No Superman, nor much more waiting, for school choice

There are no superheroes coming to save the day for students in America’s failing schools, cautions the heart-wrenching new documentary, “Waiting for ‘Superman.’ ”

No superheroes, but students who want choices do face enemies. In fact, they — well, their lawyers — appeared before the state Supreme Court Tuesday.

I’m not talking about teachers unions, whom “Waiting” largely fingers as the obstacles to education reform. They are a huge impediment in some places but the situation’s different in Georgia, and in any case the problem is much broader than that. It covers all those in the education establishment who put preserving their fiefdoms above giving students their best chance at a good education.

And if that doesn’t sum up the school systems suing to overturn the law creating Georgia’s Charter School Commission, I don’t know what does.

Legislators created the commission in 2008 because local school boards were reluctant to approve these nontraditional, but publicly funded, schools. The commission can approve charter schools, bypassing local systems that view these schools as unwanted competition.

The litigant school systems object to the commission’s very existence, but the key here is that the commission can award a charter school more than the usual levels of state funding. It can give the school extra state money per student to make up for its lack of local tax dollars, which only local school systems can allocate.

That extra money comes from the allotment the state ordinarily would have sent to the local system to spend. And that’s what has Lex Luthor — er, the school systems — so upset.

The Supreme Court will decide the case on the merits. Listening to the arguments Tuesday, I thought the law was on the charter schools’ side.

But even if the law is overturned, it should be a temporary loss. Based on the justices’ questions Tuesday, I’d expect such a ruling to be narrow enough that the Legislature could pass a new, tweaked law that would pass muster.

The point being: Traditional school systems are going to face this day of reckoning, sooner or later. Their monopoly hold on public education dollars, while using the same old failing model, is going to end.

When Davis Guggenheim, a self-described progressive who did the movie version of “An Inconvenient Truth” before directing “Waiting,” makes a film that promotes school choice, historically a pet cause of the conservative movement, it’s a bad sign for the education status quo. Change is coming.

As for teachers, there’s no reason for them to be on the wrong side of this issue. Many, many teachers do great jobs in wonderful schools — and have nothing to worry about from choice measures. (Fun fact: If a teacher works in a better district than she lives in, she already has the choice to enroll her own children in that better district.)

But there are also plenty of teachers who are frustrated: by their principals, their central offices, their underperforming colleagues. As things stand, many of them, like most of the frustrated students and parents out there, would have to relocate their families to have options. Do they really prefer protecting the worst members of their profession over opening up more employment choice for students and themselves?

In fact, an expert from Stanford University estimates in “Waiting” that U.S. students on the whole could perform at a world-class level if just the worst 6 to 8 percent of teachers were replaced. Getting back to our court case, anything Georgia does to spur the creation of vibrant education choices will help us replace those bad teachers faster.

And if it’s those few teachers who do their jobs poorly vs. everyone else, shouldn’t “everyone else” win?

135 comments Add your comment

[...] No Superman, nor much more waiting, for school choice – Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) Tags: awareness, cnn, fingers-as-the, for-school, journal, National, needs-reform, news-articles, [...]

jconservative

October 13th, 2010
7:33 pm

As someone asks “who is looking out for the kids?”

The teachers unions are looking for for the teachers.
The local system is looking out for their control of the money.

So, who is looking out for the kids? No one!

Drew S

October 13th, 2010
8:35 pm

How do we determine the worst 6-8% of teachers? Student test scores? Random observations? Something else? We all know both test scores and the observation system as structured aren’t reliable.

JDW

October 13th, 2010
8:40 pm

Agree with that jconservative, only person looking out for the kids is the parents and as you know not all of them do a good job.

I am not sure this is a huge issue, Charter schools are just like the rest in the sense that some are good and some are bad. As a parent of school kids I would like the ablity to use the $’s available for my kids education as I see fit. If that means a Charter School great, if that means a voucher then so be it, if it means the school down the street even better.

To really fix the issue is going to require a solution that seems to be beyond the current crop of politicians. Republicans are way too hung up on forcing religious and social beliefs into the mix while the Democrats need to understand that not everyone is going to excel.
If we had a bit of common sense involved here that might go a long way.

I mean do we really need to debate evolution all over again every few years?

Do you really think Harry Potter is furthering the goals of witches?

Is it bad to require that kids be proficient in English before they are put in a mainstream classroom?

Is there any more important use of state and local tax dollars than education?

Shouldn’t teachers be held accountable in some fashion?

Isn’t teaching sex education a no brainer?

Shouldn’t kids have the ablity to choose between college prep and a trade?

JDW

October 13th, 2010
8:42 pm

I agree Drew raw test scores are not a good measure…it will take a bit of effort to come up with the standards. A good place to start might be to measure the students skills at the beginning of the year and then track the progress.

Rafe Hollister

October 13th, 2010
8:55 pm

The point being: Traditional school systems are going to face this day of reckoning, sooner or later. Their monopoly hold on public education dollars, while using the same old failing model, is going to end.

If this is true, hallelujah! When even the least driven and least ambitious parents are clamoring for better schools, we continue to increase funding for these institutions of mediocrity. We need to phase out government schools and work toward shifting the money spent per pupil toward parental control. Let the parents decide how they want to spend this money to educate their children.

JDW you are correct, not all students can be educated to the same level and more specialized individual choices should be available. There are too many college educated young adults working meaningless low paying jobs as it is, why do we need to send more to college. We need more tradesman, craftsman, mechanics, caretakers, etc.

Rafe Hollister

October 13th, 2010
9:01 pm

Politicians love to campaign on education reform, just as they love to blather about Soc Sec, welfare reform, healthcare reform, fiscal discipline, but they never solve any of these problems. There is no motivation for permanent fixes, as they would no longer have anything to campaign for. We need to remove as much of the education process from Gov control as we can, as they have no history of success.

LA

October 13th, 2010
9:56 pm

“Shouldn’t kids have the ablity to choose between college prep and a trade?”

Yes, they should have the ability. I’m not sure what “ablity” is but I’m sure you’ll just call me a dumb conservative for pointing out your bad grammar.

paleo-neo-Carlinist

October 13th, 2010
10:04 pm

education is no different than any other ruse. if an individual does not aspire to learn, be it inate or parental, there is no government agency (APS, DoEd) or cleverly named program (head start, NCLB, race to the top), or amount of money that can “accomplish the mission.” just as the DHS cannot “secure the homeland” and the DoD does not “defend” Americans, the idea that a bureacracy will produce anything beyond self-interest is delusional. some kids “get it” and some don’t. and contrary to the sarcasm of Judge Schmales (”Caddyshack”), the world needs ditch-diggers, and there’s nothing wrong with being a ditch digger.

paleo-neo-Carlinist

October 13th, 2010
10:10 pm

ask; Bruce Springsteen, Payton Manning, Alex Rodriguez, Tom Cruise, the Rolling Stones, Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, LeBron James, Bill Gates, or Warren Buffett about the “value” of education.

Mike Klein

October 13th, 2010
10:11 pm

Kyle is correct .. Here is the second paragraph from my article on the Georgia Public Policy Foundation website .. http://forum.georgiapolicy.org, also at http://www.mikekleinonline.com

“Georgia educators and politicians should be warned that earning a reputation for rejecting unique education models would do this state no good. Charter schools in general, state commission charters, online learning, blended instruction in traditional public school classrooms and new ideas not yet conceived all deserve an opportunity to help Georgia improve its mediocre education performance. That is why the zeal being shown by those who want to kill state chartered schools is particularly discouraging.”

itpdude

October 14th, 2010
1:19 am

The one problem I have with school choice is the tax credit scheme. I don’t have children and will not have children, so why don’t I get a tax credit for not creating a burden to the system? If parents can get a tax credit to send their kids elsewhere, I should get a tax credit for not having a child at all.

iRun

October 14th, 2010
4:11 am

iptdude, and others who mention they don’t have kids and may never…my big question to you is…did you GO to public school? If so, then consider your tax dollars as paying the system back.

However, even if you didn’t go to public school, consider this…a good school makes for a good neighborhood makes for a good investment. It’s a positive feedback loop. I should know. I live ITP, in Candler Park, where Mary Lin elementary is one of the best elementary schools in the city. You probably already know that Candler Park is one of the better places in the city to live. You might not know that 90% of it’s residents who have school-aged children send them to Mary Lin, not private. For us, we’re happy to pay our tax dollars to support our school and therefore the neighborhood.

As to choice…I’m mixed on this. Right now, as I already explained, I “got it good” in the traditional system. I wouldn’t want that taken away though I doubt a change would mean much for OUR school. Right now, most of the kids who attend Mary Lin come from a level of affluence. But there is a not inconsiderable portion of kids who come from “resource-limited” homes. Those kids really benefit from their attendance at a school with peers from an upper income, etc. Their world is expanded and they are more aware of the importance of education and how that will lead to better opportunities. They are exposed to more than other kids from their income strata usually are. I should not like it if a change in the current system would take that away from them.

Ayn Rant

October 14th, 2010
6:17 am

There you go again, trying to convince people that a single, wacky idea will solve all the problems of American education and produce world-class citizens like those of Finland and Singapore.

Take a close look at the academic success of Finland and Singapore: you’ll find well-constructed curricula supported by teaching aids and supervised by well-trained teachers. But, most of all, you’ll find world class parents who respect learning and achievement themselves, demand it of their children, and are willing to pay for the social support sufficient to lift all citizens out of ignorance and poverty. There are no poor people in Finland and Singapore.

Look at American public schools and you’ll find no defined curricula, few targeted teaching aids, teachers who aren’t sure about what to teach, thousands of independent school administrations run by “little Caesar” superintendents and politically-selected school boards, and lots of dirty, mis-nourished children with no motivation to be any better than their parents.

Squarely behind the charter-school clamor is the desire of some well-off parents to educate their children separately from the riff-raff. If we were a real nation rather than just a place to live and struggle, we’d recognize that good public education is the only hope of lifting a new generation from ignorance and despair.

So, should we spend the effort and money to fix public education, or should we segregate the poor and ignorant from the rest of “us”, and continue to spend more and more on prosecution and prisons? That’s the core of the public vs. charter schools controversy.

Guy Incognito

October 14th, 2010
7:03 am

AR, “…….children with no motivation to be any better than their parents” I think parent (singular) would be more accurate.

As the great philosopher Chris Rock said, ” If the child calls his mother, Pam, and his grandmother, Mom, that kid is goin’ to jail”!

Men must step-up and be FATHERS, and not just sperm donors

iRun

October 14th, 2010
7:16 am

Look, a good father is definitely a major plus but can we stop all this misplaced worship of the father-figure? As though they’re the MOST crucial component to a child’s future? Likened to a god?

The problem with the people YOU are specifically talking about, black Americans, is that they’re poor and they live in a tiny world of misery. They didn’t descend into that. They’ve been there since they came here. They have very little exposure to any other type of life.

But this blog is about school choice. Not about the Myth of the Father.

carlosgvv

October 14th, 2010
7:46 am

The overall problem of poor school performance by blacks has been going on in this country since day one. It seems to be a social problem that is virtually impossible to solve. I hope I’m wrong but don’t be supprised if thirty years from now you will be hearing almost word for word this same kind of discussion.

Streetracer

October 14th, 2010
7:47 am

I have said before, and will say again, the two most important factors in acedemic achievment are:
1). Student work ethic
2). Parental expectations

No matter how schools are structured, no matter how much money they have, etc. etc., without these two factors there will be no academic success.

@@

October 14th, 2010
8:11 am

Finland’s schools operate in a surrogate family atmosphere. Virtually no politics are involved. The business community is consulted as to what they’ll be looking for in future employees…what should the schools focus on.

Children don’t start school until age 7. Up until that age, the parents have sole responsibility in preparing their children.

The children (a group) remain together, with the same teacher, throughout their primary and secondary education. This allows the teacher to know their students…to be personally and emotionally invested in their students. Children falling behind, in any given subject, have a second teacher in the classroom who gives them one on one attention.

Trust, from the top down, and up again, is key.

JDW

October 14th, 2010
8:14 am

LA wrote

“Yes, they should have the ability. I’m not sure what “ablity” is but I’m sure you’ll just call me a dumb conservative for pointing out your bad grammar.”

OK I will…try to be relevant instead of pedantic.

JM

October 14th, 2010
8:38 am

Why aren’t students’ test scores a good measure of how well a teacher is performing? Test the kids at the beginning and end of the school year. The difference in results could then be attributed to how much they learned.

Road Scholar

October 14th, 2010
8:38 am

Streetracer: I agree. My parents didn’t give my brother and sisters and I a choice about whether we went to college. They did let us choose our college based on our abilities and interests. Same with my aunt’s children. All 14 of my “generation” attended college of some sort and earned degrees. The parents also instilled discipline. You grew up in that atmosphere of achievement. Too many of my friends let their kids decide whether they went to college, and most fell by the wayside, but most finally saw the need and are now getting a degree. Don’t waste time, you’ll regret it later.

But I would add parental support to your list also; their encouragement helped me stay at it when the chips were down.

Curious Observer

October 14th, 2010
8:57 am

Shouldn’t kids have the ablity to choose between college prep and a trade?

In too many cases, they already do. Johnny chooses the vocation track because it’s easier than the college prep track. And then, guess what? Johnny gets his HS diploma, applies to a state college, and gets accepted by money-hungry college administrators. We taxpayers pick up the tab for the remedial courses Johnny will need in order to function at the college level. It happens all the time.

At any time you give a 15-year-old kid control over a life-changing decision, the rest of us lose. And so does the kid.

If Superman's Identity........

October 14th, 2010
9:05 am

I had to be told that I was a genius at school. My teachers would rave about me in front of my classes whenever I turned in a written assignment. I am an introverted loner. I despise the spotlight. I embarrass easily.

So, whenever the teacher would stand in front of the class after grading papers and start out with, “In all my years of teaching….”, I would cringe, knowing that Superman’s identity would again be revealed. Attention itself is my Kryptonite. Of course there was very popular student in the class who thought the teacher was talking about him, and during the leadup to the actually naming of the genius, he’d be high-fiving his homies. When my name would finally be called, the other guy would practically fall as he realized he just punked himself. I would then be the target of ridicule for weeks afterwards. If it weren’t for the heroics of my little caped sock puppet, I would never have survived the personal turmoil I dealth with over the years.

It’s lonely being a loner. I have searched my whole life for contemporary, trusting that the education policies of the passing administrations would produce a companion for me. I have searched in vain. But Uncle Sam always reared his ugly head, and only allowed my fellow students to know that Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492. With that one subject alone, every baby boomer brain was fried forever. There simply is no recovery from perception that screwy.

Look, I’m not the first loner genius guy. Lincoln had no equal. Neither did Plato, Confusius, or Euripides.

“A school system that is ignorant of it’s deficits is a happy school system. We have the happiest school system in der verlde.” (Euripedes in 500 BC)

JDW

October 14th, 2010
9:17 am

“In too many cases, they already do”

Georgia did away with the vocational track beginning with ninth graders in 2008. The Harvard bound student and future electrician have the same curriculum and graduation requirements.

http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/ci_services.aspx

barking frog

October 14th, 2010
9:19 am

It is a funny situation when the graduates of crappy US public
schools have led the world in scientific and technological
advancement.

John

October 14th, 2010
9:33 am

“We need to phase out government schools and work toward shifting the money spent per pupil toward parental control. Let the parents decide how they want to spend this money to educate their children.”

Why not take it a step further. As conservatives are quick to call for less government, why not phase out government schools and privatize education? The government doesn’t need to be in the education business. We can then cut taxes and stop publicly funding education. If parents want to educate their children, they can pay 100% of the cost to educate them. This would fall in line with conservative who believe in personal responsibility. Let parents be personally responsible for their children’s education.

Education is a Waste of my money

October 14th, 2010
9:46 am

The brats should work on their lower body strength, as they will be acting as plow mules in the cotton and tobacco fields for the rest of their working lives. The dollar is dying, and with it the American lifestyle. The brats will work 10 hours per day in the fields in exchange for half a loaf of bread and some beans. They can sleep in the fields to protect the crops from thieves.

DawgDad

October 14th, 2010
9:52 am

Don’t paint all school systems with the same brush. I see virtually no favorable comparisons of APS schools to the ones in my county.

“School choice” limited to public school options is NOT true “school choice”, and it’s insulting to portray it as such. It could give parents who care enough options to pursue for their kids, but this is almost certain to breed more corruption by those who control access to enrolment. It will likely ensure many more students are left behind in substandard educational environments where the spiral of failure ultimately results in kids identity being “lost” by the school district and the teachers/administrators cheating to boost reported levels of achievement.

Strikes me as just another playground for the power and attention hungry adults, further distracting scarce public resources and attention from the real root problems.

Disgusted

October 14th, 2010
9:57 am

If charter schools are the answer, why not convert all public schools to charter schools? Why open the door of opportunity for a few privileged children, while slamming it in the faces of most students?

That’s what gripes me about the charter school movement. It’s not the extra money or the effort to place good teachers. It’s the cavalier attitude that the movement’s supporters have toward those students who are left behind.

Kyle Wingfield

October 14th, 2010
10:09 am

Drew S @ 8:35 p.m.: The evaluation process is undergoing a good bit of innovation right now, with new (or more widely applied) technology allowing for more frequent and precise measurement of student progress. It isn’t fair to expect a fourth-grade teacher who in August receives a class full of students with second-grade (or worse) abilities to have all of them up to grade level by June. But it is reasonable to expect the students to make a year’s worth of progress.

JDW @ 8:40 p.m.: Certainly, not all charter schools are good. But there is a HUGE difference between bad charter schools and bad traditional public schools: It is much easier for a charter operator to force changes at one of those schools, and it is much easier to shut down a bad charter school. The difference in levels of accountability at the two types of schools is immense, and one of the main things we need to fix public education. (This is as good a place as any to mention again that I’m a product of public schools from K through college.) And I do support using vouchers as well.

Kyle Wingfield

October 14th, 2010
10:18 am

iRun @ 4:11 a.m.: You generally don’t see charter schools opening in areas served by good schools like Mary Lin. They tend to open in areas where the public schools are bad *and* most of the population doesn’t have the means to opt out of them (e.g., by paying for private school or moving to a better neighborhood).

Which brings me to Ayn Rant’s comment that immediately followed yours. No offense, but I think you completely and utterly misunderstand the charter-school movement. I think you’ve accepted an intellectually lazy argument pushed by teachers unions that’s gotten traction because school choice has historically been a conservative issue. The importance of “Waiting for ‘Superman’ ” is not just that it’s well-made, poignant, etc. It’s a sign that more progressives are realizing that school choice is most important for the segment of the population they claim to champion, and shouldn’t really be denigrated as a left-right, rich-poor, black-white issue.

Kyle Wingfield

October 14th, 2010
10:21 am

Disgusted @ 9:57 a.m.: There have been entire school systems converted to charter status: Decatur and Marietta are two I can name off the top of my head.

Bytestalker

October 14th, 2010
10:21 am

The problems of schools start at home. How many parents complain about the schools and never set foot in the door of the school. They don’t make their children do homework, instead they write letters, email complaints about their child having to do homework. How many parents when told their child refuses to do any work in the classroom ignore the teachers and do nothing about it or send in a letter stating, “Billy won’t be able to do any homework during football season”. Billy has time in class, but refuses to do any work. Billy knows his parents will back him and he won’t have to do any work. How many parents know their child has a test coming up and don’t even ask if they studied for the test, not yet make sure they actually study. Making sure your child does the required work or studying is too much of an effort for many parents.
It is amazing to hear parents talk about the Charter Schools. They haven’t cared to ever answer a teacher’s email or walk into the school, but start the Charter School and they show up. You want to improve the quality of your child’s education. Show up, get involved in your kids school now. It doesn’t take a Charter School to improve education, but your involvement.
Blame the teachers unions. Can we get the point across to those in the media here in Georgia there is no teacher union. It is easy to get rid of a teacher in Georgia.
The administrators and superintendents add to the failure in the classroom. They spend their time kissing up to complaining parents, since they keep their jobs based on the communities view of how approachable they are, not based on how effective the schools are in educating. They don’t and won’t handle students that are discipline problems. They issue ultimatums that all students are to pass and no failure is allowed and teachers aren’t allowed to say to parents, “your kid refuses to do homework, class work and you ignore our emails, phone calls for help”.
Politicians blame the schools since they don’t have a clue as to how schools work or the issues around education. The easy thing to do is blame the teachers and not put the blame were it should be – on the parents. Test, test, test they say and get rid of the bad teachers. Sit in a classroom during the testing and watch some of the students. Many just fill in the blanks by picking their favorite letter. No work, no effort there is no consequence for not trying. You don’t want to hurt Billy’s feelings. No society will wait until he gets his first job and his boss says you’re doing a bad job. He will go postal and the media will wonder why.
Look at the media. Stupid is “in” and education and school are made to be jokes. In Hollywood nerds are jokes and stupid jocks are cool.
You wonder why the U.S. schools are in trouble. Because the politicians, media, school administrators and parents look to blame the easy target and not support the efforts of teachers.

Kyle Wingfield

October 14th, 2010
10:26 am

And if you really think school choice is about privilege and not caring about who’s left behind:

How many times do I have to say this? Rich people already have choices! Why would they spend any time or political capital on charter schools — which by and large locate in poorer areas, because that’s where the people who need them live — if it were about them?

That’s why I said earlier that this “school choice is for rich people” notion is intellectually lazy.

Kyle Wingfield

October 14th, 2010
10:29 am

Bytestalker, and others who have this attitude that everything would be better if only parents would be more involved: I’m all for parental involvement, but in some cases that’s not enough. Go watch “Waiting for ‘Superman.’” Btw, I agree with you about administrators.

John

October 14th, 2010
10:32 am

Kyle, I understand you support voucher programs. But please tell us, how would you support it’s implementation? For instance, if a public school is failing, would 100% of those families having kids in the public school be given vouchers to attend the school of their choice? Would the vouchers be of varying amounts depending on one’s economic position? For those that cannot afford to pay the tuition costs at a private school, would the entire tuition be paid for via the voucher? Or would it pay 100% tuition costs at private schools for all families irregardless of their economic position? Or would vouchers only supplement tuition costs for those families that can afford it? What effect, if any, would it have on our taxes?

Education is a Waste of my money

October 14th, 2010
10:34 am

Kyle, your predecessor was pushing tuition vouchers as a cure for failing public schools. The truth is he just want me and my fellow taxpayers to fund his grandkids private school tuition. The problem is that public school is free, so the kids feel no obligation to perform. I suggest we cut property taxes in half, and make the parents make up the other half of funding for public schools. The parents should beat the kids who fail to perform, as they are now wasting mom and dad’s money, and no some stranger’s money (like my money). Just to start the ball rolling, we should cut teacher salaries by 20% too.

Kyle Wingfield

October 14th, 2010
10:43 am

John:

Very briefly: Yes, I think all the students at a failing school should be given vouchers for the amount that was being spent on them at the public school. No more and no less, regardless of economic position or the cost of the alternative school they choose.

Now, a couple of notes: First, in principle I think that all students should be able to spend the tax dollars allocated for their education at the school of their choice. However, I would be open to means-testing for vouchers initially, if that’s a necessary step for making progress. (I would also note that, if you limit vouchers initially to students at failing schools, that represents de facto means-testing; there simply aren’t many failing schools in upper-income neighborhoods.)

Second, two points about private school costs: a) not all private schools cost $15,000 a year; and b) you can’t judge the worthiness of a voucher by the alternative schools, private or public, that exist at this moment.

I can’t stress point b enough. The reason there is short supply of educational alternatives is because there is limited demand among people with the means to afford them. If you increase demand through a voucher program, the supply — of schools tailored to those students and what they are able to pay — will increase as well.

Rockerbabe

October 14th, 2010
10:43 am

Jconservative: The parents should be looking after the kids – that is their responsibility.

School choice is just another ruse for getting the government to pay for private and parachoial school education. The problem is that these schools are not held accountable for their perforamce, except to the parents. Private schools do not have to deal with public school boards tinkering with school cirriculum [to meet someone's political stance]; they do not have to beg for funding, they just raise tuition. In most cases, the teachers do not even have to be college educated. Private schools do have have to take kids with any type of disability, lower educational ability, etc. Behavioral problems that cannot be easily and quickly remedied often lead to expulsion from school – and admission to public school. Private schools do not have the same testing requirements as public schools – so how do you really know what these kids know? Most kids who go to college amd graduate from college are public school graduates. So how do you really know if private schools are better?

Recent reports have more than suggested that charter schools are not performing any better than the traditional public school and that is with testing. The problem is not the 6-8% of “bad teachers” the problem is with the kids and their parents. OMG-placing responsibility where it belongs!!!

Yes with the parents and their kids!
- the studies show that kids on average watch 4-5 hours of TV; so when do they have time for the school’s homework?
- why do kids come to school not “ready to learn” either when from daycare centers, nannies or stay at home moms?
- why do kids not know how to read at the appropriate level; is it really the responsibility of the teachers entirely? How come parents do not seem to read to the kids and help them with their school work or do the parents do the school work while the kids just watch?
- why do teachers get blamed for things not in the control? The curriculum, choice of school books, a voice in the discipline policy and not supported when faced with failing students who are school jocks?

There needs to be changes in our schools that serve the students and their ambition. Asking the government to pay for private schools and charter schools that are not held accountable is just shifting the blame to someone else when the kids fail or do they really fail?

When I was a girl, back in the day, I complained to my father that a certain teacher [a nun], just couldn’t explain things to me very well. Dad’s response: did the teacher teach you the subject matter? Off course she did. Since I answered yes, he followed the comment with, YOUR responsibility is to learn what she is teaching, ask questions, do the assignments and projects and study enough to pass the tests. The teacher cannot “learn” for you – that is your job. So just do your job!

Little sympathy for sure, but, I did just what he demanded and I did well all throughout both chatholic and public school and on to graduate school where I earned my MBA. Stop blaming the teachers for the failures of the parents and the students.

Education is a Waste of my money

October 14th, 2010
10:47 am

I resent having to pay anything to educate other people’s brats.

@@

October 14th, 2010
10:47 am

How many times do I have to say this? Rich people already have choices! Why would they spend any time or political capital on charter schools — which by and large locate in poorer areas, because that’s where the people who need them live — if it were about them?

Only once for me, Kyle. Clayton County has numerous charter schools…all in low-income areas. How are they faring? I have no idea. My daughter attended Clayton County public schools and is doing quite well in spite of.

Six months to go before she gets her masters in speech pathology from a prestigious college in Virginia.

iRun

October 14th, 2010
10:47 am

I suppose, Kyle, that my worry is that the poor kids who get to go to Mary Lin would get displaced by kids showing up with vouchers. Or any of the kids, my own included.

I mean, Mary Lin is beyond capacity as it is. They no longer accept administrative transfers. So, there’s no room for someone with a voucher. Does this mean the vouchers could displaced kids who are districted to the school? If so, then what’s the point of buying into an affluent neighborhood with higher city taxes?

Or does this mean the kid with a voucher can skip over Mary Lin and go to neighboring Peidiea?

It’s so very complicated I have a hard time seeing how it could be successful. I believe it would collapse back into it’s current existence.

Perhaps making the whole system charter is the way to go, so there is more local control. I don’t know. But I am thinking vouchers are a failure waiting to happen.

JDW

October 14th, 2010
10:51 am

Kyle wrote.

“The difference in levels of accountability at the two types of schools is immense, and one of the main things we need to fix public education. ”

I agree accountability is one of the things that must be fixed. I know the theory behind the Charter environment and at the moment have one child in a standard elementary school and one in a Charter Middle School. I have been to both multiple times this year and as yet have not noticed any significant differences. In fact if you asked me to rate my experience at this point I would rate the standard school superior.

I am not an opponent of the charter environment and given the sorry state of education in Georgia am willing to try most anything, but I am not sure that Charter schools are a key component of improving our education in Georgia.

Seems to me we somehow have to address the system as a whole, while somehow getting the current crop of kids, mine included, educated.

@@

October 14th, 2010
10:52 am

I’ve always wondered how the government OR their schools would go about mandating better parenting.

Left wing management

October 14th, 2010
10:53 am

Robert Samuelson, a sort of conservative, recently had a scathing column in WaPo on education that has raised some eyebrows (and was the subject of a fierce critique by Jonathon Chait of New Republic). Samuelson basically argues – and convincingly in my mind, despite Chait’s counter-critique – that the failure of educational reform thus far is as much due to a certain cultural malaise as much, as poor teachers for ex. Are you familiar with the argument, Kyle, and if so what do you think of it?

iRun

October 14th, 2010
10:53 am

Kyle, I’m a statistician for a living. I have no idea what this “means-testing” is. It sounds like a made up term.

What mean are we testing here? What is the hypothesis we’re testing that is best measured using a mean? And it’s all about variance, really, so why no discussion on the standard deviation?

Why do politicians use buzzwords that make no sense?

iRun

October 14th, 2010
10:54 am

Or does it mean “capability” testing? As in, I have the means or capability of doing blah, blah, blah?

If so, they need to change the buzzword. It’s too related to the t-test for comfort.

Yes, it’s all about me, apparently.

Kyle Wingfield

October 14th, 2010
10:56 am

iRun: I’ve never heard of a voucher system that would allow for the displacement of kids at their assigned public school, and can’t imagine that one would be created here. Vouchers might be used to attend other public schools, but only if they have the available capacity. But don’t think only in terms of the schools that exist now; see my 10:43 comment. (As for your second comment, “means-testing” refers to income — i.e., people below a certain income threshold would qualify and people above it wouldn’t, like it used to be with the HOPE scholarship.)

Kyle Wingfield

October 14th, 2010
10:57 am

Left wing: Haven’t read the Samuelson column but will look it up.