Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Part Three of Times' Series on Diversity

This article appeared in today's Times. There is a common theme in this one; namely, that quality schools trump diversity. From the article:

"Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson hopes Seattle residents see the value of living and going to school with people from a wide mix of backgrounds. But she says she can't change where people live. And as much as she values racial diversity, she values high-quality schools more.

A quality education, she says, "trumps diversity."

"School Board Chairwoman Cheryl Chow puts it more bluntly: "It's not my job to desegregate the city," she said. "We serve the kids that come to our doors."

"This is probably heresy and I'll probably get in trouble for this," says School Board member Harium Martin-Morris. As long as a school's academic program is strong, he says, "I'm not so much worried about the ethnic makeup of a building."

Fellow board member Michael DeBell, while troubled by the racial isolation in some schools, says it's a national issue and a class issue that the School Board has few tools to address. His fallback position, he says, is "to make sure every child has as much opportunity for success as possible."

Betty Howell Gray, a former teacher, principal and founder of the Seattle Alliance of Black School Educators, says that's her focus now, too.

Gray went to segregated schools through college. She worked as an educator in Seattle schools for decades, and supported busing during that time. But now, she thinks the district should concentrate on ensuring every neighborhood has a strong school."

In Kentucky (where the other part of the Supreme Court issue came from):

"In Jefferson County, Ky., where about 48 percent of students are minorities, there was never a doubt about whether to pursue a new diversity plan, said Pat Todd, the district's executive director for school assignment.

But she also said it was clear there weren't a lot of other districts trying to figure out new ways to integrate schools.

"The political climate right now is very challenging for most school districts to try to continue these efforts," Todd said. "Seattle is more reflective of what's going on nationally."

Under that district's new assignment plan, each school will have at least 15 percent and no more than 50 percent of its students from neighborhoods with lower-than-average income and educational attainment, and a higher-than-average minority population.

The district hopes that approach will pass legal muster, Todd said, since students will be assigned to schools based on where they live, not their race.

Jefferson County has some advantages over districts like Seattle, she said. Its school district encompasses Louisville and all the surrounding suburbs, she said, so families can't just move a short distance to avoid integration efforts. The district also isn't facing a financial squeeze that makes it want to save money on busing, as is the case here."


zb said...

A quality education, she says, "trumps diversity."

I believe this when I see it. The whole point of brown v board of education was that segregation/isolation breeds inequities. If folks succeed in creating high performing, successful, economically disadvantaged schools, I'll re-think my whole philosophy.

But, what I see right now is an enormous, almost perfect correlation between free lunch percentage & the percentage of kids who pass the WASL.

seattle citizen said...

It depends on how you measure success. Some schools, such as in New York, are trumpeting success with low-income students. But what are they learning? What is the performance indicator? If a student passes the WASL, is that student successful?
District will be implementing, evidently, some performance assessments besides WASL. This is a start. What, we may ask, do we want our students to know and how will it be meaasured? The state EALRs and GLEs are a good start, but what else?

anonyms said...

I think we need to read between the lines. People say they want choice to increase diversity. In reality, the numbers show otherwise. Choice has decreased diversity... so people are choosing to reduce diversity. So when Dr. GJ says "quality trumps diversity"... she's saying she's going to be reducing choice (to reduce the canard of "choosing" diversity... wink, wink).

She really means: you'll be getting the high quality school in your neighborhood instead the diverse choice you would have made.

anonymous said...

I would agree 100% that quality schools trump diversity! In a perfect world I would love quality schools and diversity, but if I had to pick one, it would definately be quality schools. And I assure you no racism here, we are a bi-racial family (black/white).

dan dempsey said...

It was said by Seattle Citizen ...
Some schools, such as in New York, are trumpeting success with low-income students.

Yes schools are big on trumpeting..
In the case of NYC, tests scores rose significantly on NAEP tests as special accommodations were given to 25% of students....previously these accommodations were never given to more than 10%.... The accommodations invalidated any connection with student learning being in anyway connected to score improvement...

The trumpeting should have centered on NYC's ability to rig the system... The Special Accommodation rate of 25% for NYC was the largest of any urban city ... the resulting score rise was heralded as NYC schools were awarded the Broad Foundation prize as best urban school district in 2007 based on the wonderful improvement....

MG-J is a Broad training graduate and hopes to have Seattle win the Broad prize... if we can just crank the deception up a notch perhaps we can reach NYC levels..

It should be noted that Rosalind Wise used the now well known "pseudo improvement" from NYC as data on Everyday Math in the incredibly misleading presentation that resulted in the adoption of Everyday Math in May 2007.

It appears that Ms Wise will no longer be the Math Program Manager.

Mr Brad Bernatek was the SPS data guy during the time period of the adoption. I presented him with lots of data and pointed out that during Ms Wise's presentation much of the WA State data from districts mentioned had been cherry-picked and was not representative of anything...

Another great SPS job of deception to support a pre-determined outcome based solely on an incredible desire to adopt a poor text series...

Everyday Math was at the time of Adoption the opposite of the recommendations of the NCTM Focal Points of September 2006.

These are referenced as to be used in creating improvement in WA state math in both the Law passed in 2007 HB 1906 and the Law passed in 2008 SB6534 to improve math education in Washington..specifically mentioned on page 2 of each law.

We now have a k-8 series completely out of line with the Nation Math Advisory Panel's recommendations of March 13, 2008... Mr Bernatek is still with us.

Hey where is our SPS Broad Prize ..We seem to have deception down pretty well ... expect that prize by 2010.

dan dempsey said...

There are math materials that work exceptionally well with diverse populations.... SPS do not use those..

SPS instead prefers the colossal failure of Inquiring and Exploring to have students learn what they do not know.

USA is the only nation using this misguided approach. USA performed the worst of every English speaking nation tested on the PISA international Math test of 15 year olds.

Canada is a superior performer on PISA.

Check the cognitive model of exploring and inquiring HERE.

Then ask why....we believe our children should be constructing their own knowledge in this manner when it clearly does not work...

This method is particularly damaging to the student whose family can not assist in overcoming this defective educational method.

PISA Executive summary

Key findings

Finland, with an average of 563 score points, was the highest-performing country on the PISA 2006 science scale.
Six other high-scoring countries had mean scores of 530 to 542 points: Canada, Japan and New Zealand and the partner countries/economies Hong Kong-China, Chinese Taipei and Estonia. Australia, the Netherlands, Korea, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium and Ireland, and the partner countries/economies Liechtenstein, Slovenia and Macao-China also scored above the OECD average of 500 score points.

USA = 474

dan dempsey said...

Fellow board member Michael DeBell, ..... His fallback position, he says, is "to make sure every child has as much opportunity for success as possible."

Another Yes voter:
for Everyday Math 2007 and
Connected Math Project 2006

Is this how Director DeBell provides as much opportunity for success as possible????

anonymous said...

I just read the Rainier Beach HS parent newsletter and was quite impressed! It's very inspiring - Notably RB will be offering 9 AP courses next year (that is 9 more than Nathan Hale HS offers in the north end -they don't have any)

From the newsletter:

"Exciting New Courses for Next Year
AP Calculus
AP Statistics (NEW!)
AP Literature and Composition
AP Human Geography
AP Psychology
AP Comparative Government
AP US History
AP Biology
AP Physics
Why go to the North End
when you can get these
courses in YOUR community?"

I was also impressed with their vast array of support offerings which are completely seperate from the extra support/funding the district gives this school. They have programs such as MESA, Upward Bound, Gear Up, AVID, Steps Ahead and Cwest. They offer students an UNBELIEVABLE amount of extra academic support, college prep and trade training!