Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Despite media-driven public outrage over inequality in student achievement, the term "the achievement gap" is nothing more than a modern day repackaging of an age-old, universal component of social stratification - educational inequality. This is not to say that lowering the achievement gap is not a worthwhile cause. After all, that is largely the point of public education.  Raising the prospects of students who might otherwise become a burden to themselves, their families and society for generations to come is a large part of what schooling is all about, the inherent joy of learning notwithstanding. But when taken too far, advocating to close the achievement gap is no different than advocating to end class structure - a utopian goal of socialism. The "closing the achievement gap" mantra has become a  tool of civil rights provocateurs to advance the interests of their political agenda and, in the process, those of the unions and bureaucracies they control.


In this milieu rages the national education debate between, on the one hand,  education bureaucracies in concert with  teachers unions, both of which collectively advocate the status quo through traditional funding and no clear reforms, and, on the other,  the somewhat disparate reformists who support alternative models to traditional public school such as charters and vouchers.  The whipping up of public discontent over the achievement gap  benefits both sides, though each is working to a different end and each has a different agenda for the future of public education. By highlighting failure the establishment wants to promulgate the simplistic notion that lack of progress is due to lack of funding and  the reformists want to convert public discontent to increase interest in the alternatives they have offered. Both stand to benefit by underscoring the problem implicit in an achievement gap, even if that gap is nothing new or different.
At stake is how and where tens of billions of education dollars should flow each year here in California and, to a larger extent, across the country. Under Governor Brown the education establishment  has rallied support for the new finance mechanism, the Local Control Funding Formula, for 8 years of increased education spending  and particularly among the lowest performing student groups, thereby successfully perpetuating its own hegemony as a fundamentally and perennially unchanged public institution for the foreseeable future, though decision-making has moved considerably away from Sacramento towards the LEAs.


Social justice advocates, by portraying the achievement gap as a civil rights issue, have diverted blame for underperformance away from the public education establishment, of which they comprise a large part,  and the individual, whom  they ignore - to place it at the foot of society. We are told that underperformance and poverty are one and the same and that the cause  of educational inequality is racism and greed. Because status quo forces of the teacher's unions and the ed bureaucracies have no clear vision for the future of remediation other than to continue to throw more money at the problem, a hollow agenda the public sees through, they play the race/minority card instead, the old ploy of extremists. They characterize unequal student achievement as a singularly society-induced failing  but fail to mention that it's an individual failing as well because personal effort relates to the core of learning -  attitude and responsibility.  Why reflect on individual responsibility when one can point the finger of blame on racism and find encouragement in  doing so?

The social justice advocates have statistically tethered academic underperformance and its corollary, poverty, for modern era, data-driven consumption and  conveniently repackaged the relationship as the product of manifest greed and racism - turning education into a socially-induced illness to be remedied through delivery of a social service rather than an personal opportunity to be gained through individual effort. 

Contrary to the claims of social justice, correlation is not causation and poverty and low achievement are not joined at the hip as some poorer, primarily Asian cultures demonstrate by overcoming  "poverty-induced low achievement". The statistical inference nevertheless has given the self-described social justice advocates an "in" to promote equal educational outcome as the new civil rights cause célèbre, ignoring the significant role that the culture, the community, the family and the individual, in particular, play in the education of itself. That and the fact that massive past spending has failed miserably to combat low performance doesn't stop big business government forces from advocating for an unfettered monetary fix. In the process that fix has conveniently buttressed the position of those establishment forces despite widespread dissatisfaction over low achievement in public education . Under those circumstances LCFF is quite a coup for the status quo,  particularly as it seems to be hailed far and wide as a great reform to public education. We shall see.


Education experts roundly claim that low-performing students cost more to educate, but decades of experience at remediation equates only with more cost not more educational benefit. The channeling of ever-greater resources for low-performing students has resulted in incremental achievement gains at best and taken a toll on the rest. Over the years billions of dollars have gone into remediation efforts and costlier smaller class sizes, but there's been little to no payback in the form of educational progress to show for it - California has continued to slide. In an era when Serrano's constitutional imperative of equal educational funding is cast aside, how long can the collateral damage of large class sizes and reduced services for everyone else be contained? Will the achievement gap be resolved top-down rather than bottom-up? Will middle class flight and attrition lower the bar? There are already signs of this happening.


SFUSD and the Federal government  plowed windfall amounts of money into what's called the "Superintendent Zones" and, meanwhile, the high performing schools have been stripped to the bone during the Great Recession. After several years of a funding strategy during which time some students received double to triple the funding compared to other students, many of whom were and continue to be underperforming as well, the net result of this policy is a nominal average increase in low end achievement, [some schools actually did worse despite millions invested - see SIG post], accompanied by an overall decrease in the district-wide API achievement data for 2013.  Expensive efforts at remediation of non-Asian minorities here and statewide have come up empty year after year. Stymied by lack of innovation and beholden to staid union rules that impede any innovation, the education policy experts have not enunciated  a way forward to close the widely publicized achievement gap here in San Francisco and around the state.

Instead the Local Control Funding Formula was conceived to punt the football to the districts and give  them free reign to redistribute greater funding towards remediation, upping the ante on failed state categorical policies and programs. That is to say, the State has no idea what to do about education except to put the responsibility for achievement on the districts, a sign of capitulation, and to give them more money tied to some  vague and meaningless standards with no state oversight .  No entity willingly cedes power unless it has thrown in the towel.  It is ironic that this return to local control is happening at the same time and in conjunction with a nationalization of the curriculum and standards.

What we have now are California's school districts emboldened over the self-control afforded by the LCFF's base, supplemental and concentration grants  and no one is  talking about real reform - increased school hours, a longer school year, better teaching quality and commensurate pay raises to attract the best and brightest. We should be talking about how to drive up student interest in seizing the constitutionally afforded opportunity of public education - not perpetuating the fabrication that educational outcome or equal student achievement is a right regardless of effort. What social justice advocates choose to overlook is effort because that doesn't comport with more money for schools.

Both the constitutional mandate of public education and common sense tell us that equal opportunity is not equal to equal outcome, but this reality does not dissuade politically-motivated opportunists from crying foul when that equal opportunity does not equate to equal outcome. On the other side,  reformers  want to highlight failure in traditional public schools as a means to generate interest in the alternatives - charter schools and, to a lesser extent, vouchers, regardless as to whether these reforms yield better results. These same forces are also behind the high stakes testing regimen and the nationalization of curricula and standards known as Common Core.


That the achievement gap is and will always be doesn't mean we shouldn't try to close it. Reducing educational stratification should be a priority and therefore money should be spent were it is shown to have proven benefits.  But closing the gap isn't the only priority or necessarily even the highest and at present there is no cost/benefit system in place for the billions we spend. High school proficiency is an essential  stepping stone even if in itself it does not promise more than poor to mediocre job prospects in the age ever-expanding and specialized college-based  requirements. Without it a whole social class of students  is relegated to a life of despair and poverty if they are unprepared for higher education. At the same time, without more funding to promote excellence many proficient students will fail to achieve more than mediocrity. Only those who can fully utilize educational opportunities are going to reap the benefits of them and that, just like remediation, costs money.  That's why we need to show proven results for the money we spend to remediate, much of which is wasted, and practice an allocation scheme that nurtures the best from students of all stations.


Refocusing education funding to dramatically overweight remediation at the expense of excellence speak volumes about our current educational system. The extreme weighting that is LCFF is a threat to educational excellence and the majority of dedicated students who have much to lose under this new educational funding scheme. It's ironic that the constitutional requirement of equal educational opportunity is getting short shrift from social justice advocates who decades ago wholeheartedly supported the fiscal equalization that was Serrano , but who today advocate for the opposite - unequal fiscal policy. There's no question that compensatory education is expensive and necessary given the costs of remediation but the question is how much and for what benefit? We cannot keep throwing money at a problem simply because it is deemed the right thing to do with or without results. There's nothing right about spending precious resources and getting a poor outcome from the targeted students for whom the money was intended.

Under the guise of a modern civil rights quest we are fomenting a state of educational mediocrity in which we may be less so much unequal, but equally so much less. Excellence may be the price we pay for keeping our moribund education establishment intact,  unreformed, and growing ever larger. 


Anonymous said...

7:26, don't be idiotic.

We all want to end poverty. We want equal opportunity as much as possible. But Don is right, we're throwing good money after bad out of a sense of guilt. We are not asking for anything in return for the money, like harder work. We're just hoping it turns out OK. Much of the spending is feel good, more arts, more P.E., more psychologists. These kids need to read and do math to get out of poverty. They build in a negative defense mechanism that they can't escape poverty. Meanwhile, those in many cultures routinely escape poverty by hard work, and our educational system says nothing about it or blows it off. Union leaders obsess over poverty and don't even mention those who overcome it, and how. They will talk about Asian gangs or Hmongs to avoid the discussion, when Asians kill 1/7th as frequently as whites and even Hmongs, adjusted for income, outperform whites in school.

There is a weird addiction to talking about poverty. Washington D.C. spends over 30k a pupil, yet has no better results than San Francisco, Los Angeles, or New York, spending about 10. It's not to say it's not possible, I believe Michelle Rhee would have made progress if she'd not been forced to resign and had another 10 years, but you have to change the culture.

It's not society's fault when men abandon their children. Poverty can't be blamed. Poverty was far worse in 1950 and abandoning families was rare, even though by today's standards, over 90% of people in America would be considered "in poverty" now. It's not society's fault when a parent doesn't make a child study and let's them watch 40+ hours a week of TV. It is the individual's fault.

We need to focus on changing culture. We need to offer services that matter. A huge percentage of spending is superfluous, a jobs program.

Anonymous said...

The union is a problem, they talk about poverty not in an intelligent, let's find a solution way, but as a means of defending the status quo. The status quo is failing. We need drastic change.

Now they want to return affirmative action to UCs. We've had nearly 20 years and no one has found a way to close the achievement gap, and now they want to just go back to letting in people who aren't qualified and having quotas.

How about affirmative action from years 3-17 so people can compete in college, get in and earn it. Tutoring, pre-school that is not unionized and focused on flash cards and actual learning, having monthly seminars focused on the link between low TV and future grades, SAT, graduation and income, between high reading, high homework, using resources like libraries, etc.

Instead we get the failed status quo, the worst achievement gap in a state behind in a nation behind, and all the union can do is complain about poverty.

What about South Korea? 75% of them are in poverty by our standards and they beat us in math. Hello!

It isn't poverty, it's the negative attitude towards society, hard work and assimilation that goes with it, it's the culture of poverty.

And most of the spending isn't focused or goal-oriented. They don't say what will have the biggest impact on the achievement gap. We just spend to spend.

Meanwhile there are a lot of kids working their butts off in San Francisco, not getting services and spending, not making excuses, making the best of it, and basically being ignored. I can't believe how many nasty things people say about Lowell even though it's mostly made up of kids who do what you're supposed to, 40% of whom are in poverty, day in, day out, weekends, etc., and on SFKFiles you get a woman saying Galileo is better because her daughter can buy chocolate at Ghirardelli, predicting she'll make the Ivy League from there (let's see if she ever reports in 4 years if that comes true) despite rejecting a challenge, and whining about poverty, testing, and anything that focuses us on being able to identify what works and what doesn't work.

Schools have achievement low on the priority scale. 47% of teachers are bottom third college graduates, and this general attitude is passed down to the children.

Teachers could convince kids to work hard no matter their parents, as generations of teachers have taught kids of racists to be in favor of integration, interracial marriages, etc., have taught kids of homophobes to be open-minded, kids of smokers not to smoke. Teachers need to teach kids of slackers to strive and really work to achieve their full potential. This is on SFUSD's web site, but few teachers or board members really focus on trying to help kids achieve their full potential. What percentage of SF kids do achieve their full potential? And whose fault is it?

And if you spent 30k instead of 15k on each kid who is slacking, will you really get better results? Maybe if it's on a tutor sitting next to them, but not if it's what they're spending it on now, that's for sure.

This is my opinion, and you are free to dispute it.

Anonymous said...

Don, I know what you're doing. You're making a case to defund poor schools and give the money to rich schools. You should be ashamed!

Anonymous said...

It's like you say we need to remediate students and in the same breath say we shouldn't. If you don't want to pay to lower the achievement gap have the balls to say so!

Anonymous said...

I'm all for lowering the achievement gap, but we are spending money badly. Also, SF has to compete for high income students and is failing, with a huge white flight problem and a higher than anywhere else private school percentage. We're one of the most liberal cities anywhere with one of the highest private school attendence percentages, which deprives the poor kids of much needed middle class classmates and friends. The whole purpose of the lottery is that the poor will learn from the middle and upper middle class, learn their habits, learn they don't watch much TV, they read a lot, they study, they sacrifice, they stay married, they value family, the use any service, etc. Many consider a B an F. Sonia Sotomayor was dirt poor and learned from the good students.

But then we drive many out by spending so little on some schools. The schools on the west side are severely underfunded. Why chould a kid in the Sunset get less funding than a kid in Orinda or Walnut Creek or Burlingame, just because there are poor people in the same city.

The other concern is the money is doing no good and would do more good with kids who appreciate the spending.

For all the spending, when I go to the Mission or Bayview, I don't hear a lot of an attitude of you're really are making do with less at many schools, San Francisco really gave us money, thanks so much, we're going to do everything we can to make sure our kids study long hours and use every service and thank you for this extra money and make sure it is not spent in vain.

All I hear is complaints. I hear that due to the PTA the schools on the west side have more. Nonsense, Don demonstrated that even with the donations, the SZ schools have far more. SFUSD spends on two meals per day per child and every family that is poor is eligible for food stamps, yet I hear complaints that kids can't learn because they're hungry?

We have one of the best high schools but half the comments I hear about it bitch about it, like it's a bad thing we have a school ranked 41st in Newsweek and in the top 10 in schools of over 1,500 students.

Once in a while it would be nice to get some gratitude and work in turn.

As Clinton said, a hand up, not a hand out. That is apt here. We're spending money but not getting results. Go to a free library in the Bayview on Saturday, you see kids hanging out, and only Asians at the library. We can't close the gap without effort on both sides. What we're getting now is tons of poorly spent money and in return, kids who could care less and aren't trying. If this weren't true, Washington DC would have great schools, 30k per kid spent. If this were working, we'd have at least a closing achievement gap. We have no results.

We'd get better results limiting spending at the SZ schools to what has been proven to be effective in terms of test scores and education, not emotions or job creation, and spending more on the schools where kids are working hard and doing their best, truly trying to achieve their "maximum potential", as stated on SFUSD's Mission Statement, not just using it as a catch phrase then watching TV 40 hours a week.

Any kid studying 5 or fewer hours a week outside of school has no right to ask schools on the West Side to sacrifice for them and is not serious about achieving their "maximum potential" If we're going to close the gap, we need sacrifice from both sides. That means sure, some funds, but in return, you go to a conference if asked, you study weekends, you study when you don't feel like it, you stay married even if you'd rather divorce because your kids are important, you say no to drugs and TV.

We hear kids can't focus because they're hungry and in these groups, far more are obese than on the West Side. We just hear victim stories, never determination to work harder.

Anonymous said...

How dare you try to start a movement like this to deprive the most vulnerable children of educational funds they desperately need because they are not living up to your white Republican 1% standards of behavior and maybe think society is unfair as it put them in that position. How dare you! This is despicable, horrible, reprehensible, evil, nefarious, wicked, cruel and vicious. You are all horrible people victimizing poor children! It's not enough the 1% have gotten 95% of the economic gain since 2008, you want to take what little the poor have and redisribute it to Zombie Asian sellouts and rich white schools like Grattan and Alamo and probably, if you follow the money, your own evil pockets Don! This is irresponsible for you to try to promote a movement which is targeting poor children who are starving, being molested, listening to their abandoned mother cry because she is so depressed she does drugs and attempts suicide and has to be a modern day slave sexually to old rich white perverts who are so morally bankrupt and anatomically inferior their only hope at true affection is paying the victimized single moms, and who have dads sent to prison for years for selling drugs to the rich white techies at Google and Yelp almost all of whom use cocaine, who are beaten and jailed and ignored and impoverished and sleeping in cars.

And you want to make it worse? This is the most evil post you have ever written! Phooey!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Don Krause said...


I'll take your criticism as words of encouragement.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

You people are hysterical.It's like you read a different post. Seems to me Don is speaking about balance and a little accountability. People who don't want to have accountability are guilty of something. You keep on keeping on, Don.

Don Krause said...


Make up your mind and do it before you say one thing and then the opposite.

Anonymous said...

I support accountability but not balance. The poor need more than the rich in school because the rich make it up privately. The rich lately have been acting like greedy scumbags. They were more even-handed in the 1980s when they were raising minimum wage and helping the poor. Now the Republicans are blocking a raise in minimum wage even though it wouldn't hurt, just out of keeping the poor down, it seems like a conspiracy theory like Phooey says, knowing there will always be desperate females for their amusement.

There's no way the top 1% deserves 19 of every 20 dollars of economic expansion. They own the means of production and therefore, legally they are able to decide, but they have a responsibility to be fair morally. Instead they're taking almost all of it. Just because they can. We need a revolution man. The rich are acting like a bunch of bullshit. Pure greed, not cool.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I'm not focused on results? I'm focused on results like children staying sane and alive and not making a mistake that addicts them to drugs the CIA brings in or gets them a life sentence or leads to suicide or death by gang warfare. These kids have no resources and are under constant abuse. You're lucky if they learn the skills to hold a minimum wage job and not quit in a rage or smoke crack. They aren't going to be Rhodes Scholars. We have to raise minimum wage, and increase the earned income tax credit, increase taxes on those who are stealing all the increase in the economy as you note above by offshoring and lawyer tricks and abuse. They are stealing 19 of every 20 dollars for the 1%. And you blame me and say I'm not focused on results? I think everyone's income in the top 1% should be frozen and we should require the next 10 years' growth go exclusively to the bottom 95%, or even the bottom 20%, to even out this big theft they concocted over the past 6 years. And then Don wants to take from these abused, impoverished people to give to the rich? Are you kidding me? Let's defund the SZ schools so they become horrible wasteland ghetto schools like the underfunded schools in Los Angeles that have metal detectors. This whole thread is really disgusting to me. Phooey!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Don, you're getting better and better. Keep up the good fight, brother, and don't let the riff-raff keep you down!

Don Krause said...


You keep attributing things to me that I never said. I don't like that. If you continue to do so, instead of responding by correcting it, I will simply delete your comments like I did the last one. You are free to contest anything I say, but not things I didn't say.

Siobhan said...

I think that, social justice concerns aside, it's a red herring to discuss the 1% here. They're not attending SFUSD. There is a remnant middle class still around that can't afford private schools but isn't eligible for free or reduced lunch. I think that some of the concerns about equity for higher achieving public school students is directed at these students/families. If you tell the middle class that there won't be ANY provision made for GATE or advanced placement, you are telling them to either move, or sacrifice retirement for private or parochial schools.

Don Krause said...


Of course you are correct. The 1% has nothing to do with it. If I got in the habit of addressing all the ridiculous things that are said on this blog, I'd spend more time on that than I would on writing the posts.

Some of the detractors want to convert my message from the one I intended - which is to have some balance in acknowledgment of the needs of all students, not only those who are failing. The idea that creating this balance is robbing from the poor to give to the rich is just so much nonsense. That vast majority of those "rich" kids aren't rich at all. Most aren't even solidly middle class based upon SFUSD demographics.

I appreciate that you pointed out this red-herring.

In the meantime SFUSD is busy getting rid of honors in middle school which is bound to drive more people out of SFUSD. They'd do it in high school if they could, but that's largely off limits as colleges decide what is required for admission.

RemyMarathe said...

I've been reading this blog for a while but I think I might have to stop. Or at least stop when I reach the comments suggestion.

Don's posts are uniformly reasonable and constructive. That's not to say that I always agree with him, but he does always make clear arguments and supports them with evidence.

Then I get below the fold and my head explodes. There must be some internet law about the most reasonable content attracting the most insane commentary.

Phooey, are you for real or are you a troll? Most trolls don't have the dedication you've displayed so I have to assume you are for real.

Which terrifies me because I have a four year-old in SF. I believe in public schools (my mom teaches 3rd grade in another state) and going private would be a real stretch for my family financially.

But even you are representative of even a small percentage of SFUSD teachers, I might have to seriously consider it.

Or, again, maybe I just need to stop reading the comments section here. I think it's starting to make me hate humanity.

Anonymous said...

That phooey person is beyond belief. I still can't believe she's for real.

Anonymous said...

So, Don, what do you propose, exactly? How would you set up the compensatory education to provide "balance"?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

What exactly are you trying to say here? I'm confused.

Don Krause said...

Someone else asked me what I would propose as solution. It's a fair question because I only laid out the problem as I see it. Without going into great detail I would first employ a per pupil minimum statewide and to be applied at each school - not handing the districts money with full discretion over how to spend it. After all, the base grants, like revenue limits before, are set according to a formula by the state and while the bucket analogy still applies, that grants are fundamentally paid for, for all intents and purposes, by Californians, with some minor exceptions - meaning that the funding is subject to the Serrano's mandate of equal educational opportunity just as was revenue limits. Therefore, everyone should have an equal piece of the base pie. How big a piece is something I cannot answer. But I will say this: while some students cost more than others and understandably so, if 50% of the students are not proficient and need remediation, is it right that those who don't need remediation only get only half of their constitutionally protected educational opportunity as it equates to base funding so that others can get double?

Apparently asking for a little moderation is just another form of extremism.

Anonymous said...

All bargaining proposals will be evaluated based on SFUSD goals and the six key strategies for success identified in the Impact Learning. Impact Lives. strategic plan.
Goal 1: Access and Equity – Making social justice a reality by ensuring every student has access to high quality teaching and learning.
Goal 2: Student Achievement – Create learning environments in all SFUSD schools that foster highly engaged and joyful learners and that support every student reaching his or her potential.
Goal 3: Accountability – Keep District promises to students and families and enlist everyone in the community to join in doing so.

Anonymous said...

When I read these alleged goals of the district and the union, I think Don's right that they violate their own principles and ideals in almost everything they say or do. I wonder what Phooey thinks of these objectives. If this were actually true, they would never argue for the rules they have. The irony is beyond belief.

Don Krause said...

I did some reading on the school district website about the LCFF. It talks about per pupil funding through the LCFF mechanism. Schools don't get per pupil funding from LCFF. They get it from weight student formula. So the district gets a certain amount per student from these 3 grants, but it is under no obligation to pass those same weightings onto the students. They can change the weighting however they like as long as they meet the guidelines of the accountability plan, which has no enforcement.

Because it is easy for the district to play with funding in ways that make it very difficult to follow, what I do is look directly at the school budgets and compare them. As you know some schools get WAY MORE than others after all the various funding streams are tallied. Of course you have to account for size, grade, number of FREE AND REDUCED, sped, etc.

SFUSD is talking about revisiting the WSF to reweight it, but that doesn't tell the whole picture. There's still TI, QEIA, TIIBG, etc.

What really tells the story is a visit to schools to see the staffing, class sizes, etc.

Anonymous said...

I only have one question after spending an hour reading the whole thing and every comment. What? Maybe public schools failed me too because I have no idea how all this fits together. It makes no sense to me.

Anonymous said...

I figure that's because Don has stopped deleting comments that make no sense or don't have any relationship to the subject. Or so he said. Did the original post make sense to you?

Anonymous said...

Well some things do seem to be responses to things which are no longer there. Like why are we discussing the federal income tax structure? How can you freeze income? I don't get it really, some stuff comes out of nowhere.

Anonymous said...

There are least a couple of trolls on this blog. One is a crazed foul-mouthed elementary school teacher and left-wing revolutionary named Phooey and the other is a person who pontificates until the cows come home about study habits and bad teachers. I've read many rebukes by Don, but it looks like he's given up trying to rein them in.

Don, turn on the garbage disposal.

Don Krause said...

I have deleted a few comments, but at this point it's water under the bridge. I will attempt to actively moderate more often to remove off-topic, repetitive or offensive comments.

I hope that the quality of some of the commentary will not dissuade you from participating. I welcome your thoughts.

Don Krause said...


The funding of education is complex and it is no surprise that it is confusing. I don't think you need to be an expert on these issues to have reasonably informed ideas about school funding. In this case I'm simply advocating that every student be given a fair share ( per pupil minimum) before funding is distributing in larger shares to others.

Anonymous said...

I thought the weighted students formula is a weighted per pupil amount for each student. No?

Don Krause said...

Like a sugary beverage tax. The heavier the student, the less funding.

Don Krause said...

"Yet gifted youngsters are widely neglected. Because they’re
already above the “proficient bar” in academic achievement at a
time when most federal and state policies are fixed on boosting
low achievers over that bar, schools and teachers have little incentive to focus on their educational needs or to devote resources to
their schooling. And if we can extrapolate from the Ohio data—
that state accounts for about 3.7 percent of all K–12 students in
the land—the United States may contain as many as six million
high-ability youngsters whom it is not educating to the max...
This neglect isn’t just a matter of fairness and equal opportunity
for kids. It’s also a matter of long-term societal well-being."

America’s ability to compete economically on a shrinking planet,
as well as our national security and cultural vitality, depends to
a great extent on whether today’s ablest girls and boys are wellprepared
to become tomorrow’s scientists, inventors, entrepreneurs,
engineers, and civic leaders. Yes, it’s important to impart
proficiency to every young person in the land. But it’s at least as
important to equip those likely to be the next generation’s pathbreakers
with all the learning they can absorb. Our education system
at every level needs to view human capital development more
comprehensively than it has. The system also needs to be able to
“walk and chew gum at the same time,” i.e., to tackle the challenge
of underachievement even as it devotes concentrated attention to
youngsters with enormous high-end potential.

Copyright © 2014 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. All rights reserved.

Chester E. Finn Jr. 197

Reprinted from K-12 task force Hoover Institute

Anonymous said...

But what about the poor students? You have to make them happy or they will be dangerous. What if a great student who will do something great instead gets killed by a crack head who would have never tried crack if he had a decent education and a job with a good salary and respect and dignity? Or a meth head? We need to help all.

Anonymous said...

And? Are you saying we have to spend more money to get a decent education for poorer students? Don't they already get much more? And how's that going? What about changing a few union rules to help out the kids? How much would that cost California? Nothing at all.

Anonymous said...

But it would cost teachers job security and happiness and put pressure on them. It would make them less happy. It would be seen as a victory for Michelle Rhee which could lead to further attacks on teachers and damage to their quality of life. Her ultimate goal is to make teachers at will employees who lose out to age discrimination like engineers do, with far less pay. She also endorses tiger mothering which is horribly abusive and narrow. If you change one rule, it opens the floodgates. It's like how they got Russia to give up the Ukraine, then forced them to give up their other territory, all of it, now are mad when they take a part back that over 95% of wants to be part of Russia. If we say let's change one rule because a kid got molested, pretty soon it's two, then three, then our lives are destroyed. It's a very slippery slope. It could be quite humiliating for us in the long run.

We have to find a way to fix these problems without changing anything about the employment contract we currently operate under. People died for these rules and sacrificed for them and earned them. That has to be a nonstarter. Vergara will fail and those girls will be forever remembered as evil losers who tried and failed to villainize, humiliate and destroy the lives of millions of noble teachers who sacrificed their lives for children.

Anonymous said...

What if some teachers made more because of merit pay and voters willing to spend more knowing they are accountable? I believe much of why they're underpaid is that people resent the LIFO statutes.

This is about social justice. What can we do about it? What we're doing is failing. Ending LIFO would work. It would set a better example for children. Our current social justice plan du jour is failing.

Don Krause said...

Regarding Vergara trial:

"State Defendants’ and Intervenors’ next witness was Dr. Futernick, a professor of education at the Center for Teacher Quality at California State University—Sacramento. Dr. Futernick testified about teacher turnover in high poverty and high minority schools. During cross-examination, Dr. Futernick agreed that:
• Improving teacher quality is the most important thing we can do to close the achievement gap between white and minority students.
• It is possible to measure teacher effectiveness, and growth in student achievement is one of the factors used in measuring teacher effectiveness.
• There are incompetent teachers in schools, as well as teachers who have lost the will to teach and help students, and teachers who entered the wrong profession.
• If ineffective teachers do not improve, they should be dismissed.
• Teacher turnover harms students, and one of the causes of teacher turnover is district-wide reductions-in-force.
• It is possible both for a misassigned teacher to be effective and for a correctly assigned teacher to be ineffective."

Anonymous said...

Hey 10:10, you should testify for the defense in that court case going in LA right now. You could say we need to keep the laws the way they are to keep teachers happy and employed. Is that about the gist of it?

Anonymous said...

If you want them happy to be happy take them on walks at least twice a day and don't overfeed.

Anonymous said...

10:10, one way to keep the current employment contract as is but improve things would be to significantly raise taxes, perhaps another 2% on income over a million plus a 0.5$ VAT Tax, and use the money to pay for tutoring or Kumon services, and that way we could probably close the achievement gap with the current LIFO rules. I think we should put it up for a vote. The status quo is doomed to have an achievement gap continue. We won't have a fair state with equal opportunity without fixing the achievement gap. Why not instead of a yes no, just agree the status quo is unacceptable and have a statewide initiative. We can choose one of two things, A is we end LIFO and seniority/tenure, and make it easier to fire ineffective teachers, and B is we leave it as is but raise a .5% VAT and 2% over a million a year income tax for after school, Saturday and Summer tutors. Either way we close the gap, bit in one teachers lose, and in the other we all equally share the loss.

Which do you think would win?

RemyMarathe said...

Teachers don't lose with either one.

With choice A, *Ineffective* teachers would lose. Ineffective teachers would win.

Sounds fine and fair to me.

It's almost like how it works for the rest of us in the real world. Imagine that?

RemyMarathe said...

argh. I meant that EFFECTIVE teachers would win, of course.

Don Krause said...

4:55, supplemental education services are paid millions to provide various kinds of after school tutoring and such. They are considered an abject failure. Students who are failing in secondary school have very low attendance and don't go to afterschool tutoring programs. Hello!

SFUSD has 55,000 plus on the books, but if you look up the ADA on the CDE website it's less than 50,000.

These students are not going to be knocking down the doors to go to tutoring and especially something like Kumon which is only useful for the most disciplined and/or obedient students.

Your answer to the problem is to raise taxes and provide more services? Really? How did that work out with SIG? Did you read the post about the small benefit for the millions spent? Was it incorrect or did you just forget?

You are employing a very behaviorist model of inputs and outputs. When you have no cooperation you can't use these old-fashioned concepts. You can't whip kids into submission. And why would you want to? That has nothing to do with education.

Anonymous said...

But what if you did the Harlem Zone method, required it between 3-6. Actual tutoring, not just an after school program of people looking busy. You're right, they won't sign up on their own unless convinced it will make them money. What if they required it to get food stamps or Section 8, that your child attend until 6. Kind of like workfare but to guarantee kids aren't like the parents. They require shots to start school, they could require if you don't test advanced or proficient, you show up consistently.

Or alternatively, we could just forge ahead with the status quo and hope things change.

The more I read all the responses, the more I think there will still be an achievement gap in 50 years no better than the one we have today. Depressing!

Don Krause said...

If you linked food stamps to attending tutoring classes would you starve students for failing to attend?

Anonymous said...

Which is the same as saying if you go to class you can eat.

Don Krause said...

Citing Whitehurst and Croft, some go further, arguing that the charter schools themselves may not be as good as Geoffrey Canada and the Harlem Children’s Zone claim:

Mr. Whitehurst’s 2010 Brookings analysis went further, noting that test performance at the two charter schools was only “middling” among charter schools in Manhattan and the Bronx, even though higher-performing schools, like those in the lauded KIPP network, had no comparable network of cradle-to-college services.[51]

However, the full quote from Whitehurst and Croft puts a slightly different spin on the argument:

The inescapable conclusion is that the HCZ Promise Academy is a middling New York City charter school. There are two credible studies demonstrating that charter schools in New York City are strong performers as a group, producing superior gains for students compared to traditional schools in that city. Thus the HCZ Promise Academy is up against strong competition. That it is in the middle of the pack is not an indictment of its effectiveness by any means.[52]


Don Krause said...

There's a great deal of respect all around for what Jeffrey Canada has done in the HCZ onn many levels, not just on the test scores which are controversial. The two large questions as it applies to taking the same type of program elsewhere are 1. is it scalable and 2. how is it paid for?

Anonymous said...

Is it too late to comment. This story intrigues me.

Anonymous said...

I think you could deny the parents benefits if their children don't attend tutoring. It's more the parents fault than the children. But that's the problem, people will say what about the poor kids, but then the kids end up being like the adults who spawned them. They seem innocent, but by saying they must have food, you enable the parents to repeat what caused them to feel they ain't gotta bring the kids to the tutor. Its' a sad cycle. It's like when I watched the Godfather. I wished I was that horse I was so bored. Oh brother. This is getting dull. Bring back that smart guy who uses the big words. He seems like a smart guy who had too many Schnopps drinks. Oh brother. I'd say find a way to penalize the adults. But SF will never do it. According to progressive doctrine, the poor can do no wrong, they're always noble, which leads to them always being poor, and the beat goes on. The goal is more to replicate poverty than truly fight it. Yawn!

Anonymous said...

Let's hear more about the mirth and the woody hills jackass. Where's Phooey?