What’s impeding school reform: Education monopoly or lack of support?

I wrote a column for the print AJC today on last week’s passage of the Opportunity School District. I didn’t plan to share the column on the blog as I thought we had covered this topic enough.

???????????????????But my column inspired a peppy response this afternoon from local attorney Glenn Delk, a school choice advocate who’s appeared on the blog in the past.

To share Delk’s piece, I had to also post my column:

I wrote:

In arguing last week for a constitutional amendment granting the governor sweeping new powers to take over failing schools, legislators said they could not stand by and let children languish in underperforming schools

Yet lawmakers stood by for a decade while schools endured budget cuts so devastating that two-thirds of Georgia’s districts slashed their school calendars. They stood by while systems crammed 40 kids in a math class and axed band, after-school enrichment and field trips.

Even as they acknowledged defects in Gov Nathan Deal’s school takeover bill, lawmakers contended they could not wait another day; students were suffering now.

But students have suffered since 2003 from $7.6 billion in funding cuts. Hardest hit by the cuts were rural districts that could not make up the lost funds through local property digests, and low-income children for whom lower class sizes and after-school programs mean the difference between passing and failing

When districts complained to the Legislature, the reply was succinct: Do more with less.

The state’s indifference to the plight of struggling districts contributed to the rupture between former state schools Superintendent John Barge and Deal, prompting Barge’s infamous letter to the Legislature in which he wrote, “It is a travesty and a shame what our state is doing to our rural and most needy school districts. The children in these districts deserve every opportunity that children elsewhere in Georgia have.”

The governor would counter he’s now giving those children their opportunity. The schools absorbed into his proposed Opportunity School District — no more than 20 a year, and no more than 100 total — will somehow be reborn as places of learning and promise under the direction of a hand-picked state school district superintendent. (Note the newly elected state school superintendent and the state Department of Education are set adrift on an iceberg in this plan.)

“We have both a moral duty and a self-serving interest in rescuing these children, ” Deal said after the House approved his plan. “Every child should have a fair shot at doing better than their parents before them, and we as a society benefit if more Georgians have the education and job skills needed to attract high-paying jobs.”

Like the governor, I want fewer failing schools in Georgia. But unlike the governor, I don’t think a new bureaucracy and a new name will be enough. Failing schools reflect failing communities and failed policies.

And many of those failed policies trace back to the Capitol. Gov. Deal and the General Assembly want voters to grant them new powers to intervene in failing schools. Yet those same state leaders don’t use the powers they already have to address the impoverishment and hopelessness of the communities that produce those schools.

Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones lamented children in failing schools facing “foreclosed” futures. How about the real foreclosures that decimate neighborhoods? (In a recent six-year period, nearly 654,000 homes in the state were foreclosed on due to lax laws the Legislature has refused to improve.)

Perhaps joblessness, economic development, predatory lending laws, mental health services and health care — areas the governor and Legislature legitimately ought to lead — are too formidable.

I used to believe a school could be the sole beacon amid the blight, that it could lead everyone out of the darkness. Now, I realize schools can’t light the way alone. Rebuilding schools begins with rebuilding communities.

And Delk responded:

Maureen Downey blames Gov. Deal and the Republican members of the General Assembly for denying Georgia’s children real educational opportunities, claiming that more money, not an Opportunity School District, is needed.

She and the rest of the members of the Education Industrial Complex conveniently choose to ignore history and the reality that public education in Georgia and the entire U.S. operate a bureaucratic, unproductive monopoly which is responsible for the poor choices available to Georgia’s families.

While I initially opposed the Opportunity School District, the reaction of the opponents to Gov. Deal’s efforts has reminded me why we should support dismantling the monopoly by any means necessary, including voting in favor of a state takeover of “failing” schools.

Democrats and liberals such as Ms. Downey have argued for three decades that more money will result in more than 2 of 100 minority students achieving a two- or four-year college degree, as the current system does.

According to members of the Education Complex, more money will somehow change the fact that, according to the 2013 ACT report on Georgia, 94 percent of black students, 81 percent of Hispanic students, and 65 percent of white students in Georgia who graduate from high school are not college-ready in all four major subjects.

Ms. Downey and liberal co-conspirators oppose any effort to give Georgia’s children, especially minority children, the chance, as Gov. Deal has said,  at ”a fair shot at doing better than their parents before them.”

Like the teachers’ union, the school boards’ association and the superintendents’ association, Ms. Downey chooses to ignore the cold hard fact that, contrary to her claim that we have to rebuild communities before academic performance can improve, organizations such as KIPP, Basis Schools and High Tech High have proven low-income minority students, can and do perform at world class levels without spending more money, if freed from the current monopoly.

For example, Basis students, while receiving $6,500 per student, far less than Georgia’s average of $9,000, outperform the entire world on the international tests.

Ms. Downey and opponents of giving students additional opportunities to escape the monopoly known as district-run schools should attend the April 22 screening in Brookhaven of the documentary, “Most Likely to Succeed.”  The movie shows what is possible when the best and brightest are hired to teach, treated as true professionals with freedom and autonomy to teach students who’ve chosen to attend and expected to take ownership of their education.

The movie focuses on High Tech High, a San Diego-based charter network, which, while operating on $7,200 per student, has managed to achieve an 88 percent graduation rate from college. More than 8,000 students apply annually for the 400 slots, while 1,500 teachers apply for 50 positions. High Tech High has no admission tests, with students chosen by a random lottery.

History shows us that monopolies do not give up their power voluntarily.  Georgians should back Gov. Deal and the General Assembly and vote in favor of the Opportunity School District.

Back to Maureen:

Basis is a very interesting concept. Follow the link to read a piece by one of the school leaders written in response to news reports of high attrition rates. Read the comments from parents that follow the piece.

Reader Comments 1

114 comments
BeenThere
BeenThere

Best statement from Mr. Delk: "what is possible when the best and brightest are hired to teach, treated as true professionals with freedom and autonomy to teach students"  In other words, what is possible when educators are allowed to teach the students!!!!!!!!  Teachers haven't been treated as professionals for years and look what has happened.

I also want to say two other things that are constantly on the comments here: 

1) there is NO teacher union in the state of Georgia, 

2)if we are spending more per student since you went to school please remember that that cost includes the computers and all the programs that are on those computers for the students to use.  That cost is high - it could cost thousands for a reading program to be available to the district each year.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@BeenThere 

As to 1)--there is only one blogger here who keeps stating (falsely) that Georgia has teachers unions, and he knows quite well it's false. Everyone keeps telling him this, and giving him the Georgia Code Section prohibiting them, but he does it over and over to get a rise out of people.

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

What would stop schools from failing? Get rid of the single diploma track. Stop building monuments for school buildings. Term limits for politicians! Take some of the money that is wasted on sports and buy texts books. Stop expecting all children to perform to the same standard. 

popacorn
popacorn

@JBBrown1968  'Stop expecting all children to perform to the same standard.'

That's racist. 

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

@popacorn @JBBrown1968


Why? You think your test scores would be better than mine, and you have no clue what color I am. Racist people always go with the Race Card. You better wash your mouth out with some of that lake water.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

Oh Mr. Delk, One more thing - KIPP


“We find that in New York City, KIPP, Achievement First and Uncommon Schools charter schools spend substantially more ($2,000 to $4,300 per pupil) than similar district schools. And in Texas, some charter chains such as KIPP spend substantially more per pupil than district schools in the same city and serving similar populations, around 30 to 50% more in some cities (and at the middle school level) based on state reported current expenditures, and 50 to 100% more based on IRS filings.

http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/spending-major-charter


Mr. Delks mouth noise making truthiness machine may need to go in for a tuneup.


bu2
bu2

@AvgGeorgian 

And how do they do that with the same funding from the public sector?


They don't cost the public any more than a regular school.


I find it hard to believe they get that much outside support.  But if they do, they are still achieving more with the same cost to the taxpayer.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

A little more info for Mr. Delk - High Tech High


Parents education level – 61% College Graduate or Graduate School

Median Home price $910,000

High Tech High Stats http://school-ratings.com/school_details/37683383731247.html

A review of High Tech Media Arts calls the school “smoke and mirrors". "I was shocked to find out my daughter had to take remedial math, science, and English classes her first year at CSU after graduating with above a 3.5 GPA from High Tech Media Arts. When I contacted her counselor at CSU, I was told that “one percent of incoming students from [the school] demonstrated ‘college readiness.’” http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2013/sep/11/cover-idea-public-school-we-have-concerns/#

“High Tech High North County labels itself as a "college prep school" when i find it to be so far from that. By essentially eliminating all test taking, lecturing, and constructive learning, THEY ARE DOING NOTHING TO PREPARE STUDENTS FOR COLLEGE. “

“Later on, this student was awarded exceptions from the star test that next year (which i assume was to keep there test scores up). It sickens me that this establishment of education prioritizes they're false reputation more than the success and progression of each and every student.http://www.yelp.com/biz/high-tech-high-north-county-san-marcos

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

I guess Mr. Delk thinks his voice is some kind of truth factory. If he says it, it becomes a fact. Maybe not.


“The Basis Schools – “BASIS schools begin with a reasonably high achieving group of 6th grade students (recently they added a 5th grade). Of those 11 and 12 year olds, only one out of three will make it to their senior year. The promoters won’t talk about the selection process or the attrition rate. http://dianeravitch.net/2013/05/05/deconstructing-the-legend-of-basis-charter-schools/


“And the aforementioned BASIS schools? Their per pupil classroom spending varies from $1,209 to $2,906. But their administrative costs? They vary from $2,232 up to $2,606 depending on the school. In other words, BASIS spends a whopping $2,000 more per pupil on administrative costs than do the three largest East Valley districts. Hardly efficient. In fact, some might call those administrative costs excessive. Others might call them obscene.

http://m.ahwatukee.com/mobile/opinion/article_b4e14fec-abd2-11e4-9dac-b789eb1eb0b2.html

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

We already have evidence. The State Chartered school experiment is here and the state has proved how well they can run a district. here are the latest CCRPI results. 


http://scsc.georgia.gov/sites/scsc.georgia.gov/files/related_files/site_page/SCSC%20CCRPI%20ACCOUNTABILITY%20UPDATE_2013_FINAL,%20no%20watermark.pdf


Of the 26 state run schools, 16 scored below their district schools. BUT, try to follow the money on these schools. The state does not require them to post the same type of financial information on the same sites that traditional public schools do. It seems impossible to find out salary information for these schools. Is that the future of the takeover schools? poor performance and lack of financial accountability to tax payers? 

BearCasey
BearCasey

I'm looking forward to the takeover.  We will see if Deal's genius "eduktrs" can do better.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

If some of you think you have to choose who profits from the system, greedy charter school companies or greedy central central office administration, it would be a simple thing to legislate that 85% of educational funds go to the classroom. At the same time you could give the same freedom to all schools that you would give to charter schools. We also have 24 State Commissioned chartered schools but there is no mention of this experiment, how well these schools are doing or how their performance, god or bad would guide the takeover. But, it could be mostly about those in power at the state level deciding who gets to $kim off the top and how much.

class80olddog
class80olddog

What I would like to see is a breakdown by county (emphasis on DeKalb County) of what the total expenditure per student is, and how much is spent IN THE CLASSROOM (teacher and supplies).  That would be quite interesting.

ScienceTeacher671
ScienceTeacher671

@class80olddog  


What would be more interesting would be to see the breakdown by county and by regular education, gifted, and SpEd students.  


Not to be picking on SpEd students, but there's a pretty big expenditure there, both for central office personnel and also for the classrooms where there might be one adult for every 2-3 students, not to mention special services such as speech, physical therapy, etc.


Contrast that with the regular classrooms where there may be one adult for every 30-40 students.


When you average out the total "per student," it's going to look as if the county spends way more on the "average" student than is really the case.


bu2
bu2

@class80olddog 


DeKalb is 62%.  The feds require 65%.  They are having to ask for another waiver.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@class80olddog @ScienceTeacher671 @BearCasey 

Bear Casey, I too am old enough to remember when "handicapped" students were not to be seen in classrooms. I do remember a very bright girl in high school who had had polio and walked with arm braces, generally pitied because she was "crippled."


And, olddog, what I termed "bigoted" was the way  you constantly characterize mentally disabled students as having IQs of 60 and no bowel control.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@OriginalProf @class80olddog @ScienceTeacher671 @BearCasey  So I exaggerate - I didn't say ALL SPED students are like the ones I describe - I just used real cases.  But ALL SPED students cost more to educate, even if it just means the teacher has to draw up an IEP.  A lot, I am sure, are worthwhile.  Some could have the same outcomes accomplished at a much less expense.


By the way, when I was in high school (1972 - 1976) I remember a very bright girl in a wheelchair.  She was well-liked and went to all her classes and graduated with the rest of us.  There was no issue with her condition or her accommodations.  But she attended classes at her level of education.  They did not, back then, place severely mentally handicapped (is that term allowed, is it PC enough?0 to be "mainstreamed" into regular classes where they affect the education of the rest of the class.


I get a little tired of the way Political Correctness works.  A new term is applied to make it sound "less harsh" to identify a condition, then when it becomes fully understood what that term applies to, they have to change it again.  First they were "dunces' or "idiots", then they were referred to as "mentally retarded" (which at that time was considered the PC way of referring to them), then they became "slow", then "exceptional" (that one was applied to me and others in the seventies - it just meant something different), now I guess it is "mentally handicapped".  I can't keep up with the proper terminology.  Maybe the term now is "special" or did that occur before?

class80olddog
class80olddog

@OriginalProf @class80olddog @ScienceTeacher671 @BearCasey " I do remember a very bright girl in high school who had had polio and walked with arm braces, generally pitied because she was "crippled.""


You know, pity is one thing, and you cannot control what other students think, but access is another.  So the girl walked with crutches - was she able to do the classwork in her classes?  I am sure she could.  Was she shipped off to a special school for "cripples" - no, because they could easily accommodate her in the regular school and she was not causing the other students to have their education infringed upon.  I support her and the school's ability to accommodate her 100%.  If an autistic child is able to do the classwork and is on-level and is not causing problems that interfere with the education of the remaining students, then by all means he should be in the class.


But that is not the kind of case that sends my blood pressure up. 


As one poster on here mentioned - why do we do all the things we do that drive up the cost of education - one word: LITIGATION!

bu2
bu2

@class80olddog @bu2 

Actually that is for making sure APS doesn't "steal" their assets with no compensation.  Having to replace a HS, a stadium and a HS site in a prime location would drive up their costs.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@bu2 @class80olddog  Actually, I think it is to secure the rich tax base so it can be used to finance schools on the South end of the county.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@class80olddog @OriginalProf @ScienceTeacher671 @BearCasey 

I really do think that the purpose of "Political Correctness" in reference to the disabled is to try to avoid hurting their feelings and making them feel more marginalized than they already are. Yes, the term "retarded" is just not used now,, but rather "intellectually disabled." But think how the word "retard" had come to be used everywhere. In the same way, "lame" is never used now. ("That is just so lame...")


And I have just been insensitive...a colleague of mine in Special Education once gently pointed out that I should not refer to "the disabled" as if their disability defined them, but "a person with a disability." I can see her point.

Carlos_Castillo
Carlos_Castillo

Trying to change the organizational culture at an existing school (or business) is a far tougher proposition than starting over, regardless of whether the school is public or private.  Trying to start a new school under the auspices of an existing district that is also failing would double down on the difficulty -- and the considerable expense.  


Far more time and astronomical cost are the two central weaknesses with change-in-place approach of the educational establishment.  


Personally, I think that John Barge had a point about the long term consequences of the Governor and legislature flat-lining educational spending for so long, but, at the same time, I don't recall any particular Democratic office holders  -- at the time the appropriations would have been necessary -- requesting specific tax increases to pay for the spending.  


Georgia is required by law to run a balanced budget.  All the woulda-coulda-shoulda whining about educational spending by Democrats in the last race for governor was just hot air, because they weren't proposing more revenue when it would have counted. They knew that voters would have put more Democratic office holders out to pasture even sooner, but it might also have given Republican office holders some political cover to push more education spending.


teagal
teagal

Students who are successful in school are the ones whose home life has fostered a positive attitude about education.  Money is not a factor here and students from disadvantaged homes can be just as successful as those who have been given everything.  Students have to care about wanting to learn and no teacher can force a child who doesn't want to learn. I don't see how adding another layer of bureaucracy is going to help an already troubled system. 

class80olddog
class80olddog

There is a simple way to prevent your school from becoming an OSD school - address the issues that make your school a "failing" school!  Namely - Discipline, Attendance, and Social Promotion. 


And these do not take a fortune in money to address.

gactzn2
gactzn2

Interesting, Delk writes in reference to a movie;


"The movie shows what is possible when the BEST and BRIGHTEST are hired to teach, treated as TRUE PROFESSIONALS with freedom and autonomy to teach students who’ve CHOSEN to attend and EXPECTED TO TAKE OWNERSHIP of their education"


In some ways, the representative seems to inadvertently acknowledge issues with professionalism, teacher autonomy, and student demographics in public schools.  His statement further suggests that we save the children- particularly those who want a private education experience at public tax payer expense under the guise of public education- while the most needy stay- the most needy.  This is not about "Other People's Children", and reforming education for them as much as it is a move to create a two-tiered educational system that only benefits select students.  After all, those who have chosen to take ownership of their education are a rare commodity in today's educational climate. Just who and how many will truly benefit from this legislation.

Starik
Starik

@gactzn2 When you talk about student demographics remember this...not all needy children can be helped, realistically.  Some, whose behavior problems can't be addressed in an educational system we can fund, will destroy the chances of the many kids who can realistically be helped.

ScienceTeacher671
ScienceTeacher671

@gactzn2


EXACTLY the paragraph that jumped out at me!  First, imply that our current teachers are NOT the "best and brightest" - granted, some of us aren't, but on the other hand, I'd put some of us up against Mr. Delk any day. I've known several very bright teachers who've gotten tired of all the rigmarole we put up with daily and become lawyers, physicians, accountants, etc. They find they get much more respect in their new professions.


Next, wouldn't it be nice if we were treated as true professionals and given autonomy to teach in a way that we know works, rather than having to follow the "research-based" strategy of the week, whether or not the research applies to our subject matter, student demographic, or grade level?


And I'd LOVE to have students who've chosen to attend and who are expected to take ownership of their own learning, instead of students who are bound by compulsory attendance laws and who've learned that they'll be socially promoted whether they do anything or not!  (If the General Assembly wanted to help with this, they'd require students to pass the EOC to get credit for the course, and pass the Milestones to be promoted.)

class80olddog
class80olddog

@ScienceTeacher671 @gactzn2  "If the General Assembly wanted to help with this, they'd require students to pass the EOC to get credit for the course, and pass the Milestones to be promoted."


They did pass such a law, but they included the loophole that if the Principal, the teacher, and the parent agreed, the student could be promoted.  Of course, the principal holds the other two in his/her pocket, and he/she does not want that student held back, so...

Looking4truth
Looking4truth

What I find particularly amusing is this - schools that are failing now under current state financing will suddenly (and miraculously) become Lake Woebegone under the OSD. 


As charter schools, they can (and will) become selective eliminating students with disciplinary problems and academic difficulties.  These students will then return to public schools (who have to educate all comers).  Eventually, the public schools may qualify for the OSD, and will become charters under state control.  Instead of dismantling the public school system, this proposal appears to create one massive school district run out of Atlanta. 


Astropig
Astropig

@Looking4truth


I'd like to know what responsible public official has EVER said that OSD schools will turn kids into Lake Woebegone,"above average" prodigies? Could you look that up and drop some quotes around it for me? I'd like to skin anybody that said that.


No responsible person believes that the OSD is a magic bullet. It's about improvement. I think you know that,but are deathly afraid that that improvement will happen and blow up a nice little worldview.


For myself, I have said that I believe that the OSD idea has about a one-in-three chance of being successful. But that's better than the 0% chance these kids have now.

Astropig
Astropig

@Looking4truth @Astropig


Okay, great. but who has called the OSD anything but an improvement program? As we have seen, the RSD in New Orleans most certainly did NOT turn horrible schools into brain farms overnight or over time,but they did show improvement over what existed before.Parents tell reporters that they like the ability to choose the best school for their kids and a lot of kids are getting the attention they deserve.Looks like a great process is underway to me.The people that try to discredit it have/had a direct financial and political stake in the system it replaced,so their caterwauling is just background noise to committed reformers.


But no person has ever said that this is the miracle cure for all that ails us. Yes,I agree that parents need to work hard to improve their expectations and schools should support them in this,but every big job has to start somewhere,and fixing the bad schools looks like a great place to begin. Better education is the best anti-poverty program ever devised and I applaud our governor or and legislature for having the courage to take it on.

Looking4truth
Looking4truth

@Astropig @Looking4truth  I'm all in favor of improvement.  I'm just tired of the simplistic answers to complicated problems.  A successful school, in my humble opinion, not only has teachers who teach, but students who want to learn and give their all to do so.  It has parents who are involved in their kids education and look for any opportunity to enrich their child's learning experience.  These things can happen no matter the level of family income.  True education starts at home.  School improvement starts with parents - not politicians


MD3
MD3

Thanks Maureen for nailing it and laying out the facts -- The legislature over the past decade has cut nearly $8 billion from the legally required QBE funding levels. (Fact)  Class size limits were waived and there are upwards of 35 and 40 students being packed into classrooms (Fact).  2/3 of districts in the state couldn't even fund a full 180 day school calendar and had to cut instructional days in order to stay solvent (Fact).

Those in the reform movement seem to love repeating the misleading talking point "Schools just want to throw more money at the problem", but what I've seen is that they seem to be asking simply for what the law requires instead of having those promised funds stolen by the state leaders.

It's laughable that some here still claim that the mythological teacher unions in Georgia wield some sort of awe-inspiring power. If that were true, then none of the facts listed above would have ever come to pass. Education in Georgia is clearly not a priority to those in charge. And it's disingenuous for the very same "leaders" who got us in this boat to now claim that they want to ride in to the rescue. Our children (yes, I have a child in public school) deserve better than our current leaders have given them.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Astropig 


Notice all the corporate ads for profit at the end of your link's propaganda.  That tells you all you need to know about the motivation of that "educational reform."

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@MD3


"And it's disingenuous for the very same 'leaders' who got us in this boat to now claim that they want to ride in to the rescue."

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


You see through the propaganda into what is happening. What they are doing to public education today has the same political tactic that Republicans disingenuously used to drive up the deficits through Bush tax cuts and starting wars not on the funding book, in order to cut social programs such as Social Security and Medicare.  See Paul Krugman's NY Times column, entitled "The Bankruptcy Boys" of Jan. or Feb, 2010.

Astropig
Astropig

Mr. Delk nailed it.


I would just say to reform minded Republicans (who actually DO things while Democrats just talk),that now is the time to act. Tune out the noise and join hands with the Democrats in the legislature that actually care about the students and pass the reforms that need passing and let the chips fall where they may.School improvements will run these old fossils out of their positions anyway as their power rests mainly on their ability to control the flow of funds to their friends and cronies.Tune out the media,which is becoming more irrelevant every day in this era of social networks and atomized audiences and tune out the teachers pseudo unions that are increasingly divorced from reality as even their members melt away at an increasing rate out of frustration at their politics and policies.

Don't Tread
Don't Tread

@Astropig It send liberals over the edge when the actual facts blow their feel-good-about-themselves positions out of the water.

dg417s
dg417s

@DontTread @Astropig Why hate on liberals?


“As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality.” - George Washington

class80olddog
class80olddog

Ah, Maureen's and a lot of teachers' mantra: if only we had $12000 per student, there would be NO failing students.  Well, ask APS and DeKalb county how much they spend.  The trouble is not how much money schools have - they have FOUR TIMES per student what they had in the sixties - it is what they DO with the money.  Schools put teachers on furloughs, but spend vast sums on legal expenses (see DeKalb County).  They cram 40 students in a classroom because they cut teachers rolls, but they hire more and more administrators who just happen to be a brother, sister, friend.  We spend $30,000 a year to "educate" a student with a 60 IQ that has to be suctioned every 5 minutes and has to have someone change his diaper.  We pay for free breakfasts, lunches, and sometimes provide weekend food for kids whose mother sells her food stamps in order to buy cigarettes, booze, and drugs. 


Let me in on a secret - it is not about the money! The true causes of poor performance don't take a lot of money to fix - they take BACKBONE (the one thing in short supply in schools).  Discipline - attendance - social promotion.


The schools quoted as being very successful with much less money per student have one thing in common - parent(s) who care enough to apply.  NO amount of money can fix the issue of uncaring students with uncaring parents. 

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@class80olddog


"We spend $30,000 a year to "educate" a student with a 60 IQ that has to be suctioned every 5 minutes and has to have someone change his diaper.  We pay for free breakfasts, lunches, and sometimes provide weekend food for kids whose mother sells her food stamps in order to buy cigarettes, booze, and drugs."

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


Readers, does this kind of thinking show compassion or the thinking of someone who has bought the propaganda?  It reminds me so much of the thinking of Southern whites during Jim Crow who called blacks "stupid and lazy" while having no insight into the fact of what slavery for 250 in America had done to the minds and spirits, not to mention the bodies, of our fellow Americans and fellow human beings. (This was the thinking of the same white Southerners who were hellbent against the integration of our schools and our society-at-large.)


This is enough to make anyone see through the Republican educational plan, which is punitive in nature, lacking insight into root problems, and a gold mine for capitalists.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@MaryElizabethSings @class80olddog  Is it compassionate to send a student who should be cared for in a nursing environment to a SCHOOL.  What about compassion for the OTHER 1000 students who have their class days cut short to pay for nursing care that should, in reality, be covered by insurance rather than school funds.  Why should a school have to provide an individual nurse to provide medical care?  Why should schools be providing free breakfast and lunch?  The problem is that the federal government requires these things and then does not pay for them or only pays a portion.  Just like IDEA - an unfunded mandate.


If States would "just say no" to Federal money, they might find themselves a lot better off financially - they don't get the money but they don't have to provide the services that cost more than the money they are getting.

bu2
bu2

@class80olddog @MaryElizabethSings 

The federal government reimburses $2.93 this year for each free lunch.  How much does the program cost the districts?  I think you will find that the federal government pays nearly all of that particular program.


How many special needs kids have you seen in a public school who fit your description?  I've never seen one.  And the most severely challenged end up in self-contained classrooms.

bu2
bu2

@class80olddog @MaryElizabethSings 

I do know that the DeKalb Schools school lunch program overall breaks even.  It doesn't take funding from other programs.  I don't know about other districts.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@bu2 @class80olddog @MaryElizabethSings  What about breakfast? 


The special needs case I was quoting was from the news - unfortunately the student died just after winning the case forcing the school to provide the constant nursing care.  So how did this benefit society overall, as opposed to just his parents, who got free nursing care 8 hours a day.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@bu2 @class80olddog @MaryElizabethSings  So how much does the federal government pay for SPED - and how much do school systems pay.  Try to find THAT broken out!  You won't - schools won't report.  Best guess is that the feds only pay about 40% of what they require under IDEA (which only applies if you accept federal funds).

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@class80olddog 

At least you're consistent.  For several years on this blog now, you have portrayed the special needs students as all being "a student with a 60 IQ that has to be suctioned every 5 minutes and has to have someone change his diaper."  This is cruel, quite inaccurate, and infuriating to anyone with any knowledge of special needs students. These students, who as citizens, all have the right to a free and appropriate public education, include those with dyslexia, Down's Syndrome, ADHD, autism...the list goes on and on. But you choose to characterize them in this contemptuous way.


I think you better adjust to the reality that IDEA was passed in 2005, and is here to stay. When you post such nonsense, you sound like one of the bigots who opposed the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 because civil rights aren't for "cripples."

Belinda51
Belinda51

Because someone disagrees with you, they sound like a bigot? Good lord.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Belinda51 

No....someone who seems to consistently disagree with the ADA that established the civil rights of those citizens with disabilities. Bigot: a person who is rigidly devoted to his own group [here, the able-bodied] and is intolerant of those who differ.  In 1990, there were a great many healthy, able-bodied citizens who thought it ridiculous that the public should be required to make provisions for those in wheelchairs, who were mentally disabled, and so on; and they opposed the ADA strongly because of its likely costs and inconveniences.

RealLurker
RealLurker

@OriginalProf  I do agree that the characterization does not apply to special needs children in general.  I do think that the point(albeit not articulated very well) that not all children should receive the same education is valid.  In the past 10-15 years, we have basically forced all children, even special needs children, into college prep tracks.  Not every student will go to college.  Not every student needs to go to college.  However, we as a society have determined that every child should be prepared to go.  There are issues with students not wanting to learn.  There are issues with parents not caring if their kids learn or not.  There are societal factors in poor neighborhoods that suggest that attempting to do well in school is a sell out to the establishment.  Those factors need to be fixed before ANY school programs will be able to work at all.


You listed free AND appropriate to your rights granted to students.  Is it an appropriate education for a Down's Syndrome student with an IQ below 70 to be in Algebra?  The teacher either has to slow down so that the affected student can keep up(harming the normal IQ students in the class), or go at a normal pace(causing the affected student to get behind and probably give up).  The same could be said of students who were socially promoted.  They won't be able to keep up with the current classes, because they fell behind in the classes in the previous year.  It seems to me that putting students in classes they are not ready for is more damaging than putting them in different classes or holding them back a year.  I am not saying that Down's Syndrome students should not ever be in contact with normal students.  They should have appropriate classes together and time to mingle with others.  They should not be separated and stigmatized.  We should strive for the best possible individual outcome for all students, not the same outcome for all students. I heard a conservative sci-fi author state that "We should provide each student with the best education that that student can absorb.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@OriginalProf @class80olddog  I don't have a problem with the "Free and Appropriate Public Education" part as much as I do with the "Least Restrictive Environment" part.  For the student who has to have 24/7 nursing care (suctioned every five minutes) - why can the school not provide an individual instructor to come to his bedside?  Why does the school have to pick up his medical bills (hire a nurse) as well as his educational costs?  Why can the medical costs not be charged to his insurance instead of the school having to pay them? My stories may approach hyperbole because I choose the worst of the worst, but if I had real data on the cost of SPED from schools, I would use that.  But they won't track it.  Appropriate education?  For some students it may be tying their shoelaces. But I have real problems when the autism child is mixed with all of the other students and his outbursts make learning impossible for the others.  Same thing as discipline problems, which I continually harp on.


There are much more efficient ways to deliver a FAPE - but they are not PC.  And today's schools are all about PC.  Even your outrage towards my opinions is indicative of how it has gotten.  I am not PC, therefore I am uncaring, bigoted, and evil. 

class80olddog
class80olddog

@OriginalProf @class80olddog  If the Federal Government was convinced that IDEA was such a good idea, why did they not fully fund it?  Why put it on the backs of the States?  A lot of people complain about the STATE cutting educational funding - maybe they should look at the other funding sources - local funding and Federal funding. 

popacorn
popacorn

@OriginalProf 

Get over it. It's called using hyperbole to make a point. Look in Wikipedia. We've eliminated Science, Math, and English as your areas of expertise. Though it must be said: Having one of these kids in the regular classroom can virtually ruin the education of the other students. 

BearCasey
BearCasey

@class80olddog  Identify losers when they are young and sterilize them.  No more bad parents.  Problem solved.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@class80olddog @OriginalProf 

My outrage is at the way you express your opinions.  Have you ever imagined that you were the parent of such a special needs child, reading such a post and trying to see that your child got enough education to cope as an adult? You've mentioned that you have 2 or 3 adult children of your own.  Have you ever thought as you consider these special needs students: "There but for the grace of God...."

class80olddog
class80olddog

@OriginalProf @popacorn  I have always maintained that all students at a 2nd grade level be taught in a class of that level - whether they are 7 years old or 16 years old or 20 and SPED. 

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@RealLurker @OriginalProf 

The guarantee of a "free and appropriate public education" as a right of children with disabilities is a direct quote from IDEA. And such an education may be the ability to cope as an independent adult with basic living and interpersonal skills, not to pass Algebra and certainly not to be able to enter college.

bu2
bu2

@RealLurker @OriginalProf 

What you are describing is what happens.  They have pullout classes where needed and are mainstreamed where they can be.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@bu2 @class80olddog @MaryElizabethSings  We had a student in our county who was SPED and they discovered he was being improperly restrained.  The SPED teacher was fired and her teaching certificate taken away (perfectly proper).  But the parents would not allow the school to place their child in another SPED class - they sued to have the school finance his tuition and board at a special school in Florida that costs $20,000 per year - and won!!  So the school system was forced to pay $20,000 per year for his education - about $12,000 more than the "average" student spending. 


Did he get a more "appropriate" education - doubtful.  But his classmates suffered from less money available.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@OriginalProf @class80olddog  Some SPED students are truly heartbreaking (some are diagnosed with ADHD and you can't tell if they are really ADHD or just have behavior problems).  And the parents always want the "best" for their individual child - and they don't care one whit about the other 2000 kids in the school. 


Schools, unfortunately, have to address the needs of ALL students.  That is what I am trying to address, also - get the "appropriate" education to all children in the most efficient way possible. 



bu2
bu2

@BearCasey @class80olddog 

A number of the worst parents are rich corporate executives.  What are you going to do with them?

bu2
bu2

@class80olddog @bu2 @MaryElizabethSings 


You're being inconsistent.  You said SPED students were costing a whole lot more than regular students.


And Title IX schools in DeKalb are costing 12-13k per student.


Either 20k is a bargain or your original argument is wrong.


bu2
bu2

@class80olddog @OriginalProf 


There are 2000 parents who want the "best" for their individual child.  Most don't care about the other 2000.  Many don't care one bit about the SPED students and think it is "their" school only for kids like their kid, whether he be above average or gifted (none of them will admit their student is merely average).

class80olddog
class80olddog

@bu2 @class80olddog @MaryElizabethSings  Unless my math is wrong, $20,000 is more than their average of $8000.  It is even a lot more than DeKalb's average of $12,000.  $20,000 is NOT a bargain.


If schools would track and give you true numbers, you would find that the average is misleading because the numbers are skewed.  The average for all SPED students might well be $15,000 per student and the average for all other students might be $7000 - but they only report the total average of $8000.


But schools won't break it out like this - why?  If people knew what the true costs were, they might think twice about SPED education.


Right now it is so PC that if you utter one work questioning SPED, you are labeled a bigot and asked if you want to sterilize all "undesirables".