Occupy The Schools

Occupy the public schools. That’s this week’s School of Thought column at TIME:

It’s easy to get angry at banks and CEOs, especially as more Americans slip below the poverty line while the rich keep getting richer. But if the goal of Occupy Wall Street is improving social mobility in this country, then the movement really needs to focus as much on educational inequality as it does on income inequality. There is perhaps no better example of how the system is rigged against millions of Americans than the education our children receive.

You can occupy the entire column by clicking here.

72 Responses to “Occupy The Schools”

  1. LaborLawyer Says:

    So the writer wants the OWS protesters to occupy school offices and union offices, but to demand what?

    The tone of the article suggests that “Better Education for Poor People” would be an appropriate marching slogan. But, what specific school reforms does the author (or putative protesters) demand?

    Absent identified school reforms, the article adds little to either the OWS discussion or the school reform discussion.

  2. Attorney DC Says:

    I’d like to second LaborLawyer’s point (I also didn’t see what Rotherham was suggesting that schools/unions DO to remedy the problem). In addition, I’d suggest that Rotherham read the Bell Curve (or similar books) which disentangles the poverty/SES/race/IQ etc. factors that people tend to lump together when discussing achievement.

    For example, the Bell Curve contains data that suggests that poor people, on average, have lower IQ’s than wealthier people in America. It’s not simply that different people attend different schools — they are different in many other ways (again, on average — obviously each person is an individual and has individual characteristics). Trying to place all the blame for the problems of low-income individuals on teachers, schools or unions is completely off-base.

  3. ignatzk Says:

    The leftist mindset *requires* someone or something to blame. Fifty years of Great Society dollars has only made education worse. All the fixes one might offer will not overcome the same gene pool that has been around for centuries.

  4. Chris Smyr Says:

    LaborLawyer:

    That criticism has been brought up against OWS in general; there are few specific, pragmatic demands the protestors have all agreed upon. “Immediate Forgiveness of All Student Debt” as a rallying cry seems just a bit whimsical.

    And if you read somewhat closely, you’ll find a few examples of demands that could/should be voiced.

    Attorney DC:

    Citing The Bell Curve to further the idea that, as you’ve said before, “the main problem in low-income schools [...] is the school culture and the students/families who attend the schools,” makes what you’re saying sound even more unconvincing.

  5. Attorney DC Says:

    Chris: Why is what I’m saying “unconvincing”? My basic position on student achievement is that main problem in low-income schools stems from the personal attributes of the students, rather than the influence of the school. This theory is supported not only by my own experience, but by studies showing that only about 20% of variance between students can be explained by in-school factors.

  6. Chris Smyr Says:

    Because you’re arguing now that the achievement gaps are due mainly because of unintelligent poor people, truly a noble maxim that we all should rally behind. I’m curious: are you also arguing that black students are, on average, genetically inferior to their white counterparts?

    Please also cite the study that suggests demanding changes to our schools and school policy will have no impact on improving public education. Or even the vague studies you reference above and where exactly they claim that in-school factors could not ever make a large impact on student achievement.

  7. pgteacher Says:

    Attorney DC:

    Also do us all a favor and go look up the theories of “malleable intelligence.” Carol Dweck is a good place to start. Genetics play a role on the tails, but nothing genetic or inhereted stops students from achieving at high levels.

  8. Linda/RetiredTeacher Says:

    I agree with Andy on this one. It’s time to stop the terrible inequity that exists in our schools. It’s time to end the disgrace of education by zip code. Teachers have been advocating for an end to this national disgrace for many years but there are powerful groups that lobby to keep the status quo of poor kids trapped in minority neighborhoods and all-black academies. There’s even a movement right now to privatize schools for the poor for the purpose of siphoning off tax money intended for the students. This is done by hiring young, inexperienced teachers to take the place of more experienced and expensive veterans.

    As far as unions are concerned, we know that the highest acheiving states have the strongest unions, so perhaps we should legislate strong unions in every state. In this way, teachers, who are the strongest advocates for children next to parents, can insist on educational equity for all children. Who better to stand up for children than the people willing to care for them?

    Because of the looming election, there seems to be a movement toward some of the improvements teachers would like to see for our least privileged children:

    medical care

    high quality preschool

    small classes and two teachers per classroom

    parent education

    fully qualified and experienced teachers

    public school vouchers (Yes, these children might apply to YOUR school)

    before and after school enrichment and summer camp.

    Let’s stop the shameful practice of segregating our children of poverty and color into separate schools. And keep Wall Street from profiting from these schools that have so little to begin with. These shameful practices are hurting us all threaten our democratic way of life.

  9. Lynn Rasmussen Says:

    The rich getting richer is the problem. Our schools will improve if and when we have an economy that supports families and provides a tax base that can pay teachers and everyone else a living wage. OWS is a movement, a way to raise consciousness that what we have going on now isn’t working. It’s stimulating conversations and questioning business as usual. It’s a place to start.

  10. Cal Says:

    “I’m curious: are you also arguing that black students are, on average, genetically inferior to their white counterparts?”

    Poor students have, on average, a lower IQ than middle class students. This is a fact. Black and Hispanic students have, on average, a lower IQ than white and Asian students. This, too, is a fact.

    Are you seriously suggesting that any particular level of intelligence denotes genetic superiority or inferiority?

    Or are you just a liar?

  11. Jason Says:

    “So the writer wants the OWS protesters to occupy school offices and union offices, but to demand what?” Read his earlier articles. Start by abolishing archaic, failed, immoral policies like tenure, seniority rules, better teacher evaluations, greater flexibility to hire and fire, merit pay, school choice, etc, etc.

    “I’d suggest that Rotherham read the Bell Curve (or similar books) which disentangles the poverty/SES/race/IQ etc. factors that people tend to lump together when discussing achievement. … only about 20% of variance between students can be explained by in-school factors.” So let’s go after that 20%. It is the lowest hanging, obvious fruit.

    “are you also arguing that black students are, on average, genetically inferior to their white counterparts?” Unfortunately yes, according to all scientific evidence they have average IQ about 15 points lower – but that is no excuse for failing to offer them our best.

    “look up the theories of “malleable intelligence.” Carol Dweck is a good place to start. Genetics play a role on the tails, but nothing genetic or inhereted stops students from achieving at high levels.” I agree.

    “Linda/RetiredTeacher Says:” I am a union shill obstructing any serious ed reform.

    “Our schools will improve if and when we have an economy that supports families and provides a tax base that can pay teachers and everyone else a living wage.” You have it ass backwards. Our failing schools (and the “culture of poverty” that prevails in them) are the reason so many pockets of people lack the skills to earn a “living wage” and therefore live in chronic poverty. Don’t attempt to offload the failure of our failing union-dominated schools on the free market economy.

    “Are you seriously suggesting that any particular level of intelligence denotes genetic superiority or inferiority?” Sure it does.

  12. Chris Smyr Says:

    He referenced The Bell Curve as reading material, Cal, so it is a relevant question. And no, I didn’t suggest (causal) connections between intelligence and genetics at all, nor the idea that IQ is a valid measure of someone’s degree of intelligence. The book he referenced does. I think it’s a fairly obtuse comment to say that achievement gaps exist because poor people are either less intelligent or have some sort of character flaw, and it’s been a running theme I’ve noticed in his writings.

    And I have no idea what the hell your last question was referencing. Not sure how I could have lied by asking a question.

  13. Chris Smyr Says:

    “Unfortunately yes, according to all scientific evidence they have average IQ about 15 points lower – but that is no excuse for failing to offer them our best.”

    Jason, lower IQ results do not say anything about capacity for intelligence, nor is it evidence that certain subgroups of people are intrinsically inferior.

  14. Attorney DC Says:

    To all those who are angry about my references to the Bell Curve (and theories of intelligence): I’m not trying to say that any particular race or gender or ethnicity is genetically better or worse than another. For one thing, I was talking about averages (which isn’t the same at all). But my main point is simply that, based on a number of factors, NOT all children are exactly the same when they hit kindergarten.

    These factors include many things that are correlated more strongly with some ethnic groups in America than others, but have nothing to do with genetics, including low birth weight, childhood nutrition, lead in the water, parental education levels, and many other things.

    However, the end result of these many factors is that NOT all students are exactly alike with respect to their educational preparedness or ability. Some students have higher IQ’s than others. Some students have larger vocabularies than others. Some students are fluent in English, some know almost no English. Some students have parents who are well educated and supportive, while some student have no parents without a high school education or have no parents at all.

    My point is that pretending that schools (including teachers and administrators) are somehow in and of themselves responsible for all or most the differences between low-performing students and high-performing students is, frankly, ridiculous.

    Studies (and my teaching experience) show that many other variables are much more important in a student’s overall academic achievement than the particular teacher they happen to get in 3rd grade. Pretending otherwise just leads to ridiculous movements like the current education reform bandwagon of proclaiming loudly that teachers are the “most important” factor in achievement (when really they are simply the most important IN SCHOOL factor, which school factors taken together account for only about 20% of total variance among students).

    Blaming teachers for the low performance of disadvantaged groups, when we know that teachers are not the real cause of the problem, is disingenuous at best and at worst can lead to real negative consequences for the teachers and the students.

    Firing every teacher in a low-income school won’t solve the problem. If anything, that approach will only make the problem worse because most teachers will not want to work in a school with difficult working conditions and little job security, which may well lead to a downward spiral of quality.

  15. Carol Beck Says:

    RE: Blaming teachers for the low performance of disadvantaged groups, when we know that teachers are not the real cause of the problem, is disingenuous at best and at worst can lead to real negative consequences for the teachers and the students.

    Firing every teacher in a low-income school won’t solve the problem. If anything, that approach will only make the problem worse because most teachers will not want to work in a school with difficult working conditions and little job security, which may well lead to a downward spiral of quality.

    Mr. Rotherham: have you or any on other ed journalist ever traced the origins in print of the terms “teacher bashing” or “blaming the teacher” What exactly did “reformers” say that was so horrible – before Wiengarten and others starting saying teacher bashing many times in every conversation?

  16. Attorney DC Says:

    Carol: Reformers don’t say teachers are horrible. Instead, they say that teachers are very important – more important than poverty, socioeconomic conditions, single parent households, poor attendance or any other factors that negatively correlate with student performance.

    The reformers then confidently make the assertion that since teachers are so “important” to student achievement, then widespread poor student performance in low-income schools must be blamed on the teachers, who must be fired.

    The problem with this ‘reasoning’ is that teachers are NOT the major problem in low-performing students and, as such, blaming them when low-income kids do poorly in schools doesn’t solve the problem.

  17. LaborLawyer Says:

    Chris Smyr and Attorney DC —

    An Occupy The Schools movement — that is, one that is widespread, popular, loud, and well-publicized but unfocused (or presses only a generic improve-the-inner-city-schools demand)– would probably be counterproductive.

    Pretty much everyone already knows that inner-city schools are awful. And, there’s been a lot of well-publicized discussion at the local, state, and federal level about what to do about this problem. In short, we do not need more pressure/attention to solve the problem. To the contrary, what we need is more critical thinking/analysis regarding how to solve the problem.

    A generic Occupy-the-Schools movement would increase the pressure/attention without improving the critical thinking/analysis.

    The increased pressure/attention would make it more likely that public officials would implement the most superficially-appealing/easy-to-implement reforms (i.e., charters, vouchers, teacher evaluation/discharge systems) and implement them on a large-scale basis (i.e., across an entire school system, rather than in a few pilots).

    As Attorney DC persuasively argues, it is extremely unlikely that teacher evaluation/discharge reforms will significantly improve education in inner-city schools. To the contrary, such reforms would probably harm inner-city schools by providing additional incentives for highly-skilled teachers to flee the inner-city schools.

    OWS-type movements are useful when the main obstacle to solving a problem is the public’s apathy and/or where an affluent/powerful minority supports a status quo that damages the majority. Neither applies to the problem of poorly-performing inner-city schools. The public knows this is a problem, the public strongly wants the problem solved, and, although the status quo is damaging the lower-income students in the inner-city schools, there is no affluent/powerful minority enforcing the status quo; to the contrary, there are affluent/powerful players on all sides of the education-reform debate.

  18. Chris Smyr Says:

    Attorney DC:

    In short, you cite every possible socioeconomic factor for poor/minority students being on average dumber than others — except schools — and thus you claim schools aren’t to blame for their low achievement. Since you think schools could never have a large impact (yet haven’t provided the sources I asked from you before), does that mean you think these subgroups simply lack the capacity to become smarter? Considering we just had a discussion about charter schools where we saw poor/minority kids greatly excelling, and you argued that peer effects explained all of the achievement differences, doesn’t that still imply that in-school factors made the difference?

    Blaming teachers for the low performance of disadvantaged groups, when we know that teachers are not the real cause of the problem, is disingenuous at best and at worst can lead to real negative consequences for the teachers and the students.

    What’s disingenuous is setting up straw man arguments, like how teachers are being blamed for “the real cause” of achievement gaps, or how reformers intend to “fire every teacher in a low-income school”. Especially this gem:

    Instead, they say that teachers are very important – more important than poverty, socioeconomic conditions, single parent households, poor attendance or any other factors that negatively correlate with student performance.

    No, the idea is to improve the way our schools function such that we can make an impact regardless of the social ills that pervade our society. Great teachers/schools *are* very important nonetheless. You’ve read these arguments countless times before, so why you’re pretending otherwise is baffling.

  19. Chris Smyr Says:

    LaborLawyer:

    Pretty much everyone already knows that inner-city schools are awful.

    Yet they don’t know the economy sucks as well?

    it is extremely unlikely that teacher evaluation/discharge reforms will significantly improve education in inner-city schools.

    Justify this. Give sources. Give reasoning, more than what Attorney DC offered, as he didn’t offer much. There is good justification for there being a variety of causes associated with achievement gaps. There is none for it being impossible for schools to help disadvantaged students achieve.

  20. Cal Says:

    “And I have no idea what the hell your last question was referencing. Not sure how I could have lied by asking a question.”

    Because he never mentioned genetic rankings at all. Neither does The Bell Curve. But you implied that he did. Hence, a lie.

    “Jason, lower IQ results do not say anything about capacity for intelligence, nor is it evidence that certain subgroups of people are intrinsically inferior.”

    First, wrong. Second, true. But you were the one implying otherwise, originally.

  21. Chris Smyr Says:

    Because he never mentioned genetic rankings at all. Neither does The Bell Curve.

    He stressed it as reading material, Cal, for helping to disentangle the effects of poverty/SES/race/IQ. He then qualified the first argument by saying the main problem in schools are the “personal attributes of the students.” My question addressed to him was entirely valid and relevant.

    Also, your bizarre line about The Bell Curve not mentioning genetic factors can be refuted literally in seconds, with a cursory look at any of the thousands of websites or papers on the topic. I can’t even decide which one I want to link to most.

    First, wrong. Second, true. But you were the one implying otherwise, originally.

    IQ gives a measure of cognitive ability, but it’s incorrect that IQ differences are indicative of genetic differences, as Jason had mentioned. Which, if you read closely, was where I was directing my response.

    And, no, I most certainly did not ever imply that any subgroups were intrinsically inferior to others. This is the 2nd time you have claimed this but haven’t bothered to explain how I did as much. Point to the specific lines that suggest I implied that certain subgroups were intrinsically inferior. And do it soon, before you again get cranky due to the thoroughness of my replies.

  22. J. D. Salinger Says:

    Reading Cal and Chris bicker is like watching the Superbowl between two teams you despise. You really don’t care who wins or loses.

  23. phillipmarowe Says:

    Or like watching someone piss at a fan.

  24. Chris Smyr Says:

    Lest the collective attention span of this forum is too short to see the contributions to this discussion past a few sneering commenters, I’m still waiting for:

    1) A reply from Attorney DC with at least the answers to the two questions I asked him, and

    2) Cal to provide evidence supporting her claims.

  25. Cal Says:

    Chris, the Bell Curve does not mention genetic “rankings”, nor does it ever mention “genetic inferiority”. In fact, the authors only say that it seems to them likely that genes AND environment have *something to do* with the different IQs reported for different races.

    In other words–now, focus hard– blacks have a lower average IQ than whites (one and a half SD). Hispanics have a lower average IQ than whites (1 SD). Asians have a slightly higher IQ than whites (less than half an SD). These statements are facts. They are not arguments. They are not in dispute.

    None of these statements mention genes at all. Stating these facts is NOT an argument for a genetic cause in and of itself. Moreover, speculating that genes are a likely cause for some of this difference is *not* an argument for inferiority or superiority.

  26. pgteacher Says:

    But speculating that genes may have some role to play in racial differences in IQ, as opposed to just individual differences, sounds pretty similar to eugenics to me.

  27. Chris Smyr Says:

    Me too, pgteacher, as it did for others, hence the controversy. The book was a catalyst for many debates on race and intelligence and hereditarianism. The way Attorney DC casually referenced it in support of his ideas, as I explained above, made it a relevant question to ask what he specifically was arguing with respect to the linkages between race and intelligence.

    Now that Cal has responded (albeit without justifying her repeatedly calling me a liar), if only Attorney DC would answer those two little questions that he’s been evading for months. I will even rewrite them below:

    1) Since you think schools could never have a large impact (yet haven’t provided the sources I asked from you before), does that mean you think these subgroups simply lack the capacity to become smarter?

    2) Considering we just had a discussion about charter schools where we saw poor/minority kids greatly excelling, and you argued that peer effects explained all of the achievement differences, doesn’t that still imply that in-school factors made the difference?

  28. Cal Says:

    “But speculating that genes may have some role to play in racial differences in IQ, as opposed to just individual differences, sounds pretty similar to eugenics to me.”

    Then you don’t know what “eugenics” means. Eugenics is about breeding for a particular result, breeding to improve a population.

    What I suspect you mean is this: racists who believe that blacks are inferior argue this point on the grounds that blacks are genetically inferior. Nothing to do with eugenics.

    And nothing to do with the point at hand. What Chris and others want to do is smear people who point out the IQ differences (which may or may not be genetic) as racists, so that the observation will be perceived to be racist as well.

    But facts are facts, and the following are facts:

    1) there are clear and unambiguous IQ differences between self-identified races.

    2) Eugenics means breeding for improvement.

    Therefore pointing out IQ differences is pointing out a fact. It has nothing to do with advocating a particular position.

    Speculating that IQ differences may be based in genetics does NOT argue that one race is inferior or superior, nor does it in any way suggest a desire to improve races through breeding. It may be speculation that perhaps the genes that determine intelligence are found in different combinations and different frequencies in different races. Or it may be (as Rushton argues) that the races are actually quite distinct. But the speculation in and of itself does not in anyway allow for an inference of beliefs about genetic superiority or eugenics.

    When Chris moves from “genetic cause” to arguing that someone believes that races are “genetically inferior”, he is lying about that person’s position. Or, perhaps, he’s merely too stupid to know the difference.

    “doesn’t that still imply that in-school factors made the difference?”

    No. Sorting out kids who don’t want to work does not count as an “in school” factor. That’s why KIPP is under fire for sorting and cherry picking.

  29. Chris Smyr Says:

    What Chris and others want to do is smear people who point out the IQ differences (which may or may not be genetic) as racists, so that the observation will be perceived to be racist as well.

    I never argued this. Point to where I specifically argued this. My whole deal with Attorney DC was his argument that achievement gaps exist because of intelligence differences due to a myriad reasons without ever acknowledging the potential schools have in helping close these gaps. It’s why I still have those two questions I want him to answer, whenever he gets a chance.

    Several times in this thread you’ve argued against positions that you’ve incorrectly attributed to me. Not once have you actually pointed to where I actually said as much. You are the one that is continually lying in this thread.

    Speculating that IQ differences may be based in genetics does NOT argue that one race is inferior or superior

    This is absurd. If you are arguing that a race is genetically predisposed to lower intelligence, you are VERY EXPLICITLY arguing that said race is genetically inferior to other, more intelligent, races. This genetic inferiority applies only, in this case, to intelligence, but intelligence is kind of a big deal. There is no functional difference whatsoever between “there is a genetic cause for people of Race A to be less intelligent” and “people of Race A are genetically inferior with respect to intelligence”.

    And *you’re* the one making all the sleazy claims about *my* intelligence?

    Sorting out kids who don’t want to work does not count as an “in school” factor.

    You aren’t familiar with the charter school studies in question or our discussion, as this line suggests. The study accounted for both selective attrition and motivational differences. Attorney DC argued very strongly and confidently that peer effects explained the large achievement differences. Thus, my two questions posed to him.

  30. Linda/RetiredTeacher Says:

    Chris,

    I think it’s interesting that you assume AttorneyDC is a man. Why is that?

  31. Chris Smyr Says:

    Personally, I think it’s the least interesting (and relevant) part of this discussion. Regardless, it has been well over a year and I’ve never noticed he/she correct my pronoun usage, leading me to assume it either didn’t matter or that I was right. Easy fix if that’s not the case; doesn’t change my questions.

  32. LaborLawyer Says:

    Chris — Attorney DC has replied to you several times. He has addressed each of your points, except your request that he give citation for studies showing that school-controlled factors account for about 20% of differences in student achievement. I’ve seen this 20% point referenced many times in different forums, but — perhaps like Attorney DC — I don’t have the time to track down the citation. Perhaps you can accept Attorney DC’s failure to provide citation as awarding you a debating point and we can move on.

  33. Chris Smyr Says:

    That 20% figure is *not* what I am asking for, or the current estimate of school impacts relative to out-of-school impacts. I’m specifically asking for a study that suggests that there is a hard limit on academic achievement that can be obtained with focusing on improving school factors. It is often argued that [insert out-of-school factor] is more important than in-school factors, but it’s besides the larger point of what impacts schools *CAN* have– right now– without invoking the whimsical notion of ending all social ills everywhere and for everyone.

    My two questions follow directly from both the inability to produce such a source (there isn’t one) and the academic achievement gains from students in non-traditional schools discussed recently, to which his argued cause was peer effects. So, no, they are very relevant questions that have not been answered. I definitely understand why they haven’t been answered yet given the timing of this discussion, so the only reason I keep reiterating them is so they don’t get lost in the tangential offshoots this thread has grown.

  34. Linda/RetiredTeacher Says:

    Teachers can and do have a huge impact on their students, regardless of the background of the child. A teacher can, and often does, affect the life chances of a child. There is no limit on the academic achievement that he or she can realize in a student.

    Teachers are the biggest advocates of children second only to parents and guardians. They know that children are people who have the same basic needs as other people and that’s why they support eyeglasses for the child who cannot see well, medical care for the child whose asthma keeps him at home, food for the child who is hungry. Teachers know that for MOST children, the job of educating the child is a partnership among student, parents, teachers and citizens.

    Today is Thanksgiving so I’d like to give thanks for our servicemen, teachers and other public servants who devote their lives to others for modest salaries. I had a very fulfilling career as a teacher and for that I am extremely grateful.

    A teacher touches a life forever.

  35. LaborLawyer Says:

    Chris –

    If you are arguing that “improving the schools can significantly improve student achievement”, I (and, I think, Attorney DC) would agree with you — at least with regard to inner-city schools.

    In my opinion, there are school reforms that could significantly improve inner-city schools and, consequently, student achievement in the inner-city schools. My suggested reforms would focus on 1) student behavior problems (chronic absenteeism, chronic tardiness, and minor but endemic classroom misconduct); and 2) the students-reading-far-below-grade-level problem. If the inner-city schools could largely solve these problems, then — I think/hope — inner-city students would have achievement scores closer to those of suburban students. (It’s possible that suburban schools are no better than inner-city schools at addressing these problems, but — due to students’ SES profile — school weaknesses regarding student-behavior and reading-below-grade-level result in only minor problems in the suburban schools but tremendous problems in the inner-city schools.)

    In my opinion, the main school reforms being pushed by Rheeformers/media/public officials — high-stakes testing/teacher evaluation, facilitating teacher discharge by weakening just-cause/due process, charters, and vouchers — would have little/no impact on the student-behavior or reading-below-grade-level problems and would probably make the problems worse (particularly for the inner-city students who are left behind when the more motivated students/parents flee to the charters/privates).

    If the “school-based factors” concept is restricted to teacher quality, curriculm, physical facilities, per pupil spending, etc. and does not include student-behavior and reading-below-grade-level, then I would argue that changes/reforms in “school-based factors” cannot significantly improve school quality/student achievement in the inner-city schools. If the “school-based factors” concept includes measues directed at the student-behavior and reading-below-grade-level problems, then I’d agree with your argument that we can significantly improve inner-city student achievement without curing social ills generally.

    And, there’s definitely some overlap — for example, if, by improving teacher quality, teachers with weak classroom-management skills and/or weak reading-instruction skills were replaced by teachers with stronger skills, then improving teacher quality would have an impact on inner-city student achievement. However, to the extent such overlap exists, its largely accidental and it’s just as likely that the reform will make the problem worse — for example, the bright, diligent but untrained/inexperienced Teach for America teachers will, on balance, probably be weaker regarding classroom management and reading-teaching technique than the experienced teachers they are replacing.

    Bottom line: High-stakes testing/facilitating teacher discharge will not significantly improve student achievement for inner-city students; charters/vouchers will improve student achievement for a small minority of inner-city students, but will do so at the expense of depressing student achievement for the left-behind majority of inner-city students. It is possible to significantly improve student achievement for inner-city students, but only by addressing directly the school-based/controlled problems disproportionately confronting inner-city students — behavior problems and reading below grade level.

  36. Chris Smyr Says:

    Labor Lawyer:

    Given Attorney DC’s previous comments about the main problem stemming from the “personal attributes of the students” and his (or her!) citing of the 20% figure as some kind of hard limit on achievement, I doubt that he (or she!) would agree with you. They are incompatible ideas.

    I agree with you that schools can have a large impact, but disagree when you say that current reforms could never hope to have an impact on problems such as the two you give. If “student-behavior” is the top problem in urban schools, how is it possible you don’t agree that “teacher quality” would be a relevant variable to improve? How do you fix student behavior without exceptional teachers and administration, all working together to build a cohesive school culture? And how do we know which teachers need which type of professional training/support without a system that authentically can determine it, without blindly marking the vast majority as effective?

    In my opinion, the main school reforms [...] would probably make the problems worse (particularly for the inner-city students who are left behind when the more motivated students/parents flee to the charters/privates)

    It’s not clear how wide the motivational difference is between families who stay at one school versus those who choose to leave for another school. It is also reasonable to suggest that some motivated families would choose to avoid charters and private schools, or that less motivated families would rather choose a charter simply to have the kid with an adult during the day when parents are at work.

    Furthermore, it’s a strange thing to say to blame charters for the added hardships that a traditional school will have to bear when some families choose to leave. All families deserve that choice, particularly since some students achieve more at some non-traditional schools. Every school has to work very hard to enable a thriving peer culture that values hard work and achievement, and shouldn’t rely only on certain students as cornerstones toward achieving that goal.

    it’s just as likely that the reform will make the problem worse — for example, the bright, diligent but untrained/inexperienced Teach for America teachers will, on balance, probably be weaker regarding classroom management and reading-teaching technique than the experienced teachers they are replacing.

    This, too, is unsubstantiated reasoning. You first have to show evidence that TFA teachers are weak in classroom management and “reading-teaching technique”. You then need to show evidence that they are somehow forcibly “replacing” any teachers. Finally, you would need to show that they are taking the place of effective teachers. Given some of the best studies we have on TFA and given their method of placement, I’d say your reasoning is flawed here on all counts.

  37. Linda/RetiredTeacher Says:

    Here is a short quiz, based on a child who was a student in another first-grade teacher’s class.

    “Janet” had Type I diabetes that was not well controlled. She lived with an aunt who showed little interest in Janet’s well-being. As a result, Janet often had insulin reactions at school and had to leave early. She missed many days of school and was not making much progress in reading. What would be the best way to help Janet?

    A. Give her an excellent teacher.
    B. Give her access to medical care at school.
    C. Assign a social worker to provide home support.
    D. Provide tutoring for Janet.
    E. All of the above.

    When we look at an example of a real child, the answer becomes obvious.

  38. Chris Smyr Says:

    “it’s besides the larger point of what impacts schools *CAN* have– right now– without invoking the whimsical notion of ending all social ills everywhere and for everyone.”

  39. Linda/RetiredTeacher Says:

    It’s important to concentrate on what schools CAN do; this is what most teachers do every day. But that should not prevent us from reaching out to the child who requires additional help from medical or social services.

    “The measure of a country’s greatness is how it treats its weakest members.”

  40. Attorney DC Says:

    Just logged back onto this blog after a few days off to find a vertitable spate of comments… After all this back and forth, I’m not entirely sure what we’re arguing about, but I’ll give it one more shot. My basic position (based on my teaching and reading about the subject) is simply that most academic performance differences between students have little to do with their specific teacher, but are highly correlated with the individual characteristics of the student. This basic premise is borne out by many studies, including those which correlate student performance with family SES.

    That said, I agree with Labor Lawyer and others that of course schools and teachers can have a positive (or negative) influence on individual students attending their schools. I particularly espouse the schools’ ability to influence student behavior based on discipline and behavior standards. However, this MUST be done on a school-wide level. It can’t be left to individual teachers, unsupported by the administration. So many administrators in low-income schools basically throw up their hands when it comes to student behavior (including everything from attendance to mouthing off and cursing at other students and staff members). No real learning can take place in schools where this type of behavior is permitted.

    I disagree with Chris Smyr and others (including Rotherham) that the solution to widespread low-performance among high-risk students is making it easier to fire their teachers. Many of the problems that contribute to low performance (including emotionally disturbed kids, uninvolved parents, school crowding, teachers placed out of subject area) are mostly or completely out of the control of teachers. Punishing teachers by pretending these problems are their responsibility simply creates a convenient political target, without solving any problems.

    In fact, punishing the teachers of low-performing students is more likely to hurt the low-income kids than to help them, because the media and political attacks on teachers are making teaching LESS attrative to educated college grads and are making teaching in low-income schools especially unattractive.

    To all those who blame teachers for the ills of low-income schools, I say: Go into these schools, teach for an entire year (or three). Like all teachers, you will teach whatever classes your principal assigns you (whether or not they’re in your preferred subject) and will likely have 30 or more kids in each period, for 5 or 6 periods a day (for a total of 150 plus kids on your roster). You have few working phone numbers for the parents (who are often transient and living in poverty and may not speak much English). Your principal ignores your requests for assistance and refuses to back you up in punishing any students who misbehave (including for fairly egregious physical or verbal assaults).

    Then tell me at the end of your foray into the world of teaching how you were able to solve all the students’ problems solely through your teaching ability and how you deserve to be fired if you didn’t (because believe me, you won’t be able to make more than a dent).

  41. Linda/RetiredTeacher Says:

    “… attacks on teachers are making teaching LESS attractive to educated college grads and are making low-income schools especially unattractive.”

    Yes, I believe when the dust settles, this will be the legacy of this “reform” movement. Among all my friends and relatives, there are only two young people who are starting teaching careers. One subbed in a very affluent district for three years before getting a permanent position. He made it very clear that he was holding out for a position in the high-scoring affluent district. The other plans to get a job in higher education. And of course none of the “reformers” wants to teach.

  42. phillipmarlowe Says:

    To add to your point, Attorney DC, principals have their hands bound by their superiors as they try to remove the student or teacher who getting in the way of the students learning only to find out that those in charge do not have their back and that they can’t get the bad apple out.

  43. Chris Smyr Says:

    After all this back and forth, I’m not entirely sure what we’re arguing about, but I’ll give it one more shot.

    We were (and are) discussing a couple related topics, which I will remind you of in more detail below. Before I do that, one thing you still haven’t done yet is offer your specific answers to the two questions I originally posed to you. Again, they are:

    1) Since you think schools could never have a large impact (yet haven’t provided the sources I asked from you before), does that mean you think these subgroups simply lack the capacity to become smarter?

    2) Considering we just had a discussion about charter schools where we saw poor/minority kids greatly excelling, and you argued that peer effects explained all of the achievement differences, doesn’t that still imply that in-school factors made the difference? (Your latest comment implied that you think it was the “school” and not the teachers that made the difference in classroom conduct, but I’d like confirmation on that)

    most academic performance differences between students have little to do with their specific teacher, but are highly correlated with the individual characteristics of the student

    And again, citing the correlation of academic achievement with SES, race or IQ does not establish causal factors nor a hard limit on achievement that schools could hope to support.

    I particularly espouse the schools’ ability to influence student behavior based on discipline and behavior standards. However, this MUST be done on a school-wide level. It can’t be left to individual teachers, unsupported by the administration.

    This “the schools’ ability to influence student behavior [...] can’t be left to individual teachers” argument is incredibly obtuse, and it follows a trend of continually shifting blame to accommodate an increasingly illogical stance against reform. Who do you think enforces discipline and behavioral standards in a classroom? How is it possible that any particular school could see large differences in student behavior between classrooms if teachers were not a large underlying cause? Is it administrators or teachers who are most poised to make an impact on students, as leaders and as role models? And where is your evidence that discipline problems in a school often stem from do-nothing administrators and apparently any other factor *except* teachers, the one variable that nearly everyone can agree on as being exceptionally important for a good education?

    I mean, really? Schools, not teachers, are responsible for student behavior? Is that the mantra for your vision of school reform?

    I disagree with Chris Smyr and others (including Rotherham) that the solution to widespread low-performance among high-risk students is making it easier to fire their teachers.

    As before, here you also level some fairly disingenuous straw man arguments. You know better than this, yet you perpetually misinterpret the arguments for reform nonetheless, and it is very counterproductive to any form of discourse.

    In fact, punishing the teachers of low-performing students is more likely to hurt the low-income kids than to help them, because the media and political attacks on teachers are making teaching LESS attrative to educated college grads and are making teaching in low-income schools especially unattractive.

    1) Give examples of “the media and political attacks on teachers” you are referencing. Repeating the line ad infinitum does not make it true, no matter how many iterations are attempted.

    2) Give evidence that such “attacks” are the real reason educated college grads find teaching in low-income schools unattractive.

    To all those who blame teachers for the ills of low-income schools, I say: Go into these schools, teach for an entire year (or three).

    And discover, as Attorney DC apparently did, that you have no control over classroom conduct, no responsibility in contributing to a positive school and peer culture, and no efficacy in enabling your students to learn to their highest potential unless your administrator wills it. Or perhaps you’ll find the exact opposite, as it is argued by many on either side of the ed reform debate in support of teachers. Anecdotes are funny that way!

  44. Cal Says:

    “I mean, really? Schools, not teachers, are responsible for student behavior? ”
    Schools, not teachers, are widely agreed to be the primary determinant for behavior rules.

    ” Considering we just had a discussion about charter schools where we saw poor/minority kids greatly excelling, and you argued that peer effects explained all of the achievement differences, doesn’t that still imply that in-school factors made the difference?”

    No, it doesn’t. “In-school factors” do NOT include selection bias and environment sorting. Charter schools do both. “In school factors” say that conditions are identical, and the only factor is the teacher or curriculum or something unique to the school.

    But even more than that, there are no examples of charter schools that have “poor/minority kids excelling” to the extent of closing the achievement gap.

    So you’re wrong twice: First, charter schools showing improvement does not imply that in-school factors matter, because sorting for motivation or ability is a student issue, not in-school. Second, charter schools haven’t closed the achievement gap. All some of them have done is marginally lesson the gap, and we don’t have any evidence that the marginal lessening isn’t caused by pulling motivated kids away from the unmotivated mass around them.

  45. Chris Smyr Says:

    Schools, not teachers, are widely agreed to be the primary determinant for behavior rules.

    Didn’t answer the first question, Cal: who enforces the behavior rules? My district and school had several behavioral standards, but they were implemented very differently due to different teaching styles in different classrooms. From my experiences it’s widely accepted that teachers have a strong impact on classroom management and conduct. Other questions still exist regarding this strange reasoning, as I already wrote above.

    No, it doesn’t. “In-school factors” do NOT include selection bias and environment sorting.

    I see you didn’t read my last comment addressed to you. The discussion I was referencing was one in which peer effects were the go-to explanation for the achievement differences; attrition and selection biases were accounted for in the experimental design.

    It’s possible you may have missed my prior comment addressed to you, since you haven’t responded to the other points of discussion, either, so here’s the link:

    eduwonk.com/2011/11/occupy-the-schools.html/comment-page-1#comment-231385

    But even more than that, there are no examples of charter schools that have “poor/minority kids excelling” to the extent of closing the achievement gap.

    Even if that were true, you’d be hard-pressed to make a decent argument that the stellar achievement gains in some schools compared to neighborhood schools are not indicative of a pressing need to focus on and improve school policy.

    However, it’s incorrect to say that these schools are doing nothing to close achievement gaps. Charters serve a disproportionately large number of black, Hispanic, and low-income students, and so disadvantaged students on the low end of achievement gaps are the ones benefiting. From the latest report on CMOs:

    “But the largest positive (and statistically significant) impacts in math exceed 0.6 of a standard deviation, twice the size of the negative math impacts of the lowest performing CMOs. In addition, these positive impacts for math are more than twice as large as the largest positive impacts in reading. Larger impacts in math than in reading were also observed in recent studies of charter schools such as the KIPP Lynn study (Angrist et al. 2010), the KIPP middle school study (Tuttle et al. 2010), the Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academy study (Dobbie and Fryer 2011), the Boston charter schools study (Abdulkadiroglu et al. 2009), and the New York City charter schools study (Hoxby et al. 2009).

    [...]

    Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (reported in Bloom et al. 2008) show black-white and Hispanic-white
    achievement gaps ranging from 0.76 to 1.04 standard deviations in math and reading in grades 4 and 8. These numbers suggest that the CMOs at the high end of the scale have the potential to measurably reduce achievement gaps, especially in math.

    [...]

    A few of the CMOs are producing impacts that appear to be sufficient to generate three years of learning gains within two years (Bloom et al. 2008).”

    Thus, I don’t think a “marginal lessening” of achievement gaps is really what’s at stake here.

  46. Linda/RetiredTeacher Says:

    It’s interesting that the “reform” movement supposedly respects data, yet so many of the “reformers” continue to ignore the mountain of research that supports the view that charters, in general, do no better than traditional public schools. Some are better and some are worse. In my hometown paper this morning, it was reported that all the charters, with the exception of the one located on “the eastside” (affluent part of town) have lower test scores than the regular schools. It was also interesting to me that the charter school with the lowest scores of ALL the schools in the entire district have parents who love the school so much and have petitioned the state to keep the school open. The parents said that they valued the fact that their children enjoy school and are safe. One parent said something to the effect of “Tests don’t show everything that is being taught here.” Indeed. In the end, the wisdom of the American people will save us from this nonsense that is called “reform.”

    There is good news: More and more journalists are doing their own investigative reporting and are seeing the same things teachers see. One prize-winning journalist from a major newspaper wrote to me today and said, “…when I get into schools I’m reminded of what goes on and how little it has to do with the reform jabber.” “Jabber” – What a great word to describe what is going on in the name of “reform.”

    The truth almost always has a way of breaking through so it’s just a matter of time before most citizens see things as teachers do. Yes, teachers know the truth because they are the ones who are actually engaged with the children. The fact that their collective wisdom is not being sought is a clear sign that something is not right. I have to laugh every time I think of that book by Steven Brill- he discusses “education” for hundreds of pages but “forgets” to mention the people who provide it! Yes, “Class Warfare” says it all!

  47. Chris Smyr Says:

    so many of the “reformers” continue to ignore the mountain of research that supports the view that charters, in general, do no better than traditional public schools.

    I just included a passage from one recent study suggesting the opposite, and it cited several more studies with similar findings. Would you like to confirm for me what it is these studies are doing wrong to have deviated from the findings of said mountain?

  48. phillipmarowe Says:

    Chris loves studies” until they disprove his theories, like the UMBC study on EAI in Baltimore City public schools.
    Then Chris becomes very creationist -like.

  49. Chris Smyr Says:

    I thought the UMBC study was an interesting read, particularly the way in which it didn’t support any of the claims you were making while referencing it.

  50. Jason Says:

    The entire argument about whether lower IQ’s are genetic or the result of cultural factors is beside the point. The point is that in communities where it plays a strong role, typically for both the students and the supply of teachers, there is an even more desperate need for stronger accountability systems, i.e., abolishing tenure, seniority, work rules, collective bargaining, etc. In practice this will mean higher turnover as districts have to work harder to winnow out ineffective teachers.

  51. Jason Says:

    The above argument is retarded. If we can quickly increase student performance by 20% by winnowing out ineffective teachers and cleaning up failing schools, thereby allowing more attention to be focused cultural causes, which we all agree are a huge factor, are LaborLawyer and Attorney DC seriously suggesting that is not a goal worth pursuing?

  52. Linda/RetiredTeacher Says:

    “In practice this will mean higher turnover as districts have to work harder to winnow out ineffective teachers.”

    This depends totally on the economy. If it continues as it is, districts will no longer grant tenure to almost every teacher and label 95% of veterans as “effective.” Instead, highly qualified people will apply for increasingly few openings in school districts and administrators will be able to retain only the most effective. This is what happened during the Great Depression. Of course, as soon as the economy improved many of these people (mainly men) left their teaching positions for more lucrative employment.

    However, if the economy does improve, the picture will be entirely different. A few minutes ago there was an ad on CNN reminding viewers that the baby boomer teachers are retiring in record numbers leaving many openings for Americans who want to serve the nation’s children. The Department of Labor is predicting a huge teacher shortage in the next ten years. My guess is that Michelle, Jason, Andrew, Joel, Eva and other “reformers” will not want these jobs. Who will take them? The captive women with the college degrees will no longer be there. Maybe a few young women will accept positions in their affluent neighborhoods but who will accept the job in inner-city DC, where they will be judged by the students’ test scores? Would you? Even I, who taught mainly poor kids for 42 years and loved every minute of it, would not do it today.

    Who of us is right? Only time will tell.

  53. phillipmarowe Says:

    If we could improve student achievement by 33 1/3% by separating students based upon their behaviour, the support of their parents/guardians/caregivers and the current level of ability, would LaborLawyer and Attorney DC suggest these are not goals worth pursuing?

  54. LaborLawyer Says:

    phillipmarowe –

    Re your 11/27/11 comment — not sure if your comment is a question or a cryptic argument.

    Tracking students based on student behavior/parent support is a way of describing the credible-threat-of-expulsion/skim-the-cream advantages that charters enjoy relative to neighborhood schools. Charters might help their students, but intensify the student-behavior/reading-below-grade-level problems in the neighborhood schools. Better to attack the student-behavior and reading-below-grade-level problems for all the students in the neighborhood schools and forget about the charters.

    Tracking students based on current level of ability sounds like a good idea to me (much easier to teach a class were the students were mostly performing at the same academic level) — again, assuming you mean to do this in the neighborhood public school rather than by sending the higher-performing students to a charter.

  55. Jason Says:

    I agree with more use of tracking, but hasn’t that fallen out of vogue in public schools in the name of the lefty religion of inclusivity?

  56. Linda/RetiredTeacher Says:

    “the lefty religion of inclusivity”

    Thanks for giving us background on who you are and what you stand for. And to think I thought “inclusivity” was a core American value.

    Once we see all the nation’s children as “our children” we’ll begin to see the educational improvements that we all supposedly covet.

  57. phillipmarowe Says:

    LaborLawyer
    I am thinking of ability tracking in the public school, or, perhaps we ought to refer to it as performance tracking, as that designation puts the responsibility on the child and hopefully will encourage them to take responsibility for their learning.

    Jason, you seem to have forgotten that special education was the dumping ground for black kids, before the days of “lefty religion of inclusivity.”
    I see autistic kids included with “regular ed” kids and there’s no problem , nor drag on the “regular kids.” They tune out the autistic child who wails in the class and help the one who gets very agitated when corrected.

    Also, Laborlawyer, I was poking Jason, using the Biblical example of Lot’s pleading with God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah.

  58. Jason Says:

    Phillip, I admit I don’t know what you’re talking about. In inner-city Memphis where I live, the students are 100% black, so there is no dumping them! Wouldn’t tracking by performance facilitate educating those black kids that actually WANT an education but are trapped in crappy urban schools (with the associated culture of poverty) because their parents can’t afford to escape to the suburbs? Otherwise, they are trapped in classes where behavior problems are so severe, and the cultural bias against education and “acting white” are so powerful, that no learning is taking place. I thought that is what you were alluding to in your earlier post.

  59. Jason Says:

    “If we could improve student achievement by 33 1/3% by separating students based upon their behaviour, the support of their parents/guardians/caregivers and the current level of ability, would LaborLawyer and Attorney DC suggest these are not goals worth pursuing?”

    Poking me? I thought that was a serious argument for school choice! If allowing school choice could boost achievement by 1/3 then I would say HELL YES! It would be insane and cruel to deny children a 1/3 performance boost. Unless you are wedded to some kind of social engineering religion that requires that kids at all levels must occupy the same classroom? More likely you are wedded to maintaining union benefits for public school teachers. At what cost our children? Our future?

  60. Jason Says:

    “Once we see all the nation’s children as “our children” we’ll begin to see the educational improvements that we all supposedly covet.”

    Linda, if you have kids that actually have the ability and the desire to learn, but you dump them into the same classrooms that are riddled by gangs, drug-dealing, violence, pregnancies, with a 55% graduation rate, and graduates that are functionally illiterate, then how is anyone being served? Is it really preferable to keep everyone equal by ensuring that no one excels? Sounds like a Communistic religion to me.

  61. Jason Says:

    “I thought “inclusivity” was a core American value.”

    I thought “meritocracy” was a core American value. Or has that concept been abandoned with the loss of a hardier grade of Americans?

  62. phillipmarowe Says:

    Jason:” Otherwise, they are trapped in classes where behavior problems are so severe,”

    And what will you do for those kids.
    Consign them to the dustbins of history?

  63. Linda/RetiredTeacher Says:

    Jason, I never said anything about dumping kids together. I certainly was particular about where I placed my children. Weren’t you?

    By “our children” I meant that if each of us had the same concern for other’s people’s children as we do for our own, then maybe we’d get somewhere. I mean ALL children and not just the one-third in poor schools who are lucky enough to have good health, good parents and other basics. Teachers are concerned with the other two-thirds. People who have no experience in schools often have the mistaken notion that all poor kids are educationally disadvantaged. They are not.

    Inclusivity and achievement through merit are both strong American values. You must have us confused with North Korea.

  64. Jason Says:

    I never said anything about writing any children off. I just want every student to get the best opportunity that is commensurate with his or her ability and willingness to achieve. I think putting students in classrooms with others of similar aptitude and willingness to work can make a critical difference. There is no reason to be so terrified of meritocracy in education. It will better prepare them for the real world! NOT EVERYBODY CAN BE A PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER WHERE WE GO ON PRETENDING THEY ARE ALL EQUAL!

    Phillip, to answer your question about how to attack the culture of poverty among the bottom ranks, there is no easy answer, but the most obvious place to start would be a national “War on Illegitimacy,” starting with an educational campaign about the link between marriage/illegitimacy and poverty and a long, hard look at how our welfare programs and tax laws discourage marriage. Illegitimacy among blacks in urban Memphis is close to 80% and is the most obvious causal factor to the pervasive culture of poverty with near universal dependence of public assistance.

  65. Jason Says:

    Understanding how Leftist pedagogy that predominates in ED programs and our schools is reinforcing and exacerbating the culture of poverty that is decimating our underclasses:

    http://www.amazon.com/Life-Bottom-Worldview-Makes-Underclass/dp/1566635055/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1322663952&sr=8-1

    [something very strange is happening in our schools. ... Pettifogging attention to details of syntax and orthography is said to inhibit children's creativity and powers of self-expression. ... to assert that there is a correct way of speaking or writing is to indulge in a kind of bourgeois cultural imperialism; and to tell children that they have got something wrong is necessarily to saddle them with a debilitating sense of inferiority form which they will never recover.
    ...
    There is no blackboard and no rote learning. Perhaps the method of teaching by turning everything into a game can work when the teacher is talented and the children are already socialized to learn; but when, as is usually the case, neither of these conditions obtains, the results are disastrous
    ...
    Of the generations of children who grew up with these pedagogical methods ... they have no interests outside themselves, that their world is as small as the day they entered it, and their horizons have not expanded in the least. ... For to develop an interest requires powers of concentration and an ability to tolerate a degree of boredom while the elements of a skill are learned for the sake of a worthwhile end. ... it is the plain duty of adults, from the standpoint of their superior knowledge and experience of the world, to impart to children what they need to know so that later they may exercise genuine choice.
    ...
    teachers and the teachers of the teachers in the training colleges are deeply imbued with the kinds of educational ideas that have brought us to this pass ... a considerable proportion of the [population] is simply unaware of the need for education. … if there are no jobs to employ their unskilled (and it must be said, rather reluctant) labor, it is the fault of the government in league with the plutocrats

    the unemployed young person considers the number of jobs in an economy as a fixed quantity. Just as the national income is a cake to be doled out in equal or unequal slices, so the number of jobs in an economy has nothing to do with the conduct of the people who live in it but is immutably fixed. This is a concept of the way the world works that has been assiduously peddled [in our schools]

    one great psychological advantage to the [underclass] in their disdain for education: it enables them to maintain the fiction that the society around them is grossly, even grotesquely, unjust, and that they themselves are the victims of this injustice … If [education] were seen by them as a means available to all to rise in the world … their whole viewpoint would naturally have to change. Instead of attributing their misfortune to others, they would have to look inward, which is always a painful process. Here we see the reason why scholastic success is violently discouraged, and those who pursue it persecuted, in the underclass schools: for it is perceived, inchoately not doubt, as a threat to an entire Weltanschauung. The success of one is a reproach to all. … The sour satisfaction of being dependent on [welfare] resides in its automatic conferral of the status of Victim, which in itself simultaneously explains one’s failure and absolves one of the obligation to make something of oneself, ex hypothesi, impossible because of the unjust nature of society which made one a victim in the first place. The redemptive value of education blows that whole affecting scene apart…

    the underclass has been victimized, or perhaps betrayed is a better word. The educational absurdities foisted on the lower orders were the idea not of the lower orders themselves but of those who were in a position to avoid their baleful effects: that is to say, middle-class intellectuals]

  66. Jason Says:

    I would point out that Dalrymple observes the identical underclass phenomena in whites in England, undercutting the significance of race and IQ as discussed above. It’s primarily a cultural phenomena.

    The undercutting of meritocracy and incentives/pressures to excel, both in absolute terms and relative to others, in the administration of teachers and in the classroom, feeds the culture of poverty, which in turn is a primary factor in failing schools. As Dalryple observes, it is part of a complex worldview that encompasses philosophical, educational, economic, and political beliefs. Sacrificing the opportunity for excellence in those that are able to obtain it in the name of equalitarianism of result. The profession is hamstrung by ideology as much as it is by union abuses of power.

  67. phillipmarowe Says:

    Jason Says:
    November 30th, 2011 at 1:22 pm
    Understanding how Leftist pedagogy that predominates in ED programs and our schools is reinforcing and exacerbating the culture of poverty that is decimating our underclasses:

    Funny, but according to Jesus, we will always have the poor with us.

    I wonder how leftist pedagogy or idelogy reinforced the culture of poverty 2000 years ago or during the Dark Ages of Europe.
    It was undoubtably due to leftist pedagogy that the Native Americans never built castles like the English pilgrims.

    Jason sounds like the clown and Fenty/Johnson supporter Ron Moten:

    Moten describes himself as a Civil Rights Republican like Carter G. Woodson. Borrowing from Woodson’s “The Miseducation of the Negro,” Moten notes in his campaign material that blacks need to be self reliant “not depend on others to do for us what we should do for ourselves.”

    His campaign flyer reads: “Those who have not learned to do for themselves and have to depend solely on others, never obtain any more rights and privileges in the end than they had in the beginning. Woodson continues, when you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will not have to find his proper place. You will not have to tell him to go to the back door he will go on his own.”

    “I Ron Moten ask you the question, “Is this not what we have seen in ward 7 for the past 12 years?”

    The answer is yes this is what Democrat lawmakers have done in DC for decades: brainwash black people. Ward 7 residents have suffered economically from Democrats pursuing policies which keep them oppressed. In DC Wards 7 and 8 have the highest unemployment rate, teen pregnancy, poverty in DC and the highest number of households headed by single women.

    According to the Urban Institute, about 67 percent of children in Ward 7 are living in single-parent homes. President Johnson’s Great Society began this train wreck of social policies which Democrats continue to pursue relentlessly at all levels of government and which continue to drive blacks into further economic decline.

    It sound be noted that Moten didn’t mind sucking on the teat of the government as Fenty directed District of Columbia money to Moten and his peace alcoholics.

  68. Jason Says:

    “Funny, but according to Jesus, we will always have the poor with us.
    I wonder how leftist pedagogy or idelogy reinforced the culture of poverty 2000 years ago or during the Dark Ages of Europe.
    It was undoubtably due to leftist pedagogy that the Native Americans never built castles like the English pilgrims.”

    If you define poverty as the bottom 47% (the percentage of Americans that are not required to pay income taxes), then yes we will always have poor.

    If poverty is defined in absolute terms, then I believe that statement is false. The evidence is clear that in America where economic opportunity is relatively plentiful, that chronic poverty would be almost completely eliminated if everyone would do three simple things: (1) graduate high school, (2) not make babies outside of marriage, and (3) get up and work a job, even the most menial job, for 40 hours per week. There is no meaningful lack of availability of food, clothing, and shelter in America. Our poor suffer from high rates of obesity, cable television and ownership of expensive videogame consoles.

    If you don’t believe that poverty in America is cultural, then explain how so many Asians, impoverished in their home countries, come here with strong education, family, and work ethics and excel. Explain why we have to import poor Mexicans to work because Americans refuse to work physically demanding jobs.

    As for your historical references, you are making false analogies to times and places where such economic opportunity was not available. If you want to understand the negative effects of leftist ideology and education, an appropriate comparison is modern day Cuba. I would also invite you to study China’s “Great Leap Forward” or the experience of the U.S.S.R.

    Funny that you would bring up Native Americans. In a land of plenty, they suffer terribly on their reservations as a result of their communal style of living and government dependency. Go figure.

  69. Jason Says:

    “Woodson continues, when you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will not have to find his proper place. You will not have to tell him to go to the back door he will go on his own.”

    Wow, that is so true, and so powerful, and such an indictment of what is being conveyed in much of our public education. Why not teach people to be strong and self-reliant instead of victims at the whim of forces beyond their control? Victimology or “Grievance Studies” are the backbone of public education here in our city schools, and in almost all universities.

  70. Chris Smyr Says:

    What happened to the discussion? Is it just a busy week back at work for everyone? Hopefully we all can pick this very thread for bucking the trend and continuing an education discussion until completion, meaning a reply is necessary from:

    Cal:

    eduwonk.com/2011/11/occupy-the-schools.html#comment-231629

    LaborLawyer:

    eduwonk.com/2011/11/occupy-the-schools.html#comment-231442

    and AttorneyDC:

    eduwonk.com/2011/11/occupy-the-schools.html#comment-231558

  71. Jason Says:

    Dan Goldhaber of the University of Washington, among others, claims that “non-school factors”, such as family income, etc, account for only 60% of a child’s performance in school. That leaves poor instruction and misguided pedagogy/curriculum 40% responsible for our failing schools.

    I would argue strongly, however, that there is a powerful feedback loop and synthesis between “non-school” and “in-school” factors.” Shoddy education, high dropout rates, misguided pedagogy, grievance studies, all reinforce and exacerbate the culture of poverty in failing schools.

    Then there is the 500 pound gorilla: illegitimacy.

  72. Jason Says:

    http://www.thecartelmovie.com/

    Hey, Eduwonk, why don’t you do a review of this movie for your next piece. It is every bit as good if not better than Waiting for Superman. It should be mandatory viewing for anyone interested in education reform. And it is now free for Netflix subscribers.

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