"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Homeschooling, Freely Unequal

Dismantling The Atlantic Monthly Reform Manifesto
2nd Installment

I.

I introduced the The Atlantic's Reform pamphlet ("22 pages...") by focusing on the presentation of content.  But, I regret to say I left out what might have been the most important part: the "cover" of the section.  It's a TEST BOOKLET!  Surprised?



II.

Now, this is clearly ideological content on all levels.  There is ZERO subtlety here.  How is this possible?  For whom are these articles written?  Surely these writers and these editors must realize that they are writing a very obvious form of "persuasion" empty of anything deeper than bald ideology.  If I assume that, then what?

I think it's necessary now to approach much of this as if it were not solely propaganda.  What I mean is, our first examination, after acknowledging the bald intent, must be to see these pieces as an attempt of offer coherent instructions.  So, these pieces in The Atlantic Monthly must be seen as instructions to its readers to "change" what Paul Elie, in letter B above, calls the "cult, creed, and dogma of public school."  That is, re-describe the institution and then act appropriate to those instructions.  This is propaganda, yes, but like Peckham's description of mathematics, it is empty of content.  That is, the content consists of directions which are persuasive but not honest in that they don't point to the goal behind the instructions.  That is to say, authors of propaganda want you to do something, think something, feel something exactly as instructed but not for the same reason that they wrote the propaganda.  They are writing to create a coherence on a lower level while they seek to operate within a distinctly different coherence at a higher level of culture (i.e., more educated, greater wealth, Caucasian,  etc.).  Management rules and labor rules are an example.  Celebrity drug use and criminal drug laws for the urban poor is another.  There must be a reason why some people cannot do a thing while another group is allowed to do that same thing and often to greater extremes.  This is why an oxycodone addict like Rush Limbaugh is allowed to blather on about urban pot-smokers and this is considered "appropriate."

Dickens pointed to this over an over.  Examples are legion in Hard Times, but a clear instruction is found in chapter eleven, "No Way Out," when Stephen Blackpool asks, hat in hand, advice of Mr. Bounderby--factory owner and Stephen's boss--as to how to attain a divorce.  Blackpool responds to Bounderby's answer by noting the inconsistency and incoherence of the social instructions while Bounderby insists on it as a coherence.

    '...I mun be ridden o' this woman, and I want t' know how?'
    'No how,' returned Mr. Bounderby.
    'If I do her any hurt, sir, there's a law to punish me?'
    'Of course there is.'
    'If I flee from her, there's a law to punish me?'
    'Of course there is.'
    'If I marry t'oother dear lass, there's a law to punish me?'
    'Of course there is.'
    'If I was to live wi' her an' not marry her-saying such a thing could be, which it never could or would, an' her so good-there's a law to punish me, in every innocent child belonging to me?'
    'Of course there is.'
    'Now, a' God's name,' said Stephen Blackpool, 'show me the law to help me!'
    'Hem! There's a sanctity in this relation of life,' said Mr. Bounderby, 'and-and-it must be kept up.'

It is often shocking to me that this is still our preferred mode of social management.

III.

Paul Elie, the author of "The Homeschool Diaries," is described as
a senior fellow with Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. His second book, Reinventing Bach, is out this month from FSG.
Paul Elie has been writing and editing in the publishing industry since 1987, always and consistently, as far as this interview details, moving up in the world.  It would appear that finally he has "made it" and is likely more successful than he imagined he would be.  He has become an institutional voice.

Further, Paul Elie is a Catholic whose book on Catholic writers, with a title taken from a Flannery O'Connor short story, "The Life You Save May Be Your Own," was extremely successful and placed on many "best Catholic books" lists.  It was Beliefnet's 2003 "Book of the Year."  In an interview there it is clear that Elie is a man trying to live his faith and promote that way of being.  He says of the subjects of his book, "These people were trying to make points with their whole lives."

What point is a representative of the Catholic faith trying to make with "The Homeschool Diaries?"

IV.

The entire piece, all 1,400 words, is pure "everything-and-the-kitchen-sink" "dog whistle" for an "anti-government," "tribal" reader.  It is frankly an embarrassing piece of writing if we judge it from a literary standpoint.  As indicated, it is less than subtle.  Each of its twelve paragraphs can be read as a 12-step program designed to bludgeon one with ideological cliches.

1. City government is incompetent.  The body in question is the city Department of Education.  The city redrew district lines and his kids were then denied access to a "gifted" program (Elie's quotes).

2. City public school officials are criminals and/or inexperienced and/or incompetent.

3. His wife, Lenora, can stay at home, join like-minded groups, and educate their child (bolstered by Elie's "curricular" abilities as a writer and grad-school instructor) instead of working to pay for private schools.  In effect, Elie is the Principal and Lenora is the labor.

4. Homeschooling's not just for religious traditionalists.  This is Elie's redescription of "fundamentalists."  His gang includes professors, composers, restauranteurs, and even someone who seems to be blue-collar, though given a full title to make him more like Elie, a "Columbia University physical-plant supervisor."  In other words, a manager.

5. a) Public schools are underfunded, overcrowded and "perpetually in turnaround." b) Public schools force questionable and irrelevant testing on students. c) Up-scale gentrification--moving middle class whitey out of neighborhoods--is driving up real estate in those districts with "good" public schools (how can there be any?).

6. a) Private schools are unaffordable.  b) Catholic schools are being undercut by their "poor relations," parochial schools.

7. Homeschoolers have all kinds of reasons, but most of them are to Elie, "high culture" reasons set beside the "public schools' emphasis on standardized testing" to the detriment of an arts education.

8. You already, if you live in someplace with high culture (ehem), supplement your poor, public school education with cultural outings.

9. Elie's "day"--math at home with dad first thing; then it seems as though dad goes to work off-site at an office space (that must be pricey); Lenora, teaches the rest and they then go culture site-hopping.

10. These cultural sites are often free! (um...paid for by tax dollars).  Then he lists great instructive opportunities offered at bargain rates compared with private school per deum rates.

11. But, we are traditionalists!  (ah, there's the conservative rub)

12. What about the future?  We already are teaching our kids like a college curriculum so what's the big deal?

So, how does this say more than this: If you can afford it, if you live in a city, if you are educated, if your friends are educated, keep your kids out of the public school system.

Is this good advice?  I won't argue with one man's particulars.  We all SHOULD consider the ways we live our lives as families.  But isn't this action designed in the main to remove as much "value" from the public school as possible?  And what of the non-Elie's ("Are they my poor?") who cannot fit this cultural template?  What is a public system for?  Without it, what do we envision happening?

Imagine, in a city like New York, the entire school age population NOT going to school but staying at home, taking field trips, etc.  Is that viable?

V.

So, when confronted with this "practical" approach to "learning" we should probably ask why Paul Elie doesn't want to reform public school education and share his immense capabilities with more than his tribe.  Why isn't Paul Elie running for school board or local office?

Because many of us would agree with much of what Elie has written regarding the troubling situation of our public schools.  These are not to be "fixed" by the Elie's of this world.  They are to be erased.  And as social management must have institutions like schools to do the automatic work of cultural indoctrination, what would schools, once destroyed and bankrupted, be replaced by to serve that institutional role?

VI.

You know there was once a more thoughtful, deeper, more caring man named Paul who also disagreed with mandatory schooling and the industrial processes favoring a political indoctrination based on an economic system.  Paul Goodman was his name.  Here are some of his thoughts to counterbalance Elie's "pragmatism" of class interest.

Human beings tend to be excluded when a logistic style becomes universally pervasive, so that values and data that cannot be standardized and programmed are disregarded; when function is adjusted to the technology rather than technology to function; when technology is confused with autonomous science, a good in itself, rather than being limited by political and moral prudence; when there develops an establishment of managers and experts who alone license and allot resources, and it deludes itself that it knows the only right method and is omnicompetent.  Then common people become docile clients, maintained by sufferance or they are treated as deviant.... 
The chief danger to American society at present, and to the world from American Society, is our mindlessness, induced by empty institutions.  It is a kind of mesmerism, a self-delusion of formal Tightness, that affects both leaders and people.  We have all the talking-points but less and less content...we have lost our common sense, for which we were once noted...We have lost it by becoming personnel of a mechanical system and exclusive suburbanites, by getting out of contact with real jobs and real people.  (1966, Massey Lectures)

Goodman asks us to think about how our institutions have been undermined.  He would have agreed with Elie, likely, on many of the personal particulars, but he would not have wanted to undermine our social responsibilities, especially in cities.  (See his book, written with his brother, Communitas.)

VII.

To adapt a line from Thoreau, a tactic I've used most of my writing life, I do not ask at once for no school, but rather a better school.

On evidence in "The Homeschooling Diaries" is the confusing of the abstraction we call "school" with the politics that direct it (give it instructions in behavior).  Elie says several times that the Public Schools are failing because of "their" emphasis on this, that and the other.  The error seems intentional.  Public Schools, their organization, their content, their mandate, their policies, their operations, are under the direction of managers beholden to city, state and federal directives.  Therefore the schools do not emphasize testing, the politicians do.  Public schools do not "gentrify" neighborhoods, politicians do (at the behest of campaign donors).  Public schools do not redraw district lines and force you to pay more rent in order to go to the school you deem the "right" kind of school...politicians do.

Politicians are now best defined as individuals with the position in society most advantageous to aiding their own material existence and furthering their own, and the "master class," ideology.  They direct us how we should properly live according to race, class, culture, creed.

That is, the school is simply a reflection of the cultural instructions dictated by the powerful.

VIII.

Elie, begins his piece by offering himself as coming to homeschooling passively--it "happened" to him. He claims his wife wanted it and then that city government and real estate economics forced his hand.  In one paragraph he claims he wanted to stick with public schooling because he "had been raised on the cult, creed, and dogma of public school, and this [homeschooling] felt like leaving the fold."

That is what we might term "ironic" coming from a man who is trying to live his Catholic faith in his work (writing and teaching and directing others).  But, it does seem to me to be the most explicit reference in the piece by being truly the least obvious and most subtle.

Paul feels he can create (recreate?) his religio-cultural tribe by enveloping himself and his family in a self-selected community of "sameness" and he specifies the church as one of his primary community locations.

I have no issues with this in the least.  I do find it particularly narrow and as a man with no need to make God my normative regress (my "final answer") I find it liable to lead to an intolerance that wields its effects in a cash imbalance.  My "regress" makes more than your "regress."  My regress can beat up your regress.

IX.

The question, what about the rest of us?, never seems to enter the equation anymore but for the high abstraction, noted elsewhere, of human capital.  Something akin to Temple Grandin's cows who are happy all the way through their brief and humanly-determined existence.  They taste better that way, quoth she.

Goodman again:

Corporate and bureaucratic societies, whether ruled by priests, mandarins, generals, or business managers, have always tended to diminish the importance of personal needs and human feeling, in the interest of abstractions and systemic necessities.  And where there has been no check by strong community ties, effective democracy, or a free market, it has not been rare for the business of society to be largely without utility or common sense.  Nevertheless, modern corporate societies that can wield a high technology are liable to an unique temptation: since they do not exploit common labor, they may tend to exclude the majority of human beings altogether, as useless for the needs of the system and therefore as not quite persons....
Also, are the people useless?  The concept of efficiency is largely, maybe mainly, systemic.  It depends on the goals of the system, which may be too narrowly and inflexibly conceived; it depends on the ease of administration, which is considered as more important than economic or social costs; but it depends also on the method of calculating costs, which may create a false image of efficiency by ruling out "intangibles" that do not suit the method.

One feels a truth in Paul Elie's desire not to be at the whim of the state and the state's bureaucracies; and further to minimize the intrusion of "Education" companies like Pearson and ACT into the brains of our progeny.

I want community, public education.  I want a "homeschool" attitude within it.  I want a teacher who knows more about content than I do but doesn't assume he or she knows more about my children and the proper way they should learn.  I want a collaboration.  I do want more "homeschooling" in my public school.  I just don't want to promote the segregations of sameness; these are the same as segregations of difference.

Perhaps you'd like to have Paul Elie's wife and friends teach your child.  You know you can't.  But why can't you have a "Paul and Lenora"-type public opportunity?

It's an important question we should try to answer and thank Paul for raising, even if Paul meant something else by his article.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Kopp's shameless self-promotion in the guise of a Kozol book review

"Ms. Kopp's husband, Richard Barth, was an Edison executive before taking over as CEO of KIPP's national foundation, where he has sought to decertify its New York City unions." — Jesse James Alred

Separate is never equal: TFA, KIPP, and corporate charter schools are the new Jim Crow.One thing I'll concede to the corporate education reformers is their uncanny ability to use anything as a sales pitch for neoliberalism and profitability. Perhaps the most egregious example of this was Arne "Katrina Schadenfreude" Duncan's racist pro-charter school statement that the abject disaster was "the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans." Not to be outdone by a dullard second rate basketball player masquerading as Secretary of Education, education reform mogol Wendy Kopp has taken the dark art of corporate spin to a whole new level.

I can think of only a handful of individuals who would be more inappropriate to review Jonathan Kozol's latest book than Kopp, but unfortunately the Washington Post gave her the space. Kopp's review of "Fire in the Ashes: Twenty-five Years Among the Poorest Children in America" can only be described as shameless self-promotion. Laden with half-truths, outright lies, and contorted pats to her own back, Kopp doesn't miss an opportunity to spread meritocracy myths, plug privatization, and pander calloused right-wing catch phrases like "demographics need not be destiny."

Kopp uses each transition of theme to mildly chastise Kozol, mendaciously suggesting that things are getting better all the time (and in no small part to thanks to her endeavors). The entire piece reads as "Yes, Kozol accurately describes things as they were decades ago, but thanks to the heroic efforts of myself and other hedge fund backed reformers, society is well on its way to solving its deepest systemic problems." It is cringe inducing, but worth reading to understand the full pathology of white savior syndrome.

I posted the following commentary under her so-called review:

Ms. Kopp's "review" is little more than misplaced self-congratulatory drivel. It would have been better if she had just been honest and stated from the get-go that she wished Johnathan Kozol had written a book about her and her fellow corporate education reformers.

To wit she lists some of the most vile organizations on the leading edge of privatization at the end of her piece and insinuates they are somehow changing systemic problems. KIPP, those colonial centers of cultural sterilization that often have between 40-60% attrition rates. Harlem Children’s Zone where charlatan Geoffrey Canada pays himself a half a million a year for doing things like kicking out an entire class of children since they were making him look bad on standardized tests. Union busting Stand for Children whose haughty arrogance resulted in the victorious Chicago teachers' strike. Rest assured her litany of corporate privatizers are part of the problem, not the solution.

No where is the wealthy white Kopp's detachment from reality and obsequiousness to power and privilege more apparent than her disgusting homage to petty dictator Bloomberg. To call the NYC Mayor's tenure anything other than abject disaster is to reach heights of mendaciousness never scaled before.

Kozol is a luminary of the social justice crowd, while Ms. Kopp is a pariah at best. I know her constant company of hedge fund managers, billionaire bankers, and fetid politicians keep her in a reality detached from the subject she thinks she has expertise in, and when she uses repulsive phrases like "social entrepreneurs," she pretty much proves how obtuse she is. When I was coming up veteran activists had a difference phrase for "social entrepreneurs," they called them "poverty pimps." Frankly it's embarrassing to allow Kopp to review any work by Kozol. Let's hope the Post shows better judgement in the future.

The most important response to Kopp's hamfisted plugging of corporate education reform won't be found in any polemics or critiques of her. Rather it will be found in taking actions to implement authentic reforms that are the antithesis of Kopp and her cadre of neoliberal profiteers. Reading Kozol is a great start, and creating neighborhood book circles to read works by him and other social justice authors are an excellent way of educating community members with facts to counter the corporate narrative. Ultimately organizing ourselves to put that theory into action is the only thing that will stop neoliberalism—just like the parents, community members, and activists who stood alongside the striking Chicago Teachers Union.


For a more humorous take on this topic, see EduShyster's Kopp to Kozol: Your New Book Didn’t Mention Me Once!

Autism, ADHD, Adaptation and Randomization

I.

Some time ago I wrote a piece noting how it seems autism is becoming a useful "disorder" to have.  (I used the quotes for a reason which I hope becomes clear.)  The post, "Autism: the next 'specialty' credential," tried to create a kind of choral effect between an essay by Adam Philips on the cultural definitions (always changing) of "mental illness," and a Wired article detailing the hiring practices of an "entrepreneur" (someone with money, or access to money, who can create little bubbles of reality in which to try out new definitions), Thorkil Sonne; he finds the "autistic human capital" uniquely wired to work in the IT field.  "In Sonne's native Denmark, as elsewhere, autistics are typically considered unemployable. But Sonne worked in IT, a field more suited to people with autism and related conditions like Asperger's syndrome. 'As a general view, they have excellent memory and strong attention to detail. They are persistent and good at following structures and routines,' he says. In other words, they're born software engineers." ( Thorkil Sonne: Recruit Autistics in Wired, 9/09)

II.

...I have been able to come to no other than the unsettling conclusion that the meaning of an utterance is the response to that utterance and that the connection between the two is entirely conventional.  That is, meaning is not immanent in utterance.  If that is the case, as I believe it to be, it follows that any utterance is theoretically capable of eliciting all possible responses, and that all utterances are theoretically capable of eliciting but one single response....Two kinds of what we call insanity can be understood from this point of view, the one characterized by an increasing randomness and unpredictability of response, the other by an increasing limitation of response, sometimes to the point that any utterance elicits one of only an increasingly smaller family of responses, or even but one response...Thus, to humans the world consists--except for reflex responses not fed through the brain--of signs, to each of which all possible responses are theoretically possible....(Peckham, Morse, "Humanism, Politics, and Government in the Nineteenth Century.")

III.

Recently, at the WaPo "Answer Sheet," there was a piece regarding children diagnosed with ADHD in public schools.  Here is the set-up to the personal narrative that followed.
There’s a group of students struggling through school rd to navigate that gets little attention in the media or in the debate about how to fix schools: Children with ADHD. 
ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a brain condition that makes it especially hard for children to focus and concentrate in school and has a number of other symptoms. It is too often misunderstood by teachers, parents and even the students themselves. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 9.5% or 5.4 million children 4-17 years of age, had been diagnosed with ADHD, as of 2007. Many others who have the disorder haven’t had the benefit of a diagnosis. 
Here is a powerful post by David Bernstein, a nonprofit executive who lives in Gaithersburg, Md., writing about the difficulties that his two sons, ages 7 and 15, have confronted in school as a result of ADHD.
I normally like "The Answer Sheet," and it seems a column devoted to defending the schools as the proper locus of our social commons, but this piece set my spider-sense tingling.  And it reminded me of the piece on Thorkil Sonne.
Greg Selkoe, the 36-year-old CEO of Karmaloop, a growing hipster media company with revenue of more than $130 Million a year, stated in a recent interview in Inc.: “I was diagnosed with ADHD in elementary school and actually got kicked out of several schools before landing in one for kids with learning issues. What made me not do well in school has actually been very beneficial in business, because I can focus on something very intensely for a short while and then move on to the next thing.”
What is the goal of "marketing" the benefit of "disorder?"
Yet today’s schools insist that we prescribe our kids drugs to rid them of their hyper-focus.
 There is a concerted effort to redefine a social "error" into a "creativity" and benefit.

IV.

Social management may thus be more precisely defined as the limitation and channeling of semantic response to verbal and nonverbal signs and sign-constellations, or, in one aspect fo language, the syntactical, sign structures.  Against such channeling two forces are at work.  The brain, such is its construction, constantly produces random variations of response--or at least at present (1973) the process is best understood as a random process, the nonrandom being obedience to the conventions and practices of a situation.  Second, as situations change by the introduction of novel factors, semantic response becomes inappropriate.  By this I mean that both these factors introduce incoherence into families of semantic response--a social role, for example.  For interaction to continue, such incoherences need to be resolved...(Ibid.)

V.

In a classroom, the inclusion students are often ignored.  What I mean is that the strategy employed is that of ignoring the "minor" distractions of a child who cannot seem to sit with a "normal" attention or focus.  Constant movement, if small and contained, can be ignored; a kind of running commentary, if quiet, can be ignored; even getting out of the seat and simply moving to another place in the room can be ignored.  Other things cannot.  Loud outbursts of any kind, which means any of the above taken "up a notch," cannot be ignored.  And all attention moves towards the student.  At that moment, what can be taught and/or what can be learned?  What behaviors are instructed?

VI.

There is no doubt that schools are failures of flexibility.  They are easily the most recalcitrant institution we have.  The law changes exponentially more often than our schools.  What is at question though is the way the schools are losing their public mandate; rather, the way the public mandate of a place of commonness, and ostensibly "equalizing" institution, is being made "unpublic" and so "uncommon."

VII.

"Yet today’s schools insist that we prescribe our kids drugs to rid them of their hyper-focus."

I just wanted to note the figuration here of "schools" as agents as I will return to this again when I post about the homeschooling essay by Paul Elie in The Atlantic.

Schools are institutions managed by the state, and currently the state is under aggressive management by self-interested politicians with economic ties to privatization companies.  

Schools are not entities to blame.  They are "policed" (we might see this as "policy-ed") by the very people who are elected to protect our public interests.  People are to blame.  Senators and representatives are to blame.  School Boards are to blame.  Superintendents are to blame.  These are the institutional handmaidens of self-interested power.

VIII.

I'm a guy who would easily ascribe much of our "new brains" to the configuration of our social "entertainments" but also our "change-oriented" lifestyles.  Constant imagery, constant change, constant stimulus.  Why not see this as a kind of adaptation instead of a disorder?  Perhaps this kind of brain is simply not constraining its randomness.  That's probably a worthy adaptive strategy.  Should we try to squelch this?  Or should we find ways to nurture it?  Should we encourage all brains to "randomize?"

"Science" as it theorizes (blindly guesses) is a kind of randomization engine in itself.  The Wikipedia entry on ADHD makes it very clear that all of the data is speculative, to put it kindly.  Here is my favorite part:
See also: Hunter vs. farmer hypothesis
As ADHD is more common than 1 percent of the population, researchers have proposed that due to the high prevalence of ADHD that natural selection has favoured ADHD possibly because the individual traits may be beneficial on their own, and only become dysfunctional when these traits combine to form ADHD.  The high prevalence of ADHD may in part be because women in general are more attracted to males who are risk takers, thereby promoting ADHD in the gene pool.

Sure, why not?  But that's unhelpful to say the least and bases unprovable nonsense on unprovable nonsense.

A behavior is "dysfunctional" when it is not conventionally appropriate.  That in no way precludes it from being highly beneficial.  

"Social management" lacks the flexibility to see dysfunction from a functional perspective.  Perhaps this is exactly the benefit that Thorkil Sonne and George Selkoe proposes.  Even if their perspectives are manipulative for profit, they are at least creating another possibility, an outlet for randomness, an appropriateness.

IX.
For aeons Satan and the other heavenly beings had been thronged in serried hierarchical order around the Heavenly Throne, worshipping the Divine Being.  One fine day, however, Satan said to himself, "Really, there must be something else to do."  What happened can be put, I think, quite simply.  he had been engaged in a socioculturally validated pattern of behavior--a pattern validated, moreover, by the highest possible authority; a pattern, worse still, which he had been created to perform.  His sin was simply that he innovated and performed an alternative pattern of behavior.  (Peckham, "Rebellion and Deviance.")

McIntyre Pushes Forward in Knoxville with Proven Failures

Despite a summer smackdown on a planned budget increase for teacher bonus pay based on test scores, and despite the Vanderbilt study that demonstrated that perf pay is a divisive waste of time and money, Eli Broad's poodle superintendent, Jim McIntyre, forges on.  

The question Knox County taxpayers should be asking:  Which legitimate programs are being neglected to fund this bonus pay plan with a demonstrated track record of failure in Nashville, Chicago, and New York?  When will Knoxville voters demand the Board get a superintendent with children's interest in mind, rather than kowtowing to the oligarchs who want to control public education across the country?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Resegregation Escalates

From the Civil Rights Project at UCLA:

--Los Angeles--In the latest of its widely-cited reports analyzing segregation trends in the nation’s public schools, and the first since the beginning of the Obama Administration, the Civil Rights Project today released three new studies showing persistent and serious increases in segregation by race and poverty, with very dramatic results in the South and West, the nation’s two largest regions where students of color now comprise the majority of public school enrollment. Nationally, the average black or Latino student now attends school with a substantial majority of children in poverty, double the level in schools of whites and Asians.

This new research by the Civil Rights Project includes an extensive report on national trends, “E Pluribus… Separation: Deepening Double Segregation for More Students,” as well as two smaller regional reports, “The Western States: Profound Diversity but Severe Segregation for Latino Students,” and “Southern Slippage: Growing School Segregation in the Most Desegregated Region of the Country.”

Together they show segregation is substantially increasing across the country for Latino students, who attend more intensely segregated and impoverished schools than they have for generations. The segregation increases for Latinos are most dramatic in the West.

In spite of declining residential segregation for black families, and their large-scale movement to the suburbs in most parts of the country, school segregation for black students remains very high and is increasing most severely in the South, which led the nation in school integration after the l960s desegregation struggles took effect.

For decades, the Civil Rights Project has monitored the success of American schools in reaching the goals of integrating schools and equalizing opportunity in a changing society. Segregation is directly linked to severe problems, such as high dropout rates, lack of experienced teachers, and fewer resources. E Pluribus… Separationsummarizes the most rigorous research to date showing that segregated schools are systematically linked to these and other unequal educational opportunities. 

Using data from the National Center on Education Statistics, the researchers explore enrollment shifts and segregation trends playing out nationally, as well as in regions, states and metropolitan areas. The reports contain data on all states and the nation's 25 largest metropolitan regions, making it possible for citizens and local officials to compare patterns in their areas to national and regional trends.

In the reports, the authors underscore the fact that simply sitting next to a white student does not guarantee better educational outcomes for students of color. Instead, the resources including expert and experienced teachers and advanced courses that are consistently linked to predominately white and/or wealthy schools help foster real and serious educational advantages over minority segregated settings.

The Obama Administration, like the Bush Administration before it, has taken no significant action to increase school integration or to help stabilize diverse schools undergoing racial change due to changes in the housing market. Small positive steps in civil rights enforcement by the current administration have, however, been undermined by the strong pressure it used to expand charter schools, the most segregated sector of schools for African American students. 

Though segregation is powerfully related to many dimensions of unequal education, neither political party has discussed it in the current presidential race.  

“These trends threaten the nation’s success as a multiracial society,” commented Professor Gary Orfield, Civil Rights Project co-director.  “We are disappointed to have heard nothing in the campaign about this issue from neither President Obama, who is the product of excellent integrated schools and colleges, nor from Governor Romney, whose father gave up his job in the Nixon Cabinet because of his fight for fair housing, which directly impacts school make-up.”

E Pluribus… Separation suggests a number of ways to reverse the trends toward deepening resegregation without implementing mandatory busing. These recommendations include: giving priority in competing for funds to pro-integration policies; changing the operation of choice plans and charter policies so that they foster rather than undermine integration; supporting diverse communities facing resegregation with housing and education policies; helping communities undergoing racial change to create voluntary desegregation plans, and training for administrators and teachers’ to achieve successful and lasting integration.

Twenty-Two Pages of Corporate Education Advertising, Or, The Atlantic Monthly's "Special Report"

This begins a series of readings concerned with the articles and images found in the October Atlantic Monthly which promote the "Reform Agenda" of both conservatives and liberals (as power has no pure politics).  I will primarily be concerned with the conveyance of ideology.  However, I have asked my Errant collaborator Doug Martin to offer investigative analysis of the interconnectedness among the authors and the groups highlighted in the issue for cultural approbation.  I feel we should consider this a national manifesto detailing how our high priests of management intend to proceed regarding the "growing" of our "human capital," as Obama advisor and Nobel Laureate in economics James Heckman terms it ("Raising Workers").  This is the Huxleyan brush stroke applied over the Orwellian.

Also please see Paul's post (with great depth of detail in comments from Susan, et al.) from Sept. 8, "The Atlantic's Love-Fest for Rhee, Inexcusable."


I.

Morse Peckham tells us that meaning is not immanent in words.  There is no stable thing called a definition that is consistent across time or even local use.  Any good dictionary, heck, any bad dictionary, will make this clear.  Words fold and unfold and change color and depth as they are exchanged.

Words mean as they are used.  Words mean as utterance and response.  We negotiate their value as we use them.  We decide if they are appropriate or inappropriate according to convention.

Now, extend this out to all verbal and non-verbal signs and you will see that Peckham would have us all set sail on the Pequod of language.  A brief example: in my recent post, "Instructed to Ignorance," I attempted to show the meaning of "Principal" and how he represented a "cultural" instruction for appropriate behavior in school hallways.  I suggested however that the meaning for kindergarteners is something more akin to "big man is scary."  In other words, the principal is not your pal, even if that's a useful mnemonic for spelling.  This is not to denigrate specific people who are principals (though this should be done on occasion if they expressly serve corporate masters); this is an institutional role.  Every dog-training manual I've ever read tells me that training requires immediate response enforcement: if a dog sits when I say "sit" I must re-enforce that action with a treat (freeze-dried liver!) and so create meaning.  The dog behaves and is treated.  The meaning of sit is not "sit"--it's freeze-dried liver.  In schools, this "immediacy" of enforcement is almost never available: there's simply too much going on, too many students, too many appropriate and inappropriate behaviors to be "treated" (or ignored, or if you're so inclined, punished).

This is all to say finally that we are often rudderless upon an ocean of semantic drift.  We are constantly negotiating meaning as we encounter signs.  We are in the midst of a concerted effort to redefine "education" by redefining how we evaluate and value the very parts and pieces that the category subsumes.  We are, most of us, watching our "high culture"--those with money and power--use all of their influence and considerable resources to make new appropriate meanings (utterance and response) in education.  They are redefining "school," "teacher," and "learning" with great speed and force.  In this they also strive to make our current definitions "inappropriate."  This happens by labeling them "old fashioned" (traditional) while labeling the alteration something appropriate to the 21st Century, as if the century were the master we served.

Of course, if you're here reading this you are already aware of this.  My point is that the culture is being trained and some of us are getting freeze-dried liver and some of us are getting rolled-up newspaper and choke collars.

II.

The Atlantic Monthly is a magazine with a national audience and plausibly a kind of influence on "high culture."  Here is how Wikipedia defines it:
The Atlantic is an American magazine founded (as The Atlantic Monthly) in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1857. It was created as a literary and cultural commentary magazine. It quickly achieved a national reputation, which it has held for more than 150 years. It was important for recognizing and publishing new writers and poets, and encouraging major careers. It published leading writers' commentary on abolition, education, and other major issues in contemporary political affairs.
It is reported to have a print circulation of nearly 500,000 subscribers, and though this doesn't make the list of 100 top circ stats in the US for 2011 (The Economist is at the bottom with around 850k--the AARP tops the list with two publications in the 20 millions and it seems to me that we need to discuss the content in those pubs), it can be shown that the articles found between its covers have a "longer reach."

I once might have thought "venerable" was an appropriate descriptive for the publication, especially as our founding father Emerson was a progenitor, but I think this term lost its coherence as applied to current content.  The magazine was sold to a property magnate in 1980, that magical era figure-headed by Ronald Reagan.  It was then sold again and folded into the National Journal Group owned by David Bradley who has defined himself as "a neo-con guy."  Reading the "Ownership" section of the Wikipedia entry will telescope the content that I am setting out to discuss in several posts to come.

III.

The October 2012 issue (the print copy) has on its cover, upper right above the magazine's name, a box (the border is yellow, but not the yellow of caution) framing the words, in all caps, "SPECIAL REPORT: NEW IDEAS FOR SCHOOLS."

As we have been instructed that there is nothing new under the sun by Shakespeare as well as by that more pervasive cultural instruction manual, the Bible, I must come to this with skepticism.  In educational parlance, I am "pre-reading."

Further pre-reading reveals the following:

The "Reform" section, pp 84-101, is bracketed by two double-page advertisements for Chevron.  The first makes known it's corporate reform "partnership" with "Project Lead the Way" (Doug Martin has detailed this program here).  The left page offers a boy clearly "of color" yet non-descript enough to be "any-child-of-color" and surely urban--the boy's hair is oddly disheveled, perhaps this failure of "grooming" indicates lack of parental or community care to the advertising company responsible for this.  The text by the Chevron logo: "Human Energy" (like Heckman's "human capital").  And below that, "Students go on to become employees--including ours [odd to state such an obvious fact unless this is keyed to this particular TYPE of student]."  Then follow some details of money lay-out and focus, "engineering."  It ends, "Education is everyone's concern.  Including ours."  Replace "concern" with "interest" and you get a more honest statement.

The right hand page is simply a statement in bold, large font and all caps: BIG OIL SHOULD SUPPORT LOCAL SCHOOLS.  In smaller font but red text: WE AGREE.  And this "we" is meant to refer to the two signatories to the ad, representatives of corporate "concerns," Dr. Vince Bertram (always a Dr.), President and CEO, Project Lead the Way; and Joe W. Laymon, Vice President, Human Capital, er, Resources, Chevron.

The closing bracket ad offers the same visual format/layout.  Profile picture on one side, shouted message on the other.  But, and this is really quite smart...and you have to always give these folks their due for their wicked intelligence...this spread, in coming AFTER the Reform instructions, delivers a transmogrified product--like alchemy, we have, by the application of the elixir of corporate reform, turned our urban, disheveled boy "of color," into a cosmopolitan, white-collared Asian man (the right kind "of color" for engineering labor).  The text: "Our future depends on innovation to operate cleaner, safer, and smarter."  There follow claims of cash spent on tech investments in "start-ups," ending, "We don't just think like a technology company.  We are one."

The bold, large font statement: OIL COMPANIES SHOULD THINK MORE LIKE TECHNOLOGY COMPANIES.  Again, smaller font, red text: WE AGREE.  Signatories: Dr. John Kelly III (Dr. and Lineage!), Senior Vice President, IBM Research, IBM; John McDonald, Vice President & Chief Technology Officer, Chevron.

I think we must, if we are attentive, read pages 84 through 101 with this bracketed declaration as our instructions on "how to read and why;" to read those pages in the spirit in which they are offered: an ideological advertisement for the corporate interest in "human capital."

That is what I intend to do in several more posts to come.  Read along with me, if you please.  Let us be properly educated together.

Camden Says No to KIPP Correctional Complex

On August 6 we posted on a corporate sweetheart deal to bilk the city of Camden, NJ out of untold millions to create a total compliance corporate school site in Camden.  The plan included no analysis of how much money the local public schools would lose to KIPP and the hooligan charter operators from Philadelphia, but on Wednesday of this week, the local board said NO to the plan.   

. . . . The effect of the new schools on the existing district factored into some board members' decisions Wednesday, they said.

Between $18 million to $22 million for each proposal would be diverted from the district in per-pupil costs, according to a quick estimate by the district business administrator, Celeste Ricketts. Because the Renaissance proposals could mean the shift of more than 4,000 students from the district and result in consolidation of schools, Ricketts said, she could not estimate the total loss or cost to the district if the proposals went through.
Between $18 million to $22 million for each proposal would be diverted from the district in per-pupil costs, according to a quick estimate by the district business administrator, Celeste Ricketts. Because the Renaissance proposals could mean the shift of more than 4,000 students from the district and result in consolidation of schools, Ricketts said, she could not estimate the total loss or cost to the district if the proposals went through.. . .

The question now: Will the Nation's largest governor and his poodle commissioner, Chris Cerf, follow oil magnate, Bill Haslam's lead in Tennessee, in setting aside democracy to assure the privatization of public schools.  

This vote in Camden represents another example that citizens are awakened to the corporate takeover and bleeding out of public schools.  Now the citizens of Camden should demand a state commitment to improve poverty rates and to create new public schools, rather than turning their children's education over to profiteers and modern day eugenicists.  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Little Too Ironic

Maybe you're not 44 and so are not conversant with the movie Reality Bites (its genesis and presentation 20 years past), but I am.

The down-and-out 20-something "losers" (heed my punctuation, please) in that film did not exemplify me.  I had a job as an English teacher in a parochial high school in St. Louis, MO and was raking in a massive 18k.  The mise-en-scene of this movie with which I did not identify was the marketing juggernaut called "Seattle Grunge."  In any event the protagonists have relationship issues, job issues, artistic issues, Pearl Jam shows up, maybe Alice in Chains, maybe Soundgarden, I don't really remember.  But I do have, apparently, permanently etched in my memory, a scene, an offhand, tossed-off scene, in which Winona Ryder's character and Ethan Hawke's (Oh Captain, my Captain!, sorry, different movie) discuss the fact that she cannot properly define irony and suggests it's indefinable.  The Hawke character, perhaps the genesis of all Hawke characters thereafter, is a jerk, and without missing a beat, defines it.  As with all definitions, it is partial.

Now, irony, life, reality (perhaps simply synonyms) have been visited upon me on many occasions.  But I think we can only see life as ironic if you take a "meta" position to your life.  Oedipus marrying Jocasta and murdering Laius performs (or is visited by) an irony but feels it as a deserved judgement and so he must not see it as irony but rather as a fate.  If he'd have gone about his business, moved on and tried to be the tyrant of another city-state, or gone off to be a hermit offering wisdom to Monty Python characters, and reflected upon the narrative events of his performed life he might have thought those events ironic.  In short (was that short?), irony springs out of studying performance, reflecting upon the events and happenings in life AS IF they were something akin to a play--a fiction, an act.

However, we likely feel that irony is our tragedy and that is not an act, but our lived, flesh-and-blood, painful, life.

I recently wrote and posted a kind of "study" that attempted to call into question certain behavioral performances in schools ("Instructed to Ignorance").  These performances are, I would propose, near-universal in schools all across the this empurpled majestic land.  I described the content of a classroom situation that to me yielded, from one perspective, this conclusion: "curriculum materials" are only education product and so only a commercial venture and so only an economic widget serving to turn a profit for corporations like Pearson.  It seems to me that teachers know this.  It seems to me that administrators know this.  The parents I talk to know this.  Why is there persistence in this?

Further I wrote that a principal, when attempting to discipline elementary-age children, is disciplining by his/her own behavior and that it is likely that "he" is, in himself (a whole and a part!), a giant "non-verbal" sign to children who are being "institutionalized" in school.  Again, this seems to me a commonplace.  We try to train children to walk in a line on one side of the hall (like roadways), we try to train them in respectful silence, we try to train them in respect for authority.  In short, this is obedience training.  I pointed out that this is done in animal training too and that we have positive and negative reinforcements open to us.  Further I noted that correction requires consistent repetition.  I did not say this was a "wrong" thing, or that it was an abhorrent act, or some kind of injustice.  I did not call the principal a bad man or an unprincipled one.  I described an act that I believe so common as to not even need description.  I described a display of hierarchical authority.

Yesterday, irony bit me for this transgression.  It was conveyed to me that this was an act of ridicule.  I was, to use Peckham's phrase, introduced to a "policing" event.

I was released from the position that was valued the same as a locker room attendant in this particular school corporation; from the position for which I would be paid, if annualized, about 4k less than I made 20 years ago in my first teaching job.  In this I do self-pityingly feel an urge to blind myself in penance to the fates...

***
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all [men], apt to teach, patient, 
To win them through our patient bearing with them, but not to please them or excuse them in their wickedness. 
In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 
He means those who do not yet see the truth.  (2 Timothy 2:24-5, Geneva Bible)
It is instructive that I was treated as if I were those same kindergartners and perhaps this action was a proof of the perceived exposure to ridicule.

An important difference to note is that I was not instructed (with rolled-up newspaper, as it were) so as to correct an error and hopefully show the results of that education by "learned" response.  Instead I was sent to the pound for disposal, perhaps like Veruca Salt, unregenerate, a clear instance of the "bad egg."  You'd think the weeks in 5th grade "IDR" would have learned me better.

Or at least my reading of Moby Dick...


***
   But the third emir, now seeing himself all alone on the quarter-deck, seems to feel relieved from some curious restraint; for, tipping all sorts of knowing winks in all sorts of directions, and kicking off his shoes, he strikes into a sharp but noiseless squall of a hornpipe right over the Grand Turk's head; and then, by a dexterous sleight, pitching his cap up into the mizentop for a shelf, he goes down rollicking, so far at least as he remains visible from the deck, reversing all other processions, by bringing up the rear with music. But ere stepping into the cabin doorway below, he pauses, ships a new face altogether, and, then, independent, hilarious little Flask enters King Ahab's presence, in the character of Abjectus, or the Slave. 
   It is not the least among the strange things bred by the intense artificialness of sea-usages, that while in the open air of the deck some officers will, upon provocation, bear themselves boldly and defyingly enough towards their commander; yet, ten to one, let those very officers the next moment go down to their customary dinner in that same commander's cabin, and straightway their inoffensive, not to say deprecatory and humble air towards him, as he sits at the head of the table; this is marvellous, sometimes most comical. Wherefore this difference? A problem? Perhaps not. To have been Belshazzar, King of Babylon; and to have been Belshazzar, not haughtily but courteously, therein certainly must have been some touch of mundane grandeur. But he who in the rightly regal and intelligent spirit presides over his own private dinner-table of invited guests, that man's unchallenged power and dominion of individual influence for the time; that man's royalty of state transcends Belshazzar's, for Belshazzar was not the greatest. Who has but once dined his friends, has tasted what it is to be Caesar. It is a witchery of social czarship which there is no withstanding. Now, if to this consideration you superadd the official supremacy of a ship-master, then, by inference, you will derive the cause of that peculiarity of sea-life just mentioned. 
From "The Cabin-Table" (ch. 34) in Moby Dick.
***

But what of recourse?  None, really.  There is an appeal process that consists of the HR Director appointing an "impartial hearing examiner" (defined as a party who is unaware of the situation) to meet with me and investigate the circumstances regarding the recommendation to terminate my employment. This examiner is an employee of the school corporation.

Thoreau offers us advice in his "Resistance to Civil Government."

One would think, that a deliberate and practical denial of its authority was the only offense never contemplated by its government; else, why has it not assigned its definite, its suitable and proportionate, penalty? If a man who has no property refuses but once to earn nine shillings for the State, he is put in prison for a period unlimited by any law that I know, and determined only by the discretion of those who put him there; but if he should steal ninety times nine shillings from the State, he is soon permitted to go at large again. 
If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth—certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.  
As for adopting the ways of the State has provided for remedying the evil, I know not of such ways. They take too much time, and a man's life will be gone. I have other affairs to attend to. I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad. A man has not everything to do, but something; and because he cannot do everything, it is not necessary that he should be doing something wrong. It is not my business to be petitioning the Governor or the Legislature any more than it is theirs to petition me; and if they should not hear my petition, what should I do then? But in this case the State has provided no way: its very Constitution is the evil. This may seem to be harsh and stubborn and unconcilliatory; but it is to treat with the utmost kindness and consideration the only spirit that can appreciate or deserves it. So is all change for the better, like birth and death, which convulse the body. 
I do not hesitate to say, that those who call themselves Abolitionists should at once effectually withdraw their support, both in person and property, from the government of Massachusetts, and not wait till they constitute a majority of one, before they suffer the right to prevail through them. I think that it is enough if they have God on their side, without waiting for that other one. Moreover, any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one already.
The corporation hires hourly wage employees because they are hiring fewer teachers, buying more technology, and need, simply, bodies ("embodied air").  These are bodies that cannot offer an opposing view, or, I should say, they can offer this one time.  We noted the ramifications of this in Jim's post on the 60-student cubicle classroom and I offered a kind of expansion in "Technagogically Yours."  Not only does this cut labor costs; it cuts out that "dangerously" random relationship that consists of one human conversing with another human.  It cuts out a potentially disobedient or inappropriate response (thought-crime!) and attempts with greater intensity and aggression than ever before to create an wholly predictable respondent, i.e., student, citizen, human.  In other words, a slave.

No, when I go to sea, I go as a simple sailor, right before the mast, plumb down into the forecastle, aloft there to the royal mast-head. True, they rather order me about some, and make me jump from spar to spar, like a grasshopper in a May meadow. And at first, this sort of thing is unpleasant enough. It touches one's sense of honor, particularly if you come of an old established family in the land, the van Rensselaers, or Randolphs, or Hardicanutes. And more than all, if just previous to putting your hand into the tar-pot, you have been lording it as a country schoolmaster, making the tallest boys stand in awe of you. The transition is a keen one, I assure you, from the schoolmaster to a sailor, and requires a strong decoction of Seneca and the Stoics to enable you to grin and bear it. But even this wears off in time. 
   What of it, if some old hunks of a sea-captain orders me to get a broom and sweep down the decks? What does that indignity amount to, weighed, I mean, in the scales of the New Testament? Do you think the archangel Gabriel thinks anything the less of me, because I promptly and respectfully obey that old hunks in that particular instance? Who aint a slave? Tell me that. Well, then, however the old sea-captains may order me about -- however they may thump and punch me about, I have the satisfaction of knowing that it is all right; that everybody else is one way or other served in much the same way -- either in a physical or metaphysical point of view, that is; and so the universal thump is passed round, and all hands should rub each other's shoulder-blades, and be content.
From "Loomings," (ch. 1), Moby Dick




MS-NPR Plays Softball with Arne

Ever since NPR and PBS got serious about fund raising among the oligarchs--Gates and the Koch Bros.--their coverage has suffered and their objectivity has been thrown to the wind.  Can we imagine a more inappropriate scenario than the ecology-killing Koch Boys sponsoring PBS's most prominent science program, NOVA?  Straight out the imagination of Hunter S. Thompson, may he rest in peace.

Well, yes, I can think of something as inappropriate, at least: The Gates-owned NPR interviewing Arne Duncan about the Chicago Teachers Strike last Sunday morning.  

Scott Simon asked not a single question that did not focus on the pay increase of Chicago teachers, and Arne robotically pretended that the strike was the result of a personality clash.  The script could have been written in Redmond, WA.  Was it?

Neither interviewer of interviewee talked about the real issues behind the strike: teacher evaluation based on value-added quackery, no textbooks until Halloween, no air conditioning with 50 kids in a room, inhumane management practices and attacks on due process, the privatization of Chicago schools by turning them over to corporate welfare charter schools.

By the way, my advice to Chicago teachers:  DON'T RATIFY.  VOTE NO!  Nothing has been done in terms of removing the inherently destructive concept and practice of evaluations based on test scores--this has only been delayed and the volume turned down slightly. 

If the teacher-student relationship that has defined teaching is allowed to be destroyed in Chicago by the Gates and Broad corporate efficiency fools, this settlement, then, represents not a victory or even a draw but, rather, the death of teaching and the sacrifice of learning on the altar of more test scores.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Back on the KeyTrain Gang

At The Common Errant, I have frequently offered detailed reports on the fraudulent nature of the corporate reforms in "education."  Shining a bright light (unfortunately lacking the sterilizing power of the sun) on human malfeasance and corruption is a worthy endeavor if, in the end, it is only a human truth in the age characterized by mechanical tyranny and bureaucratic death squads.  It is our current "ground of being." It is because of this that I have come to feel a futility in opposition.  But...

Saying NO to the technological horror so mindlessly accepted and promulgated as a kind of pinnacled position on the mountain range of history has become my only mantra, my only truth. The Indiana Department of Education is only another in a long line of organizations typified by state and corporate collusion to the benefit of a small cadre of private interests; only another pushing dominance by technological systems.  A recent "guide" to restricting collective bargaining ("Permissible and Impermissible Subjects of Collective Bargaining") sent out to state Superintendents--handmaidens to state coercion--puts the "future" succinctly enough.
The obligation to educate children and the methods by which the education is effected will change rapidly with: (i) increasing technology; (ii) the needs of an advancing civilization; and (iii) requirements for substantial educational innovation.
I don't really know what any of those really mean other than that they are a kind of cart-leading-horse philosophy: methods are changing because the effects are being named causes in the techno-loop.

  1. Increasing technology hasn't changed what it means to learn.  Rather it's changed how minds are manipulated by those who control the technology. 
  2. "The needs of an advancing civilization": What the devil do you suppose that can even begin to mean?  Advancing in age (senescence, anyone?); Advancing as in "on the march" like our criminal military adventures?; Advancing civilization as in, the .o1% has needs of the remainder of us? 
  3.  Why are substantial innovations "required"?  What is an "innovation" and how is it labeled "substantial."  

An innovation is only a presentation of "newness" without the corresponding heft of difference (that makes a difference) or alteration that might be cognate with change.  "New" products are old products in "innovative" packaging/designs. This to me makes it very clear that the only thing that publication [a Melvillian slip as I meant "public education] can be "good for" is market innovations in selling educational products.  And that, at least as it is being sold today, is the clear idea behind reforms. But who cares?  No one really, right?

Teachers do because it's altering their world for the worse.   They are being "innovated" into subservient status as they become simply industrial line workers managing how the computers and software programs "design" the next generation of human resources. We are in great and drastic need of more subversiveness if we intend to return to our human origins and eschew the future of science fiction horrors.

I don't think I've ever read a utopian scenario that cannot with a bare minimum of "twist" become dystopian. The Powers among us are building a dystopia for us which they surely believe is a "utopia" for the humans who really matter and who will "save the world" for those humans, the rest be damned as "collateral damage."  (Is it odd or simply "fact" that Hollywood told us this truth in their "2012" movie where only the wealthy and the political are saved?  Does its fictional movie presentation make it something we don't believe because movies "aren't real"?)

My local newspaper has reported that the public school system in Gary, Indiana laid off 170 teachers.  Should these educators try to find other public education work?  Nope, there won't be any.  But they can start their own school.  And why shouldn't they? Today also our paper reported that after a child graduates from high school (no longer a child one supposes) they will still be subjected to the domineering infantilization of those who administer a "testing" economy.   Apparently companies now require potential employees to take standardized tests created and administered by WorkKeys

This horrible company also offers training, natch, called KeyTrain.  It's all about getting credentialed but in reality "credentials" have no meaning, they are just another economy...just another education market.  This bright idea comes to you from the American College Testing Program, ACT.  Hey, assessment companies need to GROW, too.  You see the problem is one of capital economy--it makes stupid, coercive, manipulative, degrading ideas into our future world by sheer force of profit motive.

Why go to high school, right?  You can just take KeyTrain courses and then take WorkKeys tests and get credentialed.  Done.  Is that the future of labor?  The future of education? Destroy public education (no profit in it!): insert prison system education; insert job training education; insert appropriate credential up your...well, you get the idea. What manner of creature be this?  No longer human, is the only answer I can offer. But as a being with the ability to say "no"--I can make Bartleby my tutelary divinity and respond to these requirements and demands, "I would prefer not to."

If you will say this, too, then perhaps we can "build therefore our own world" beholden to our agreed upon needs and not those sprung from the thoughtless and impetuous designs of mindless profit-grubbing minions serving an economic and political idea created to preserve and concentrate wealth and power.

How Do Charter Schools Compare to “Schools with Students Like Ours” in South Carolina?


How Do Charter Schools Compare to “Schools with Students Like Ours” in South Carolina?

(UPDATED and Expanded)

Using the South Carolina School Report Card system and the state Poverty Index, the tables below list charter schools within the SC Public School Charter District and additional charter schools within public school districts to identify how charter schools in SC compare with “Schools with Students Like Ours” (a metric established by the SC Department of Education, see notes).

Conclusions

• Charter schools in SC have produced outcomes below and occasionally typical of outcomes of public schools; thus, claims of exceptional outcomes for charter schools in SC are unsupported by the data (3/63 ABOVE Typical, 17/63 Typical, and 33/63 BELOW Typical).

• Charter schools in SC vary widely in student populations relative to the Poverty Index; but high-poverty charter schools appear to function below typical compared to high-poverty public schools, and thus, offer rare examples of meeting the needs of high-poverty students superior to outcomes found in public schools.

• Charter school advocacy in SC should be measured against the available data when that advocacy makes claims of exceptional outcomes or outcomes superior to similar public schools.

• Student populations served, stratification of students, enrollment, attrition, teacher status, and teacher turnover remain areas of concern for current charter schools and considerations of expanding charter schools in the state.



Overall Weighted Points Total
69.7
Overall Grade Conversion
D


Points Total - Elementary Grades
80.6
Points Total - Middle Grades
79.1
Points Total - High School Grades
36.7


SC Public School Charter District - EAA School Report Cards 2011

District Summary    District Full

Elementary
Poverty Index
Relative to “Schools with Students Like Ours” (1)
LAKE CITY COLLEGE PREP ACADEMY
At-Risk/Below Average, AYP NM
Summary   Full
96.63
BELOW Typical
87/161 Average
MARY L DINKINS CHARTER
At-Risk/At-Risk, AYP NM
Summary   Full
100
BELOW Typical
93/115 Average, Below Average
SC CONNECTIONS ACADEMY
Average/Below Average, AYP NM
Summary   Full
64.7
BELOW Typical
68/83 Excellent, Good
SC VIRTUAL CHARTER SCHOOL
Average/Below Average, AYP NM
Summary   Full
73.22
BELOW Typical
68/108 Excellent, Good
SOUTH CAROLINA CALVERT ACADEMY
Below Average/Average, AYP NM
Summary   Full
55.72
BELOW Typical
54/60 Excellent, Good
SPARTANBURG CHARTER SCHOOL
Good/Good, AYP NM
Summary   Full
55.21
BELOW Typical
33/58 Excellent
YORK PREPARATORY ACADEMY
Good/Below Average, AYP NM
Summary   Full
29.56
BELOW Typical
18/19 Excellent

Middle
Poverty Index
Relative to “Schools with Students Like Ours” (2)
CALHOUN FALLS CHARTER
Below Average/Below Average, AYP NM
Summary    Full
89.34
BELOW Typical
30/58 Average
LAKE CITY COLLEGE PREP ACADEMY
At-Risk/At-Risk, AYP NM
Summary    Full
96.63
BELOW Typical
37/62 Average, Below Average
MARY L DINKINS CHARTER
At-Risk/At-Risk, AYP NM
Summary    Full
100
BELOW Typical
18/37 Average, Below Average
PALMETTO SCHOLARS ACADEMY
Excellent/Good, AYP M
Summary    Full
31.82
Typical
10/11 Excellent
SC CONNECTIONS ACADEMY
Average/Average, AYP NM
Summary    Full
64.7
BELOW Typical
27/48 Excellent, Good
SC VIRTUAL CHARTER SCHOOL
Average/Average, AYP NM
Summary    Full
73.22
Typical
37/57 Average
SOUTH CAROLINA CALVERT ACADEMY
Below Average/Average, AYP NM
Summary    Full
55.72
BELOW Typical
26/34 Excellent, Good
YORK PREPARATORY ACADEMY
Good/Average, AYP NM
Summary    Full
29.56
BELOW Typical
10/11 Excellent

High
Poverty Index
Relative to “Schools with Students Like Ours” (3)
CALHOUN FALLS CHARTER
Average/N/A, AYP NM
Summary    Full
89.34
Typical
18/42 Average
MARY L DINKINS CHARTER
N/A, AYP NM
Summary    Full
100
N/A
PALMETTO STATE E-CADEMY
At-Risk/N/A, AYP NM
Summary    Full
65.06
BELOW Typical
38/40 Excellent, Good, Average
PROVOST ACADEMY SOUTH CAROLINA
N/A, AYP NM
Summary    Full
71.82
N/A
SC CONNECTIONS ACADEMY
Below Average/N/A, AYP NM
Summary    Full
64.7
BELOW Typical
38/40 Excellent, Good, Average
SC VIRTUAL CHARTER SCHOOL
At-Risk/N/A, AYP NM
Summary    Full
73.22
BELOW Typical
23/40 Average

SC Charter Schools (outside SCPCSD)

School
Poverty Index
Relative to “Schools with Students Like Ours” (1, 2, 3)
FOX CREEK HIGH
Excellent/Good, AYP M
Summary    Full
45.07
Typical
17/21 Excellent
CHARTER ACADEMY FOR TEACHING AND LEARNING
Average/Average, AYP NM
Summary    Full
57.41
BELOW Typical
30/38 Excellent, Good
BRIDGEWATER ACADEMY CHARTER
Average/Excellent, AYP NM
Summary   Full
74.36
BELOW Typical
65/110 Excellent, Good
PALMETTO ACADEMY OF LEARNING (E)
Excellent/Average, AYP M
Summary   Full
57.25
Typical
30/65 Excellent
PALMETTO ACADEMY OF LEARNING (M)
Good/Average, AYP M
Summary    Full
57.25
Typical
16/37 Good
AIKEN PERFORMING ARTS CHARTER
At-Risk/At-Risk, AYP M
Summary    Full
76.27
BELOW Typical
23/33 Average
KENNEDY/LLOYD CHARTER SCHOOL
At-Risk/Below Average, AYP M
Summary    Full
93.75
BELOW Typical
51/72 Average, Below Average
MIDLAND VALLEY CHARTER PREPARATORY SCHOOL
Below Average/Average, AYP NM
Summary    Full
79.63
BELOW Typical
43/59 Average
BRASHIER MIDDLE COLLEGE CHARTER
Excellent/Good, AYP M
Summary    Full
18.86
Typical
5/5 Excellent
LANGSTON CHARTER MIDDLE SCHOOL
Excellent/Excellent, AYP M
Summary    Full
16.15
Typical
4/4 Excellent
LEAD ACADEMY
Below Average/Average, AYP NM
Summary   Full
88.16
BELOW Typical
97/129 Average
MEYER CENTER FOR SPECIAL CHILDREN
Excellent/Good, AYP M
Summary    Full
94
Typical
8/10 Excellent
CAROLINA SCHOOL FOR INQUIRY
Below Average/Average, AYP NM
Summary   Full
85.22
BELOW Typical
89/124 Average
LEGACY CHARTER (ELEM)
Below Average/Below Average, AYP NM
Summary   Full
87.31
BELOW Typical
97/125 Average
LEGACY CHARTER (MID)
At-Risk/At-Risk, AYP NM
Summary    Full
87.31
BELOW Typical
46/49 Average, Below Average
GREENVILLE TECHNICAL CHARTER
Excellent/Excellent, AYP M
Summary    Full
27.49
Typical
5/5 Excellent
GREER MIDDLE COLLEGE CHARTER SCHOOL
Excellent/N/A, AYP M
Summary    Full
21.48
Typical
5/5 Excellent
RICHLAND 1 CHARTER MIDDLE COLLEGE
N/A
Summary    Full
78.87
N/A
MIDLANDS MATH & BUSINESS CHARTER ACADEMY (E)
Below Average/At-Risk, AYP NM
Summary   Full
94.19
BELOW Typical
110/191 Average
MIDLANDS MATH & BUSINESS CHARTER ACADEMY (M)
Below Average/Below Average, AYP NM
Summary    Full
94.19
Typical
31/71 Below Average
CHARLESTON CHARTER SCHOOL FOR MATH AND SCIENCE (H)
N/A, AYP NM
Summary    Full
57.91
N/A
CHARLESTON CHARTER SCHOOL FOR MATH AND SCIENCE (M)
Average/Average, AYP NM
Summary    Full
57.91
BELOW Typical
33/41 Excellent, Good
CHARLESTON DEVELOPMENTAL ACADEMY CHARTER (E)
Good/Excellent, AYP M
Summary   Full
91.96
ABOVE Typical
104/166 Average
CHARLESTON DEVELOPMENTAL ACADEMY CHARTER (M)
Average/Average, AYP M
Summary    Full
91.96
ABOVE Typical
43/70 Below Average, At-Risk
GREG MATHIS CHARTER
At-Risk/Below Average, N/A
Summary    Full
98.94
Typical
6/14 At-Risk
JAMES ISLAND CHARTER HIGH
Excellent/Excellent, AYP NM
Summary    Full
47.22
Typical
18/26 Excellent
EAST COOPER MONTESSORI CHARTER (E)
Excellent/Excellent, AYP M
Summary   Full
13.54
Typical
7/7 Excellent
EAST COOPER MONTESSORI CHARTER (M)
Excellent/Excellent, AYP M
Summary    Full
13.54
Typical
3/3 Excellent
ORANGE GROVE CHARTER
Excellent/Excellent, AYP NM
Summary   Full
61.26
ABOVE Typical
32/68 Good
PATTISONS ACADEMY (E)
N/A, AYP NM
Summary   Full
100
N/A
PATTISONS ACADEMY (M)
N/A, AYP NM
Summary    Full
100
N/A
THE APPLE CHARTER SCHOOL
At-Risk/At-Risk, AYP NM
Summary   Full
95.73
BELOW Typical
99/187 Average
CHILDREN'S ATTENTION CHARTER (E)
At-Risk/At-Risk, AYP NM
Summary   Full
96.77
BELOW Typical
87/171 Average
CHILDREN'S ATTENTION CHARTER (M)
N/A, AYP NM
Summary    Full
96.77
N/A
CHOICES (M)
At-Risk/At-Risk, AYP NM
Summary    Full
92.73
BELOW Typical
47/65 Average, Below Average
CHOICES (H)
N/A, AYP NM
Summary    Full
92.73
N/A
DISCOVERY CHARTER OF LANCASTER
Excellent/Excellent, AYP M
Summary   Full
39.81
Typical
23/25 Excellent
PHOENIX CHARTER HIGH SCHOOL
At-Risk/Excellent, N/A
Summary    Full
87.5
BELOW Typical
19/40 Average
PALMETTO YOUTH ACADEMY
Below Average/Good, AYP M
Summary   Full
93.22
BELOW Typical
109/182 Average
RICHLAND TWO CHARTER HIGH
N/A, AYP NM
Summary    Full
N/A
N/A
RIVERVIEW CHARTER SCHOOL
Good/Good, AYP M
Summary   Full
35.31
BELOW Typical
22/23 Excellent
YOUTH ACADEMY CHARTER
N/A, AYP NMSummary    Full
100
N/A


(1) Ratings are calculated with data available by 11/09/2011.  Schools with Students Like Ours are Elementary Schools with Poverty Indices of no more than 5% above or below the index for this school.

(2) Ratings are calculated with data available by 11/09/2011.  Schools with Students Like Ours are Middle Schools with Poverty Indices of no more than 5% above or below the index for this school.

(3) Ratings are calculated with data available by 11/09/2011.  Schools with Students Like Ours are High Schools with Poverty Indices of no more than 5% above or below the index for this school.