the highest rates of effective childhood poverty  in the developed world.  Among 19 OECD nations, here are the rankings for child poverty (which are higher now, with the recession):
    US – 18.4%
    Italy 14.3%
    UK – 13.6%
    Ireland – 13.5%
    Portugal – 13.1%
    New Zealand – 12.4%
    Japan – 12.2%
    Canada 11.5%
    Australia – 10.2%
    Germany – 9.5%
    Netherlands – 7.6%
    France – 6.7%
    Switzerland – 6.3%
    Czech Republic – 5.6%
    Finland – 3.3%
    Belgium – 3.3%
    Sweden – 3.2%
    Norway – 2.9%
    Denmark – 2.1%
    Poverty is not the only issue, but it is a critical one.  And tests are not the fundamental problem, but they are also not, by themselves, a solution.  Ultimately, we need a level playing field for children, adequate resources for their schools, assessments that measure thoughtful learning, and accountability systems that use the results for improvements in curriculum and teaching, not merely public flogging of schools that serve the most vulnerable students.
    Respectfully,
    Linda Darling-Hammond
     
     
     

    Report this comment for abusive language, hate speech and profanity

  26. You nailed it. Thanks for doing such a good job. I’ll return to this site to read more and inform my neighbors about you.

    Report this comment for abusive language, hate speech and profanity

"Darn, I wish I had read that over again before I hit send.” Don’t let this be your lament. To promote a civil dialogue, please be considerate, respectful and mindful of your tone. We encourage you to use your real name, but if you must use a nom de plume, stick with it. Anonymous postings will be removed.

10.1Assessments(37)
2010 elections(16)
2012 election(16)
A to G Curriculum(27)
Achievement Gap(38)
Adequacy suit(19)
Adult education(1)
Advocacy organizations(20)
Blog info(5)
CALPADS(32)
Career academies(20)
CELDT(2)
Character education(2)
Charters(82)
Common Core standards(71)
Community Colleges(66)
Data(25)
Did You Know(16)
Disabilities education(3)
Dropout prevention(11)
© Thoughts on Public Education 2014 | Home | Terms of Use | Site Map | Contact Us