Thursday, October 29, 2015

Einstein's definition of insanity comes to mind . . .

I was outraged and disgusted to read the results of an assessment of Detroit school pupils.

In the Detroit public school district, 96 percent of eighth graders are not proficient in mathematics and 93 percent are not proficient in reading.

That is according to the results of the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress tests published by the Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics.

Only 4 percent of Detroit public school eighth graders are proficient or better in math and only 7 percent in reading. This is despite the fact that in the 2011-2012 school year—the latest for which the Department of Education has reported the financial data—the Detroit public schools had “total expenditures” of $18,361 per student and “current expenditures” of $13,330 per student.

. . .

The Department of Education has published fiscal information on the Detroit public schools for the 2011-2012 school year. That year, the Detroit Public Schools had total expenditures of $1,231,375,000, equaling $18,361 per student. That included $13,330 per student for current expenditures, $3,182 for capital outlays, and $1,737 for interest on the school system’s debt.

$271,358,000 of the school district's funding for the 2011-2012 school year came from the federal government.

There's more at the link.

If you're not outraged and disgusted by those numbers, you should be!  Every taxpayer in America is on the hook for this failing school system, because the Federal government is paying just over 22% of its budget.  The results prove that the children in that system would actually be no worse off, educationally speaking, if it didn't exist.  The entire department seems dedicated to doing nothing more than provide sinecure jobs for the teachers and administrators, without a single thought for the children it's supposed to be educating.

If I were in charge up there, I'd can the entire department and fire every single person working for it;  then I'd issue a school voucher for $10,000 for every child currently in school, and invite private school companies across the USA to take over the existing school buildings in the city, hire suitably qualified and competent staff, and educate them.  They'd have to meet strict standards of performance, including a minimum percentage of kids that pass this sort of assessment, rising every year from the present abysmal levels to something more acceptable.  I reckon I'd save almost half the current outlay and still end up with better-educated kids!

Einstein's definition of insanity comes to mind.

Providing any further funding to Detroit's Department of Education in its present form would seem to qualify under that definition . . .



Bob said...

It's Detroit...

I would suspect 90+% those kids don't want to learn since most of their parents teach them that schooling is a "white thing", a phrase that has been bandied about for decades.

It's not the kids, it's what the media, the movies, TV and their parents or - parent - has taught them.

I know it's a $hitty deal, but that's all we got.

Rolf said...

When a good teacher shows and and tries hard, but is is trying to fight the student, the family, the administration, the union, and the other teachers who have given up for the same reasons, it's a dive that's REALLY hard to pull out of.

WL Emery said...

First of all, never having met you personally and only knowing you through the written word, I believe I'm on fairly safe ground when I say that you would not like to be in charge of the Detroit school system. You would literally be an army of one against the students who don't want to be there, the parents who are outraged that anyone, let alone any white-one, would dare to criticize little Shaniqua or Tyrone for any reason at all. A chil' need to grow, an' he gots rights. Honky. During your first interaction with the students, you'd likely lay violent hands upon them in about ten seconds or less. I'm betting less.

Then there's your staff, all of whom belong to the teacher's union. With all that government money floating around, they're just spoiling for a lawsuit or two or three, and you'll give them the perfect case and opportunity. You can't fire someone for flagrant incompetence. That's racist!

The other administrators will be fully occupied taking sick days ten minutes after work starts and putting as much distance as possible between themselves and the man with the dynamite. They like their cushy jobs, and every single one of them is trying to maximize retirement benefits.

The school board are all elected officials. I'll just leave that one alone, because they'll be busy trying to assign the blame for hiring this self-destructive menace to bureaucracy to someone else, some malcontent scapegoat. An example of a typical school board member might be found in Kwame Kilpatrick; although he never served on the Board of Education, he was an elected official (Mayor) and served until he was jailed. The others are no better, but they're just smart enough not to get caught. Yet.

I'm a little sorry to rain on your tirade, because this situation is an outrage, and people should be sitting up and taking notice. But they won't, and over the next ten years the standards will be down to the point that all students graduating from the Detroit school system won't be able to read their diploma, which will actually be a certificate of attendance.

K said...

You can spend all the money you want, but if the parents are NOT involved in their child's education , then it's a futile attempt.

Dick said...

It's actually worse than that. What the state is holding up as a standard is described by the word "proficient". That's a subjective word and can cover a wide range. Compared to a 1950's education, I would relabel their "proficient" to "semi-literate". That means nearly all of the students can't even reach the pathetic standard of semi-literate and will forever remain illiterate.

Punzdeleon said...

Lets brainstorm this a bit. Give all parents of schoolchildren a voucher of $13300 per child up to 7th grade. Let parents contract directly with teachers to educate their children. A teacher could choose how many children she wanted to teach and in agreement with the parents, where to teach them. This could be the parent's home, teacher's home, or rented space from a church for a few examples. A teacher taking on only 6 pupils would gross $79800. A small per pupil stipend from no longer used capital outlays would cover texts and other materials.
Teachers could combine their talents and offer broader curriculums or bigger venues. While a system of testing would monitor student progress the ultimate judges of student success would be the parents. Poor teachers would end up without contracts. Successful teachers could pick and choose their clients. Entry level teachers would have incentive to strive for excellence.
My career took me into many homes at all income levels. There I saw some homeschool setups where several families combined to educate the children themselves by setting aside a room or two for class. Similar arrangements with professional teachers might work well for many families. For others rented storefronts, church SS rooms or well, use your imagination.
The main idea is to lower the pupil/teacher ratio, restore teacher incentive, give parents real choices, and separate children into much smaller groups.
What do you think?

Old NFO said...

It's all about the 'adults' covering their pensions, etc. They don't give a rat's ass about the kids, since the parents don't either... They are functionally illiterate up there, and I'd suggest that also includes most of the parents. The ones that can, put their kids in private schools and figure out some way to pay for them.

Brad said...

I think the vouchers could work, but - as others have mentioned - you absolutely must have the ability to refuse service to disruptive students, and to fail students to do not meet standards.

Too many people in the inner city community do not care about education, and will do their best to pull everyone else down to their level. The best teachers in the world cannot fix that.

WhatIfWeAllCared? said...

IMHO it looks like we warehousing them prison -style vs educating them. Honestly, I think the entire administration should be prosecuted and held accountable with one count against them for each child they were individually responsible for!!
And, at the same time, I love your idea about the vouchers and private schools!!!

A.B. Prosper said...

The usual ideas of reform won't work since families are not intact and in the mind of a lot of the people there, why bother since school sucks and you'll just end up poor anyway.

As such I think to make the education system in Detroit work, you need intact families headed by the father to start.

Once that's done, you'd need a culture that pushes education and a pedagogy redesigned for people with generally lower IQ's and lower time preferences and that clearly lead to opportunity. This may men more trade schools and efforts for the people that probably aren't suited for much more than minimum wage labor to get a decent income.

Otherwise you are wasting time trying to put lipstick on a pig

Do that and it wio

Woodsterman (Odie) said...

Yeah, but I'll bet they become good union members one day.

Truth Corps said...

I think y'all might be missing the forest for the trees.

There is no education going on. Detroit is a new style Plantation and the cash crop is black democratic votes.

That here we are 50+ years after ending segregation, forced busing and integration and people have the audacity to say that my white children are the same as these little black africans in America is offensive.

Inconsiderate Bastard said...

All is proceeding as the Progressives planned. It's just that Detroit is better at it than most places.

CGR710 said...

I think both ideas - the voucher and with teacher pools combined would work under certain conditions. First of all you can't motivate everyone to want an education - that's pretty clear from a lot of comments. So don't even try: give them the vouchers and let them choose between the public system and private model. The one's with drive will chose the better education and you at least get something for the money...

Unknown said...

(South African) friends of ours just moved to Germany after living in LA for about ten years.

She (the teacher) was so frustrated with not being allowed to do anything "special" that she just couldn't take it any more.

Because anything special presumably means that the kids with humdrum teachers are at a disadvantage, and it's always easier to pull people down than to pull them up.

In Germany, apparently, things work. Education wise, that is, I wouldn't want to live there :-)

Eaton Rapids Joe said...

One of the system dysfunctions is that the parts are compartmentalized.

If we, as a society, think that standards are important then every interaction should comprehend performance to those standards.

For example, if performing well on standardized tests means something, then a significant portion of welfare payments should be contingent on doing well on those tests. I am pretty sure the parent(s) would become very engaged if 33% of their benefits depended on evidence in the form of proficiency on standardized tests.

Tully said...

I hate to nitpick, but Einstein never said it that anyone can show. :( It's an "internet quote" that apparently originated in a 1981 Narcotics Anonymous pamphlet.