Saturday, March 14, 2015

Lynell Mickelson Was Right

Now here is a posting that I can totally agree with !!!
MinnPost: Lynell was Right

And now if a Black Male Conservative and a White Female Liberal can understand this very logical discussion.  Why do other Liberals keep insisting that the achievement gap is about racism?  And that to fix it, we need to double down on the Union led system that has enabled it?


Anonymous said...

I guess we could always pass a law requiring that families not disintegrate.

In education circles, it's well and universally understood that instability within families has a negative impact on schools. The problem is that schools can't require families to be stable, rather they must deal with the instability caused by other uncontrollable factors. In the past few days we have seen massive layoffs at Target. No doubt the consequent economic in stability is going to hurt families and have an impact on schools. So what should we do about it? Ban layoffs?


Laurie said...

I read the Minnpost piece once through and didn't notice any actual ideas to improve education. Maybe I missed something.

Laurie said...

I read it through a second time and I did notice this idea:

"I believe people who voted for President Obama not once but twice should come to the sober reality that the disintegration of the family is as much to blame for the problems in our education system as union bosses and progressives who relentlessly fight to maintain the status quo. "

seems like he is agreeing with many liberals on this to me.

Laurie said...

So if the topic is improving education for the most at risk students I think the discussion should focus on something that would actually make a significant difference:

ESEA Reauthorization: Comparable but Unequal
School Funding Disparities

CAP brief: A federal loophole that shortchanges poor schools

As Congress Rewrites NCLB, Arne Duncan Highlights 'Title I Comparability Loophole'

I think all three links say the same thing. The first one may be the best and the last one you may need to register to read it.

These links focus on federal funding but this could be addressed at the state and local levels as well.

Laurie said...

Somewhere online there is an interactive map that shows that MN actually leads the country in equitable funding of K-12 education but I can't refind it. Anyway, whatever problems we have in terms of equitable funding are mostly at the district level rather than the state level.

Also, as I have mentioned previously, charter schools, many of which serve a very high percent of at risk students, are under funded.

John said...

I especially liked this quote from the first link.

"But research over the past decade has conclusively shown that all teachers are not equal. Some have a vastly greater impact on student achievement than others. In fact, a recent RAND Corporation report stated, “among school-related factors, teachers matter most.” And while experience is not a perfect proxy for effectiveness, research consistently shows that teachers undergo a steep learning curve during the first three years on the job and then gradually reach a peak in their fifth year. Consequently, it is particularly problematic that schools disproportionately serving low-income students also have more than their fair share of new teachers. Additionally, though individual teacher effectiveness varies, schools with more new teachers are, on average, not comparable to schools with more experienced teachers."

John said...

Please remember Lynnell's detailed list from the original post comments... That is what Chris is in support of, and the Liberals commenters seem to be against.

"RE: What’s my solution? Well, for any problem this big, there are a lot of solutions. I actually agree with most of the things that Pat Thompson posted from Diane Ravitch’s list---except #6. (I support standardized testing used wisely and well.)

Here are a few concrete solutions (in no particular order) that we could use in Minneapolis to improve our schools and make them less based on the preferential treatment of white people.

1) Pay excellent teachers significantly more to teach at high-poverty schools. Right now, most of our highest paid teachers are at the wealthiest and whitest schools. While we're at it, we should also pay high-caliber math and science teachers more because they're who are particularly hard to hire.

These higher pay ideas have been rejected by the teachers' union in Minneapolis. The union insists that all schools are equally challenging in their own way and that it would be unfair to pay great science and math teachers more than great English teachers.---even though they are much harder to hire.

2) Hire more teachers of color; In order to do this we should:

a) Get rid of our least effective teachers. Myself, I’d get rid of the bottom 10 percent, based on their evaluations and student feedback.

b) Open the pipeline so we can hire experienced, licensed teachers from anywhere, but particularly from the South, which produces a lot more teachers of color than Minnesota does. Unfortunately, Minnesota currently makes it very difficult to hire licensed teachers from out-of-state—many have to repeat student teaching or have to pay thousands of dollars for additional credits from Minnesota schools of education;

This solution is also opposed by the state teachers' union as well as local education schools who don’t want to lose the $$$ they earn by providing required extra courses needed for licensing out-of-state teachers.

3) Extend the school day and year at schools where the majority of students are far behind their peers; (Opposed by our local teacher's union because they say teachers don't want to work longer hours---even at higher pay.)

4) Instead of a having 10-12 week vacation in the summer (when low-income kids fall even further behind) have four-five weeks of vacation time in the summer, with another break in the winter ,etc. Like they do in Europe and elsewhere. (Opposed by our local teachers’ union because teachers want the 12-week summer off )

John said...

5) Make principals at-will employees so that we can more easily get rid of ineffective ones and hire better ones; (Opposed by local and state teachers’ and principals unions.)

6) Make staffing decisions---i.e. who to hire, who to lay-off—based on evaluations rather than strict seniority so we can keep great teachers in our classrooms. (Opposed by local and state teachers union because they prefer seniority as the main criteria.)

7) If you're a DFLer, tell your legislator, you'd like him or her to show some courageous independence from the dictates of Education Minnesota. I love my party, but our legislators act like a wholly owned subsidiary of Education Minnesota. It hurts kids and it's not right.

I could go on and on. Our schools would look very different if we designed them with the kids' academic achievement as our first priority as opposed to adult needs and comfort.

As much as I dislike Republicans for their stupid economic, social and environmental policies, when it comes to education, we Democrats are flat-ass on the wrong side of this issue on these points I support Democrats in their effort to fully-fund education (although even my party falls short on this.) But I don't agree with them when it comes to forcing our schools to continue using antiquated, industrial staffing rules that no healthy organization--business or non-profit-- would ever willingly choose. Who is served by this and who loses? It's pretty clear.

In Minneapolis, this antiquated way of running schools was easier to ignore when most of our employees and our kids were white and most were doing okay. It has become far uglier when most of our employees are white and most of our students are children of color and doing badly. It DOES have this antebellum vibe.

Yet instead of changing a broken and (implicitly racist) status quo, our DFL legislators defend and enable it out of loyalty to the teachers' union. I'd prefer their first loyalty was to children and families and I don't think this makes me any less progressive.

In fact, I push it because I think we're violating our progressive values in the current status quo.

And good news, none of this involves "union-busting" or "privatizing." It does involve adapting to the needs and children of the 21st century.

John said...

So if it takes about 5 years for a Teacher to become "fully functional" and then their growth slows. What is the rationale for the significant continuing pay increases.

I understand that additional degrees, years and training may make some Teachers more effective, however it may not.

However based on the linked dated curve, they will certainly get more compensation, choice of student, etc.

John said...

My point is that just pouring more money into the schools in poor communities is not a cost effective solution. It will just get us more of the same.

Laurie said...

If the republican controlled congress wanted to do it they could make a big difference by closing the comparibility loophole in the ESEA.

The unions have no power over this. The Mpls schools with the most at risk students would seem a big bump in funding and the Mpls schools with the fewest would experience funding cuts. The low income schools could hire more teachers and the high income schools would have to lay teachers off and increase class sizes. Why doesn't the GOP do this? I think Obama would sign it.

I think the bill they are currently working on moves things in the opposite direction, though I need to study it more carefully. Here is another link:

In 23 states, richer school districts get more local funding than poorer districts

I did't take time to read your lengthy comments just yet because I am heading to the library to do some work to prepare to better educate my highly at risk students. Poor, ELL, and special ed, these kids do not have a bright future.

Laurie said...

One more comment before I go.

I read your link a third time and still didn't find an actual proposal other than a very broad call to reform education and a suggestion that the unions stand in the way.

There was this interesting comment:

"Alas, Chris Fields & I do not seem to agree
......on almost anything, although personally, I wish him well. But If you read my post and his, you can see that we're coming from the opposite directions and then heading in very different directions. I'm a DFLer. He's a GOPer. So that's probably predictable.

Unlike Chris, I think white privilege and supremacy are a big problem in our educational system and other spheres. For the most part, Republicans have been working against the interests of people of color as well as the interests of almost anyone who is not super-duper rich. So i don't see a lot of common ground there.

I do support the current GOP bills to keep the best teachers in the classroom and allow performance to be a criteria in layoffs as opposed to strict seniority. I also support their efforts to make it easier for experienced, licensed teachers from other states be allowed to teach in Minnesota without having to repeat their student teaching or take more costly (and usually useless) education courses.

According to the polling, 80-90 percent of the public agrees with these two initiatives too, so they cross party lines. DFL Senator Terri Bonoff has introduced similar legislation and I support her bill too."

I still think these bills which are getting a lot of attention will make very little difference and legislators should focus on things that will have more impact.

Anonymous said...

"seems like he is agreeing with many liberals on this to me."

Indeed. Lots of folks like to blame teachers for the achievement gap. Mr. Fields doesn't seem to be doing that today, choosing a different set of scapegoats, for whatever reason. What should be clear, however, is that the disintegration of families should not be used as an excuse for any failure to teach effectively and well. We take our kids as we find them, and what we know about them should inform the way we teach. The original article to which Fields' piece is a response basically blames white liberals whose faults, even I admit, are many and grievous. I have no doubt at all that the teachers, white, liberal or otherwise, who have chosen to accept the challenge of teaching in underperforming are far from perfect. Theirs is a tough job to say the least. But it seems to me that instead of castigating, we need to support them, both morally, and by giving them the tools to do the difficult work they have chosen, better.


jerrye92002 said...

I want to agree with Hiram. Just because students are poor or black or non-English speakers should never, ever condemn them to failure in our public schools. It is the job of the public schools to educate every child to their full potential and many even have that as an official motto.

I attended a town hall meeting with my DFL Senator today, and afterwards met with a couple of teachers. I am absolutely appalled at the way the DFL, the unions and any other sorry sot that sides with them can continually deny the abysmal state of too many of our public schools. The way I phrased it was, "if I were doing business with a private company that continually provided me with terrible service and a product with 50% rejects, I would not be looking to give them MORE business."

jerrye92002 said...

Laurie, what I love about your first citation is the notion that teachers (and school systems) have to take the kid as they find him. One of the teachers I spoke with today was quite proud of, she said, essentially eliminating the "gap" between her students of differing demographic. She does it, she says, because she has "18 different mini-lessons going on at the same time" in her class. She obviously will spend the most time with the students like the one she says "didn't know how to hold a pencil." I think it's great and I do not know why schools like Minneapolis cannot do something that simple, unless what I found was just a really great teacher that Minneapolis doesn't have, in which case, let's FIX that!

Laurie said...

I think that schools that serve a high percentage of poor kids need more $. From my first link (CAP):

"A recent National Bureau of Economic Research study found that:
For poor children, a twenty percent increase in per-pupil spending each year for all 12 years of public school is associated with nearly a full additional year of completed education, 25 percent higher earnings, and a 20 percentage-point reduction in the annual incidence of poverty in adulthood. … The results … highlight how improved access to school resources can profoundly shape the life outcomes of economically disadvantaged children, and thereby significantly reduce the intergenerational transmission of poverty."

I have decided not to stress over the possibility that my school could be shut down, because I think that is probable for the best as it is unlikely we will be given the additional $ we need.

John said...

In Minnesota the funding favors the traditional Public Schools who serve the most unlucky students, in fact MN is number 2 on your list. And as you noted, Minneapolis gets more then twice the funding of many schools. Yet they have one of the highest achievement gaps.

My point is that increased funding alone will accomplish nothing. Systemic changes are also required. Your school is the outlier in MN, and it is because of Ed MN that your funding per student is less than half of Mpls.

Laurie said...

If you would actually read the links you might understand how Mpls would be forced to provide more equitable funding between it highest poverty and lower poverty schools if the comparability loophole was closed and how this could contribute to closing the gap.

I might try to explain this in a comment tomorrow but probably not.

John said...

I may be simplifying this too much, however I will explain my belief of how the District's hands are tied.

The District sets class size targets for the District by grade. This determines how many Teachers each school will have. Then the Union staffing rules kick in that allow senior Teachers to migrate to the schools they prefer.

Thus the Teachers who make more than twice as much as the <5 year Teachers end up in the schools with the luckier kids. And the budget for those schools are higher even though the Teacher count is the same or less.

Laurie said...

You seem to have accurately described the problem for which closing the comparibility loophole is the solution.

jerrye92002 said...

"I think that schools that serve a high percentage of poor kids need more $." -- Laurie

Laurie, I wholeheartedly agree, and it is simple common sense, that it costs more because these kids have to learn more to "catch up." BUT... the fact of the matter is that the state aid formula DOES send more money to school districts based on the number of kids in poverty and of English language learners. Yet I can show you that the [public] schools that spend the most have the poorest results, and that there is often a 2:1 difference in achievement between schools in the same demographic, or between schools with the same spending per pupil. If money were the answer, Washington DC schools would be the best in the country, and they are among the worst. Similarly with SP and Mpls.

That's why I agree with Mickelson, too, that what matters is what you DO with the money. You have to teach the kids from where they are, in ways that reach them, regardless of what the curriculum says. I saw an example the other day where a teacher was unable to teach math facts to her class, but found they could easily remember the lyrics to rap songs. So, she created a rap song of math facts and... DONE! I can bet that wasn't in the official syllabus.

John said...

After looking at your links, I still don't see the link between the loophole and what occurs within the Mpls school district.

jerrye92002 said...

Glad we got that settled. But it still seems backwards to me, the way we budget. Even with vouchers, where every kid brings x$ along, the only way you can afford to reward a "good" teacher with more money is if the number of kids they can teach effectively is higher-- they are "more productive." Even this assumes that all the kids are learning to the same level and does not allow that an "excellent" teacher may get 2 years worth of education into 20 kids, whereas that "good" teacher only gets 30 kids ahead by a year and a half. Seems like that's where the evaluation system has to come in, and THEN the school's budget has to be set based on what we are paying for "results," not by how many kids (and their demographic) we have.

Laurie said...

Rather than type a long explanation myself I have copied and pasted from my link:

ESEA—requires school districts to provide “comparable” educational services in high-poverty and low-poverty, or non-Title I, schools as a condition of receiving Title I dollars.

Under current law, districts can compute comparability using
teacher-to-student ratios instead of actual expenditures on teacher salaries.

Federal law explicitly prohibits districts from calculating comparability using actual expenditures. Instead, it chooses to treat teachers as interchangeable widgets. For example, if School A has 10 teachers and School B has 10 teachers, they must be providing a comparable education. It is this loophole in federal law—the “comparability loophole”—that is at the heart of school funding inequities.

The comparability requirement in ESEA is the mechanism through which the federal government can ensure that the public education offered to poor students is at least as well resourced as that offered to their more affluent peers. By allowing districts to use measures of educators instead of expenditures to demonstrate that they are providing comparable educational services, federal law ceases to have teeth. This is commonly referred to as the comparability loophole.

These inequitably funded schools receive around $1,200 less per student than comparison schools in their districts. Overall,these schools receive around $668,900 less per year than comparison schools.

Therefore, Congress should close the comparability loophole by requiring that districts fund their Title I schools at the same level as or higher than—based on actual spending—their other schools.

The link obviously has more detail. If the loophole was closed the students in North Mpls would have the same per pupil amount spent on them as the students who live by Lake Harriet and have all the well paid and experienced staff.. The high poverty schools would have a lot more money to hire teachers or buy computers or whatever. The Lake Harriet school would likely have to cut some staff / increase class sizes.

How districts would manage / adjust to this mandate is the confusing part.

From the link again:

"For example, we found that in the second year—the first year of narrowing comparability gaps—states and districts would be responsible for closing gaps by around $2.3 billion in exchange for receiving more than $14.6 billion in federal Title I funds."

I think it would take more $ for Mpls to comply with this change in the law. I think to do it they would have to cut some $ at the schools with the most expensive staffs.

Lastly, from what I have read, it is unlikely that the republican congress will include closing this loophole in their education bills.

jerrye92002 said...

Laurie, I've sent your comment and question to the Republican Chair of the House Education Committee. I'll check into the "NCLB replacement" bill for myself later.