Where Have The Kids Gone?

Where did they go?

Most have gone to choice schools. Where are these choice schools? Some 10% percent of school-aged students are not in the neighborhood school because they are in private-religious, private-secular, or home-based schools. These students may not all be above average in academic ability, but they often have at least three of the elephant’s legs: ability to focus, motivation, and self-control.

Another 8% of all students are not in this school because they are in private voucher-supported schools or charter schools. A voucher program gives vouchers to parents to use to pay for private school tuition. Charter schools are part of the public system, but are operated privately. (A charter school is much like one large voucher, but that voucher goes to an entire school rather than to individual parents). Attendance at these private-voucher and private-public charter schools requires vigilance on the part of parents. They need to know which schools are available and need to be motivated to find the best programs for their children. This leads to selected students and typically more cooperative parents.

Public schools oppose these programs and even oppose their own public charter schools, because they suspect these programs cream off the “best” parents and kids. (Local public schools are less opposed to learning-disabled students finding their way to charters or private schools, however, because these children are poor test-takers who lower public school test scores).

Another 7% are not in their neighborhood school because they are in public, magnet schools. These schools were developed in part to compete with private schools and offer specialty programs such as the arts and technology. Included in this group are the highly structured, so-called fundamental schools that require parents to sign a contract agreeing to a standard dress uniform and compliance with explicit rules.

General open enrollment that includes Advanced International Certificates (AICE), virtual instruction, International Baccalaureate, Lab Schools, etc., make up another 13%.

Meanwhile, back in the elephant jungle, something extraordinary is happening. We should have as many as 80% of the remaining neighborhood school students in career and technical training. What do you think that percentage is in the state of Florida? Five percent! Yep, this group makes up only 161,000 students (State of Florida figures) or less than 5% of the 3.5 million students in Florida in 2012-13!

While some public schools and teachers’ unions decry voucher and charter schools, their own increasing use of fundamental schools and magnet schools could be subject to the same criticism. Similar to a magnet, these schools attract high achieving kids and families from higher socio-economic levels, leaving the “regular,” neighborhood school with fewer academically capable kids and fewer motivated parents. So this is the creaming I constantly refer to. Coffee, anyone?

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Get a copy of the Elephant In the Classroom and find out what’s really going on in our schools.

Cowboys Knew More

Rejecting Test, “Massachusetts Shifts Its Model” by Kate Zernike (Nov. 22) New York Times.
No where in this article is there any mention of the students. It’s about time we started looking at the students who are being affected by school reform. These experts are obviously operating under the assumption that all students are exactly the same. This is a Great American myth and so is the belief that all students should go to college. The truth is that no two students are the same in every respect. Even cowboys in the “Old West” knew more about their cattle than these folks know about kids.
High-stakes testing and Common Core may benefit students who are motivated for college and who have the intellectual resources to succeed. These reforms hurt students who lack the motivation for academics or do not have high academic ability. Career education students should have an opportunity to participate in career courses rather than wasting their time retaking academic tests.
I believe these experts need to check some of their basic assumptions and realize that there are real people out there and not just abstractions that can be manipulated by politically-driven agendas. 102_0296

 

Uncovering a Hidden Factor in School Reform

Uncovering a Hidden Factor in School Reform  Vietnam Oceania 127

School reform. Is it really about teacher training, curriculum materials, and achievement tests? Maybe not. Let’s look at an original and quite different approach to school reform.

In a previous report, I highlighted a great American myth. That myth is IQ. We want to think that everyone has the same mental ability, but it just isn’t true, and one hundred years of research back up this conclusion. I refer to this in my book, The Elephant in the Classroom. IQ, along with self-control, motivation, and the ability to focus, make up the four legs of “the elephant in the room” that are critical for legitimate college-level academic success.

But there is another factor that is even more secreted and veiled, and even more profound and objectionable, especially to those of us who peer through rose-colored glasses and wish everyone could achieve equally in school and in the workplace. Social scientists refer to this concept as socio-economic class. What’s scary about this phenomenon is that it appears to be highly resistant to change and even those with higher mental abilities may not be able to break through its ceiling to achieve higher levels.

Sociologists divide people into three general classes: the upper class is comprised of the richest people in society. They are often born into wealth and this wealth passes from generation to generation. The middle class is made up of people who fall socioeconomically between the lower and upper classes. Middle-class workers are sometimes called white-collar workers and in the United States most hold employment positions that require a college degree.

People falling in the lower socio-economic class are usually employed in low-paying jobs with little economic security. Some of these people are long-term unemployed and/or homeless, especially those receiving government welfare.

Despite frequent references to the United States as a classless society, about 62 percent of Americans (male and female) raised in the top fifth of incomes stay in the top two-fifths, according to research by the “Economic Mobility Project” of the Pew Charitable Trusts. Similarly, 65 percent born in the bottom fifth stay in the bottom two-fifths. “Harder for Americans to Rise from Lower Rungs,” Jason DeParle, New York Times, Jan. 4, 2012.

 I believe we fear the concept of socio-economic class even more than IQ and perhaps this is why research in this area seems to have waned. When we Americans make up our minds to champion a project or goal such as fairness and equality, we tend not to accept or even acknowledge contradictory scientific findings.

In reviewing research over the past 40 years, it is evident that nothing is more resistant to change than socio-economic class. It rears its head in every kind of social and psychological research, and one additional thing that makes it resistant to change is that people of a designated social class may prefer to remain in their own social-class culture. There may be fear of an unknown environment or loyalty to one’s culture.

I’m reminded of a movie that clearly dates me: From Here to Eternity. In that movie, an upper-middle-class woman, the wife of a captain, was in love with a sergeant played by Burt Lancaster, and she wanted him to attend Officers Candidate School. This master sergeant was intellectually capable of the academics involved in such a move, but he expressed feelings of disloyalty to his social class and didn’t want to “let down the side.” Is this why many lower class blacks refuse to surrender their distinctive grammar and dialect? Do they want to defend at least part of their own culture? And some may perceive their own culture to be more desirable than the culture of the white middle-class.

As pointed out in a previous report, “School Reform: a Crisis of Expectations,” ignoring IQ results in pressure on all students to succeed in academics regardless of ability. This frustrates those who do not have high academic ability and negatively impacts those with high academic ability from having exceptional preparation for college.

Ignorance of social class is even more disturbing. In fact, our school system is inadvertently re-segregating students not by color, but by social class. When private schools, charters, and special public magnet schools “cream off” children from the middle and upper-middle class, they leave a nucleus of lower social class children in neighborhood schools, especially schools in poor neighborhoods.

And who are the teachers of these lower social class children? They are middle-class educators, some of whom are working their own way to a status in society. Do they understand the mores of the lower-class? Do they want to deal with kids who are different from themselves? In most cases, the answer is no. This is why experienced, top-flight teachers end up in elite public schools and magnets and charters. Inexperienced teachers are more likely to be assigned to a lower-class population of students.

This explains why teachers complain that in schools in poverty areas they see many students who are not clean, whose clothes are not washed, and who are not motivated to achieve academically. They also face a good number of parents who don’t have the time, or in some cases don’t understand their role in helping their children succeed in school.

A large percentage of these children are not prepared for college-prep academics and are not greatly motivated for higher academic work. I believe, if given a choice, most would prefer career education where they could show off their nonverbal intelligence and succeed in meaningful tasks and financially successful careers.

Instead, our political and educational leaders insist that everyone can be successful academically and that all can or should go to college. This is why heavy-duty testing and a number of other quick fixes have not worked. Socio- economic class is resistant to these innovative and well-meaning interventions.

There may be a silver lining in our school system’s inadvertent segregation by social class, however. It does help identify these students for special, extraordinary intervention, which may include assignment of superior teachers, first-class materials, and tutoring in the early grades. And guidance can be provided to get many of these kids into magnet and charter schools.

Recognition of social class variables can never relieve us of our obligation to give every student an opportunity to progress to higher levels of functioning, but neither can we shy away from any factor that has a profound effect on school reform.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uncovering a Hidden Factor in School Reform

School reform. Is it really about teacher training, curriculum materials, and achievement tests? Maybe not. Let’s look at an original and quite different approach to school reform.

In a previous report, I highlighted a great American myth. That myth is IQ. We want to think that everyone has the same mental ability, but it just isn’t true, and one hundred years of research back up this conclusion. I refer to this in my book, The Elephant in the Classroom. IQ, along with self-control, motivation, and the ability to focus, make up the four legs of “the elephant in the room” that are critical for legitimate college-level academic success.

But there is another factor that is even more secreted and veiled, and even more profound and objectionable, especially to those of us who peer through rose-colored glasses and wish everyone could achieve equally in school and in the workplace. Social scientists refer to this concept as socio-economic class. What’s scary about this phenomenon is that it appears to be highly resistant to change and even those with higher mental abilities may not be able to break through its ceiling to achieve higher levels.

Sociologists divide people into three general classes: the upper class is comprised of the richest people in society. They are often born into wealth and this wealth passes from generation to generation. The middle class is made up of people who fall socioeconomically between the lower and upper classes. Middle-class workers are sometimes called white-collar workers and in the United States most hold employment positions that require a college degree.

People falling in the lower socio-economic class are usually employed in low-paying jobs with little economic security. Some of these people are long-term unemployed and/or homeless, especially those receiving government welfare.

Despite frequent references to the United States as a classless society, about 62 percent of Americans (male and female) raised in the top fifth of incomes stay in the top two-fifths, according to research by the “Economic Mobility Project” of the Pew Charitable Trusts. Similarly, 65 percent born in the bottom fifth stay in the bottom two-fifths. “Harder for Americans to Rise from Lower Rungs,” Jason DeParle, New York Times, Jan. 4, 2012.

 I believe we fear the concept of socio-economic class even more than IQ and perhaps this is why research in this area seems to have waned. When we Americans make up our minds to champion a project or goal such as fairness and equality, we tend not to accept or even acknowledge contradictory scientific findings.

To be continued. . . . . . . .Vietnam Oceania 127