Former DOE leader: What matters isn’t boldest reform, but most effective. And charter model is effective.

One of our recent discussions of charter schools led to this interesting e-mail from Andrew Broy, former DOE head of charter schools  and now president of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools. (Has anyone noticed this exodus of smart education leaders to other states?) Broy was responding to a blog by UGA professor Peter Smagorinsky.

Here is what Broy said:

I spent some time yesterday catching up on your blog and saw the article by the professor suggesting that all schools become charter schools or, more to the point, that all charter schools be granted the flexibility charter schools are able to utilize (if the waiver granted by the school’s authorizer permits it).

I am afraid that this leaves behind a critical aspect of chartering.  Flexibility is not granted merely for the sake of allowing more governing board/council discretion at the school level.  After all, that is what the failed site-based management initiatives were about 20 years ago and the reason they largely failed was because the alleged flexibility was not coupled with a demand for real results.

The charter concept is flexibility in exchange for real accountability, with accountability in terms of student achievement growth being the most important component of the bargain.  When implemented properly, a charter contract is the only mechanism in public education that creates a scenario in which continuing years of underperformance will result in closure of the school.  Multiple school improvement plans over the years have focused on other remedies.

For example, NCLB requires the provision of school choice and supplemental education services after two and three consecutive years of not making AYP, respectively. Neither approach demands performance.  By contrast, a charter school must meet rigorous performance goals set forth in the charter as a condition of retaining the privilege of teaching children.  While the charter model is not always faithfully implemented (there are some charters that grant almost no flexibility) and there are some authorizers who shy away from making the correct (but difficult) decision to close a chronically underperforming school, the model itself is strong (and unique).

In fact, I do not think it is a coincidence that the highest performing open enrollment schools in our country that serving students in poverty are charter schools.

As we have discussed before, I am agnostic on school form.  I do not particularly care whether we have more magnet schools, more career academies, more traditional public schools, or more charter schools.  I am just concerned about creating great public schools that serve students well, particularly serving students who are not served well in their existing schools.  It just so happens that the charter model is where this is happening in the most concentrated form.

Ultimately, I think we need a collective sense of urgency in implementing these sorts of models – the student in third grade today who is unable to grasp the fundamentals of literacy is not waiting for the next bold reform.  She simply needs the skills necessary to progress to higher level learning.


216 comments Add your comment

justbrowsing

July 3rd, 2010
4:41 am

Such illogical reasoning- recent research in this area suggests an opposite trend. It appears that parental satisfaction is high with charter schools, even when the schools are still failing. It still does not address the root issues for persistent low achievement. Student responsibility for being an active participant who chooses to engage in the learning process, is what often determines who achieves and who does not. More often than not, this is values based. We do not impose these unreasonable standards on other professions- except sales or quota based professions maybe- but education can and never will work the same way. Real accountbility starts at home and with the student. Take those elements away and you get what we have right now in Georgia. We will never be able to compete with “other countries” because we as a country fail to relegate culpability with where it should lie- at the feet of the students and parents. Address those areas and the problem’s solved. Get real.

Peter Smagorinsky

July 3rd, 2010
6:41 am

Thanks to Mr. Broy for joining this discussion. I think that he and I, and just about everyone, are on the same page in saying, ” I do not particularly care whether we have more magnet schools, more career academies, more traditional public schools, or more charter schools. I am just concerned about creating great public schools that serve students well, particularly serving students who are not served well in their existing schools.”

Who could disagree? Where we part ways is in determing how to create “great public schools that serve students well. Mr Broy refers to site-based management efforts that he believes failed because of insufficient accountability that “was not coupled with a demand for real results.” I disagree that standardized testing produces “real results.” In fact, I assert that they produce false results for many students and teachers. Reducing literacy to a test score is not a real result, given how broadly literacy may be practiced in “real” situations. Kids who do poorly on standardized tests can follow instruction manuals quite clearly when they provide information on mechanisms that they want to learn how to operate–see how avidly kids read when they want to become better at playing video games.

So it’s not surprising that site-based management, which is sensitive to local conditions and is less concerned about teaching kids to answer questions about texts and problems written by someone else for the purpose of seeing how kids answer the questions, rather than to help kids learn to frame and solve problems that they think are worth solving. Please don’t distort my reference to video games and say that my argument is that if kids played video games in school, then everything would be fine. Kids do this on their own time and don’t need it for school, unless video games are clearly tied to academic learning. (I provide some suggestions for how to accomplish this at http://www.coe.uga.edu/~smago/VirtualLibrary/Unit_Outlines.htm.) The point is that when literacy practice is tied to real learning, then the odds are greater that students will find literacy to be useful and something they will feel a need to acquire. As school is presently conducted, however, it’s all about testing useless knowledge.

Mr. Broy refers to helping students who are “unable to grasp the fundamentals of literacy.” It’s not clear at all what he means by this noble thought; but the measurement of that grasp, the standardized reading test, does not produce an absolute score that indicates the degree of that grasp. As long as tests dictate instruction, I find it hard to believe that students will find school worthwhile and thus worthy of their investment of urgency in their learning; or that many teachers will find their work stimulating enough to view education as an urgent matter.

ScienceTeacher671

July 3rd, 2010
8:39 am

And how do we tie this in to the recent federal study that purports to show that charter schools are no more effective than traditional schools?

I agree with justbrowsing, however – one of the missing links is that of making the students accountable.

Jennifer

July 3rd, 2010
9:04 am

agreed. I like that : agnostic on school form.

Lee

July 3rd, 2010
9:42 am

What parents want and what students need is a return to the basics. What we have got for the past forty years is “research based” reforms that have not worked and schools that graduate illiterates.

My wife once tried to show me the “new” way they were teaching kids to divide. Funny thing, she had to work it twice to get the right answer.

Houston, I think we’ve found the problem.

"Bold" reform? Please

July 3rd, 2010
10:35 am

If Broy or Smagorinsky REALLY want to talk about “bold reform” let them address the following:

What specific steps would you take, to increase the authority of the classroom teacher to hold students accountable for both academics AND behavior, and what mechanisms would you put in place to hold administrators accountable for upholding, and not undercutting, that authority?”

Answering THAT would be the first step to some REAL “bold reform” in our failing schools. Let’s see if Broy or Smagorinsky are willing to step out of their boxes and address it.

oldtimer

July 3rd, 2010
11:21 am

I beleive school choices would provide the best reform. Parents ought to be able to place their children in any type of schools they feel would best provide for their needs. Competition would improve all schools.

Ed Johnson

July 3rd, 2010
1:41 pm

Competition improves nothing. Competition only produces winners and losers. Implying winning necessarily equates to improvement is just plain silly.

bootney farnsworth

July 3rd, 2010
1:43 pm

we’re getting EXACTLY the education we deserve.

as a society we don’t value education, don’t wish to put in
the time with our kids to keep them on track, are still scared
to death of offending the self appointed black leadership, and
often don’t teach anything worth knowing.

bootney farnsworth

July 3rd, 2010
1:45 pm

“Competition only produces winners and losers. Implying winning necessarily equates to improvement is just plain silly.”

like I said, we don’t teach anything work knowing these days.
just look at this example of education gone awry.

bootney farnsworth

July 3rd, 2010
1:46 pm

bold reform #1

no one should be able to move into educational administration without
having logged at least six years of in-class teaching.

bootney farnsworth

July 3rd, 2010
1:49 pm

bold reform #2

disruptive students should be removed from public education.
regardless of what it does to their self esteem, who they
are related to, what their special victim status (race, gender,
orientation, disability, whatever) happens to be.

bootney farnsworth

July 3rd, 2010
1:50 pm

bold reform #3

year round education.

bootney farnsworth

July 3rd, 2010
1:53 pm

bold reform #4

actual, tangible rewards for folks who go after advanced:
degrees, education on how to teach, experience in the subject
they actually teach

bootney farnsworth

July 3rd, 2010
1:54 pm

bold reform #5

place as high a system value on the amount of students who
successfully win academic awards as you do the football team.

bootney farnsworth

July 3rd, 2010
1:56 pm

bold reform #6

teach economics and capitalism at every level.
these kids need to understand how the real world
actually works.

and that includes competition

bootney farnsworth

July 3rd, 2010
1:57 pm

bold reform #7

return to teaching civics. its scary stunning how many folks
don’t understand how our goverment works.

bootney farnsworth

July 3rd, 2010
1:58 pm

bold reform #8

revive the concept of the failing grade.

Springdale Park Elementary Parent

July 3rd, 2010
2:21 pm

I am with Bootney. Well said! But it’s unlikely current and future urban school leaders will ever have the courage or intellectual honesty to get any of these reforms done. So what is the taxpayer’s recourse? To insist on alternatives.

Competition may not, as Ed suggests, force the worst schools to improve, but that’s not what the Tax-Paying Parent Who Gives A *** About Their Kids cares about. He only cares that he can extract a quality education out of the public schools his tax dollars help fund. (Let me put it another way: improving all schools can be your agenda, and more power to you. Improving my neighborhood school is my agenda. And I make no apology for that).

There’s nothing wrong with creating winners and losers here. Identifying, eliminating and replacing the clear losers IS reform. To suggest that some schools may not be allowed to thrive (via open competition) if such a Darwinian process also allows already-dismal schools to fall farther–sorry, Ed; you and I agree on a lot of things but not this one.

Legend of Len Barker

July 3rd, 2010
2:45 pm

Question: What does anyone propose doing with the rural counties of the state. We’re not candidates for charter schools because the DOE hacked our funds to the point where several of us have a completely consolidated school system.

Funding a charter school would be next to impossible in these counties. You lack the funds, both from the state and from the community, to do it.

And the idea of alternate education has already mostly failed in the state. Starting in about 1967, several Georgia counties set up segregation academies … er, private schools (though with the tagline that it was about quality education). Most were dead within 10 years. The initial push saw big enrollment figures and lots of support. But even with most schools saving money by occupying old, closed schools, they lacked the funding and interest to keep going after only a few years.

Or if you wanted to merely turn the local school system into a charter one, the contract about closure would be disaster. Consequences for a school don’t mean anything as long as there aren’t consequences for parents or students. The most motivated teacher in the world can’t always get performance out of a student.

Besides, there is the issue of what performance is. Is there the same line for everyone or do you have different levels for different systems? Gwinnett County certainly has more advantages and much more resources than Irwin County. Though the suit was dropped, the DOE has been sued in recent years for its very uneven funding. Should we expect the same out of Brantley County when it received a whopping $500 from the state one year (in the 1990s)?

Plus, how do you get quality teachers to rural Georgia? I just don’t see many people accepting a job in Statenville when one with equal pay is available in Douglasville. Or even Douglas.

There is no one solution that can equally be applied to all Georgia school systems. And since there isn’t, the one solution will be geared to larger systems. Which in turn does what the DOE has been doing since the 1970s – creating an uneven structure of education and completely ignoring a good chunk of its citizens.

bootney farnsworth

July 3rd, 2010
3:22 pm

@ Len

two things:

1) you don’t really think folks give a damn about education
outside the metro area, do you? Altanta is where the money
and votes are.

2) me, if I could get same pay for working in Statenville – I would
be out of Atlanta in 0.00 seconds. hell, if the state hadn’t already
been cutting my pay for a decade with freezes, non-competitive increases
(the three times they did come), furloughs and unrealistic benefits increases – I’d have been willing to take a pay cut for a better quality of life.

APS proves hands down the money spent on education and the results have
little if anything to do with each other.

bootney farnsworth

July 3rd, 2010
3:27 pm

bold reform #9

dump all standardized tests. all except the SAT/ACT.
I’ve no interest on how well my daughter can take a meaningless
gov’t issue standardized test.

I want to know she’s actually learning

bootney farnsworth

July 3rd, 2010
3:33 pm

bold reform #10

keep your racial/sexual/gender/political/religious ect
politics OUT of the class room. students and teachers both.

I don’t give a damn how you feel about Obama, Bush, the responsibility
of BP, social programs, whatever.

math & science are the path to success, with language skills very
closely behind.

it is not the job of educators to shape opinion via “inclusiveness”.
teach the kids well, they can make those decisions themselves.

bootney farnsworth

July 3rd, 2010
3:46 pm

hell, folks are arguing for their rights not to have math skills
on another forum.

like we give a damn about education in this state?

So much for "bold"

July 3rd, 2010
4:39 pm

Notice how quick Smagorinsky was to disappear when he got called on his so called “boldness”?

catlady

July 3rd, 2010
4:42 pm

How sad, if true, that the state DOE had someone in charge of charter schools who was not solidly in favor of them (in reference to the “agnostic about form” statement). If I am in charge of something, I should be able to support it 100% as the best thing in the world.

catlady

July 3rd, 2010
4:47 pm

Secondly, as per the headline: SOME charter schools work well. Some do not. Some public schools work well. Some do not. Some private schools work well. Some do not.

Any research that is done on any type (form) of school needs to be valid research, scrupulously performed by someone without a dog in the hunt. Little research so far fits that bill.

AJC stop bashing Beverly Hall

July 3rd, 2010
4:57 pm

Why is there a front page story in the Sunday paper whose only purpose is to bash Beverly Hall? So what if her driver makes $90,000 a year. Considering the precious cargo she is carrying, the preeminent educational leader in our country, it’s well worth it.

We don’t expect Sonny Perdue to drive his own car, do we? Beverly Hall, a leader whose integrity has never been questioned, a leader whose educational achievements have never even come close to being matched in Georgia, certainly has earned every benefit of the doubt if she says that a driver is what is needed for her to be most effective.

And since her effectiveness is directly responsible for APS having some of the greatest sustained gains ever seen in education, it is beyond terrible what this paper is doing.

Atlanta cannot afford to lose the national treasure that is Beverly Hall. If the BOE had any guts at all, they would immediately offer her a significant pay raise, to show just how much she is appreciated, and would launch a major public relations campaign to counteract the unwarranted attacks on this outstanding educator.

HS Parent

July 3rd, 2010
7:04 pm

While SOME charter schools have proven to be effective, not ALL of them have. It is wrong to hold up a few charter schools that are the good ones without also examining the ones that have failed.

HS Parent

July 3rd, 2010
7:11 pm

Excuse me if I am wrong, but…..

If you look back in recent GA history, didn’t public education in GA begin its dramatic decline when the politicans got involved? This was when someone decided that they knew better than the classroom teacher on how to best educate the children sitting in her classroom. This was when some hack sitting in some office in the capital building thought that they could figure out better instruction methods than professional educators.

Let’s get back to when we allow the professionals to do their jobs. Don’t we allow doctors to do their jobs? Does the State of GA require a doctor to follow a specific list of steps? Why not? Don’t we allow dentists to do their jobs? Does the State of GA require a dentist to follow a specific list of steps? Why not?

Why in the world does anything think it is in the best interest of our children to require professional teachers to read or follow some script created by some pencil pusher in the capial building? Could someone PLEASE explain that one to me?

And to make matters worse, don’t forget that we are also requiring this same script to be used by the superlative teachers that have years and years of track records of getting tremendous success from their students – but hey, that doesn’t matter! All teachers MUST use the same script!

Is this really where we are heading in GA? Heaven help us all!

Ed Johnson

July 3rd, 2010
8:26 pm

SPRINGDALE PARK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CORE BELIEFS
–THE REAL ONES
* All children can learn and must be provided with high-quality instruction that is differentiated to meet their individual needs.
* Students’ educational experiences are enhanced when the community and school collaborate.
* Students will become global citizens when provided with experiences that foster an awareness and understanding of diversity and social responsibility.
* Students will become more successful learners when teachers work collaboratively to inspire them by implementing innovative teaching methods to make learning fun.
* Students will become “environmental leaders” when they engage in eco-friendly practices that protect and sustain the environment for themselves and future generations. Learning is a lifelong process.

SPRINGDALE PARK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CORE BELIEFS
–RESTATED TO ENCOURAGE “DARWINIAN PROCESSES”
* All children can COMPETE and must be provided with high-quality COMPETITION that is differentiated to meet their individual needs.
* Students’ educational experiences are enhanced when the community and school COMPETE.
* Students will become global COMPETITORS when provided with experiences that foster an awareness and understanding of diversity and social COMPETITIVENESS.
* Students will become more successful COMPETITORS when teachers work COMPETITIVELY to inspire them by implementing innovative teaching methods to make COMPETITION fun.
* Students will become “environmental OPPONENTS” when they engage in eco-HOSTILE COMPETITIONS that NEGLECT and DEPLETE the environment for themselves and future generations. COMPETING is a lifelong process.

Get the point?

ChristieS.

July 3rd, 2010
9:01 pm

Amen, HS Parent.

Bruster

July 3rd, 2010
9:25 pm

schools are a lost cause. Face it………

Duh

July 3rd, 2010
9:35 pm

When were these glory days in Georgia’s educational history?

Peter Smagorinsky

July 4th, 2010
6:53 am

Hello all, these issues sure do invite a variety of opinions. Just a brief comment to “So much for “bold”" who asked, “Notice how quick Smagorinsky was to disappear when he got called on his so called “boldness”? Actually I didn’t disappear. I’m checking back after yesterday morning’s post and now weighing in. I hope that I get more than 24 hours before I’m dismissed as having run from the discussion. It is the weekend, after all, and, well, it is the weekend. I’ll try to make a few points as briefly as I can manage, so as not to take up too much space in this interesting discussion.

1. I’m not much one to pine for the good old days. Usually, it turns out they weren’t quite so good, or that they were much better for some people than for others. Georgia schools were segregated until the 1960s for instance. That’s not good to me. And it’s only relatively recently that Georgia students and teachers were very well educated. For my College of Education’s Centennial, I put together the historical time line listed at http://www.coe.uga.edu/lle/history/index.html. It’s worth taking a look to get some facts on the state of education in Georgia over the years. And yes, it’s getting better, not worse.

2. Boldness seems to be in the air. “”Bold” reform? Please” places classroom discipline at the center of any efforts at school reform. It’s plenty hard to teach when kids are out of control, no argument here. I would encourage anyone who advocates discipline as the fundamental problem in education to understand the legal environment of education. Principals and teachers can’t just do what they please if they’ll be sued, arrested, fired, etc. for instituting a type of discipline that courts have found unacceptable. At the same time, corporal punishment is still allowed in Georgia schools. See, e.g., http://law.findlaw.com/state-laws/corporal-punishment-in-public-schools/georgia/. So, there you go–teachers can hit kids to keep them in line, although not as long and hard as they please. I’m never quite sure where people want to draw the line on this, though, and most educators would prefer to be safe rather than sorry when it comes to hitting somebody else’s kids.

3. Just for the record, I don’t consider myself to exist in a box. I taught high school English in Illinois for 14 years. I taught kids who I’m sure are in jail or dead by now. So I’m not quite as naive as some might think.

4. As various comments suggest, there’s no single solution for what ails schools. To some its discipline, to others it’s restoring the Bible (I’m not sure how that would work for Jewish kids), to others it’s turning off the TV or shutting down the video games, to some it’s increasing testing, to others it’s reducing testing, to some it’s getting rid of political correctness, to others it’s being more sensitive to people who exhibit difference, etc. etc. etc. Schools are like that elephant being felt by the blind men–what they are depends on where you look. If schools are to change, then they need to change in more than one way. One problem in changing schools is that they are fraught with contradiction, in large part because different people see different purposes for them. One person’s final solution is another’s recipe for disaster. That’s one reason I like site-based management: it allows for greater sensitivity to local concerns, even if it doesn’t eliminate or resolve conflicting opinions. So, parents who want strict discipline could support a school run so that the value on corporal punishment is shared widely. I don’t offer site-based management as a final solution, but rather as a mechanism that would allow for a type of process that might help address other problems, even as it creates others (e.g., it would undermine alignment with national standards).

5. I recognize that I’m hardly an authority on issues of school organization and administration; I’ve never been a department chair, much less a principal or superintendent. I have been in and around schools for about 35 years, however, so do have an idea of how they work, and hope that at least some of my perspective resonates with some readers of Maureen’s blog.

HS Parent

July 4th, 2010
6:54 am

@Duh

I graduated in a south GA HS in 1980. I scored over 1500 on the SAT (in those days 1600 was perfect) and got full academic scholarships from UVA, GA Tech, UGA, Auburn, just to name a few. And, I was not alone. I knew many many in GA that were high school students sought after by elite colleges. Evidently, the teachers back then must have known what they were doing! Why did the politicans suddenly think that they were better educators than teachers?

dave

July 4th, 2010
7:05 am

Ed Johnson – when “winning and losing” seperates schools who are effective from those that aren’t, seems to me it accomplishes something. Like educating our children and I thought that was what schools are supposed to be about?

Vince

July 4th, 2010
8:27 am

@AJC Stop Bashing Beverly Hall…

Surely your comment about Ms. Hall’s driver was sarcasm….wasn’t it?? Why On God’s green earth does a superintendent need a driver in the first place?

I hereby place my name into consideration as Ms. Hall’s next driver. I will do the job for half the pay of her current driver. With all of the furlough days, pay cuts and lack of raises I have experience over the past few years her current driver makes more than I do as a principal.

Just a teacher

July 4th, 2010
9:35 am

Are you serious? The driver made over $90,000 a year? I work at least 65 hours a week as a teacher with tutorials, preparation, checking papers, calling parents, keeping up with current events, attending meetings, supervising students and after 25 years, I do not get overtime, comp time or a thank you. You can’t be serious, I haven’t seen the paper yet.

ScienceTeacher671

July 4th, 2010
9:55 am

@Peter Smagorinsky, perhaps this should be regarded as an aside, since I am not the poster of 1000 names who is so obsessed with discipline….

I don’t think stricter discipline requires corporal punishment. I do think it requires definite consequences, and I think it must be consistent.

For instance, you can’t just enforce the dress code once or twice per week, and you can’t have some teachers or administrators enforcing rules while others ignore them. You can’t enforce the rules on the lower-level students while letting the honors kids, or the politically connected kids (frequently the two categories coincide) get away with infractions.

If the board makes the rules, they have to stand by those rules when parents come to board meetings complaining that teachers and administrators are enforcing said rules. If the consequence for breaking a particular rule is an office referral, administrators can’t punish teachers who send “too many” students to the office for breaking that rule.

None of that requires corporal punishment, but it does require effort, at least in the beginning.

Annie

July 4th, 2010
10:29 am

Schools in Georgia are doing a remarkable job overall, and charter schools and systems are a new approach that will help some schools and systems to re-define and re-energize their work. The achievement gap between children of poverty and those from enriched backgrounds is the root cause of issues that challenge education. It is a societal problem and no one entity’s fault. There is a large gap between reality of what is going on in schools and legislation passed by the General Assembly. From what I see, it is a systemic problem in that politician’s needs are to be elected, and they need to present legislation that is popular to voters, whether it is realistic or not. The biggest gap in education today is between what is realistic and what is perceived. I suggest we all “get real.”

CharterStarter, Too

July 4th, 2010
12:28 pm

Some random thoughts on schooling issues….

1. Measure and monitor student GROWTH using a reliable, norm-referenced instrument. Use this measure to assess both traditional and charter school effectiveness and to establish individual, school, and system-wide goals and objectives.

2. Get the courts to hold parents accountable for supporting schooling in the most basic of ways (i.e., attendance, discipline, etc.) The schools can’t do it all. The break down in our society is noticeable first in the schools.

3. I don’t support capital punishment, but disciplinary expectations that are consistently upheld are critical to the success of ANY school. Schools (all) need to stop shying away from litigation and follow their own policies and stand firm on what’s appropriate and permitted in the classroom. Charters seem to have better results with discipline on the whole – I am not sure if this is because they establish firm expectations in the beginning, create a strong shared school culture, if they are consistent in upholding their policies and procedures, or a combo. But the traditional school systems need to rethink discipline and gain some control over these classrooms so that teachers can teach and kids can learn. Enough is enough.

4. Reduce the garbage paperwork and processes that eat at teachers’ planning and teaching time. There is too much nonsense interfering with critical planning, teaching, collaboration, and reflection time.

5. Quit cutting school budgets. I know, I know, funds don’t necessarily always mean higher achievement, but it is a strain on schools. Furloughs impact staff morale. Staff cuts usually happen at the school level rather than at the county or state level, and this hits the kids whether you want to believe it or not. And while I’m griping about budgets…re-create the archaic Georgia public school funding model. It stinks.

Bold reform? Please

July 4th, 2010
12:35 pm

“What specific steps would you take, to increase the authority of the classroom teacher to hold students accountable for both academics AND behavior, and what mechanisms would you put in place to hold administrators accountable for upholding, and not undercutting, that authority?”

Don’t think for a second it escaped anyone’s notice that Smagorinsky completely side-stepped the question.

“Please” places classroom discipline at the center of any efforts at school reform.”

It’s not the single cure all. But talking about school reform without talking about discipline, is like talking about Afghanistan without talking about the Taliban.

“I would encourage anyone who advocates discipline as the fundamental problem in education to understand the legal environment of education. Principals and teachers can’t just do what they please if they’ll be sued, arrested, fired, etc. for instituting a type of discipline that courts have found unacceptable.”

So we shouldn’t even have a conversation of what policies we could introduce that would help maintain the integrity of the learning environment, because someone may threaten to sue someone? Is Smagorinsky suggesting that there isn’t a single policy that could be implemented because they would surely not pass Constitutional muster?

“So, parents who want strict discipline could support a school run so that the value on corporal punishment is shared widely…”

And finally we see Smagorinsky reduces himself to ad hominen attack, implying that an proponent of improving discipline in the schools is a proponent of restoring corporal punishment when corporal punishment was neither mentioned nor implied.

Mikey D

July 4th, 2010
12:37 pm

@CharterStarter, Too:

“Capital” punishment in schools would probably be slightly controversial, don’t you think? ;-)

CharterStarter, Too

July 4th, 2010
12:43 pm

my own two cents

July 4th, 2010
12:46 pm

Here is some educational reform to think about

1. K-3 only teach reading writing and basic arithmetic and dump all other subjects at that level. Kids do not pass the 3rd grade until they can show mastery of this. We are throwing too much at these kids too soon.

2. Minimum classroom experience for administration jobs be raised to 10 years in the classroom.

3. Everyone who serves in an administration job (and that means all the way up to the State School Superintendent) must teach at least one class a day for an entire year.

I think those would go a long way to helping reform education.

David S

July 4th, 2010
1:00 pm

There is no more accountability than can be had through a system of only private and charity schools answering directly to the consumer or the donors. Any system, whether charter or traditional, that is run by the government is ultimately not accountable in any real sense to anyone. Everyone speaks of more parental involvement, but never demands that the parent pay directly for the services. There is only one way to get anyone to care, and that is to make them pay directly and to give them the real choice that a free and competitive market would deliver and to give them the ability, as with every other consumer choice, to take their money and leave if they are dissatisfied.

You can dance around every half-baked idea that you can conceive, but so long as the mechanism is based on forced taxation of everyone, an inability to take your money and walk, government control of the process, and mandatory attendance laws, you will never solve the basic and fundamental problems that will ALWAYS plague these kinds of systems.

Happy 4th – you remember, the day that was meant to celebrate our indepence from oppressive and unaccountable government monopoly over our lives. Understand the irony here????

CharterStarter, Too

July 4th, 2010
1:10 pm

David S., I have read your posts over the last several months and tried, really tried to figure out how your model would solve the root problems in this country. What do you do with CURRENTLY impoverished families that barely afford to eat and keep a roof over their heads? Seems to me that your model would only perpetuate poverty in this nation rather than provide equal access for all to learn since many of these folks (and there are a lot more of them than the middle and upper class that could afford to pay). I’m trying to understand….but it still makes no sense to me.

CharterStarter, Too

July 4th, 2010
1:11 pm

And David, on another note…if this government is so oppressive, why stick around the good old USA? Why not move elsewhere where the grass is greener? Again, I don’t get it.

ScienceTeacher671

July 4th, 2010
2:06 pm

David S, ever read Georgia’s state constitution?

(If you haven’t, that’s okay. I don’t think most of our Republican lawmakers have either.)