Privatizing isn’t the answer, rote tests are irrelevant, and competition doesn’t help win. Those are a few of the lessons Finland learned that made its schools world leaders in education. So why would we consider letting Atlanta force privatized charter schools on us?
Classrooms are festooned with college pennants. Hallway placards proclaim:
“No Excuses!” Students win prizes for attendance. They start classes
earlier and end later than their neighbors; some return to school on
Saturdays. And they get to pore over math problems one-on-one with newly
hired tutors, many of them former accountants and engineers.
If these new mores at Lee High School, long one of Houston’s most
troubled campuses, make it seem like one of those intense charter schools,
that is no accident.
In the first experiment of its kind in the country, the Houston
public schools are testing whether techniques proven successful in
high-performing urban charters can also help raise achievement in regular
public schools. Working with Roland G. Fryer, a researcher at Harvard who
studies the racial achievement gap, Houston officials last year embraced
five key tenets of such charters at nine district secondary schools;
this fall, they are expanding the program to 11 elementary schools. A
similar effort is beginning in Denver.
Charter schools were supposed to be pilot projects, so why not
adopt what works there in public schools?
However, this still seems to be all about test scores.
Maybe some public schools could look farther afield,
Continue reading →
Children are far more likely to be arrested at school than they were a generation ago.
The vast majority of these arrests are for non-violent offenses such
as “disruptive conduct” or “disturbance of the peace.” Five
year olds are being led out of classrooms in handcuffs for acting out
or throwing temper tantrums. Students have been arrested for throwing
an eraser at a teacher, breaking a pencil, and having rap lyrics in a
locker. These children do not belong in jail.
Why do we pay more to incarcerate people than it would cost
to educate them?
Why is this happening? “Zero tolerance” policies criminalize minor
infractions of school rules and high-stakes testing programs encourage
educators to push out low-performing students to improve their schools’
overall test scores. Students of color are especially vulnerable to the
discriminatory application of discipline and push-out trends.
Here’s a chance to do something about it.
The School To Prison Pipeline (STPP) refers to a disturbing national
trend in which students are funneled out of public schools and into the
juvenile and criminal justice systems. Most of these kids are children
of color, and many have learning disabilities or histories of poverty,
abuse or neglect, and would benefit from additional educational and
counseling services. Instead they are punished and isolated.