This is NOT ‘accidentally on purpose’ – this is absolutely on purpose.

In the last six months, many aspects of my life have gone through ‘change’. My address (a whole new state), my back office for tutoring, my weight. While those items have changed, my very real beliefs and sense of equity have not changed one bit – they just become stronger in conviction.

I know exactly why I left teaching in the classroom and now, 10 years later, when many more teachers have ‘left’ (fled and not replaced), I realize I was just a bit ahead of the curve. It is a challenge to find anyone these days who wishes to become a teacher due to the insanity of getting the credential and the further insanity of making through the first two years- never mind possibly getting through the first five years  and making it work for them, when they are seasoned and can be great.

As education went to  further extremes of the business model (charter schools, for profit secondary ed, small schools within a school, TFA and so forth, supplementary educational services) approach to education, those in charge continued to intentionally overlook and then ignore the most obvious problems arising from a ridiculous system. It is not that anyone has  forgotten or overlooked what we do in schools, it is most often the people in charge selectively choose to ignore, not address or lower the level of the problem until they  are called out.

Teachers are not by nature a dumb lot so one would have to guess administration, school boards and other community members seem to have a hand in the manipulations of kids getting an education. And this is why teachers become frustrated. We know. We know administrators and businesses (all the non-profit charter schools are BUSINESSES) intentionally on purpose have to overlook things so they meet the bottom line, present some sort of numbers to the people interested in their concept and hope to goodness no one catches them. A perfect example is how charter schools are able to skirt ADA rules for special ed students. You would be amazed at the stories, pack of lies and so forth surrounding this aspect of education.

When an article such as the one written by Jeff Guo at Storyline hits my reading, it is impossible to put down. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/09/22/these-kids-were-geniuses-they-were-just-too-poor-for-anyone-to-discover-them/?tid=sm_fb   It is the embodiment of all the things I know are going on and have never had the ‘evidence’ to prove as we don’t talk about this stuff in polite company. It is too unseemly to discuss all the ways we betray students in this country.

What Mr. Guo wrote about is the basis of work looked at by Malcolm Gladwell, Shankar Vedantam, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.  It is the not so ‘hidden’ mess right in front of our eyes if we would just pay attention.  What is shocking is the fact this information is in no way hidden at all and that is the largest disgrace.

The result was an atlas of inequality.

We blame money as the cause for ignoring the gifted and talented students within a school district. It is not money. It is will. We know these students are out there and it is our job to find them. We have to do a better job. Instead, we do the opposite of what is best practices.

We give minority students and/or students of poverty the worst teachers, the new teachers, the teachers we can not figure out how to help. We give these same students Supplementary Education Services (SES), which is polite terminology for whatever half-rate tutors we can find after some ‘business’ takes a percentage off the top for hooking us up (trust me – I know the system and have seen it as a teacher, as a tutor and having been approached to work for these organizations). We created state tests which were so low in caliber, when the common core came out, most notably the standard for the economically advantaged kids, we flipped out to see the low scores. Reality met head on with the games we played to try to fool ourselves.

We put the socioeconomically disadvantaged students in charter schools which do not (the statistics prove it out repeatedly) which do not do anything more or better than a good, well run public school.  We do everything in our power to disenfranchise this group of students including evaluating them at the same time, at the same rate for gifted and talented programs.

Is it really any wonder at all education is in a shambles?

What can YOU do?

_________________________________________________________________________________________

As a parent, you can use the SES money towards a better tutor for your  student.    http://www2.ed.gov/nclb/choice/help/ses/description.html  

Districts must make available to parents a list of State-approved supplemental educational services providers in the area and must let parents choose the provider that will best meet the educational needs of the child.

 The school districts do what is cheapest, NOT best. Find an independent tutor to work with a small group of students. They can be paid by SES funds. Trust me, the threshold to be a tutor for supplemental education services is low. You can find tutors willing to work with students for less than their ‘listed’ costs on a website such as https://www.avidbrain.com/

-Stay away from the sites which promise you tons of tutors as you will find it is a numbers game and the sites with the ‘most’ tutors are not the sites with the BEST tutors. There is a difference.  Sites with the most tutors need to prove to investors they have a business model. 20% of the tutors on the site do 98% of the work. The other tutors are window dressing……I’ve been there. I was the 20%.

-Tutors are generally independent contractors.

-If you go with an SES ‘provider’, some business is making money and the tutor is maybe getting $12-20/hr.  Since an SES tutor has a low threshold to meet to become a tutor, you are not getting your monies worth, you are getting what is cheapest for your school district.

-If you go with an independent tutor, the tutor makes the money they are worth, stick with the job and know what they are doing.

The education issue – it is so NOT what you think it is.

Today is Sunday 14 July 2013. I have been crying on and off since late last night when I found out the outcome in the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin issue.

While most people were focusing on the race issue and profiling and men being black in America and all the other horrible parts of this great country which need to be fixed by voting, I was upset at how the focus had shifted from cause and effect of our choices in voting to the substantially more serious and saddening issues of literacy, reasoning and the ability for so many to be mis-lead.  I am talking about The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

It has been a couple  of weeks now and people are finally starting to see the issue in the light of day.    http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/25/justice/zimmerman-juror-b29-interview/index.html?iref=allsearch

No matter how the case against George Zimmerman played out, the issue behind the case was missed by most – except for the lawyers and those who actively read and follow what is really going on in the United States. Lawyers have specialized training to understand the process of law and think differently – which is why we go to them when we have problems. Lawyers think about issues in a specific manner – which is good. Without this ability, we would have less public defenders and fewer people willing to put in the good and necessary fight for everything from civil rights to euthanasia to all manner of other issues.  Organizations such as ACLU, The Southern Poverty Law Center, National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, The American Humane Society and many others are staffed with wise and thoughtful lawyers who put their wisdom to practice in a country gone mad with all manner of strange belief systems.

At the end of the day, what happens in this country RESTS on our shoulders. Whether we choose to be involved, vote, have a voice in our democracy or not plays itself out all the time.  What played out on 13 July 2013 was a result of our lack of paying attention and getting caught up in the ancillary issues.  This lack of attention is what worries me. The ability to be so easily distracted is due to a lack of reasoning skills and literacy.

Lack of literacy does not allow a person to read or pay attention to politics – good, bad or indifferent. Lack of literacy and lack of reasoning (algebra) does not allow some one to think about being  manipulated and how to find more information.  Lacking literacy and reasoning RUINS LIVES – in fact, in some cases it kills people and ruins the lives of others around them.  Lack of knowledge allows us to be racist, xenophobic, and all the other things which hurt our society.

If you think grades in school matter, you are wrong. Grades are an arbitrary sampling of knowing pieces of information. Reasoning and literacy are what matter – and, sadly, not easily testable.  Literacy and reasoning are ongoing – as in ‘the rest of our lives’.

The loss of Trayvon Martin is terribly sad. The ruination of George Zimmerman’s life is equally terrible. Even though George is alive, he does not have a life worth living due to the court of public opinion.  There was and will be no winner from this situation.

The group which won, and continues to win is ALEC – they put the stand your ground laws in place with the NRA.  http://www.prwatch.org/news/2013/06/11384/seven-faces-nraalec-approved-stand-your-ground-law

While people got all crazy about other issues and being distracted by wars, etc. ALEC went about its business with nary a blink of the eye.  AND then-kaboom. We had an incident play out in front of us which demonstrated the meaning and intent of ‘stand your ground’ and none of us liked it.

My own friends have come out and chastised me for not ‘understanding’. It hurts. Not only do I understand and I am heartbroken as no one should lose their life walking down a street, I understand what happened and how a community (Sanford) allowed its police force to operate with impunity until this most recent issue. I can also understand how and why George Zimmerman acted – which, I am guessing, is what happened with the jury.  Was the decision/outcome optimal? No. In fact, there was no optimal outcome.

You see, our legal system metes out punishment and rewards based on ideas beyond our comprehension. Kenneth Feinberg (The 9/11 Commission) wrote about this in his book ‘Who Gets What’. The world is not fair – in fact, what Mr. Feinberg wrote was, “Some people wish to be heard”.

Being able to better understand our legal system and fix how representation works requires literacy and logic. We will only be able to fix the current state of things when we educate our population. Until we pursue education with all due purpose, we can not begin to understand what needs to be changed and why.  We limit our ability to use logic and reasoning and operate on a level which does not necessarily change the system but makes us feel better for a bit.

Change comes about from affecting knowledge.

Observations – Parity Across the States (NAEP)

The past four months provided a very interesting job opportunity in a way I was not expecting.  I was hired by Westat to help administer the ‘national’ exam.   While this position requires a great deal of organizational capacity, it also taught me so much about those who ‘know’ and don’t really know what is involved in educational reform.   In my mind, NAEP is a giant scientific experiment extremely well thought out as well as planned and executed for optimum good statistical analysis.  NAEP is the real deal of data.

My first observation was how many teachers and administrators in public schools (including charter) did not know what NAEP was about.

Example:  Spoke with a principal who, when asked by another principal why his school was participating in NAEP answered he ‘guessed’ he drew the short stick. (I completely understood the humor, however, I was sad he truly did not know what it was about.) We talked on the phone and I asked him why he thought the school was participating (aha – a bit of Socratic methodology) and he answered the following three items (1) his school improved test scores by 17 points (2) his school has the youngest teachers in the district/area (3) this had something to do with spring testing but he was not sure. 

 I replied that while I like his answers, the reason behind national testing was to have some test scores to provide parity  between the various states which have different state standards and different ways of measuring educational success.

Parity in sports is defined as attempting to make an equal playing field for all participants, specifically with regard to financial issues. When parity in a sports league is achieved, all participating teams enjoy roughly equivalent levels of talent. In such a league, the “best” team is not significantly better than the “worst” team. This leads to more competitive contests where the winner cannot be easily predicted in advance. Such games are more entertaining and captivating for the spectators. The opposite condition, which could be considered “disparity” between teams, is a condition where the elite teams are so much more talented that the lesser teams are hopelessly outmatched. – Wikipedia/ January 2011

 I further explained that schools which received federal funds w  ere required to participate if the necessary sample of student attributes was at their school.  We talked for a few more minutes so I could answer some paperwork questions and we each went off on our own separate journey through the day.

In a different phone call with another principal the day before, I was asked about how the school would access these test scores so they could use them to compare with their API and AYP since other schools in the district were not taking this special test. I had to explain the scores were not disaggregated down to the district level.  This particular issue kept cropping up with teachers as well, especially on assessment day. Teachers asked if they would have the scores to use by Spring……

In  the above scenarios, I was talking to people who could speak clearly about certain aspects of educational reform, albeit only those minimal measures which had been drummed into them through some grad school program/administrative credentialling program/school district.   My shock was that these were ‘good’ schools in so called ‘good’ districts so how could these administrators not have run across NAEP?  I actually asked a couple administrators where they attended graduate school.

Along the way there were also some funny stories – a school which is in a very wealthy area had a substitute teacher’s aide show up with alcohol on their breath and the principal had to deal with that issue; another school had some students order a pizza via their cell phone, except when it was delivered, the office staff realized no ‘individual’ student would order a 2 L bottle of coke.  I had a colleague talk to a custodian in Spanish, only to have the principal state the man understands and speaks English…..

In my mind I was surprised as I have known about NAEP since I was a child – I went through at least one of the testing sessions in Grade 4, possibly Grade 8.  I read about NAEP and went to a lecture regarding The Nation’s Report Card when I was in graduate school.  NAEP was the organization where  the National Science Standards were related so people could discuss trends in science ed ucation.  I was beginning to feel as if I had entered some alternate universe where educational reform happened on a different planet on an alternate flat plane.

On a more personal note, I noticed (part of the script I read requires me to ask a few questions) there is not a category for people(s) of Middle East origin.  I am not sure if this was intentional, as in who really cares what those students do (even though we seem to care about Asians) or some one with far more wisdom then myself decided these people are, well, white.  Since I do not know specifically what NAEP is looking for, I can only speculate on a ‘forced’ selection of race/ethnicity.  One question asks students to delineate Latino/Hispanic and then the next question is everything else.  I feel bad for the Philipino’s who actually know their history as they are Latino (Spain) and Asian, not either or.

I have never looked at the test questions as I continue to have a teaching credential and this, in my mind is inappropriate.  I have looked at the release questions published in booklets for parents and/or teachers and administrators who may have questions.  Not much was gleened from this process as I do not support the efficacy of multiple choice exams since there is always an inherent 25% of accuracy by randon choice on a four answer question.   As is the case with SAT prep, it is not about the right answer so much as the ability to use your mind to reason ‘out’ what are the wrong answers.  The SAT is in no way indicative of much, my favorite examples being people who bucked the system and did not complete college, such as Bill Gates or people who did poorly on the SAT and succeeded far more than anyone would have guessed, Timothy Ferriss. 

NAEP allows educators and statisticians to peer into the minds of students to take a peak at how various curriculums play out across the U.S.  Our ‘Nation’s Report Card’  is just that, a report.  In a broad way we are able to see where education seems to have traction (typically, in places with low socioeconomic distress) and where no amount of money seems to change the consequences of childhood poverty. 

I have been to schools with views which certainly must prevent even a lax daydreamer from focusing and I have been to schools which remind me all too often of things I have seen in Peace Corps and traveling various third world countries.  This previous sentence is a different kind of parity – until we have PARITY, we will not change education in any formidable manner.  It takes an abundant amount of community involvement, parental education and literacy resources (notice I did not say monetary resources) to overcome poverty.  No amount of well constructed testing is needed to prove this out – rather, we just need to travel outside our own familiar community.



A Race Discussion I Like

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/07/31/navarrette.gates.crowley/index.html

I am sad to say I have not yet read Mr. R. Navarrette’s book, “A Darker Shade of Crimson: Odyssey of a Harvard Chicano” as I would have to say, I think I would really learn from it and enjoy it.  Mr. Navarrette writes in a manner which demonstrates poise and the ability to think about more than one point of view.   He demonstrates how hearing more information makes for better decision making.  I would have to say I think I could be his friend if we were to ever meet in person.

My thoughts ran similar to what Mr. Navarrette expressed, including how to interact with a police officer.  My father taught me long ago that you never know if a police officer just left a horrible car wreck and they are hurting emotionally inside or they just dealt with some one on drugs and had to drop them off at jail and fill out tons of paperwork or they had to talk to some snarky teenagers or some one would not act appropriately at the last ticket or the officer just found out one of his fellow officers was killed in the line of duty – you owe the officer respect. Further more, you look stupid and guilty acting out of order in relationship to what is being asked of you – identification and explination of the situation, even if I am a white female. Don’t try to act holier than thou.

I am a teacher and have had to deal with crazy parents who come in all charged up about one thing or another and treat me as though I am their servant and some how didn’t finish cleaning the floor properly rather than asking to talk.  Parents act as if I had just been watching TV and eating a snack, even though I may desperately need to go to the bathroom and just have a 5 minute respite from the business of the day.  It is all about the approach.  Perhaps that is why I appreciate what Mr. Navarrette is stating. 

In my minds eye, I can not see a neurosurgeon doing well in surgery with people yelling and acting crazy and while teaching is no where near that level of need for perfection, it requires some degree of thinking and establishing facts/data.   We have become a culture of ‘self’ and putting what we believe are our needs ahead of the reality of the situation. 

While we all have something that gets us agitated/worked up, it is also up to us to get calmed down and paced (just like the neurosurgeon) so we can attend to matters at hand.  While race seems to be a raging issue in so many situations, apparently, so is class.  Many people seem to expect more or less than from people who are not like themselves – as if we can’t be equal in some manner. 

What appealed to me most about Mr. Navarrette’s piece is the following:

Yet now, thanks to a little South Lawn diplomacy, some good might come from the bad. There were hopeful signs. Crowley said Thursday’s beer gathering was a “cordial and productive discussion.” The sergeant talked about how he and Gates were more interested in moving forward than looking backward.

After the meeting, Gates wrote, “We’ve learned that we can have our differences without demonizing one another. There’s reason to hope that many people have emerged with greater sympathy for the daily perils of policing, on the one hand, and for the genuine fears about racial profiling, on the other hand.”

Well said, gentlemen. We could use more cordial discussions, and more sympathy for each other’s positions. Believe it or not, you might just be on the same team after all.

Imagine that, interacting  with each other as though we both mattered and wanted to solve a problem, rather than escalate it for the dramatic effect.  You as an individual always have the choice about how you act – no one can make you behave idiotically.   Having a moral compass is up to you.

 

Urban League Report – Racial Inequality

First, I would like to state I am completely in full support of President Barack Obama and am pleased the American People value him and elected him as our President.  President Obama may well be the first person in U.S. Government to cut through the fog of lies, broken promises and has  set upon reality as the barometer of his success.

As I read through the Urban League Report, the stats did not phase me. I live near Oakland, CA. There was nothing in the statistics that, even as a casual observer, one could find untrue. Having taught in Oakland, I might have to say the statistics may be on the low side of truth, however I do not know the degree of variance the studies for this report used.

After reading the suggestions, I was  surprised to find nothing about  a literacy component. 

 I would like to suggest that if you collect Welfare, you MUST attend literacy classes to continue receiving Welfare and you need to volunteer a minimum number of hours a month within your community for Medical/Medicare and Welfare.   I believe, at a minimum, it is a reaonable expectation for people to pursue education in good times and bad, especially if my tax dollars are being used to support them.

It is rather difficult to train people for a job if they are illiterate. It is nearly impossible for people to have the necessary reasoning of money if they have not passed through Algebra, which requires literacy.

As a teacher, I am often amazed at how many parents are unemployed and do not make it a point to (1) volunteer at their childs school (2) attend parenting classes (3) attend adult literacy classes at any public library, and yet they expect me and my teacher colleagues to make a dent in educating  their children. Education must be valued – it can not be instilled by physically being at school. Literacy takes work – it takes more work the older you get as your brain changes after the age of 10 years in ways neuroscientists don’t entirely understand, but know that learning language, any language – including sign, is very important to overall educational success. This is the reason pre-school is so vital.

When I look at third world countries, with higher literacy rates than America, I am shocked.  Being successful in America takes a minimum amount of effort and education, grades pre-K to 12 is all but free, with many charter schools offering college level courses at the Gr 9-12 level.   We have community colleges, libraries, resources beyond imagination.

Having been a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Namibia, SW Africa (and learning Si-Lozi, the mother tongue of the region I volunteered in as Peace Corps requires you to be able to marginally communicate with the population you serve – and this is really a reasonable request) and watching students walk 5-10 KM on dirt roads with no shoes in heat and rain, to obtain a rudimentary education post- apartheid, as well as these same children  having  one pair of clothes – on their body, which are cleaned when the child bathes in the river and takes off theirclothes to wash them,  eat donated food from UNICEF, USAID, etc.  and  having children   with distended bellies from extreme malnutrition and dehydration and disease, seeing  a country where Polio is alive and well, in spite of WHO trying to get it completely under control and being relentless in this pursuit – I can not accept Americans who whine, who can’t seem to pull it together.  

I have long been past the excuses of hardship. I have seen 48 hours of civil war in Namibia…..having this experience under my belt, excuses in America by ordinary citizens is abhorent.  

Please, President Obama and Mr. A. Duncan – consider adding requirements of literacy and community volunteering to collecting Welfare.  Make education something people value enough to actually put forth a modicum of effort.

Eric Holder is correct.

Unless you are completely daft, you had to have specifically tuned out and turned off what was said by the U. S. Attorney General this week in regards to racism in America.   It is not only alive and well, it is pretty much socially acceptable. 

My own personal examples include:

(1) Sitting in a staff meeting, year 2004, with teachers and administrators to discuss what we as teachers were going to do this year to raise the test scores of our black and brown students.  Each public school is required to have an “action plan” for how they will change instruction to raise test scores and this plan is scrutinized (or not) by other administrators only if test scores do not go upwards.  I raised my hand and stated to the others in the room, ” I personally would feel more comfortable if we discussed what we would do for all our students who were not succeeding at the basic level rather than discuss students by melanin”.  There were other teachers who supported what I was saying except the teacher support came from teachers with tenure.  The other teachers could not/would not get involved as they did not have tenure and I just touched on the taboo subject.  Of course I did not have tenure either and did not feel beholden to anyone in stating how I felt about racism.  I raised the ire of the principal and suffice it to say, this was one of many times where I stood my ground, ultimately leading to no good within the district for having my own thoughts.  This same principal is now the head of HR in another school district, and of course, the student population is mainly black and brown.  I am not sure if this principal understood then or now the implication of their statements, I just know it taught me that racism is sanctioned  in Northern California, in particular this public school/district – and I continue to be horrified. Let me also mention that the teaching friends I made at that school are still my close friends and support me in speaking the truth. These friends are brown, black, gay/lesbian, multi-ethnic and multi-religious.   They have told me it took a great deal of courage to say what I did that day and at other times when I risked my professional career (obtaining tenure) to say what needed to be said.   This particular school district I refer to benefits from an annual teacher turnover rate of 40% + each year so there is always a fresh crew of teachers to not speak up.  The school I taught at saw one principal and two different vice principals while I was there and over a five year period has had four principals and three vice principals on top of the teacher turn over so it is ripe for people to just go along with the game – and many do, sadly.

(2) Sitting in a meeting at a charter school where I taught and being explicitly told that each teacher was expected to sort through the following: which students were far below basic, below basic, proficient, above proficient in language arts and math. Once we ‘disaggregated’ the data (sorting students by race for the subcategories we needed to pass in spring testing – color, poverty, special needs, etc.), we then needed to determine which students we could ‘push over the line’ by specific content questions on the spring test, focusing most on our far below basic students.

For anyone who does not understand AYP (links below), students in far below basic and below basic are worth more when they cross the threshold of proficient in terms of point value change than students which are proficient or above, which provide little, if any substantive point growth on testing.

Of course I was partnered with the language arts teachers since I taught science (science was not on the test except for a baseline measure  that particular year and did not make any practicable contribution to points so the subject did not need to be a focus, even if it would help students the following year….) and subsequently realized that I would be essentially teaching language arts and math (coded by principal as ‘cross curricular’)  subjects which did make a difference on the points of the test.   Two weeks from the date of that meeting, we had the data, by student, of how many questions in each subsection of the test (language arts and math) needed to be passed to raise our points.  I felt as though I were doing chemistry calculations and determining exactly how many moles of various compounds needed to be put into the container for a reaction.  Of course I jokingly said something such as what molarity/what molality do I need for the ‘chemistry’ I will be performing in my classroom this year  and it was completely lost on the other teachers and principal (and if not lost on them, they took it to be snarky).

Would you believe that the students in far below basic and below basic had more melanin?  The students who were proficient or above were light skinned? Should not be shocking as children with melanin are also subgrouped  (race, poverty, special needs and schools must meet the subgroup points as well.  Essentially, students who were proficient or above were on free float while all the other students were intensely (and I do mean intense) focused upon in every class, in every subject as monitored by practice multiple choice tests.  Now, no one would state the proficient and above students were on free float as teachers are suppossed to provide ‘differentiated’ instruction (code for giving enrichment).  I watched as students who had all the promise in the world were so turned off to school and testing that by the end of the year, we needed to have a rally to get ourselves wound up for testing.  The self same students, which in other countries (generally third world) where people with more melanin live ,are inspired to learn and want to attend school, even in its most primitive form- and they are not measured by the test scores except to promote to the next level (which is on an individual student basis, not the school) or attend university.  In America, no student  below proficient wants to attend school as it is about the test score, not the student and it is not about fun – it is about intense laser focus on specific questions presented in a myriad of differnt ways each week to assure that the 75% ‘knowing the answer’ is partnered adequately with the 25% random chance of success in such a way that the school will improve in the spring on test scores.

Aside from the obvious of  which these students  were not being taught science or history http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/02/24/mass_delays_plan_to_require_history_for_diploma/  (yes, Mr. Holder you are correct, especially at charter schools which need to focus on the test scores), these students were not engaged in anything remotely fun, interesting or particularly engaging except at the lower spectrum of learning and whatever potential joy in learning could be found, was wiped away by the immutable question of “Is it on the test?”. 

 http://www.cde.ca.gov/eo/in/se/contlearning.asp

http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/ay/documents/infoguide08r.pdf

Now testing takes on a whole other flavor/meaning in the charter school system. Charter schools specifically have a mission to raise up disenfranchised (code for ‘color’) children.  If you can aggregate enough of these students each year and have them get near or cross the proficient threshold, your test scores go up. Pretty easy math.  At some point though the raw product (students of color) either runs out (parents and students leave the charter school, it is a school of choice to attend),  or there is no place else for the scores to really show jumps in growth as you have gotten your populus to proficient and the point gain forward at that point is extremely difficult to extract.  At this time, scores plateau or can drop.  Suffice it to say, each time there is a new charter school, the first year of testing is a RESET button on the base of test scores. Within any given community, parents can move their students from school to school in the hopes some school will meet the needs of their student, meanwhile, even the slightest improvement in these students, raises test scores for the initial few years of a charter school. This is also one of the underlying reasons all schools, especially charter (they have a marketing department), do not show more than last years and current years scores in  longitudinal comparison year overyear, following a group of students.  Showing year over year growth is pretty simple within the first five years of any charter school as year one is the RESET and then each subsequent year, the scores go up incrementally. Showing/tracking a group of students year over year is rather difficult in a charter school when they have a high turnover of student population (and they do, they just don’t talk about it) and, it does not market well.  When people do the research, they will see that many charter schools which are 3-5 years old have hit the plateau or downward test scores.

So, as one who followed through this list of information might realize, it appears on the outset that education in America, specifically at charter schools, has improved the lot in life of children of color.  It would then stand to reason that in the periphery, changes within a community would also be observed relative to improved test scores.   I have yet to see this, even before our economy took a turn southward.  

I am scared the education system may have lied to people of color, again, and we did not do the right thing, rather we just shifted things around. I am not so sure that forgetting to teach science and history, because it is not on the test, is the best thing to do.  I am not sure that making children dislike school, just to make the test scores go up, is the evidence that NCL B is working. I would rather have a struggling student who wanted to learn than a disengaged student who has to show up to school to learn and make the test scores go up.

http://policyweb.sri.com/cep/publications/KIPPYear_1_Report.pdf   I did not work for KIPP, this is the most relevant piece of published data  I could find to support the above comments. Please see the following pages in the mentioned report to understand my reflection:  p. 16 middle, p. 17 3rd and 4th paragraphs and use of the word attrition, p. 18 below exhibit 6, p.22 last section, p. 24, middle of page – specifically where there is a comment on some kids needing more than the school can provide, p. 26 paragraph 2, p.27 bottom through to p. 29, p. 32 last paragraph, p. 34 no science since it is not on test, p. 35 use of word enrichment in italics, p. 40  bottom to 41 about sustainability,  p. 48 founding teacher attitudes about not needing new ideas, p. 50, p. 51 second paragraph from bottom, p. 53, p. 55 sixth line, note the whole last section being focused only on test scores.

This book review was written by some one I do not know nor ever heard of until a friend suggested I read the review.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2009/02/20/ST2009022002959.html   

The writer of this review is a professor from where I attended grad school, however, to my knowledge I do not know this person and found the review while reading the one directly above. http://ednews.org/articles/30543/1/Realistic-Expectations-Urged-for-KIPP-Schools/Page1.html

I have never heard of this person until I was reviewing recent pieces under KIPP performance.  This writer states more effectively what I was trying to elucidate on above. http://eduwonkette2.blogspot.com/2007/10/do-kipp-schools-have-positive-effect-on.html

(3) Use of the n-bomb by people of color is so rampant I have to wholeheartedly agree with Eric Holder we need to teach history – specifically where/how/why and when slavery became a part of the U.S.  history.  I am saddened that so many people do not realize everyone came out of Africa, albeit at different times and in different ways, however, when the n-bomb is used, it denigrates all of us.  Of course it would be simply amazing to just teach history at a public school (not on the test), never mind address issues which are significant and substantially important to living in the 21st Century.   The pejorative use of the n-word saddens me as it is used self referentially (in pop culture)  and is the gateway to using all the other negative words to refer to other groups (gay/lesbia, Asian, Latino, Jewish, Muslim, autistic and the list goes on).  It creates a lack of boundaries, lack of self respect and when we talk negatively about ourselves, we begin to believe it.  When I do have the difficult race discussion with people, if I can get them past the point of their belief that I have plum lost my mind, I can get them generally to the point of choosing to use other words to describe themselves and the reasoning why behind the choice. Of course, this does not imply in any way we don’t have a lot to teach in history or science – the magnitude is immense. Most recently I read Survival of the Sickest where one observation is  made regarding the extreme amount of hypertension in black Americans could be related to the concept of the blacks who survived the hellish journey from Africa to the U.S. as slaves had to be particularly strong and be able to retain water (hence, hold salt in their body) since they were essentially starved and dehydrated on the journey. The people who survived, passed on genetically this ability to hold salt and stay  well hydrated at the same time that the American diet became extremely salty (and fatty) due to the understandng of food preservation.  It became a bomb.  This is something important to teach in science, but alas, it is not on the test.

(4) The most significant event in my personal understanding of racism came as a result of a remarkable classmate in graduate school.  This friend is an American as she was born in the U.S. while her parents were students at Cornell. She was raised in Kenya and is black.  We were walking along and passed a man asking for spare change. Before I had the chance to open my purse, my friend shouted at him, “Get a job”, at which he shouted back, “You are from the motherland” as my friend has a distinct British accent.  Needless to say, this man did not get any spare change from us. As we continued walking, we had the very deep and important discussion of race.  My friend stated that this would be unacceptable in Kenya – you are expected to perform work for money and only in America do we feel we can expect less of people. Whoa – this threw my belief system on its head and then let it bounce. I immediately began asking my litany of thoughts/questions:  He is the result of a society that is just coming out of slavery and has had few, if any opportunities to survive….How can you expect  a street person to get a job?  The American culture is such that we should, if possible, help others which are less fortunate due to circumstances (both of their own making and circumstances created by society), White people created this mess and we need to help fix it and on and on.  Needless to say, this wonderful friend was able to shared her wisdom, truth and knowledge to help me get on a better path about my own  understanding of race.  She explained that when we lower our expectations, for any reason, we are accomplices in people not trying to improve their lot in life, you can not sanction begging as a job – it is not, this mans’ family needs to help him, stop feeling guilty/remorseful about situations that “just are” and so on. By the end of the afternoon I felt a wave of change in myself and knew I had to work on my own concepts – and I do. I often have this candid and open dialogue with my friends and explain up front to them, I need to learn more and get better at navigating living in plural society.  I can never thank all of my friends for having the integrity and determination to have these discussions with me and help me improve my understanding. It takes courage, even with best friends to talk about something so deeply personal and heartfelt.

Eric Holder is correct. We need to be teaching a whole lot more about history. Truly, black history is not a month long event – it is a group of people who made substantial and significant contributions to the fabric of America; it is the opportunity to reflect on who we are as a nation (we have much to understand about ourselves both right and wrong) and what we aspire to be going forward.  Race is not an us vs. them – it is about all of us, whether or not it is on the test now, it should be next year!

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2009/02/25/22nar_ep.h28.html?tmp=1443110228