Sunday, December 13, 2015

MP Voucher Argument

This should be right down Jerry's alley.  I'll need to do some research.

Based on the admissions page it is looking like it going to be hard to compare them to the Mpls School District.  It looks like they get to pick and choose their students, and I am betting they have few special ed students.
Hope School Home Page
Hope School Admissions Page

Yep, pretty much Apples and Pumpkins.  Too bad all Parents aren't legally required to fulfill these simple requirements.


John said...

Laurie mentioned Hiawatha Academies in the NCLB vs ESSA post.

If I remember correctly, Laurie works at the Banaadir Academy within the MTS.

Maybe the difference has to do with the schools having different enrollment filters. Or maybe the Hispanic vs Somalian cultures are hugely different.

I would think good Teachers value being respected, treated politely, having well behaved students, etc as much as some extra money. It would be interesting to spend some time and see how well the Teachers are supported by the Management...

I know status quo public school teachers are getting really tired of Management not allowing them to kick highly disruptive students out of their classroom.

Laurie said...

I would like to see the legislature take the achievement gap more seriously. I think the legislature should make sure the needed / extra funds are available to schools with the highest percentage of at risk students and that charters receive more equitable funding. I think Minneapolis needs to reallocate some funds from high achieving schools to failing schools so they can hire more teachers.

John said...

The usual answer... Mo Money...

How much do you think would be enough?

Right now Mpls Schools gets about twice as much as many others.

Laurie said...

in my comment I was implying that Mpls could maybe make better use of the money they have and that maybe the legislature could pass something that would force them to do that. But I guess you just see what you want to see.

and yes I do believe charters need funding more equitable to traditional districts, as most serve very at risk populations. One other thing I know about Hiawatha Academies is they have raised a lot of $. Maybe being the most well know of the "beat the odds" schools, with achievment much higher than their demographics would predict helps them to get financial support. I believe they have raised more than a million $ but I could be misremembering.

John said...

Sorry for getting stuck at this statement...

"I think the legislature should make sure the needed / extra funds are available to schools with the highest percentage of at risk students "

Which of course includes Minneapolis schools...

Now to your second point. "I think Minneapolis needs to reallocate some funds from high achieving schools to failing schools so they can hire more teachers."

How do you think they should do this?

I think they manage most of the funding through Teacher / Student Ratios, which need to be somewhat similar across the district. Meaning no one is going to accept a 1 to 15 ratio in one school and a 1 to 30 in another.

And steps / lanes and seniority job choice means the most expensive Teachers choose the best schools.

Finally don't forget the last and biggest problem with your proposal... The parents of Lucky students are very influential within a district. They are gifted communicators, focused on their children's education, and they often have the freedom to leave the District if they are not well taken care of.

jerrye92002 said...

"I would like to see the legislature take the achievement gap more seriously. I think the legislature should make sure the needed / extra funds are available to schools with the highest percentage of at risk students..."

Laurie, the unfortunate truth is that the legislature has already established, through the state aid formula, that schools with "high risk" kids, based on demographics, get more money, maybe even a LOT more money. What they SHOULD be doing is tying state aid to RESULTS. Give each student the same amount of money. Then give schools an opportunity to go to the lege and ask for more money for specific programs that would increase achievement for their particular mix of students and GIVE it to them, subject to producing results. Give the kids a test to start the year and see if the programs produce the expected improvements. Maybe give it a few years to work (if that was proposed), and then require a new request for the money, under a new "contract" to achieve. You can't just throw money at a problem. That's like throwing ham at a bear to make it go away.

jerrye92002 said...

In other words, stop labelling kids as high risk and spending money on programs that KEEP them at high risk. Start expecting every kid to do well, and every school to help every kid do well. If that takes more money (and effort, especially) for some kids than for others, so be it.

Laurie said...

why does it make sense for schools in Mpls with the lowest percentage of at risk kids to have the biggest budget and for schools with a high percentage of at risk kids to have a low budget.

I did 10 seconds of research and found this link to explain the problem. I didn't actually read it, but I think it explains what I am talking about.

More Than 40% of Low-Income Schools Don't Get a Fair Share of State and Local Funds, Department of Education Research Finds

John said...

As I described above... You can thank Education Minnesota for their convoluted logic that puts the needs of the Unlucky Students below the wants of the Teachers. If you keep researching, you may come to agree with me someday. :-)

"In recent years a growing number of researchers, education advocates, and legislators have highlighted that by not requiring districts to consider actual school-level expenditures in calculating "comparability of services," the existing comparability requirement doesn't address fundamental spending inequities within districts. Instead, districts can show comparability in a number of easier ways, such as by using a district wide salary schedule. This masks the fact that schools serving disadvantaged students often have less experienced teachers who are paid less. It also undermines the purpose of Title I funding, as districts can use federal funds to fill state and local funding gaps instead of providing additional services to students in poverty."

John said...

From the MP comments:

"Why does our society allow people to have kids if they can not or will not meet these simple requirements?
Hope School Pledge

I agree that it will be hard for Public Schools to succeed if they are full of Parents / Students that do not meet these simple requirements. So how do folks here want to address this?

I don't think keeping families who are responsible and fulfilling the family accountability pledge trapped with those who do not is the answer. Thoughts?" G2A

"What color shirts should the shock troops stealing children away from their parents wear? Godwins law aside, I believe you to be quite well aware of the impossibility of this idea, so why don't you try something actually feasible. Or perhaps you'd prefer we liberals advocate the removal of all conservative children from their parents in the name of "fitness", after all thems that wins gets to make the rules right?" Matt

"You can seek to fix a problem by attacking it's symptoms, however it usually does not work. It is much more effective to address the root cause.

Case 1: The public, private and charter school systems work great when there are mature, engaged, responsible and capable parents at home. (preferably 2)

Case 2: The public, private and charter school systems typically fail when there are immature, not engaged, irresponsible and/or incapable parents at home. (often 1)

Now physically moving to within a better school's boundaries, open enrolling, going to a magnet school, going to a charter school and going to a private school are all ways in which Case 1 families strive to escape Case 2 families. Vouchers are another way we could help Case 1 parents help their children.

Do you disagree with any of this?

Now what to do with the Case 2 children is a different issue. If you don't want to work to reduce their numbers, what do you recommend?" G2A

jerrye92002 said...

Laurie, your article refers to federal funding (which is ineffective). Minnesota has a better system of financing, believe it or not, including "equalization funding," where poor districts get more state money than rich districts, "comparable effort," where Districts which tax the same percentage of their tax base get similar amounts of state aid (adjusted by previous), and then "compensatory funding" which gives more money to Districts based on poverty, ELL, and maybe some other things. And after all of that, and spending twice as much as the state average per pupil, Minneapolis schools continue to have spotty performance. Now maybe adjusting these payments by school rather than by district would have better results-- Laurie's school would get a lot more money, I'm guessing-- but I wouldn't bet on it.

The basic problem, as I see it, is that we are trying to control the output-- productive, educated citizens-- by controlling the inputs-- money and school readiness, only one of which we actually control. We SHOULD be controlling the PROCESS in between. Just like a good manufacturing process can produce good product, for less cost, by adapting to low incoming raw material quality.

John said...

I wish districts had to keep the funding with the children. That would shake things up in contract negotiations and stop this silliness...

"Instead, districts can show comparability in a number of easier ways, such as by using a district wide salary schedule. This masks the fact that schools serving disadvantaged students often have less experienced teachers who are paid less. It also undermines the purpose of Title I funding, as districts can use federal funds to fill state and local funding gaps instead of providing additional services to students in poverty."

jerrye92002 said...

I wish the STATE had to keep the funding with the children. Those districts which did well would prosper and the failing schools would "go out of business."

John said...

"The current system is broken, I don't hear one person here coming up with a solution besides not to compare private vs public schools (not fair) or spend more money. How about giving the folks who truly care about the children, their parents, the choice of sending their own child to the school that best fits him or her with a voucher. I always get a charge out of the folks here who claim to know better than the parents what is good for a child that is not their own." Joe

"The pittance received from a voucher is not enough for "parents to send their child to a school of their choosing" and is nothing more than a means to undermine political opposition. If conservatives cared about improving education they would do so in a manner that benefitted all, not just those who fit their idea of deserving, and they would support all schools, not just those that fit their ideological bias. In short we don't believe you, think you are playing political games with the futures of innocent kids, and don't deserve serious consideration as partners in ACTUALLY improving educatuonal outcomes. Hopefully that was clear enough to understand." Matt

"Vouchers should reflect the amount of money the schools in your district cost per student. Inner city folks would have the highest amount of money to help their children attend the school that is best for them. I understand the need of liberals to keep the system as is, but it is broken. Give parents a chance to improve their children's chances by picking a school that fits them. Schools will then compete for the students instead of just being granted the money per student depending on where they are located. That is clean and clear and ACTUALLY helpful.

Saddest thing about this argument is some folks continue to believe they know what is best for their neighbors child. Parents know and deserve the right to do what is best for their child, just like you do for yours." Joe

"I agree that Open Enrollment, Freedom to Physically Move to a Better School / District, Intra-District Transfers, PSEO, etc are all available, that is why I am usually hesitant to support vouchers. The reality though is that the poorest families and those children with the least capable or responsible parents do not benefit from this freedom of choice. (often transportation / effort is required from the Parent)

Now magnet schools with full district busing like RDale's Spanish Immersion and Stem schools are a good alternative, however the Parent's need to know to apply, when to apply and there are usually limited spots. (ie RDale Magnet demographics never have matched the district's)

As for Charter's, with Education Mn and their Politicians working hard to keep Charter funding at 1/2 of status quo public schools, it is hard to see many of them being a great alternative for the most unlucky of children. And even worse, tax payer money is used to build the public school buildings. Yet when a district does not need that building anymore, they have the authority to not sell it to a public charter who may have use of it. (what a monopolistic waste)

As for vouchers, I think they would need to be set based on each child's situation. (ie normal, ELL, ADHD, more severe special needs) If that could be done, then they would probably work great." G2A

John said...

Oops... Missed one. This goes before my reply.

"You'd think we didn't already have public school choice in Minnesota.

Southwest High School is considered one of the best in Minneapolis, and it is located in the upper middle class neighborhood of Linden Hills. If you ride the #6 bus early in the morning or after school lets out, you will see African-American, Latino, and Somali youth at the stop that serves Southwest.

Parents can even send their children to a suburban school if they wish. Minnetonka advertises for out-of-district students.

When my brother's family moved from St. Paul to Woodbury, they kept their older daughter in fifth grade in her St. Paul school so that she wouldn't have her educational and social life disrupted in the last year of elementary school. It was not a problem, although it might have been in some other states, where students who want to attend a district in which they are not resident must pay tuition.

So in Minnesota, at least, parents who don't like their local school can look around for another one at no extra cost. The Minneapolis schools, at least, do compete, and there are dozens of charter schools available in addition to the standard public schools." Karen

Laurie said...

As students at my school have brought wild to a new level this week, thus wearing me out, I don't have anything to add except I am opposed to vouchers. Did I say that alreadyin a previous comment?

Parents already have many choices and it is not difficult to enroll in a different school. Parents in my school who know very little Engish and have lived here only a short time manage to do this.

jerrye92002 said...

Laurie, I think vouchers are a matter of simple fairness. Ask any real estate agent and they'll say the first thing on most wish lists is "near good schools." Therefore, parents who can afford to move to a new house in the 'burbs do so, and get good schools for their kids. Why shouldn't poor kids have the same opportunities for a good education? I keep hearing that MN kids have all these choices, so why, when "opportunity scholarships" and such are offered, do parents line up 50, 100, 500 deep to get one? The solution is to offer these "scholarships" to everybody, and allow them to go to ANY school-- public, charter, private or home schools. The amount of the voucher would have to be what the local school currently spends per pupil (and if you can figure out a way to consider SE or ELL on an individual basis, fine). Since there are so few alternatives today, the public school, even if failing, would get most of the students for a few years, until competition could get started. If they got enough better quickly enough (or were already good), competition wouldn't start. It's surprising how many left-leaning folks hate business monopolies but see nothing wrong with a monopoly in education.

John said...

"Why are you against making our public schools the envy of the world? I agree that more money is not the answer, but if we dumped most of the administrators, got rid of varsity sports, used the savings to hire enough teachers to reduce class sizes to private school levels, and treated teachers like professionals, with high salaries and plenty of autonomy, we'd see improvements. In other words, we could make the public schools more like private schools. And these schools would be free to every child and teenager, irrespective of family income.

As I noted above, the countries that are leaving the U.S. in the dust have almost exclusively public systems with unionized teachers. In Japan, private high schools tend to be for students who can't pass the entrance exams for the public high schools.

Why could the poor parents whom you consider to be incapable of putting their children on a bus or driving them to a better public or charter school suddenly become capable of doing so if the school were private?

Besides, would the top private schools even want to take voucher students? Would the public want to pay $23,000 per child for kindergarten or $27,000 for grades 1-12?

Never mind poor parents. Middle class parents don't have that choice now.

I happen to know some parents of school-age children in Minneapolis. They are educated, intelligent people, and they have been quite pleased with what is offered in the public and charter systems. The only exceptions are those who are willing to shell out for a religious education.

Rather than wasting money on vouchers, use the money to cut class size in half in the poorly performing schools and give experienced teachers extra pay for teaching there. Have curriculum guidelines and expectations, but leave it up to the teachers about how to achieve them.

Have you ever been a teacher? If you have, you know that not every teaching technique works with every student. The value of a small class is that it allows the teacher to get to know the student as an individual and figure out what makes that student tick, what sorts of approaches that student will respond to, and what is missing from that student's life outside school.

That's what we need for the underachieving students: teachers who will have the time and the autonomy to work with each student individually." Karen

"Maybe the Unions in other countries are focused on ensuring only the most qualified productive Teachers get to stay in the classroom and work with kids. Our Unions are obsessed with time served and degrees, which are definitely not good indicators of capability, performance, work ethic, dedication, flexibility, organization, etc.

In fact those same Unions fight to allow the highest paid Teachers to have their choice of school. If the Union was dedicated to helping the unlucky kids, they would ensure the "best and most highly compensated" teachers were working in the schools where the kids really need that capability and dedication. Remember Beth's article regarding where MPLS' highest paid Teachers work... (ie not the challenging schools)

As for "extra money", there would be no extra money required. That is why the Status Quo Public School system is so anti-voucher and anti-equal funding for charter schools. They know that if that happens and the Parents choose to go else where... Their revenues will decrease. No strong monopoly wants to be pulled into a competitive situation where they need to offer better quality / performance for the same or less money." G2A

jerrye92002 said...

I must confess I had trouble following what appears to be an argument on another forum, but your last line is Undeniable Truth. One of the expected (and in some cases proven) benefits of vouchers is that the PUBLIC schools get better, as well as the vouchered kids. It also proves, indirectly, that public schools CAN get better, despite their demographic disadvantages. All they need is the "incentive" and the "permission."

And don't let people get away with that class size argument, either. Sure, until 3rd grade it matters, but after that it's much more a matter of physical space, teacher quality, challenging curriculum and effective discipline policy, all things that can be done given the incentive and permission that does, in the former, and should, in the latter, come with a voucher program.

jerrye92002 said...

Interesting notion about putting the best teachers in the poorest schools. It hadn't dawned on me before, but that's exactly what Mississippi used to do, before federal intervention. Only they did it within each school. All new students were tested, and placed into classrooms by what they already knew. That's knowledge (past learning opportunities), NOT ability, nor ability assumed from some demographic factor. A poor black kid that was already reading went into the top class, nobody cared. But the kids who didn't even know letters, say, went into a class with the best teacher they had. And it worked, with class sizes of about 28 kids, in first grade.

Identify the obstacles to doing that in the here and now, and you have the solution. Not easy, perhaps, but simple.