The Real Way to Achieve Educational Reform
Courtesy of Arizona Daily Star/Fitzsimmons

Finally data is proving the point.  In Florida, the Department of Education publishes their study showing :

  • Of the 209 schools in Miami-Dade and Broward with at least 90 percent of students receiving free or reduced lunch, 78 percent received a grade of C or worse. Roughly 39 percent of these high-poverty schools received a D or F.
  • Of the 43 local schools with much lower poverty rates (30 percent or fewer students receiving free or reduced lunch), 86percent received an A, and none received a D or F.

This is in spite of Florida’s (aka Jeb Bush) concentrated attempt to bridge the gap.  Florida’s school letter grades are heavily influenced by standardized test scores. Because test scores drive the calculation — and because research shows that poorer students don’t perform as well on those tests — the better grades assigned to wealthier schools are not a complete surprise.

So are testing grades measuring how well a school teaches kids, or are they simply a reflection of how much money the parents of those students have?

The grades have remain lopsided in Florida even after the state added student learning gains to the formula in 2002. In theory, adding student growth was supposed to give poorer schools a better shot at success, as they would be rewarded for boosting the performance of students

It appears that in spite of all we can do…. and I mean all we can do…. that education will continuously have a direct correlation with income of each student’s parents.  One entry grade teacher remarked you can tell who will be good coming in,  just by how comfortable they are in holding a book.

(Editor’s Note:  Here is where you throw your hands up in the air)

Time to try something new.  I present the kavips Formula for funding schools.

Take the test results from the past year 2013. Off to the side is a percentage of students receiving free lunch. Use that percent of increase as a modifier for this year’s budget. If a school is at 19% low income, they get 119% of their previous budget. If a school is at 90% low income, give them 190% of their budget. All others in between, use the same formula.

What we are doing is applying money at the point where the problem is. All too often, incompetent administrators blame parents. Blah, blah, blah, parents, blah, blah, blah. Well, except for shaming one or two, making a dent in that is entirely out of everyone’s control What we should be focused on, is how do we make an impact considering all the poverty surrounding these school’s neighborhoods?

So how did civilization survive the Dark Ages of medieval times? There were far more of them, than us back then. Civilized man built fortresses, behind which he could retreat if necessary. They preserved civilization inside the high walls, because it sure wouldn’t last outside them. Taking a clue from that, we make our schools fortresses. Not pillars of forebodence, but a welcoming place separate and safe from the real world. A place of no bullies, a place of lots of healthy food, a place to do homework after school, a place to sing, a place to paint, a place to read or get read to. A place to discuss life in the neighborhood, where people really were interested in what you had to say. A place to bring mom. or dad. that had things for them to do. Heck, even let them catch up and finish their missing degrees.

But a fortress to protect civilization. To be sure there will be those who try to crush it. Just as during the medieval time slot, dark knights would try to undo the good they correctly saw taking away their livelihood of crime.

So. lets jump forward one step further and look at this example. You are a new teacher. You get a choice. You can go to the inner city where you will make a huge impact, change lives and perhaps the course of history, and have 90% increase to spend in supplies over what you would if you stayed in the safe suburbs. Or perhaps you are a new principal out to make a name for yourself. You can take over an inner city school, with almost double (+90%) the state money of a suburban school, or stay in your suburban and doggedly try not to slip backwards with less funding.

This counters the reality of today’s practices. Today we cut back and starve our inner-city schools, yet lavish funds on our suburban affluent ones.

And we wonder why test scores mirror the poverty line almost exactly! If someone is ignorant, testing 47 times isn’t going to teach anything. You get the same answer each time.

Money to testing, is just being thrown away. Better instead, to allow a school to receive more, the higher its student’s poverty levels are! That would be “real” education reform….

(Note, this concept was on Rodel‘s original plank (2008), but if you look up their recommendations now, increased funding is completely out of their syllabus.) (The 1%’rs got squeamish)…

Examples:

In Cape Henelopen District:

Brown (W. Reily) Elementary School with a low Social Economic Score of 76.7% gets a 77% budget increase.
Dover Air Force Base Middle School with a low Social Economic Score of 14.0 % gets a 14.0 % budget increase.
Fifer (Fred) Middle School with a low Social Economic Score of 57.2 % gets a 57.2 % budget increase.
Frear (Allen) Elementary with a low Social Economic Score of 52.0% gets a 52.0% budget increase.
Postlethwait (F. Niel) Middle School with a low Social Economic Score of 45.7% gets a 45.7% budget increase.
Simpson (W.B.) Elementary School with a low Social Economic Score of 51.6 % gets a 51.% budget increase.
Star Hill Elementary School with a low Social Economic Score of 37.3% gets a 37.3% budget increase.
Stokes (Nellie Hughes) Elementary School with a low Social Economic Score of 62.7% gets a 62.7% budget increase.
Welch (Major George S.) Elementary School with a low Social Economic Score of 28.2% gets a 28.2% budget increase.

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