You may have heard that there is work going on around the city for new low-power FM stations for different regions. One might be coming out of Ballard High via science teacher, Eric Muhs, (a la the mighty C89.5FM at Nathan Hale High).
At one school in NYC, for children K-2, 80% of the parents opted out of testing, effectively shutting it down. From the New York Daily News:
Students at the 36 “early education” schools are too young to take the regular state reading and math exams, so the littlest kids are sitting down for different tests
As the Daily News reported earlier this month, such exams, given to kids as young as 4, require students to fill in bubbles to show their answers.
In one of the more "let's just stir the pot" columns from Education Week, teacher and write Anthony Cody reflects on the Bridging Differences' blog and the argument from Michael Petrilli about how to close the achievement gap. Mr. Cody entitles the column, "Social Darwinism Resurrected for the New Gilded Age."
He says this because Mr. Petrilli's column is called, "The Especially Deserving Poor."
- As we've been discussing, I still believe in the promise of upward mobility. I don't buy into the dystopia of some on the left that pictures a future with an eviscerated middle class, opportunities only for the elite, and a vast dependent population. Times are tough now, but economic growth and jobs will return; the American Dream will be back.
- But I'm no utopian. Not all children born into poverty are going to make it out by adulthood. Most face powerful disadvantages--dysfunctional families, substance abuse, crime, segregation, broken economies, bad schools, etc.--and not everyone will be able to overcome them. Surely, though, we can do better than our current track record, which is to lift roughly half of all poor children into the working or middle class by the age of 25.
- Climbing the ladder of opportunity takes effort--by individuals and by their families. And it often requires help. I'm not arguing for a pure "bootstraps" approach to fighting poverty--poor children need all manner of supports in order to make it--but no one is going to succeed unless they want to go after the prize themselves.
1. Schools must be orderly, safe, high-expectations havens. There's a movement today to make it harder to suspend or expel disruptive children or to chide charter schools that enforce strict norms of behavior. That's a big mistake.
2. High achievers must be challenged and rewarded.
3. The strivers should get their fair share of resources. A common mistake in education policy is to think that equity demands a near-exclusive focus on the very most disadvantaged students, the toughest cases, the absolutely lowest performing pupils.
Mr. Cody believes what Mr. Petrilli is advocating is almost exactly what is happening - we are creating a two-tier system of schools that work and schools that house all the rest of the more challenging students.
He also challenges the Dunbar example:
So the solution to the plight of the poor has been made somewhat clear.
Create tracked schools, in which you enact zero tolerance discipline policies and expel anyone unwilling or unable to comply, in terms of behavior and academic performance. Although Mr. Petrilli does not say this explicitly, the implication (and actual practice) is to let the residual public schools deal with the rest, in a sort of academic triage. Call it "choice" to suggest that it is the parents and children who are doing the choosing, when actually it is the schools.
The fittest will survive and perhaps have a chance at that ever-shrinking middle class. The rest will flounder, but we have the "ethos of the meritocracy" to rescue us from any pangs of moral conscience.