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Unread 03-17-2012, 11:59 AM
 
538 posts, read 394,655 times
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Not only have we created a society where the money/resources go to the underachievers, but we also then guarantee the underachievers a slot at the next level through "affirmative action". A society that fails to support and promote its best resources is doomed to failure. We will not be able to seriously compete with the Chinese in the next few generations by doing this......
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Unread 03-18-2012, 03:49 PM
 
897 posts, read 760,029 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arjay57 View Post
No, that's system wide.

High performing schools often have to make do with higher student/teacher ratios and less experienced teachers. At Inman, for example, the student/teacher ratio is 15:1; average teacher experience is 6.75 years. At Coan, the student/teacher ratio is 11:1 and the average teacher has 9.2 years of experience.

The myth that the low performing schools in APS are due to a lack of money is just that -- a myth. The city of Atlanta has a Cadillac school plan -- low student/teacher ratios, higher teacher pay and very generous benefits, superb facilities (over $1 billion spent in the last ten years alone), free breakfast, lunch and snacks for most students, tons of highly paid administrators, and major additional support from private donations and universities.

The reality is that city of Atlanta residents provide VERY generous funding for public schools. Meanwhile spending has simply gyrated out of control in the last few decades. In 1965 the Atlanta Public School system had 110,000 students and was highly regarded. That year it had a budget of $323,000,000.* Today, with an enrollment less than half that size, the budget is twice as large.

So is dumping even more money into APS going to lift up the low performing schools? While I understand it could be argued that something different is somehow going to happen, historically that hasn't been the case. What really makes schools better is when parents engage the process and create a culture of learning and responsibility. We've seen that happen all over the city of Atlanta and elsewhere.

------

*That's adjusting to today's dollars pursuant to the CPI. In 1965 the actual APS budget was only $46,713,125.
Arjay, thanks for sharing this detailed info. Just wanted to clarify: I don't always assume "more money" is the answer when schools don't perform. Based on what you've said, it doesn't sound like APS needs more money. (I was personally torn about the last penny tax vote for local schools, btw, for some of these reasons.) But as I said above, none of this means we need to *cut* the school budget as a "solution." It's just about better allocation of resources and evaluation of that allocation.

Do we have more info on how this money is being spent per student? In other words, how can we determine if we're maximizing these expenditures? If students are underperforming, why aren't we putting in more tutoring programming (or language assistance for ESL folks)? Do we need to hire different (and hopefully better) teachers? Do we need better (read: NOT more) administrators?

The schools on the south side and westside honestly don't sound as well funded as they could be, based on what I've heard from people in my neighborhood. But if your data is correct, I can't argue with it. We know there was a cheating scandal, but the low performance issues have to go beyond that.

What do you or others suggest we do to improve schools? I understand you say we need to "engage parents," but what on earth can we, as citizens, and/or the city government DO to engage parents further in their kids' education?

I do think we could figure out how to hold the funding itself more accountable. Part of that includes citizens voting out school board members who aren't doing that job. But I'm honestly at a loss at how one compels parents to just magically become less crappy.
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Unread 03-18-2012, 07:38 PM
 
12,667 posts, read 7,235,098 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K-SawDude View Post
The schools on the south side and westside honestly don't sound as well funded as they could be, based on what I've heard from people in my neighborhood. But if your data is correct, I can't argue with it. We know there was a cheating scandal, but the low performance issues have to go beyond that.
K-SawDude, yes, there's tons of additional information available.

As to whether schools on the southside and westside need more funding it's hard to say. They're certainly better funded than high-performing COA schools like Inman or Sutton, and far more than high-performing schools in Cobb, Fulton, Gwinnett and other metro counties. I guess it's conceivable they still need more, but it seems to me a specific, evidence-based case needs to be made before we simply throw more money at the problem. Historically that hasn't produced solutions.

Quote:
What do you or others suggest we do to improve schools? I understand you say we need to "engage parents," but what on earth can we, as citizens, and/or the city government DO to engage parents further in their kids' education?
I'll give some of my ideas below, but let me say this first. The fact that we haven't solved the problem of getting parents more engaged doesn't mean we need to write more checks to the school board. One doesn't follow from the other. In the city of Atlanta and elsewhere around the metro, the schools with strong parental involvement and high performing students are not those that get the most taxpayer funding. As mentioned above, the city's two best performing middle schools in the city are Inman and Sutton, both of which get substantially less funding that low-performing schools such as Kennedy, Sylvan Hills, Brown, Coan or BEST Academy.

So how do you get the parents and other adults involved? I'd suggest we start by simply looking at areas that have a successful track record. What about your own life? You're obviously a very intelligent and motivated person -- what did you parents or community to do to help you get going? I grew up in very modest circumstances myself -- the first pair of new shoes my daddy ever had was when he joined the army at 17. I was the first in my family to attend college and I was certainly no academic superstar.

In our case my parents weren't running me around to fencing class or hiring language tutors or even helping me do homework. They weren't playing classical records for me or sending me to study abroad. They just made it plain that you either finish high school or get out there and pull your own weight. You may not love school but you pay attention and don't give any bull to your teachers.

But that's just my personal rambling. For a more organized approach to the parent issue I kind of like what they are saying on this website.

Barriers to Family Involvement in Education | Project Appleseed

As much as I hate PowerPoints, I think this one is worth watching:

http://www.projectappleseed.org/Project%20Appleseed.ppt
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Unread 03-19-2012, 07:01 AM
 
Location: Atlanta, GA (Dunwoody)
2,034 posts, read 2,351,923 times
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Quote:
I grew up in very modest circumstances myself -- the first pair of new shoes my daddy ever had was when he joined the army at 17. I was the first in my family to attend college and I was certainly no academic superstar.

In our case my parents weren't running me around to fencing class or hiring language tutors or even helping me do homework. They weren't playing classical records for me or sending me to study abroad. They just made it plain that you either finish high school or get out there and pull your own weight. You may not love school but you pay attention and don't give any bull to your teachers.
Wow, arjay our circumstances sound very similar down to the Army shoe story. My parents were not particularly involved in my education. I knew that getting good grades was important or they'd be all over my butt. They went to work each day to ensure I had what I needed for school. I had breakfast each morning, books and school supplies. I knew that if my parents ever had to leave their jobs to "come talk to those white folks," my butt was grass. I don't recall them helping with homework or attending one PTA meeting. I was in the high school marching band, but I don't think either if them came to the games. My mama usually worked until nine, my dad sometimes later. I was the first in my family to go to college. I look at the level of involvement I have in my son's education and am amazed that I ever graduated. Why is all this required now when obviously it wasn't when I was in school? My parents weren't unusual in the working class community where I grew up. Nobody's parents came to the school unless it was graduation or something of that nature. Yet I daresay graduation rates were higher. So what gives?
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Unread 03-19-2012, 07:30 AM
 
520 posts, read 702,695 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcsteiner View Post
This is like asking how do we motivate people who are taking advantage of various safety nets to get back into the job market.

Good luck with that. Most of the solutions that would work would probably be considered too inhumane or too callous by a majority, since most people would favor keeping a family together in spite of its negative influence on its younger members.
So no new ideas, right? No need to complain.... However, I see you point, I'm with you, but I don't complain about anything I haven't offered a solution for.
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Unread 03-19-2012, 07:44 AM
 
Location: Georgia
283 posts, read 733,045 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoslynHolcomb View Post
My parents weren't unusual in the working class community where I grew up. Nobody's parents came to the school unless it was graduation or something of that nature. Yet I daresay graduation rates were higher. So what gives?
I'll give you my perspective of what I see, coming from another country. I came to this country when I was 11 years old and instantly saw the difference in schooling. The biggest issue I saw was how undisciplined some of the students were-when a teacher has to stop their lesson plan every five minutes to shout at a kid-how can anyone learn? I also had a big problem with clothing-I had uniforms-but here the kids wore brand name clothes that my parents couldn't afford which led to me being constantly teased/bullied. This led to fights which made me not want to go to school-I did however after pleading to my parents to buy me clothes so I could fit in. Plus all the other outside school issues of growing up in the ghetto-watching my back constantly, taking a different route to avoid gangs, latchkey child etc.... extremely stressful for a child. I already see the image/ dressing issue with my 5 yr old daughter
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Unread 03-19-2012, 07:52 AM
 
12,667 posts, read 7,235,098 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoslynHolcomb View Post
Wow, arjay our circumstances sound very similar down to the Army shoe story. My parents were not particularly involved in my education. I knew that getting good grades was important or they'd be all over my butt. They went to work each day to ensure I had what I needed for school. I had breakfast each morning, books and school supplies. I knew that if my parents ever had to leave their jobs to "come talk to those white folks," my butt was grass. I don't recall them helping with homework or attending one PTA meeting. I was in the high school marching band, but I don't think either if them came to the games. My mama usually worked until nine, my dad sometimes later. I was the first in my family to go to college. I look at the level of involvement I have in my son's education and am amazed that I ever graduated. Why is all this required now when obviously it wasn't when I was in school? My parents weren't unusual in the working class community where I grew up. Nobody's parents came to the school unless it was graduation or something of that nature. Yet I daresay graduation rates were higher. So what gives?
Roslyn, I think that's a lot of it. I am not an educator and don't have any formal expertise in this area whatsoever.

But I do know for a fact that schools and students can succeed in humble neighborhoods like you and I grew up in. The parents and other grownups don't have to be scholars. As you say, they don't have to come to the school all the time or even help you with your homework.

What they do need to do is set some basic rules and standards. Be responsible. Do your work. Don't sass your teachers. Remember that you always have to pull your own weight. Getting an education will make you a better person. It is your best chance for making a better life for yourself. Be patient and persistent. Work your way up. Take pride in yourself and and the achievements you have truly earned.

None of that stuff is rocket science. However, in my opinion that is the bedrock for improvement.
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Unread 03-19-2012, 08:11 AM
 
1,250 posts, read 648,862 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K-SawDude View Post
But I'm honestly at a loss at how one compels parents to just magically become less crappy.

You can't. I am not even sure why you think it is a problem that can be solves less taking kids away from parents or something.
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Unread 03-19-2012, 08:36 AM
 
Location: Atlanta, GA (Dunwoody)
2,034 posts, read 2,351,923 times
Reputation: 919
I think more than anything with my parents was one crucial feature; they were readers. Absolutely insane about books. My dad loved Westerns, history and true detectives. My mom read mysteries and history books by the crateload. Our house was always full of books and magazines. Over the years of being a social worker I always noted whether the parents read for pleasure. i'm no educator and have no data to back me up, but in fifteen years I was rarely in a home eith abundant reading material. I think seeing parents read, even if nothing but the newspaper and fashion magazines can make all the difference. I've seen it in my own family. From the time he was tiny my son wanted to read because he saw us reading. Interestingly enough, he didn't get interested in writing, even though I'm a writer, until he saw his dad writing one day. Now he draws his own cartoons, and makes up video games. So, IMO, it's not so much about being at the school, or attending PTA meetings. It's the example you set at home. Like eveything else, your kids are going to do what they see you do. Parents should be encouraged to read to, and in front of, their children. I think parents should be sent home from the hospital with children's books so they understand how important it is. If they can't read themselves, they can point to the pictures and make up stories to go along. I was a social worker for a long time and I don't think most parents are lousy, though there are plenty that are. I think they are ignorant, and do better when they know how.
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Unread 03-19-2012, 10:13 AM
 
Location: Marietta, GA
7,650 posts, read 8,862,205 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arjay57 View Post
No one can say that, northwinds. This could be just the thing to turn these 14 schools around.
Optimistic and possibly wishful thinking Arjay. It's been shown that no real correlation exists between per pupil spending and student achievement. So many factors are involved besides spending.
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