Educational (in)Equity Part 3


This week we were going to highlight some data from our Ready Middle Schools Project, but it seems more pertinent to comment on the recent articles by the Examiner highlighting the gap between the District's best and worst schools and an article from the Post detailing how Northwest schools continue to crowd.

Now, these articles don't really tell us anything we don't though. By "we" we mean people who have seen the evidence and act upon, not those who refuse to do anything with it - like the Deputy Mayor for Education's office and the Chancellor's office.

Go ahead and take a look at the chart below, it is basically saying that the learning gap between the best and worst schools is growing. The study concludes that "if two students have the same test scores in 2010, but one attends a wealthy, high-performing school and the other attends the opposite, the student at the wealthy school likely would have outpaced the latter student substantially in 2011, even though they were on equal footing the year before." In other words, the students at the low-preforming schools do not continue to learn and grow intellectually.

We see, then, that the same school system is basicaly two systems, one for the rich and one for the poor, and isn't it amazing that this system can get it right in one place and not in another?

Why do you think everyone wants to go to Northwest schools? Clearly, they have more resources, more supports, and more money to educate children.

Is poverty the excuse? Why is it that schools with poorer students are funded less and then expected to obtain miraculous results?

This reform claims to be about "students-first." Let's see if they really are. Let's call on them to stop firing teachers, to stop defunding schools, and start paying attention to the needs and the wants of the community.

Why are teachers from poorer schools being cut?

Why is the evidence constantly being ignored?

Teachers are constanlty fired over poor results like this, the saying goes that they do not add any "value" to a students education. This may or may not be true, but what we can see is that enough is enough, this current reform has failed (and will continue to fail) because it is not about educating the whole child. Reformers say it is the teachers fault, and we have tried firing teachers. Our so-called reformers have failed us, the evidence has spoken, and now it is time for heads at the top to roll. After all, are they adding any "value?"

A growing gap
A recent report shows that, on average, students at the best schools are outpacing their peers at the worst schools on the city's standardized tests.
Average two-year median growth percentile by ward
Top 5 Schools - Reading
SchoolNeighborhoodDC CAS   proficiency 2011Growth scores
Hyde-Addison Elementary SchoolGeorgetown81.2%79.7%
Murch Elementary SchoolTenleytown85.9%77.7%
Benjamin Banneker Academic High SchoolPleasant Plains (magnet school)94.3%75.9%
Stoddert Elementary SchoolGlover Park78.2%74%
Key Elementary SchoolPalisades87.7%72%
Top 5 Schools - Math
Key Elementary SchoolPalisades90.8%73%
Bancroft Elementary SchoolMount Pleasant53.1%72.3%
Ross Elementary SchoolDupont Circle70.7%72%
Murch Elementary SchoolTenleytown85.9%71.7%
Stoddert Elementary SchoolGlover Park84.1%70.2%
Bottom 5 Schools - Reading
Eastern Senior High SchoolEast Capitol Hill7.1%27.5%
Savoy Elementary SchoolAnacostia21%27.6%
Aiton Elementary SchoolLincoln Heights21.7%28.5%
Noyes Education CampusBrookland31.9%29.5%
Tyler Elementary SchoolCapitol Hill28%30%
Bottom 5 Schools - Math
Drew Elementary SchoolNortheast Boundary13.3%23.2%
Johnson Middle SchoolDouglass17.1%24.6%
Savoy Elementary SchoolAnacostia15.4%25.2%
Aiton Elementary SchoolLincoln Heights16.7%28.6%
Noyes Education CampusBrookland29%29%
Note: Growth scores refer to the "median growth percentile," which refer to year-to-year growth on the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System exams. The numbers are averaged between the growth seen in the 2009-2010 school year and the 2010-2011 school year. For example, a school's MGP of 77.7 percent means the average student scored better in 2011 than 77.7 percent of students citywide who received the same score as the student in 2009. Alternative and special-education schools were not included in these charts.

Petition to Support DCPS


Please sign this petition to the D.C. City Council to use the new budget analysis of DCPS to redirect funding to local schools to support librarians, critical teaching staff, counselors, vital supplies and special education.  

Sign the petition! (Click here) 

New analysis of the DCPS budget gives the Council the opportunity to make important adjustments that will support a high quality of education in every DC public school next year.

We appreciate Council Member Barry and his staff for providing thorough and expert analysis on the DCPS budget. We are encouraged by the possibility that the Council can address some of the deep cuts that were made to local schools this year without radically disrupting other programs. In your capacity to exercise both oversight and budget authority, you now have a rare opportunity to give schools much more of what they need to do their important work, and to support the mission of public education.

DCPS increased the funds set aside for fringe benefits beyond what was necessary. The actual expenditures have been increasing annually by about 8%. However, for both this year and next, the increase budgeted is 27%. This amount totals close to $18 million for FY 2012 and FY 2013. The actual for 2012 is not yet available. There would have to be significant rationale to support a change in the projected fringe benefit increase from 8% to 27% especially given the cuts in other parts of the DCPS budget.

DCPS has also set aside more than the actual expenditures for fixed costs of utilities for next year, increasing this budget by close to 8 million dollars, an increase of 20%.

In addition DCPS initiated a 10 million dollar one year incentive fund for special projects “Proving What’s Possible” which would allow (primarily) the 40 lowest performing schools the opportunity to compete through a grant process for additional funds. These schools sustained heavy losses in the budget allocation process, the funds are actually needed and may not be viewed as extra.

We understand it is a serious matter to adjust an agency budget at this stage of the process. However, the cost of the loss the schools are sustaining is substantial and will heavily affect their ability to provide a quality education to the children and young adults they serve.

You have the opportunity to address the substantial loss at each school and leave funds to address innovation and the other basic functions.

We listened to the budget hearings and heard these staffing losses cited often and passionately across many schools. We strongly urge you to exercise your authority as our representatives and take 5 million dollars from each of the three funds identified above for a total of 15 million dollars.

Educational (in)Equity Part 2


We are continuing our theme of educational inequity here in DC by laying the ground of of inequality here in the US. This isn't by DC VOICE, but this is a very good post. This is from the Black Agenda Report and is by Glen Ford. The page can be accessed here: Why the U.S. Can’t Compete Educationally. In essence, he is arguing that the US can't compete educationally because society here in the US is unequal.

The United States cannot follow the Finnish model to emerge from second class world educational status, because the Finnish system is based on social equality and esteem for the teaching profession. Here, “teachers are relentless hounded and degraded, made the scapegoats of society’s inequalities by sharing low scores with their students, whose families and communities are cut off from America’s wealth.” To compete, America must be radically transformed.

Why the U.S. Can’t Compete Educationally
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The United States, with the most striking social inequalities among the rich countries of the world, is simply not equipped to benefit from the Finnish model.”
President Obama this week told a White House audience honoring teachers of the year that elected leaders have “a particular responsibility…instead of bashing teachers, to support them.” By his side stood Education Secretary Arne Duncan who, as chief of Chicago’s schools waged holy corporate war on public school teachers, and now, with the enthusiastic backing of his boss, seeks to crush them as union members and as educational professionals, nationwide.
Obama is constantly holding forth about the need for America to achieve educational excellence – like Finland, which is top-ranked in the world. But a recent article in the Washington Post by Finnish educational leader Pasi Sahlberg makes clear that his country’s success is rooted in a comprehensive national system that strives for equity – for equality of access to resources for all Finland's people. The United States, with the most striking social inequalities among the rich countries of the world, is simply not equipped to benefit from the Finnish model, and will never be until the U.S. is transformed as a society.
Even the baby steps towards equity that Mr. Sahlberg says the U.S. must take to advance educationally, are anathema to the corporate powers-that-be. Finland guarantees equal allocation of educational resources to all communities, rich or poor; requires, by law, that all kids have “access to child care, comprehensive health care, and pre-school”; and it provides free education from pre-school through university. These are prerequisites for general, quality education – and are non-existent in the United States.
Finnish teachers are the “sole authority in monitoring the progress of students. There are no standardized tests in Finland.”
Teachers in Finland are respected professionals, with the prestige of doctors and lawyers, and a masters degree as a minimum. It is because they are so esteemed by society that Finnish teachers are the “sole authority in monitoring the progress of students.” There are no standardized tests in Finland.
Yet, here in the United States teachers are relentless hounded and degraded, made the scapegoats of society’s inequalities by sharing low scores with their students, whose families and communities are cut off from America’s wealth. Obama’s corporate privatization campaign relentlessly seeks to de-professionalize teachers, to replace them with young, essentially temporary employees who have no intention of making teaching their life’s work. With that kind of self-destruct mechanism, the U.S. will be lucky to remain in the global second tier of education also-rans.
Mr. Sahlberg keeps returning to the principle of social equity as an educational necessity. You can’t just keep shouting “Excel! Excel!” when the resources and support systems that would allow all children to reach their potential are hoarded by the rich and largely segregated by race.
The Finnish educator did not mention Finland’s ethnic homogeneity – that its population is 93 percent Finnish and the next largest group is Swedes. Sahlberg is a kind of diplomat as well as a teacher. But, here is the truth: the lack of a social compact in the United States has crippled the society in myriad ways, including its inability to take even the first steps towards educational equity. That absence of a social compact is rooted in white supremacy. Racism is why Deshawn can’t read and why Chip isn’t doing very well on a world scale, either.


©2009 The DC VOICE Ostrich |