If governor wants to help failing schools, Opportunity School District isn’t answer. Try fair funding.

A new bill offers a milder version of the defeated Opportunity School but it still seems superfluous.

As he has shown in the past, former Pelham City, Ga., superintendent Jim Arnold is not one to hold back. He demonstrates that again today in this essay on the governor’s proposed Opportunity School District. (You can keep up with Arnold here.)

Georgians will decide in the voting booth on Nov. 8 whether to allow state takeovers. The question is Amendment 1 on the ballot.

By Jim Arnold

If someone said they had a magic solution to your local educational issues that guaranteed your child or grandchild – along with every other child in your community – would be educationally successful and academically competitive with every other child in your state would you be interested in hearing about these magic beans and silver bullets?

“I have such a solution,” said Gov. Nathan Deal, “but I can’t give it to you unless you pass an amendment to the Georgia Constitution.”

Hold on there, pardner. So you’re telling me state control is the only way to improve schools designated by the state as failing? That you can only tell us the secret answer if we give you even more control over educational finances than you already have through Amendment 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot?

The governor already has the resources and the authority to implement widespread changes to the way schools operate. Why is it necessary to change the Constitution and create another layer of government control? I think the governor would rather those that disagree just keep their mouths shut while he hawks those magic beans.

Gov. Deal’s Opportunity School District is modeled after the state-run Recovery School District imposed post-Katrina on failing schools in New Orleans. Turning those schools over to charter operators did not magically improve them, firing all the administrators and teachers and replacing them with Teach for America people did not suddenly cause student achievement to soar and competition did not produce promised educational improvement. In fact, things quickly got worse and then deteriorated from there.  On May 19, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed Act 91 into law transferring the schools back to their original districts before July 1, 2019, and ended the RSD experiment. No achievement gaps were closed, children were, indeed, left behind and the RSD was described as one of the poorest performing districts in one of the lowest performing states.

Michigan has an Education Achievement Authority. It has no defenders and is charitably described as an educational disaster area.  Michigan legislators are looking for ways to disband the EAA as painlessly as possible.

Tennessee created its Achievement School District to take control of the state’s lowest 5 percent of schools and move them into the top 25 percent within five years. Researchers at Vanderbilt University found that after four years all of the schools taken over by the state were still in the bottom 5 percent except one; it was now in the bottom 7 percent. An audit by the Division of State Audits said the ASD “lacks control over basic functions” and that the Comptroller’s Office was forced to “seize control of fiscal and federal processes.” Not the words of encouragement you want to hear about the agency that’s supposed to revolutionize education.

Georgia, North Carolina and Nevada are discussing the possibility of similar state takeovers. Can you say “model legislation from ALEC?”

Not all Georgians are supportive of the governor’s efforts, leading to the governor’s comments praising school superintendents for “keeping their mouths shut” and accusing local boards of “allowing failure to fester” for generations. Thirty-five school boards – some of them with no schools on the OSD takeover list – have had the temerity to pass resolutions against his plan.

The governor forgot to mention the research that supports his plan, and said in its defense that “we have to do something.” He also forgot to mention education in Georgia has been underfunded by billions of dollars since he became governor. Even with the increases to the budget this year, his administration has failed to meet the required funding levels once. Not even close. He also forgot to mention that the poorer districts with higher percentages of students in poverty are affected to a greater degree by the state’s underfunding, and that fewer teachers, furlough days, more students, higher insurance costs and increased transportation costs have hurt these systems to a greater degree than larger, more affluent systems.

So what Gov. Deal is saying is that even though he’s done nothing to provide basic educational funding required by law he wants you to trust him that this proposal – even with its failure in other states and even though it sets up an additional bureaucracy at who knows what cost – is what we really need in Georgia because he’s pretty sure it will work. But hey, even when it fails it will have made a lot of for-profit charter operators a lot of money and the governor will be out of office, so it’s a win-win for him.

There is a correlation between schools listed as “failing” and poverty that no politician/legislator wants to address or even acknowledge. Look at the list of schools on the takeover sheet. See if you notice the common denominators of high minority and/or high poverty and poor achievement levels on standardized tests. We might argue about the growing opt-out movement among parents and educators tired of the negative effects of standardized testing on their kids, on teachers and on instructional time. Real educators know that test scores don’t reflect what students have learned, standardized tests don’t measure what they say they measure and basing any educational decision on the results of standardized testing is educational malpractice.

We might also argue all day about the value and fallacies of using standardized tests to measure academic performance, the zip code effect, if standardized tests are so great then why haven’t private schools jumped on the high stakes testing bandwagon and we could throw in the debate about the effectiveness of school choice and privatization at alleviating academic deficiencies, but instead let’s look at exactly why it is that school reformers only seem to be interested in initiatives and silver bullets that aren’t supported by any research whatsoever. Could it be that education for those in poverty is not the goal, or is it that addressing poverty as the root cause of those pesky educational issues is hard and inconvenient?

The answer, of course, is yes.

The Coleman report, introduced in 1966, is often used as evidence that school funding has little or no effect on student achievement. Closer examination of the results of that survey have also led many to the conclusion that “student background and socioeconomic status are more important in determining educational outcomes than differences in the quality of schools or teachers.”

Whoa!  Wait a minute! You mean schools don’t really matter? No, I don’t mean that. What I mean is that schools don’t matter as much as people think. In the recent frenzy to implement data-driven, market-based educational reforms with no substantive research to indicate they have any effectiveness whatsoever, reformers have – intentionally, some say – lost sight of the fact that schools and education cannot be fixed without first attempting to find solutions to the broader issue of social and economic inequality. What really matters is “schools bring little influence to bear on a child’s achievement that is independent of his background and general social context.” Mom and Dad matter. Reading at home matters. Books at home matter. Parental expectations matter. Family matters. A lot.

Wait a minute – so you say that it’s not all the fault of bad teachers or public schools or renegade school boards or stupid administrators or students that don’t try to pass the tests or kids that don’t know how to behave or teacher unions?

Yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying. We cannot address the achievement gap by testing students out of poverty or by raising expectations so they will learn faster or to a greater degree.We cannot improve student learning by firing all the teachers and replacing them with well-intentioned people from other walks of life any more than we can improve student learning by amending the Georgia Constitution. We cannot improve educational outcomes for students unless we address basic needs like food, health, safety and a kid’s life at home. Good teaching does make a difference and good schools do matter, but only up to a point.

“So there’s no hope?” you ask, “there’s no way that all the kids can be above average and everyone can go to college and succeed and ace every Pearson test and that we can raise expectations and standards and make everything OK again?” I can almost hear the sob in your voice as you ask. I will tell you that trying to find magic bullets like the OSD and charters and vouchers and data-driven decision-making and privatization and competition will all fail, first because they do not address the underlying issue of poverty and second because their primary intent is not the improvement of the educational process or bettering the lot of students in poverty but profit for those hellbent on using public monies for private gain.

I can also tell you that addressing basic societal inequalities will go a long way toward solving the issues but they will never completely disappear because of the gigantic bell curve that governs life, and the Lake Woebegone Effect is not going to make sure everyone scores a 32 on the ACT, goes to college and lives happily ever after.

There are some models to follow, but they won’t involve hedge fund managers or for-profit charter operators and won’t serve to make any of your supporters rich. If you are an educator, you probably already know about the ideas in the links I share below and many others, but if you are the governor or one of his advisors that stands to profit from the OSD, you don’t want to hear it.  It’s so much simpler just to try once again to legislate excellence.  Good luck with that.

PAGE: Your work matters

DOE: Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports

DOE: Leadership

DOE: STEM

Effective Instruction

Vision

Innovation

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45 comments
dcdcdc
dcdcdc

Atlanta Public schools spends more per student than pretty much any system in the state - and has among the worst results in Georgia.


Obviously, funding is the issue.  We need to cut them back to what Gwinnett spends per student, in order to their results.....



Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Mr. Arnold, I think you can probably add to this list:



You know, I think it is time to respond to the bloggers who repeatedly, to every question, assert that we need to try something new (even if it has failed where it has been tried)because what we have been doing doesn't work.  They are right!




Here is what Governors Perdue and Deal and the legislature has done in the last decade plus:


Refused to allot the money state law says the schools are to have (QBE) by Billions (with a B)


Reduced the role of state superintendent from leader to rubber stamp


Piled increasing expectations on these underfunded schools


Mandated tests and "evaluations" that lack validity and reliability


Responded to the needs of increasing numbers of poor students from poor families by saying, "So what?" in part by refusing to expand Medicaid or provide auxiliary services


Failed to listen to educators about the needs of their students, preferring to listen to such "experts" as Michelle Rhee


Taken every single opportunity to disparage and dismiss teacher efforts


Given financial support through taxes to private schools.


AND THEY ARE RIGHT:  THIS HASN'T WORKED!

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

This type of thinking and money seem to be the main drivers of OSD 


"A three-term Douglas County commissioner, under fire after a recording of racist comments he made several weeks ago surfaced, is being pressured to resign and end his bid for re-election.

Commission chair Tom Worthan was secretly taped at an election event. He said that governments run by black officials would “bankrupt you,” and that if African-American sheriff candidate Tim Pounds were elected, “he would put a bunch of blacks in leadership positions.” He later adds: “I’d be afraid he’d put his black brothers in positions that maybe they’re not qualified to be in.” http://www.myajc.com/news/news/local/douglas-county-commission-chair-apologizes-for-rac/nshMN/

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

 The OSD shows signs of plantation thinking as in- the white politicians need to take the schools and money from the black school districts, taxpayers, voters, and school boards because the black community can't be trusted to vote, govern, and run their own local constitutionally protected government affairs. The OSD is racist at its core and does not even attempt to present an improvement plan. It is a plan to take constitutional rights from black communities to elect their own representatives.

Astropig
Astropig

 The governor has never promised magic.This is simply a lie.He has said (paraphrasing) that there are no easy solutions,but there are simple ones,the simple one's being to take these failing schools from the incompetent hands of the status quo that hold them and try a different approach.


AstroGranny would describe Arnold as some one who "would rather climb a tree to tell a lie than stand on the ground and tell the truth". He and others like him are a BIG part of the problem here. We've followed their leadership right over the cliff.Now that some passengers want a change of direction,he's blaming them for pointing out HIS (and others) failures.

sneakpeakintoeducation
sneakpeakintoeducation

@Astropig  You are correct; there are no easy solutions. But there are wrong ones, and this one is so blatantly wrong. It hasn't worked else where, even though the same promises were given to those communities. Instead, all that happened was a transfer of tax-payer money into the hands of the for-profit charter industry and charter management companies. The kids never benefited. At least try strategies that have worked. It's not about hating the governor; it's about hating the failed policies he wants us to vote for. 

elementary-pal
elementary-pal

@Astropig Here's my challenge.  I will secure you a number for the Peachtree Road Race for July 4, 2017.  Do NOT start preparing for this race.  


Since you will have no qualifying times, you will be running with Clark Howard and his heroes and start about 3 miles from the official starting line.  If you don't beat the paid runners who are at the front of the pack, we will label you a failing runner.  


You will bear this title indefinitely.  You decide to start training.  There is no money for running shoes, You will be given no additional time to train, because there is no money.  You can't hire extra trainers, because there is no money.  You just have to make do with what you have.   


In July of 2018, you improve your personal time, but you don't come anywhere close to the winning time, so you are still failing, even though you improved.  


So you leave determined to get better.  You try a new training schedule, you sacrifice on other things you need in order to purchase the running shoes, you give up things that you hold dear to your heart because you think they may not get you where you want to be.  In July 2019, you show great progress, but you still don't beat the those at the front of the pack, and so you are STILL a failing runner.  


This is how the teachers at my school feel.  Your assumption that everyone in a "failing" school is incompetent is an indication of how little you really understand about what we do in schools.  


Do you have any idea how much progress our students make each year? Much more than some schools that are at the top of charts.  Do you have any idea how the CCRPI, the "magic" formula for scoring schools, is calculated?  Don't spend much time studying it - the formula continually changes.  It is so difficult to hit a moving target!


Do you have any idea the things we do to help our students?  Just today I made a trip to the Dollar Store to purchase an alarm clock so a 5th grader can get himself up and ready for the bus because his mom doesn't seem to be able to, I sat in on two DFACS interviews with children who are either neglected or abused, dealt with no fewer than 10 discipline situations and at least 5 of these had no working phone numbers for their parents, had three parent conferences that required a translator, and you want to call our school failing because we don't meet the mean score of all students in the state on a standardized test? 


Schools can't operate the way they did 20, or even 10 years ago, because we don't live in the same world we did then.  Believe me, we are trying anything and everything to help our students.  Gov. Deal acts as if having a wife who has been a teacher (although she really didn't teach for very long) makes him an expert.  Well, my husband was an excellent basketball player, but at that doesn't mean you want me on your team.  If he has a formula - magic or otherwise - why doesn't he just shared it with the GaDOE?  After all, they already have the authority to take over "failing" schools.  


And I promise you, unless he is going to pay teachers at his OSD schools more money, ask them to work more and longer days, and provide them with unlimited resources to provide food, shelter, and safety to the students, there is nothing he, or anyone else, is going to bring to the table that hasn't already been tried.  





EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@Astropig Since you, the AtroPig, won’t do it, then ask the AstroGranny to tell some trust by naming one, just one so-called “chronically failing school” and naming something “that will work in the best interest of the children.”Come on, let’s hear some truth from the AstroGranny.

madteacher
madteacher

Astropig apparently you didn't read a word of this essay. Sad.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@sneakpeakintoeducation @Astropig

Hey Astro, We haven't tried doubling your taxes. Should we do that just to try something different?


WHAT IS the Governor's plan besides take the schools, jobs and money from black people and give them to politically connected white people?

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

Jim Arnold is clear: “I will tell you that trying to find magic bullets like the OSD and charters and vouchers and data-driven decision-making and privatization and competition will all fail ….”

Yet, Glen Delk makes the deflective grand leap to: “If you believe that you're doing such a good job, ….”

Arnold says nothing about he believes he is “doing such a good job.”  Instead, for the reader with eyes open, Arnold invites seeing and understanding, say, the dance where the dance partners are inside-of-school factors and outside-of-school factors, especially poverty.

Arnold sees and understands what Delk does not or, more likely, cannot see and understand: By doing the hard work of helping one dance partner to improve necessarily helps the other dance partner to improve, hence helps the dance itself to improve, over time.

But, on the other hand, the dance will be made much worse by, as Delk and gang would have it, subjecting inside-of-school factors to quick fixes and magic bullets and fairy dust in the style of OSD, charter schools, vouchers, competition, privatization, etc., all of which are already known to fail or to make no difference.  And it is such failure and pointlessness that challenge Delk and gang to see and understand because, I suggest, it is counterintuitive to their deeply inculcated, competitive lawyer-ism ideology to always strive to always “win” the case.  For them, it is, at root, always about competition.

Clearly, Delk and gang are stuck in a status quo rut, where they pervert democratic principles and practice for selfish, win-lose purposes, no matter the harm done to the common good, the greater society and, of course, our children.  Because for them, it is always boil down to their striving to win the competition.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@EdJohnson Delk wants to take money and choice from taxpayers who don't have kids in school. 

redweather
redweather

The governor could have always recommended that PBIS be expanded as necessary. He could have worked to make sure that the funding was available to make that happen. But he didn't. To ignore what has been accomplished through PBIS is an insult, whether intended or not, to the the state Department of Education. 

TreasureHunter1986
TreasureHunter1986

When schools are failing then things have to go in a new direction. Sometimes local systems get themselves so hamstrung with power struggles within themselves that outside intervention is the only way the kids get a fair chance. If that means pulling money from the ineffectual boards to fund something that will work in the best interest of the children then I am all for it.

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@TreasureHunter1986 1.  Name something "that will work in the best interest of the children."  2. Name one, just one so-called "chronically failing school."

newsphile
newsphile

@TreasureHunter1986 What we have in GA is a governor that has not restored funding and now wants to give some school districts to for-profit charter management companies that donated heavily to his campaign fund.  He has, in effect, contributed greatly to the current issues that schools are facing.  After taking a long, hard look at state-run agencies, I can't imagine anyone wanting to give more power and more control to a governor.  We have a state department of education, and the governor has been keeping them under his thumb.  Deal needs to release that department to do its job effectively. 

L_D
L_D

@TreasureHunter1986 But it isn't being pulled from the board - ultimately it is being pulled from us, the tax payers.  And if the board is ineffectual, than shame on us for not holding the board members accountable. And the state already has the power to intervene in schools in the same manner as outlined in this plan - without taking our buildings and tax dollars.

Astropig
Astropig

@TreasureHunter1986


Agree 100%. The only people opposing this are the people that bring home a paycheck from the status quo system in place now.They can't win this discussion on facts so they just smear the governor and anyone else that stands in their way.It's all negativity and division because they can't win the argument on the facts,and the facts are that these educrat kings and queens run these schools on a day to day basis but would never dream of sending their kids there.There good enough for poor families and disadvantaged minority families,but not for the status quo.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Astropig @TreasureHunter1986

We can't argue against the governor's academic plan because HE DOES NOT HAVE ONE.


He does have a financial plan of taking schools, money, and jobs from black people and giving them to white people if the OSD is anything like others.

elementary-pal
elementary-pal

One of the standards on which we are judged involves 8 & 9 year olds reading two articles and writing about their similarities and differences. They have to distinguish between facts and opinions. We discuss the importance of trying to see both sides of an issue. I am not convinced that Astro has mastered this standard.

elementary-pal
elementary-pal

@Astropig @TreasureHunter1986 So have you checked your facts? Are you certain that it is the school that is failing?  Are you sure that I am a queen? You may call me queen, if you like, but I am closer to Cinderella, working on my hands and knees, scrubbing from dawn 'til dark - along with my teachers and their children who come with them to our school. 


And I can't resist...We do teach our students the difference between they're, their, and there.  Would you like to come by for a lesson?

DCSSFrustratedParent
DCSSFrustratedParent

@Astropig @TreasureHunter1986 I for one oppose the Amendment and have nothing to do with the "status quo system in place now" so your 100% assertion s completely false - sorry.


The irony I see here is a Republican administration that rails against "big government" but in this circumstance they want to expand - hypocrisy anyone ..... 

newsphile
newsphile

@Astropig @TreasureHunter1986 You are so wrong.  I don't get a paycheck/retiree benefits from a school system or any entity connected to education.  I do have the ability to check into facts for myself, and I don't like what I see.  OSD is doomed to fail. 

PJ25
PJ25

I can't wait for this to pass by a landslide because the liberal op-eds at the AJC are going to be writing doomsday pieces for months.  

newsphile
newsphile

@PJ25 Interesting commentary on why you want OSD.  Nowhere do you mention students. 

Astropig
Astropig

@PJ25


If this passes (and I don't assume that it will because its politics-anything can happen),but if it does,I won't believe one word written about the progress of the program that is written after election day.The media all over Georgia have come out against this,which just tells you that they are sending their kids to private schools and elite academies.The ITP media can't be trusted for basic facts,much less fair analysis,so I'll make my own mind up about success/failure after it has been given a fair chance to work or not work.

DCSSFrustratedParent
DCSSFrustratedParent

@PJ25 If this Amendment does pass I will truly be horrified but the more important fact will be when the OSD fails just like similar agencies in other states have - as the letter says the money will be made and the current Governor will be long gone - just like Louisiana 

Glenn Delk
Glenn Delk

My question for Mr. Arnold and the rest of his superintendent buddies is this:

If you believe that you're doing such a good job, then why not give all parents the ability and financial means to choose your schools you assign via zip code, or any other school?  If you're right, you've got nothing to worry about.  Reminds me of the Freudian slip one of your superintendent friends made nearly 30 years ago, when he signed an affidavit in a court case, opposing parental choice, and said"... if you give parents choice, there will be no students left in the public schools..." 

sneakpeakintoeducation
sneakpeakintoeducation

@Glenn Delk Glen, would you like to chose your police department, your fire department, your library, your military, your parks. Should these be privatized too? The things you promote, like vouchers, privately run charters have been already been tried and have been shown to limit, not expand, educational opportunities for the poorer, have been shown to lead to more segregation, and have been shown to be harmful to the public school system, which serves all, unlike private schools and many charter systems. Why would we want to institute failing policies? Is it because you will personally profit from these? Looks like you have something to gain when you promote them so blatantly. What about promoting our public school system and the great things they do?

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@Glenn Delk Glenn, Is choice even an option in Georgia's many rural poor counties? Most charter operators want to be in urban areas because there are not the problems of transportation and staffing that exist in rural communities. 

The OSD will likely focus on metro Atlanta, Bibb and Richmond counties for the same reasons the Tennessee Achievement District limited its schools to Memphis and Nashville -- logistics, coordination and staffing. 

A documentary that looked at this issue concluded: In places like these, if you want to transform the schools, you are going to have to do it from within the traditional systems and structures – from neighborhood schools to school boards to local politicians angling for re-election — no matter how change-averse those actors and institutions tend to be.



https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/03/12/in-rural-towns-like-hartsville-s-c-school-choice-doesnt-make-sense-heres-why/

newsphile
newsphile

@MaureenDowney @Glenn Delk Absolutely true, Maureen.  There is no money to be made by for-profit management companies in the rural, poorest public school districts. 

L_D
L_D

@Glenn Delk so where will all this money come from to give parents the "financial means?" I asked you a number of questions on your editorial the other day, including how you're funding the additional 700,000 students in GA (you only divvied up the budget for 1,000,000 students - Georgia has 1.7 million public school students).   Also, how will you allocate funds based upon learning and physical needs?  There are students that cost significantly more to education than the average, on-level, no-interventions needed, more typical private-school type student.  How will you allocate funds for students that cost up to over $100,000 to educate?

Astropig
Astropig

@Glenn Delk


Spot on.The educrats don't send their kids to these schools.Most teachers that can afford to send their kids to private schools.


One last point-It's ridiculous to believe that school systems can reform themselves.It wasn't the school system that exposed widespread test cheating in Atlanta and other cities.It took the legal system to bring the wrongdoers to account for their actions.

newsphile
newsphile

@Astropig @Glenn Delk Where do you get your information?  Having followed four kids plus many friends' and neighbors' kids, I don't know any teacher in our district who sends his/her children to a private school.   Geez.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Astropig @Glenn Delk Actually, it was the AJC that MADE the state get its head out of the sand!  And, I might add, some of us on this very forum who said, before the AJC got involved in investigating, that there was NO WAY the scores were true.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Glenn Delk By "parental choice" I guess you mean let middle class parents use taxpayer money to send their kids to private schools.

elementary-pal
elementary-pal

@Astropig @Glenn Delk Please cite your evidence for the statements you make.  I don't know any teachers or administrators who send their children to private schools - I know I couldn't afford it on my salary!  


As for not sending our kids to "these" schools, we actually  have several teachers who bring their children to our school rather than attending their "zip code" school.  AND...we have 15 families who CHOOSE to send their children to our school and provide their own transportation to do so.  


Our district does allow choice.  I have signed ONE transfer out of our school and 15 families (some with more than one student) into our school. 


Once again, please stop with the generalizations.  Yes, APS has given the public plenty of reasons not to trust their system.  Absolutely, there were many people who lacked integrity in this scheme.  However, most of us have never, and will never, work in APS.  "One bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch, baby."  


We constantly look at data.  We look at student work each week to analyze what students know and need to know.  We spend hours examining our instructional practice.  We talk about what needs to be changed and how we can do it.  But we are expected to accomplish twice as much in the same amount of time as a wealthy school.  


If you really want to know about a school, look at their supply list for students at the beginning of the year.  In our school, no grade level can have a list that would cost more than $15.  We actually take the lists and purchase the items to be sure of the cost.   In a high-performing school, the supply list could cost as much as $100.  


You want to improve my school?  Give me additional funds for teachers so we can reduce class size - make the classes small enough for it to make a difference.  Pay my teachers additional money for additional days and/or hours to provide the needed instruction.  Stop pretending that a teacher's worth can be measured in a standardized test that is not valid or reliable.  Recognize the need for affordable before and after school care in a community where parents work shift work and cannot always be at home when the bus comes.  Allow us the opportunity to take our students on field trips to expose them a world outside our community.  Understand that the way we did things "when I was in school," are not going to work in today's world.  Accept that the world around us has changed and that we are asked to teach so much more in school today than ever before.  And then, when we make enough progress to get off the "list," don't take away all the supports that helped us unless you understand that we will fall again without the supplemental teachers, time, and opportunities.