Monday, October 21, 2013

Odds and Ends

Called "Rich Blocks, Poor Blocks", a very interesting map of income/rent across the U.S.  Zeroing down to Seattle, you can clearly see the delineation of income in our city.

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."

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
He says (these are partial quotes - you really should read them in their entirety):

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.


Eric M said...

Fulcrum Community Communications is indeed working on a low-power FM radio license application. Now that the government is open, and democracy restored, the application window has shifted a bit, and will close 2 weeks later than originally planned, on 11/14. We will have a great application, because we've developed an amazing group of volunteers. We've already received one successful grant, incorporated as a non-profit, and have far exceeded even our own expectations.

The station will reach and serve the Ballard, Fremont, Greenwood, Phinney, Loyal Heights, and north slopes of Queen Anne and Magnolia. We will also be internet streaming, available worldwide. While not a "school" station owned or operated by Seattle Public Schools, we do indeed hope to provide a platform for a lot of youth-originated programming: music shows, including live shows, interviews, talk, etc. We would like to see radio production classes at lots of area schools, and I have a group of students that meet after school on Wednesdays at Ballard High School that is pretty active. Unfortunately, Seattle Public Schools doesn't move very fast, nor with any great interest except when it comes to testing students. So, for now, nothing official inside schools, but hopefully, programs will develop. It'll take a lot of concerted pushing by parents, I'm afraid. But do I need to point out to the readers of this blog that radio journalism need not be terribly expensive, and is really motivating for kids? Language skills, executive skills, people skills, technology skills - what a great opportunity.

There will of course be lots of other kinds of programming. We're talking about cooking shows, gardening shows, shows for seniors, community and business oriented shows, heritage and non-english shows. We even have the great Al Barnes, vintage jazz DJ on KBCS for 2 decades, throwing his lot in with us. We of course want to work with every community group in our service area to help project their information to a wider audience.

We meet on Monday evenings at 7 pm. We have a lot to do beyond just finishing the application. Look on our Facebook page - Fulcrum Community Communications - for more info. We welcome both the experienced and unexperienced.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, Petrelli, from the conservative Fordham institute (Ms. Ravitch has some interesting things to say of her old think tank and of Petrelli himself).He's also "proud to be a private public school parents".

Right, meanwhile back to those "undeserving" 6 million youths who are unemployed and/or are school dropouts. Guess that's what happens when you support Jeb Bush's reform method for closing Florida's achievement gap. No to mention Petrelli's rather weak use of statistics to shore up these premises. Give me Matt DiCarlo from the Shanker blog any day. At least he's honest in his POV when he wrote his article, "why do so many workers have bad jobs?"


Anonymous said...

Oops, sorry should be Esther Quintero, not Matt DiCarlo as author on the workers article, found on a Shanker blog. (Too many ed articles in front of me.)


Melissa Westbrook said...

Ugh, I get that "too many ed articles" - it's a job just to keep up.

Lynn said...

There's an article in the New York Times on the vocabulary gap and the need for universal access to high-quality preschool programs.

Anonymous said...

Seattle is the biggest "rich/poor" checkerboard I've ever seen. If I go don the hill from my house in one direction it's million-dollar+ homes on the lake; in the other it's low-end apartments and public housing. In other cities I've lived in (San Antonio, TX; Syracuse, NY; Rochester, NY)the poverty was more concentrated in specific neighborhoods.