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Old 11-01-2007, 12:06 AM   #1
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Poverty and Education

This article focuses on the South because that's where the problem is worst, but in fact nationwide, 46% of all US public school children are now low-income.

Quote:
South's public school children are now mainly low-income

By Patrik Jonsson
Christian Science Monitor, November 1


ATLANTA -- The plight of the South's school-reform movement now hangs on kids from families that make less than $36,000 a year. For the first time in 40 years, two new studies show, more than half of public school students in the South are eligible for free or reduced lunch--a watershed moment in a 15-year wealth slide that comes amid resurging racial and economic inequalities in the former Confederacy. The rise is part of a nationwide surge: Low-income students now represent 12 percentage points more of the student body than in 1990.

In response, schools from the Delta's cypress region to the Carolina pine flats face a struggle: How to continue to improve test scores, attract good teachers, and reduce dropout rates amid growth of a group of students whom studies show have greater difficulty reaching grade-level benchmarks?

"Measuring low-income students' success is now measuring the majority of students' success," says Steve Suitts, co-author of A New Majority, a study released Tuesday by the Southern Education Fund (SEF) in Atlanta. Nationwide, two overarching factors seem to be driving public-school woes, experts say: In recent years, the erosion of middle-class, blue-collar jobs has led to more people working for lower wages, and many parents who can afford private school have taken their children out of public schools altogether. This skews the average income of remaining families lower. The South in particular has been hard hit by the closing of textile plants in South Carolina and the changing coal economy of the Appalachian highlands. Another reason for the shift, some experts note, is the influx of poorer Latinos at least into the Carolinas and Georgia.

In 1989, Mississippi was the only state with a majority of students who needed free or reduced lunch, according to the SEF study. In 2006, 13 states had a majority of low-income students, 11 of them in the South. The only states in the South unlikely to hit the tipping point are Virginia, with 33%, and Maryland, at 31%. (North Carolina hovered at 49% last year.) Some 54% of students in the region come from families who make less than $36,000 annually, the cutoff point to qualify for free or reduced lunch, compared with a national average of 46%. "Something has happened in the nation from 1990 to 2006, where our economic base has gotten more bottom-heavy," says Joan Lord, vice president for education policy at the Southern Regional Education Board in Atlanta, which released its own study this week that found the same phenomenon.

This is not to say that lower income automatically equals lower grades. Some of the best public high schools in the nation, many of them racially and economically integrated, are in the South. But in aggregate, the disparities are apparent. In Alabama, for instance, 43% of low-income students scored below basic, the lowest passing classification, on the 2007 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) math test, compared with 14% of students with incomes above $36,000. What's more, studies show that low-income students are more likely to be held back in first and second grade and more likely to drop out of high school. Those who do graduate from high school are less likely to go on to get a college degree.

"I think this data brings home why progress has been slow in improving education achievement in the South," says Cynthia Brown, a school policy expert at the Center for American Progress. Many Southerners say the erosion of wealth in the public schools also reveals deeply ingrained attitudes in the South, where strong legislatures, weak governors, fiscal conservatism, and racial stereotypes stymie school progress. "I don't know how many times I've heard that public schools are really for the black kids," says Neal Thigpen, a political scientist at Francis Marion University in Florence, S.C. The civil rights era challenge to raise up black people through education is at stake, says William Taylor, chairman of the Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights in Washington. "If we're going to figure out how to get out of it, we have to figure out ways to change the dynamics."

Some school districts are implementing a variety of solutions. In Miami-Dade County, school officials are setting up "parent academies" in local churches and community halls in an attempt to make education a higher priority for families.

In Perry County, Ala., predominantly black schools with 80% low-income students regularly graduate 90% of their high-schoolers. Teaching the basics and character education are part of that success, residents there say.

In some cases, districts that once sought to integrate feel they must re-embrace resegregation as a way to keep the public schools intact. Tuscaloosa, Ala., recently rezoned its middle schools, effectively ending the busing of black city kids to a suburban school. School board member Ernestine Tucker, who voted against the plan, said the threat from white parents was implicit but obvious: "Rezone, or we pull our kids out of the public schools." "The only difference there is they have options," she says. "We don't have the same options."


What are the implications of this trend for our public schools, and for education policy and funding? How have you seen this economic backslide play out in your own local public schools? Other thoughts...?
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Old 11-02-2007, 07:17 PM   #2
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OK...one more try

Quote:
'No Child Left Behind' faces political head winds

By David Cook
Nov. 2


There is growing doubt whether Congress will reauthorize the No Child Left Behind law in the waning days of the current session.

Even Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is tempered in her confidence. "I have worked hard to get a reauthorization," she told a Monitor-sponsored breakfast with reporters on Thursday. "The bad news is that we are attempting to do it...on the eve of a presidential election." Congress is supposed to make revisions in the law and reauthorize it every five years.

Whether or not Congress changes the legislation through reauthorization, it will remain on the books and "is strong as mustard gas," Secretary Spellings said.

In her view, the 2001 law, which requires schools to track the progress of students in math and English, is a major domestic legacy of the Bush presidency. When asked about the argument that President Bush has few accomplishments to offset failure in Iraq and that his most lasting legacy will be a Supreme Court dominated by conservatives, Spellings said, "I completely disagree with the thesis." She added that No Child "has been a huge game-changer in American education."
...................................................................................
Most cabinet officers dress and paint their word pictures in tones of gray. Not Spellings. She showed up for breakfast in pants and a bright red jacket. Her responses to reporters were filled with pungent images. Education policy was "the Greek drama of education." Opponents who oppose tracking student progress take the "ostrich approach." She dubbed the best performing schools "Cream Puff High." As for education's role in domestic policy, it is "the big kahuna."
.....................................................................................
"When people do talk about education, they tend to go [to] the two poles," Spellings said. "Democrats talk about things that please teachers unions and Republicans talk about things that please Federalists...people who want to abolish the Department of Education, that kind of old-saw stuff....Then when they campaign, they have a hard time getting themselves off those limbs into centrist-type policies like No Child Left Behind."

Whether or not Democrats take control of the White House and keep Congress in 2008, Spellings argued that the changes Bush has spearheaded in education would last. "I think the standards and accountability movement is here to stay. The genie is out of the bottle," she said. "People have come to expect information about their schools, they have begun to expect some consequences around those issues.... It is going to be very hard to take away these reforms, to take something that is very transparent and go back to the good old days of the ostrich approach."

As to the overall state of American education, Spellings said, "We are doing a darn good job, a pretty good job of educating elites. But we are not doing a good job at all of educating lots and lots of Americans, particularly people of color and poor people. " The Education secretary advocates better targeting of educational resources. "We cannot continue to send our most experienced people to Cream Puff High and our least experienced people to the most challenged educational environments. We cannot continue to spend the exact amount of time with our most disadvantaged kids as we do with our most advantaged kids and hope that those kids are somehow going to catch up or get to grade level."

When it came to the prospects for reauthorizing No Child, Spellings offered both sides. Here is her argument for expecting action: "The good news is there is a lot of consensus around what I call the sweet spot of the issues that need to be addressed--getting credit for progress, making distinctions in the accountability system, finding ways to get our best teachers in the most challenging places," she said. But, "it is the big kahuna of domestic policy--50 million kids, 90,000 schools, every single community in this country is affected by this law. So at any time in the Congress, this is hard policy to be wrought. As you know, this law isn't going anywhere."
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Old 11-02-2007, 07:53 PM   #3
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Thanks for posting. The state of education is shocking.
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Old 11-02-2007, 10:01 PM   #4
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I have many thoughts about this, but I think I need an allter to post given my new job.
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Old 11-02-2007, 10:06 PM   #5
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Another Republican success.
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Old 11-03-2007, 12:11 PM   #6
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Here's the problem...too many private schools. The folks with the most money & political influence are sending their kids to private schools, so they don't give a damn if the public school system goes down the toilet. It's just the poor kids left going to public school, so when it comes to education...that's right, cut cut cut. Of course there's a solution, but this is America, we don't level the playing field in this country.
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Old 11-03-2007, 12:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by CTU2fan
Here's the problem...too many private schools. The folks with the most money & political influence are sending their kids to private schools, so they don't give a damn if the public school system goes down the toilet. It's just the poor kids left going to public school, so when it comes to education...that's right, cut cut cut. Of course there's a solution, but this is America, we don't level the playing field in this country.
I went to a private school, and I'm quite happy that I did. No regrets. Of course, what this article tends to imply is that white Southerners are sending their children to private schools to avoid black people. That was most certainly not my motivation at all; instead, the reality is that no amount of wishful thinking was going to change the fact that the mandated public school for my district was a disaster, and I'm glad that my parents didn't sentence me to a lifetime of intellectual mediocrity that I would have had going to that school.

I understand that "money" is usually the first thing that everybody thinks about when we hear that our public schools are failing us. But "money" isn't going to give us a school board that isn't populated with elected buffoons. "Money" isn't necessarily going to give us better teachers. "Money" isn't going to solve all our problems. The fact is that our public schools are going to reflect the environment of society-at-large. And if the U.S. is populated with a bunch of idiots, then we should not be surprised that our public schools reflect that. We are going to have to put in a lot of effort--not just money--if we want our public schools to have the same level of academic integrity as our universities. Even then, seeing the kind of mediocre intellectual aptitude that we're getting out of the graduates of our universities these days, I'd say that we certainly have a lot of work cut out for us.
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Old 11-03-2007, 03:55 PM   #8
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Thanks for this! I'm currently teaching at a juvenile detention center and so 99% of my kids come from violent, poor households. It's very real. I have so many thoughts but little time. LOL. But much of what I have to say is at my blog.

http://teachforpeace.blogspot.com

Dread, love to hear your thoughts. Please do share.

Melon--a quick reply. No, money will not solve all of our problems, but understand how empty the "don't throw money at the problem" rhetoric is. It's not the stable and supportive families that kids need. It's not the curriculum reform we must undertake. But money IS the solution of one of the say top 3 problems our educ. system faces, which is that we plain ole don't have enough schools or teachers. I'm afraid there is really no getting around the money aspect of that.

Where our systems fails, it fails because you get what you pay for.
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Old 11-03-2007, 07:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by financeguy
Another Republican success.
Not quite.

If teaching to the test because I can lose my job if my hungry, TV-watching students don't perform well is a success, then sure, it's working.

If I literally don't have enough time during the school day to teach all that needs to be taught so my students can pass a test and I can keep my job, yeah, it's a success.


If the federal government can void my contract with the district, force me to teach in a school without supportive parents, with parents who don't encourage their kids to take school seriously, then they take a test, they don't perform well, and I lose my job, then, yeah, it's a success.

If my school raise test scores 40 point in one year (an amazing accomplishment for some schools), but a single sub-group doesn't make it so the school is placed on a warning list and teachers' jobs are at stake, I guess it's working.

If every single one of my students needs to be "proficient" in algebra, even the ones with severe learning disablities, then yeah, it's a success.

So before you claim success, try living and teaching under NCLB. Try explaining to the adoptive parent of a girl whose birth mother took speed every day of her pregnancy that her little girl has to pass algebra to move to seventh grade. Try explaining to the parent of a child with severe reading disabilites that his child hasn't passed the test, and so may have trouble graduating. Or try to explain to your staff and students that even though they worked really hard and raised their test scores 40+ points in one year, the feds still aren't satisfied.

Or, you could try explaining to kindergarten parents that their children don't have time to play; they have to be able to read and write when the leave kindergarten.


So yeah. It's working.
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Old 11-03-2007, 07:56 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sherry Darling
Where our systems fails, it fails because you get what you pay for.
Yep. Especially when the people who want to renew NCLB (the fucking Democrats) want to tie my salary to my students' test scores. And then watch them cry when qualified teachers have had enough and quit.
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Old 11-03-2007, 07:56 PM   #11
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I meant to edit, not quote.
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Old 11-04-2007, 07:57 AM   #12
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I am not sure why this has to be a NCLB bashing thread. NCLB has forced people to examine their teaching practices, and work harder to help sub groups of students meet with success. Does this happen by teaching the same thing the same way, again and again? I believe there is an Einstein quote about stupidity that says stupidity is doing the same thing again and again while expecting different results.

NCLB recognizes that there are students with significant needs, who have identifiable learning disabilities. These students are allowed to take alternative (PORTFOLIO) style testing to prove they are making progress, and indeed, they count towards making AYP earning full credit towards AYP. Is it infuriating to see these children listed as Warnings on the assessment results?(YES) However, as far as No Child Left Behind and AYP, the child taking an alternative assessment who demonstrates that they have made progress, gets FULL CREDIT towards AYP not impacting NCLB. This is true in EVERY STATE and these children are NOT the population of students putting schools and teachers jobs at risk.

The free and reduced lunch population is the population that can put a school in jeopardy. Many of these children do not have identifiable learning disabilities. they would fall into the title 1 reading and mathematics population. Most districts that I am aware of, are in jeopardy because of this subgroup of students.

If you want an accurate assessment of how students and subgroups are performing, the only reasonably valid assessment is the NAEP. If you follow the link to the test site, there are great sorting tools to help you look at results of Free and Reduced Lunch scores. This is where you would find results that have meaning to the article.

http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/nde/statecomp/

I would use the NAEP to think about the article because it is a standardized test that EVERY state takes. Any NCLB testing results would not be a good source of information because each state uses their own test for NCLB. Each state creates their own standards for testing. NAEP is the only test in my opinion that is vaild because the federal government sends in its own testers to give the test, so that it is monitored effecgtively.

I would also say, while examining the NAEP and the FRLP of students, the reading results SCARE the daylights out of me. THere is a HUGE gap in the reading abilities of the FRLP population, and the non FRLP population.

If you look at the Einstein quote something needs to change. You cannot teach reading to this population of students the same way you teach reading to the aggregate. Schools need to recognize that this population of students has different needs and that to effectively manage those needs, you have to change what you are doing in the course of the school day. You cannot expect the habits at home to change, you have no control over it. If you do not change anything in the course of the school day, the results are going to stay the same.

One thing I changed as a teacher, was I incresed the amount of time given to oral reading in my classroom. Students worked in literature circles, reading with peers at their level for 15-30 minutes daily. I found that this increased my results across the board.

The reading results scare me, because, you need to read and understand in order to do the type of mathematical thinking required.

There will always be private schools. It will never change. The only thing schools have the ability to change is what is occuring during the hours of the school day.

I would recommend looking at the work of Becky and Rick DuFor in the area of Professional Learning Communities to successfully impact and change a schools climate so that you move from a list of excuses as to why we can't succeed - to a climate of teachers who are empowered to say we are not succeeding and what do we need to do to succeed.
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Old 11-04-2007, 11:15 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox
I am not sure why this has to be a NCLB bashing thread.
You've done your share of NCLB bashing plenty of times, so don't give me any lip.



Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox

NCLB recognizes that there are students with significant needs, who have identifiable learning disabilities. These students are allowed to take alternative (PORTFOLIO) style testing to prove they are making progress, and indeed, they count towards making AYP earning full credit towards AYP.
Apparently none of my students are severe enough to use this measure. We won't talk about the kids who don't speak English. I guess they don't matter.

Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox

they would fall into the title 1 reading and mathematics population.
My school gets no title 1 funds.


Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox

If you want an accurate assessment of how students and subgroups are performing, the only reasonably valid assessment is the NAEP.
Great. Does Pelosi propose basing my salary and terms of employment on this test?

Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox
Each state creates their own standards for testing.
No state knows this better than California. We have some of the most difficult state standards and one of the highest thresholds for proficiency. These were all set before NCLB. When the Feds started their party, California was faced with either lowering their standards and lowering the proficiency threshold, or working their students to the bone. Rather than be accused of "dumbing down" their curriculum, they chose option B.

Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox
You cannot expect the habits at home to change, you have no control over it.
No, but it would be nice not to be continuously blamed for the failure of the parents.



Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox
Students worked in literature circles, reading with peers at their level for 15-30 minutes daily. I found that this increased my results across the board.
My state and district do not allow me to innovate or deviate from the state-approved readinf curriculum at all.

Dreadsox, as usual it's so easy to tell someone across the country what to do. I have 35 students in two grades in my class. I have done all I can do within the parameters of my allowed teaching methods. With the kind of pressure Pelosi and the idiots in Washington are proposing, more and more competent "highly qualified" teachers are goping to say enough is enough, and they'll just leave.
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Old 11-04-2007, 11:30 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by martha
You've done your share of NCLB bashing plenty of times, so don't give me any lip.
It had nothing to do with the article.



[Q]Apparently none of my students are severe enough to use this measure. We won't talk about the kids who don't speak English. I guess they don't matter.[/Q]

I never said they do not matter. They are a subgroup like any other according to NCLB. They deserve as much attention as any other subgroup. The whole point of NCLB is to make sure groups of students are not getting ignored.


[Q] My school gets no title 1 funds. [/Q]

Why not?


[Q]Great. Does Pelosi propose basing my salary and terms of employment on this test? [/Q]

I think this is a dangerous thing to do. What does it have to do with the article?


[Q]No state knows this better than California. We have some of the most difficult state standards and one of the highest thresholds for proficiency. These were all set before NCLB. When the Feds started their party, California was faced with either lowering their standards and lowering the proficiency threshold, or working their students to the bone. Rather than be accused of "dumbing down" their curriculum, they chose option B. [/Q]

Massachusettes is in the same boat. Ed Reform pf 1993 was long before NCLB. That said, California's NAEP scores are near the bottom. That has nothing to do with NCLB. NAEP has been used for years.

[Q]No, but it would be nice not to be continuously blamed for the failure of the parents. [/Q]

Nobody blamed anyone anywhere in this thread. The article talks about many other things though. We have to blame someone though right? If people spent more time thinking outside the box and less time blaming, the kids would be better off.



[Q] My state and district do not allow me to innovate or deviate from the state-approved readinf curriculum at all.[/Q]

Yes, and so we use the district approved reading programs here in MA, comletely dominated by the Calfornia and Texas state curriculums, since the text companies follow your states lead.

That has nothing at all to do with the methodology used in the classrooms to instruct.

[Q]Dreadsox, as usual it's so easy to tell someone across the country what to do. I have 35 students in two grades in my class. I have done all I can do within the parameters of my allowed teaching methods. With the kind of pressure Pelosi and the idiots in Washington are proposing, more and more competent "highly qualified" teachers are goping to say enough is enough, and they'll just leave. [/B][/Q]

I do not know where you go the impression, I was telling you or anyone else to do anything. My point, Martha, is if people use the same methodology all the time, and BLAME BLAME BLAME, nothing will change and the kids will suffer. Its the TV, its the parents, its the divorce rate.....all things you and I have NO control over. The only thing educators have any control over is the methodology employed within the walls of the classroom. And if nothing changes in there, then how the hell can anyone expect the results to change.

The title of the thread, poverty and education, and the article seem to me to have more to do with private schools for white children, lower scores via NAEP standards, and segregation. Not Pelosi, NCLB ect.
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Old 11-04-2007, 12:08 PM   #15
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I find it interesting that the gap has closed between the years 2000-2004 for 9 year olds. It bodes well for the future tests.



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