Last week Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post reprinted a commencement address Richard Rothstein, former NYTimes education reporter, gave to the graduating class of Loyola University Chicago College of Education. The address lays out the facts regarding the supposedly failing schools in our country (the NAEP data shows they are NOT failing at all) and the need for our country to address the underlying problems that challenge public schools (as James Carville famously quoted: “It’s the economy stupid!”). It’s a good read.
Monday’s NYTimes had an editorial expressing dismay over the fact that hunger among children is now a partisan issue with Republicans unanimously supporting cuts to the food stamp program that would take food off the plates of the neediest children. The editorial describes the cuts as follows:
The House bill’s cuts would end food-stamp assistance for nearly two million people, with the pain falling mainly on low-income working families with kids and older Americans,according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. And as many as 210,000 children would lose access to free school lunches and breakfasts because eligibility for those meals is tied to their family’s receipt of food-stamp benefits.
Food stamp cuts affect schools yet I know of no public school related organization that speaks up when these cuts are contemplated. How do you think those 210,000 children will perform on the standardized tests used to measure school performance? How engaged will those parents be in their child’s education when they need to worry about getting sufficient food? And why are we even discussing budget cuts to reduce the deficit when the deficit is lowering already? And why aren’t the AASA, the NEA, the NSBA, the UFT, and the PTA speaking in a unified and loud voice in opposition to this kind of legislation that hurts children?
Have you read about the miracle charter schools that take all comers from public schools and transform them into high performing students? Well… slowly but surely each and every “miracle” is revealed to untrue. Diane Ravitch’s blog this morning included a link to this news story from Nashville that described how KIPP dispatched scores of low performing, misbehaving, and special needs students just prior to the administration of the State’s high stakes tests, effectively raising their scores while diminishing those of the public schools that received the students. How bad was the attrition rate in charters?
When it comes to the net loss of students this year, charter schools are the top eight losers of students.
In fact, the only schools that have net losses of 10 to 33 percent are charter schools.
And who, exactly, is leaving those schools?
Nineteen of the last 20 children to leave Kipp Academy had multiple out-of-school suspensions. Eleven of the 19 are classified as special needs, and all of them took their TCAPs at Metro zoned schools, so their scores won’t count against Kipp.
There you have it: dump the low achieving students, keep the high performing students, and proclaim victory.