Friday, August 15, 2008

How'd the Press-Register teach these folks' kids?

Tiffany Craig of WKRG News 5 reports Parents Get Probation for Truant Kids and the Mobile Press-Register's Robert McClendon reports Parents explain truancy: Many of the parents who plead guilty then fail drug tests after court session. I'm conflicted over the decision of Ms. Craig's station to place these parents on the tube yet I'll need to stew on my bottom line. I also can't imagine a Juvenile Court Judge allowing such access to those proceedings. I suppose since adults are involved that provides the out. I don't care for the drug testing angle either. Then there's the ... I do love me some civil liberties!

One thing I do agree with is that I've seen essentially the same sort of "parents" in both courts and classrooms in both Georgia and Alabama. Some had dreadful limitations, challenges, sicknesses, ... The Judge might think "too often they just don't care" but I usually found it a little more complicated.

How might the powers that be which have tied us to a high stakes testing accountability model make allowances for teaching the children of these "parents"? Would they accept that children living in their homes might be a rather challenging population to educate? Do they still think market solutions applied to a hundred year old industrial model of most American schools will deliver us from ruin?

As an aside, I recall having one of my administrators designing all sorts of incentive programs to get our little darlings to come to school, not to mention crunching numbers all day related to the damned data, instead of truly leading on our instructional efforts. I find it too rich that schools can fail under No Child Left Behind and not meet AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) if attendance numbers aren't acceptable. If the law can't effectively make parents deliver little Johnny or Sally to the school then how might the educators? Going back on track ...

The right wing has created an almost universal acceptance that many schools aren't doing their jobs based on "measurements" of "learning". They take data which shows, rightly in some cases, that poor or minority or ... kids are struggling and then urge reforms that generally rely on the magic of the markets. "School choice" via "vouchers" is one of their main thrusts yet would "parents" such as those covered above likely do much better under such an arrangement? To make it all the more bothersome, conservatives also insult or at least dismiss what professional educators attempt rather often.

The Mobile Press-Register for instance has been a long advocate for "competition" in education. In October of 2007 they opined Parents lack top school choices (dead link I regret) which began

Fed up with poorly performing schools, some parents are taking matters into their own hands by moving their children into areas with better schools. In particular, many of these parents who are moving their children are making great sacrifices to get their children into better schools in Jefferson and Shelby counties. According to an article in The Birmingham News, since 2000 the Birmingham city school system has experienced a 23 percent decline in enrollment. ...

In November of 2007 their Children lose when school choice loses (the link is dead) begins with

The mighty education establishment has never spared any effort or expense fighting to keep children captives of the government-run school system. That's why they've compiled a perfect 10-0 record in statewide referendums on school choice. On Tuesday, the teachers' unions and the education bureaucracy scored another big win. Children trapped in substandard schools in Utah were the losers. Voters in that conservative state rejected the nation's first statewide school voucher program.

Stupid voters! Those terrible teachers might not teach worth a damn but they sure can sway elections. Going across the pond, the BBC covered a similar vote in California early in the Reign of Error plus they pointed out that the research is hardly supportive of the claims of the free market ideologues.

In January of this year the P-R gave us Seek more competition (again with a dead link) where they started with

Alabama's education system falls short of the standards of the mythical Lake Wobegon, where all the children are above average. According to the annual "Quality Counts" report published by Education Week magazine, Alabama schools are just average. Middle of the pack. So-so. Mediocre. In the magazine's ratings, the state received an overall grade of 75.7, which translated into a fair-to-middling "C." The state's standing in ...

In May the P-R shared Take a stand for choice which let them get a swipe in on Senator Obama, "liberal orthodoxy", and "teachers' unions" with this being at least a foundation of their argument:

During a meeting in February with the editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Illinois senator said he was skeptical of allowing families to use publicly funded vouchers to send their children to private schools. Then he added, "If there was any argument for vouchers, it was 'All right, let's see if this experiment works,' and if it does, then whatever my preconceptions, my attitude is you do what works for the kids. I will not allow my predispositions to stand in the way of making sure our kids can learn. We're losing several generations of kids and something has to be done."

That was far from a ringing endorsement of vouchers, but for school choice advocates, who span the spectrum from the liberal Brookings Institution to the conservative Heritage Foundation, Sen. Obama's words were encouraging.

First of all, they ought to stop labeling Brookings as "liberal". Centrist at most yet they surely are funded by some of the usual suspects. Source Watch debunks that ridiculous claim as well.

As for Senator Obama's opening the door to this experiment, the evidence from said experimenting isn't coming up so rosy for the Friedmanites. Two years ago I posted over on Captain Jimi on how Bu$hCo's Department of Education buried their very own studies that didn't support right wing theory. Like any reasonable person, Senator Obama wants to make a rational decision rather than a radical one. Just who is acting "conservative" here?

Also, the P-R claimed, "Polls show people who live in urban areas with lousy public schools strongly favor vouchers." Actually, those polls might depend how the question is phrased. Not that the right wing, movement conservative set would use flawed "evidence" or anything of course.

In July the most conservative paper in the Newhouse Triad opined Obama says 'no' to low-income parents where they do some simultaneous shilling. Getting a two for one lick in for vouchers and against Senator Obama, they write, "Not too long ago, Sen. Obama said he was willing to consider supporting publicly funded voucher programs that allow low-income parents to send their children to private schools." Operative words from their own prior Editorial were "let's see if this experiment works". The Mobile P-R lectures

Sen. Obama apparently prefers to lecture parents about their responsibilities. He makes some good points, but misses the fact that, in America, responsibility and freedom usually travel together.

Again, we see the above parents in action. Senator Obama was quoted as stating, "Responsibility for our children's education starts at home." Any further questions P-R?

As I've said before, Jim "The Tool" Wooten really belongs in Mobile. Yet even Jim accepts the many, many variable that influence learning. Over two years ago I posted No Wonder We Have So Many Dropouts & Darlings where I looked at consequences of poverty and pampered prosperity. It's as much of a rant as perhaps I've ever done. I had or about set aside the chalk to pursue other adventures and perhaps I was frustrated over leaving work that I found rewarding and challenging. I walked away for several reasons but never because I didn't deeply care.

Once again I'm frustrated over the right wing war on schools. I told Jim Wooten he needed a new topic or at least new sources and I think the Mobile Press-Register might as well. A swith Jim, I'll not hold my breath on the P-R advocating for income integration as Raleigh, NC has seen some successes with recently. In fact, they'd likely go on the warpath attacking "social engineering" or "leftist education theories" or ... Only the marvelous markets supplies solutions you silly radicals! Nor do I expect them to ponder Education Funding and Low Income Children; A Review of Current Research from Kevin Carey, then of The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. I doubt they'd consider merely spending a few moments considering the ideas presented via Education Sector.

I'm becoming more and more convinced the Mobile Press-Register's Editorial Board is made up of movement conservatives rather than journalists. John Gunn

UPDATE ~ August 27, 2008 - Jeff Amy of the Mobile P-R tells us "Mobile County remains among the 10 poorest large U.S. counties ..."

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