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Old 08-23-2014, 10:26 AM
Status: "Summer!" (set 22 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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"Imagine a Great City". That was Federico Pena's campaign slogan when he ran for mayor of Denver in 1983. Part of a great city requires vibrant schools. School is the primary occupation of the 5-18 demographic of any city. A huge portion of property tax goes to schools. There is ample reason for urbanists, New Urbanists, and just everyday people to be concerned about the schools and their performance.
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Old 08-23-2014, 01:47 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
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I agree schools are important, but I can't think of anything specific to discuss about them.
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Old 08-23-2014, 01:56 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 22 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Well many, including you, our fearless leader, said, "if you want to discuss schools, start a thread". For some reason, people don't want to post on a school thread, but they'll post plenty about schools on other threads.

I wanted to start this thread in a non-biased way. Maybe that was the wrong approach!

Denver unveils new plan to improve schools | CPR
**Boasberg and other leaders repeatedly stressed that to reach the goals, the entire community needs do what it can to assist, for example, mentoring a student.

The number one goal, say district leaders, is to place a high performing school in every neighborhood. Right now 61 percent of DPS students attend high performing schools, as measured by the district’s framework for measuring school performance (SPF). The goal for 2020 is 80 percent.

A second goal is that 80 percent of third graders will be reading at or above grade level. Now 60 percent are on target. Students who read and write at grade level in 3rd grade are likely to be at grade level or above in reading, writing and mathematics in 10th grade.**

- See more at: Denver unveils new plan to improve schools | CPR

Now I do not want to make this into a discussion about Denver schools, per se. It's about all urban schools. I do think a discussion of the bolds would be interesting. Many think charters and magnet schools are "the answer" to living in a city with poorly performing neighborhood schools. This guy says all neighborhoods should have high-performing schools. (There is a specific definition of high performing in Colorado, but let's forget about that for this discussion.) Many have little interest in schools b/c they don't have kids, or don't have kids in school yet. However, Mr. B. of DPS says the entire community needs to do what it can. From the POV of enlightened self-interest, since one's property taxes go to pay for public schools, people w/o kids (the majority of residents) should be concerned about what's going on in schools; should be appalled at school systems with mediocre HS graduation rates, violence in the schools, etc.

Last edited by Katarina Witt; 08-23-2014 at 02:04 PM.. Reason: punctuation
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Old 08-23-2014, 01:57 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Here's two posts about city schools by an urbanist blogger:

Op-Ed: Gentrification's Impact on Neighborhood Schools' Success - The Chicago Bureau

It's rather detailed, haven't digested it enough to give an opinion. And another:

Chicago’s Most Promising Educational Reform? – Next City

Both are very Chicago-specific, though some might be relevant to most US cities. Note that city school = bad is mostly an American pattern (and perhaps from the last century), not something intrinsic to big cities:

City Schools | Pedestrian Observations

The fairly recent nature of city school problems* might be illustrated by this description of NYC schools:

Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
For NYC, the city schools were decent, even better than the national average as recently as the early 60s. That is for white students.

By the early 1960s, New York effectively had a dual public school system. In
its ‘‘white’’ system, presided over by a cohort of experienced teachers, students
read at or above the national average, and won a disproportionate number of National
Merit and Westinghouse Science scholarships. In the ‘‘black’’ system, pupils
in crowded classrooms, receiving instruction from teachers who were learning on
the job, read an average of two years behind the city’s white students, and dropped
out of school at a rate double that of the city as a whole.


http://yalepress.yale.edu/YupBooks/pdf/0300081227.pdf
*Well I'm doing this from a white perspective, though it's likely that majority black suburban schools are also worse than similar white ones. The link also only mentions black/white students and ignores hispanics, which while less than the black population was still significant (at least 8% of the population, more of the student body).

I'm not sure if these links are what the OP was interested in, but they are about city schools and the OP was rather open-ended.
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Old 08-23-2014, 02:06 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 22 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Wow! The spending in New York is way higher than in many other states!
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Old 08-23-2014, 02:22 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
Wow! The spending in New York is way higher than in many other states!
Yep, and so are the property taxes. I used to think New York's spending was normal. Great Neck's [mentioned in my 3rd link] schools offer courses often only found in colleges, in a sense it's a magnet school with the entrance being money rather than a test.
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Old 08-23-2014, 02:30 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 22 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Yep, and so are the property taxes. I used to think New York's spending was normal. Great Neck's [mentioned in my 3rd link] schools offer courses often only found in colleges, in a sense it's a magnet school with the entrance being money rather than a test.
Good point. When 'school choice' is being discussed, a point that often gets made is that the wealthy have always had choice, either to send their kids to private schools, or to live in areas with over-the-top public schools.

Colorado does have limits on how much a district can exceed the state per-pupil expenditures, or rather, how much more they can exceed that through taxes. So there are still "rich districts/poor districts", but it's a tad more equal.
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Old 08-23-2014, 03:18 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
14,068 posts, read 16,090,068 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
Good point. When 'school choice' is being discussed, a point that often gets made is that the wealthy have always had choice, either to send their kids to private schools, or to live in areas with over-the-top public schools.

Colorado does have limits on how much a district can exceed the state per-pupil expenditures, or rather, how much more they can exceed that through taxes. So there are still "rich districts/poor districts", but it's a tad more equal.
California pools funding at the state level to a degree, but you still have huge funding differences.
A Note on California Student Funding - Partners in School Innovation

Unfortunately, with Prop 13, there's just not much money for schools at all which is part of the reason why we're number 49th. Generally I agree that you can't just throw money at the problem and expect it to go away, but California is an expensive state which means expensive salaries.

There's just a big divide between the haves and have nots here, bigger than most places. And while generally I'm against redistribution of wealth, schools is the one place where I'm completely for it. You're still going to have huge problems someplace like Ravenswood (East Palo Alto) even if it was sufficiently funded. Ravenswood gets these crazy grants (a lot of underperforming schools do) from time to time. But you can't really effectively run a school with a bunch of use it or lose it money where your budget doubles for a few years and then vanishes. Funding won't change the fact that it's 90% low-income, mostly ESL students. It has challenges that Palo Alto (median family income $160k, 75% college graduates) does not. I honestly don't know how you overcome that. Seattle and San Francisco uses a bring the kids to the schools approach, but even there it doesn't work well. People of means opt out of the system completely and foot it to the burbs or pay for private schools.
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Old 08-23-2014, 03:20 PM
 
56,660 posts, read 80,952,685 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
Wow! The spending in New York is way higher than in many other states!
Its requirements for its teachers are higher as well. Looking at NYS property taxes, the school tax portion makes up the largest percentage of property taxes. So, if you require a Master's degree for your teachers, the people are going to pay for it. It also varies within the state: New York state schools ranked by spending per pupil: Look up, compare any district | syracuse.com

Another thing to consider in terms of urban schooling is the aspect of immigrant/refugee students in relation to suburban school districts. Urban districts not only get a wide range of students economically, but they are probably or are likely to get more ESL/immigrant/refugee students as well. This has an impact on the stats, if there is a one size fits all approach to schooling, without taking into account the different makeup of urban, suburban and rural school districts. This is something that needs to be addressed appropriately as well.

I don't think anyone is saying that charter and magnet schools are the answer, but it is a piece to the puzzle in terms of having educational options in an urban school district due to the more complex and diverse student body in many ways.
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Old 08-23-2014, 03:27 PM
 
Location: North Beach, MD on the Chesapeake
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School taxes are the largest portion of property taxes most places. Most school systems, at least in the NE and Mid-Atlantic, require teachers to be Master's holders, some sooner some later, so that really can't be a variable.

Back to planning.
Schools have been a component of Planning for decades. Where will schools go, what populations will they serve (hence the general areas schools will go to), what's the maximum distance we want students to have to travel? All those go into school planning.

Those questions are all determined by various Master Plans and predictions of growth and development patterns, some of which go out 20 years.
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