Monday, January 5, 2015

True Cost of Teach for America

A belated Christmas gift from Laurie:

The True Cost of Teach For America's Impact on Urban Schools

I spent some of my xmas break reading abut how to improve education and I am always interested in what others think. Laurie

Thoughts?

Laurie, And I have not forgotten that MinnPost article you mentioned...

47 comments:

jerrye92002 said...

Isn't this the program that Mark Dayton failed in (one of the first of many)?

I am surprised to see that there is almost zero mention of the "true cost," which is not in dollars but in young lives lost to an inadequate education. It's not the money. They admit that if they could GET and keep quality teachers, it would cost more, so the real underlying problem is that the system somehow discourages teachers from engaging these already-disadvantaged students.

John said...

Or... Those positions just don't pay enough to justify the inherent head aches and stresses... Just keeping an open mind.

Laurie said...

I am not sure I understand your comments. I think John implied that some teaching positions don't pay enough to get and keep teachers, which I agree with, but that is not the main problem.

My opinion is that in areas with a large surplus of teachers, like Seattle and Minnesota, districts should hire from the pool of traditionally trained teachers.

One book I am reading says that teachers are not very effective in their first year, but make significant improvements in year two. I know in my building a large turnover in staff impacts the quality of education we offer our students.

Laurie said...

Since my first link didn't generate much interest I'll try another education link:

Kline and Senate ally launching new push for NCLB overhaul and less federal oversight

The plot to overhaul No Child Left Behind
The Republican plan could dramatically roll back the federal role in education


my views on NCLB are surprising to me, as right now I would bet the that it will likely lead to the closing of my school in a couple years and yet I support it. I will have to think about this somemore and how I would change the law.

jerrye92002 said...

Laurie, most conservatives I know oppose NCLB exactly because it is a federal "one size fits all" program that includes all mandates and minimal funding, and solves the wrong problem.

I have consistently supported NCLB for two reasons: the testing (somewhat flawed and overdone, I admit) that points out the appalling achievement gaps between demographic groups and between schools, and the requirement that failing schools allow their students to go somewhere else at government expense. Both provisions have been corrupted in their implementation, as the freedom to choose a standardized test has led to some gaming of the system and losing value of the data, and the provisions allowing students to escape failing schools were quickly gutted by teachers unions and their Democrat allies. As a result, the bill which promised No Child Left Behind has become the "Keep poor kids poor" law. I'm taking a wild guess that any bipartisan solution will make both parts of the situation worse.

Laurie said...

Jerry, Thanks for reading and commenting on my links. It seems like on the surface we agree about some things, but that can't be right so I will have to reread and think about your comment some more later. Right now I am going to go into school and get some things done today as we are closed to students due to the cold weather.

In Mpls and ST. Paul parents have lots of choice with dozens of charter school options. Some times choice is limited by a popular school's full enrollment or also by the parent's ability to provide transportation to a different school or district.

At my school we have a large turnover in students. My memory is fuzzy to this data but this year we had about 80 students leave and 120 new students enroll (our current enrollment is about 320) These turnover of students makes growth from year to year hard to measure and I am still skeptical at how well the MCA measures growth for students, especially those who are well below grade level like the kids I teach.

Laurie said...

I am going to just keep ignoring the lack of interest in education and post another link that I find fascinating:

The State of
Minnesota
Public Education, 2014


from this report I learned why Mpls teachers are paid so much better than teachers at my school and how unfair it is too expect students from my school to perform as well as Mpls students. Below is part of a chart re per pupil spending: ( the first 2 are charter schools.)


Global Academy $12,928

Harvest Preparatory School
$12,448

Minneapolis Public School District
$20,576

Mounds View Public School District
$13,945

St. Paul Public School District
$17,414

jerrye92002 said...

"It seems like on the surface we agree about some things, but that can't be right..." LOL

I think we agree far more than you think we do. I have always said (or tried to say) that individual teachers are to be commended for even wanting the job, and that most all of them are doing the best they can. I've said they should be paid more, but that would be based on a) letting them, b) expecting them, and c) helping them to teach every kid as best they can.

I believe that the system is at fault, not the dedicated teachers in it. I must also admit that there are some demographics of students-- those that move often, as your example-- that are more difficult to teach, certainly within the current rigid system, but I emphatically deny that demographics is destiny. The system, i.e. the way we teach, must change to adapt to the student because the students having difficulty will not adapt to the system. In turn, that is why I hold out such high hope for NCLB, properly implemented. Schools that are failing would be identified and school choice would be the REQUIRED remedy. If, within those alternative schools, new models of teaching-- individualized or computer-aided instruction, teaching promotion ladders, etc.-- could be implemented, so much the better.

jerrye92002 said...

Laurie, your link doesn't seem to work. But education has long been one of my hot-button issues. It outrages me that so many millions of kids are being denied a good education and a chance at a better life, either actively by a system that doesn't care, or passively by a system that doesn't know how. Either way, it's an outrage, especially when we spend so darn much on it, including spending MORE to get LESS!

I think I have a partial explanation for why your kids do not do as well as they are supposed to do, which is that the "damage" has already been done by the time you get them. A third grade kid not reading at grade level doesn't start reading at grade level because of some magical transformation that happens at your front door. The missed opportunity in K-2 may be permanent without extraordinary effort on your part, which is not probably doable.

You also raise an interesting question. I have always assumed that one big advantage to school choice is that those "interested" parents will be the one seeking out the opportunity, resulting in your students being more motivated than average. I would assume that would result in parents choosing your school more consistently over time, rather than less as you seem to indicate. Thoughts? Why such high (I assume) transience?

Laurie said...

if anyone is interested in my link that doesn't work the report can be found at the Minncan web site. (here is another link that may or may not work)

Minncan

I don't know why so many students leave my school. Some if it I am sure is due to our very low test scores. Some of it I think is parents tired of being informed about their child's behavior issues. Some of it is due to some charter parents seem to switch schools frequently.

About the low test scores at my school have I mentioned the demographics of where I teach:

90% + low income

90% + English language learners

about 30% of our students are language proficiency level 1

about 20% of our students are new to country, most having very limited prior schooling

Anyhow those are my excuses about why we do so poorly and may be shut down in a couple years. The students would probably be better off in Mpls. public schools which apparently gets about 50% more money per student than we do.

John said...

I am very interested in the topic as usual, however between work, holidays, garage improvements, etc... I have been swamped. Let's see if I can catch up.

John said...

Teach for America:
The article seems incredibly biased and misleading. Operating an HR department is not free for schools, yet no where did they mention the money that districts were saving by out sourcing the recruiting.

And of course the turnover is high, it takes a rare person who is willing to work in a system where your efforts and effectiveness are not rewarded. The idea that ones income is constrained by years served, and the idea of working next to a burnt out 20 year veteran who made twice my income would greatly frustrate an over achiever like myself.

Now which is better, having twice as many Teachers in the classroom or having half as many high paid Teachers? It is worth pondering.

John said...

NCLB:
It is interesting that both the far left and far right seem to be okay with MCLB (ie Many Children Left Behind).

The data standards would be lowered in some states as with the performance data.

I mean Conservatives like Jerry will be able to kid himself that Mississippi has a good school system. Schools will be able to return to the 20th century practice of just passing incompetent kids to the next grade, while telling people they are doing a good job.

John said...

Laurie,
How many children with severe special needs go to your school?

Public schools spend a very large amount of their budgets on this. And their employee costs are far above market due to the Unions. (for better or worse) So yes their costs are high.

Laurie said...

I think I liked it better when you didn't comment, John, as your comments are very annoying.

Charter schools are public schools and we serve students with a variety of disabilities. We have 4 students with autism, 3 of whom require a 1:1 para and these para'a are paid $30,000 each (I don't know why we pay them so well)

Anyhow, your tone is like a know it all (as usuaL), but you are wrong about a number of things. Maybe tomorrow I will educate you, but right now I need to get to bed so I am not late to our 6:30 am school improvement team meeting tomorrow.

jerrye92002 said...

Jerry actually HAD kids in the Mississippi schools, and they arrived in Minnesota a year ahead of where Minnesota students were. Don't try to tell me they didn't. I will, however, note that this could not be done today, because the federal government meddled in Mississippi's schools and made them less effective.

Let's do a little thought experiment, though, to decide if they are "worse." You are the one claiming that poor kids and black kids are doomed to fail, or require some extraordinary teaching of which you have so far not specified the nature. So let's compare Mississippi's many, many, poor kids and black kids with Minnesota's, and I would wager that Mississippi actually comes out BETTER. Especially now that the federal government has started to meddle in Minnesota schools.

John said...

Jerry,
My children are 1+ years ahead of most of the kids in Minnesota. And likely 5+ years ahead of many kids in MN. What does that mean?

My interpretation is that our kids are very lucky to have bright, caring, dedicated, responsible, well to do, English speaking Parents.

John said...

Solution

Hard to implement due to Conservatives dreading consistency and government involvement, and Liberals working to protect Public Employees from being held accountable for performance.

The kids suffer as the adults argue...

John said...

The problem with Mississippi is that overall their scores are LOW, and they do not even have data regarding their gap.
NCES Gap Report

John said...

Laurie,
7 Spec Needs/320 Students X 100
equals 2.2% special needs.

Mpls schools has a much higher percentage and likely much much worse cases. Usually the Parents of children with severe special needs stay with schools who have better facilities and systems.

Star Trib Rising Special Needs Costs

Laurie said...

John,

Your suggestion to improve schools by paying teachers less is idiotic.

So do you think it is fair that Mpls schools get 50% more per pupil funding than Robbinsdale schools?

John said...

Maybe? What do you think?

Robbinsdale vs Mpls

Laurie said...

I have always been supportive of higher funding for schools with high numbers of at risk kids, but 50% more seems a bit excessive.

Have I mentioned the challenges we face at my school? (updated)

100% low income

85% English language learners

about 30% of our students are language proficiency level 1

about 20% of our students are new to country, most having very limited prior schooling.

I don't see how Mpls deserves 50% higher funding even if they do have higher sped costs. I believe their pay scale is about 50% higher than a typical charter. How is that fair?

John said...

It isn't fair that their compensation is much higher than market, and that it is distributed based on "years served" and not performance. That is why Conservatives are against the Unions who put the employee's wants way before the children's needs.

Sean said...

On what basis do you say that public school teacher compensation is "higher than market"?

jerrye92002 said...

"My children are 1+ years ahead of most of the kids in Minnesota."

I thought that might be your response. My kids were a couple years ahead of the average kids in Mississippi, too, because they had a lot of advantages, as your kids do. But when I say that they were "ahead" of the schools here in Minnesota, I mean that the CURRICULUM, the things actively being taught and the expectations, were ahead of Minnesota's, by roughly a year. And that's my point-- that there are many things a school can do to improve results regardless of the "incoming raw material" they are given, and the Minnesota urban schools are simply not doing them.

jerrye92002 said...

"Conservatives dreading consistency and government involvement"

Where are you getting that idea? Are you suggesting that a private initiative like HCZ is somehow a conservative nightmare? Maybe because it is of and for black people? Shame! The only problem conservatives (like me, at least) have with these programs is that they have to fight the government to do what government says is THEIR exclusive domain.

jerrye92002 said...

I think the way to look at school spending is as a "value proposition." A school or district that spends twice the average and gets only half the results (test scores, graduation rate) is a poor value. That's Minneapolis, and in any truly competitive situation this "company" would be out of business in a trice, replaced by something far, far better, at lower cost. THAT is not only fair, it's common sense and long overdue.

John said...

Jerry,
If that is the case it is too bad they are teaching that more challenging curriculum poorly. Or at least that is what the national tests indicate.
Mississippi SAT
Minnesota SAT

John said...

Sean,
Laurie's school is an excellent example of why I think public school teacher compensation is "higher than market". The teachers that work there are paid what it takes to attract and retain good employees.

If they don't pay enough, they will not have appropriate applicants and the their employees will quit for greener pastures.

"In fact, I call tenure related comp the silver hand cuffs for teachers. Often they are trapped in a district, position or school that they hate and they can't justify changing jobs because they don't want to lose their relatively high comp or tenure related benefits. So how do you think this trapped Teacher performs. (ie good pay/security but unhappy/depressed/frustrated) And of course the administration can't do much except pay them because they are performing marginally, but ok." G2A Link

jerrye92002 said...

" too bad they are teaching that more challenging curriculum poorly."

Your criticism of Mississippi schools is statistically accurate, but misses two things: a) you've said that poor kids and black kids can't learn, of which Mississippi has many, and b) my comparisons were made before the federal government's intensive meddling in Mississippi schools eliminated many of their advantages.

John said...

"you've said that poor kids and black kids can't learn"

Now please provide a link to where I have ever said this...

John said...

"The only problem conservatives (like me, at least) have with these programs is that they have to fight the government to do what government says is THEIR exclusive domain. "

Oh come now, from above it sounds like you are against national education performance standards and working to ensure every school/student meets or exceeds them. You appear to be okay letting states and communities choose to let kids graduate without an adequate education.

John said...

"A school or district that spends twice the average and gets only half the results (test scores, graduation rate) is a poor value. That's Minneapolis, and in any truly competitive situation this "company" would be out of business in a trice, replaced by something far, far better, at lower cost. "

Though it may be common sense to you, it seems to be incredibly illogical to me. It is like saying the manufacturing costs should be the same no matter where the plant is located or what the quality/availabity of the raw materials are...

The reality is that most kids enter the Orono school district with well developed social, physical, and academic skills. They come with ready and excited to learn, with Parents who are dedicated to and capable of supporting them.

In Minneapolis things are a bit different.

Laurie said...

Funny you should mention turnover, John. On my drive home today I tried to recall all the staff who have left my school in the 5 years I have been there. I came up with 26 (which doesn't include new hires who lasted only a week or two and in one case less than a day.)

Out of the 29 teaching positiona at my school only one is filled by a person who was there when I started, that is the phy ed. teacher. Does your workplace experience this rate of turnover, if not perhaps you are all overpaid.

I know my school would pay us better if they had the $. Every usable space in our building is occupied so they couldn't hire more staff. Maybe if we were paid better more teachers would stay more than a few years.

Laurie said...

Also, I really don't understand, John, why you are so supportive of high spencding in Mpls public, but think charters, who generally educate a more at risk population than Mpls, should get by with the same funding as the ave. suburban district.

I did the math.
$8,000 additional per student x 320 students = $2,560,000

We couldd provide some super fantastic spec ed services for that kind of money, if Mpls wanted to send us some of their high needs students.

Or maybe we could just give each staff person in my building a $50,000 raise :)

jerrye92002 said...

"Now please provide a link to where I have ever said this..." OK, I am admittedly paraphrasing, but two posts later you say it again: "In Minneapolis things are a bit different." How so? Kids are kids, are they not?

Then you put words in my mouth, saying, "Oh come now, from above it sounds like you are against national education performance standards and working to ensure every school/student meets or exceeds them." I am not against standards, but national standards run the concomitant risk of national meddling and I KNOW that does more harm than good. I am all in favor of making sure every student is educated "to their full potential" and I am incensed that so much of our current public school system not only guarantees the opposite but works to continue it.

And then, " It is like saying the manufacturing costs should be the same no matter where the plant is located or what the quality/availabity of the raw materials are..." I said no such thing. I said that the Minneapolis schools could do far better for less money. I didn't say they could do it for the same or less than Orono (though economies of scale might argue they should). My big concern at this point isn't the cost, but I think we absolutely must get away from the notion that more money makes for better schools. So long as they have that excuse, they will have little incentive to improve results and THAT is what must change. I think they WANT to do better, but I'm not convinced they know how and their knowing how to make that happen is even less likely. If they could, they would have done it long ago.

I'm afraid the only way we're going to solve this appalling lack of achievement is with some radical change, like district-wide HCZ or universal vouchers.

Laurie said...

Just for the record, my claim that Mpls pays teachera 50% more than a charter school teacher is a bit of an exaggeration. I compared salaries at three points on the salary schedule:

upper left: Mpls salary $40,000 = 14% higher

mid range (masters degree, 20 yrs)
$69,000 = 25% higher

lower right (MA+60, 40 years)
$83,000 =40% higher

I am familiar with pay scales at 4 different charters and my current school is the best of the four.

John said...

Jerry,
Now you do understand that HCZ requires lots of parent education, early childhood education, K-12 and college scholarships.

John said...

"but think charters, who generally educate a more at risk population than Mpls, should get by with the same funding as the ave. suburban district."

Where again have I ever written this view? All I said was that special needs is really really expensive, and that the status quo public schools carry the lion's share of the load.

John said...

"Kids are kids, are they not?"

Really... You are kidding, right?

jerrye92002 said...

NO, I'm not kidding. I start from a position that all kids should have an equal opportunity for a good education, and have a reasonably equal ability to learn. In fact, it's required by the Minnesota Constitution. Do you expect me to believe that our urban schools are NOT egregious examples of failure? Offer any explanations you want, but they are not excuses.

Laurie said...

regarding charter school funding I was inferring from all your comments. So your most recent comments suggests that maybe you do think a charter like my school does deserve more money.

If we had $100,000 more per year I would open our library. Right now we have a classroom full of second hand books in boxes. No one on staff has th time or motivation to set this up so our students could stat borrowing our junky books.

With $200,000 we could have new books for the kids. Most classrooms have a very limited collection of books (with the exception of mine because I have spent hundreds of dollars.) Out of our generous pay checks we are expected to purchase books for our students. Most classrooms have next to nothing for their low students to read, as a 5th grade classroom needs books from kindergarten to 5th grade level.

fyi - only one of the 4 charter schools I have worked in has a library. It came as part of an expansion which included a new gym (which is another thing my school lacks)

John said...

Laurie,
I have long been on record that charter schools should be treated equally to the other public schools. Including being given the freedom to buy or rent school building that other districts no longer need.

Unfortunately Education MN and the Status Quo public schools lobby hard for their near Monopoly. As I always say, those "caring" adults are almost always dedicated to putting their job security, compensation, power, etc before the needs of the unlucky children.

Laurie said...

While surfing the web just now I came across A Fresh Approach to Ranking States on Education

If you click the link to this chart you might notice that Minnesota comes in 10th and Mississippi last. In the area of K12 achievement Mississippi was the only stat to get an F. Sorry Jerry.

I was a bit surprised that we were only 10th but I haven't studied it at all to see why we are not nearer to the top.

jerrye92002 said...

OK, fine. Now let's compare Mississippi with Minneapolis. And then compare the Mississippi before federal meddling with Minneapolis. Let's face it, we're not Lake Woebegone, where "all the kids are a little above average." We've got some large pockets of educational system failure. I would say "third world style" except that many of those countries' best are far ahead of our worst.

Anonymous said...

Now let's compare Mississippi with Minneapolis. And then compare the Mississippi before federal meddling with Minneapolis.

Why not compare Edina with Minneapolis? After all, Edina has a lot more in common with Minneapolis, and it's a lot closer. We sure know a lot more about what goes on in the Edina school system than we do, Mississippi's.



--Hiram