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Students aren’t lumps of clay

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Jeff Johnston

Jeff Johnston, president, Lodi Education Association

“My friend put it best when he said, ‘This was the wrong case trying to solve the wrong problems by the wrong people in the wrong venue.’”

Posted: Monday, November 7, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 7:13 am, Wed Jun 11, 2014.

For some time now, there has existed a misperception that schoolchildren are in some manner similar to an automobile. Or maybe blueberry syrup. Whatever it is that is fabricated and produced.

Some people have this (erroneous) vision of students as some nebulous lump of clay which enters kindergarten unshaped and leaves high school ready for Harvard or UC Berkeley. Further, these same folks believe that the same forces which govern the success or failure of the automobile manufacturer or the blueberry syrup producer will also work successfully in our public schools.

I have news for those people: It doesn't work that way.

The Lodi News-Sentinel ran a nationally syndicated column by John Stossel on Oct. 26. Mr. Stossel argues that when infused with government input, a system is doomed to fail. He points to the Soviet bloc producing cars as an example. Further, he states that choice and competition creates better products: Just look at cellular phones, automobiles or any other product available to the American consumer.

In case nobody bothered to check, students are not cars, cellphones or any other product. They are unknown quantities that come to schools with a wide variety of socio-economic backgrounds, mastery of the English language, mental disabilities and all of the other facets that make them unique individuals.

And unlike the automobile industry or the blueberry syrup producer who gets a bad batch of raw material and rejects it, American public schools take any and all students who walk in the front doors.

In May 1954, the Supreme Court issued an historic decision which ended racial segregation in America. Brown vs. Board of Education declared that separate was not equal. There were schools and districts across America, and even in our own backyards, that claimed they would never integrate.

It was at that very moment that the "choice movement" began. What better way to ensure the continuation of segregation than by offering choice to students and parents? The schools claimed they were offering freedom of choice yet, at the time, white students stayed in white schools and black students stayed in black schools. And heaven help any who dared cross the lines.

Dr. Diane Ravitch, in her acclaimed book "The Death and Life of the Great American School System," tracks the issue of school choice. What began as a racial issue in the 1950s and '60s morphed under the Reagan administration into a national debate on school vouchers. The voucher debate centered around the government allowing parents to use public funds to send their students to private schools.

What this boiled down to was affluent parents receiving government subsidy to offset tuition costs at private schools because, at the end of the day, those with the means would continue to send their children to private schools leaving the public schools with the poorest and most disadvantaged students. Those students left had neither the means nor ability to either pay for the difference in tuition nor the costs of transportation necessary to attend those private schools.

Today the argument of choice has again been transformed. Today the conversation is not as much about vouchers (although don't think that issue has ever left the public consciousness), but about charter schools and competition. The idea is that if we make public schools compete, then the quality of education will improve. However, charter schools, like private schools, also are very selective in their admission standards. In many cases, data concludes that charter schools are no more successful that public schools.

Given the unrealistic expectations of the Bush administration's attempt at educational reform, called No Child Left Behind, it is to be expected that every school, public or private, is failing by 2014. NCLB calls for every student (100 percent), regardless of background, condition, or ability, to be proficient in our high-stakes testing game.

This is blatantly unrealistic. It would be like Congress telling every city be crime-free by a certain date, or we will begin closing police departments for being unsatisfactory.

Stossel's article points to Washington, D.C. as the epitome of voucher and choice success. Really? Isn't this the same district that Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson's wife, Michelle Rhee, fled from following a cheating scandal involving those same high stakes tests?

So what are the answers? There are many great ideas out there for improving education, and teachers are part of that conversation. We welcome the dialogue. And we welcome you to be part of it.

The Lodi Education Association, in cooperation with local CTA chapters from Sacramento, Elk Grove and Stockton, invite the public to attend a speaking event by Dr. Diane Ravitch on Jan. 20, 2012. Anyone who cares about our students, the future of public education and the future of our country is invited to attend. Tickets are $5 and are available at the LUSD district office or from Lodi Education Association. For more information, call 477-2425

Jeff Johnston is president of the Lodi Education Association.

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Welcome to the discussion.

38 comments:

  • Patrick W Maple posted at 1:30 pm on Thu, Nov 10, 2011.

    Pat Maple Posts: 1805

    Mr Tillett: Glaring is too soft a light comment. One is that I believe the administration is not held accountable soon enough. They should be the first to go.

     
  • Jeff Tillett posted at 12:37 pm on Thu, Nov 10, 2011.

    Jeff Tillett Posts: 554

    Yes, Pat, LUSD, like most districts are making progress. Jeff was referring to studies that intimated that close to 100% of ALL schools would be considering "failing", because the progress schools are making is far outweighed by the pace of the rising proficiency standards. There are absolutely some positive aspects of NCLB, but there are some glaring deficiencies as well.

     
  • Patrick W Maple posted at 3:47 pm on Wed, Nov 9, 2011.

    Pat Maple Posts: 1805

    Bush administration's attempt at educational reform, called No Child Left Behind, it is to be expected that every school, public or private, is failing by 2014. NCLB calls for every student (100 percent), regardless of background, condition, or ability, to be proficient (capable) in our high-stakes testing game.This is blatantly unrealistic. It would be like Congress telling every city be crime-free by a certain date, or we will begin closing police departments for being unsatisfactory.

    Blatant propaganda. The law simply requires a school to show (IF THEY WANT TO RECEIVE TITLE ONE FUNDING) a yearly % of improvement. That may mean as little as 5 to 10 points on their API or AYP scores. The threat is not to shut the school down but to install new rules, regulations and administration.If a school fails to do so for six consecutive years it's administration as well as its Board can be replaced or the school turned into a charter school. The Lodi District move 12 points up the AYP ladder (still below the average 800 mark...1000 being the ultimate) and they have yet to be taken over...progress is being made, slowly, but made.

     
  • Patrick W Maple posted at 3:36 pm on Wed, Nov 9, 2011.

    Pat Maple Posts: 1805

    I agree...students are not lumps of clay...they are living, breathing young minds that at some level are eager to learn...not all of them the same things (not all want to be teachers, firemen or hopefully politicians). However, if they want to succeed in society and be able to function on their own there are some very basic things the MUST lear and be proficient at...reading, writing, arithmatic and communications. There are many other things they learn at school that don't have to be taught in a classroom...like social behaviors...that comes through interaction with others. Inspiration and hard work are the keys to most student's success...they have to want to learn (notice the last four letters of the word learn) not earning something leaves it worthless. On to the next post.

     
  • Patrick W Maple posted at 3:29 pm on Wed, Nov 9, 2011.

    Pat Maple Posts: 1805

    In short,,,Mr Johnston is full of dung and speaks with a forked tongue. For the short version of NCLB go to Wikepedia and read...I read the long version many moons ago and am very familiar with its requirements, additional funding for, waivers from, student progress and teacher accountability...starting with making a teacher obtain a teaching credential. Setting standards and requirements beats the heck out of changing the test every two or three years (as was done from the 70s through the 90s. What a crock!!

    Funding for the NCLB rose 40% between '01 and 07'...scores did not...federal funding for reading alone QUADRUPLED...scores did not. Teacher credentialing did increase (a very good thing). Furthermore, "The Act does not assert a national achievement standard; standards are set by each individual state." States (and Districts) that require more from its students, parents and teachers are generally at the top of the education ladder.

    Schools which receive Title I funding through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 must make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in test scores (e.g. each year, its fifth graders must do better on standardized tests than the previous year's fifth graders). High schools are subject to the same requirements.

    The act requires states to provide "highly qualified" teachers...to set "one high, challenging standard" for its students. Each state decides this...but the curriculum standards must be applied to all students, rather than having different standards for students in different cities or other parts of the state. Further: NCLB: Gives options to students If a school fails to meet AYP targets two or more years running, the school must offer eligible children the chance to transfer to higher-performing local schools, receive free tutoring, or attend after-school programs.

    Being proficient just means capable of reading at a normal level. No one is required to be a genius. On to another point in the next post.

     
  • Kevin Paglia posted at 5:58 pm on Tue, Nov 8, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2086

    Jeff, for the most part I agree with you. I'm not debating the time involved issue. My original statement was "PE teachers deal with a demanding subject with its own challenges". These "own challenges" are where we are not seeing eye to eye. I have no doubt that an Honors English teacher puts in more time. But I still believe that a PE teacher has more stress per class and that stress should not be dismissed as trivial when it comes to pay scale.

    My son just finished a hockey cycle for PE and said on a regular basis only a few kids were actually TRYING in the class. Most just walked, some would stand and talk while the game was going on. Now try that four or five times a day.

    So I'm not arguing work load, I'm arguing stress as an equalizer. The poor PE teacher gets passed off as irrelevant by so many, including the students but anyone who has tried to teach kids athletics knows there is a lot more going into it than just standing on the sidelines waiting for the bell to ring.

     
  • Jeff Tillett posted at 4:57 pm on Tue, Nov 8, 2011.

    Jeff Tillett Posts: 554

    Kevin, I don't think it's just the students who treat it as recess. Regardless of what your son thinks, the time commitment for an Honors English class far outweighs that of a PE class. If you think otherwise, then why have the vast majority of our PE teachers over the last several years not been hired as such, but transferred from other subjects?

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 4:15 pm on Tue, Nov 8, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Jeff Tillett stated...Also, I believe it is reasonable to a) impose a higher standard of tenure and evaluation of teachers, and b) include some 'merit' system in the pay structure. But tying that merit to test scores is inherently unfair.

    I agree with Jeff that tying merit to test scores would not be fair. There should be alternate criteria. For example, creating an atmosphere and opportunity where children can enjoy learning and focus on matters at hand should be a factor. Availability of time to students out of class should be another. I visited several schools in China where teachers daily spent 3-4 hours per day with students out side the class room. Extra time with students can be measured and evaluated.
    I would think dividing the academically inclined students regardless of ability into one group, and hands on type students in another group who are taught in two different systems would be advantageous. This would go a long way to creating a positive atmosphere. It would also stop the problem of charters only getting the best students if done right.
    Teachers who want to help students achieve should not have to spend their time on students who do not see the value in academics and basically see walk through their educational experience. It is not fair to the teachers or students to be a behaviorist.

    If unions would participate and promote this kind of change, and if management and union could act in a team effort to better the educationally system to make learning fun for the type of student being taught, progress worth fighting for would take place.

     
  • Kevin Paglia posted at 2:59 pm on Tue, Nov 8, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2086

    "Compare that to an Honors English teacher who reads and grades weekly essays and extensively plans lessons and units."

    I read your comments to my son who is taking Honors English and he laughed. Almost all the class work seems to be improvised. It is mostly in class debates and VERY little writing. In fact he said based on the struggles he sees the teachers go through with the the students he would much rather be an Honors English teacher than a PE teacher. But you bring up a very good point about PE classes not being sufficiently graded. Maybe PE should carry more weight/have more structure so those kids who treat PE like recess face the consequences of their actions.

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 2:19 pm on Tue, Nov 8, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    “Darrell posted” ...Maybe Jeff could recommend and refer me to a reeducation compound to make sure I think" no- choice" is a good thing.
    ( In my view reeducation= brain washing) compound= facility to conduct the brain washing)

    “Then Darrell posted”...Obviously, the concept and terminology of “ educational compounds” have typically been associated with American Universities by many people who observe the one sided political point of view most universities
    (In my view the university is the substitute for compound = facility to do the brain washing) how this can be interpreted as concentration camp is beyond my understanding.

    “Then Darrell posted”... ...how could anyone think no choice is a good thing? For me, I would have to go through a brain washing process to consider no choice a good thing. That then brought an educational compound to my mind. A concentration camp was not a part of my thinking what so ever.
    ( Educational compound was supposed to to = “reeducational compound” since I was referring to brainwashing.)

    Then Jeff posts... Darrell, go back and look, you did not use the phrase "educational compound". You used "reeducational" which does bring to mind concentration camps as several have noted...

    Jeff, I have explained repeatedly that a concentration camp was the furthest thing from my mind. You insist that my intent was to associate this to concentration camps. You have called me a liar and plagiarist in the past. I think you are calling me a liar now. I cannot control what image pops up in anyone's mind, I can only explain the intent of my words.

     
  • Jeff Tillett posted at 11:51 am on Tue, Nov 8, 2011.

    Jeff Tillett Posts: 554

    Kevin: As someone who has coached a team with over well 100 athletes, I, too, know the challenges of working with physical education, especially of managing large numbers. But our current physical education curriculum contains very little curriculum. Virtually no outside grading, and very little planning. Compare that to an Honors English teacher who reads and grades weekly essays and extensively plans lessons and units. The jobs are not the same, so do the pay structures have to be the same?

     
  • Kevin Paglia posted at 11:37 am on Tue, Nov 8, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2086

    Jeff: As someone who has coached just 12-13 kids at a time I can tell you PE teachers deal with a demanding subject with its own challenges. Especially the more kids you get. I am routinely horrified at the complete lack of physical/health awareness of some kids. Every year I coach I spend time every practice trying to teach the kids a healthier way to live. First year I coached there was one kid that brought soda to drink to every practice and game. Towards the end of the season he was upset that he was unable keep up with the rest of the team in physical training. Most of the boys I coach can't even do a proper push up or ten sit ups.

    So when it comes to PE teachers they have all my respect because I know a little of what they have to go through. At least they can grade the kids, thou. All we coaches can do is present the information and hope at some point it comes back to them.

     
  • Jeff Tillett posted at 7:58 am on Tue, Nov 8, 2011.

    Jeff Tillett Posts: 554

    Also, the question has been floated as to why we pay teachers the same regardless of subject. Should a PE teacher be paid the same as a AP Chemistry or Honors English teacher? Could we move to a system based on a lower salary schedule that includes bonuses or stipends for teaching demanding subjects or classes with more challeng-ed/-ing, or large class sizes? I don't see why not. But I do also generally agree with increased pay for years of service, because I know have become an incrementally better teacher each of my 12 years. Yes, there are exceptions, but it is generally the rule.

     
  • Jeff Tillett posted at 7:42 am on Tue, Nov 8, 2011.

    Jeff Tillett Posts: 554

    As far as changing the educational paradigm (I borrowed that phrase, look for it on youtube, you will like it... it challenges the status quo of the American education system), I think we may need to get rid of "comprehensive" high schools, but that does not necessarily mean charters and/or private. The problem with that "choice" now is that we are moving the "best" students to those schools and pretending that those that (are forced to) remain in the public schools are going to meet the same standards (NCLB). I do believe that, for the most part (although there a significant number of outliers), students that will be successful in college have laid the foundation well before they get to high school. So setting up a "choice" of college pathway or non-college pathway before high school could be a reasonable part of the solution. But the "choice" would not solely up to the discretion of the parent or student.

    Also, I believe it is reasonable to a) impose a higher standard of tenure and evaluation of teachers, and b) include some 'merit' system in the pay structure. But tying that merit to test scores is inherently unfair. I teach 3 classes of highly unmotivated and historically unsuccessful math students. I get many of them to take greater strides than they have recently, but then again I set a record for expulsions from one class (6+). So basing my evaluation or my pay on the whims of these students is inherently unfair, when my colleagues teach 5 periods of higher level, mostly motivated, rarely expelled students.

     
  • Jeff Tillett posted at 7:29 am on Tue, Nov 8, 2011.

    Jeff Tillett Posts: 554

    Darrell, go back and look, you did not use the phrase "educational compound". You used "reeducational" which does bring to mind concentration camps as several have noted. If "educational" was your intent, then apologize for being unintentionally imprecise or misleading, and move on, but don't chastise others for making a connection to the term you used, as opposed to the term you wish you used.

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 4:38 pm on Mon, Nov 7, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Jeff Tillett stated...Wow, now, Darrell you are making some reasoned and valid points. Yes they do argue for a major change in our secondary school system

    Jeff...Since you are a teacher in the system, I would be very interested in what kind of changes you think could be implemented that benefit the students. Maybe there is hope if people in the system can bring creativity to create something better.

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 4:33 pm on Mon, Nov 7, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Alex stated...We both know that re-education compound is a very loaded phrase. Backtrack all you want but we all know what you meant.

    I am not backtracking at all...

    To clarify even further, I used the phrase “educational compound” intentionally to paint a picture. It is common knowledge students are indoctrinated to lean left in it's world perspective in the school system generally. Many people are concerned that schools are breading grounds for liberal thought and perspective. In my view, Mr Johnston's letter was very radical in thinking considering he is anti-choice. The first thing that popped in my mind was ...how could anyone think no choice is a good thing? For me, I would have to go through a brain washing process to consider no choice a good thing. That then brought an educational compound to my mind. A concentration camp was not a part of my thinking what so ever. In fact, your insinuation is intended to be insulting. I cannot control what others think... I know what I intended.

     
  • Robert Chapman posted at 2:51 pm on Mon, Nov 7, 2011.

    Bob Chapman Posts: 997

    My grandaughters (11&13) go to charter schools. No gang activity, no delinquent students and a no nonsense approach to excellent cirriculum and education. Teachers are held accountable for the success of their student and students are held accountable for their actions and are expected to excel. Parents WANT their children there and take an proactive role in their childs education. I am not sure if all charter schools are as good as the ones they go to, but I am certainly happy that the ones they do attend are as good as they are.

     
  • Alex Kennedy posted at 2:27 pm on Mon, Nov 7, 2011.

    Alex Posts: 215

    Darrell,

    We both know that re-education compound is a very loaded phrase. Backtrack all you want but we all know what you meant.

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 2:10 pm on Mon, Nov 7, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Jeff Tillett stated... As for the concentration vs. reeducation compounds/camps. I did see the connection immediately, but then again, I've studied history and literature.
    'Slave labor camps, also known as "concentration camps," "forced labor camps," and "re-education camps," have played a vital role in Communist systems from the very beginning.' http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/museum/comfaq.htm

    Good point Jeff... However, I thought we were talking about modern education concerns. In any argument or debate, one could go back in history to justify just about any point one wants to make. I find it hard to believe that anyone would assume I was using historical references rather than modern since the topic involves current educational issues.

    As far as unions being the root of all evil thinking, that is extreme. Unions are there to represent teacher's interest. I think the word evil is inappropriate.

    What I object to is the image the union attempts to project, which is that they are doing what they do for the best interest of the students. I think teachers like yourself are in it for the right reason and sincerely have the students best interest at heart... not the union. If the union had a system that evaluated teachers and negotiated wages and benefits based on the evaluation where merit was a factor, I would have more respect for what the union does...until then, ...

     
  • Kevin Paglia posted at 1:56 pm on Mon, Nov 7, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2086

    It would be interesting, and I am just fleshing out the idea out loud, to revamp the High school system to mimic the pro baseball- minor league model. That is a college, say the University of Lodi* would have several "farm schools"* that replace the basics of high school but also offer electives that would directly feed into the College system. So maybe the ULodi is a strong business school so the three or four "farm" schools they sponsor would offer electives in business related areas. Mean while the Cal State Stockton* is strong in Ag and tech so their farm schools would be stronger in those areas. In an ideal world the UL and CSS could work together and even overlap into the same farm schools so students would have more choices with three or four colleges sponsoring that school.

    There would have to be a state to state exchange program so students who complete course work at the UL sponsored schools would have an opportunity to tranfser to a different school as well.

    the bigger the college the more farm schools they could have. The idea is to change from the High school mentality of getting the students to graduate to something more of getting the Farm students prepared for college/trade school/military. The hope would be that colleges would be better at getting the students prepared for a career AND be better at administrating the farm schools.

    Obviously there are other things to think about with this plan. just throwing it out there.

    Points of clarification to avoid being reprimanded by the detail sticklers:
    * the term "Farm" is used just to continue the analogy between AAA baseball and pros.

    * I know there is no such University of Lodi or Cal State Stockton, just making up hypothetical schools to demonstrate.

     
  • Kevin Paglia posted at 1:23 pm on Mon, Nov 7, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2086

    Mr Johnston,

    I apologize for the missing "t" in my responses for you. I took a quick glance and assumed "Johnson". My mistake.

    An aside to the "Re-education" bit. A while ago I was trying to get my first book published through a less than reputable publisher (didn't know that at the time). Through an error in their editing before the final product the "re-education center" became a "reduction center". So instead of my characters being brainwashed they all got sent to Jenny Craig! Same publisher changed Peniel, where Jacob wrestled with an Angel, to "penile". Moral of the story, never trust a publisher who uses Microsoft Word to edit material.

     
  • Jeff Tillett posted at 1:15 pm on Mon, Nov 7, 2011.

    Jeff Tillett Posts: 554

    Wow, now, Darrell you are making some reasoned and valid points. Yes they do argue for a major change in our secondary school system, and in a way that I think should be discussed, and to a large degree agree myself. (Note, Germany diverges into 3 tracks of school after 4th grade, with only one pathway to universities)

    Point of order though, these suggestions stray demonstrably from your "teachers unions are the root of all evil" meme and the public vs. publicly-funded private school choice. I do think your most recent alternative is a more realistic and more powerful course of change.

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 1:06 pm on Mon, Nov 7, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    The numbers seem to vary, but the fact still remains, over 50% of state tax revenues are mandated to be used for educational purposes. That is very generous.

     
  • Jeff Tillett posted at 1:05 pm on Mon, Nov 7, 2011.

    Jeff Tillett Posts: 554

    Darrell: you use words like clearly, obviously, typically, if anything, in situations when your conclusions and assumptions are far from obvious, or even true or factual. Many could be debated, yes, but far from obvious.

    As for the concentration vs. reeducation compounds/camps. I did see the connection immediately, but then again, I've studied history and literature.
    'Slave labor camps, also known as "concentration camps," "forced labor camps," and "re-education camps," have played a vital role in Communist systems from the very beginning.' http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/museum/comfaq.htm

    In fact the wikipedia page to reeducation camps links to see also: concentration camp. While I would not say that this link is 'clear' or 'obvious' to most people, it is in fact pretty common and appropriate.

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 1:03 pm on Mon, Nov 7, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405


    Jeff stated...As for funding of our schools, I'm not sure where your data comes from, but according to LUSD Chief Business Officer Tim Hern, LUSD currently is funded at $5261 per student, down from $5783 in 2008http://toped.svefoundation.org/2011/01/12/now-43rd-in-per-student-spending/


    The publication’s per-pupil spending ranking is the figure most commonly cited in California’s debate over school spending, because it’s adjusted for regional costs. This year, California ranked 43rd among the states and Washington, D.C.; last year it was 46th.   The $8,852 spent per pupil in 2008 – before the full impact of the recession hit California’s schools – was $2,371 below the national average of $11, 223. It will probably be headed lower once 2009 and 2010 figures are out. California is  squeezed between #42 Washington, just ahead of Arizona, and a freefall behind top-spending, low-cost Wyoming’s adjusted figure of $17,114.
    California spends 3.5 percent on K-12 schools as a percentage of state taxable resources, 10 percent below the national average; it ranks 36th.


    Below is data from the California Department of education which according to their numbers = $ 8,452 per student.

    I personally got the $9,200 figure for an article I remember reading a year ago... in any event, my number is much closer to reality than yours.

    Statewide
    47,205,560,698
    5,585,334.3
    8,452
    http://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/fd/ec/currentexpense.asp

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 12:46 pm on Mon, Nov 7, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Mr. Johnson stated "Further, I do not believe that charter schools are necessarily the answer as well.

    Then Kevin asked..."Why not?

    Kevin, I believe their argument is that public schools accept all levels of students and charter schools cherry pick and take the cream of the crop. ( not saying this is true)

    My answer to this is... the entire system needs to change. There are many countries including China that split students in two groups after 7th grade. One group is in traditional academics where college is the ultimate goal, and all others go to job training hands on type education where jobs skills can be developed. In am estimating that around 40 % should be in hands on training and 60% continue in academia. I would love to listen to debate about this possibility. There has got to be a better way to educate children. In China, many teachers live on campus and are made available to students for tutorial and homework help.
    I also wish their were ways to home school students where cooperatives of concerned parents could participate and interact with each other and utilize team work to provide rich experiences for children.

     
  • Jeff Johnston posted at 12:43 pm on Mon, Nov 7, 2011.

    Jeff Johnston Posts: 8

    Some things to ponder:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-niles/public-schools_b_1002466.html

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/nov/11/myth-charter-schools/?page=1

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/02/education/02charters.html

    As for funding of our schools, I'm not sure where your data comes from, but according to LUSD Chief Business Officer Tim Hern, LUSD currently is funded at $5261 per student, down from $5783 in 2008. We have not, nor have ever been in California's non-basic aid districts (those funded solely by property taxes), anywhere near the $9000 per student suggested below.

    And since it is clearly printed in the article and in each of my posts, I would correct the spelling of my name to include the "T". It is an important distinction to me.

     
  • Kevin Paglia posted at 11:10 am on Mon, Nov 7, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2086

    Mr. Johnson stated "Further, I do not believe that charter schools are necessarily the answer as well."

    Why not?

    An interesting study on Charter schools vs traditional.
    http://www.greatschools.org/find-a-school/3706-charter-schools-better-than-traditional.gs

    personally since in the box thinking got us where we are today fiscally, I think so new, revolutionary out-of-the-box thinking is needed.

    An insteresting article on Homeschooling:
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505145_162-37242551/can-homeschoolers-do-well-in-college/

     
  • Kevin Paglia posted at 11:00 am on Mon, Nov 7, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2086

    I have to agree with Darrell here. Funding is not the problem, just like in so many government situations it is the spending that is the problem.

    This is why I fully support the idea of manditory school, school district audits by OUTSIDE auditors. These audits need to look afor waste and be headchopping expiditions for people who are redundant in their tasks. Then those reports should be made public.

    I also think if the teachers are going to be evaluated on how well the kids perform then the district higher muckity mucks should be evaluated on the health of the district as well.

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 10:11 am on Mon, Nov 7, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Jeff stated...The reality is that public education in America, and certainly in California, is drastically underfunded.

    Clearly, if 100 % of all tax revenue was mandated to fund education in California, Jeff would have the same opinion.

    Since over 50% of tax revenue is currently mandated in California for education and since over $9,200 per student is currently funded , Jeff's position is comical at best. If anything, education is over-funded dramatically. The problem is not the funding. The problem is the way the funding is applied. The union is part of the problem, not the solution.
    Since Jeff does not think Charter schools or private vouchers for poor people ( like what was done in Washington DC) for school choice is necessarily the solution, I wonder what is.
    Prove me wrong Jeff. Show your objectivity by articulating a possible solution where an alternative to the existing system meets your approval. Make an assumption that the current public school system is obsolete as well as the union and offer one alternative that you think might work. I am positive that you think there needs to be token changes to the existing system.
    I am not saying the whole system should be scraped, but eliminating the union would be a good start. Having an organization that demands teachers have no merit in their pay structure is bad for students.

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 9:48 am on Mon, Nov 7, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Freefall of the American university: how our colleges are corrupting the ...
    By Jim Nelson Black

    http://books.google.com/books?id=ZM-

    Obviously, the concept and terminology of “ educational compounds” have typically been associated with American Universities by many people who observe the one sided political point of view most universities .
    I did a Google search and attempted to find the relationship that Jeff suggested but could not find it.
    Maybe Jeff can help out and post 10-12 examples since he insists it is “common”.
    Maybe Jeff thinks American Universities are thought of as concentration camps, but I do not.

     
  • Jeff Johnston posted at 8:58 am on Mon, Nov 7, 2011.

    Jeff Johnston Posts: 8

    Mr. Paglia, what I am opposed to is the use of public funds (vouchers) for use in private schools. Further, I do not believe that charter schools are necessarily the answer as well. The reality is that public education in America, and certainly in California, is drastically underfunded. I merely mean to state that any movement that further reduces funding for public education will deepen the divide of achievement in our classrooms, and ultimately in the socio-economic status of our public school graduates. However, I do not mean this as a ubiquitous statement to apply to every student. There will always be exceptions to every rule.

    Mr. Baumbach, from a literary point of view, the term re-education compound has been frequently used as a euphamism for concentration camp.

    Finally, I do not espouse a cookie cutter approach to curriculum. In fact, it is President Bush's No Child Left Behind that has left us with a cookie cutter modality in our public schools with an over-emphasis on testing and accountability. A good teacher, teaching to high standards, with a strong curriculum, and a high level of student engagement will show the types of positive gains we wish to see in our students.

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 7:51 am on Mon, Nov 7, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Jeff stated...I applaud your efforts, but would give you a D- for making an incorrect analogy. That was a choice I made.

    Jeff, I am very disappointed in the grade you assigned me. I think your evaluation skills for grading purposes needs drastic improvement as does your comprehension abilities after observing your conclusions as to what I was stating. How one could interpret “ concentration camps” from educational compound is inexplicable... unless of course one has a union mentality that prefers force over choice.

    The grade I would expect from someone who has your world view should have been a F-...not D-
    If you read Kevin's post, which was very reasonable and accurate, you could catch on to what I was talking about. In my view, anyone who sees “ parental choice in where they can educate their child as a problem... is in fact... the problem.

     
  • Kevin Paglia posted at 7:22 am on Mon, Nov 7, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2086

    Mr. Johnson, can you please clarify. It looks like from your column that you are against parents sending their kids to private schools. Is this accurate?

    I don't see the "concentration camp" argument that you say Darrell made but what i do see is you arguing that ALL students should be cookie cuttered into the same mold. Interesting how you start off saying kids are not manufactured but then argue that they (or rather their parents) should lose their choice and become conformists.

    My parents sent me to a private H.S., the kind you just railed against. of 105 freshman that started with me, 103 went on to college, last two went to military. The local public HS had close to a 30% drop out rate (about 500 students).

    The best analogy I see from your argument is that there should only be ONE sports program. All parents who want their kids to play a sport should only have a choice in that one program. Kids who excel, enjoy different sports or need extra attention would all be lumped in together. Is that really what you are arguing?

    "However, charter schools, like private schools, also are very selective in their admission standards. In many cases, data concludes that charter schools are no more successful that public schools."


    In fact as I read through the letter for the third time I think i finally deduced the real reason for the letter. Not some passion for parents to cookie cutter their kids into monotone schools but rather to push an event and sell tickets by instilling fear and doubt into parents.

    I wish the LNS would qualify these letters as ADVERTISEMENTS that are selling a product and not let them pass as equal to LTE that express opinion. So we have all the information to make our choice.

     
  • Jeff Johnston posted at 6:31 am on Mon, Nov 7, 2011.

    Jeff Johnston Posts: 8

    Darrel: I would welcome you to learn more about what LEA/CTA does, however, I feel from your comments below that you would not be receptive. Your allegation that unions are somehow akin to extreme socialism and would promote concentration camps is offensive and inappropriate. Although if your comment was literary in nature and you were making an Orwelian reference, I applaud your efforts, but would give you a D- for making an incorrect analogy. That was a choice I made.

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 5:14 am on Mon, Nov 7, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    On second thought, maybe I need enlightenment... Maybe Jeff could recommend and refer me to a reeducation compound to make sure I think" no- choice" is a good thing.

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 5:02 am on Mon, Nov 7, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Jeff Johnston stated...It was at that very moment that the "choice movement" began. What better way to ensure the continuation of segregation than by offering choice to students and parents...

    Of course... The idea that free choice in anything is a bad idea. Teachers do not have a choice to have the teacher's union represent them in their salary negotiation, that is forced upon them. Teachers and schools cannot choose the curriculum that is used to educate our children. Everything the teachers union does is based on force and no choice. And no choice of education should be forced upon the American people because the people are too stupid to decide for themselves.
    So I can see where someone might evolve their thinking to accept that choice is bad.
    Maybe, we should get rid of elections and have no choice in who our president is. Yes... Barack Obama forever.

     

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