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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36 Responses

  1. John Ise August 26, 2008 / 10:38 am
    Great, great observation. High quality Pre-K, coupled with specialized magnent schools, and academically enriched after-school/summer and/or sports programs would go a log way to revitalizing Dayton and improving the welfare of its children.

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  2. Allison August 26, 2008 / 10:44 am
    24-hour subsidized daycare was a lifesaver for me back in the mid 80’s, as a single parent with a deadbeat ex-husband. It allowed me to go to school during the day and work nights to keep my family off of welfare.

    Responsibility for the hoodlums at 3rd and Main and elsewhere doesn’t lie with the citizenry, it’s on the parents. It didn’t take a village to fertilize that egg, why do we expect the village to raise the child?

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  3. Mike Bock August 26, 2008 / 11:44 am
    David, our system of public education is in need of radical reform. The ideas you propose are worthwhile, but, are not even close to being sufficient.

    The problems of public education are centered in the very flawed overall organizational structure of the system. Bureaucratic, hierarchical, government controlled systems generally are not be expected to reliably produce quality, and we should not be surprised that our system of government controlled public education is failing. I strongly believe that we need a system of publicly financed public education. But it is my conviction that such a system shouldn’t be run by the government in the type of system organization that presently exists. My conviction in part comes from personal experience. I taught in public schools for 30 years.

    Some schools are certified by the government to be “excellent with distinction,” according to government criteria. The idea that most of the public is effectively duped by such government certification about their schools is amazing. If the government had a monopoly running all grocery stores, I’m sure there would be criteria for determining which stores were “excellent,” and that the government managers of those “excellent” stores would proudly display their government certification. But does anyone think that the government is qualified to organize, manage and operate grocery stores in such a way to produce quality compared to the quality of a free market system? It would be a safe bet, based on the Soviet or North Korean examples, that if government had a monopoly to run all grocery stores, that even those stores deemed “excellent,” according to government standards, would be pretty miserable compared to stores emerging from a free market system. Why in the world do we think government is qualified to organize, manage and operate schools?

    Citizens of Oakwood, or Centerville or Beavercreek — those whose schools the government has deemed “excellent” — evidently believe the government hype about their government run schools. Citizens of “excellent” schools need to wake up and realize that from any number of more objective standards, their schools are far from excellent, far from providing the quality of education that our future desperately needs. It should be the community leaders, where these “excellent” schools exist, that should be leading the way to the radical reform of public education that is needed. But, the hype that their schools are already excellent is a demotivating factor, tamping down the obvious need for reform, and is a big factor that keeps even our best schools, at best, mediocre.

    School systems that are acknowledged as being weakest, such as DPS, have the most public pressure to change and therefore these weakest school systems, where authentic reform would be most difficult to implement, are the systems who give the most hope of leading the way. DPS should develop a ten year transition plan that would move DPS toward a free market system. If DPS leadership would show some willingness to develop such a plan, I would bet that foundation money would be available to finance the researching and the development of such a plan. Such a plan, I feel, could be the basis for an authentic transformation of public education in Dayton and, as such, would be the cornerstone of a remarkable vitalization of all aspects of the City of Dayton. Such a plan, I believe, would create schools and educational programs that would bring families back into the DPS system. Importantly, if DPS could lead the way toward this type of basic reform, suburban districts, I believe, would eventually follow.

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  4. David Esrati August 26, 2008 / 12:05 pm

    @bock, why does everything with you have to be in black and white? And why do you have to pronounce?
    I offered suggestions to improve the averages-
    not solve the problems.
    I’ve offered other ideas as well here- like a move from textbooks to digital access to learning materials too.
    The reality is- you have to test if you want to improve anything= they are called metrics. Get used to them.
    And, until you start figuring out how to be more succinct- people will have a hard time hearing your ideas.

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  5. Jeff August 26, 2008 / 6:59 pm
    Fort Recovery and St Henry are also high peforming districts….up in the middle of nowhere out in the Mercer County cornfields. Nothing fancy or Darwinist there.

    So maybe they might be models of schools districts that perform for regular folks, as I doubt these areas are particularly wealthy or poor. Just about average Midwest farm country, but they perform well.

    Maybe a lessons learned there?

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  6. David Esrati August 26, 2008 / 7:09 pm

    awe c’mon Jeff-
    You know better. Those districts are homogeneous, solid non-transitional communities. They are also tiny districts.
    No ESL requirements, limited services for challenged students- and a strong community spirit.
    You are comparing apples to rocketships.

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  7. Gene August 26, 2008 / 7:27 pm
    Or, perhaps David, it comes down to good old parenting. You STUPID SOB’s try like hell to find out why something is broke yet you NEVER EVER EVER will see the simple solution, and in this case it is PLAIN and SIMPLE parenting. Period. End of story. No need to go any further. STOP – I FOUND THE ANSWER!!!!!!

    DPS had the typical parent night last year and, drum roll please,…………. a total of 3, yes THREE, as in MUSKETEERS, Long shot in Basketball, Two girls and one guy, Crosby Stills and Nash, The tiny ship was tossed on the THREE hour tour, Jack Ripper here comes Crissy and Janet in THREES COMPANY, Bill Clinton is a $3 bill,

    Three. The number after TWO and before FOUR. That was it. And you want GD computers and hand holding………….. how about tell people to stop F*CKing until they know how to behave and act like a responsible parent. Once again, I have the solution. But then again we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, we rather have lost lives of drug users, criminals, and waste-oids. Sorry folks, truth hurts and I won’t change my tune about this subject.

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  8. Gene August 26, 2008 / 7:37 pm
    Sorry I was so mean – but if we want to solve problems with must get tough on those who are not doing their job.

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  9. Gary August 26, 2008 / 11:39 pm
    David,
    The things you propose cost money. DPS has no money and as a result, won’t even consider such concepts whether they are right or wrong. Gene is absolutely correct about the parents. Parents involved in the education of their children produce educated children. As a parent myself with my daughter enrolled in the kindergarten course at the Ohio Virtual Academy we are discovering that the system penalizes parents who actually do what they are supposed to do and teach their kids to read and write. My daughter at the age of 5 is reading 2nd grade books and doing 1st grade math. She can write and spell and knows how to count money. She is completing her coursework in 15 minutes when we are supposed to spend an hour on it. I don’t know why they are forcing phonics on us, my kid can read extreamly well and we didn’t do phonics. We just read to her every night since she was 1 year old. At least with OHVA we can assess her and move to the next course. DPS won’t allow you to do this. My daughter would be bored in public school. While they try to bring the class up to half her level she will be brought down to meet them in the middle.I would like nothing more than to say that my daughter graduated from DPS with honors. That won’t happen any time soon because all they focus on is money as if more money will solve the problem. Stivers shines because you have to qualify to get in so they cultivate the “creme de la creme”. DPS needs to accept that life just isn’t fair or equal sometimes and focus on the few good schools that they currently have and bring their standards up to excellent. Once achieved, it is easy to maintain those standards. This doesn’t cost any more money than they are currently spending. A bad school will still be bad 5 years from now. If you focus on the bad schools all the time to get them UP to average then you lose the good schools as you bring them down to BELOW average. A clear concise strategy surely would be to have several excellent schools that attract educated people to certain neighborhoods first. Then concentrate on bringing everyone else up to average. Instead of focusing on getting all schools out of acedemic watch they need to focus on making a few schools excellent. The end result will be the same except that people might actually move here to send their kids to an excellent school. If they are going to continue to bus ride kids to schools that aren’t neighborhood schools then at least bus excellent kids to excellent schools.

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  10. GladGirl August 27, 2008 / 1:50 am
    Mr. E- this post, and today’s news story, is quite ironic in light of the emotional personal email I sent you Monday about DPS related issues.

    For those of you who do not know, I have a 14 year old daughter.
    We live in the DPS district. She entered school still within the bussing years. I would have to write a book here to tell you of the horror’s that occurred in her kindergarden year. That’s when we took the money we borrowed for rehab on our house and funneled it into a private school. We’ve borrowed every year since. We took 2 years off, 4th. and 5th. grade, to do *Ohio Virtual Academy for free and try to stop our financial bleeding. (*the charter Gary spoke of above this comment) The K12 / OHVA program was WONDERFUL and it couldn’t have been better. BUT- home schooling is not for everyone. My daughter and I both went into a depression. She’s an only child. We tried all the groups and outings, etc…but those were very limiting as they were all faith based. (that’s a different blog topic so I’ll leave it there.) We finally got to where we could start taking out loans for tuition again and rather than return her to the private sector we chose to go out of district to another public school so she would have access to all the sports, arts and social activities that were so important to her- as well as intervention specialists for her dyslexia. (private schools do not provide intervention for dyslexia.) She started high school last week at Stebbins. For what we pay to send her to another public district I could have had my bachelors’ degree and making a decent wage. By the time she is done with high school we will have spent what it would take to send her thru 1st. year of college at OSU. She auditioned for Stivers just last week and let me tell ya’ the competition was high. (at least 100-150 kids for very few openings) Why would I return her to a DPS school after all these years of financial hell? I won’t just any DPS, only Stivers. And why? Because that school has a specific purpose. And, like my husband and I, the parents of those students are very purposeful. It’s not just that the kids are creatively stimulated there and are exposed to a rich culture of art, it’s because that school is taking the students in a direction- not just school for school’s sake. You just say the name Stivers and you need say no more. What do think of when you hear Belmont? I’m sure there are good committed parents of Belmont students and good students that go there, but it’s my perception that they are the exception rather than the rule. On the other hand, there are probably Stivers kids and parents who don’t care either. I know one thing- Liz Whips the Art’s Director won’t tolerate them. She knows that for every 1 kid who doesn’t give a damn, there are 100 more like my kid who DOES and would give her all to be there. We are still waiting to hear back from auditions. I have to say, it doesn’t feel real good to sit here on the couch and see this news report year after year, levy request after levy request knowing that my husbands and my hard earned tax dollars are being taken by a system that is beyond repair.
    I give no second chances when it comes to my child. I have lived in this house for 18 years. There are no schools in my neighborhood and no kids in my neighborhood. Years ago when I begged Jerry McGill to help me return my child to Horace Mann where she went to preschool she was helpless. Compassionate but helpless. She was still cleaning up Dr. Smiths mess. I even talked to Tony Hall on the phone. Also- helpless, but compassionate. He made a point of reminding me that bussing was the issue that made him break with his party. His predictions came true: bussing will ruin this town for many generations.
    I grew up in Valley View district. My father would watch the news and say “Glad we’ll never have to deal with problems like those bastards created up in Dayton.” Sorry dad- I let you down.

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  11. David Esrati August 27, 2008 / 6:08 am

    @Gary and Glad-
    I have said all along- build on strengths- find what’s working and build on it. I’ve written here about how a Stivers asst. principal is taking over Thurgood Marshall this year. You watch as DPS gets a second no-nonsense school.
    Gene is right- it’s parenting. However, no one wants their kids to fail- they just don’t know how to do any differently.
    The funding system is in broken in Ohio = we’ve known that for years. It’s time to put a ballot referendum on about funding schools instead of for casinos.
    We spend more on prisons than we should- thanks to bad schools. We spend money donating to big corporations with “economic development dollars” while our kids needs go unfunded. Very short sighted.
    If we have money to invade Iraq, we should have money to do what I propose. We really can’t afford to keep building prisons.
    Having Sinclair is great- but it costs way more to remediate than educate.
    You can pick these things apart- and say woe is me, or we can dig in and get started.
    Many of these proposals were on my first piece of campaign literature when I ran against Clay Dixon and Mike Turner for Mayor- way, way back.
    How many people have you told to read this site?
    Who is going to help me get elected?
    Who else is willing to run to change this city?
    Let’s go people.

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  12. GladGirl August 27, 2008 / 9:12 am
    Mr. E. I couldn’t agree more with your statements in the reply above. Rest assured, my little family and I are doing our part. We will continue to do our part even though we know our child will be long graduated before these changes happen. Eeyoar doesn’t live in my house. We don’t sit around doing the “woe is me” bit. I wouldn’t be participating in blogs like this if I was content to do nothing but complain.
    I will help fight for change but will not subject my kid to a broken system in the meantime. And after the sacrifices she has witnessed her father and I make for her safety and education, I highly doubt that she will live and raise a family in this district. Hhmmm…and people wonder why students flee from the area?
    I only moved to Dayton for a job in the early 80’s. A very very good job, which I lost when NCR and Gem Savings both died. I had a bright future in the development of electronic banking. The only way for me to maintain that career was to move out of state with the job and leave my then elderly father alone to fend for himself.
    He by the way was a life long Frigidaire employee who stressed the importance of loyalty to a company. I’m glad he didn’t live to witness the end of his generations work ethic and the old days of the company taking care of it’s people. I am now in the midst of yet another “restructuring” in my current and SECOND career life, healthcare. Corporate weasels are once again “moving my cheese”.
    Yes I support real people making real changes- such as yourself. I have told people to read your site and I will be vocal in supporting you. I do build on strengths of this city but I won’t sacrifice my kid for it. She sees her parents spending energy on positive things. We’re not sitting around licking our wounds. We are involved in the community and very active in the arts. We show up for things and help our neighbors. We give our business to locals. I produce video’s and host events to promote artists and organizations, most of them for no charge.
    BUT-If I could sell this house….well I’m sure you’ve heard it all before.

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  13. Larkin August 27, 2008 / 9:27 am
    Excellent piece about school ratings, and the problems facing DPS and the white flight behind much of that.

    One of the very real differences between Stivers and other schools (and I include other magnet schools in the “other”) is the diminished importance of peer pressure. Being an art school, the kids really are encouraged to march to the beat of their own drummer, and thus the impact of gangs, violence, rejection and resentment are ameliorated. Additionally, the kids there are somewhat self-motivated and focused. They are there because they choose to be, not because they’re biding their time until they drop out.

    Gladgirl, I don’t understand why your daughter didn’t audition in the spring, when there are considerably more slots open. The reason there are so few openings in the fall is because they’ve filled most of them with spring auditions. For that matter, I’m surprised you didn’t have your daughter audition when she was a rising 7th grader.

    It seems that Stivers may be grooming Valerie to be a “feeder” school. My son is a cellist, and a freshman at Stivers, and last year the orchestra students went on a kind of “outreach” field trip to the elementary school. SCAPA (in Cincinnati) is looking to start students in the 4th grade in an Arts-based curriculum, but classroom space is an issue.

    Then you have schools like Belmont, which is supposed to be a “Computer-Themed” Magnet school. Yet they don’t even have their own web site! Kids that attend Belmont have reasonable enough computer skills to produce page after page in MySpace, including advanced graphics and their own videos, but the school can’t get it together to even produce a website! With that kind of apathetic environemnt, no wonder 4 out of 10 kids drop out, what would compel them to stay?

    On the other hand, this spring a student from Thurgood Marshall was awarded a Bill Gates Scholarship (one of 1000 students in the country to get one) that will pay all educational expense for the rest of his life. Didn’t see much coverage of that in the local media.

    Finally, every individual who works for DPS ought to be required to read Jonathan Kozol’s book “Savage Inequality” about the terrible inequities in urban schools, much of which can be traced directly to the inane notion of funding education with property-tax based revenue.

    Sorry for the length– again, David, great piece.

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  14. Drexel Dave August 27, 2008 / 10:35 am
    As someone who has worked with DPS students for the past five years, I would give a different answer:

    The worst of Dayton’s students and families are mired in a culture of lazy, pathetic CONSUMERISM. They come from homes that are coddled from birth to grave, and the system just helps them along, encouraging it. Why not? Without this mentality a lot of businesses in the ‘burbs would go out of business for a lack of uneducated consumers who are ready to buy the next wacky wall walker to come along.

    It’s the kind of infantilism that James Howard Kuntsler speaks so eloquenty of. Ever wonder why there are so many young men with sagging pants? Because babies have droopy drawers. They have been infantilized by the culture. Most would prefer to be swimming in amniotic fluid as opposed to getting off of the couch and putting down the Doritos. I often bicycle 6 or more miles to work, and you wouldn’t believe the comments I get like “how can you do that?,” and “you’re crazy.” All the while, I laugh to the bank with the money I save, and the health benefits I derive. Hell, I know 70-year-olds who can crank out a couple of century bike rides in a week.

    Thugs? Ha! Biggest bunch of pushovers I’ve ever encountered in my entire life. Just look at the giant globules of fat pouring out of so many of our citizen’s bodies. The whole ghetto thug/obnoxious/wear your disrespect for others on your sleeve mentality is nothing more than a giant warning call for those with ZERO self-esteem or confidence.

    Of course, this syndrome is widespread across the country, and can trace its roots to many things. But the entire lifestyle of consumerism is to blame for the most part. I always tell people I am a producer, not a consumer, for a consumer is a victim. A producer determines his or her own destiny.

    Most wouldn’t know how to cook a meal if it wasn’t in a hot pocket package and able to be cooked in a microwave. And that is incredibly sad. And the lack of ability to do ANYTHING on their own that doesn’t involve technology doing it for them leads to flaccid bodies, and flaccid minds.

    This is why in many ways, America is doomed. The citizens of this country (and suburbanites can be included in this as well), by and large do not know how to do ANYTHING for themselves, and live in a culture of fear that is exploited by our leaders to the hilt. They are the biggest bunch of crybabies and wimps I’ve ever encountered. Yep folks, I said it, Americans are by and large, TOTAL BABIES and WIMPS.

    Bring back the draft NOW.

    Either that, or let’s just get real, and fill the old Bomberger pool up with amniotic fluid, and watch residents flock there en’ masse to float all day.

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  15. Larkin August 27, 2008 / 11:01 am
    “Drexel Dave,”

    Your contempt for your fellow human beings is remarkable. I wonder in what capacity you “worked with DPS students over the past five years,” but I can’t imagine that you imparted a single useful life lesson with the kind of attitude you display here. One day someone is really going to knock you off your high horse, or at least off your bicycle.

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  16. Gene August 27, 2008 / 11:22 am
    DD is a boxin’ machine, 206lbs of solid bad ass. You go girl, ok, I know you are a guy but that is the sayin’, ain’t it?

    We consume too much and we bring up our kids in such a way that they think it is cool/acceptable/normal/expected to be such a consumer. I have too much shit, and I have never bought anything (this is not a lie, all are gifts or hand me downs.) The only thing I consume is BeerWineLiquor, out on the town, and the occasional pizza pie or steak. I eat at home 6 days a week, and rarely go out to lunch bc I like to save my money. But to each their own………

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  17. GladGirl August 27, 2008 / 11:54 am
    She auditioned in 7th. grade- with about 800 other kids. That was in the days of the Homewood Ave. building. She is just now getting the nerve to try again.
    And we weren’t aware of the Spring auditions. Found out about Fall auditions in June. I’m totally aware of the stats for Fall and freshman slots. Thanks for the info though.
    Funny- my daughters photography was good enough to catch the eye of a professional photog for Vouge and Elle but DPS didn’t recognize it.

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  18. Larkin August 27, 2008 / 1:18 pm
    Actually, Gene, I’m not a guy. Really. You can find me here:http://www.blogger.com/profile/06127964363527258474 Does it matter that DD is a 206lb boxing machine. (My goodness, how did you know that? Never mind, I don’t want to know.) And I was speaking figuratively.

    Glad Girl,
    Stivers admits approximately 130 new students every year, so one in six get in. My son auditioned at Homewood too; they only got into the new campus November of last year. Spring auditions are usually in March or April. Check the calendar on the Stivers webpage this winter or call the magnet office and ask to speak to Joy, who is wonderful and keeps the application process from being totally chaotic.

    Your last line speaks volumes though. “Funny- my daughters photography was good enough to catch the eye of a professional photog for Vouge and Elle but DPS didn’t recognize it.” If your daughter intends to continue in photography she’d better get a lot tougher: it is a world full of rejection and criticism. I know you want to be supportive of her, and you are perplexed as to why she wasn’t accepted; but it would be better for you and her if you were more philosophical about the whole process. Whatever the two of you choose, I wish both of you the best of luck.

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  19. David Esrati August 27, 2008 / 4:01 pm

    @Larkin
    Drexel Dave drives a school bus.

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  20. Larkin August 28, 2008 / 12:26 am
    David Esrati,
    If DD drives a school bus, then that means the DPS students he has “worked with” for the last five years are middle school age (14) and younger. His apparent lack of compassion and understanding seems even more astounding in that light.

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  21. Greg Hunter August 28, 2008 / 7:04 am
    Your contempt for your fellow human beings is remarkable.

    I did not detect any contempt for human beings, only the lifestyle they have been lead to pursue. Larkin if you do not understand the delivery then you do not understand the future – IMHO. We are led by people invested in “Business As Usual” (BAU), but that paradigm has changed. Witness the State of Ohio’s proposed 56 million check to keep Moraine open. Open to do what? GM and the people in the task force are the same group that failed as planners for the future as well as the education your children are receiving.

    Fixing schools is easy, when they go to school, the parents have 0 rights to question the discipline or curriculum that the school initiates. All problems go to the Board of Education. Give me that school and I will whip them into shape or they will be out of the way so the remainder of the class can achieve a bright future.

    In addition, the State should institute a set aside program to get more male teachers into the system. If the shoe was on the other foot females would be screaming like stuck pigs to “break through the glass ceiling.” More males in the system equals a better education.

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  22. Drexel Dave August 28, 2008 / 10:45 am
    Larkin, sorry if the truth hurts. But it is my observation. There is ZERO compassion in not telling the truth. And from what I see on an everyday basis, those are my observations about the state of Dayton students. No, they do not apply to all, but yes, to very many indeed.

    We are literally destroying ourselves, and our children, with compassion, and creating a society of fat, lazy babies who are infatilized when they should be maturing. If you cannot recognize this, perhaps you are part of the huge class of Americans who are perpetually juvenile. Just look around. I see 50-somethings all over the place who never grew out of their rebellious long-hair Van Halen days.

    Face it: we have become a nation of babies and clowns.

    In addition to driving a school bus, I also am, or have been in the past:

    – A newspaper editor, photographer and columnist (with a whole bunch of awards for writing and photography)

    – An ad agency executive (more award-winning work)

    – A webmaster and Unix computer geek for WPAFB at the supercomputer center where I dealt with security issues and helped different segments of the base

    – A high school teacher of multimedia arts to students at ISUS

    – A singer and songwriter for one of the most unique and critically acclaimed musical acts to come from the Dayton area in many years – drexel.

    – A soldier in a U.S. Army National Guard Combat Engineer unit

    – A father of two children who get excellent grades

    – A dog trainer

    – A home re-habber (getting ready to get back into that game again)

    – A gardener who can really pack away some vegetables into the freezer.

    – A visual artist who sells his work to people across the globe (just sold a bedpan to a woman in Switzerland last week); and has shown work far and wide in galleries.

    – An avid cyclist

    My compassion comes from telling and teaching people about what a wicked and useless lifestyle that consumerism really is. It turns you into a useless turd, unable to function without the assistance of technology and constant re-affirmation.

    Self-confidence comes from accomplishment. Luckily, I was raised by an old hillbilly from drexel who would gladly pounce on my ass if I got smart, or ever thought about quitting or bitching and moaning. As a child I HAD to get out in the hot sun and pull weeds from the vegetable garden, and all kinds of other jobs that would be considered cruel and unusual.

    And as a result, I’ve been able to live the life I’ve wanted to live. If I die tonight, I will truly feel like it’s been an amazing ride that I’ve made the most of.

    And when I see my former students, the run up to me and shower me with hugs. A year on my bus is a life-changing experience. Guarantee it.

    And like Gene, I buy almost nothing sans for groceries, and even then, it’s basics like pasta, potatos, rice. I grow my own vegetables, and am an A-1 trashpicker. My home is full of vintage cool stuff I took out of trash piles and put it to work.

    Gene, we’d probably really get along in real life.

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  23. GladGirl August 28, 2008 / 6:26 pm
    I know Drexel Dave in real life and let me tell ya, if I ever had to put my kid on a DPS bus, I’d want it to be his. He truly cares about the safety of those kids and loves what he does. I don’t know if he’d ever admit it (and Dave I’m sure you’ll respond to this statement) but he probably has so much compassion for the hundreds of throw-a-way kids he sees every day that he loses sleep over it. At least that’s what I hear when he talks about his job. This is the bus driver who shows up every day, on time, with a good attitude and a servant’s heart. AND SOBER I might add.

    I used to work in an after school program for DPS about 6 years ago. (the UHS program I think it was called- forgive me if I’m wrong) I was an independent contractor thru the Muse Machine and taught kids team building and communication skills via improv comedy. It was the ultimate “head fake”- kids thinking they are learning to be funny but really learning how to cope with the world around them.
    This was at Esther Dennis school. I lost sleep over the kids that would beg to go home with me and try to climb in my car. I would pull away from there with a broken heart watching some of those kids sit on the stoop not knowing who was feeding them next or if anyone would be home that night.
    As a mother- it was more than I could take. Coming from my own tragic childhood, the experience would sometimes bring up past hurts. I suspect a lot of teachers and school service workers suffer the same battle fatigue.
    DD- keep on keepin’ on. And to any of you teachers and school workers out there- you have my highest respect.

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  24. Esther Dennis August 28, 2008 / 10:42 pm
    Ester Dennis is NOT a DPS school, these sob stories are getting a little out of hand. My My the folks on this blog have high opinions of themselves.

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  25. GladGirl August 29, 2008 / 10:08 am
    Mr. E. you’re awesome. I’m going back to lurking now.

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  26. Drexel Dave August 29, 2008 / 10:09 am
    surely beats the rampant low-self esteem found nearly everywhere, driving the bar lower, and lower, and lower.

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  27. gladgirl August 29, 2008 / 10:17 am
    @ Esther Dennis
    Thanks for the much needed reality check. This city would be much better off without dumb-asses like me.

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  28. Drexel Dave August 29, 2008 / 10:32 am
    James Howard Kunstler addresses the proliferation of tattoos on the American main street. He thinks the fierce looking tattoos on young Americas are actually a sign of how deeply insecure we are as a nation. They’re also a form of “non-conformist-just-like-you” consumerism. Jim also takes on the hip hop costuming that has invaded the mainstream and has made young men look like oversized babies and violent clowns

    http://media.libsyn.com/media/kunstlercast/KunstlerCast_29.mp3

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  29. Jeff August 29, 2008 / 11:48 am
    “Give me that school and I will whip them into shape or they will be out of the way so the remainder of the class can achieve a bright future.”

    You sound like the guy my high school was named after.

    Jesse Stuart. He was from Appalachian Kentucky, the area across the river from Haverhill and Portsmouth Ohio, and he writes about actually having to discipline some of his older students via fistfights when he was a young teacher (if I remember the tale right).

    As he wrote a lot about teaching as well as local color fiction, so they named a school after him. I think Stuarts’ full-length book on his teaching career was The Thread That Runs So True, set in the 1930s

    Havn’t read it but it sounds interesting.

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  30. Melissa August 29, 2008 / 12:18 pm
    Drexel,
    Listened to the link you gave; really not understanding Kunstler’s overall disdain for tattoos. Is he calling out EVERYONE with tats? And please, whatever you (“you” being the interviewer/ee)do, haul out all the old chestnuts about tattoos gone awry or tats that don’t appeal to your ever-so-aware personal philosophy. I don’t totally disagree with what he says, but what an a-h***.

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  31. Drexel Dave August 29, 2008 / 2:38 pm
    Oh, I think he made it abundantly clear he was talking about the proliferation of tats into the mainstream, and especially, the whole barbed wire on the neck tats all over the body, face, etc…And really ugly, aggressive ones at that, bragging about what a thug they are, etc…

    I think it’s much more about a low self-esteem factor pervasive in a neo-feminist society.

    I don’t think he’s an asshole at all. I really identify with what he is saying, and he certainly has a whole lot of people who agree with him. He just tells it like it is, and people think he’s an asshole. Truth tellers always get that kind of reaction, and probably always will.

    Just look at how many people think Dave Esrati is an asshole.

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  32. David Esrati August 29, 2008 / 2:47 pm

    Thanks Drexel- I’m sure my hits on Google will now go up thanks to having your last line on my site.

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  33. Melissa August 29, 2008 / 3:30 pm
    So tattoos = low self esteem? I think he’s trying to make a semi-focused attack on “thug culture,” but seems to indict EVERYONE who has ink. Which you and I both know isn’t true.

    Like I said, I didn’t disagree with everything he said. What turned me off was the smarmy, holier-than-thou attitude that so many pop culture commentators/self-proclaimed sociologists seem to feel is their just due in assuming.

    And David knows that half the time I want to choke him while the other half I want to hug him! ;-)

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  34. Gary August 29, 2008 / 4:23 pm
    I’ll stand up for DD too. I know him quite well. We were neighbors for a long while. We don’t always agree on political issues, Drexel Dave is several years younger than me which seems like a generation sometimes. He is a radical fellow but he falls into that rare catagory that Rudyard Kipling defined as “The Thousandth Man.” I could trust him with my life. In your lifetime you may only meet one or two people that you could call “The Thousandth Man”, I’m lucky because I know two and would say Drexel Dave is one of them. I have posted the poem so you know what I’m on about. It says more than I could say about character.

    I have met Mr. Esrati too and run into him several times since. I would not classify him as an a-hole myself. You need to respect what he is trying to do. Which mainly is to inform. I will give him this bit of advice again and I hope he catches what I am saying because it will improve his power to influence. Mr. Esrati is an ideas guy. He is passionate about his ideas and wants everyone to know this. However, ideas don’t happen unless YOU who are passionate about them, make them happen. This means that YOU have to pull the team together that has the ability to make your idea happen. The team will not form because you present the idea. Once the idea has been shared, you must be willing to let the people who carry out the idea receive the credit and be content that the experience and the end result is your reward. On a lighter note, I got a hit on my site a few weeks ago from someone who Googled “Perfect asshole size and measurement” and I wrote a post about it. At least I have become perfect at something! Enjoy the poem ……

    Poem lyrics of The Thousandth Man by Rudyard Kipling.

    One man in a thousand, Solomon says,
    Will stick more close than a brother.
    And it’s worth while seeking him half your days
    If you find him before the other.
    Nine nundred and ninety-nine depend
    On what the world sees in you,
    But the Thousandth man will stand your friend
    With the whole round world agin you.

    ‘Tis neither promise nor prayer nor show
    Will settle the finding for ‘ee.
    Nine hundred and ninety-nine of ’em go
    By your looks, or your acts, or your glory.
    But if he finds you and you find him.
    The rest of the world don’t matter;
    For the Thousandth Man will sink or swim
    With you in any water.

    You can use his purse with no more talk
    Than he uses yours for his spendings,
    And laugh and meet in your daily walk
    As though there had been no lendings.
    Nine hundred and ninety-nine of ’em call
    For silver and gold in their dealings;
    But the Thousandth Man h’s worth ’em all,
    Because you can show him your feelings.

    His wrong’s your wrong, and his right’s your right,
    In season or out of season.
    Stand up and back it in all men’s sight —
    With that for your only reason!
    Nine hundred and ninety-nine can’t bide
    The shame or mocking or laughter,
    But the Thousandth Man will stand by your side
    To the gallows-foot — and after!

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  35. TeresaLea August 29, 2008 / 11:48 pm
    @ Larkin – I find your comments to be incredibly refreshing. Your aptness to see points of view from a reality that you may not share is an awesome attribute.

    @Gary – David is indeed passionate about his ideas. Why else would a man run himself dry running for public office more times than he can count, with his own money? Why else would he volunteer his time, his company’s time and his company’s resources (which all cost money) to better not only his neighborhood, but to better Dayton as a whole? Why else would he take the time necessary to research and stay informed on current events (local, national and worldwide, mind you) that affect our daily lives – so that we can just click a RSS feed to his blog and WE can be informed on events that our “news” doesn’t even make us privy to? Why else would he share with us, the informed citizens he has helped to create, the ideas that he holds so much passion for, ideas that turn into seeds for action and change?

    Esrati may be a lot of things, but an idea man who lacks action, is definitely not one of them.

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  36. Drexel Dave August 30, 2008 / 3:51 pm
    Hey Dave, I hope that did help your hits. But rest assured, you are certainly appreciated by me for your efforts, your mind, your passion, and your willingness to swim against the grain. You are one of my local heroes.

    Gene, you are one of my local gyros. ;-)

    And Gary, you brought a tear to my eye today. It hasn’t been the easiest of years this year, as you know. But ANY time you need some muscle tissue to haul something heavy up that spiral staircase, you know where I’m at.

    Love you all,

    DD

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