September 23, 2011

The "parent trigger" law lets 51% of parents petition to change a failing school and replace all the teachers or close it or turn it into a charter school.

A strange experiment going on in a California, Texas, Ohio, and Connecticut (and under consideration in many more states):
In essence, the law creates a parents’ union, which advocates say will provide powerful and needed counterweight to teachers’ unions and district bureaucracies....

[W]ith opponents and skeptics arguing that parents lack the expertise to make important policy decisions better left to career educators, the Compton case is a prime example of how challenging it can be to create change.

“We’ve been waiting for this for a very long time,” said Gregoria Gonzalez... “We are very tired of being told if we want to help we simply should stand outside watching recess or making something for a bake sale.”

95 comments:

Quayle said...

parents lack the expertise to make important policy decisions

The perennial argument against democracy and the people's control.

singleton said...

I think the "parent trigger" law is a fantastic idea.

John M Auston said...

I think nothing but bad will come from this.

It's hard enough for career scientists to come to terms with the unfortunate genetic-based realities of educational disparate impacts, let alone a majority of hardly disinterested parents.

I predict fairly regular turnover of teachers, or many closed schools, or lots of new charter schools.

And the new staff and organizations will get the same results, given the same students, as those thrown out.

Operating from a false, unexamined first premise, is a truly stubborn thing.

Mark said...

...unfortunate genetic-based realities...

AND we have our first Moby of the thread.

jimbino said...

Why just the parents? We non-breeders pay through the nose for this mis-education on the theory is that educated kids serve society.

We non-breeders are society, too, and I consider it unconstitutional to silence our voice in the matter.

John M Auston said...

Mark said:
AND we have our first Moby of the thread.

Could I trouble you for evidence of your position, or against mine? Or is ad hominem all you got?

Crunchy Frog said...

I predict fairly regular turnover of teachers, or many closed schools, or lots of new charter schools.

You say that like it's a bad thing. The true tragedy of public education nowadays is that patently incompetent and indefferent teachers and administrators are unfireable, thanks to the teachers unions and education lobby.

wv: onsureno - ondasher, ondancer...

Mark said...

I agree with singleton. I would have set the bar a little higher (60% or thereabout) just because I don't believe such a huge change in a community should happen on a 51%/49% vote, but that's better than having no way at all to shut down a sick school.

Mark said...

No, Auston, blatant race baiting deserves nothing but derision and contempt.

David said...

singleton said...
I think the "parent trigger" law is a fantastic idea.

The question is, what does it trigger?

Charter schools are not a panacea. There is a charter school in my community that has had three principals in a year and a half, and is basically controlled by a group of parents who are not competent even to hire a principal, let alone set up a functioning school. It's a mess, and has set back the cause of school reform.

Unless there is a well considered, properly administered and well funded school to replace the "failing" school, things can just get worse.

John M Auston said...

You say that like it's a bad thing.

Well, it will be, if the root cause of the under-achievement is not properly identified. It might not be the teacher's fault.

I'm no fan of "teachers", given their anti-taxpayer Union stances, but fair is fair.

Mark said...

Jimbino, your point is valid; bad schools affect everybody. A high school that can't get its students reading at 6th-grade levels probably does produce a lot of repeat-offenders, let alone citizens who can't read at a 6th-grade level.

I guess the point of limiting it to parents in the first place was to (a) provide less opportunity for Unions to game the process by using their tried-and-true expertise at gaming local elections and (b) to address the hyper-local nature of schools; one voting district can have several schools, and only one or two may be failing.

John M Auston said...

No, Auston, blatant race baiting deserves nothing but derision and contempt.

You say that as if you have never considered that, like most other characteristics, IQ is both partly heritable, and has different means for different Races.

What if, despite your declaring it not possible, it in fact, is? Because if it is, then all remedies that are based on it NOT being true, will fail, (sound like the current stat of things?) and innocent teachers will be held accountable for things out of their control. Like asking a coach to win a Big Ten title with a team of small, un-athletic and un-coordinated kids. There is only so much the coach can do, given the starting materials.

Peano said...

Mark said... I agree with singleton. I would have set the bar a little higher (60% or thereabout) just because I don't believe such a huge change in a community should happen on a 51%/49% vote,...

Huge change?? Why should ANY vote be required to establish the principle that parents are responsible for their children? How COULD any policy have ever been allowed to shift that responsibility to "experts" in government?

What a sick country.

Shanna said...

I think firing all the teachers is not the best idea, unless they can all be rehired later based on competence. Even a crappy school likely has some good teachers in it. It would be nice if student and parental criticism of teachers could be taken into account in getting rid of them.

Mark said...

You say that as if you have never considered that, like most other characteristics, IQ is both partly heritable, and has different means for different Races.

You say that like some kid with an IQ of, say, 90 shouldn't be expected to read at grade level.

Race has nothing to do with it. If the children aren't severely handicapped, they need to be able to function in everyday society. Period. That is the function of schools. To prepare kids to function within society. A failed school explicitly does not do so.

Take your goddamned thread-jacking agenda elsewhere.

Tom Spaulding said...

Take your goddamned thread-jacking agenda elsewhere.

Cool. Can I kick you off this thread, too?

John M Auston said...

Take your goddamned thread-jacking agenda elsewhere.

No thread-jacking here. Right to the heart of the subject matter of the thread actually.

You misunderstand my position.

I am not saying THAT it is true. Only that it MIGHT be true. There IS growing evidence.

I have watched so-called educational reforms being tried now for 30 years or more, basically with ZERO results
in efforts at lowering disparate outcomes, and despite massive amounts of $$.

So maybe, just maybe, the first premise that all those reforms are based on - that there is no significant
difference in cognitive apptitude based on race, and thus disparate results are in need of explanation, and
corrective action, and punishment - is wrong? And if it is, further efforts based on it are also then doomed
to failure.

If that is the case, not only will the kids not be helped, but some folks get to self-righteously hurl out unfounded and
undeserved invective upon others who are only trying to help.

And, I agree with you. A teacher should be held accountable for having a 90 IQ person read at grade level.

But what is the teachers accountability for getting results from a 70 IQ person? Still 'at grade'? Wouldn't 'at the level commensurate with a 70 IQ' be more fair?

And what makes you so convinced that there should not be disparate impact in the final 'below grade' ethnic groupings?

Seems to me, IF the IQ stuff has merit, the disparate impact is to be expected, and the goal should rather be: get the very most out of each student, given what the student begins with.

Trust me, both you and I equally wish with all our hearts that the mean IQ stuff is false. I am just prepared to entertain the idea that it might not be false, and thus some truly creative solutions are needed, instead of more of the same stuff that has not worked for so long now.

edutcher said...

It sounds like a good idea, but I can see how an otherwise good faculty who who wants to try some different things (like maybe Latin, tougher grading) becomes unpopular with parents and gets an undeserving ax.

But, yeah, give it a shot. Considering what the NEA and AFT have done in the last 40 years, the parents should do better.

Unknown said...

"...unfortunate genetic-based realities of educational disparate impacts."

How is that not an ad hominen, or at least a type of soft bigotry. Unless you're implying that it applies across the board.

Mark said...

You say that as if you have never considered that, like most other characteristics, IQ is both partly heritable, and has different means for different Races.

No, this story is about parents who want schools that work. You want to turn the discussion into something about whether darkies can learn.

Peddle it elsewhere "Auston" (that's like a place in Texas, only not real, right? So clever. Bet you're proud of your IQ score. Well, that and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature will have you selling coffee at Starbucks.)

raf said...

The question is, what does it trigger?

Hopefully, it will "trigger" genuine concern with satisfying parents that their kids are being educated, which I think is the primary difference between private schools -- where the parents are customers -- and public schools, where the school is holding parents' kids hostage, so to speak.

I have had my kids in both private and public schools. I can tell you who paid more attention to me.

wv: plogy. A plogy is what the public schools owe the public.

Bruce Hayden said...

[W]ith opponents and skeptics arguing that parents lack the expertise to make important policy decisions better left to career educators, the Compton case is a prime example of how challenging it can be to create change.

Which is, I would suggest, a big part of the problem. The educrats portray themselves as experts, but are, in the end, primarily interested in futhering their own agendas and their union.

ricpic said...

I don't get the vituperation aimed at Auston. Clearly if an ethnic group tests out at an on average IQ in the 85 to 90 range, which has been established by extensive IQ testing to be the mestizo range, then a not inconsiderable number of students from that group will have IQ's of 75 and even 70. Can those students  perform competently in terms of reading and math under any circumstances? A very real question.

Bruce Hayden said...

Auston - the problem extends well beyond those with sub-normal intelligence. I know of several kids with IQs far higher than the mean who ran afoul of the school bureaucracy, and were evicted from the school system at 16 or so. They got GEDs shortly thereafter without studying, but by then, the damage had been done to their lives.

Mark said...

ric, "IQ" in an individual is actually quite variable up to adolescence. (Perhaps coincidentally, that's the time the hormones kick in and listening to anything other than the glands becomes difficult, unless you've had some very important social training take root.)

And bear in mind, if a community of parents decides "yeah, we're dumb white crackers here in the hills of West Virginia, so who cares if Jimmy Joe Bob can't read" then it doesn't matter if the school is failing; 51% of those poor bastard hicks aren't going to vote to put the lady who sits by them in church out of a job.

Race has nothing to do with it.

If the parents say "we want you to do better by our inbred Cajun offspring" they should have the choice to try a radical rearrangement of their goddamned local school.

Race has nothing to do with it. Parents needing a tool to crack open the system that isn't working does.

WV: "ancoultr" - Spooky.

Carol_Herman said...

Okay. In how many languages will they print these ballots?

Did you know when we have elections ... that you can get a ballot in any one of 22 different languages?

And, where, exactly do you draw the line?

Carol_Herman said...

This reminds me so much of Montessori. Back in 1905. Italy. She passed her medical boards. And, none of the men would let her practice. Instead, they gave her a batch of crazy kids.

In Italy, there's a national test.

Montessori developed her methods with these kids. (It's a PEER GROUP method, too!)

Kids learn to perform tasks ... by having to learn STEPS. (To clean off a table after you eat ... there are 17 STEPS. The kids learn to do each one. Step by step.)

They learn to sit on little mats. Where they can pull out toys they like. And, yet. BEFORE they can pull out anything else ... They learn to PUT BACK the toys they took out FIRST.

Then, kids who grasp an idea that's taught, are allowed to help the slower kids.

OKAY.

Along came the National standardized test. And, the "IDIOTS," for these are what Montessori's students were called ... COULDN'T BE FOUND AT THE BOTTOM OF THE LIST! (After testing.)

You know, I loved bringing my son ... at age three and a half ... To a local Montessori School. (The only thing they asked is that he was potty trained. He took his time.)

Kids didn't run into class.

Kids didn't run out! At the door stood the teacher. Kids shook hands with her coming and going.

I feel bad for the parents dealing with failed schools. (Yes. My son went to public school all the way from 2nd grade till he graduated high school. Our public schools, here, are the best in the world!)

And, ya know what? 100% PTA support and involvement.

Want a good school? Make sure the PTA is there ... Makes all the difference! School administrators learn pretty quickly that a strong PTA has political clout.

Tom Spaulding said...

"White crackers, inbred Cajuns, poor bastard hicks"

You appear to be an asshole. What's your excuse? Bad teachers?

Mark said...

Carol, my twins just started Pre-K at the local public school. (Crown Heights neighborhood.) Went to my first PTA meeting last night. Got myself elected to the School Leadership Team (some PTA members including the President, the Principal, and a couple of teachers.)

Yeah, I'm going to be That Kind of parent.

Mark said...

Actually, that's my background. Just like blacks can use the N word, I can throw white trash in your face.

Equal opportunity, you dig?

Carol_Herman said...

The Blackboard Jungle was written way back in 1951.

Stuff, then, is still true, today.

A kid can run numbers for the mafia, and be considered a poor math student. Yet he's running around collecting money from the local bettors ... (the acativity is illegal). He makes change. He carries numbers in his head. And, he pays off winners.

The number is usually the ending of that day's ODD LOT trades. Found in the financial pages.

Yet, we're also told these kids can't read. Huh? They can go on the subways and find a station they need.

They can go into a fast food joint and order. They can go into a supermarket and select between many products. (I couldn't do this in Japan. I don't speak Japanese.)

So, please don't tell me there are kids who can't read and write. What they can't do is take tests. They can't do homework because they're way too disorganized.

But if they're texting, then they can read. What is it about cell phones that increases reading ability ... that seems to be taken away by textbooks?

It doesn't compute.

Mark said...

And Tom, that's my point: Race has nothing to do with it. The underclass is the underclass; it stays the underclass when it lets itself.

And the first step is to call out the jackasses who would keep it that way.

Eric said...

Which is, I would suggest, a big part of the problem. The educrats portray themselves as experts, but are, in the end, primarily interested in futhering their own agendas and their union.

That's my impression. We've been teaching kids to read for thousands of years. It's not like we don't know what works and what doesn't work.

Carol_Herman said...

Do you know how, if a person suffers brain damage ... and they need to re-learn stuff? Do you know how this is done?

TWO BY TWO. Instead of using textbooks ... people play ping pong ... while there are lessons in relearning "stuff" going on in the background.

I didn't know this. I was, however, standing in line to buy fast food ... when a man was describing this to a friend. (Two adults talking. I was just overhearing a conversation.)

We just don't teach kids right!

It's wrong to spend so much on shitty educations ... when the kids themselves are LEARNING!

How do I know this?

I SAW THE MONTESSORI METHOD WITH MY OWN EYES!

Later on I'd see what teachers could do (in a public school) ... where this stuff was not discussed at the dinner table. But teachers who could teach could perform miracles.

Every single group has IDIOTS! The kids Montessori worked with were not Black kids ... But came from Italian homes.

Every single group produces kids who are winners and losers, intellectually.

Kids learn the most when they aren't bored to tears.

Tom Spaulding said...

Actually, that's my background.

Guess you really can't deny genetics when it's inconvenient, can ya?

Mark said...

Carol, years ago I had a girlfriend, Harvard BA, Stanford JD, who helped me buy basic goods for my new apartment. She was shocked that an aluminum folding ladder was lighter than a wooden one.

Carol_Herman said...

Here's a good laugh.

In 1947 the army re-tested Richard Feynman. And, the psychiatrist who interviewed him FAILED HIM!

He brought the rejection letter (from the US Army), that disqualified him from re-enlisting to Hans Bethe.

THEY LAUGHED FOR HALF AN HOUR!

Mark said...

Tom, are you going to pull out your papers against mine? I mean, none of my forebears actually won Best of Breed or anything, but we've done okay.

andinista said...

This is the uncertain principle of "the solution to the failings of democracy, is more democracy".

If you have a culture that doesn't value education, you put idiots on the school board. Since you don't value it, and the school board sucks, your schools suck, and your kids are idiots. Wash, rinse, repeat. Voting more often and with finer granularity will change nothing. It's just Brownian motion at a higher temperature.

Nothing will change, until you accept that it's your culture at fault. Your culture sucks. You must adopt successful cultural models.

Turn off the hip-hop, the iPods and iPhones. Everybody wears modest uniforms. There are no special classes. Bring in bruisers for teachers who absolutely will not tolerate mis-behavior in class. Math, science, history, civics, Team, language (English and foreign). And call the parents in on the carpet if the kid starts missing homework. Make the parents serve detention with the kids. If they won't, garnish their wages.

Nothing will change until every parents swears "Kid, your gonna learn if it's the last thing I do!"

Mark said...

But seriously, Tom, when I use the derogatories against my own ethnic group it's bad, but then you imply the reason I'm a bad person is because of my genetics it's okay?

Do better.

Tom Spaulding said...

I mean, none of my forebears actually won Best of Breed or anything, but we've done okay

If you've benefited from being dealt a great genetic hand, thank a teacher. If not, fire them.

Carol_Herman said...

"Learning to read."

America became the first country in the world to offer free education. (It motivated lots of immigrants to come here. They were doing this for their children!)

The book used to teach was the King James Bible. Mostly all homes had one (at least). And, the kids at school would learn to read ... so that when they went home their parents could test them! (The parents, even if their reading materials were limited. And, their skills "limited." KNEW WHAT WAS ON EVERY PAGE.

So kids read out loud! To parents. To relatives. To their siblings. And, when the kid was real good ... they got to show off!

In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain deals with this. Because Huck Finn has to be brought up to speed.

First, of course, he and Tom Sawyer found thousands and thousands of dollars in treasure.

The widow adopts Huck Finn ... and this is what gets Huck Finn into school. And, also reading the Bible. Out loud.

Girls also had the added advantage of "needle crafts." To do an ABC "sampler" ... they had to COUNT OFF! So, that when they were "needlepointing" ... they already had a concept of SPACE.

That's how kids were taught.

BASICS. Nothing fancy.

Some kids got more out of this stuff than others.

Mark said...

Carol, I've read that story before. Feynman was one of the great minds of the last century; maybe ever. I think his "sum over all possibilities" approach to quantum mechanics is probably the least-appreciated revolution in physics, at least outside of the physics community. Susskind used it 50+ years later to refute Hawking's event horizon paradox.

The wonder isn't that Feynman's insight was used that way, but that it keeps getting re-discovered when something really gnarly in physics comes up. Which indicates to my mind that working pros in physics STILL don't really understand it.

Genius. And an idiot.

Carol_Herman said...

Let's advance to Harry S. Truman's youth. He was the first kid in Missouri who got a pair of glasses! He was actually pretty blind without them.

His mom also saw to it that he took piano lessons. He was so good at the piano ... he was sent to Kansas City to study with an advanced piano playing teacher.

He reminisced, how, with the sheet music under his arm, he'd take the long journey to and fro from his piano lessons. Pretty fruity, huh?

He could'a been a concert pianist, he got so good at it.

It takes enormous parental involvement to steer a kid towards success.

About this "parental trigger?" You know, I wouldn't live in a neighborhood like that! I'd keep moving until my kid found a better school.

(And, where I live? Some parents lie about their address, just to get their kids into this public school system!)

You can't fool me. The "parent trigger" isn't going to work!

Carol_Herman said...

Oh, ya know how Mark Twain ends Huckleberry Finn don't cha?

The "author" is Huckleberry Finn.

Carol_Herman said...

You know, I actually blame TV for hurting our ghetto kids. Unlike the old times, where they could earn a little sweeping out a store ... That's all gone, now.

Instead, they're sucking up the fumes from TV that tell them what to think success looks like.

UNREAL!

Put unreal into the mix ... and you're not going to fix this problem.

It's gonna continue to fester.

Genetic my ass. The world painted through the TV set is just so wrong!

Mark said...

Tom, now you aren't making any sense at all. Or are you implying a two-state outcome for student bodies, one where all students go to college, and the other where all students sell (or manufacture) meth?

I repeat: effective schools produce well-adjusted, societally-functional graduates. Failed schools produce alums who had better be damned exceptional to do as well in life as the average student from a good school.

Should I insert a satirical metaphor here which you will totally misunderstand (or maliciously misconstrue) here to make your response easier, Mr. Spaulding?

And where has Mr. Auston gone?

Carol_Herman said...

Mark, @ 8:43 PM, Feynman was in no way shape or form an idiot. Why did you end your comment on that note?

Mark said...

A satirical thing. The Army decided he was an idiot. Therefore, he was an idiot.

Don't you understand about standardized tests?

Mark said...

Carol, if I were in editor mode, I would have reversed it to say something like: "So, according to the best tests of the time, Feynman was an idiot. But the science shows he was a genius."

OTOH, that's wishy-washy. The whole "who's smarter" thing has an unfortunate resonance with "mine's bigger" arguments. And frankly, it's a THREAD JACK.

Parents need a tool to shut down failed schools.

Maguro said...

I repeat: effective schools produce well-adjusted, societally-functional graduates. Failed schools produce alums who had better be damned exceptional to do as well in life as the average student from a good school.

Really, it's schools that do all that? I wonder why it is, then, that you can have schools that appear to be very effective for some groups of students (say, Asians) and very ineffective for other groups of students (say, blacks). Strange. Maybe the teachers are racist or something, eh?

Carol_Herman said...

Mark, @ 9:03 PM.

Nope. Feynman wasn't just an idiot! The psychiatrists judged him UNFIT for re-enlistment.

Now, here's another interesting Feynman story. A psychologist convinced him to take a Rorschach test.

He looks at the first inkblot and says: "This one's made by the a person's thumb and the middle sliding over the folded paper.

He was a man who didn't want you to "look inside."

And, he was a wonderful teacher!

Bless all the wonderful teachers in the world, they teach us so much!

Carol_Herman said...

Maguro, @ 9:36 PM. My son went to school with lots of Asian kids. Their parents were so unrealistic in their demands for grades!

So, my son saw unhappy friends. And, he blamed their parents for being so unrealistic. And, for "setting grade goals," that only work when a kid, himself/herself cares what they are.

To others? They are just pute torture.

Mark said...

Carol re: Feynman: Crazy, idiot, let's split the difference?

Feynman is one of the figures I insert into my "What would _____ do?" toolkit.

AJ Lynch said...

Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab is an educrat and I think she and her colleagues are scared witless because they knows they are an endangered species.

Mark said...

Maguro, culture is a huge part of it. But I'm now sending my kids to school for 6 of their regularly scheduled 12 hours of waking time, five days a week.

This is why parents being involved in the schools is so important. We as parents have to have the means to correct an environment that has our kids for 40% of their waking hours.

(And yes, Pre-K is different. Have I mentioned that I believe early learning is critical? I'm sure I implied it.)

Mark said...

Maybe the teachers are racist or something, eh?

Would you say we have a President who is largely informed by Racialist ideology? A serious question.

So why can't school teachers, with the very best of intentions, not share that?

John M Auston said...

And where has Mr. Auston gone?


In my previous posts, I have given you an explanation. I cannot furnish an understanding.

Mark said...

One of the funny/tragic "stupid ideas" that keeps popping up is that only white-folk can be racists.

Do better.

Mark said...

No, Mr. Auston, you cannot furnish an argument.

Hope you were well paid.

Nora said...

Great idea, that is long overdue. Parents pay for education with their taxes and they should be in charge of their children education at any age.

- "opponents and skeptics arguing that parents lack the expertise to make important policy decisions better left to career educators" Gee, "career educators" created situation in which children receive much worse edication than parents did, so "sceptics" better shut up, for parents certainly in a position to know what edication their children ought to get and aren't getting.

My son was taught maths at middle school by a teacher who's college degree was in literature. Luckily it lasted only a year and he got a great maths teacher after that. However, I learned a couple of years ago that the same "career educator" ended running the school's maths department and now there is a danger of the same "career educator" getting to run district maths.

We live in one of the country's best school districts.

Terri said...

My 3 little ones (including 2 with learning disabilities) have been in Catholic school PK3-12. When I have had a problem/issue/concern, I went to the administration and it was handled easily, including one instance where we left the school.

I am not a career educator, policy wonk or expert in education - but I AM an expert in my children. I expect the conversations with the teachers/administrators for them to bring their expertise in teaching.

Another point - Is it any wonder that parents don't participate in the education of their children when they are told they are "experts"??

PETER V. BELLA said...

Better a parents union than a teachers union.

Carol_Herman said...

A kid is born. You got books?

When's the first time you're going to expose your child to words and songs?

Got stories?

Not only did America start with the idea that you could do public education to get the basics in. (It was called "reading, writing, and arithmatic.) Benjamin Franklin began FREE LIBRARIES.

At the library where I live. There's a special kids' section. With mats. And, with TIMES POSTED ... where stories are read out loud.

Before kids read. They see the books. They put their hands on books. They turn pages. (But not in every household!)

Some kids won't go to bed until a parent reads them a story. (I didn't do this.) My son saw me reading. He liked the stories he heard me "tell" (because I read them out loud. And, at school he picked up reading, easily.

Some kids don't. I didn't. I reversed everything. I remember reading out loud: DICK WAS JANE. My mother's stunned expression is still stuck in my memory. (She asked me to keep trying.)

Finally, I got it. Dick Saw Jane makes lots more sense. I've loved reading ever since.

Carol_Herman said...

I don't know "the Black experience" from a hole in the wall.

But there's a DVD out there. Done by Lavell Crawford, who is a Black comedian. And, he's very funny! Not short of stories about growing up. And, about his mom! Love shines through it all.

I give people lots of credit when their children are raised with lots of love.

Carol_Herman said...

Actually, my mom (back in the early 1940's), did have a complaint. She said schools had adopted "The LOOK SEE Method." And, tossed out PHONICS.

My mom said PHONICS was a better system than "look and see," ... or "say." She said it was stupid to ask kids to decipher whole sentences, instead of just "sounds."

Mark said...

The "Black Experience" doesn't matter at all. If an all-Black community wants to shit-can its local school because all it produces are dropouts and convicts then they should be able to do so.

Focus!

Chip S. said...

A couple of years ago Stanford economist Caroline Hoxby led a study of the effect of NYC's charter schools on the math and reading test scores of their students, who are overwhelmingly black or Hispanic and also from low-income families. This study is unusually solid by social-science standards because the students were assigned to the charter schools via a lottery (because there were many more applicants than openings). So the losing entrants and the winning entrants in the lottery had comparably motivated parents and were of similar socioeconomic status and ethnicity.

The study found that, compared to the control group,

...for every year they spend in a charter school, students make up 12 percent of the distance from failing to proficient in math. They make up 3.5 percent of the distance from failing to proficient in reading.

The cultural dysfunction people in this thread have been talking about is not universal among inner-city kids. Charter schools offer a path to success for those kids whose parents want them to succeed.

Chip S. said...

BTW, Althouse, despite the way the "Parent Empowerment Law" (trigger law is just the violent rhetoric of the media) is described in apparently every news story on the internet, the minimum number of signatures required to allow the parents to reconstitute a failing school is 50%, not 51%.

Here's the relevant text of the CA Education Code, Section 53000-53003:

For any school not identified as a persistently
lowest-achieving school under Section 53201 which, after one full school year, is subject to corrective action pursuant to ... [blah blah blah], and where at least one-half of the parents or legal guardians of pupils attending the school...sign a petition requesting the local educational agency to implement one or more of the four interventions identified pursuant to ... [blah blah blah], the local educational agency shall implement the option requested by the parents unless...[escape hatch].


(I may have modified the text slightly.)

I have no idea where this 51% figure came from. My guess is that one reporter stupidly thought that "at least one-half" meant "51%," and the rest of the lazy incompetents who followed up simply copied what they read.

Largo said...

Parents have a legal (not so mention moral) obligation to see that their children are educated.

Public schooling has distorted the market of what options parents might have to fulfill this task, and the costs of exercising these options. On top of all this, such exercise by parents involves the well being of their very offspring.

Damn right that parents are not disinterested. Their interests are far greater, and much more immediate, than that of the general public concerning education in general.

Largo said...

To Helsinki with you, andinista.

You had me up to what follows, where you usurp my authority over my kids:

"And call the parents in on the carpet if the kid starts missing homework. Make the parents serve detention with the kids. If they won't, garnish their wages."

It's bad enough here in Hong Kong, where my son has to do countless repetition of math exercises that bore him to tears, and he gets them wrong and must redo them because he cannot keep focused on it for hours (and it takes him hours because he loses focus).

Give him a couple of exercises to do with care though, and he understands it perfectly. Give him two (not twenty) to do next week, and he will do them flawlessly. Put it in the context of higher mathematics, and he will eat it up.

Unless I am lucky enough to have a teacher who understands, and who allows (allows!) me to adapt his homework to his needs, you would have me have him flag into the wee hours with unhelpful drill. This is time I could spend with him attending a jazz concert, practicing rebuilding an engine, or exploring the topology associated with his favorite cartoon--Doraemon, the cat-like robot from the future with his 4th Dimensional pouch.

I hear Helsinki is cold in the winter.

Largo said...

BTW, andinista, this also deserves saying:

Given the rest of your comment, if the lines I just quoted from you were meant as hyperbole, I think I would be pleased to have you as my son's teacher, or principal. :)

(What worries me the most are those who would grant that a some parents might be the best person to overrule a teacher in these matters, but who would deny these parents the ability to do so for the 'greater good'. I don't believe that you are one of those.)

X said...

Why just the parents? We non-breeders pay through the nose for this mis-education on the theory is that educated kids serve society.

I'm not paying for their education jimbino. I'm paying the state back for providing me the opportunity for a free education.

And don't worry about being shortchanged by being a non-breeder. your lack of offspring contributing to Social Security is where you are a freerider on the social safety net.

PatCA said...

Compton has been a cesspool of corruption for years. The teachers here were threatening parents with deportation? Unions! "It's for the children"?

Oligonicella said...

John M Auston --

"I predict fairly regular turnover of teachers, or many closed schools, or lots of new charter schools."

Thought you said "nothing good"?

Oligonicella said...

Carol_Herman --

"Bless all the wonderful teachers in the world, they teach us so much!"

And curse the shitty ones, for they undo it.

Kirk Parker said...

John M Auston, can you show me a single standardized test that is graded on a curve? Until then, please just go away: the (possible) fact that certain ethnic group have a higher mean than others doesn't mean those others are incapable of obtaining an adequate education.

And I differ with all of you who are interacting with jimbino. Until he drops his 'breeder' shtick, he should be consigned to troll/moby territory too.

John M Auston said...

Kirk Parker said...

John M Auston, can you show me a single standardized test that is graded on a curve?


I have no idea what you are asking here.

Until then, please just go away:

Really? 'Go away'? I suppose it IS easier to declare victory if you are the only person on the stage. But really, could you anti-free speech libs please be a little less predictable? It's getting old.

the (possible) fact that certain ethnic group have a higher mean than others doesn't mean those others are incapable of obtaining an adequate education.

That's for that insight, Mr. Obvious. And the straw man. And you've missed the whole of my point, to boot. The issue is: expecting non-disparate outcomes, when that might be impossible.

And that is in no way related to insuring that everyone learns to play the hand they are dealt, to the best of it's potential.

Kirk Parker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kirk Parker said...

John,

Who's expecting non-disparate outcomes? Surely not I, who introduced the notion of "adequate" education to this discussion in the first place. I've seen adequate (if barely so) education take place in a tin-roofed, termite-eaten building in southern Sudan, where virtually all of the students had chronic low-grade malaria, or worse, so I have no sympathy for those who would claim that a lower mean group IQ implies that kids in the inner city can't learn, or something...

The only exception would be if you could show that the standard tests are set to such a high level that the lower-IQ folks simply can't pass. Is that what you're alleging?

Finally, though irrelevantly, I'll cherish being called an "anti-free speech" lib for a long, long time. Let me assure you today is the first time this has ever happened.

John M Auston said...

Finally, though irrelevantly, I'll cherish being called an "anti-free speech" lib for a long, long time. Let me assure you today is the first time this has ever happened.

Sorry if I have misrepresented your position. My only excuse it that I was perhaps confused by the plain meaning of the words "Go away."

Kirk Parker said...

Oops, that was supposed to be "anti-free speech lib"; the "lib" part is as off the mark as the rest of it.

(wv: retaxi--how we get back home again.)

Kirk Parker said...

John,

My apologies if I over-reacted; your initial comment sounded like Yet Another Entry in the long and sad annals of the soft bigotry of low expectations.

John M Auston said...

Kirk says . . . so I have no sympathy for those who would claim that a lower mean group IQ implies that kids in the inner city can't learn, or something...

I certainly don't claim that. I am talking about something completely different.

Try this thought experiment. Say that on the first day of Freshman High School, all students were given a secret unique number ID, and were then given an IQ test in which they identified themselves only by the number.
Further, imagine that this was a new Charter school that was going to try a 4 year education experiment based on the idea that kids learn better if they are grouped in classes with other kids of roughly the same relative IQ.

So 3 'classes' are formed from the Freshman population, by breaking the IQ scores in 3rds (lower, middle, higher), and kids are assigned to one of the 3, identifyed only by their unique number ID, an in the IQ range of their particular 3rd, based on their score.

When the kids all dispersed to and settled into their 3 'classes', the racial make-up of the three would produce an instant public outrage, and would not be allowed to continue.

THAT is the issue I am talking about. The disparate ethnic make-up of the 3 classes would not be tolerated by most of the public, and those who only looked at the class makeup, without knowing how it was done, would call the school 'racist'.

Most folks would demand that the ethnic makeup of each of the 3 classes reflect the percentages in the community at large. And further, that final Senior year achievement better do the same. Or somebody is to blame. And they will be willing to spend enormous amounts of money, and fire as many 'failed' teachers as it takes, to achieve those dispersions. And they will never get there, as they haven't so far.

And so nobody will ever be allowed to test the theory "that kids learn better if they are grouped in classes with other kids of roughly the same relative IQ". Bad optics.

stlgretchen said...

Trigger schools are not the answer. They are still under the same mandates as public schools with common core standards! You are just moving the teachers/administrators. You still have the same standards and assessments!

If you think the teacher unions are THE sole problem in public schools, this sounds like a great plan. But if you think the curriculum, lack of local control, lack of discipline, etc might just have a bit to do with the breakdown in public education, the trigger option will do NOTHING to address those problems.

http://www.missourieducationwatchdog.com/2010/12/trigger-optionon-its-face-its-beauty.html

And there's ALOT of money to be made by private industry in this education "reform" that doesn't "reform" education...it changes the delivery of the educational services, but not the education itself.

sorepaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chip S. said...

John M. Auston said, Try this thought experiment.

You appear to be one of those people whose views remain fixed because they prefer thought experiments to actual ones.

I've posted a link to actual evidence about student learning. You've posted nothing but your presumptions.

John M Auston said...

I've posted a link to actual evidence about student learning. You've posted nothing but your presumptions.

Well I guess that settles it then.

Chip S. said...

Feel free to post some evidence of your own.

Or, you know, keep spouting your unsubstantiated ravings.

Mark said...

Moby. Let's get the wingers to rally around The Bell Curve.

Race has nothing to do with it. Giving parents a way to pull the plug on dysfunctional (union) schools scares the bejeesus out of people with a lot of disposable cash.

Mark said...

That's been the push all along on the thread. Change it from a debate on whether a "parent trigger" law is a good idea into some kind of racial issue.

Whatever. A lot of the schools in question are effectively single race. Which, it seems to me, is saying to the single-race schools "Screw you, you don't know what's best for you."

Which has some unpleasant resonances with the whole Jim Crow era.

"Auston" is here to do its best to make sure that point gets lost in the discussion.

andinista said...

No way Largo, it's not that bad.

Math is hard. Our brains weren't evolved for it. Our brains are for finding the berries in the forest and recognizing the patterns of animals in the grass. We have to practice math a lot. Except for the few genetically lucky ones (maybe) who can fly through the problems, the rest of us have to take small steps and lots of repetition to get it. So 20-30 math problems every night. If you want your kids to be successful in a modern technological society, they gotta do it. No substitutes. Math is the language of science. A language is its vocabulary. There is no substitute but constant practice.

The other subjects, much easier. Go home, read the chapter, review the class notes, answer the few easy questions at the end of each section, and they're done. Write the essays when needed. Pizza face.

Was I extreme about all the wage garnishment? I don't know. The culture is broken, and to start a new one, you gotta show people you mean it.

Largo said...

andinista,

I wrote a long response to your last comment that I hoped to email you as a friendship offering. It ended up much to long to be posted here. But then I noticed that your email address is a no-reply one.

I don't know it's anything you consider worth reading, but I was hoping I might get your thought on it.

If you would like it, you can contact me here: (LARGO -at- POBOX -dot- COM), and I will reply with it. Cheers!

John M Auston said...

To Mark -

Thanks for the laughs on this thread. You are the true embodiment of Schopenhauer's observation about uncomfortable new truths:

"First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

The Bell Curve by Race is presently in stages 1 and 2, both demonstrated by you on this very thread.