SL 679

Busy day here. I’m juggling five different essays/articles right now. I really need to just finish one of them and get it out, instead of tinkering on all of them simultaneously. I have to get some real xmas shopping done, order cards, and usher a group of high school boys with Aspergers around town for the tree lighting.

After of a couple of years of solid anti-charter school activism, there is suddenly a backlash from the charter school advocates. The fact that a majority of African-Americans like charter schools is a real vulnerability. Elizabeth Warren is suddenly on the defense, because charter school advocates showed that she sent her own child to a private school. There’s a lot of chatter on twitter about her recent interview with the NEA.

The outcome of this impeachment thing is predictable and depressing. It’s pretty clear that our tacky president is a buffoon, but the Senate is going to give him a pass. I don’t see anybody watching the hearings, other than geeks like me. Nothing has happened will change anybody’s mind. Nothing that has happened in this full year of the Democratic primary will change anybody’s mind; Biden’s got it. I thought that Mayor Pete had a shot last week, but now I’m recanting.

Here’s a lovely profile about a lawyer in Cleveland who sent away for his birth certificate to learn about his birth parents. Turns out he knew his father.

(Series of pictures taken by Jonah, when we were in an outdoorsy shop in Scotland this summer.)

13 thoughts on “SL 679

  1. A deep dive into charter schools should look at what happens to the students after they graduate. I had a long conversation yesterday with an African American student who went to one of Chicago’s many, many charter schools. His conclusion was that they were just a scam – the entire focus, 24/7, was on getting a good ACT score, so that every student could get into college and they could brag about that. Five or six years later, most of them did not finish college; the schools did not teach them the skills they needed (he’s smart but his writing is terrible) and presented college as a simple solution to all of life’s problems.

    I’m getting this impression from some of the many other charter school students who wind up at our regional state university. Several other freshmen (also African American) have been completely floundering in one of my intro courses this semester, and when they came in for conferences I was shocked to find they had been at fabulous-sounding charter schools.

    Obviously public schools can do a terrible job as well, and maybe it was enough for these schools to keep these students interested in learning for a while. And of course we don’t get the top tier of any schools. But as college becomes less popular, I wonder if this kind of college prep will lose its charm.

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  2. So that’s what happened to the Fantastic Mr. Fox!

    I can’t find it right now, but I believe that there are some charter schools that realize they have a problem with their graduates’ college performance and are starting to provide support in college.

    https://edsource.org/2015/charter-school-supports-grads-through-college/72002

    “Only about half of first-generation students graduate from college within six years, compared to almost two-thirds of students whose parents have some college experience, according to a 2011 UCLA study.”

    “Partner colleges typically offer an orientation for KIPP students and their parents. They agree to provide someone on the campus as a point person for KIPP alumni. That person often also works with other low-income, first-generation students. The point person and a KIPP college retention counselor help the students connect to resources on campus, such as tutoring or the career center, support them as they navigate financial aid and job opportunities, and encourage them to get involved in clubs or take advantage of networking opportunities through volunteer work. They also help make space available on campus for “KIPPsters” to meet.”

    Related: the number that keeps turning up is that there’s a 5% college graduation rate for college students with ADHD.

    https://wcfcourier.com/news/local/for-adhd-students-transition-to-college-is-tough/article_950df28a-ac05-5b50-8768-2ed34aa05376.html

    It’s very understandable why students who need a lot of structure (i.e. what is provided by quality charter schools) flounder once they move into a less structured environment.

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  3. It’s pretty clear that our tacky president Donald Trump is a buffoon criminal but the Republicans in the Senate is going to give him a pass don’t think that laws apply to Republican presidents.

    Fixed that for you.

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  4. Teaching to the test is hardly limited to charter schools, though it is presumably rare at inner city public schools which have given up, and are teaching to the “minimize official disciplinary reports” standard. https://quillette.com/2019/12/01/when-disruptive-students-are-coddled-the-whole-class-suffers/ The curricula at Exeter were explicitly tailored to the AP syllabi, and on several occasions our math teacher mentioned a topic that might be interesting, but that we would skip because it wasn’t on the BC syllabus. Not that my life is measurably poorer because I never studied polar coordinates or matrix algebra.

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  5. Really, the main reason why parents in lower-income neighborhoods, especially minority, choose charters is for the school climate. They want their kids to be in classrooms where the behavior standards are high and are met. Full stop. They also want a peer group for their kids whose parents are attentive to what their kids are up to. I have to say that some of the behavior at our inner-ring suburban high school was problematic. My kids never acted out themselves (as far as I know), but they saw a lot of behavior that I worried they would come to accept as normal.

    I think teacher unions do a lot of good, but if they could get behind real solutions to the disorder in our public schools (not just restorative justice but some solutions that would raise the overall level of conduct among students), they would have the support of the public and especially parents. As it is, they seem to be ducking this issue.

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    1. Teachers’ unions have wholly lost my support, I view them as ready to sacrifice the interests of the kids to those of their members.

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  6. EB said,

    “I think teacher unions do a lot of good, but if they could get behind real solutions to the disorder in our public schools (not just restorative justice but some solutions that would raise the overall level of conduct among students), they would have the support of the public and especially parents.”

    And teachers, too!

    Lack of backup from the administration with regard to behavior problems burns out a lot of young teachers.

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  7. This is an interesting piece:

    http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/12/elizabeth-warren-charter-schools-unions-parents-choice-education.html?utm_source=tw

    Elizabeth Warren said, ““I had a lot of folks visit my office and say, ‘I love my charter school,’” Warren said in the video about constituents who wanted her to support expanding the charter cap. My question always was, ‘If you don’t like your public school, what’s going to happen to the rest of the children who are there?’ Because we don’t have an obligation to just a handful of our children. We have an obligation to all of our children.”

    ““If you think your public school is not working, then go help your public school. Go help get more resources for it. Volunteer at your public schools. Help get the teachers and school bus drivers and cafeteria workers and the custodial staff and the support staff, help get them some support so they can do the work that needs to be done. You don’t like the building? You think it’s old and decaying? Then get out there and push to get a new one.””

    Jonathan Chait notes, “Notably, Warren personally sent one of her children to a fancy private school. That is not an option that’s available to low-income parents. (Nor is it scalable: Studies have shown that private-school vouchers, in contrast to public charters, do not work.) Warren’s own decisions do not by themselves invalidate her policy stance. But it shows that even for a parent with the extraordinary intelligence and social capital of an Elizabeth Warren, personally fixing a neighborhood school is a hopeless task.”

    That’s a gotcha, but it’s not unfair. If Elizabeth Warren, with all of her advantages, could not get her local public schools to work for her kid, what kind of chance do poorer and minority parents have?

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    1. “You don’t like the building? You think it’s old and decaying? Then get out there and push for a new one”
      This is hypocritical crap from Warren. She is putting the responsibility for a broken system on the least broken, but still challenged, members of disadvantaged communities. The moms who are working a job and a half and can see that their kids are being poorly served in schools where behavioral norms are not enforced – they are supposed to go to interminable meetings with school boards?
      They need an opportunity to vote with their feet, and Warren is setting out to deny it to them.

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      1. ds said,

        “This is hypocritical crap from Warren. She is putting the responsibility for a broken system on the least broken, but still challenged, members of disadvantaged communities. The moms who are working a job and a half and can see that their kids are being poorly served in schools where behavioral norms are not enforced – they are supposed to go to interminable meetings with school boards?”

        Yep. It is a “let-them-eat-cake” moment.

        Not least because (as we have discussed) parents are working on a deadline. On the one hand, that means that parents are easy to dismiss and evade because eventually individuals will age out of the system and the problems will become moot (at least from the school’s point of view), but the flip side of that is that parents do not have time to waste, so they cannot afford to invest the kind of geological time necessary to achieve small changes in large school systems–especially when large changes are needed.

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  8. Note, by the way, the tendency to load up already burdened individuals who have very little power.

    For example, Warren is charging lower-income families living in neighborhoods with bad local public schools to be the ones to fix those schools…which they would have very little say over even if their kids went there.

    Likewise, at a higher socioeconomic level, it’s somehow the responsibility of middle class parents to put their kids in lousy schools (that again, they would have little say over) and somehow magically fix them.

    It’s all too common to insist that parents have the obligation to participate within systems where they have no power and get very little respect. This is quite unique as a societal demand. There’s no parallel anywhere else in contemporary society where people are expected to make such large sacrifices that they have not voluntarily and explicitly signed up for.

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  9. Here’s a piece on tough love for high school seniors:

    https://slate.com/human-interest/2019/12/college-dreams-say-no-avoid-student-debt.html

    “I’ve continued my scared-straight campaign ever since, periodically texting Ella links to articles about twentysomethings with $100,000 in debt, describing how massive student loans would hamstring her future. While there may be a few good reasons to opt for a fancy college and suck up the student loan debt (you need a really specific program, for instance, or statistics show you’ll earn far more money after you graduate), those didn’t apply to Ella’s situation. “If you want to be an artist and you graduate with a ton of student loan debt, you can’t afford to be an artist, anymore,” I told her, explaining that you become a creatively stymied wage slave instead.”

    That is an excellent point.

    “Eventually, our prolonged brainwashing attempts seemed to succeed with Ella. She started talking about how reluctant she was to go into debt for college, like it had been her idea all along. She even thanked us for being upfront about the financial consequences of college. This fall she applied to exactly two universities, in the Venn diagram overlap between “schools we can pay for” and “schools where she actually wants to go.” They’re not art schools, but both have stellar art programs. Her guidance counselor, whose only focus is getting in and not paying up, thinks she’s crazy to limit her options like that, but we’re thrilled that the highest tuition at either is around $16,000.”

    !

    I know that Laura has talked about how there aren’t enough guidance counselors…but sometimes guidance counselors have really bad ideas.

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