At What Point Do We Start Deriding Public Schools as Just Another "Entitlement"?

Comments

1
New math:

The speed at which American society changes to match Idiocracy is directly proportional to the number of Republican "ideas" implemented.
2
Goldy, what makes you think there aren't already people out their promulgating that concept? Didn't one GOP presidential candidate recently state that going to college was something perhaps many young people SHOULDN'T do?
3

The disparagement of any type of "professionalism" is a constant them of the entrenched powers.

They are forever trying to erode the value of the middle classes, dependent on specialized tasks, by claiming that their "expertise" is non-essential to the task performed.

We see this in every field -- from medical to technological to educational to air traffic controllers.

4
TFA makes education cheaper which makes it affordable for local governments. For better or worse, education is already unsustainable. WA proves this as attested to by our supreme court.

Is TFA as good as a trained, veteran teacher? Perhaps not. But until you manage to raise revenues to afford "qualified" teachers, what are your alternatives? If there's no money there's no money. Bigger class sizes or TFA?

I'd love to see teachers paid more and an adequate investment made in education, but let's first be honest about our options.
5
I've never understood why "entitlement" was such a bad word. People are entitled to Social Security and Medicare because they paid into the systems their whole working lives.
6
To your point, the Washington Post reports that TFA has just signed a Big Business Deal with the nation's largest for-profit charter school chain: Imagine. That's right, cheap labor for a company making its money off the public school system. Disgusting. And Imagine is further infamous for bilking the government via shady real estate deals made via public dollars.

These birds of a feather deserve an audit and public dismemberment.
7
Goldy, did you catch 60 minutes recent piece on Khan Academy?

Schools, like many of our institutions, need to begin to embrace technology to remain competitive in todays society not matter what their goal is, the goal here obviously being educating children. Teach for America is doing nothing new. It is bringing nothing new to the same problems. It's just bringing new Yard sticks. New ways of measuring teachers ability to do their jobs and students ability to learn their lessons.

In some schools they have started "flipping the classroom" where homework is done in the class and classwork is done at home. Kids are given the Khan Academy lesson the day before as homework to learn. They will then go over the problem in the class. When a child gets stuck, teachers are there for one on one assistance. Kids who don't have computers have access to computer labs that are open until 9pm.

Sal Khan would like to see Khan Academy in the classroom in order to assist a students ability to master a concept at their own pace. Teachers can also track, in real time, how each student is doing, if they are going too fast, or completely stuck (even showing what problems they missed, and how much time was spent on every single problem). Teachers time is then utilized efficiently to help their kids succeed, while students gain the independence to learn at their own pace, while still getting the assistance they need. Teachers become mentors instead of someone standing at the front of the class shouting.

THIS is the type of reform the classroom needs. Khan Academy is also testing english and other subjects.

Here's the video (warning, there's a commercial before, but worth sitting though the 20 seconds):
http://www.thegatesnotes.com/Topics/Educ…
8
How much would you have to be paid to move to the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota for 2 years? Would you stay there to be a public school teacher? Seattle is an outlier for the program. Most of the areas served have an impossible time finding anyone to teach, so it makes good sense to pay trainees a low wage to come in and commit to 2 years.
9
amen, Goldy.
10
@4 But they don't make education cheaper, at least not if you care at all about the end result. Low cost untrained TFAs degrade public schools and then come back in 5 years to sell the state a higher-cost less effective replacement.

The TFA is the razor handle. Charter schools are the blades.
11
Why do we in Seattle have to be so knee-jerk opposed to new ideas on how to do things in education? I consider myself a progressive, I like the Stranger, and I generally agree with Goldy and others on most issues you write about. But on education, I find your stance annoying and, frankly, a bit mindless. If we're going to talk cynicism, then I think we should talk about unneeded protectionism of teacher's unions.

Our education debate should be student-centered, not teacher-centered. The evidence is in, and, whether or not we like it, TFA is highly successful in just about every school district it lands. If we could open our minds enough to let them actually get a foothold here (most TFA placements went to Spokane this year), odds are our students would benefit too.

Now, I agree that charter schools aren't all good, and that they have distinct advantages that allow them to appear more successful than they are. In fact, I think it would be wise for us to separate the debates about TFA from those regarding charter schools -- the two are, after all, unrelated. But lets be too rash about charter schools either -- there are many other highly successful charter school models that ultimately influence the management/pedagogy of all public schools -- charter schools are a great way of getting some much needed fresh air into the public school system.

I don't expect you to turn around and start agreeing with me, but I would appreciate a bit more fairness in reporting on this issue -- could we at least acknowledge that there's a middle ground here and stop being so partisan?
12
Now ALL levels of schooling can be exactly like your first two years at University*!

*because your parents were too dumb to have you do those two years at a CC and then transfer.
13
@5,
The GOP uses that word to scare their voters (old, white, christian males) into thinking minorities are stealing their money from them because they feel "entitled" to it.
14
There can be no question that public K-12 education needs to change. That's not in dispute. Despite what you may have heard, there are no defenders of the status quo. The question isn't whether public education needs to change but how it needs to change.

The billionaire-funded Education Reform propaganda machine is promoting a specific set of "reforms", none of which actually improve education for students or close the academic achievement gap. Instead, their pet programs and solutions are all about putting money in their pockets - either new money they will get from the privatization of schools or existing money they will get to keep by reducing the cost (and quality) of public education.

There are some other promising reforms, such as hybrid classrooms that make excellent use of both individualized instruction on computers and collaborative time with teachers and classmates, "flipped" classes described above, and wrap-around services. You don't see the same controversy over these changes - changes that actually make a difference for students and classrooms - as you see over the changes promoted by the Gates Foundation and its multiple astro-turf finger puppets.

So let's not waste time with false dichotomies. It's not Teach for America or nothing.

Teach for America isn't a bad organization and the corps members are great people. Teach for America is a wonderful program in the parts of the country where it is needed. There are other parts of the country where there aren't enough certificated teachers. The choice there is long-term substitutes, other emergency credentialed teachers or Teach for America corps members. In those areas Teach for America may be the best choice, but not in Seattle where we have 100 qualified applicants for every teacher job. Having corps members here is like sending CARE packages to Bel Air.
15
@11 guillermin wrote: "TFA is highly successful in just about every school district it lands"

This is a false statement.

Teach for America corps members are no more effective than other novice teachers and novice teachers are the least effective.
16
@11. Goldy provided 3 peer-reviewed articles saying that the evidence shows that TFA members do a worse job than certified teachers. Your claim without evidence to the contrary is therefore unconvincing. If "the evidence is in", as you say, then let's see it! Til then, I'm with defending the public schools from the constant disparagement and attacks they receive.
17
If Goldylocks doesn't believe in 'school choice' how come he has chosen to send his little angel to school on Mercer Island and not his assigned Seattle school, Rainier Beach?

What's next, will Goldstein be deriding Apple manufacturing while watching his AAPL stock skyrocket?
18
The authors and reviewers for this study are bona fide, qualified, pHdeified, members of the Education certification industry do you think that there is any way that they could release a study that showed teachers who did not benefit from their beneficence as being anything but under par?

Using the mendacious, manipulative, language check "under certified" instead of "not certified" should give you a hint as to how they will access these TFA "not teachers till they sit in my classroom" scabs.
19
"The TFA is the razor handle. Charter schools are the blades."

Dirge, I write for an education blog (Seattle Schools Community Forum). I like your phrasing and I'm going to use it.

"Why do we in Seattle have to be so knee-jerk opposed to new ideas on how to do things in education?"

We aren't. There are MANY ideas about helping education but the money and power in this town want two things; charters and TFA. There has got to be room at the table for MANY ideas, not just two.

TFA has NEVER, in any school, in any district, in any city, in any state closed the achievement gap. So don't say "the evidence is in" because it isn't. TFA uses its OWN research or non-peer reviewed research.

TFA wants to win at any cost. Examples?

How about the local TFA head being a references for three different recruits?
How about two of those recruits naming each other as a reference?
How about one recruit trying to apply for a job through a university job fair and she didn't attend that university?
How about one recruit naming a reference who was on a hiring committee?

Yup, public disclosure e-mails show all this happened.

Every single TFA recruit costs a district extra money. In Seattle, it's $4k per year per teacher, Federal Way pays $3k. In some parts of the country, it's $10k!

Seattle's contract allows them an "out" by saying only "donors" can pay the fee. Last year, it was Seattle Foundation but they have said they aren't paying this year. So now the district has to find another donor.

So I have two questions:

To the Board: when do you see being able to justify to any school, any program, any principal, any teacher, any student that kind of money out of our General Fund for vastly undertrained, inexperienced teachers?

To the four principals who hired the TFA teachers: if the district said you had to pay that $4k per teacher, would you take it out of your own school budget?

Also, how about a huge shout-out to Americorps? They have many more young people in our low-performing schools than TFA, work for a lot less money and are providing valuable tutoring and mentorship to children in SPS.

More of Americorps, less TFA.
20
@7, your post is blatant marking for Khan Academy. For you to tell us that "Sal Khan would like to see Khan Academy in the classroom" just underlines the fact that all sorts of entrepreneurs are positioning themselves to make money by transforming public schools into private businesses. That's not innovation; that's for-profit capitalism being pushed into classrooms.
21
@11
"Why do we in Seattle have to be so knee-jerk opposed to new ideas on how to do things in education?"

Whoa! Do you even live here? There are all kinds of new ideas being tried.

"If we're going to talk cynicism, then I think we should talk about unneeded protectionism of teacher's unions."

Okay, whether you like it or not, coming down as anti-union that quickly in your comment tends to place you in a specific category.

"The evidence is in, and, whether or not we like it, TFA is highly successful in just about every school district it lands."

No. The evidence seems to be the opposite.

"I don't expect you to turn around and start agreeing with me, but I would appreciate a bit more fairness in reporting on this issue -- could we at least acknowledge that there's a middle ground here and stop being so partisan?"

Whoa x2. Tone trolling.
And an invocation of the Overton Window.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_win…
22
Goldy, TFA is not about making education cheaper. You know better than that—love them or hate them, that's unfair.

And while TFAers may not be better than certified teachers, the districts they're going into need all the help they can get--the inner-city and impoverished schools TFA serves are already practically hiring any body with a pulse and a vaguely relevant degree.

What TFA is really doing is putting talented and motivated graduates into underprivileged schools—graduates who would otherwise likely never see or interact with those communities.

Some stay, most don't ... but then again, most certified teachers don't either.

The difference is that TFA grads go into things like policy, law, public health, foundation work, etc. And their TFA experience is meant to help inform the choices they make there. It's about changing education at the bottom and the top simultaneously. (And at least they're staying within the public system, not out running charter schools or for-profit monstrosities.)

Which is not to say they can't be sanctimonious about it, or ruthlessly efficient in seizing opportunities to place teachers. But, right or wrong, they're playing a different game than the one you're measuring.
23
Looks like the model for public school privatization is exactly following the model followed for prison privatization. That's proved to be a real bonanza and I'm sure this will too.
24
@22/PEM. Sorry but UR wrong and Goldy is right. TFA didn't start out with the goal of making education cheaper, but it has now been co-opted by an overreaching leader and quietly pushed by conservatives who want to undermine Labor and public schools. TFA is far, far, far from its roots. It's a crime, really.

You are wrong that it isn't tight with charters. Where else will charters make a buck if not using cheap labor, which TFA is more than happy to supply. TFA uses civic-minded kids as pawns in its insatiable desire for influence and $$. TFA has just partnered with the largest …. Imagine Inc, the charter company, is gross. Makes $$ off shady real estate deals. The whole thing stinks.
25
@22: Are you implying that the Seattle Public Schools "are already practically hiring any body with a pulse and a vaguely relevant degree"...? Because that's what kicked off this conversation: TFA's contract with the Seattle Public Schools.

You want to talk about some reservation in the middle of nowhere, that's different. But any TFA hire in Seattle is taking a job away from a trained and certified teacher, so I fail to see what the rush is to hire untrained, uncertified ones.
26
@ Chris Jury ... about as far off track as possible.

Seattle is an outlier for the program. Most of the areas served have an impossible time finding anyone to teach, so it makes good sense to pay trainees a low wage to come in and commit to 2 years.

We are talking TFA here not Americorps of Jesuit Volunteer corps. TFA Corps Members get the same wage as a beginning fully credentialed teacher and perform as the teacher of record. This is not a situation of paying a low wage to trainees.

Committing to two years is unacceptable in a place like Seattle or Huntsville. Why create even more instability with a rapid turnover of marginally trained teachers in schools with high at risk student populations?

WHY? because this is all about TFA as an organization not about students.

Seattle is hardly an outlier. The TFA strategy is to do this in as many school districts as possible. Check out Huntsville, Alabama.

This is clearly a strategy from the Eli Broad play book. TFA in Seattle originated in a complex web of deception. Maria Goodloe-Johnson bought every plan fed to her by the Eli Broad Academy (she even got to sit on the Broad board).

Here are my two letters:
(1) to Tony Martinez of the State Auditor's Office in Seattle
http://www.school-truth.com/3-18-2012-Ma…

(2) to the Seattle School Directors
http://www.school-truth.com/TFA_letter_3…

Goldy has this TFA scam correctly identified.

Now let's see what those four current directors that voted for this TFA crap on several occasions do this time. (DeBell, Carr, Martin-Morris, Smith-Blum)
27
@ PEM 12:14 PM

And while TFAers may not be better than certified teachers, the districts they're going into need all the help they can get--the inner-city and impoverished schools TFA serves are already practically hiring any body with a pulse and a vaguely relevant degree.

I thought this discussion was about TFA in the Seattle Public Schools?

What are you talking about?


TFA newbies are not better than Traditionally certified new teachers. TFA teachers leave their assigned schools far sooner than Traditionally certified new teachers.

In Memphis where there is a large TFA presence: In four years, the TFA teacher return rate drops to under 9%. That just over 91% of TFA teachers will have to be replaced every four years.

TFA is a TEMP agency for teachers .... why are they in Seattle? Ask the 1% ers.

or ask Directors DeBell, Martin-Morris, Carr, or Smith-Blum.

28
"The difference is that TFA grads go into things like policy, law, public health, foundation work, etc. And their TFA experience is meant to help inform the choices they make there. It's about changing education at the bottom and the top simultaneously. (And at least they're staying within the public system, not out running charter schools or for-profit monstrosities.)"

@22 Very funny. So the TFA beliefs about education will shape all these leaders? Great, that's all we need.

But TFA shoots them out like Tribbles so yes, they are everywhere and frankly, it's a little creepy.

Apparently you aren't keeping up. TFA just - proudly - partnered with one of the worst charter groups in the country. For-profit and everything. And the charter bill that Senator Tom was trying to force through the Legislature (and still is) - for-profit charter management welcome on the public dime.

Do keep up, please.
29
@20 I certainly use Khan Academy, but have no other affiliation. Have you seen it? It's goddamn awesome.
/nerd.

I mentioned Sal Khan's point of view because he doesn't agree with the "flipping the classroom" technique that schools are using.

Also, if you watch the video, he said his intention is to always keep KA non-profit. You can take him for his word or not.
30
@29: Just because it's a "non-profit" doesn't mean that the operators don't make big money. Don't know anything about Sal Khan himself, but non-profits can be quite lucrative.
31
As well, the charter law bill says that only non-profits can START a charter school but then they can promptly contract out all services including the management and operations of a school.

I get what GlamBot is saying, though. The Khan Academy could have great applications but we still need teachers in a classroom.
32
I'm still confused as to how it is that education is considered underfunded when we're spending three times the inflation adjusted cost per pupil as we did 40 years ago. How is education underfunded when enrollment has increased around 10% in the last 40 years, while education employment has increased around 90%?