Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Keeping poor kids in the back of the public school bus

There's no denying the correlation between inequity in K-12 funding and low achievement scores. But they do, anyway.

While I'm amazed at the number of policymakers, education reporters, educational leaders, and so-called reformers who simply ignore an undisputed fact, I'm not surprised. After all, admitting that the problem with educational outcomes has more to do with inputs than process denies them of their favorite pastime: destroying public education.

Despite frequent claims to the contrary, the correlation between poorly funded schools and students who perform poorly is well established, and this phenomenon contributes to educational inequity. The difference in per capita spending between the most and the least affluent schools ranges from 1.5:1 to 2:1 (2005 estimates). With the average difference between poorer and richer schools being $1000 per student, schools in high-poverty, high-diversity areas may experience one half to a full million dollars less in funding than neighboring schools (Slavin, 1997). Schools that arguably need more get less than their wealthier counterparts (NASBE, 2001). Responding to these inequities, some have argued that the economic variables are the real determinants of variation in student performance." ~ Scott, Dr. Stacy L. Making Equity Work. 2005

Yet, we collectively do nothing. Public school leaders in general are complicit in this in that the majority from wealthier suburban districts bury their heads in the sand. They're more than happy to band together to ask for more dollars across the board, but that never solves the problem for schools serving communities mired in poverty and English language deficiencies. If you step out of line (as I have), you're branded as a rebel. But what you fail to recognize is that's exactly what I am, especially if it has anything to do with the futures of my kids.

The problem with No Child Left Behind is the very fact that kids are left behind every day by social problems, by economic problems, by a society that thinks its perfectly okay to provide $15,000 per pupil to rich school districts that have the power in our legislatures while expecting kids battling poverty, homelessness, out-of-work parents, English skill deficiencies, and other problems to achieve the same standards with one-third less, with limited resources, and with aging out-of-date facilities and technology. And your best answer is to simply blame hard-working, well-qualified teachers, shame schools, and cut their funding even more?

So now Michigan and other states claim the solution is more charters schools, including cyber schools, and greater choice. That's it? More competition for diminishing resources will help solve the problems of kids who come to school every day with "junk in the trunk?" That's the best you've got?

Guess that works for you and your wealthy voters.