Education reform…the civil rights issue of today

Last evening at the Republican Convention, Condoleezza Rice gave a very inspiring speech.  Among other things she said as follows:

And we need to give parents greater choice, particularly, particularly poor  parents whose kids, very often minorities, are trapped in failing  neighborhood schools.  This is the civil rights issue of our day.

Sadly, here is what parents face when they try to do so.

Desert Trails Elementary School is in Adelanto, California, some 90 miles northeast of Los Angeles.  The population is mainly low income Latino.  The school has been classified as “failing” for six years.

Last year, two-thirds of students failed the state language arts exam, 56% failed math and 80% failed science.

Under California’s Parent-Trigger law, if 50% of the parents file a petition to do so, the school can be transformed into a charter school.  Seventy percent of Desert Trails’ parents filed such a petition, but rather than taking the steps to follow the parents’ wishes, the School Board chose to fight the issue in court.

Last month, California Superior Court Judge Elia Pirozzi,

…ruled…that [the] parents…had successfully pulled the nation’s first parent trigger to force change at their children’s failing public school…[and] ‘commanded’ the Adelanto school board to let parents ‘immediately begin the process of  soliciting and selecting’ proposals to transform Desert Trails Elementary into a charter school.

The School Board, however, has decided to ignore said court order telling the parents it is too late to do anything for this school year.  And, as for next year, the Board maintains that, by then, “too much time has passed for the ‘trigger’ to still be relevant”.  One member of the Board, Jermaine Wright went so far as to proclaim,

If I’m found in contempt of court, I brought my own handcuffs, take me away.”

People like Jermaine Wright are the reason we have failing schools…they care more about the unions than the children.

 

35 replies
  1. joe_m
    joe_m says:

    Interesting that the “pro-choice” party is not for pro-choice in schools. They force us to continue to pay for failure. And it’s the next generation that suffers.

    • Dimsdale
      Dimsdale says:

      Exactly!?? And if you take the initiative for your children, and pull them out of the failing gov’t school, and put them in a school that performs, not only do you get to pay the tuition for that school, but you continue to pay the school tax as part of your property tax bill with NO access to that money for the education of your child.?? Taxation without representation?? You bet!
      ?
      That is why I am a proponent of the voucher system, where your tax dollars follow your child, not the failing school.

  2. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    It is amazing that this school board can sit there and defend the indefensible with the level of hubris they show here.?
    ?
    Get the feeling they think their positions are entitlements?? I sure do.? The parents should blockade, protest, call the sheriff, sue, or whatever they can do to get this group of hacks out of office, particularly Mr. “I brought my own handcuffs” (you have to wonder about his being around kids if he carries handcuffs, don’t you?).

    • JBS
      JBS says:

      Not all are great, true. However, the model is for “bottom up” improvements. The emphasis is on the students achieving. Usually built into their plan is mechanisms for change. Change for the better, not the educational flavor of the day.
      Oh, and they are not union. Makes a difference.

    • JBS
      JBS says:

      Who‘s at fault here sammy22? The children, or the parents??
      Could it just be the teachers, administrators and the school board? They are failing the children? Could it be the school building is bad?
      How about the whole educational system, full of good, honest union members (!) is failing more children than are just in this one California school?
      Where is the concern for these children? Where is the empathy for these parents?
      Can you say, “Obstructionist union entitlement mentality?” That‘s what is the fault here, that is where the blame lies. These people think they know better, that they are better, that they have the job and the position, the authority and that’s the end of it!, as far as they are concerned.
      Business as usual for the union members and their sycophants.

  3. joe_m
    joe_m says:

    Many “union” members would rather not be in the union but closed states like CA and CT force membership on employees. When schools fail, it is?the administration and?state and?federal government involvement that cause failure. Bad teachers can be fired but the administration needs to do?”due diligence”. Too much favoritism and politics in the schools. Teacher reviews, if they happen, are poorly done. Constantly changing curriculum’s from the state or federal government, whether the new curriculum is effective or not, forced on teachers. The whole thing is a mess. Vouchers and competition, the American way.

    • JBS
      JBS says:

      The administrators are in a union. The state and Federal government pander to the unions. After all, those people have degrees, they know better, so the school board defers to them.
      The kids lose. The community loses. Society loses.
      The only winners are the people who are gaming the system, the professionals, the people paid (very well, by the way!) to fill those jobs. Those trusted union folks.
      Entrenchment.
      You are right, revamping the whole thing is the only way left to go.

  4. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    Hey JSB and Lynn. Here is my take: the schools are not failing, the students are failing. The students are failing because the parents are failing in their responsibility in parenting. Go ahead, blame somebody/something else. When you are done with that, you’ll still have to “deal” with what I said above.

    • Dimsdale
      Dimsdale says:

      Explain how parents who are fighting for a better school for their children are “failing in their responsibility in parenting”.?? Maybe homeschooling IS the solution then, although there have more than their share of critics as well.

      • Linda Mae
        Linda Mae says:

        I’ve loads of questions because what we know from the facts of this case, @ 50% of the students are “failing.”
        Why?? Each teacher should be able to give you reasons students aren’t learning.? Attendance?? Poor basic skills?? (Do they know their multiplication tables or are they expected to “use a calculator” as many educational pundits tell us.? They don’t say what to do when the battery dies.) What math program do they use?? Singapore Math focuses on basic skills, require memorization FIRST and then teach the higher order skills sequentially.? Nat. Teachers of Math’s curriculum is filled with gobbledygook.? George Bush convened a Committee to review how math is taught.? I was not happy to see there were few math teachers on the committee.? Then, I read the 80 pages and was overwhelmed with glee.? Great stuff.
        Can they read?? What reading program do they use?? Are kids speaking English at home?? Can they sound out the letters so that they can break the “code” and be able to read the words?? Educational pundits tell us to ignore phonics, they kids will pick up the idea of the story by looking at the pictures.? (ignorant, huh?)
        Do they have music – which helps us learn?
        Do they give…

      • Linda Mae
        Linda Mae says:

        Part 2 of the post below – sorry it is so long…..
        Do they give enrichment activities to all students?
        Do teachers get professional development in helping students succeed in their subject area?? Do they also demand proper reading and writing in ALL subject areas?? How many tests are “matching” and how many are short answer?? Do teachers have access to the State’s testing standards, curriculum and lesson plans – if they have them?? CT does and they are terrific but not every teacher gets to use them.
        Are there parent volunteers in the classrooms working with teachers and students?? It is a strong way to move kids along.
        Who are the parents suing?? Bet it’s the parents of the 50% who are doing well.? Interview them.? Why are their kids successful and others failing.
        Most of these fixes are cheap – easy to do – and well worth the time and effort to do.?
        Those are a few of the things I’d do if I had the responsibility to help these kids succeed.
        I know this is too long but it is not a simple problem.
        Oh – never compare the scores of American kids to high school kids in other countries.? We put everyone into high school.? Almost every country in the world puts…

      • Linda Mae
        Linda Mae says:

        Part 3 of the post? – sorry it is so long….
        Oh – never compare the scores of American kids to high school kids in other countries.? We put everyone into high school.? Almost every country in the world puts @ 1/3 of their kids into high school? the others stop after grades 10 or 11.? That is also why our college completion rates are lower than other countries.? We push kids into college no matter what their ability and aptitude are.

  5. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    They “are fighting for a better school”? What is a better school? One with better what? Schools have classrooms, books, teachers, lights, heat, A/C, blackboards…… and lots more already.

    • Dimsdale
      Dimsdale says:

      Better teachers.? Do you think the cream of the crop heads for the violence of urban schools?? Maybe these parents wonder where the $10K or so spend on each student really goes.? Maybe it is the discipline that is missing, or the absurd rights given children that are too immature to understand them.
      ?
      Do you really believe that all schools are equal?? All teachers are the same?? If so, then your results should be the same with the normal variations.

  6. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    Schools are not all the same, teachers are not all the same, students are not all the same, tests are not all the same, curricula are not all the same, parents are not all the same. Is that the point? If so, nothing will change for the better.

    • JBS
      JBS says:

      Here’s my take on your comments: oppositional sophistry.
      ?
      This whole thing is about NOT having a school choice. The parents want it and are told,? “nothing doing!” by the school board. The school board refused to follow the judge’s ruling and offered only excuses, a la the Obama Regime — it doesn’t suit our interests to follow the law or we’ll make up one! The school, meanwhile, is still failing and none of the paid staff want to change it.
      ?
      “Gee, Wally, why’s that? Don’t they want better stuff for the kids?”? In a word, ‘NO!” They, the learned people running the failing elementary school like getting paid and will do anything to keep their jobs, their gravy train, their power. Kind of sounds like a certain president that we have now who will say and do anything to stay in power. Anything, except the truth or follow the law, that is.
      ?
      Is that clear enough, sammy?
      ?

  7. stinkfoot
    stinkfoot says:

    Great civics lesson for the students… if a law presumably enforces a higher premium on their education than it does on the political status quo then the law can be brazenly disregarded.
    Sadly Jermaine Wright’s attitude toward the wishes of the parents bothering to be involved is in line with the political establishment’s mind set toward the population as a whole.

  8. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    JBS, in said school in Adelante, CA:? “Last year, two-thirds of students failed the state language arts exam, 56% failed math and 80% failed science”. How is school choice going to fix that?? Is this oppositional sophistry too?

      • Linda Mae
        Linda Mae says:

        Students who attend magnet schools are students whose parents are invested in their kids’ education – a special group – so it is expected they will be successful.? Also, check to see if magnet schools require state tests?? Once they did not in CT so there was no comparison to local schools.? In addition, students who did not “fit in” with the magnet school (homework, grades, behavior, etc. as I remember) were encouraged to leave.? I still thin going the European model with 3 distinct educational tracks would solve our problems.? Recognize and respect those kids who are hands-on learners and give them a chance to get into a trade after 10 years of education.? Allow the next group to go for 11 years and graduate with business skills. Give those (@ 1/3 ) the chance to prepare for the rigors of college? and you will find out that most of them will graduate.? We used to have this type of system – and then….politicians took over the educational system.? No one would attempt to second guess their doctor while s/he is doing brain surgery – yet everyone knows “better” than teachers – who have the education and experience to do their jobs.?

    • Dimsdale
      Dimsdale says:

      Clearly, the “magic” of throwing money at the problem isn’t working. ?If changing the schools is impossible in your estimation, then what is your solution? ?You have disagreed with everything brought up here, so let’s hear your two cents. ?Or is “hands off because nothing can be done” all you have? ?I would suggest “teacher choice” given the data…

    • Dimsdale
      Dimsdale says:

      And I stated that these parents are not the problem as evidenced by their actions to improve the lot of their children.? You didn’t like that answer.

  9. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    Read the data another way: 34% did NOT fail the language arts, 44% did NOT fail the math test and 20% did NOT fail science. Same school, same teachers, same tests and some students passed. So what can one conclude: it’s some of the students (God forbid) or it’s the parents of said students, or…….

    • Dimsdale
      Dimsdale says:

      Read it: the teachers failed the majority of students.? Common Core will not improve this without teacher/curriculum reform.

  10. JBS
    JBS says:

    Just what are your solutions? All you do is continually restate the facts.
    You never directly answer anyone’s questions. Here’s a direct question: Should the Adelanto school board follow the law, the legal decision rendered by a court of law?
    Did you look up the word sophistry and understand what it means?

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