December 20, 2016

"Badger Rock Middle School... opened in 2011 amid great enthusiasm for its emphasis on urban agriculture, environmental sustainability and project-based learning."

"Last month, though, it landed in the 'fails to meet expectations' category on the latest round of state-issued report cards...."
It is housed inside a state-of-the-art green building owned by the Center for Resilient Cities, a Madison nonprofit. The building has other tenants and also functions as a neighborhood center for the South Side community. Students have access to the entire site, including gardens, greenhouses and an industrial kitchen....
[Interim principal Hong] Tran said Badger Rock wants to “push the envelope” on what it means to be a successful school, measuring things beyond test scores, such as neighborhood impact. A free, monthly community meal, sometimes cooked by students, has been drawing 150 to 200 people....
The Madison School Board renewed the charter yesterday.

IN THE COMMENTS: Expat(ish) said:
My youngest went to a brand new "team learning" charter school based on "mindfulness" and "success habits" and a bunch of other stupid sounding patchouli stuff. However... teachers were clamoring to get into the school and the principal had stellar ratings from parents at their last school. It turned out to be a (somewhat chaotic) intensely focused education for him and was a great option.... Anyway, I wouldn't outright assume that because the charter sounds hokey that it doesn't work for the kids.
I said:
I don't. But I resist educators who want to reframe standards around charitable work when the math scores are bad. This school has... students from poorer families (the article says) and these kids deserve an education. It's nice to have the charitable angle, but it sounds as though the children are doing food service. Is that the career path?!
Eleanor said:
It depends. Is the food service a math project? Are the kids learning a lot of biology in the garden? Project-based learning can be highly effective for kids who need to know why they need or want to learn something. It often fails when schools and teachers find a project they want to do and then try to find learning standards to support it. It's most successful when schools use their learning standards to plan projects.
Hammond X. Gritzkofe said:
First thing comes to mind is the Great Leap Forward, maybe Pol Pot. Children taken from school and sent to the fields to labor.

48 comments:

Clyde said...

Hong Tran's education is lacking: There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch (TANSTAAFL). You're welcome.

tim maguire said...

Is there any "sustainable" project that is actually sustainable? Love the "we want to be judged on community impact." Of course they want to be judged on something other than their impact on the students. They've failed the students.

Everyone involved in the school AND everyone who renewed the certification needs to be sacked. Anything less is an admission that this community does not care about its children.

urbane legend said...

. . . its emphasis on urban agriculture, environmental sustainability and project-based learning.
Maybe the project is learning about failure?

Expat(ish) said...

My youngest went to a brand new "team learning" charter school based on "mindfulness" and "success habits" and a bunch of other stupid sounding patchouli stuff.

However... teachers were clamoring to get into the school and the principal had stellar ratings from parents at their last school.

It turned out to be a (somewhat chaotic) intensely focused education for him and was a great option. Test scores were pretty scattered, but on average much better than the average in the city.

We drove 40 minutes each way to get him to school each morning, so you can imagine we think edumacation is pretty important.

Anyway, I wouldn't outright assume that because the charter sounds hokey that it doesn't work for the kids.

-XC

Gahrie said...

What were the scores of the surrounding public schools?

Otto said...

Neighborhood impact my keista. School is to teach you about gravity and it's uses..... caring about your neighborhood is to be taught by your parents. After all the bs ..nothing more, nothing less.

Ann Althouse said...

"Anyway, I wouldn't outright assume that because the charter sounds hokey that it doesn't work for the kids."

I don't. But I resist educators who want to reframe standards around charitable work when the math scores are bad. This school has a students from poorer families (the article says) and these kids deserve an education. It's nice to have the charitable angle, but it sounds as though the children are doing food service. Is that the career path?!

Gahrie said...

Is that the career path?!

It's a career path...which is infinitely better than no career path.

One of the great mistakes in education today is the insistence on college for all, and the destruction of vocational education.

We can't all be law school professors.

Eleanor said...

It depends. Is the food service a math project? Are the kids learning a lot of biology in the garden? Project-based learning can be highly effective for kids who need to know why they need or want to learn something. It often fails when schools and teachers find a project they want to do and then try to find learning standards to support it. It's most successful when schools use their learning standards to plan projects.

AllenS said...

A free, monthly community meal, sometimes cooked by students, has been drawing 150 to 200 people....

Hard to teach math, if everything is given away free.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

"... measuring things beyond test scores, such as neighborhood impact. A free, monthly community meal, sometimes cooked by students..."

First thing comes to mind is the Great Leap Forward, maybe Pol Pot. Children taken from school and sent to the fields to labor.

Ann Althouse said...

The soft bigotry of low expectation.

Gahrie said...

The soft bigotry of low expectation.

Yeah, because vocational careers are so demeaning and valueless...the only way you can be successful and happy is to go into massive debt, get a college degree(s) and spend the rest of your life trying to pay it off. Don't look now, but your elitism is showing....

I at least recognize that not everyone can go to college, not everyone should go to college, and I actually give a shit about the ones who won't.

Dave Hunter said...

We don't care about no stinkin' math at our charter middle school! A Madison, WI school is teaching far left stuff and ignoring the basics of education. Is anyone shocked?

Ann Althouse said...

@Gahrie

You don't start kids off tracking them into food service jobs.

I think there is dignity in all kinds of work, but any kid deserves a chance to find out what he's good at and to be able to see a path to get there.

Gahrie said...

You don't start kids off tracking them into food service jobs

But tracking them into useless college degrees is just fine?

This is a Charter school ..right? I wonder why the parents are choosing to send their kids there? They are clearly abusing their children by stunting their future opportunities, so maybe we should take their children away, put them in foster care and enroll them in public schools who don't give them any skills, academic or vocational.

Hagar said...

All kinds of new whacky education theory schools work great because they attract bright highly enthusiastic teachers and pupils from engaged parents, often employees of the college where the experimental school is located, but fizzle badly when the government steps in and mandate the wonderful new system to be practised statewide.

Fritz said...

When ever someone uses the word "sustainability" I check my wallet to see if they're trying to get in it. They usually are.

Jupiter said...

I think they have the right idea. It may finally be dawning on the educrats that it will be a lot easier to collect their pay if they stop pretending to be "educating" the ineducable and admit they are just teaching them the (rather minimal) skills necessary to vote Democrat.

Johnathan Birks said...

It's come to this. If you drive a Prius and forswear GMOs, then a good education logically follows. And what difference does it make? These kids are all gonna die of global warming before they're 20.

Otto said...

"I think there is dignity in all kinds of work, but any kid deserves a chance to find out what he's good at and to be able to see a path to get there."
Typical liberal slop.What if a kid finds out his IQ is 90 ,and in this secular age of meritocracy his is best suited to be a garbage collector.
Go back to having your latte, reading the NYT and enjoying your lucrative retirement thanks to God giving you a higher IQ than that poor kid with a 90 IQ.

cubanbob said...

Otto said...
"I think there is dignity in all kinds of work, but any kid deserves a chance to find out what he's good at and to be able to see a path to get there."
Typical liberal slop.What if a kid finds out his IQ is 90 ,and in this secular age of meritocracy his is best suited to be a garbage collector.
Go back to having your latte, reading the NYT and enjoying your lucrative retirement thanks to God giving you a higher IQ than that poor kid with a 90 IQ."

Therein lies the problem. The average white IQ is 100, the average IQ needed to successfully attend an average college is about between 107 and 115. Raising the minimum wage to $15 isn't going create jobs for those who have IQ's of 90. It will create more jobs for those people of slightly higher than average IQ's to run the expanded Welfare State. Although in fairness, even if the minimum wage was abolished and those people just got paid their real market value there would be a social need to give them a minimum annual income-what the EITC is supposed to do so the need for government drones will always be there.

Lloyd W. Robertson said...

We'll see what Ms. DeVos comes up with, but I keep thinking charter schools must have a place in helping under-achieving kids do better, but without simply "cherry picking" relatively promising kids, and leaving the least promising worse off than ever.

The Brits are having a debate about "grammar schools." I don't understand the system, but I think Theresa May went to one--less elite than the so-called public schools on socio-economic grounds, but they have a tendency to recruit bright kids, and then brag that these kids graduate and go on to do well. Dog bites man.

Expat(ish) said...

Well, my kids school was pretty focused on getting kids grades to show them where they were relative to their peers and also to making sure that they were ready to take the standardized tests and do well on them.

Otherwise they did do community service "stuff" and had a garden they all worked in for a produce stand at the farmers market, etc, etc.

We had a mixture of kids from prof's kids from the local Uni (snowflakes!!) down to section 8 illegal aliens who just wanted their kids in the best possible school. That actually describes all my kids schools - they've been lucky that way.

-XC

PS - My state was very low ranked nationally overall but my kids schools were all in the top 10-15% nationally by score. My kids actually were in the 95%+ nationally by standardized test score.

PPS - I assure you that all comes from (a) their mom and (b) skip a generation from my side

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

"Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham this week called Badger Rock an 'under-performing” school but said it “has incredible potential to be an excellent school.'”

Hit bottom and nowhere to go but up.

"...the recommendation still should be seen as a vote of 'confidence and hope,'' Cheatham said.

Ah, yes. Hope. Hope and Change. "Now we're feeling what not having hope feels like", M.Obama.

Superintendent Cheatham? What say Board Trustees Dewey and Howe?

Birches said...

Gosh some of you are in bad moods today. I agree with Althouse. Kids shouldn't be tracked into food service in middle school. But preparing for a job in food service doesn't have to be demeaning either. If they are learning the business end of catering and food prep, it could be a great learning experience.

These types of touchy feely schools can be fantastic for middle class kids who already have a solid foundation of cultural literacy because of their home life, but I think it's less likely to work with disadvantaged children. As someone who grew up poor and in a poor neighborhood, we need to know what everyone else does just by having educated parents. After that knowledge is attained, then the sustainability crap. But I bet the school is cutting corners.

I was put in a gifted and talented program in 5th grade. I went from a lower class school to a school where most of the parents were college graduates. I don't think there was anyone in my neighborhood who graduated from college. Anyway, I realized quickly there was a lot I didn't know. I had to work my butt off that first year to stay afloat (and I was above average).

carrie said...

The Madison School Board allowed this charter school at the same time it turned down a charter school that was going to be prep school for black youth. It rejected the charter school for black youth because the charter school did not want to be required to use union teachers. What shame. 5 years wasted on this charter school and then rejecting the charter school that was trying to help make Black Lives Matter.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Haven't read the article, but does it contain:
A comparison btw the score of this school and the scores of comparable schools in the district and in the state?
A comparison of the cost/child & score with other schools?
Information on the expected/anticipated timeline for implementing new teaching methods/techniques?

Ann Althouse said...You don't start kids off tracking them into food service jobs.
I think there is dignity in all kinds of work, but any kid deserves a chance to find out what he's good at and to be able to see a path to get there.

Right, and by that logic you don't/shouldn't "track kids off" into anything. I mean, there are all sorts of magnet schools (music, performing arts, STEM, schools w/strong athletic programs) now--are those ok?

The obvious red meat is the word "deserves," but maybe we should discuss & define what "a chance to find out" entails?

Gabriel said...

Can the kids read? Can they add fractions? I saw too many college students in my classes who could not read their textbook and could not add fractions. Yet they checked off the service learning without trouble.

All this trendy stuff is popular because it's easy. Teaching kids math and reading is hard.

mockturtle said...

Our 'educational' system went off the rails a long time ago. When schools became an agent for socialization and social change rather than for performing important academic functions, they failed not just the students but our country's future.

mockturtle said...

My great grandfather studied Latin and Greek in elementary school! Was it 'fun'? I rather doubt it. Did it instill self-discipline? More than likely. He may never have used Latin and Greek [except maybe in studying the Bible] as an adult but he knew how to apply himself.

mikee said...

I did my elementary schooling time, and hard time it was, in a parochial school attached to our parish church. There were ~30 students per grade, taught by nuns and lay teachers who handled all the subjects with one teacher per grade level. Rote memorization combined with simple number theory (one plus one is two, shown with chalk marks on a blackboard, or five minus four is one, again shown with chalk) did for math up to algebra and geometry, which we covered in the latter grades along with intro to calculus in 8th. Phonics taught us to read. A is short in apple and long in ape. "Thought" was double dipthong word. We learned cursive in 2nd grade, because we learned to print in 1st. In 5th, we memorized the Gettysburgh Address and recited it back to our teacher one at at time. Then the best one got to recite it for the class. We had spelling bees. We had recess with kickball and dodgeball and other games playable with large red balls. We went on to high school with a 100% ability to read at or beyond grade level, competent in simple math, with a knowledge of local and national history that emphasized facts, because you had to know the facts to understand the importance of the facts.

Basic education requires neither complex technology nor expensive surroundings. It requires disciplined effort from comptetent teachers, control of the classroom to maintain a learning environment, and effort from the students. Accomplishment follows.

If the kids aren't reading after 1st grade, fire the 1st grade teacher and get another one. Repeat until the kids can read after 1st grade.

Hagar said...

Public schools have no business "tracking" anyone anywhere.
Teach down the middle. The bright ones can float while the slow ones have to work, but the bright ones can - and will - take care of themselves anyway.

"Graduate from college" does not mean squat. It is what, if anything, you do with what you have learned - in college or elsewhere - that counts.

Hagar said...

The teachers are not the problem. It is the people who taught the teachers.

kentuckyliz said...

Food service...or sustainability careers? Check out Sustainability Specialist and Chief Sustainability Officer on O*NET Online...and the salaries. Sure beats food service.

traditionalguy said...

My grandkids' Charter School shows the students they care by insisting on excellence. The kids respond to that and feel special.

And many trophies are given, but to the best achievers, not to all participants.

But the Principal will not allow extra absences for the parent's travel plans at holidays. Too much excellence.

Kirk Parker said...

"Is the food service a math project?"

Only in the most trivial possible sense could it be math-related.

"Are the kids learning a lot of biology in the garden?"

No. Of course not.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Anyone else remembering that Caitlin Flanagan article in the Atlantic Monthly from a couple years ago? It began with a perfect vignette: Immigrant kids, the children of agricultural laborers, going to Berkeley High to ... tend its organic kitchen gardens. Yeesh.

Kirk Parker said...

Hagar,

" The bright ones can float while the slow ones have to work, but the bright ones can - and will - take care of themselves anyway."

I'm here to tell you that's BS, and a terrible idea.

Sebastian said...

"But I resist educators who want to reframe standards around charitable work when the math scores are bad." You mean, you've been complaining to UW admissions people all those years? What else is "holistic review" but exactly such "reframing"?

JaimeRoberto said...

Define "sustainable".

cheddar said...

There is a charter school in MN that is popular among upper SES crunchy parents and it has a local foods/sustainability focus also. What some call food service others call culinary arts.

jaed said...

The bright ones can float while the slow ones have to work, but the bright ones can - and will - take care of themselves anyway.

Abandoning bright kids, and declaring that they don't need an education, is a terrible thing. It will affect them lifelong and not for the better, as much as letting any other kid grow up without an education will. Yes, they'll generally learn how to read because they teach themselves, and they might learn arithmetic by osmosis in between bouts of terrible boredom—I assume you are saying they shouldn't be taught capably, not that they shouldn't be made to serve time in classrooms from age 5 to 17—but they will not learn what they're capable of learning. Even the minority who eventually figure out that there is such a thing as an education and that they were cheated out of it probably will never be able to make up the lost ground. They certainly will never get back the wasted years.

mockturtle said...

I was in a 'gifted' program in school as a child [believe it or not! ;-)]. In those days, we were actually encouraged to excel and divided into subgroups so the slower students didn't hold back the brighter ones. Now all we have is mediocrity and it isn't good for the bright children or the slower ones. As Ann has rightly said, all children need a chance to find out where they excel and everyone excels at something. But the 'no child left behind' philosophy hurts everyone.

Gahrie said...

You don't start kids off tracking them into food service jobs.

Why not? Apparently it is a very good field to get into right now......

https://www.thrillist.com/eat/nation/how-americas-cook-shortage-will-make-restaurants-pricier

Hagar said...

No, I did not say that bright kids did not need an education. Everybody needs a basic education to function well in society, and in this country the kids are not getting it. Just watch Watters' World on the O'Reilly show and see how ignorant even quite bright college students are.
What I am saying that the bright kids learn how to study easily to keep up in class and still have time to read and do other things on their own, while the slower ones may have to spend a lot more time on homework.
And I do mean homework. In high school in my time in Norway, we turned in math and chemistry or physics homework every week and a theme every other week, come rain or shine. The math went up through two-dimensional calculus and the physics were basic Newtonian. A theme on "What I did on my summer vacation" would get you at best a C grade regardless of how well written. At the end of 5 years of high school we had written exams in Math, Physics, English, and the two versions of Norwegian, plus 3 oral exams in any one of the other courses taught in any of the 5 years with who being tested in which course announced at 8AM on the day of the exams.
We learned to study, so that we would have time for other important things like football, skiing, and whatever personal hobbies we might have. I was amazed when I entered college here and found that the teaching only covered what was in the textbooks anyway, and no one knew how to study.

cyrus83 said...

It helps to have an education marketplace where parents can select a program that best fits their child's needs. Almost seems like it should be something similar to the college model, absent the whole living away from home thing and getting wasted every night.

This is one area though where parents don't have much of a choice. The place of residence assigns kids to a given school, and if parents don't like it, they can either move or pay for some other kind of education. This is where charter schools come in to level the playing field with the more well-to-do families.

The value of charter schools, regardless of model, is that they are driven at the local level by the staff, board, and parents, not somebody sitting in Central Bureaucracy that is never available for appointments or some expert situated in the state capital or Washington. As a result, they tend to offer certain niches - some emphasize arts, others technology, health sciences, great books, etc.

It creates a marketplace that offers parents and kids some choice of educational model, whereas the typical public school really doesn't offer any sort of choice in academics until late in high school when there is some freedom over course choice. In a completely free educational market, parents themselves would kill bad schools by sending their kids elsewhere - as it is now, a charter only has to be better than the worst public option nearby...which in inner cities is often a very low bar.

On a side note, by experience from tutoring, the most effective instruction is of the one-on-one kind. This is why parents are so important to their kids' education - the lessons they give at home can do so much to supplement the impersonal and standardized curriculum of a school. I realize not every parent can teach math or chemistry, but even the simple act of reading to them every day, assembling an Ikea product, or basic moral instruction can go a very long way in building basic skills.

jaed said...

the bright kids learn how to study easily to keep up in class

The bright kids don't learn how to study. The work is too easy, so they learn that they can simply read the chapter (or possibly not even that) and pass with no effort. (Then in college or later, they run into work that they need to put in actual effort to master, and they have no idea how that is done, because nothing in school demanded it.)

The education you describe having had in Norway is very, very different from the "ignore the bright kids" education here. (Did everyone study physics and languages in Norway? I'm guessing the kids who had difficulty with algebra or who had never learned fractions in their previous schooling did not have those classes.) Everyone here is in the same classroom, regardless of intelligence level, previous schooling, or basic ability to handle the work. The teachers perform triage because they have to. When I say bright kids don't get an education, I mean they generally don't get an education.