Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Sad, Sad State of Education

Cleveland is one of the poorest, most racially segregated, and lowest-preforming school districts in the nation. According to data in the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Cleveland's school population is 85% black and Hispanic, and 100% of its students are eligible for free or reduced lunch.

Diane Ravitch is a Research Professor of Education at NYU. From 1997-2004 she was a member of the National Assessment Governing Board which oversees federal testing programs. In other words, she was all for charter schools, an abundance of testing and the voucher programs. But after all of those years she witnessed the failure of those programs. She noted that there was no evidence that they worked in the past 10 years. The following information is from Diane Ravitch's speech at Cleveland's City Club last week after her investigation of the Cleveland schools:

About 100,000 of the state's 1.8 million students are enrolled in charter schools. The average public school teacher in Cleveland is paid about $66,000, while the average charter school teacher in the city is paid about $33,000. A big cost savings for the city and state.

As in other states, charters in Ohio get no better academic results on average than regular public schools. There are more charters at the bottom of the state's academic rating, but not much difference at the middle or the top. The biggest charter chain in Ohio is White Hat Management, a for-profit corporation run by Akron businessman David Brennen, who has contributed millions of dollars to Republican candidates. According to information complied by NPR in Ohio, "No Ohio White Hat school earned higher than the equivalent of a "C" on the state report card. Most are in academic emergency. In the company's view the state grades are unimportant, all that matters is that parents are making a choice.

The state has pumped more than $1 billion into virtual schools over the past decade with disappointing results. Of 23 e-schools in Ohio only 3 were rated effective by the state, have been called "Vastly under-performing". Children are 10 times more likely to receive an "effective" education in traditional public schools than they are in e-schools. What a surprise! E-schools consist of one person monitoring 50 or more computers for profit. Sponsors of these schools make huge amounts of money, and where there is money there are lobbyists and campaign contributors.

The Voucher system has been in Cleveland since 1995, but students have not performed better on state tests than students in public schools. So why are we continuing this ineffective and expensive program while decimating the public schools that are available to all??

The mayor of Cleveland and the governor of Ohio have decided that the answer lies in firing teachers, closing public schools, expanding the number of vouchers, and possibly expand the voucher program! Vouchers are only for the select few. The ineffective schools are run by wealthy businessmen. Somehow the evidence, the proof, the data means nothing to our elected officials. They are NOT thinking about the children or their futures. They are thinking about how to cut costs. The political allies of these people may profit, but the children will be the losers. Disgraceful. They should be ashamed of themselves.

1 comment:

JeannetteLS said...

I agree with your ending. They SHOULD be ashamed of themselves. If ever there was an argument against privatizing public schools, this is it. eSchools can work for adults; I have trouble seeing their value for children when there is any other choice. Hands-on learning will never be replaced in a virtual classroom. And the eye-to-eye interaction of children with their teachers cannot be measured.

And when I saw that $33,000 was the average salary? WHY on earth would we want to draw the least experienced and knowledgeable people to be in charge of our children's futures? (I am sure that I ought not to paint all the teachers, or monitors with the same brush.) Certainly such a salary will not draw any but the desperate, who may or may NOT be the outstanding teachers.

My children are grown; this does not mean that I do not worry for the future of our country. We ALL need to be concerned with giving children equal access to the best public schools in the world.

Sadly, I don't think that happens much of anywhere in this country. And I fear it will not ever happen, so long as greed and looking out for number on are the primary motivators among so man.

I'm sorry. I went off the topic a bit. Thank you for writing this piece, though. And I will try not to ramble on so in the future.