The physics of education: Geoffrey Canada challenges Dayton

“No one is coming to save your kids. You’re going to have to save your own kids”- Geoffrey Canada speaking at UD to a packed house of people who want answers to how we’re going to teach our kids.

Of course, the irony is- that’s why they asked Geoffrey here to speak- to tell us what the answers are.

And if you were listening- you heard the answer- but, you won’t like it.

Geoffrey calls it the “physics of education” and explains it in one of those math story problems we all hated (at least I hated as a kid)- but this one was easy: if a train leaves Dayton (obviously, Canada hadn’t heard about Governor Kibosh- I mean Kasich) at 9 a.m. heading East at 39 m.p.h., and another leaves at noon going 39 m.p.h.- when will train B catch up with train A?

This was to explain how you can’t expect kids who start behind- to ever catch up with kids who start at grade- working with the  same number of hours of instruction. Basically- the metrics we somehow believe are supposed to work- learn one year’s material in 180 school days- only works for middle and upper class kids. Hello?

Not only that- but, even with our current system- he pointed out that a high school diploma is almost worthless in today’s job market- and even though our graduation rates suck- esp. for black males, 75% of our kids aren’t even fit for military service (he cited the report by a slew of generals “Ready, Willing and unable to Serve“). If they can’t even stop bullets for Uncle Sam, how the hell can they do something productive?

Of course, while we can find money for “Air Superiority Fighters” that cost a billion a piece- we’re unable to do the simple math- that by spending an extra $5K a year per student- for a total of $60k for a HS diploma- we can easily save the $35K a year we’re going to spend locking little Johnny up later – or paying for his unemployment, his uninsured medical costs, his bastard children and the baby mommas we all love to watch on Jerry Springer.

But, don’t even worry about the money. The reality is, we’re becoming a third world nation as it is. There are better educated people, willing to work for less, all over the globe. Not just making cars- but even willing to design and engineer them. Yep, we may have the guns, but we’re running out of people who can use them- and pretty soon, we won’t be able to make them either.

Canada talks about responsibility and accountability for teaching. This is always a sticking point with our “educators” that are failing to properly prepare our students for today’s global economy. In no other profession is failure so widely accepted, and no one gets fired (well- except for the wizards on Wall Street, but that’s another story). He’s not even worried about firing the mediocre teachers- just the bad ones- and catches hell for suggesting that some people weren’t cut out to teach. Why this is so hard to believe is unbelievable, since all of us had at least a few pathetic teachers growing up. Mine was a former nun- who became a Social Studies “teacher”- every student realized she was a joke, and so did other teachers- but she marched on to the same retirement that my best teachers earned. Thank you David DiCarlo, Betty Levy, Steve Young and Larry Geiger.

I’ve written about Canada before on this site- and long before I had heard of him- when I first ran for mayor, proposed that Dayton differentiate itself by providing 24-hour subsidized child care for residents as a way to draw people and jobs into the city and improve our schools.

Unlike other politicians- 20 years later- my ideas are still sound, and there to be seen and discussed- they also offer real solutions to problems- that we could try here. Over and over, Canada said, we can’t keep doing the things that aren’t working and expect different results (without throwing in the Einstein definition of insanity).

So, to Dayton Superintendent Lori Ward- are you willing to reinvent Dayton Public Schools to make success the norm?

Here are some suggestions on how to transform our schools:

  • Teachers are paid to teach for a school year (180 days)- lets change the terms and they are hired to move a child a grade level instead. Can’t get the kids up one grade in our standard 180-day year- either increase the school day- or lengthen the school year. You, and your students, earn time off by performance. We now have almost all schools air conditioned- so the longer school year shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Since we’re moving to “neighborhood schools” and should be able to cut busing considerably- let’s also end the 2-block collection rule. All students in a neighborhood will walk to the closest school building or a collection point- up to .75 mile from their home for k-3 and 1 mile grades 4-8 and 1.5 miles 9-12. This will help kids get to know kids in their neighborhoods (since kids could be going to DPS or to Charters) and help connect the communities.
  • Offer day care to all future DPS students starting at 90 days- till kindergarten. As part of the subsidy, parents must either have a GED or HS diploma or be enrolled in a GED program to qualify. The parents will be offered opportunities to attend Sinclair Community College if they successfully complete their GED. Family planning and counseling will be part of the program.
  • Rebuild our public recreation and parks departments- creating neighborhood sports programs city wide.
  • Institute new programs in the schools: mandatory learning of chess starting in first grade, tai chi and martial arts in every school, and a “Think and Grow Rich” influenced self-awareness program for every student.
  • And if we want to properly prepare kids for a digital world, it’s time to supply every student with a computer, move to open source texts and eliminate the flow of paper in our schools.

Canada ended his presentation with a poem he wrote in 2007 “Don’t blame me”

I’m posting it here- from a PDF he has on the Harlem Children’s Zone website;

Don’t Blame Me

The girl’s mother said, “Don’t blame me.
Her father left when she was three.
I know she don’t know her ABCs, her 1,2,3s,
But I am poor and work hard you see.”
You know the story, it’s don’t blame me.
The teacher shook her head and said,
“Don’t blame me, I know it’s sad.
He’s ten, but if the truth be told,
He reads like he was six years old.
And math, don’t ask.
It’s sad you see.
Wish I could do more, but it’s after three.
Blame the mom, blame society, blame the system.
Just don’t blame me.”
The judge was angry, his expression cold.
He scowled and said, “Son you’ve been told.
Break the law again and you’ll do time.
You’ve robbed with a gun.
Have you lost your mind?”
The young man opened his mouth to beg.
“Save your breath,” he heard instead.
“Your daddy left when you were two.
Your momma didn’t take care of you.
Your school prepared you for this fall.
Can’t read, can’t write, can’t spell at all.
But you did the crime for all to see.
You’re going to jail, son.
Don’t blame me.”
If there is a God or a person supreme,
A final reckoning, for the kind and the mean,
And judgment is rendered on who passed the buck,
Who blamed the victim or proudly stood up,
You’ll say to the world, “While I couldn’t save all,
I did not let these children fall.
By the thousands I helped all I could see.
No excuses, I took full responsibility.
No matter if they were black or white,
Were cursed, ignored, were wrong or right,
Were shunned, pre-judged, were short or tall,
I did my best to save them all.”
And I will bear witness for eternity
That you can state proudly,
“Don’t blame me.”
By Geoffrey Canada February 2007

When people ask me why I still run for office- it’s because I believe there are solutions to our problems- that there is a way to change things.We don’t have to resort to paying companies to locate here- we just have to do what we’re supposed to do in our city and they will come.

Geoffrey Canada has achieved “the impossible” with his Harlem Children’s Zone. A community that couldn’t give a building away 15 years ago- now has the same buildings going for $700K. The “real residents” of Harlem are having to fight people off from coming in and buying up the neighborhood. He’s spoken to presidents and been on “60 Minutes”- he’s written books- he’s even been on Oprah, he has the answers- right in front of us.

The problems aren’t insurmountable- we are. We keep electing the same idiots. We keep accepting the logic that locks up a higher percentage of people than even the least “democratic” nation out there. We spend trillions on wars and their machines- while ignoring the most important resource we have: our kids. Because without them, there is no future.

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34 Responses

  1. tg January 18, 2011 / 11:35 pm

    Great synopsis of the event tonight.   One of my favorite points is that charter schools should be viewed as the R&D component of education and when they do something right, it should be incorporated into the public schools.   Maybe if people started looking at them as a both/and possibility instead of either/or, people would stop fighting over which is best and just focus on what really is best for our kids.

    So many good points, such an inspiration. 

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  2. truddick January 19, 2011 / 7:23 am

    My take (and I didn’t bother to go hear this speech), Canada has a budget of $16,000/year per student in his schools–and that’s not counting his cradle-to-college health care, family counseling, anti-drug, and other community programs.
    So, are we willing to pay around $32,000/student annually to make it happen here?  Oh, OK, it’s Ohio and costs of living are lower–maybe $25K would suffice.  That means more than doubling education costs, which I fear is a non-starter in a John Kasich state.
    Pay teachers for advancing a student one grade level?  That’s like the old joke about the boy scout who got a black eye trying to help a little old lady across the street.  How’d he get the black eye?  “She didn’t want to go.”  If I am to be judged by the products of my work, then I want to choose my material–you don’t give a carpenter balsa wood and then complain if the cabinets sag, don’t give me underprepared and hostile students and expect me to turn them all into little prodigies.  And you neglect that the teacher is not the only person involved; if a school has a principal who interferes with the learning process, is it fair to end the teachers’ careers?  How about a school with poor facilities and inadequate materials?
    Note that Fordham Foundation’s Terry Ryan, in his most recent DDN editorial, admitted that we really don’t know how to sort out good teachers from bad.  David, your proposal does nothing to advance that cause, and until we get a handle on that question, holding teachers “accountable” is just punitive.
    I like the idea that charter schools are R&D, the problem so far has been that most charter schools have been started by amateurs.  If you ran an R&D program in an industry, would you invite anyone off the street to run it–or would you insist on qualified researchers?  Note: I admit that not every PhD does good research (and the quality of research among the EdDs is lower), but if I had to wager, I’d put my money on better ressearch coming from the one with the graduate degree.

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  3. David Esrati January 19, 2011 / 8:59 am

    @Truddick- DECA and ISIS weren’t started by amateurs. Their results speak for themselves.

    As to we don’t know how to evaluate teachers- like hell we don’t. I could do it when I was a third grader.

    And- as to $25K a year- lets look at the value a college graduate contributes to society compared to the long term costs of a high school drop out. One of the things Canada clearly stated that I didn’t put in the post- is we have to look at the LONG TERM.

    It’s not about quick fixes- like pre-K or laptops- it’s the holistic approach.

    We don’t invest for the long term in this county- and it’s why we’ll be a third world county faster than we realize (I think we’re there now- but, most don’t agree).

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  4. truddick January 19, 2011 / 11:23 am

    David: yes, some of those charters were started by qualified professionals.  But too many of them were by perhaps well-meaning but underskilled do-gooders.  A few others were, we know now, by greedy people who saw a way to pocket some public dollars.  Some of those are closed now, after only several years of shoving students deeper in a hole and then foisting them back on the regular public schools.
    We don’t allow people with no credentials to experiment in medicine, engineering, hazardous materials.  Why not require that any “educational experiment” funded by public dollars be designed and administered by a doctorate in education–and to make the experiments valid, don’t allow the researcher to select the subjects, and don’t allow the subjects to self-select?  If you want to be a pioneer like Marva Collins, why not be entirely like her and pay for your own experiment at first–then when you get results, you get the honorary doctorate and public money?
    With your final three paragraphs there, I completely agree.  The devil is in implementation.

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  5. truddick January 19, 2011 / 11:30 am

    One more thing David, if you seriously trust a 9 year old to evaluate a teacher, *get help*.
    Oh, we can ask students to provide some assessment data.  Students can certainly report if the teacher mostly kept them busy, if they understood the teacher’s explanations, if the teacher was patient and if the teacher hit any students.
    But keep in mind, students don’t always report honestly.  And they’re entirely unqualified to tell if the teacher is knowledgeable in any subject, if the class materials were well selected, if test questions were well written, or if the grading system was fair.  We’ve known for a long time that there’s a strong correlation between student ealuations and the grade a student expects to receive.
    Is it possible your own memories of your skills at age nine are a little (a) warped (b) inflated?  And while we’re psychoanalyzing, are those prerequisites for political candidates?  (riposte, parry, thrust)

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  6. David Esrati January 19, 2011 / 11:32 am

    @truddick- I don’t think a PhD in education is required- however- I do believe a statistical metric must be in place- and met to continue.

    And- we do allow medical types to experiment- but the difference is- they are held accountable and sued for malpractice if they screw up. When was the last time you saw a teacher get sued for malpractice? Maybe that’s the solution-

    “Little Johnny can’t read, call the Tiger”

    Brilliant or Bozo? Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  7. Joe Lacey January 19, 2011 / 11:34 am

    “DECA and ISIS weren’t started by amateurs. Their results speak for themselves.”

    DECA has a very large percentage of students that start and don’t finish at DECA.  ISUS’ has three schools, one in Academic Watch and two in Continuous Improvement (all three declining).

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  8. David Esrati January 19, 2011 / 11:34 am

    @truddick- my skills at teacher eval at 9 might not have been that great- but, don’t you think out ofall these PhD’s in education you put on a pedestal- at least a few should be able to tell a competent teacher from an incompetent one?

     

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  9. David Esrati January 19, 2011 / 11:37 am

    @Joe Lacy- and how many teachers has DPS managed to fire since you’ve been on School board? What is the percentage of DECA grads going to college- compared to DPS?

    Crack on ISUS all you want- how are Dunbar and Meadowdale doing in comparison?

    And- where is a real plan to transform our schools?

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  10. Donald Phillips January 19, 2011 / 12:36 pm

    Dayton once again grasps at the spurs of a knight in white armour. What is his consulting fee?

    Smackdown!. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

  11. Joe Lacey January 19, 2011 / 2:05 pm

    The percentage of DECA grads going to college would be very comparable to Dayton’s if Dayton were to “counsel out” certain students before graduation.

    I’m not belittleing ISUS, just reporting performance results.  They speak for themselves.  ISUS’ weighted performance index score is one percentage point higher than Dayton’s high schools.  This despite ISUS’ advantages with regard to the amount of family involvement.

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  12. Joe January 19, 2011 / 4:26 pm

    Education is the  most messed up and contentious political issue, particularly in Ohio. I don’t think I’ve seen a politician that has the will or want to address the numerous items realted to education. Strickland at least made it a major part of his campaign/policies, but he got the boot and now the new Gov. wants to start by eliminating all day kindergarten. Bad idea

    I like alot of your ideas David, but how would you pay for this reform? School budgets are tough every year, and eat up an already large fart of municipal finances. I can speak from my personal experience that there are alot of licensed teachers in Ohio that want to teach but cannot find a job. My license expired after 2 years when I couldnt find anything but part time and substitute teaching work, I now will have to take several classes which I cant really afford, and pay a for a new license to even start looking for a job in Ohio. I would love to teach in Ohio; I like living here and really enjoy the profession. The “teacher shortage” myth helped me get interested in education since I thought there would be jobs available. I think if you add teachers where they are needed, classes sizes will go down and students will do better. The longer school year/day is great idea, but you don’t work for free – why should I?

    And how about holding parents accountable for their children? I would hate for my career to be ruined because of bad teacher evaluations assessed from a challenging classroom/school. This will encourage teachers to flee from both urban and rural poor schools towards more affluent suburbs – more so than they already are. Plus, support from administration is crucial in a classroom. If you think all adminstration/principals are perfect models and impartial you need to do more investigation. Having had a ineffective prinicpal myself, it makes the teachers job very difficult.

    Are DECA students tracked into the program? I know many of these students come from lower-income families, but that doesnt mean the student doesnt have an effective support system at home that would help them in any school – not just DECA. I do think DECA is a great program, I wonder where/how they select their students into the program. I think the charter school brand got soiled by alot of schools that were rushed up, and were really just in existance to suck tax money to owners. Schools are not businesses, and I dont think they can be run like one. In my opinion, the charter school movement is partial or mosty and effort to bust up teacher and public employee unions. I would teach at one just to get into a classroom again.

    Wow, thats a long-winded post! Didnt think I would go that long.

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  13. Jeff Dziwulski January 19, 2011 / 4:42 pm

    My take (and I didn’t bother to go hear this speech), Canada has a budget of $16,000/year per student in his schools–and that’s not counting his cradle-to-college health care, family counseling, anti-drug, and other community programs.

    This is sort of key, as they are taking a sort of wholistic approach to the community and family context of education, sort of a systems integration approach.  From what I’ve read it’s not just about what happens in the classroom.

    To do this stuff right it takes money and people and a bit committment.  

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  14. David Esrati January 19, 2011 / 5:44 pm

    @Joe- how do we pay for it- the magic question. For starters, I believe all tax income comes from people with degrees- and they expect excellent schools. You want more tax payers- you need great schools.

    If we funneled all the “economic development” money into schools- with a holistic approach, we’d see an increase in business as well. Transforming our prison system would also lead to cost savings- by forcing education and rehab on criminals- we might slow the revolving doors.

    As to paying teachers for a longer school year- it’s time to stop fooling with the 180 day school year. The Japanese do 220+ We’re still behind. I have no problem paying incentive pay as well to teachers, but we can find huge savings by eliminating paper- printed text books and so many administrators for our “standardized teaching” methodology oversight. By tracking each kid with a computer- and using the same materials statewide- we can aggregate tests- we can test without relying on these crazy testing services.

    There are a lot of inefficiencies of our out-dated system- we can find the money, but it has to start with new ideas and new tools.

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  15. Bryan January 19, 2011 / 10:38 pm

    All this talk on how to improve education, and not one mention of the role of parents?  What about trying to get parents to support and be involved in making sure their kid pays attention and does homework.  Educational priorities, at least from what I have seen in dayton, seem to be inherited by parents.  If the parent don’t care about education, that often translates into children who don’t care.  How can you get parents on board to push kids to take education serious, try hard, and at least attempt to suceed? 

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  16. Bill Daniels (pizzabill) January 19, 2011 / 11:35 pm

    I’ve read that by the time the typical student from a welfare (AFDC, TANF, “welfare”) family reaches kindergarten at the age of five, they have been educated and socialized to only a three year old’s level.  With that early disadvantage and lack of support, do you think they ever catch up?  How does a teacher make up for that neglect when a teacher is afforded very little time to give each student individualized attention?
    Here’s a simple, and very, very cost effective idea: pass out flashcard sets to all elementary school parents.  Simple colors, words, etc. to kindergarten student’s parents; addition & subtraction cards to 1st grade student’s parents; multiplication & division to 3rd grade student’s parents.  Suggest the parents work with their children EVERY night.  By the time a student reaches 4th grade, they should have their multiplication tables absolutely memorized.
    Flash card time each night can be a great bonding opportunity for parents and their children.  Parents, have fun with it and enjoy some well spent time with your children.  And remember this thought: Treat your children as well as do your television, and give them your undivided attention for at least a half-hour each night.
    David, let’s talk to some elementary schools and see if we can get some local businesses and individuals to join together to donate flashcard sets to elementary school parents.

    Well-loved. Brilliant: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  17. Jeff Dziwulski January 20, 2011 / 2:57 pm

    Bill Daniels is probably right about parental involvement, which is probaby a part of the problem with underpeforming kids.  I think we can all look back and say that our parents…or some other adult figure who cared and took the time… working with us and their expectations had something to do with our academic sucess (or at least not abject failure)

    @@@

    Back to the topic:

    The basic premise of the Harlem Childrens Zone has been questioned, by two reputable research places, the Brookings think tank and some researchers affiliated with Harvard (?):

    <a href=”http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2010/0720_hcz_whitehurst.aspx”>Brookings Study</a>

    <a href=”http://www.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/fryer/files/hcz%204.15.2009.pdf>Harvard Study</a>

    …the Harvard link goes to a .pdf. 

    The conclusion is that the social support network component supporting this does not, by itself, improve outcomes.  Which has some signifigant implications for policy and further investigation since the novel thing about HCZ is that social support component.   One needs to look at how the HCZ charter schools are structured since they do seem to be working…up to a point.  One of the points made is these schools are really aggressive in recruiting and weeding out teachers, with a high turnover in the first two years until they found the right teachers.  There are other aspects to these schools that might help, like longer days, longer school years, and tutoring. 

    This is a good case study for policy analyses, if we can keep the special pleading and hidden agendas out of the picture and really investigate what does work in this scheme, since it does seem to be working for the kids who are a part of it.

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  18. Teri L January 21, 2011 / 11:12 am

    >“No one is coming to save your kids. You’re going to have to save your own kids”-

    Amen Brother and that’s bloody brilliant. The sooner parents get that, the sooner they will demand changes from politicians and educators, and that’s what it’s all about in the end. Education reflects communities. Parents hold the ultimate line when it comes to educational outcomes. Stop excepting anyone else to educate your kids because they can’t and won’t and don’t, as they keep telling us in so many words (see above educator/admin comments for all the reasons/excuses/proof why school systems can’t teach Johnny to read.)

    Brilliant or Bozo? Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  19. Rob Vigh January 21, 2011 / 4:21 pm

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly-rated. Bozo: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 19

  20. David Lauri January 21, 2011 / 5:02 pm

    Rob Vigh advocates:

    Stop giving away education. It should not be free. Pay for it or do not show up. Privatize all education.

     
    Brilliant.  Talk about a great way to create a permanent criminal underclass. There are tons of breeders popping out kids they can’t afford to take care of, and you suggest that these kids not be allowed to go to school if the parents who can’t afford to take care of them and who don’t care about taking of them don’t pony up the fees to send them to school.  Just what do you think will become of these kids?
     
    No child asks to be born.  No child can be a Libertarian and pull itself up by its own bootstraps.  Someone has to be responsible for children, and the sad fact is that there are tons of heterosexuals, some married, many not, having children without giving a damn as to whether they can care for the kids they produce.  Just what do you propose for these children?  That they not be allowed to go to school because it’s not fair to tax you for schools for children you didn’t create?
     
    Assume for a second that your dystopian plan actually came to fruition.  What do you think all these children who can’t go to school will become?  Here’s a hint.  They’ll become social outcasts and criminals.  You can then try to charge them for the cost of incarcerating them, but guess what?  They won’t be able to pay.

    Well-loved. Brilliant: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 7

  21. Ice Bandit January 21, 2011 / 9:12 pm

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  22. Teri L January 21, 2011 / 9:27 pm

    @Robert V says:
    Stop giving away education. It should not be free. Pay for it or do not show up.
     
    I actually first heard this about 20 years ago from Rhine McLin. She thought parents didn’t value education because it was free. Now, she didn’t say it should cost a lot of money. She was thinking of different ways parents would have to pay- volunteering time or a very nominal fee, but she maintained that parents needed to make some contribution in order to establish a value and a cost for an education in their own minds. Wonder what happened to that idea…?
     
    >Someone has to be responsible for children,
     
    I agree.
    So we’ve already established that the schools want the money but not the ultimate responsibility. That leaves them out.
    We know that there are plenty of parents who can’t be bothered. That would leave them out.
    We could opt trade apprenticeships or specialized internships for traditional education. Learning literacy skills and business skills along with a trade might be a nice alternative for anyone who has a kinesthetic way of learning. There’s probably a study somewhere that shows that along with parental attitudes, learning styles are fairly good indicators of traditional school educational success.

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  23. Ice Bandit January 21, 2011 / 10:06 pm

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  24. Jesse January 22, 2011 / 1:21 pm

    Robert,
     
    I wonder if you and I were similar in that we didn’t take our education seriously until we were paying for the education we were receiving.
    http://chronicle.com/article/Are-Undergraduates-Actually/125979/?inl
    Unfortunately, because of credit availability (manipulated by the government), people aren’t paying for school as they go.  This means that they are still not motivated to learn anything at all (in some cases) or at least anything that is actually useful to society.  It also means that tuition rates are growing astronomically and artificially.  Want to see a future bubble that will pop?  Look to academics.
    http://chronicle.com/article/Are-Undergraduates-Actually/125979/?inl
    http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/CollegeAndFamily/CutCollegeCosts/is-a-college-degree-worthless.aspx
    http://www.payscale.com/best-colleges/degrees.asp
    http://moneywatch.bnet.com/saving-money/blog/college-solution/the-best-and-worst-college-degrees-by-salary/577/

    Smackdown!. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 8

  25. tg January 22, 2011 / 1:47 pm

    Bryan above mentioned what about the parents.    During Canada’s lecture, he talked about the difference an education makes in parenting.  He said if you hand any two year old a glass of water for the first time, they will almost always turn it over and pour it on the floor.   The uneducated parent will start screaming “what have you done?  Why did you do that?  What were you thinking?  Don’t you EVER do that again….”   While the college educated parent is more likely to say “now look at this, the water is no longer in the glass, it is now a big puddle on the floor, but that’s not safe to leave there, so now we have to find something to clean it up”.    So in other words, the first two year old is told rather emphatically not to take chances, not to experiment, not to think for him/herself and only do what they are told to do.   The other two year old learns that water takes different forms, that you just can’t pour it back into the glass, that you need to find something appropriate to clean it up – not the pillows on the couch, not a good towel, whatever.  The parent is more likely to make it a teaching moment.
    So what happens to those two kids if from the time they are 2 until they start kindergarden, that’s all they’ve heard?    That is why the Childrens Harlems Zone also has classes for parents.   They don’t know what they don’t know, they too have to be taught.    They look at the child holistically – if they need to go to a dentist, they get them to one; if they need food, they feed them; if their parents are whacked, they try to teach them too.

    We once told a friend about DECA and how they teach more than just the basic curriculum, but also how to dress appropriately for different scenarios, corporate ettiquette, how to shake hands and look people in the eye, how to tie a tie.   Her comment was “they should learn that at home.”   Well, yes they should, but if their parents don’t know any of it, how can they teach it?      Another thing they do is every adult the kids come into contact with are constantly saying things like “you’ll never get into college with that grade” or “how do you expect to get into college if you don’t turn in your homework”.  It’s get into college, get into college, get into college.  

    Our education system is broken.  The kids that are educated and make it all the way through have a higher opinion of themselves than is actual reality.  They are falling farther and farther behind their global counterparts who truly value education.   The reason we have so many charter schools and magnet schools is because public school systems are not doing the job.  If public schools would fix the problem, there would be no need for alternatives.

    The reason we have so many in prison, on the streets commiting petty or serious crimes, or living on welfare is because the system failed them..or failed their parents or grandparents and they’ve never known another way.   If we want to break the cycle of poverty, then we have to make an investment in education.  Dr Ruby Payne in her book “Bridges Out of Poverty” explains that poverty isn’t just a lack of money, it’s a lack of resources.   Does a person have an education, physical health, a support system, a roof over their head and food on the table?   Like Canada said, when we had jobs for everyone, we could avoid the hard questions.  Now that a high school degree doesn’t guarantee you anything more than a fast food job, we have to find answers and solve the problem.

    We can’t keep kicking this can down the road for someone else to deal with.   People can’t keep running away from the problem by moving from one school district to another.  The current school year was designed around the agricultural age when kids stayed home during the summer to help on the farm.  The current curriculum is based on the industrial age – generating kids that will follow directions and can follow rout commands.   We need to teach critical thinking, logic, problem solving – not teach to a test.  We need to teach our kids HOW to think, not WHAT to think.  

    To David’s point, students know if a teacher is good or bad.  I had a math teacher in high school who was a GENIUS when it came to math, but he couldn’t TEACH it – it doesn’t matter how good he is at the subject matter if he can’t help his students understand it.   We all have memories of our favorite teachers or our favorite classes, and I think it’s usually because a particular teacher was able to open our minds to a subject that totally expanded our world and excited us. 

    And say what you want about  DECA and how many graduate vs how many start there – but 100% of the kids who graduate go to college.  That school is constantly improving, constantly changing, constantly tweaking to get it right.   Teachers are required to give their students their cell phone and are available 24/7.   30% of this year’s incoming 7th graders were at least 2 years or more behind in reading.   The teachers, volunteers from the community stay and work with these kids until 7-8pm at night with study tables.   They have monthly board meetings and the board is made up of entrepreneurs, executives as well as parents and academians.  They are constantly pouring over metrics and benchmarks and seeking further improvement.
     
    Why are the kids coming in so far behind?   We asked a couple who came from DPS as “honor students” but who could not read.  Their parents didn’t realize that being in the 13th percentile meant they were in the bottom not the top.   The teachers pretty much told the kids if they showed up, they got a C; turn in something for homework, even if incorrect and you get a B, and if you do all that and not disrupt the class, they’ll give you an A.   So these two kids were doing all that and getting straight As but not learning a damned thing.   And now DECA has to try to solve the problem and get the kids up to speed with the same number of school days.   So there is a reason why not everyone who starts there finishes there.  They are not cherry picked, it is open enrollement – but the parents have to commit.   The students must complete a series of six gateways (in addition to the standard curriculum) before they can graduate – things like book reviews, taking college classes, job shadows & internships, community service, self discernment goals, utilizing their planners, college visits, parental involvement, maintaining a certain grade point level and attendance.

    DECA also uses a volunteer force of people from the community from all walks of life.   We do book clubs with the kids, study tables, help them edit papers, speak to the kids about our life experiences, help them with robotics competitions or mock trails, etc.  One of the male teachers keeps an eye out for any kids wearing colors (gang related) and takes them away immediately.  They will not tolerate any hint of gang activity or loyalty in the school   Teachers often take the kids home at the end of a long day – because the kids do not WANT to go home in the first place.   There are some whose fathers have tried to give them away to pay off a gambling debt; who lose a parent to jail or death and listen to the rest of the family fight over them – because no one WANTS them.  Some live at Daybreak and don’t have families or homes.  Some have kids or have to babysit siblings when they get home so Mom can go to work.   There are cases where teachers have actually ADOPTED students to get them out of a bad environment.  Yet these kids are so bright and so articulate and so starved for love & attention that they eat it all up.   We are allowed to HUG these kids, to take them out to eat as a reward, etc.  

    THAT is the difference.   You can sit around and whine about whose fault it is, or you can get engaged and help solve the problem.  It’s up to everyone in the community, it’s not someone else’s problem any longer.  If we want to improve the neighborhoods, we have to improve the schools.   So kwitchurbitchin and get involved!

    Well-loved. Brilliant: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  26. David Esrati January 22, 2011 / 4:47 pm

    @tg- thanks for filling people in on the rest of the story- I think we now have the complete speech covered.

    Even with DECA getting kids to college- we’re still behind. Our country suffers from an arrogance that we don’t have the mental chops to claim.

    It’s time to get serious about getting smarter- and not Goldman Sachs smart. The fact that some people take Sarah Palin seriously in this country sums it up pretty well.

    We don’t deserve to be a superpower anymore.

    Brilliant or Bozo? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  27. Joe Lacey January 22, 2011 / 11:05 pm

    Per tg, “The reason we have so many charter schools and magnet schools is because public school systems are not doing the job.  If public schools would fix the problem, there would be no need for alternatives.”

    Simply not true.  Charter schools with performance records much worse than our public system attract students and will continue to do so.  The reason we have so many charter schools is because people don’t want to attend public school for many reasons that have nothing to do with performance.  Their child was disciplined at a public school, personality differences, their friend works at or attends a charter, Ive heard all kinds of reasons none of which had anything to do with the quality of classroom instruction.

    Also, magnet schools are part of the public school systems.  Stivers is a Dayton Public School.

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  28. tg January 22, 2011 / 11:15 pm

    Joe – I think in many ways we are saying the same thing just in different ways.   I’m not suggesting charters schools are doing better than public schools – clearly most are just as bad if not worse.  But they exist because the parents are not satisfied with the traditional options…whether that is due to personality differences, discipline or classroom instruction.

    The magnet schools are an example of DPS trying to find an alternative to their traditional model, and they appear to be very successful.   Part of the reason for white flight in the 70s (before bussing) was Stivers High School – many parents simply did not want to send their kids there.   Today it is the crown jewel of DPS and people are moving in from the suburbs to send their kids there.

    If we could just take a look at what works in the magnets and charters or private schools and replicate it within the public schools, it would be a step in the right direction.    

    David, I agree completely – we’ve lost our bragging rights in this Country, but too many want to still believe in American Exceptionalism and don’t realize it is a false sense of superiority.   The sooner we stop thumping our chests and realize education is the key to curing a lot of our social ills, we might be able to reverse this trend before China & India clean our clocks!

    Brilliant or Bozo? Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  29. Joe Lacey January 23, 2011 / 11:15 pm

    tg, what works in the magnets, private schools, and the few charters that show some success is their ability to have some control over the makeup of their student body.  The successful schools all have that in common.  They can by some means weed out their less successful students.  I’m told that this is especially true of  Mr. Canada’s schools.  I do believe that there are a lot of things that schools can do to help students that face a lot of obstacles (students that are likely to be “counseled out” of a successful school), quality of teachers, incentive programs, class size and individual attention.  But the real success stories all have that one thing in common, their ability to get students that aren’t performing away from them.

    So I don’t think we are saying the same thing.  Education has been around for a long time in many forms.  Lots of educational initiatives have been tried the results have been studied in great detail.  In general what works requires some resources.  No charter has come up with some special technic for teaching that we should all be copying.  If they did we would all know about it.

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  30. joe_mamma January 24, 2011 / 8:35 am

    “Oh yeah, if you do not like me yet………..Teachers are overpaid. How you like me now?!” – Robert Vigh
     
    We definitely know that poor performing teachers are overpaid…but not necessarily the excellent teachers.  Of course we’ll never know for sure as the public education establishment  will never let  there be a real free market wage.   Understandably most teachers don’t want it, while the excellent performing minority does want it.  Adminstrators don’t want it because its easier to manage using a contract vs. actually evaluating performance and it also insulates their performance from performance evaluation and so on so forth up the line.
     
    “But educational reform is not possible as long as the teacher’s union is the nation’s most powerful entity, and that union, in a dark and unholy allliance with the trial lawyers, holds the pink slip on the Democrat Party. But to answer your last question, Mr. Vigh, some of us like you, and your insights, just fine……….” – Ice Bandit
     
    It’s more than just the unions amigo.  It’s the entire public education establishment.     It’s very design leads it to slouch into mediocrity….captive customers, a guaranteed revenue stream regardless of performance, a socialist teachers union, and enlightened despots in administration and thought leadership leave the customers with one helluva hot mess.  Altruism does not educate our kids.
     
    “But the real success stories all have that one thing in common, their ability to get students that aren’t performing away from them.” – Joe Lacey
     
    Good point.  But it should be a two way street.  The student should also be able to get away from the school that isn’t performing as well.

    Smackdown!. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 6

  31. Joe Lacey January 24, 2011 / 9:21 am

    joe_mamma, “Good point.  But it should be a two way street.  The student should also be able to get away from the school that isn’t performing as well.”

    I fully understand the desire for everyone to have choice but you also have to understand that such a system, through choice, will create concentrations of children with low to no parental support and children with problems that their parents won’t or cannot address in certain schools.  Then you complain that they are not doing as well as the kids in Oakwood.  That’s a system that’s designed to for failure.

    We now have schools that aren’t “performing as well” in that the children are not up to their grade level, but state testing shows that these same children have learned as much or more over the past year as children in the best suburban schools.  It’s called value added testing and it shows that the teachers in Dayton are working as hard as the teachers in Brookville and Centerville over the past year.

    What we have with school choice is families choosing to leave schools that are doing quality teaching because they want to get their kids away from the kids who have big problems, mainly through a lack of parental support.  As a parent, I fully understand their desire to protect their children, but as a board member I also understand that it is not the role of the state/community to facilitate the creation of concentrations of problems at added expense to the state/community.  And believe me, choice is not cheap.

    Brilliant or Bozo? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  32. truddick January 25, 2011 / 11:37 am

    A few fine points:

    If we’re comparing the USA with Japan, note that Japanese schoolteachers spend no more than four hours daily in the classroom.

    If we consider success only by the number of students who go on to college, we are too narrow.  ISUS grads may not matriculate, but they’re ready to do some of the real jobs, especially construction.

    But the big picture: is education an entitlement?  or is it a public good?

    Many claim that we need school “choice” because they feel every parent should be empowered to select a customized education for their own children.  Respectfully, I think that’s counterproductive.  In the main, our students will (if we succeed) complete an education and take a responsible job.  But recently we have “helicopter parents” who try to micromanage their children’s lives–often into adulthood!  There are now quite a few anecdotes about parents showing up at a son’s or daughter’s first job to talk to the supervisor about their offspring’s needs and how they feel the boss isn’t treating them right.  IMO we’re empowering parents far too much; teachers and administrators often live in fear of another profane, irrational maternal complaint.

    Back when education worked, it was seen as a public good.  Students were subjected to one teaching/learning theory throughout (direct instruction, it’s called) and KIPP-style classroom discipline–or should we say regimentation–was universal.

    We know this from the good research: students, especially in the early years, are capable of learning certain subjects at certain levels around certain age groups, and they benefit from the same kind of instruction.  It’s only when students mature and start to specialize that it’s valid to have a polymorphous system with lots of choice.

    The sooner that we re-set our concept and bring education away from a self-centered entitlement to a public benefit, the better our programs will become.

    Brilliant or Bozo? Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  33. joe_mamma January 25, 2011 / 1:01 pm

    ‘I fully understand the desire for everyone to have choice but you also have to understand that such a system, through choice, will create concentrations of children with low to no parental support and children with problems that their parents won’t or cannot address in certain schools.  Then you complain that they are not doing as well as the kids in Oakwood.  That’s a system that’s designed to for failure.” – Joe Lacey
    If there was real mutual choice there would be little complaint about performance of the schools because outcomes would have for the most part been earned. 
     “What we have with school choice is families choosing to leave schools that are doing quality teaching because they want to get their kids away from the kids who have big problems, mainly through a lack of parental support.  As a parent, I fully understand their desire to protect their children, but as a board member I also understand that it is not the role of the state/community to facilitate the creation of concentrations of problems at added expense to the state/community.  And believe me, choice is not cheap.” – Joe Lacey
    The centralized organizers of society don’t have a good track record of preventing “the creation of concentrations of problems”.  Consequently, they have an even poorer record of managing expenses.
    “But recently we have “helicopter parents” who try to micromanage their children’s lives–often into adulthood!  There are now quite a few anecdotes about parents showing up at a son’s or daughter’s first job to talk to the supervisor about their offspring’s needs and how they feel the boss isn’t treating them right.  IMO we’re empowering parents far too much; teachers and administrators often live in fear of another profane, irrational maternal complaint.” – truddick
    Interesting point.  Why do we have helicopter parents?  Could it be a natural development because there isn’t any mutual choice  involved?  Think about the economics.   The individual family has to pay “X” amount in taxes every year regardless of the amount of educational services they consume or demand.  To make matters worse the school cannot remove a student or family for “helicoptoring”.  Why wouldn’t they demand more?  It’s a self-feeding cycle.    

    Brilliant or Bozo? Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  34. Joe Lacey January 25, 2011 / 1:50 pm

    “If there was real mutual choice there would be little complaint about performance of the schools because outcomes would have for the most part been earned.” joe_mamma.  What is “real” choice?  Are you talking about letting Dayton kids go to Oakwood High because that’s fine with me but I think we are taking this conversation into la la land.

    “The centralized organizers of society don’t have a good track record of preventing ‘the creation of concentrations of problems'” joe_mamma.  I’m not sure what you are saying.  We have some concentrations of problems now so it’s ok to have more or to multiply our problems?  Whe are the central organizers of society?  Is that another name for the chamber of commerce since they were pivotal in creating charters/choice?

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