Educational social Darwinism at work

The State of Ohio released it’s report card. In a case of grade inflation- no school systems are in “academic emergency” this year- but Dayton is still in the bottom of the ratings.

Is it Dayton’s fault? Is it the levy? Is it the Superintendent’s fault? The teachers? Nope. It’s the same problem we’ve had for years- since the implementation of school busing for “integration” – the beginning of “white flight” and the higher mobility of today’s family.

People who care about their kids education- and can afford to move (or aren’t locked into their jurisdiction by residency requirements) all move- or “flock” to areas with better schools- with more involved parents. It’s social Darwinism at work- and there aren’t many things we can do to fix them- but I’ll offer a few after you read what the DDN had to say today:

Fifteen area districts received the state’s highest rating — “excellent with distinction” — in the Ohio Department of Education’s latest report card on school districts’ performance.

Those who obtained the new top rating met the standard on all 30 areas measured and made enough test score growth for an added gold star.

They were among 73 districts statewide to get the rating. There are 610 school districts in Ohio.

The other categories are excellent, effective, continuous improvement, academic watch and academic emergency. The ratings are based on attendance, graduation rates and the percentage of students passing state tests.

In Warren County, five of eight school districts scored the top grade.

“I think we have good people working here,” said Sandra Warner, executive director of instruction at Springboro. “We have a lot of families that really believe in education and support education. Those are assets that are tough to duplicate.”

For the third time in seven years, Dayton schools rank worst in Ohio for test performance.

But even with its low scores, the district escaped the state’s bottom rating of “academic emergency.” In fact, no Ohio districts were rated in academic emergency. Dayton was one of only nine Ohio districts rated in “academic watch.”

State gives 15 area districts top grade

While magnet programs like Stivers School of the Arts have had great success- partially by cherry picking students, partially by perceived high value provided, partially because kids who are involved in arts aren’t out smoking dope and stealing- are great and fine, by the time kids get to high school it’s usually too late to make a big impact.

Critical are early childhood development and being prepared for school. In my first run for office I wanted to provide subsidized 24hr day care available in the city- in the poorest areas. Getting kids in a good learning environment early, makes everything work better later.

Full day kindergarten is also an absolute. With a focus on reading development, a system dealing with less involved parents- who are struggling themselves- it’s the one skill that all others are based on- Reading is Fundamental! (And I don’t use excalimation points often).

Neighborhood based after school enrichment programs for K-6. These need to be highly neighborhood focused to encourage not just neighborhood socialization for the kids- but for the parents. Stablized neighborhoods know each other- and provide a safer, better environment to learn. This would not be a “government” program- it would have to be grassroots- with parents volunteering to work together with kids, scouting, rec centers, museums- etc. to make sure kids get well rounded and feel confident and comfortable enough to learn and be part of a generation of learners.

Extracurriculars- at the junior high and up levels- grades 7-12, we need sports, music, arts, science programs for after school to keep kids engaged and out of trouble. It’s a lot cheaper to have kids play football or be in band, than try to deal with their idle times and troubles through our already overburdened juvenile justice system. All those kids “hanging out at Third and Main” would be better served hanging out at Sportsplex, band practice, or engaged in BattleBots programs. When was the last time you saw an Eagle Scout accused of a crime?

These programs are in the long run- much cheaper than the criminal justice system, or welfare.

It’s not the schools fault either- it’s ours. And until we own it, we’re not going to fix it- especially with a stupid report card that just verifys the obvious.

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