An Encouraging Response

Tara Adams

Tara Adams. Photo credit: Times-Dispatch.

by James A. Bacon

Last week a brawl broke out in the cafeteria of Varina High School in Henrico County, leading to mayhem and a lockdown of the school. On Sunday, 200 parents, teachers, school officials and some students gathered to discuss how the community can prevent future incidents. I found the comments, as reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, to be encouraging. No one blamed the police, or the school system, or poverty, or society at large. The prevailing sentiment seemed to be that parents need to step up and hold their children accountable.

“We’ve just got to do a better job as parents,” said Tyrone E. Nelson, Varina District supervisor. “We have to hold each other accountable when we are dealing with our children.”

“We need parents instead of the police to be the presence,” said Tara Adams, a former president of the PTA. “Stand up. Be adults and be accountable.”

However, observed Times-Dispatch reporter Jim Nolan, “It was not lost on the gathering the the parents and students most likely to be in need of hearing the message were likely not in the audience.”

Image capture from YouTube posting, "Crazy Ass Varina Fight."

Image capture from YouTube posting, “Crazy Ass Varina Fight.”

Bacon’s bottom line: In other words, the audience consisted of parents who already do hold their children accountable for their behavior and who show every sign of caring deeply about the quality of education their children are receiving at Varina. With all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about the students on the receiving end of school and police discipline, this meeting serves as a reminder that there are plenty of students from responsible families whose education is disrupted on a regular basis. The mass fight in the cafeteria was an extreme manifestation of a more pervasive problem reflected in smaller altercations and incidents. Thanks to the Sunday gathering, responsible families had a venue to express a perspective that does not get heard enough.

The Varina incident comes as the Henrico County Public Schools system overhauls its Code of Community Conduct, which describes the rights and responsibilities of students and parents, outlines the progressive consequences of continued bad behavior and describes “corrective” strategies.

The new approach has had a positive impact on the number of incidents at schools, William Noel Sr., director of student support and disciplinary review, told me for an article I never ended up writing. Unless the infraction is egregious, he said, there is a process in which the administration meets face-to-face with the student and with parents. A behavior plan and student supports are put into place. The idea is to teach the child to make better choices, while recognizing that there may be reasons based on what’s happening at home why the child is “acting out.”

Sounds touchie-feely to me. But at the time of the interview a few months ago, the approach seemed to be working, as measured by a declining number of infractions. If it’s working, that’s great. But I also think there’s wisdom in what the Varina parents were saying yesterday. The onus of improving school discipline shouldn’t fall mainly upon the schools. Parents have to play a role as well. And that won’t happen unless the responsible members of the community speak up and set expectations of acceptable behavior.

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41 responses to “An Encouraging Response

  1. I guess the real challenge is what do you do with kids that don’t give a rats behind – because their parents do not give a rat’s behind either?

    Even kids with “good” parents can be evil .. I’m sure folks remember just how vicious some “kids” can be in high school towards others and these days can use social media to ostracize them, even hound them to suicide.

    I tend to think that by high school – a lot of kids are on a track that will not change much. The kids bound for college are going to get there and the kids who have poor grades and no hope of college anyhow – are headed for a problematic future.

    If a 15 yr old believes they have no real future – they are a failure academically, have no education plans after HS and headed for no particular goal after high school – that kid can be trouble . They have nothing to lose ….and the parents are often out of the equation.

    I come at this again – the same way I do other things which is not to “help” just to be “helping” but does “help”get the kid on a better path than a life of unemployment, poverty and entitlements/incarceration?

    We cannot “save” every kid. Some kids are on a fast track to disaster – even one’s that have “good” parents but kids who realize in the 6th grade that they are not going to college – and already are in dire straights academically usually adopt a dark view of their inevitable future – and, again, feel like they have nothing to lose – they simply do not conceive of worst consequences until they’ve crossed the line and get drawn into the criminal justice system which pretty much assures a problematic future – they’ll have kids – and Voila – the cycle repeats.

    we can blame parents – but it won’t fix the kids on track to failure. People who cannot get a job -usually have a lot of time on their hands and see the opportunities to make money even if outside the law.

    My view – the kids we can get through 3rd grade with good grades and acceptable proficiency in core academics – have a chance -regardless of their parents. The kids who do not – who are academic failures by 4th grade are in deep trouble and so are we.

  2. Fairfax County has been offering alternatives to college prep for years. http://www.fcps.edu/is/cte/academies.shtml

    It still requires some effort by the student and his/her parents or legal guardian.

    • looks like Fairfax does a much better job than many other school systems when it comes to VoEd.

    • something else

      The Benefits of College
      Unemployment rate by education level for adults ages 25 to 34

      No H.S. diploma 13.8
      H.S. diploma, no college 8.4
      Some college, no degree 7.2
      Associate degree only 5.8
      Bachelor’s only 2.0
      Master’s 2.2
      Advance professional 4.4
      Doctoral 1.1

      who knew – the unemployment rate for folks with an associate degree is TWICE what it is for a 4 year degree.

      that makes the idea of everyone getting a two-year degree -not that good.

      nyti.ms/1EAxKv5

      • Of course, it’s still almost three points better than just a HS diploma, so…

        • That’s a pretty impressive decline in unemployment rates from HS-only down to Bachelor’s-only. Yes, the Associate Degree isn’t as beneficial as the 4-year degree, but the advantage over HS-only isn’t trivial.

          • not sure if I posted this already but it’s apropos:

            ” Why American Workers Without Much Education Are Being Hammered”

            The last couple of decades have been terrible for American workers without much education. New research calculates just how bad, and offers some evidence as to why that is.

            In short, they face a double whammy. Less-educated Americans, especially men, are shifting away from manufacturing and other jobs that once offered higher pay, and a higher share are now working in lower-paying food service, cleaning and groundskeeping jobs. Simultaneously, pay levels are declining in almost all of the fields that employ less-educated workers, so even those who have held onto jobs as manufacturers, operators and laborers are making less than they would have a generation ago.

            Perhaps the single most shocking number in a new review of employment and earnings data by researchers at the Hamilton Project, a research group within the Brookings Institution, is this one: The median earnings of working men aged 30 to 45 without a high school diploma fell 20 percent”

            http://goo.gl/P7Gtbl

            we keep hearing criticism that the economy has not recovered for many even though Wall Street is going great guns and spending – and consequently tax collection is way up – cutting the deficit in half..

            but we still have stubborn unemployment for some and this is that group – the ones with insufficient education for the better paying jobs.

            it used to be – a high school education had a safety net – a manufacturing job and that’s less and less available and only to a lucky few.

            this goes back to the kids in public schools that are not destined for 4yr college. what happens to them? Well.. if they do not master reading and writing and math by the end of 3rd grade – the statistics are horrendous – something like 50% will have trouble just graduating .. and a bleak future job-wise.

            All the Corporate CEOs back this up. Obama wants more emphasis on early grades plus access to community college for the ones who do manage to get decent grades but lack the finances even for Community college.

            While all this is going on – we have a rebellion against standards.. no matter whether they are NCLB or Common Core – there are more and more people who are opposed to setting standards and measuring progress and competence.

            We have to deal with this. If we don’t – we’re not only dooming millions – to a life of poverty along with their kids – we’re creating an entitlement disaster.

            somehow – we have to find common ground between left and right on this.

          • virginiagal2

            Larry, there’s already financial aid for community college – in fact, if truly poor, there’s extensive financial aid for 4 year college. That’s why I really don’t get the idea of community college being free – it’s very affordable for most people already, and if there are gaps, it’s far cheaper to identify and plug the gaps rather than create a huge entitlement that isn’t actually needed.

            Make those classes free, and you’ll get quite a lot of people taking classes that are interesting, but not related to their careers. I’d enjoy taking classes in cooking and creative writing, which have nothing to do with my career, but it doesn’t particularly serve society at large if I do, and there is no reason for the rest of you to pay for it.

            Similarly, I don’t think that third grade is a life-ending cut off. It’s more where the system gives up than a true milestone. I’m also pretty unconvinced by the pre-K data. If I believed it made a huge difference, I would support it.

            Instead, it seems like a very costly approach that doesn’t target underlying issues particularly well. It’s not enough to just do something, it really matters if you do the right thing, and it’s a whole lot better if you do it in a cost-effective way. Free pre-K for the kids of surgeons is not cost-effective. The studies supporting long-term benefits of pre-k are pretty thin, and for boutique programs, not retail.

            As far as standards go, I don’t see Common Core backlash as a rebellion against either standards or accountability. It seems like more a rebellion against endless testing, and poorly written testing. Not to mention a decline in the quality of pedagogy that wrings the joy out of learning. Plus, the Dept of Education’s responses to concerns about testing are insulting and clueless.

            People are actually unhappy – people who care a lot about their kids. They’re not against accountability. They want what’s best for their kids, and this is not working well when you get to where the rubber meets the road.

          • virginiagal2 – you always have reasoned responses but you’ll not be surprised I disagree

            point by point –

            “free college” needs to be a guarantee to kids in school – something they can shoot for no matter their economic status – they KNOW if they get good grades they get 2yrs – of not “amenity” courses but only courses that are related to employment.

            why would we be so dumb as to offer it to anyone for any course? I never advocated that. I advocate that it be for K-12 students and adults trying to become employable – not moms wanting to take cooking courses. why in the world should our taxpayer funded colleges be teaching that to start with – at all?

            next – 3rd grade is the point where learning to read transitions to reading to learn and if you are not proficient – you’re already behind. Do you know how many kids fail that milestone and what we know happens to those kids downstream? there’s LOTS of data..

            you can doubt programs as long as you offer alternatives – otherwise what are you advocating?

            finally – same issue. If you don’t like NCLB or Common core – don’t be opposed without an alternative.

            We DO test too much , I agree but that’s NOT what Common Core is about.

            get rid of most of high stakes testing – yes – but you have to do frequent assessments if you are going to know where a kid needs help. Otherwise – we just failing at ensuring kids do get needed education.

            It’s not like you don’t have to take “high-stakes” testing later on – anyhow – you cannot get into AP or IB without some demonstration of ability.. You cannot get into College without proof of competence. You cannot become a policeman or a soldier or a medical technologist without testing.

            The purpose of public schools is to produce employable adults- using taxpayer dollars. Things beyond that – are the responsibility of parents if you want things not associated with future employment.

            we’re trading k-12 amenities for K-3 academics… and making excuses that we don’t know what works or not.. that’s bogus to the bone when at the same time we spend money on “extras” for parents who want their kids to self-actuate.

            the first priority – for taxpayer dollars – is to produce an employable workforce and reduce our entitlement and incarceration burden.

            no excuses.

          • virginiagal2

            Free college isn’t free – it just means non-learners pay for it. I think anyone going to college should pay for some of it. That includes academically gifted kids on full ride scholarships. You don’t appreciate what you don’t help pay for.

            Making all community college free means a lot of courses that are extremely interesting, but not necessarily economically needed by every learner, are free. That does include courses on cooking and creative writing.

            Creative writing and chefs classes actually are offered by community colleges – the first as an elective, the second I would assume for people who wish to become chefs. Art, photography, and computer classes are also offered. There’s quite a bit of cool stuff at your local community college, and many of the people taking courses now are not really trying for a career boost.

            Make it free, and a whole lot more people are suddenly going to be interested. How are you going to screen between people who think something is interesting, and people claiming it will help their careers, if all community college becomes free? Or have I missed something on the original Obama proposal?

            I am very pro-college, but things that are free are not appreciated and are over-utilized.

            There is lots of data that third grade is where you can predict failure. That doesn’t show causation. It does show that our school systems are pretty good at standardized widgets, and not so good at widgets that aren’t at the same point at the assembly line. Kids should be treated better than assembly line widgets.

            It’s pretty important that kids get basic knowledge, whether they’re on track or not, and how to do that needs to be figured out – not better measuring that some kids aren’t at the same point on an arbitrary timeline that’s how we always did it.

            Most schools already had testing – just not one national test. Common Core and high stakes testing is driving a lot of the overtesting, and it is problematic. When something isn’t working and you get pushback from parents, that’s data too, and it needs to be seriously considered. CC is getting a lot of pushback from the non-political.

          • ” Free college isn’t free –”

            totally true. are entitlements, and prison “free”.

            you have to pick one Virginiagal – you can’t not.

            “Making all community college free means a lot of courses that are extremely interesting, but not necessarily economically needed by every learner, are free. That does include courses on cooking and creative writing.”

            those courses should be provided for a fee – not free. end of story. Taxpayers don’t “owe” you “interesting”courses- at the same time you’re denying workforce education.

            re: Creative writing and chefs classes actually are offered by community colleges – the first as an elective, the second I would assume for people who wish to become chefs. Art, photography, and computer classes are also offered. There’s quite a bit of cool stuff at your local community college, and many of the people taking courses now are not really trying for a career boost.”

            the private sector can do a wonderful job for those that want courses that don’t lead to employment but are more for self-edification.

            “Make it free, and a whole lot more people are suddenly going to be interested. How are you going to screen between people who think something is interesting, and people claiming it will help their careers, if all community college becomes free? Or have I missed something on the original Obama proposal?”

            by not making courses that don’t lead to jobs – “free” but fee-based. We have this same problem in K-12 – we don’t know the difference between core academics that leads to jobs and amenity courses .. and we offer the amenity courses fail to fund the core-academic for K-3 and VocEd.

            “I am very pro-college, but things that are free are not appreciated and are over-utilized.”

            I am too but I distinguish what taxpayers should be paying for and what those who just want “interesting” should pay for.

            the primary purpose of taxpayer-funded education is an employable workforce not self edification for those with time on their hands.

            “There is lots of data that third grade is where you can predict failure. That doesn’t show causation. It does show that our school systems are pretty good at standardized widgets, and not so good at widgets that aren’t at the same point at the assembly line. Kids should be treated better than assembly line widgets.”

            the overwhelming data confirms the problem. we do not educate sufficiently the core academic skills in K-3. The testing data confirms that our 4th graders rank 25th when compared to other countries. NAEP says only 1/3 of 4th grades are higher than basic proficiency. 2/3 test out at “basic” or less.

            “It’s pretty important that kids get basic knowledge, whether they’re on track or not, and how to do that needs to be figured out – not better measuring that some kids aren’t at the same point on an arbitrary timeline that’s how we always did it.”

            we’re using this as an excuse for not doing anything.

            “Most schools already had testing – just not one national test. Common Core and high stakes testing is driving a lot of the overtesting, and it is problematic. When something isn’t working and you get pushback from parents, that’s data too, and it needs to be seriously considered. CC is getting a lot of pushback from the non-political.”

            fine – change the testing – but DO support standards and measuring competency so we can know which kids need more before we walk away making excuses and blaming parents and testing.

            Do the duty. stop making excuses and blaming others.

          • virginiagal2

            Nothing is free. Entitlements aren’t free. Prison isn’t free. As Heinlein said, TANSTAAFL -there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

            Currently, courses such as I describe are available at Virginia community colleges. Some of them are part of degree programs for students seeking careers in those fields (cooking, photography, journalism, computing.) Others are electives for kids going on to 4 year colleges.

            How do you distinguish between career education and personal enrichment without gutting the programs for current learners? Right now, kids studying for a degree can get financial aid, and adults interested in learning for pleasure pay. That seems to work pretty well, and I’ve seen no data presented that current financial aid for community college is inadequate. Is it inadequate? Where and for who? Data, please?

            The data confirms where kids are at third grade. It doesn’t confirm how to fix it, or what our goals should be, or how best to help those kids have productive lives. Those are different questions, and we need to ask them, and think about different approaches. That isn’t not doing anything – that’s an attempt to do something that might actually work.

            I don’t think I’ve made any excuses or blamed anyone, so not sure where you’re coming from there.

          • re: ” Nothing is free. Entitlements aren’t free. Prison isn’t free. As Heinlein said, TANSTAAFL -there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”

            certainly true = but the question is what do we use tax dollars for and what should be fee-based”

            “Currently, courses such as I describe are available at Virginia community colleges. Some of them are part of degree programs for students seeking careers in those fields (cooking, photography, journalism, computing.) Others are electives for kids going on to 4 year colleges.

            How do you distinguish between career education and personal enrichment without gutting the programs for current learners? Right now, kids studying for a degree can get financial aid, and adults interested in learning for pleasure pay. That seems to work pretty well, and I’ve seen no data presented that current financial aid for community college is inadequate. Is it inadequate? Where and for who? Data, please?”

            the same way the state determines what is core-academic for SOQs and what is not. The same way that NAEP judges courses and the same way PISA does.

            can a kid of poverty-stricken parents get funded for a 2yr college?

            “The data confirms where kids are at third grade. It doesn’t confirm how to fix it, or what our goals should be, or how best to help those kids have productive lives. Those are different questions, and we need to ask them, and think about different approaches. That isn’t not doing anything – that’s an attempt to do something that might actually work.”

            are you ignoring the 25 other countries that know what to do?

            “I don’t think I’ve made any excuses or blamed anyone, so not sure where you’re coming from there.”

            well, by claiming we don’t know what to do . we DO. It’s laid out in chapter and verse by NAEP and embedded in common core which is a lot like the OECD countries that best us.

  3. here’s some more:

    STUDY LINKS 3RD GRADE READING, POVERTY AND HS GRADUATION

    A national study released last week shows that students who do not read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave high school without a diploma than proficient readers.

    http://www.aecf.org/resources/double-jeopardy/

    Poverty compounds the problem: Students who have lived in poverty are three times more likely to drop out or fail to graduate on time than their more affluent peers.

    The study, “Double Jeopardy: How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation,” found:

    One in six children who are not reading proficiently in third grade do not graduate from high school on time, a rate four times greater than that for proficient readers.

    The below-basic readers account for a third of the sample but three-fifths of the students who do not graduate.

    Overall, 22 percent of children who have lived in poverty do not graduate from high school, compared to 6 percent of those who have never been poor. This rises to 32 percent for students spending more than half of the survey time in poverty.

    For children who were poor for at least a year and were not reading proficiently in third grade, the proportion of those who don’t finish school rose to 26 percent.

    The rate was highest for poor black and Hispanic students, at 31 and 33 percent respectively. Even so the majority of students who fail to graduate are white.

    some further observations –

    we can blame 3rd grade failure on parents and some do like Mr. Bacon here in BR but I would ask what if Mom & Dad also did not do well in 3rd grade and barely graduated or not at all – how does that actually deal with the problem?

    and we can try to walk away from it – saying we did not cause it – and my other favorite is “life is not fair and it’s not my fault” but at the end of the day – your kids are going to grow up and be taxed to pay for entitlements and incarceration for these other kids who grow up – unemployable.

    We have more people in prison than any other country in the world. This is the legacy of our failed education system and a misguided belief that prison is our only option.

    I call this the “vise of reality”. we want to run away from it – but we can’t.

    • Correlation does not equal causation, but you see studies every day that seem to forget this.

      Third grade is about the demarcation between where basic skills are taught and where more advanced skills are taught assuming that basic knowledge. If you don’t have that basic knowledge, you can’t effectively learn the more advanced skills.

      The secret isn’t third grade, it’s having the skills you’re supposed to learn by the end of third grade. It isn’t a magic age related thing – it can be learned later, it’s just that our schools are pretty much assembly lines.

      There was a study, last week I think, discussed on NPR, looking at people of different economic and cultural groups. Affluent and white parents read to their pre-K kids more. The study was clear that it wasn’t saying they were “better parents” – but the practice of frequent reading to little kids made them better readers, with a larger vocabulary, and more school-ready.

      It was a cultural difference that they noted parents were receptive to change, when they understood how it could help their kids succeed.

      Sometimes it helps to get into the weeds and ask why – where is the difference coming from? Are there simple things that can help? Reading to little kids is cost-effective and effective-effective – it works.

      • re: correlation

        the evidence is overwhelming..

        there is no secret.

        if you cannot read to learn by 3rd grade – you are on track to fail because 4-12 require you to be able to read and write and do basic math.

        re: reading to your kids

        yes – for well educated parents..

        what’s your solution for parents who are not?

        It’s _not_ “cultural” when you are an adult with 3rd grade reading skills trying to teach your kids to read.

        that’s evading the reality virginiagal2

        re: simple

        it IS SIMPLE – if you finish 3rd grade are not proficient – you’re in trouble and blaming it on uneducated parents is not going to get you a solution.

        what is the solution?

        we KNOW the problem – it’s crystal clear in the NCLB data…

        do you know how public school got started?

        it got started when parents who could not read and do math – farmers – knew it and wanted their kids to be able to read, write and do math – and they knew as parents they could not help them..

        that’s how public schools began. There were no folks blaming the parents for not knowing how to read and write so they could help their kids.

        public school is for ALL kids – REGARDLESS of their parents. we’re standing by watching innocent kids fail – and blaming it on parents.

        epic fail. we rank 25th in the world and we act like parents in the other 25 countries all are educated and help their kids.

        If that’s true- what has happened to the Country that pioneered public education for ignorant farmers and now we blame parents and “culture”?

        excuses.. is what we have.

        • Why does well educated matter?

          Are you saying that the parents are so poorly educated that they are unable to read children’s books to their children? Or are you slipping into the Jim Bacon theory that poverty is a cultural matter highlighted by a lack of concern for the future of the children?

          • what I am saying is that some parents barely read on the 3rd grade level themselves and live in poverty as a result and lack not only education but good parenting skills.

            blame away-but it don’t solve the problem.

            you’re voting for more entitlements, more prison and higher taxes for your kids to pay to provide these things.

            you can’t walk away from the problem no matter how much you talk about it.

          • why do people riot in Baltimore?

            what do people do who have no education and no hope for the future?

            bring out the police, put them in prison – and then let them out again to do what?

            we have a problem – that is tearing the country apart – and it’s too many people with not enough education – to be employable.

            and our solution is to make excuses and blame parents?

            the purpose of K-12 schools is to produce an employable workforce – it’s the only justification for taking taxes from people.

            we take the tax money – we spent it on amenities for the college-bound and short-fund k-3 and VocEd -push them onto the streets and say ” pull yourself out of poverty”.

            right?

            are we truly serious about the problem or are we running away from it and deflecting by blaming “culture”and “bad parents” , teacher unions, etc?

            how come out of all the OECD countries – on the planet -we can only manage 25th …and getting beat by even non-OECD countries?

            does anyone seriously believe all those other countries don’t have problems like we have? We alone have these problems? Really?

        • There actually isn’t strong evidence that if you cannot read by 3rd grade you are doomed to fail. The evidence is that, if you are in a public school system and you cannot read by 3rd grade, you are likely to fail.

          The difference is important. The difference is between what our current systems produce, and whether or not that’s an inevitable outcome.

          In the study, if I understood it correctly, reading to your kids produced a positive benefit regardless of educational level. You do have to be literate enough to read children’s books. That’s the cut-off.

          BTW, this was reading to the kids, not teaching them to read.

          Absolutely, you have issues with parents who can’t read. In that case, it’s reasonable to ask – if the benefit is as simple as reading to little kids, would you see more benefit per dollar from organizing community library readings, or informal community group readings? What about encouraging churches to do it? Volunteers?

          Money is not unlimited. If you can get more benefit from the same dollars, people are better off. Real, live, breathing people, not abstractions.

          We actually don’t know the best solutions – we barely know the right questions, because we’re looking at something that isn’t working and trying to fix it by doing more of the same. That is not a good way to fix a problem. This is the point where you start questioning the model.

          • VirginiaGal, thank you for being the voice of reason on this thread.

            You made an interesting observation: “It’s reasonable to ask – if the benefit is as simple as reading to little kids, would you see more benefit per dollar from organizing community library readings, or informal community group readings? What about encouraging churches to do it? Volunteers? ”

            You see, LarryG sees government and only government as the solution to every social woe. He sees no role for civil society. Oh, in the abstract, he’ll sayhe sees a role for civil society, and I believe he even may be active in his own community, but in tens of thousands of posts over the years, he consistently makes the argument for a government solution, never a civil-society solution. The failure of decades of ever-expanding, ever-more-intrusive government has done nothing to sate his desire for even more government involvement. He is oblivious to the phenomenon of unintended consequences or to the kind of cost-benefit tradeoffs you alluded to in a previous comment.

            You’ll never persuade Larry. But keep writing. Others enjoy your perspective.

          • ” VirginiaGal, thank you for being the voice of reason on this thread.

            You made an interesting observation: “It’s reasonable to ask – if the benefit is as simple as reading to little kids, would you see more benefit per dollar from organizing community library readings, or informal community group readings? What about encouraging churches to do it? Volunteers? ””

            try Head Start and Title 1 – both programs DO WORK

            remember, it’s not what you do – i.e. reading to kids – which is a fuzzy term – it’s what WORKS!

            what WORKS? We KNOW this. it WORKS for all other OECD countries and it works for Title 1. and it works for charter and private schools whose focus is primarily core academic.

            “You see, LarryG sees government and only government as the solution to every social woe. ”

            I KNOW and you KNOW that the 25 countries that beat us are ALL GOVT schools and you cannot name a single country that is in the top 25 that is not all govt.

            “He sees no role for civil society. Oh, in the abstract, he’ll sayhe sees a role for civil society, and I believe he even may be active in his own community, but in tens of thousands of posts over the years, he consistently makes the argument for a government solution, never a civil-society solution. The failure of decades of ever-expanding, ever-more-intrusive government has done nothing to sate his desire for even more government involvement. He is oblivious to the phenomenon of unintended consequences or to the kind of cost-benefit tradeoffs you alluded to in a previous comment.”

            more BS from the those with knuckle dragging mindsets…

            name the countries in the world who have competitive education systems that are not govt or admit that this is more ideological blather or cockamamie theories from the wacko bird club.

            You’ll never persuade Larry. But keep writing. Others enjoy your perspective.

            I write the truth.. others deny … I don’t think there is only one way. I’m on board with ANY way that works INCLUDING Charter, choice, private schools as long as we measure and verify performance.

            you seem to be from the excuse a minute and blame others club.

          • here’s something to ponder – what do adults do who are undereducated and essentially unemployable for all but the lowest jobs?

            1. sign up for entitlements – courtesy of taxpayers
            2. go to the ER for their Medical care – courtesy of taxpayers
            3. engage in questionable ( i.e. “illegal”) ways to earn income
            4. have one or more kids with a spouse who is also undereducated.
            5. join gangs to defend their street territory
            6. get arrested and sent to prison – paid for by taxpayers
            7. get released and start again at step 1.

            so Jim says that Larry thinks govt is the solution.

            What Larry says – is – look at the current setup.

            Bacon’s solution? Cut off entitlements.. of course.. blame the parents for the kid not learning – and .. build more prisons and invest one’s money into companies that make security systems and iron bars for homes and businesses.

          • virginiagal2 – it’s not ONE study. It’s a ton of them and it includes the way that GOOD charter schools achieve as well as Europe and Japan.

            you can blame parents but it doesn’t deal with the realities if that’s all you do.

            and you are right – it IS about money and how you prioritize it.

            look at this:

            Education $17,211,234,533
            Health and Human Resources $12,862,757,449

            these are the two biggest items in the Va budget.

            the second item is entitlements.

            we DO KNOW what already works – it’s bogus to say we don’t.

            all of Europe, Japan, Australia KNOWs and they do perform and our kids become unemployed and we pay their entitlements.

          • virginiagal2

            Hi Larry –

            Head Start actually has a very mixed bag of research results, including repeatedly observed patterns of “fade” – gains at first, no measurable improvement later- by third grade. There are studies that show it helps, and about the same number of studies that it makes absolutely no difference. Head Start is very expensive, and that’s with it paying its staff a pittance.

            There have been a few calls for it to be eliminated. At this point, there are few calls for it to be expanded.

            My best guess is that done well, Head Start helps somewhat, but the level of gain is very dependent on the quality of the local program, and that is extremely variable depending on implementation, ranging from zero if done poorly or only moderately well, to measurable if done well.

            Universal pre-K does not have a large body of literature. There are a couple of widely cited studies that included pre-K PLUS a range of intervention services. That combined approach showed gains. Those pilots were quite expensive but effective.

            The actual universal pre-K programs are far more limited, without the intervention services, and show limited or questionable gains. They were also much more expensive than expected – the example I remember was over five times more expensive than expected.

            Essentially, the problem is this. Intensive, targeted plans of intervention as done in pilot programs – basically, providing a stable “aunt” or “uncle” to get an at risk family and child through life – do appear to help kids achieve better. They also cost a lot, more per at risk pupil than most localities can manage.

            When the program goes wider, that is not what is implemented. What is implemented goes to more people, is not done with the same vigor, and can’t provide the same per pupil funding. The results are not as good, either. In some cases you still see benefits and in some cases you don’t.

            With universal pre-K, the additional problem you have is that more of the dollars for the benefit goes to children that don’t need it than children that do. See “cost five times as much as expected” above.

            Title I is additional funding, not targeted interventions.

          • Hi Larry –

            Head Start actually has a very mixed bag of research results, including repeatedly observed patterns of “fade” – gains at first, no measurable improvement later- by third grade.”

            you need to read more. the “fade” comes when you stop the techniques being used – for disadvantaged kids – who need those supports from pre-K to 6th grade – it’s called Title 1.

            but your basic problem here is you are looking for excuses – not for what works. You have no alternatives – just opposition to current.

            ” There are studies that show it helps, and about the same number of studies that it makes absolutely no difference. Head Start is very expensive, and that’s with it paying its staff a pittance.”

            why would you pay a pittance for instruction that is necessary to keep the kids on track to be proficient? what’s the alternative of NOT doing anything and not supporting anything else either?

            “There have been a few calls for it to be eliminated. At this point, there are few calls for it to be expanded.”

            again – what is your alternative – just stop?

            “My best guess is that done well, Head Start helps somewhat, but the level of gain is very dependent on the quality of the local program, and that is extremely variable depending on implementation, ranging from zero if done poorly or only moderately well, to measurable if done well.”

            studies show that head start WILL fade if it does not transition to Title 1. that’s a fact.

            what does Europe and Japan do to get their kids way better than ours in core academic by 4th grade? would you want to adopt their methods instead?

            “Universal pre-K does not have a large body of literature. There are a couple of widely cited studies that included pre-K PLUS a range of intervention services. That combined approach showed gains. Those pilots were quite expensive but effective.”

            yes.. and more expensive than what ? not giving the supports and not graduating high school?

            “The actual universal pre-K programs are far more limited, without the intervention services, and show limited or questionable gains. They were also much more expensive than expected – the example I remember was over five times more expensive than expected.”

            no approach is without issues… that need to be addressed and tweaked … but most of Europe and Japan seem to know how to do this successfully while we – one of the creators of the public school concept are still fiddling around and making excuses for essentially dropping what we think doesn’t work – with no alternatives to do instead.

            “Essentially, the problem is this. Intensive, targeted plans of intervention as done in pilot programs – basically, providing a stable “aunt” or “uncle” to get an at risk family and child through life – do appear to help kids achieve better. They also cost a lot, more per at risk pupil than most localities can manage.”

            there is no question about the cost – this is what happens when Mom & dad themselves are not only not college-educated but are barely 3rd grade themselves – as a result of our failed education system… it’s a cycle.. how do you break it?

            “When the program goes wider, that is not what is implemented. What is implemented goes to more people, is not done with the same vigor, and can’t provide the same per pupil funding. The results are not as good, either. In some cases you still see benefits and in some cases you don’t.”

            when you’re spending money on mile-wide-inch-deep amenity courses for the college-bound – you make things like K-3 and VocEd compete for those limited funds. the PURPOSE of taxpayer-funded education is to produce an employable workforce FIRST – then the amenities. we’ve have it bass ackwards because the college-educated parents are much more effective advocates for what they want the schools to do.

            we pay for this – 25% of you taxes in Va go to pay for entitlements and that number is skyrocketing..and predicted to rise to a third and higher in the coming years. You and your kids are going to pay taxes to provide entitlements. Would it be cheaper to pay taxes for K-3?

            “With universal pre-K, the additional problem you have is that more of the dollars for the benefit goes to children that don’t need it than children that do. See “cost five times as much as expected” above.

            “Title I is additional funding, not targeted interventions.”

            you need to read more. It IS targeted… go read..

            this is fundamentally “pay me now” or “pay me later” and it’s just shy of idiotic to say it’s too expensive or that we can’t figure out how Europe and Japan puts us in 25th place on academic rigor. What is wrong with us now days as we make excuses, oppose with no alternatives and somehow believe that kids who grow up as unemployable adults don’t affect us?

            I don’t presume to know all the answers – I just know there are known and effective techniques that DO WORK and money spent on them is better than money for a lifetime of entitlements and then their kids repeat the cycle.

            we act like – we’re on daily doses of stupid pills!

            This is NOT rocket science. Virtually ever major company CEO is saying the same thing – we are not graduating workers who are sufficiently educated for 21st century jobs – but we spend all our time blathers excuses and other nonsense.

            we have to get our minds straight on this challenge. Our country is going to fall even further behind if we continue this Sargent Schultz ” I know nothing” policy towards education.

            Half of Virginia’s taxes are going to go to entitlements in the next 20 years if we do not get this straightened out.

          • http://www2.ed.gov/legislation/ESEA/Title_I/target.html#school

            virginiagal2 – the original purpose of public education was to produce a job-ready graduate.

            what has happened is a 12th grade education is no longer job-ready in the 21st century – even for non-disadvantaged.

          • virginiagal2

            Hi Larry –

            Fade is not eliminated by Title I. Title I is a bit different, it has a different scope and focus, and it’s triggered by different criteria than Head Start.

            You appear to want to put my concerns into a box of “unenlightened” – rather than realizing that evaluating what is not working helps you get to what actually does work.

            Larry, it is HARD to do this kind of work. People are not easy to change. Many of these interventions do not pan out. Overcoming poverty and bad family situations is hugely difficult. Throwing good money after bad on something that doesn’t work well actively keeps you from doing something better.

            Head Start’s average salary for its workers is around 20-22K.

            The alternative is looking at better ways to get the same results, and Larry, there are dozens of researchers and activists doing just that. Use Google. Ask questions. Every single year, there are new ideas and new pilot programs. There is no magic bullet supported by dozens of studies, like you appear to believe.

            BTW, studies do not show that Head Start automatically will fade if it isn’t supported by Title I. They show what I described – some studies show lasting gains, some show fade by third grade, some show mixed. The difference appears to be the quality of the program, and that quality is hugely variable.

            Europe and Japan have different social conditions, and use different (and often less trendy) methods of pedagogy. Our tendency to adopt the pedagogy of the moment probably isn’t helping our kids.

            There are other things we could look at. Teachers in China, for example, assume that you will learn the material, and work with you until you do, rather than thinking that bright kids will get it and the rest don’t. The focus isn’t on if you’re smart or not-smart, the focus is on you learning the material.

            There’s significant evidence that kids do better in smaller schools.

            Yet the trend is to bigger and bigger schools, for economic efficiency and with the idea of offering more advanced classes. However, you look at test results from places like Highland County, and their kids, in a very remote area, are doing well. It’s harder for a kid to get lost in a smaller school.

            I have often wondered if that phenomenon – smaller schools and more individual recognition, even if the class size isn’t smaller – is one reason that you see gains with Catholic schools and some charters.

            Universal pre-K is hugely expensive and, by itself, shows limited gains. If more advantage is found by supporting smaller schools, for example, with limited funds, if you do the one, you probably can’t do the other.

            If intensive focus on a small number of students provides almost all of the gains with pre-K when and if they are observed – and that does appear to be the case – why are we instead providing lower quality, less intensive programs that include free kindergarten to the kids of CEOs and surgeons?

            In that case, we are not doing much to help the targeted kids, and we’re not helping the rest, and we’re costing a boatload of dollars.

            Look up the term “opportunity cost.”

            Title I is distributed to schools with at-risk kids. That is not what I mean by a targeted program. A targeted program identifies individual at risk kids, and targets them and their families with a variety of academic and social services both in and OUT of school. That’s what Head Start does. That’s what the promising pre-K pilot programs did.

            That is different from Title I, which looks for schools with a percentage of kids in need, and helps the school. Title I is not focused on social services and family dynamics in the same way.

          • “Fade is not eliminated by Title I. Title I is a bit different, it has a different scope and focus, and it’s triggered by different criteria than Head Start.”

            they BOTH target economically disadvantaged.. you’re just wrong.

            “You appear to want to put my concerns into a box of “unenlightened” – rather than realizing that evaluating what is not working helps you get to what actually does work.”

            not when you are opposed and have no alternatives you support. It’s basically obstruction.

            “Larry, it is HARD to do this kind of work. People are not easy to change. Many of these interventions do not pan out. Overcoming poverty and bad family situations is hugely difficult. Throwing good money after bad on something that doesn’t work well actively keeps you from doing something better.”

            how come they work in 25 other countries and Title 1 DOES WORK.

            neither Head Start nor Title 1 are 100% effective – but they do work. You want to throw them out because they’re not 100% and you have no replacement.

            welcome to the GOP – virginiagal2 – right?

            “Head Start’s average salary for its workers is around 20-22K.”

            what is your alternative?

            “The alternative is looking at better ways to get the same results, and Larry, there are dozens of researchers and activists doing just that. Use Google. Ask questions. Every single year, there are new ideas and new pilot programs. There is no magic bullet supported by dozens of studies, like you appear to believe.”

            specifically name what you support instead…. do you think nothing works at all not in this country and not in 25 other countries? How stupid do we need to be about this – pretending there are no answers and what we currently have is a failure so we need to “think about it”?

            “BTW, studies do not show that Head Start automatically will fade if it isn’t supported by Title I. They show what I described – some studies show lasting gains, some show fade by third grade, some show mixed. The difference appears to be the quality of the program, and that quality is hugely variable.”

            you have to continue the support for economically disadvantaged.

            what is your alternative to doing that?

            “Europe and Japan have different social conditions, and use different (and often less trendy) methods of pedagogy. Our tendency to adopt the pedagogy of the moment probably isn’t helping our kids.”

            you’re talking about the rest of the world not only Europe and Japan but Australia, New Zealand, Canada… try making more excuses…

            “There are other things we could look at. Teachers in China, for example, assume that you will learn the material, and work with you until you do, rather than thinking that bright kids will get it and the rest don’t. The focus isn’t on if you’re smart or not-smart, the focus is on you learning the material.”

            how about doing what Massachusetts does that ranks them 7th in the world?

            “There’s significant evidence that kids do better in smaller schools.”

            the problem is you don’t want to pay for it, right?

            “Yet the trend is to bigger and bigger schools, for economic efficiency and with the idea of offering more advanced classes. However, you look at test results from places like Highland County, and their kids, in a very remote area, are doing well. It’s harder for a kid to get lost in a smaller school.”

            one school districts tend to do better than multi-district school districts because the school educates all demographics and is subject to SOL scoring.

            “I have often wondered if that phenomenon – smaller schools and more individual recognition, even if the class size isn’t smaller – is one reason that you see gains with Catholic schools and some charters.”

            you”re acting like we don’t have successes. I can point to several in Va that educated the economically-disadvantaged well…

            “Universal pre-K is hugely expensive and, by itself, shows limited gains. If more advantage is found by supporting smaller schools, for example, with limited funds, if you do the one, you probably can’t do the other.”

            we’ve been doing public education for how many years and we don’t know what to do? jesus… and all the countries that started after us now put us in 25th place? and you want to think it over and oh by the way – it’s more expensive than paying entitlements?

            “If intensive focus on a small number of students provides almost all of the gains with pre-K when and if they are observed – and that does appear to be the case – why are we instead providing lower quality, less intensive programs that include free kindergarten to the kids of CEOs and surgeons?”

            surgeons send their kids to Head start? jesus.

            “In that case, we are not doing much to help the targeted kids, and we’re not helping the rest, and we’re costing a boatload of dollars.

            Look up the term “opportunity cost.””

            look up entitlements ….. you’re making excuses and have no real alternatives just like the GOP…

            “Title I is distributed to schools with at-risk kids. That is not what I mean by a targeted program. A targeted program identifies individual at risk kids, and targets them and their families with a variety of academic and social services both in and OUT of school. That’s what Head Start does. That’s what the promising pre-K pilot programs did.”

            you’re wrong again. It targets either whole schools OR specific demographic populations.. both versions exist – and they typically work but not at the 100% you’re using for “work or get rid of”.

            “That is different from Title I, which looks for schools with a percentage of kids in need, and helps the school. Title I is not focused on social services and family dynamics in the same way.”

            go read … get educated on the issue…

            there are also reports that say “fade” occurs if the same kind of instructional support in Head Start is not continued into K-5 .

            it’s the same problem. It’s economically disadvantaged kids – classified as “at risk”. That’s a real definition – go look it up.

            you have two choices – pay for early childhood education or pay their entitlements later on. Make all the excuses you want – but you’ll pay the bill.

            people act like we don’t need to pay – like we’re going to cut entitlements instead – are you paying attention to Baltimore ?

            Are you looking at the trends in the Virginia Budget?

            have you done your Virginia taxes yet? How much did you pay? You’re paying for every kid who grew up and could not get a job…. while we fiddle and -art around yammering about “fade” and “targeting”… and other “cultures”.

            jesus

            virginiagal2 – what w have is NOT 100% failure. What we have – does not work 100% and not even as well as it should.

            Using your criteria – we get rid of highways, Medicare, airlines because some crash, FDIC because banks fail, DMV because it screws up, etc.

            that’s an excuse mentality for throwing away what does work and doing nothing instead and pretending you’re looking …for solutions.

            we have enough of that already in our politics.

            that’s the fail.

          • virginiagal2

            Larry, Title I targets schools with a certain percentage of struggling and disadvantaged students. Head Start targets individual economically disadvantaged children.

            The targets are different – individual students, one by one, versus a school or a population within a school.

            I actually am not wrong.

            I have listed real problems with specific programs, and suggested a list of alternatives, either needed tweaks to approaches for existing programs, or different ideas to try, which list you are ignoring. The fact that you don’t particularly care for the list doesn’t mean I didn’t offer it. Repeatedly.

            Title I and Head Start don’t exist in 25 other countries. Universal pre-K has shown mixed effect in other countries and has proved to be quite expensive, with significant criticism in other countries, not just here.

            Could you please share links showing that Title I is quite effective? Because I haven’t seen the convincing evidence you appear to be persuaded by. I have seen a mixed bag.

            I have not suggested throwing out either Head Start or Title I.

            If you want my personal opinion, I think we need more small scope programs, piloting things before we offer them widely. I think we need programs to be more narrowly targeted, more flexible, and of higher quality, rather than spreading the dollars widely to be more politically palatable. I’d like to see us look at the effect of smaller schools, particularly in at-risk areas, and see if that helps.

            I think we need to get less trendy about pedagogy, and be slower to adopt cool sounding methods. I think we need to work with kids until they learn basic concepts.

            I’d like to see us look at what we can teach parents to do with their kids, and look at outreach that can have a multiplier effect by offering it through the community. I’d like to use the community as a partner to every extent possible.

            I think we need to adopt an evidence based approach of evaluating results and use that evidence to see where dollars are most effective, not just buy the flavor of the week that politicians are selling.

            As far as the rest of the world, what you’re advocating is not what the rest of the world does.

            I don’t think that we can easily replicate Massachusetts given that we can’t easily copy Harvard and MIT and BU to other states. They have different demographics and different resources.

            My suggestion was that we consider spending the money on smaller schools and higher quality but narrower programs rather than universal pre-K. How that translates into “don’t want to pay for it” escapes me.

            I’m curious as to how you get my comment that universal pre-k pays for kindergarten for kids of CEOs and surgeons – which is, BTW, a widely discussed concern, and not just in the US – and you read that as being about whose kids are in Head Start?

            Title I can target populations – but it is not set up to target individuals. Head Start works with individuals, and it’s heavily about intervention on multiple fronts for those individuals. That is not what Title I does.

            What you’re essentially arguing is that we should blindly do what we’re doing, even when we know it isn’t working well, instead of trying to find better ways to accomplish the same goals, because ….

            I’m not actually sure because why, apparently you think correctly noting that something doesn’t work well and trying to find ways to do it better is the exact same thing as not doing it at all?

            Genuinely curious as to how you get there, because that appears to be what you’re saying, and that makes no sense.

          • “Larry, Title I targets schools with a certain percentage of economically disadvantaged students. Head Start targets individual economically disadvantaged children.”

            do you not think specific students are the target of Title 1?
            they are in the configurations that target economically-disadvantaged demographics.

            The targets are different – individual students, one by one, versus a school or a population within a school.”

            You specifically identify the kids that are the target of Title 1 resources. They have real names and are taken out of their home class and sent to Title 1 instructors.

            “I actually am not wrong.”

            yep you are… go to the DOE site and read.

            “I have listed real problems with specific programs, and suggested a list of alternatives, either needed tweaks to approaches for existing programs, or different ideas to try, which list you are ignoring. The fact that you don’t particularly care for the list doesn’t mean I didn’t offer it. Repeatedly.”

            I see your dialogue as questioning the value and cost of the current programs as if they should be done away with. I see no “tweaks” offered.

            “Title I and Head Start don’t exist in 25 other countries. Universal pre-K has shown mixed effect in other countries and has proved to be quite expensive, with significant criticism in other countries, not just here.”

            other countries clean our clocks with 4th grade performance. you figure out what works if you don’t like what we have – first – BEFORE you throw away anything.

            Head Start and Title 1 are VOLUNTARY. School systems are FREE to try other approaches. Tell me which of the other approaches are being tried and what their performance has been.

            “Could you please share links showing that Title I is quite effective? Because I haven’t seen the convincing evidence you appear to be persuaded by. I have seen a mixed bag.”

            you can start here – http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20064000/intro_d.asp
            but you know how to form keywords to find those studies.. just as well as you know how to form keywords for opposition.

            “I have not suggested throwing out either Head Start or Title I.”

            well you have – by implication – saying they don’t work and are too expensive.

            right up to the line..

            “If you want my personal opinion, I think we need more small scope programs, piloting things before we offer them widely. I think we need programs to be more narrowly targeted, more flexible, and of higher quality, rather than spreading the dollars widely to be more politically palatable. I’d like to see us look at the effect of smaller schools, particularly in at-risk areas, and see if that helps.”

            The state DOE allows those kinds of programs – grant funds them.

            you own school system is free to do that – but if folks like you oppose the money to do that – then what?

            “I think we need to get less trendy about pedagogy, and be slower to adopt cool sounding methods. I think we need to work with kids until they learn basic concepts.”

            then you should LOVE the NAEP definition of 4th grade proficiency.

            go search for it and if you can’t find it , I’ll provide it .. it’s very, very specific about skill sets and they are consistent with PISA for the rest of the world.

            “I’d like to see us look at what we can teach parents to do with their kids, and look at outreach that can have a multiplier effect by offering it through the community. I’d like to use the community as a partner to every extent possible.”

            measure it.. local schools have specific outreach programs for at-risk kids parents.. they have a number of parent-kid programs throughout the year.

            I agree… with your premise – I’m not sure we know if it works and I’m quite sure it does not meet the 100% test. The question is – if it works for 10%, is it worth it or should it be part of a bigger effort that includes Head Start and Title 1, etc?

            “I think we need to adopt an evidence based approach of evaluating results and use that evidence to see where dollars are most effective, not just buy the flavor of the week that politicians are selling.”

            NAEP is way ahead of you… but I totally agree with you and we cannot do that if we do not have consistent ways to measure which does mean testing rigorously. The mindset is changing from high stakes testing to periodic assessments with tools like PALS – which allow a teacher to see what constituent parts of reading the kid masters and which parts they have not – and how much progress they are making at discrete assessment times.

            “As far as the rest of the world, what you’re advocating is not what the rest of the world does.”

            No I’m not. I’m advocating for what does work – is proven to work and the other countries use standardized core academic curricula and a whole lot less non-core academic offerings – they leave that up to the parents to pursue separately. we, instead make core academic programs compete for funding against what are amenities.

            you like Catholic Schools? that’s what they do – the focus is on core academic. If you want extras you do it on your own, pay a fee, etc.

            “I don’t think that we can easily replicate Massachusetts given that we can’t easily copy Harvard and MIT and BU to other states. They have different demographics and different resources.”

            we’re talking about K-12 Vgal.. not MIT.. what does Mass K-12 do to have their kids rated 7th in the world and number one in the US?

            “My suggestion was that we consider spending the money on smaller schools and higher quality but narrower programs rather than universal pre-K. How that translates into “don’t want to pay for it” escapes me.”

            are you advocating spending the money to do that? “ideas” are not worth much vgal unless you step up to financially support your “idea”.

            “I’m curious as to how you get my comment that universal pre-k pays for kindergarten for kids of CEOs and surgeons – which is, BTW, a widely discussed concern, and not just in the US – and you read that as being about whose kids are in Head Start?”

            Head Start targets a particular Demographic. Are you sure you do not have it confused with other programs like universal K?

            “Title I can target populations – but it is not set up to target individuals. Head Start works with individuals, and it’s heavily about intervention on multiple fronts for those individuals. That is not what Title I does.”

            you’re wrong. specific kids get identified from testing to be sent to Title 1 teachers… who are limited to about 6 students at a time …real kids with real names..

            “What you’re essentially arguing is that we should blindly do what we’re doing, even when we know it isn’t working well, instead of trying to find better ways to accomplish the same goals, because ….”

            nope. I support testing and measuring for ANY approach but not cockamamie theories that don’t want to be measured. that old “evidence based” idea you cited.

            “I’m not actually sure because why, apparently you think correctly noting that something doesn’t work well and trying to find ways to do it better is the exact same thing as not doing it at all?”

            because when you say things like Head Start “fades” and is expensive – what exactly are you advocating for in the way of changes to improve it, to make it better?

            “Genuinely curious as to how you get there, because that appears to be what you’re saying, and that makes no sense.”

            I’m pretty clear. We measure what we do for performance and we put that requirement on any idea… AND – we have to be willing to fund it …

            when we have “ideas” that we don’t want to fund and/or we say what we have right now is too expensive – where does that leave you?

            are you willing to pay for efforts to improve childhood education ?

            higher taxes to do that or cutting amenities to free up funds for K-3?

            I react to folks who have ‘ideas’, criticisms of the existing with no suggestions how to make them better and are not willing to pay and say of all the
            DIFFERENT countries in the world – we are unique with our culture problems and that’s why we can’t fix it, don’t want to pay to fix it… etc.

            clear?

            lead, follow, or get out of the way.

            this country is failing to compete in the 21 century global economy.

            you and I are going to devote 1/2 or more of our income taxes to entitlements but we quibble about money for early childhood education..

            how dumb is that?

          • vgal – Title 1 can be school-wide or targeted but in both cases – kids are individually identified according to guidelines like “at risk” or MediAid or TANF or SNAP or free & reduced …etc.

            so you identify according to demographic characteristics and then they get Title 1-qualified teachers – they cannot be just any old generic teacher – they have to meet specific Title 1 qualifications usually a Masters in reading diagnostics and remedial techniques.

            Title 1 does other things too – but Title 1 is voluntary also. A school can elect other ways to go about it.

            Title 1 has it’s detractors just like Head Start and universal Pre-K , etc – which is FINE as long as the goal is to improve and to measure so we know what works and what does not.

            Va even provides access to Title 1 funding for private schools.

            we KNOW what works and what does not to a certain extent because of NCLB which requires reading scores for economically disadvantaged, blacks, hispanics, etc.. so we know if a Title 1 school – how those demographics are doing compared to the general population which is not receiving Title 1 resources.

            on proficiency standards – I thought you might find these interesting because these are the standards that NCLB defines for reporting purposes:

            The NAEP Reading Achievement Levels by Grade

            Grade 4

            Basic
            (208)
            Fourth-grade students performing at the Basic level should be able to locate relevant information, make simple inferences, and use their understanding of the text to identify details that support a given interpretation or conclusion. Students should be able to interpret the meaning of a word as it is used in the text.

            Proficient
            (238)
            Fourth-grade students performing at the Proficient level should be able to integrate and interpret texts and apply their understanding of the text to draw conclusions and make evaluations.

            Advanced
            (268)
            Fourth-grade students performing at the Advanced level should be able to make complex inferences and construct and support their inferential understanding of the text. Students should be able to apply their understanding of a text to make and support a judgment.

            https://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/reading/achieveall.asp#2009_grade4

            these ARE things you CAN test for …

            about 1/3 of Virginia 4th graders test out at advanced and another 1/3 tests out at or below basic.

            I’ll provide these in the next post because BR takes comments to “moderation” if it has more than one link.

      • I once spoke with a former Fairfax County school board member and supervisor. There was a vicious debate between some school board members who wanted to add more reading and math teachers to early grades especially in low income schools with a goal of reducing special ed expenses. The staff fought this like crazy and eventually persuaded enough school board members to kill the proposal.

        There are great teachers in our public schools, but don’t ever think the administrators will put kids before the institution. Employment of the professional caring class comes first.

  4. The big problem is that the same educational system that failed the parents (despite being funded on an ever higher per pupil basis over the years) is now the solution for the children.

    Spend more. Spend more. Spend more. We’ve been spending more for 35 years. We also spend plenty per pupil when compared to other countries. Here are some stats to ponder …

    https://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/fed/10facts/edlite-chart.html

    The education system in the United States, like the health care system, is broken across the board. Liberals accuse conservatives of having no alternate plan to Obamacare but then they reject every structural change to the education system proposed by conservatives with no plan of their own other than “Spend more, spend more, spend more”.

    • TMT – you are correct about choices. and we choose mile wide inch deep amenity courses for the college-bound over K-3 core academic and VocED of which as you showed, Fairfax has a real program.

      Now Don”

      “The big problem is that the same educational system that failed the parents (despite being funded on an ever higher per pupil basis over the years) is now the solution for the children.

      Spend more. Spend more. Spend more. We’ve been spending more for 35 years. We also spend plenty per pupil when compared to other countries. Here are some stats to ponder”

      we spend for the WRONG things… and then make excuses and blame …

      “https://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/fed/10facts/edlite-chart.html

      The education system in the United States, like the health care system, is broken across the board. Liberals accuse conservatives of having no alternate plan to Obamacare but then they reject every structural change to the education system proposed by conservatives with no plan of their own other than “Spend more, spend more, spend more”.”

      nice try but it’s an epic fail. Conservatives have no alternatives that they are willing to agree on as a group nor do they want it measured.

      We have GOOD education systems in the US.

      Massachusetts would rank 7th in the world – as the US ranks 25th.

      Fairfax does a better job than most of the rest of Virginia.

      A black child of poor parents actually has a real opportunity in Fairfax. Not so much in Lynchburg or South Henrico.

      Our schools are primarily configured to power the kids who are headed to 4yr colleges and to offer them a wide variety of courses and programs to bulk up their portfolios.

      I do not begrudge that as long as we do at least as much for the kids that are NOT headed for 4yr colleges and it’s not a moral thing – it’s a fiscal issue.

      the justification for heavily taxing people for education is that ROI that Jim is always blathering about but conveniently ignores it in this context.

      taxpayers pay for an employable workforce.

      parents who want more than the basic workforce education need to be the ones to pay additional – not the taxpayers and not by diverting tax money from core academic in K-3 or Voc Ed to amenity courses for the much better well off.

      whether it’s health care or education – we have an inequitable and corrupt system that just totally sucks when compared to the rest of the advanced nations in the world.

      our goal according to Conservatives is that we should operate more like a 3rd world country with “true” competitive free markets. God Forbid we join Europe and Japan and become “socialist”.

      let me show this again:

      Education $17,211,234,533
      Health and Human Resources $12,862,757,449

      we spend $1500 per capita in Va for entitlements. think about that in terms of taxes …
      on those who pay.

  5. re: what works , what does not, what is theory, and catholic/other schools.

    I have zero problems with charter/choice/private schools doing this -as long as we measure for performance.

    But when I hear folks saying Head Start is a failure because of “fade” – it’s implying there are no benefits – and there are -but then the critics want to replace it with what? something theoretical and they are also opposed to measuring performance?

    that’s a real “fail”.

    we don’t replace programs that do work if not 100% with cockamamie theories and oppose testing to verify performance.

    this is the state of the folks who oppose the current education system.

    If you want to get rid of the current system with a better,more cost effective program – then you set up a pilot funded by the folks who oppose the current system – and let them prove better performance for less money and I’m totally on board.

    anything that is PROVEN to work – we should do.

    but we don’t throw away something that does not work as well as what we need with something that has no track record and the proponents are opposed to testing and measuring.

    we don’t need more stinking “theories” from folks challenged by “logic”.

    and no I’m not ascribing that to you personally but we have way too many who can’t seem to think critically these days and are willing to dump something that works but not well enough -for – basically – cockamamie theories with no track record – and they don’t want it measured.

    give me things that have a documented measurable track record in a pilot and I have no problems directing tax money to it.

    otherwise – go fish.

    there’s actually a huge benefit to this approach – the funding is directed purely at core academic and not squandered on amenities like we do in public schools.

  6. here are Virginia’s proficiency results:

    http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/tables/5116-fourth-grade-reading-achievement levels#detailed/2/48/false/36,867,38,18,16/1185,1186,1187,1188/11560

    Location Achievement Level Data Type 2005 2007 2009 2011 2013

    Virginia Below basic Percent 28% 26% 26% 28% 26%
    At or above basic Percent 72% 74% 74% 72% 74%
    Below proficient Percent 63% 62% 62% 61% 57%
    At or above proficient Percent 37% 38% 38% 39% 43%

    people ask – why am I so spun up on this.

    the answer is simple – about 1/2 our current spending is for entitlements for people who do not have enough education to get a job that pays enough for them to take care of themselves and their families, pay taxes and not need entitlements.

    we are drowning in entitlement spending – and we’re not “getting” the connection to childhood education. we create dropouts and symbolic diplomas – in the 3rd grade.

    past that point – if a kid is not on a 4yr college track – a good number are headed for graduation and a lifetime of entitlements.

    we cannot have this as a country without eventually destroying our economic health – indeed -ultimately our national security.

    we have to deal with this.. we cannot be in denial..

    if you felt verbally beat up – I apologize.. ..to you.. sincerely.

    • Hi Larry –

      It’s pretty hard to make me feel verbally beaten up. I hope I haven’t made you feel that way either.

      I think I’m going to reply a little bit differently here, because I really feel like we’re talking past each other.

      When I started out doing computers, back in the mists of time, a good bit of my early work was done for various social and public services groups. I was onsite for client delivery of services, including at public housing projects, “full service” projects combining education and social and medical services, at low income schools, in the room for client eligibility determinations. I was good friends with many of the people who delivered these services, although I do want to emphasize I wasn’t the person delivering those services myself – I was the computer nerd helping. But I got to see how some of this played out in real life and meet the actual people that those services were being delivered to.

      I came away from it with a few insights. You may or may not agree with them, but this is what I took away from the experiences. First, how something plays in the news isn’t necessarily how it plays on the ground. A policy or program that sounds good, but that doesn’t really work as intended, may or may not get fixed, because people tend to interpret criticism of the policy or program as criticism of the goal, and resist fixing it. (Sound familiar?)

      Second, people in need tend to have a variety of issues, that are individual to each person. For kids, issues of parenting, home life, nutrition, ESL, vision, and medical care can have huge impacts – and kids aren’t in a position to fix it for themselves.

      Third, there are some really good, selfless people working for the public.

      Fourth, for the ones that work for the government, many of the criticisms of public employees are because of policies that they have no control over, policies that in many cases they may be equally concerned about.

      As it applies to this particular policy debate, my position is that much of what causes poor kids to fall behind is not just academic, it’s social. Some kids have parents that work three jobs, or are in a tiny apartment with lots of siblings, and no quiet place to study or do homework. Some kids can’t see the board because they need glasses. Some kids are not getting medical care even though they are eligible for Medicaid. Some kids may be struggling with the language.

      If the need is a quiet place to study, or glasses, or a referral to a doctor, more tutoring won’t fix it.

      Programs that work well tend to look beyond academics only and look to the whole child. Head Start is a holistic program, but it’s short term. The original studies of pre-K (not what is proposed universally) were holistic programs, and those are the studies that are still used to support universal pre-k – even though the proposed universal program is quite different.

      Title I, to the best I’ve been able to determine, is not focused on a child’s individual life experiences, focusing on academics only. At the link you posted, the report to Congress showed gains varying from modest to not statistically significant. I think it’s a good idea, but the lack of a support component is my theory for why it isn’t showing expected gains.

      But if fade is caused by loss of support, how do we provide it? Support services are really expensive, even when delivered by underpaid people (see Head Start.) Are there ways to continue that support, but have it come from the community or parents or community or religious groups? Are there ways to narrow the target to kids who really need support, so the same dollars can help more? Are there environments, like smaller schools, that provide more of that support intrinsically?

      School size shows a very large impact on student achievement. It was a Gates Foundation goal until they kind of side tracked on Common Core. My personal theory as to why smaller school helps goes back to those issues outside of academics – the kid who doesn’t have a quiet place to study, the kid who needs to go to the doctor, the kid who needs glasses, the kid who is struggling with English. At smaller schools, those kids are less likely to get lost.

      My personal belief as to the reason for fade is that early help does help, but losing the social supports gradually erodes those benefits.

      The problem with addressing kids’ home lives is that intensive approaches are very costly, even for just a few years. If we can find creative ways to get help to families – ways they can help themselves, ways parents and communities can help each other – you can maintain supports, without extremely expensive funding that you’re not likely to get.

      That’s why I’m interested in things like the study reported on NPR, showing real gains when poor parents are encouraged to read to their little kids – or studies about smaller schools and their impacts, that might inform us when new schools are proposed or in evaluating consolidating old ones.

      • “It’s pretty hard to make me feel verbally beaten up. I hope I haven’t made you feel that way either.”

        Nope and I’m glad – I have a bad habit at times..

        “I think I’m going to reply a little bit differently here, because I really feel like we’re talking past each other.”

        that occurred to me also – another flaw in myself

        “When I started out doing computers, back in the mists of time, a good bit of my early work was done for various social and public services groups. I was onsite for client delivery of services, including at public housing projects, “full service” projects combining education and social and medical services, at low income schools, in the room for client eligibility determinations. I was good friends with many of the people who delivered these services, although I do want to emphasize I wasn’t the person delivering those services myself – I was the computer nerd helping. But I got to see how some of this played out in real life and meet the actual people that those services were being delivered to.”

        I did software for Navy weapons systems

        “I came away from it with a few insights. You may or may not agree with them, but this is what I took away from the experiences. First, how something plays in the news isn’t necessarily how it plays on the ground. A policy or program that sounds good, but that doesn’t really work as intended, may or may not get fixed, because people tend to interpret criticism of the policy or program as criticism of the goal, and resist fixing it. (Sound familiar?)”

        I’m a harsh critic – BUT I ALWAYS follow it with – “we should be doing this instead” Today some groups with agendas – use criticism to undermine the concept of something … while others are genuinely wanting better results. You usually can tell who is who.

        “Second, people in need tend to have a variety of issues, that are individual to each person. For kids, issues of parenting, home life, nutrition, ESL, vision, and medical care can have huge impacts – and kids aren’t in a position to fix it for themselves.”

        some things are more important than others especially if you can’t do all..

        “Third, there are some really good, selfless people working for the public.”

        yup

        “Fourth, for the ones that work for the government, many of the criticisms of public employees are because of policies that they have no control over, policies that in many cases they may be equally concerned about.”

        teacher friends tell me this all the time.. today – a kid who won’t do the work and a Mom who blithely says – “I can’t do a thing with him”…

        “As it applies to this particular policy debate, my position is that much of what causes poor kids to fall behind is not just academic, it’s social. Some kids have parents that work three jobs, or are in a tiny apartment with lots of siblings, and no quiet place to study or do homework. Some kids can’t see the board because they need glasses. Some kids are not getting medical care even though they are eligible for Medicaid. Some kids may be struggling with the language.

        If the need is a quiet place to study, or glasses, or a referral to a doctor, more tutoring won’t fix it.”

        no disagreement here at all.. on board.

        “Programs that work well tend to look beyond academics only and look to the whole child. Head Start is a holistic program, but it’s short term. The original studies of pre-K (not what is proposed universally) were holistic programs, and those are the studies that are still used to support universal pre-k – even though the proposed universal program is quite different.”

        unfortunately – you have to fight for every dime beyond the basics..

        “Title I, to the best I’ve been able to determine, is not focused on a child’s individual life experiences, focusing on academics only. At the link you posted, the report to Congress showed gains varying from modest to not statistically significant. I think it’s a good idea, but the lack of a support component is my theory for why it isn’t showing expected gains.”

        the kids are selected based on demographics – like free&reduced, medicaid, snap, etc… once they are selected they are assessed individually to see what their deficits are and to develop an individual plan to deal with the deficits. One of those tools is called PALS – it’s a UVA tool.. pretty neat.. looks at a number of sub-elements of language.. and identifies what the kids has mastered and what they’re still learning and need help on.

        “But if fade is caused by loss of support, how do we provide it? Support services are really expensive, even when delivered by underpaid people (see Head Start.) Are there ways to continue that support, but have it come from the community or parents or community or religious groups? Are there ways to narrow the target to kids who really need support, so the same dollars can help more? Are there environments, like smaller schools, that provide more of that support intrinsically?”

        it’s expensive but it’s cheaper than a lifetime of entitlements is my attitude.
        we have a job to do – we need to do it as cost effectively as we can and sometimes it means more upfront for less downstream.

        “School size shows a very large impact on student achievement. It was a Gates Foundation goal until they kind of side tracked on Common Core. My personal theory as to why smaller school helps goes back to those issues outside of academics – the kid who doesn’t have a quiet place to study, the kid who needs to go to the doctor, the kid who needs glasses, the kid who is struggling with English. At smaller schools, those kids are less likely to get lost.”

        I’m totally with okay piloting smaller schools but I do distinguish between kids that are behind and need help and kids that are already on track or ahead in terms of need and money.

        “My personal belief as to the reason for fade is that early help does help, but losing the social supports gradually erodes those benefits.”

        well it varies by the number of different ways kids are disadvantaged and the solutions need to be keyed to their particular needs –

        sometimes we talk about parents – in some of the schools I’m familiar with – the kids are with Aunts and Grandparents for 6 months then back with Mom then with a live-in boyfriend who just got out of prison, etc – a chaotic home life.

        “The problem with addressing kids’ home lives is that intensive approaches are very costly, even for just a few years. If we can find creative ways to get help to families – ways they can help themselves, ways parents and communities can help each other – you can maintain supports, without extremely expensive funding that you’re not likely to get.”

        well again – pay me now or pay me later – a lifetime of entitlements and more kids with the same problems.

        People with jobs can be screwed up also – but usually they’re not so dumb to throw it all away – they try to maintain or hold on to what opportunities they do have.

        “That’s why I’m interested in things like the study reported on NPR, showing real gains when poor parents are encouraged to read to their little kids – or studies about smaller schools and their impacts, that might inform us when new schools are proposed or in evaluating consolidating old ones.”

        Here’s what I say. If you PROMISE a child in the 3rd grade – who is at risk -that if they get good grades they will get 2yr of community college a a occupational certificate – and you tell them that every day, every week – and you let them realize that they have opportunity – no matter their parents or other deficits – they will hold on and maintain to get that prize.

        It’s been tried -and it works. It don’t work 100% but a high percentage compared to kids with no promises.

        I don’t like using a lack of money as an excuse if the reason is the school is providing mile-wide/inch-deep amenity courses for the 4hr college bound.

        we have to recognize – the 4yr kids are going to be drowning in entitlements and Baltimore tragedies if we don’t deal with this issue.

        at one point in the past -we were the most exemplary education system – on the planet – we showed the other countries how to do education right – and now look at us… it’s sad and it’s dumb.

        • I’m not sure what you’re calling amenity courses, but reducing quality of education for college bound isn’t going to pay for universal free community college, and reducing competitiveness of our college bound kids isn’t going to improve our competitiveness. It also is going to be fought tooth and nail by parents who want the best for their kids.

          To me, it makes more sense to stop pretending everyone needs to go to college, to look at Germany for good vocational training models, and to include a focused and quality vocational training option for the last years of high school. I see no reason to necessarily wait til after they graduate – Germany doesn’t. Apprenticeships, as Germany does them, can start anywhere from 15 to 19.

          Community college is already quite affordable. If lack of affordability is an issue, then look at increasing grants for the truly needy only – NOT universal free community college irrespective of need. The latter is a huge waste of precious funds on people who can afford to pay.

          Honestly, I think apprenticeships, which could be combined with training, need to be seriously looked at.

          • ” I’m not sure what you’re calling amenity courses, but reducing quality of education for college bound isn’t going to pay for universal free community college, and reducing competitiveness of our college bound kids isn’t going to improve our competitiveness. It also is going to be fought tooth and nail by parents who want the best for their kids.”

            Courses the state will not pay for that are funded from discretionary funding. European, Japanese, and American private schools do not offer near as many – they focus primarily on core academic courses.

            the parents that want ‘more” are essentially defunding the things needed by the economically disadvantaged to master K-3.

            the “competitiveness” issue is much more serious when kids do not graduate with enough education to become employed and not need entitlements.

            the 4yr folks end up with crushing taxes to pay these entitlements.

            “To me, it makes more sense to stop pretending everyone needs to go to college, to look at Germany for good vocational training models, and to include a focused and quality vocational training option for the last years of high school. I see no reason to necessarily wait til after they graduate – Germany doesn’t. Apprenticeships, as Germany does them, can start anywhere from 15 to 19.”

            we agree but k-12 is no longer sufficient for the 21st century – Germany and other OECD countries know this – we’re in denial.

            the reality is – it’s now K-14 with 13 &14 being community college occupational certificates. You cannot do that if the kids in K-3 never achieve proficiency of core academic.

            “Community college is already quite affordable. If lack of affordability is an issue, then look at increasing grants for the truly needy only – NOT universal free community college irrespective of need. The latter is a huge waste of precious funds on people who can afford to pay.”

            kids that are economically disadvantaged usually have zero resources..

            I’ve never advocated free community college no matter the courses.

            I’ve already restricted the “free” to workforce education that gets the grad a job. in an area where there are jobs that await the qualified.

            “Honestly, I think apprenticeships, which could be combined with training, need to be seriously looked at.”

            we agree = but we make the money to fund this – a reason to not do it ..an excuse ..

            when I see a high school that has coaches disguised as teachers…15-20 courses that the State will not fund but instead is funded from local discretionary money, AP, IB, and Governors School – but not enough money for pre-K, Head Start, title 1, and Voc Ed and dual enrollment for COmmunity College, etc.. then we’re made choices about what we fund -or not – and it has consequences.

            The well-educated parents are very effective advocates for what they want for their kids – the less-educated parents – not – and the result are schools tailored for the 4yr kids, prioritized local discretionary funding – for that purpose at the same time we say Head Start teachers are “poorly paid”

            we make these choices to fund locally things the State will not fund …because they are not core academic…

            we are NOT focused on making sure the kids not bound for 4yr – are getting jobs… unlike GErmany and others that do.

            we are losing jobs to other countries in the 21st century because we refuse to deal with the realities of people who will not be going to 4yr

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