The problem with inner-city education everywhere is too much need for too few resources.
Though rather common-sensical when stated so bluntly, it has taken America 50+ years to reach this point. Our slowness comes from the dichotomy of realism. Science tells us that when born, most for our brains are 99.9% identical. (Occasionally an environmental effect or gene flip can impede one before birth, but missing that, all people if placed in the same environment can perform at very close levels of performance through out their lives). However reality of what enters a school system at age 5, presents an entirely different perspective. We see children of affluence entering at very high levels of recordable intelligence, and children of lower affluence when compared to those of high, look just plain dumb.
That appearance of dumbness comes primarily from their inability to express their thoughts (ELA), as well as their lack of a broadened world perspective.
It is a rare person among us who enjoys seeing this dichotomy. We all wish it would get fixed…
If children were businesses, here is how we’d fix them. We would create an insurance fund. Calamities do befall us all at random moments, often with catastrophic consequences. In order not to ruin companies, an idea evolved that if all parties would pay into a fund as their “insurance” they would not lose everything. That fund would reimburse a business if calamity struck them. The assessment for that fund would be affordable to all, written into the costs of what they sold, and thusly, calamities could be economically handled.
Bussing was a clumsy attempt at emulating this system. We shut down an inner city’s district and made four suburban districts split up the costs incurred by those inner city children. We moved children out to where affluent people lived….
With hindsight, it has become apparent that perhaps moving the money in would create less hassle than moving the children out.
Talk of making New Castle County one single school district has been another ongoing attempt to address this issue. The prime idea being that all revenue collected from Talleyville to N. Smyrna would be such a huge pool, students within that geographical boundary could all get proper funding… The suburban money could be averaged out to something that was more equitable to students in Wilmington.
But politically,… schools are a local community issue and parents in urban Wilmington have little concern over the needs of exceptional students on the Maryland-Delaware boundary, and Greenville doesn’t really care that much about people in Port Penn. So having one district handling all decisions, especially those non-financial ones which would now be decided from far-far away, never took off.
Which brings us to the insurance model…
Just as each business runs itself however way it wishes, each district will continue to do the same. No change from how they are now. But each school system pays funds per student they have that go into an insurance fund which gets used to fix calamities in education..
Those calamities would be priority-type schools in areas in areas where there is no seed to cultivate blooms. In a priority school one must buy the seed, as well as tend to its cultivation…. In more affluent districts that seed money is primarily handled by the parents of each child. They teach the basics like alphabet, numbers to twenty, and colors. But in priority schools, where everyone enters at the bottom level, there is no seed to speak of. Teachers have to start where affluent children have been learning since birth. Teaching the 26 letters. Applying phonetics to each of those symbols, basic numerical philosophy (counting), as well as names of colors.
Obviously this would require more teachers. One can’t say “read this book tonight and we’ll discuss tomorrow”. One needs more personalized attention when one is supposed to teach the book, but instead has to simultaneously teach a child how to read at the same time.
Which is why to achieve success in a priority school (which if correctly titled would be any school that has 50% or more of its students listed as low income), one MUST have an 11:1 student teacher ratio.
If one is currently at a 33:1 student teacher ratio then obviously, one needs to hire 2 more teachers just for that one class… Which at $40,000 a teacher, is not cheap. But necessary.
When one is trying to stretch budgets, having one teacher disappear to save $40,000 is the simplest solution. However, it dooms those far-behind children who would readily learn in an 11:1 environment but not in a 22:1 or 33:1 classroom
The reason today we have such problems with inner city education is that across the careers of most of our students, adequate funding for the 11:1 ratio was not available.
But if we had an insurance fund that was culled from all districts, which could be applied to hire additional personnel in poverty schools, that issue would disappear.
Today there are multiple problems with inner city education. We can only tackle them one by one. This idea would take care of one of those problems.