Published: Saturday, Sept. 14 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT
I recently found out who was behind the legislation for the school grading
system. Parents for choice in education. Do a little research on them and you
will see why they are happy this whole grading system is a mess. They want the
public school system to look ridiculous and with this legislation they
succeeded.It is just a shame that special interest groups think it
is morally acceptable to destroy a system that has produced some of the greatest
minds of our state. They do so all in the name of special interests instead of
the interests of our children.Just a shame.
The "shame" is that our children are not being educated. This is not
some kind of turf battle between the public schools and alternative schools;
this is an issue about the fact that our public schools have failed us.Mr. Florez pointed out one huge problem. The school boards have allegience to
the wrong side. They protect the "status quo". Well, the "status
quo" is not working and it hasn't worked for at least one
generation.How do we fix it?If the school board listens
to the parents only, then they will have hundreds of thousands of ideas.There is an easier way. Some schools received an "A" when they
were graded. Find out how they were able to get such a high grade.
"Teach" the other schools to use a proven method that leads to
success.If private schools, home schools and charter schools do a
better job, then why are we allowing the public schools to continue to fail? We
can easily find out what works and then we can use those methods in all of the
schools so that all of the children will get a proper education.
Mike:I looked at that list, and I guess if you want to put stock
into it, there were quite a few charters on that list of the bottom 50 schools.
There were a LOT of charters at the bottom of that list. I'm still amazed
that the parents don't do a little bit of research before enrolling their
kids in a charter school. I have nothing against charters. In fact I think
they serve a good purpose here in Utah. The problem is there is a group that
thinks charters are inherently better just because they are charters. The near
me in Orem scores lower in just about every possible category when compared with
the local public elementary. Yet I continue to hear, "my little Johnny won
the charter lottery so he gets to enroll in the charter school!" When I
then ask if the parents know that the charter receives worse scores on the CRT
and on the school grading system they look at me with a blank look. They tell
me that can't be right. I give them the website to look it up and then
they quickly enroll their kid back in the public school. It amazes me that
parents will make a knee jerk decision based on perception instead of reality.
These are their kids were talking about! Do a little research.
Richards - "There is an easier way. Some schools received an "A"
when they were graded. Find out how they were able to get such a high grade.
"Teach" the other schools to use a proven method that leads to
success." Is it really that easy? What does and A or B or C
even say? What does an “F” really say? Midvale Elementary has 97%
free and reduced lunch so hey, they get an "F". And Quail Hollow has 2%
ethnic students and gets an "A". Does this mean that Quail Hollow
teachers have it all figured out and are amazing teachers and these hard-working
Midvale teachers are failures who can't do their jobs? It would seem to be
a ridiculous and spurious comparison to most who can grasp the bigger picture,
but our state legislators actually say that under this new system,
"failing" schools can look at what "successful" schools are
doing so they can finally improve. Meanwhile, all this "improving" will
happen without any support, any investment by the state, without any additional
effort by the legislature. Ah, the magic of the little letter of shame.
To further add to our understanding of the factors that affect student and
school performance let me add that Midvale Elementary has 54% ELL (that means
english language learners) and Quail Hollow has 1% ELL. This idiotic grading
system says nothing about the realities of education today. And to think that
Quail Hollow is somehow a model for successful instructional techniques that
Midvale could finally learn from is insulting. And yet, with all the challenges
that we face in education, the best that the Legislature can come up with, after
floor debates, committee hearings, expending political capital, after secret
caucuses, and last minute manuevering is this ridiculous letter grade?
What really ought to happen is frequent joint convenings in Utah of two
groups--School board members from around the state and members of
children's advocacy groups--conventions of a sort with speakers who want to
address the great weakness in Utah: failure to long-term plan for the ADEQUATE
funding of K-12 as school-age population doubles and, eventually, quintuples.
The Legislative and Executive branches in the state, controlled for years by
Republicans, have refused to do more than year-to-year patch, patch, patch, and
the result has been schools failing while the movement for school choice,
hijacked by people with ulterior motives, grows. With pressure
on elected officials from the two groups above--through frequent op-eds and
letters, appearances on TV and via radio, etc.--much good can be done. I
nominate Flores to get that ball rolling since he has good visibility and name
recognition, and I volunteer myself for whatever legwork I can provide. I know
of others who would enlist in the good cause, too. How about you,
will you work for the good cause, too?
Look at the math scores. Bingham High School is nearby. It failed in math.
Most of the High Schools failed in math. Why? One of my sons was the Sterling
Scholar in math at Bingham, so, I know that that school has the ability to teach
math.SOME of the Charter schools are at the top of the list. Two of
my grandsons attended a charter school near Heber. They both love learning.
That was not always the case. What made the difference? One of my
granddaughters attends a school where they all speak Spanish half of the time.
She can read, write and speak both English and Spanish. I can't. I can
hardly write a properly constructed sentence in English.There are
models for us to examine. Those who put on their blinders and those who work
for the public schools will continue to tell us that all that they really need
is more public school funding. A very sucessful businessman once asked his
major supplier, "Why should I throw good dollars after bad when I can buy a
better product at a lower cost?" The public schools have no
answer for that question.
John,Peggy Jo Kennett a vocal voice against school grading is a local
school board member. The Utah School Boards' Association, who represent ALL
local school boards has unanimously said they are opposed to school grading.John, I fail to see the purpose of your opinion as it is not accurate.
Mike Richards:There is no secret recipe of these "A" grade
schools. They come from affluent neighborhoods, where most of the families have
two parents and value education. Along with that, the primary language of 99%
of the students is English. These schools aren't doing anything that
radically different than the schools that are failing. I think these schools
that are doing well have that old analogy of the rich kid that thought he had
hit a triple but was actually born on third base. I suppose teachers and schools
must now be held accountable for keeping families together, poverty, and that
their students speak English. I would say that when the big, bad
federal government actually gave one school resources (tutors, aides, technology
etc.) that this school (Northwest Middle School in Salt Lake District) got
pretty good results despite very difficult demographics. The lesson for the
legislature is fund schools better and give dedicated teachers resources, rather
than stacking secondary education students in classes of 40 or more, you
actually will see results. Go figure...
Howard, I don't think that you did your homework. As soon as I
learned that Bingham has receive a 'C', and that the primary cause of
that grade was a failing grade in math I checked every other large high school
on the Wasatch Front. MANY of them failed to teach math properly, if the scores
reflects the ability of the students to understand math. Why not go
to the State web page and look at the schools. There is a trend ad that trend
has very little to do with the affluence of the community or the size of the
school. Math is the primary subject that caused the most grief to the most
schools. Surely those administer the schools realized BEFORE the test, they the
students didn't have a clue about math. The problem is systemic.
Again, go look at the Northwest Middle School example. Because of federal grants
and money, they were able to bring in tutors, aides, technology and support
personnel for subjects like math. But I would suppose at West HS, the school
where the Northwest students feed that got an F grade, that they are using a
similar approach to math curriculum. What is the difference? It could be just
more support for the students. Still, I would agree that some
districts have poor approaches to math. But again, those students coming from
affluent backgrounds are still more apt to do better. If they are struggling in
math, they are more likely to be able to purchase tutor services or go to places
like Sylvan. They are likely to have parents in the home that understand match
concepts.I think one thing that would help all middle schools,
junior high and high schools do better in math would not necessarily be
different pedagogy or curriculum but just getting rid of the block schedule.
Meeting every other day with students in 90-minute classes dooms them in math.
Why are high schools struggling with math? Class sizes. How difficult do you
think it is to teach Algebra to over 40 fifteen-year-old students? Invariably
some will fall between the cracks. In the communities where parents can be more
involved and have higher educational levels, the kids have more of a chance, in
other communities not so much. The school grades were correlated to income
level of the communities. Grades by zip code is what this is.
When we do not school district attendance policies we will have failing schools.
When 13.5% of our students miss 15%+ of a typical school year explain to me how
schools are supposed to succeed? Especially when those same schools are expected
to have 95% of their students take the tests required to judge the effectiveness
of those schools? Do the math here. You have students taking tests that they
are not adequately prepared to take because they have not been attending and as
a result the entire school suffers. In fact, teachers take the brunt of the
blame unfairly for this.
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