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Old 10-18-2009, 12:27 PM
 
Location: Sandpoint, Idaho
3,007 posts, read 6,287,688 times
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Hi UU,

I was a working-class kid in one of the worst K-8 schools in the District. Burbs but low end. Although I cannot pretend to have the real-life experience of the inner city experience as a kid, we had no rich people and a pretty tough crowd. The saving grace was that I am part of the pre-coke and pre-crack generation and the generation where teachers still had some respect.

The problem comes with the exit option. If any funding source of key human capital do not have their needs met, they will leave. White flight of the 1970s. "Educated" flight of the 90s and 00's. Firms first leaving the cities, laying off union workers, and now outsourcing.

While I understand the logic, if the present structure is kept in place, I cannot foresee poor urban districts consistently creating the AP, IB, and gifted programs of high-end suburbs. In spots and for a limted period of time, sure. Any measure to impose the taxes that would fund such schools would be push even more people out. This approach has for the past 45 years led to a steady decline in student achievement for the average inner city kid.

Think of this from the microeconomic POV of each key stakeholder.

Companies? They will not foot the bill unless there is a financial quid pro quo.
State taxpayers: already are overburdened. There is not a state in the 50 states that would complete close to voting to increase taxes for wealth redistribution.
Local taxpayers: This would trigger an immediate exodus. Look at NYC. The taxes are crippling, with CT, NY, and NJ burbs getting the creme de la creme.

There is more hope with administration and teachers, but the "urban premium" will have to increase substantially to attract and retain top talent..

I just do not ever see this happening on mass, nor have I seen such a scenario work in 40+ years.

What has worked and what can work is "less is more." An AP curriculum is easy to design. The costs are at the level of personnel (admin and teachers and staff). IB would be even more expensive. The question then is how to deliver those core elements.

Remember I am talking about bonafide inner-city schools where the entire set of stakeholders are trying to squeeze water from rock. Think Richmond, CA; Washington DC; Parts of NYC or Chicago, etc. Tough places with little money

I do agree that the fringe schools like yours and my high school where there is mixing of classes, those kids are just a few programs and teachers and admin away from a nice education. However, for the kids in the worst districts, the are effectively sentenced to a life of poverty. It is these schools and their districts that need a complete redesign and rethink.

These are the schools and districts I was referring to: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091017/ap_on_bi_ge/us_detroit_youth_left_behind (broken link)


S.
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Old 10-18-2009, 01:36 PM
 
10,624 posts, read 26,736,582 times
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My district was an inner city school with high poverty in some schools (including my junior high, but not my high school), but I think its saving grace was that unlike big cities like DC, LA, etc., there was always a core group of kids who never left. My junior high was definitely inner city and pretty rough, but high school was a different story, in part due to disproportionate distribution of money and power within the district. The junior high district was draw to include both the wealthiest part of Minneapolis as well as the poorest, and yes, there were sometimes tensions. I think Minneapolis' liberal politics helped keep people in the city (Minneapolis-style liberals were often embarrassed to send their kids to private schools or move to less diverse suburbs), and, because there were programs like IB to keep them from leaving.

Things like AP and IB or other magnet programs are done in big city districts and are currently one of the only ways to even tempt the other parents back into the system, as well as to give inner city kids a fighting chance at getting into a decent college. Unfortutately the funding is always an issue, and while sometimes the parents in certain schools either give or raise the extra money necessary themselves, that still doesn't help the kids who don't have access to those schools. In city districts like Minneapolis the current goal should be to prevent parents from fleeing (and therefore upping the poverty levels in the schools even more), while districts with already established high poverty/disadvantagead schools need to somehow attract parents with choices to stay with the district, with the hopes of helping improve everyone's lot.

I agree that the system as a whole needs a massive overhaul, and think that the fundamental problem is the way the schools are funded.

My home district is Minneapolis, but I've worked in related educational fields in DC, LA, and Pasadena (CA). In DC we were starting to see some excellent public elementary schools with some real access to good education for both the District's wealthier and very poor kids. It dropped off in junior high, though, as parents with choices didn't want to risk their kids' education in the DC public schools. In some ways the creation of magnets (which also helped save Minneapolis's schools, I think) and pockets of really good schools makes the problems worse, as they sometimes seem to benefit at the expense of other schools in the district that lack the same levels of political or financial clout.

(and, to compare MPS and DC, DC schools have a 70% free or reduced lunch rate; MSPs rate is 66%, so they're not all that different from pure poverty standpoints, although there are major other differences, including MN's historic high willingness and ability to fund its schools).
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Old 10-18-2009, 01:53 PM
 
Location: Live in NY, work in CT
11,298 posts, read 18,888,129 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uptown_urbanist View Post
Sandpointian, that's about the best, succinct description I've ever seen. It truly is a problem that extends beyond just the students, or just the school, or just the family. I especially like the references to the business community; there's often a lot of discussion about teachers, adminstrators, and parents, but I think in general there's a lot more that local businesses could do to help the problem.

I attended a pretty rough junior high school, one with a mix of college-bound kids from fairly privileged (sometimes financially, sometimes just because our home lives were stable and we had parents who cared about education) and kids who were on track to drop out as soon as they were old enough. A major local employer sponsored the school, and did everything from paying for "extras" (art supplies, special classes, etc.) to scholarships to inviting all the eight graders to the company one day. We were encouraged to dress up (oh, was my 8th grade interpretation of business clothes funny), and then we were each assigned (according to interests) to in small groups shadow various employees at the company. They treated us to lunch, we talked about our educational plans and hopes for the future, and overall it was a great experience. I got that sort of thing from my parents anyway, and from family friends and family members, but for some of my classmates it was the first time they'd ever set foot in an office, and the first time someone outside of school sat down and talked to them about what they wanted to do in the future. I don't know if the program is still going on, but I'd love to see more programs of a similar nature (or read more about other such programs). What was especially nice was the personal nature of the involvment; they weren't just throwing money at the school (although money is always good, too). I don't know what the formal evaluations of the program were like, but it seemed like an excellent example of how businesses can help make a difference in the local schools.
What businesses can REALLY do to help is let parents be parents while also letting them have a career that will let them both be a positive example to their kids and society and give them the means to live stably in one place.

Too much of the work world now, be it overtly or implicity, is looking for people who can essentially devote their entire waking lives to work, and does not care at all about the family.

In the 1950s (albeit with usually a stay-at-home spouse which most can't afford to do anymore and also, I'm not saying it should be quite this way either) business actually considered you to be "abnormal" and NOT someone they wanted to see in their ranks if you didn't have a spouse, kids, and a semblence of an outside family life.

The way it is today for the most part is either you have a job where you are working and/or traveling all the time, or you're paid so low you have to work 2 or more jobs that take up all your waking time to get by (which an earlier poster noted as well). This results in either having an outsider look after your kids all the time (if you have one of the "rich" jobs) or your kids being alone much of the time. I can't imagine this helps with kids' attitudes either. I know of a rich suburban district where they actually banned homework at the lower elementary levels because many hi-powered 2-career families said they really only have time for dinner and putting the kids to bed and no time to deal with homework. It's pretty sad.....
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Old 10-20-2009, 07:44 PM
 
1,450 posts, read 4,252,375 times
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I know what the OP means, some things never change.

I went to school in Detroit, a working-class neighborhood, from a family that respected and valued education. We went on a field trip to a museum and stage play. There were kids there from other schools in the district, you could tell they had never been anywhere. The acted like animals, running and screaming up and down the isles, etc. One pulled my hair and said "get out of my way, white b****" as she ran past me in line. Guess what color she was?

During the play they acted up so much, they stopped the play 2x and asked them to settle down, they proceeded to throw stuff at the actors, they ended the play, police were called, we were escorted onto our bus by police and taken back to our school. What a shock, I couldn't believe kids would act like that! I was about 10 at the time, judging from the op, nothing has changed in some areas. Some kids act like animals regardless of any "great society" programs. BTW, the group that was out of line was a racial mix, black & white, just a group of out of control animals. I pity anyone teaching in such an environment.
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Old 10-21-2009, 02:16 PM
 
Location: Sandpoint, Idaho
3,007 posts, read 6,287,688 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marylee54 View Post
I know what the OP means, some things never change.

I went to school in Detroit, a working-class neighborhood, from a family that respected and valued education. We went on a field trip to a museum and stage play. There were kids there from other schools in the district, you could tell they had never been anywhere. The acted like animals, running and screaming up and down the isles, etc. One pulled my hair and said "get out of my way, white b****" as she ran past me in line. Guess what color she was?

During the play they acted up so much, they stopped the play 2x and asked them to settle down, they proceeded to throw stuff at the actors, they ended the play, police were called, we were escorted onto our bus by police and taken back to our school. What a shock, I couldn't believe kids would act like that! I was about 10 at the time, judging from the op, nothing has changed in some areas. Some kids act like animals regardless of any "great society" programs. BTW, the group that was out of line was a racial mix, black & white, just a group of out of control animals. I pity anyone teaching in such an environment.
Their world is such that the kind of behavior you describes imparts zero cost financially and socially (and in terms of the school & parents) onto the kids. Lord of the Flies. In another day and age, the teacher would let them know in no uncertain terms (either by bark or ruler) that their unruly behavior would not be tolerated. Today? Kids know they are untouchable and parents will almost always back the terrible kid over the teacher and school. And admin, fearing bad PR and lawsuits, will reprimand the teacher.

In the end, there is not only parental flight from such districts, but the flight of caring teachers, administrators. Only the rotten core remains and a few fragments of good kids who either by a thin wallet or ignorant parents are trapped to share the same fate as the rotten core.

And note that part of this flight is the willingness to engage morally across races and classes. It has been a long time since a liberal White/Jew talked down to some of the more ridiculous kids or parents. Recall the speech of RFK the night of MLK's assassination...such a speech would be impossible to give today. Impossible. But with silence, those with means will protect their assets, but those with little, will get even that taken away from them.

On net, the upper middle class and above live much as they would otherwise do. But the very poor and moderately poor lose their only lifeline.

This is what is happening today. The poor are just getting hosed and pushed further into the poverty trap and cycle. I highly doubt that even the more hardcore White supremacist could have designed a welfare and educational system as punitive to urban Blacks as we have seen since 1964. Although it may not have been so obvious back then, but the very poor should have voted for Goldwater, a classically liberal and actually quote sympathetic Republican...

S.
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