“We want education”

From inner-city Detroit, a group of boys know they’ve been wronged by the corrupt, liberal-union run system. Heartbreaking:

About 50 high school students at Frederick Douglass Academy in Detroit were suspended Thursday after walking out of classes to protest a host of issues at the all-boys school.

The concerns included a lack of consistent teachers and the removal of the principal.

The boys, dressed in school blazers, neckties and hoodies, chanted, “We want education!” as they marched outside the school.

Parents organized the walkout because they fear for the school’s future. As recently as last month, students spent weeks passing time in the gym, library or cafeteria due to a lack of teachers, parents said.

Suspend them for demanding a real education. Brilliant solution. But therein lies a kernel of truth: the boys would be better served reading a book at home than they would at their failed state-run institutional school where learning never takes place:

“They’re failing these young black men,” said Sharise Smith, who has two sons at Douglass.

Smith said her son received an A in geometry during the first semester without taking a final exam.

“It was by default, just for showing up. It wasn’t because he earned an A,” Smith said.

An A for showing up: given the graduation and literacy rates in Detroit as a whole, that isn’t surprising.

Related on Detroit schools: Liberalism gone wild: how to reduce the stigma of a free lunch


Good school or not, Liberty Middle in Fairfax County should serve as a warning

Or, reason to homeschool number 10,018.

Via the Daily Caller, the problem with rabidly liberal teachers in institutional settings:

A Virginia middle school teacher recently forced his students to support  President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign by conducting opposition research  in class against the Republican presidential candidates.

The 8th grade students, who attend Liberty Middle School in Fairfax County,  were required to seek out the vulnerabilities of Republican presidential hopefuls and forward them to the Obama campaign.

“This assignment was just creepy beyond belief — like something out of East  Germany during the Cold War,” one frustrated father, who asked for his family to  remain anonymous, told The Daily Caller.

The assignment was for students to research the backgrounds and positions of  each of the GOP candidates for president and find “weaknesses” in them, the  parent explained. From there, students were to prepare a strategy paper to  exploit those weaknesses and then to send their suggestions to the Obama  campaign.

Liberty teacher Michael Denman, who declined to comment, unveiled the  assignment in mid-January when he broke the Civics Honor’s class into four  groups, one for each Republican candidate. The students were then to collaborate  as a group and research the backgrounds of their assigned candidate.

Denman assigned two kids to write a paper revealing the identified “weaknesses,” two to write the attack strategy paper and two others to locate an  individual inside the Obama campaign to whom they could send the  information.

At least they weren’t singing songs to Dear Leader, but I’m sure that’s what happened in the non-Honors classes. I’m not sure which is creepier at this point: forcing kids to do oppo research or actually sending it in to the Obama campaign. I would have loved to have seen how Denman graded the “projects.” 10 out of 10 for correct liberal thinking! 5 out of 10 for not assessing the evil weakness of Rick Santorum’s patriarchal religious affiliation and  obvious misogyny. Yea! 10 out of 10 for seeing how easy it would be for Obama to defeat Obama-lite, that etch-a-sketch Romney!

Liberty Middle ranks as a 9 out of 10 on greatschools.org or in the 91st percentile for the state. In theory, it should be one of the shining examples of where folks would aspire to send their kids. In reality, it serves as a shining example of what’s wrong with state-run education in the hands of liberal union shills.

UPDATE: Allahpundit puts shelves politics and looks at the bright side: he says the teacher should be praised for teaching the kids how to be young, enterprising journalists. Heh. He writes:

The good news: The class is now more or less qualified for work in America’s mainstream media. If you’re going to push your politics on kids, at least teach ‘em a trade.

He may or may not have also told them to send their research to Obama’s campaign. Another useful journalistic skill — learning to coordinate with Democrats for professional gain and the advancement of the cause. In a world of high Hopenchange unemployment, shouldn’t we congratulate this guy for looking out for his students’ bottom line?

True enough. At the rate jobs are disappearing, better cover your bases!

Supporting deficiencies

A sinkhole of funds and expectations, good ol’ public schools. From my local paper, the Colorado Springs Gazette, a summary of the poor math performance among high schoolers:

But in the six largest districts in El Paso County — Colorado Springs School District 11, Academy School District 20, Falcon School District 49, Harrison School District 2, Widefield School District 3, and Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 — fewer than 50 percent of 10th graders scored proficient or advanced in math. Over the last five years scores have remained flat, indicating schools haven’t found the silver bullet.
The humor lies in the end, where local districts detail the efforts being made to improve scores. In D-2, a fifth of 10th graders scored proficient or advanced in math: 21%. The plan to help won’t:
This year they rolled out a high school math program where geometry, algebra and other courses are integrated so students can see the connection between concepts.
In elementary school, Assistant Superintendent Dan Snowberger notes, they have set aside the idea that kids can’t get into higher math until they have memorized basics such as multiplication tables. “Some might never memorize it, so instead we get them engaged in higher math, scaffold the lessons and support them where there are deficiencies.” They are seeing positive results.
Scaffold the lessons and support deficiencies? Isn’t that what they did in Atlanta? Do you just supply a table for kids to look up the answer or a calculator. I’m not sure which is worse. It’s difficult for kids to grasp the interrelated concepts if they haven’t mastered the basics, i.e. memorizing math facts.
In a local charter school–the one with the highest scores in the county at 90 percent proficient or advanced–the explanation for success would prove unpopular. Why? It’s no longer politically correct:
Vanguard doesn’t socially promote kids, has high expectations and stresses parent support. Students are divided into zones based on ability rather than grade levels for math, and placement is emphasized in the first month of school. Students repeat material until they know it, and have an extra half hour daily for homework and extra help. The school uses Saxon math curriculum, which lays a foundation of skills and builds on it. Lectures are short; more time is spent doing problems so teachers can see issues and help.
No social promotion. High expectations. Parent support. Placement for ability. And what a kicker: students repeat material until they know it. That doesn’t sound like supporting a deficiency, eh?
Cross-posted at Potluck.

Theater of the absurd: white paper leads to racist attitudes

Of course. From the UK Telegraph:

Another staple of the classroom – white paper – has also been questioned by Anne O’Connor, an early years consultant who advises local authorities on equality and diversity.

Children should be provided with paper other than white to drawn on and paints and crayons should come in “the full range of flesh tones”, reflecting the diversity of the human race, according to the former teacher.

Finally, staff should be prepared to be economical with the truth when asked by pupils what their favourite colour is and, in the interests of good race relations, answer “black” or “brown”.

The measures, outlined in a series of guides in Nursery World magazine, are aimed at avoiding racial bias in toddlers as young as two.

According to the guides, very young children may begin to express negative and discriminatory views about skin colour and appearance that nursery staff must help them “unlearn”.

If children develop positive associations with dark colours, the greater the likelihood that the attitude will be generalised to people, it says.

Ah, but it’s across the pond. Where’d they get these crazy ideas anyway? Oh:

The advice is based on an “anti-bias” approach to education which developed in the United States as part of multiculturalism.

Fabulous. Now we export idiocy, too.

Will they ban the white crayons before or after the realization that white crayons mark on dark paper best? I’m sure that’s racist, too. Somehow.

Witches will wear pink. To avoid any negative connotations.

The Scarlet Letter has already been banned, I’m sure. The woods are too dark. Evil lurks in bright white spaces after all. Hell, better toss out all of Hawthorne. Dark and twisty soul, that man.

Oops. Pink and twisty, right?

It’s all a union plot to extract more money anyway. Colored paper costs more than white.  Oh, I suppose “colored paper”–even if it refers to blue or red–is now a slur. Non-white.

Speaking of unions, money and terrible state-run education: Pundette, About that “investment” in government schools.

What will it take to deem unionized state-run schools a total failure?

This stings:

For many students, getting a high school diploma doesn’t mark the end of a high school education.

Three out of four graduates aren’t fully prepared for college and likely need to take at least one remedial class, according to the latest annual survey from the nonprofit testing organization ACT, which measured half of the nation’s high school seniors in English, math, reading and science proficiency.

Only 25 percent cleared all of ACT’s college preparedness benchmarks, while 75 percent likely will spend part of their freshman year brushing up on high-school-level course work. The 2011 class is best prepared for college-level English courses, with 73 percent clearing the bar in that subject. Students are most likely to need remedial classes in science and math, the report says.

What is the point of having a high school diploma if it means nothing? Oh, I forgot, students cannot be held back for the lack of learning or in the absence of doing coursework. Might damage fragile egos. Oddly enough, I think the realization of a meaningless education might do more to damage one’s self esteem, but what do I know?

75% of state-run unionized schools are incapable of doing college-level coursework. Why they are admitted in the first place isn’t a puzzle: the longer a college or university can keep a student paying for classes that never earn credit, the more money said college makes. Cynical, yes, but true.

As far as 73% of students not needing remedial English: since colleges have long since abandoned basic grammar compliance, i.e. subject-verb agreement, in favor of multiculti descriptivist grammar, English 101 means nothing.

Much like that high school diploma.

Disingenuous Obama hack statement:

“These ACT results are another sign that states need to raise their academic standards and commit to education reforms that accelerate student achievement,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Tuesday.

What education reforms would Duncan have you believe are happening? After all, he’s granting waivers to schools as an exemption from No Child Left Behind standards.

Solutions? Stop pouring more money into schools as it only feeds the union beast. Starve the beast, then crush it.

Related: So college students can’t think critically, eh?

Unionized schools: doubling down on stupid

Stupid to continue the same tired formula with no success, that is. From the Colorado Springs Gazette, a grim look at student data:

Thousands of Colorado students are behind in school and most are unlikely to ever catch up.

More than 100,000 public school students in Colorado are not on track to become proficient in math or writing within three years or by the time they reach the 10th grade, according to a data analysis by I-News. That’s more than one-fifth of the 485,000 students taking the state’s annual tests.

In reading, more than 80,000 students are substandard, and the percent not catching up increased this year.

“We’ve gone as far as we can go,” said Jo O’Brien, assistant commissioner in the Office of Assessment and Research and Evaluation at the Colorado Department of Education. “Students not scoring proficient can’t seem to rise and tend to stay behind through graduation.”

That’s if they ever graduate. Can we all agree that state-run schools with strong teachers’ unions isn’t the way to educate the masses? How can a kid–identified early in his student career as in need of help–manage to never improve? It isn’t the lack of money, folks. It’s the tired, multi-culti approach that tells children good grammar is inherently racist. It excuses the lack of knowledge as culturally relevant. It demeans children who crave real knowledge with the garbage curricula they’re fed. 
My old principal used to say: if the student hasn’t learned, the teacher hasn’t taught. I rebelled against that for a while, arguing that it places the largest burden upon the teacher while excusing the student from any responsibility. And make no mistake: a kid has to agree to want to learn. But he was right, if the student hasn’t learned, the teacher hasn’t taught. The educational problems faced by school districts everywhere won’t be solved with unionized teachers forever protected from any responsibility or accountability of what their students learn.

Atlanta Public Schools ain’t so hot after all

Why isn’t this a surprise?

Across Atlanta Public Schools, staff worked feverishly in secret to transform testing failures into successes.

Teachers and principals erased and corrected mistakes on students’ answer sheets.

Area superintendents silenced whistle-blowers and rewarded subordinates who met academic goals by any means possible.

Superintendent Beverly Hall and her top aides ignored, buried, destroyed or altered complaints about misconduct, claimed ignorance of wrongdoing and accused naysayers of failing to believe in poor children’s ability to learn.

For years — as long as a decade — this was how the Atlanta school district produced gains on state curriculum tests. The scores soared so dramatically they brought national acclaim to Hall and the district, according to an investigative report released Tuesday by Gov. Nathan Deal.

National acclaim for cheaters. Maybe Joe Biden delivered the award?

These kids have been cheated. Robbed of an education. But the union shills still got their loyal dues.

Read Backyard Conservative: “APS is run like the mob.”

Ready to homeschool yet?

UPDATES: Linked by Pundette. Thanks! Read Teachers in Atlanta work their fingers to the bone. White gloves and erasers. Incredible.

Also, Kevin McCullough at Hot Air:

The improved scores and seemed improvements of the children had caused others to point to APS as a model for how to base other inner city/large urban schools systems should operate.

Exit question: how many other inner city/large urban school systems DO operate this way? At least we know Detroit doesn’t bother bubbling in the correct ovals, right?

Union workers can’t be bothered to pick up crap: stinky symptom of larger problem

I used to frequent this Metro station:

A Metro rider found an unpleasant surprise on his daily commute at the Franconia-Springfield station on Monday: human feces smeared on the pedestrian bridge into the station.And making matters worse, it was still there Tuesday and Wednesday. No one had cleaned it up.Austin Lasseter said he spoke to the Metro station manager on Monday, then each day thereafter. But she told Lasseter it wasn’t Metro’s problem. The stairs belong to Virginia Railway Express even though it was on the Metro side of the bridge.

“Everyone walks past it on their way into the station, and it stinks,” Lasseter said. “The station manager’s attitude is a perfect example of what’s wrong with Metro. They just don’t care about anything, even crap in their stations.”

Why should union workers have to care about anything? Jobs and bennies guaranteed, no effort needed. Just keep lining the pockets of Democrat benefactors and all will be well.

Speaking of Democrats, unions and crap, the President spoke yesterday, spewing lots of the latter. Pundette has it all:

Obama press conference live; Update: Corporate jet owners ruining America

Obama transcript and video lowlight

Almost done with the king’s speech

The best example of Dear  Leader’s excellent oratory: “Doing Afghanistan.” Pundette points to VDH who argues Obama’s best Huey Long impersonation falls flat. Well, Huey Long didn’t have a ‘prompter…

American students in state schools fail history

It’s much easier to divorce generations from their inheritance of liberty and self-governance if they have no idea of American exceptionalism in the first place.

U.S. students don’t know much about American history.

Just 13 percent of high school seniors who took the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress, called the Nation’s Report Card, showed a solid grasp of the subject. Results released Tuesday showed the two other grades didn’t perform much better, with just 22 percent of fourth-grade students and 18 percent of eighth-graders demonstrating proficiency.

The test quizzed students on topics including colonization, the American Revolution and the Civil War, and the contemporary United States. For example, one question asked fourth-graders to name an important result of the U.S. building canals in the 1800s. Only 44 percent knew that it was increased trade among states.

“The history scores released today show that student performance is still too low,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement. “These results tell us that, as a country, we are failing to provide children with a high-quality, well-rounded education.”

Education Secretary Arne Duncan blamed the emphasis on reading and math as a result of No Child Left Behind. Funny, that, since a student should have reading proficiency in order to read history.

Cue the dated “our failing schools need more money to thrive” track just in time for the unions to donate for the coming election.

Cross-posted at Pundit & Pundette.

What about the “moral obligation” to educate our students?

Former Assistant Secretary of Education under Bush 41, Diane Ravitch on the “morality” of firing bad teachers:

A few months ago, I spoke at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California. It is a Catholic university, located on a beautiful campus. After my talk, a member of the faculty gave me a ride back to my hotel in San Francisco. He spoke about his long career in parochial education and why he had become a college professor, mentoring many Catholic schools in the region. At one point he had been the principal of an elementary school. I asked what he did about teachers who were not doing a good job, and he described the help and support he and others would provide. I asked what he thought of the current zeal to fire “bad teachers.” He said something I will never forget. He said that we must remember that one has a moral obligation not to terminate someone’s livelihood and career without long and hard deliberation; to do so, he said, required taking responsibility for ruining someone’s life. We talked about the “reformers” who are almost gleeful in their zeal to fire teachers. He thought that they failed to recognize the moral dimensions of leadership.

 Responsibility for ruining one’s life and livelihood. What of the ones whose future lives and livelihoods are diminished as a direct result of teachers who have no business being (let alone remaining) in a classroom? If you’d like to argue economic impact, sending a bad teacher to work as a sales clerk has less impact than dooming a classroom of kids to less opportunity.

Ah, opportunity: apparently Ravitch doesn’t agree with the American way:

What do I conclude from these disparate thoughts? I think we are dealing with two very different mind-sets. One sees the school as a community, a place of learning where there is an ethical obligation to support both staff and students, helping both to succeed. The other sees schools as one part of a free-market economy, where quality may be judged by data; if the results aren’t good enough, then fire part or all of the people and close the store, I mean, the school and pick a new location. The former looks to teamwork and mutual support as guiding principles; the other prizes competition, leading either to rewards or punishments.

What’s scary is that we now see the advance of the free-market ideology across many states—Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, for example. We see strong support for the market basis of schooling in both No Child Left Behind and in Race to the Top. We see it with the advance of charters, for-profit online corporations, virtual charters, merit pay, and the proliferation of charters as a panacea. We see a continuing campaign to dismantle public education, privatize it, and turn it over to entrepreneurs of various stripes.

I see. Community good. Free market not just bad, but evil. Parents shouldn’t have the choice to send their kids to better schools. Heck, it’s morally wrong to label a school as better anyway. It’s just different, right? 

Quality can be judged by data. The Obamas send their children to a quality school “judged by data.” As do millions of others who can afford to do so. But good schools shouldn’t be reserved for only those with the means to opt out of poor-performance districts.

What, pray tell, is the solution in Ravitch’s mind? Worse than the same:

One of my fellow panelists was John Jackson of the Schott Foundation for Public Education. He said that he had recently visited some high-performing nations, and at each stop he would ask someone from the ministry of education: “What do you do about bad teachers?” The answer invariably was, “We help them.” And he asked, “What if you help them and they are still bad teachers?” And the response was, “We help them more.”

Of course. As someone who taught with a few folks who were eventually dismissed, I can say that no amount of persuasion can help someone who doesn’t want to perform better. You can model excellent teaching practice until blue in the face, but if said bad teacher chose his profession for June, July and August and not as a pursuit of excellence, it matters not. It’s the same with any job: if you want to do it well, you will work until you do. If your work ethic isn’t as inspired, find a place where your bottom feeding mentality doesn’t affect the lives of others.  

H/t: Big Government.

UPDATE: a “Featured Blog” at P&P. Thanks!