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Saturday, June 27, 2009

DIANE RAVITCH :Charter Schools, Urban Schools and JROTC Charter schools

Charter boosters Andrew Rotherham of Education Sector and Richard Whitmire, former editor of USA Today, wrote in response to Raymond’s report that it is time to close down low-performing charters. They noted that there are about 4,600 charters operating currently, but only 300 of them are part of a high-performing charter network. Undoubtedly there are some others, beyond the 300, that are successful, but by Raymond’s analysis, more than a third of current charters are worse than their neighboring public school and most are no better.
MUNRO: AMAZING but then there are Chicano Ed Charter Schools in LA etc which are all political indoctrination and have little to do with education. There are others too.
Yet because of the constant hype in the media by charter promoters, most of us have been sold a bill of goods. That includes President Obama. He has called for states to lift their caps on charters so that we can have thousands more of them. This would allow poor kids to escape their “bad” public school to attend an even worse charter school.
MUNRO: Mr. Obama what does he know ABOUT ANYTHING? His own kids go to elite private schools (as he did and as Biden did) and Chicago Public schools are dreadful. But Obama doesn’t dare oppose the teacher’s unions.
DIANE RAVITCH :If the charter sector doesn’t clean up its act, and if the federal government doesn’t take a strong stand on behalf of quality, we will be inundated with even worse schools than we have now. The only difference is that they will be managed by private entrepreneurs collecting public dollars.
ABSOLUTELY, right my dear. Of course, personally and professionally I have no interest in Charter schools. My dream for school reform is to try something entirely different and radical. In every county there should be a federally supported JROTC academy under the command of former Naval, Army, Air Force, Marine and Coast Guard Officers and NCO”s. Of course we already have this in some schools (in Utah) and the Kern HS District has a very strong JROTC program representing all of the branches of the military except for the Coast Guard. My own high school (West High School ) has a strong JNROTC program and my former high school has a strong Army ROTC program.
In rural and semi-rural areas like Kern Country the big thing is high school sports. Even parents who home school their children k-8 usually send them to high school There is almost zero interest in academic academies that do not have strong sports programs. They tried to establish an academic academy in Tehachapi but it is now defunct. Parents said “who cares about Vergil and Latin ? We want a competitive football team.”
But of course in urban areas it is a different story. Most schools are murder machines of culture, education and discipline and are held hostage by the students themselves who know that they CAN’T ALL BE EXPELLED and that the SCHOOL IS REQUIRED TO HOUSE THEM. So schools become engines of retention with almost zero standards for civility and academics. The goals” of saying “everyone should graduate” and “no child left behind” are worse than stupid: they are insane. There will always be children left behind. If there are not it means THERE ARE NO AP PROGRAMS AND NO ACADEMIC ELITES AT ALL. I have two kinds of students this summer
1) those who attend every day (in summer school you drop with an F after the third absence.)
2) those whose can’t be bothered to get remediation in the summer

Personal choice has a lot to do with educational success. And education begins at home.
As long as we have 70% or more of children born out of wedlock (and a high percentage born to drop outs) our educational and cultural situation will only grow worse, in my humble opinion.
he only hope for students in urban schools is to get out as fast as possible OR go to a self selecting private school that can toss out the incorrigibles. The key to academic success is discipline and the ability to throw out incorrigibles.
I was briefly a Marine D.I. so I know that the way to stop misbehavior and anti-social behavior is NOT TO TOLERATE IT. If student persist in disrupting the educational process and disrespecting their teacher they will hear from me and I will make their lives MISERABLE. And like a Marine Bull Dog I will not let go. And as you know I am fearless. Neither parents nor thugs can intimidate me. I will document, document and document. I will call the parents, write letters home and ENCOURAGE (privately) students who are unhappy or harassed to GET HELP and HAVE THEIR PARENTS complain to the administration. You get the class behind you and tell the evil doers to get with the program or get out. Above all you keep the pressure up. Where is your book? Why aren’t you on time? Homework check. Come to the front of the class and teach us what you know. And no academic free rides. An A or B MEANS SOMETHING GOOD so does a C. Pressure D-Daredevils.
Nothing gets me more angry than an administrator or coach who tells me I HAVE TO PASS MORE STUDENTS or GIVE MORE A’S. I tell them: “Talk to the students. Talk to their parents. Don’t talk to me. I am available for my students for tutoring. They can re-do essays and re-take tests. They have plenty of chances to boost their grades and do extra credit. The students need to TAKE CHARGE OF THEIR LIVES and THEIR STUDIES. It’s up to them. I’m pitchin’ but they have to hit ‘em. But many of them sit back with their bat on their shoulders taking strike three. Let me amend that they aren’t even at bat. They are forfeiting their education by not being prepared, not concentrating, not persevering and not completing their assignments. You want more A’s? I will be glad to have the students cut them out with a stencil and construction paper and mail them to you. Fake grades and hollow academic credits do not an education make. When students get A’s with me THEY ARE PROUD. When students of mine GO TO COLLEGE they are prepared. When my students sign up for AP they go 100%. So far I have two Gates Millennium scholars; give me time and I will get a few more.

Urban Public School districts are New Mamelukes and Political Spoil systems. They have very little to do with education.

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