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AALBC.com's Thumper's Corner Discussion Board » Culture, Race & Economy - Archive 2003 » Think Schools Can Be Run Like A Business? « Previous Next »

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Chris Hayden

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Posted on Wednesday, July 02, 2003 - 01:34 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Business executive Jamie Vollmer writes in support of public education

http://www.jamievollmer.com/blue_story.html
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Claxton

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Posted on Friday, July 04, 2003 - 10:56 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Chris, I have a vested interest in supporting public education. Namely, my tax dollars are paying to support it. So many people now--namely, whites who live in the suburbs and black who can afford it--are taking their children out of the public school system and either sending them to private schools or homeschooling them.

While I don't doubt that private schools or homeschooling have their merits, I'm not really fond of the idea of paying for something twice. Public schools work because of the people who stay involved with them--parents and guardians of the children the schools are supposed to serve, for starters, and volunteers who give of their time and energy to supplement what the teachers are teaching.

And I don't necessarily think the idea of running public schools as a business is that far-fetched. For example, teachers whose students perform well should be rewarded, and their retention made a top priority. Teachers whose students perform below standards should receive additional training and, if necessary, be removed from service.

I also believe that there is a portion of the student population that gets ignored, and those are the students in the middle of the pack, the ones with the B and C averages. They aren't "at-risk", so they don't get a lot of attention, and they aren't high achievers, so they don't get a lot of recognition. They're the ones shouldering the peak of the bell curve, and no one cars about them, it seems. What's in it for them once they're done with school?

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Chris Hayden

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Posted on Saturday, July 05, 2003 - 10:20 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Claxton:

You need to read that article again. In a perfect world the idea of removing a teacher whose students perform poorly makes sense. In a world where there are school districts where the children are from low income, one or no parent, disfunctional households it does not. Your inner cities have been deserted by whites and middle class blacks. What's left are the dregs. Good teachers do not want to work with them. They leave the profession rather than go into schools like this.

Nobody wants to understand that the problem is the community and neighborhood that these children come from. Before you go to Marva Collins and these other examples they do not operate. Marva Collins is not forced to take all students. Don't go to parochial schools, either. If you are a discipline problem you are out of them. The public schools the ones that are performing poorly are the ones that have to try to teach these children. Go into an inner city school--you will find that it is all most teachers can do to keep some order in the class--getting them to learn something is coming in second. They come from households that are not conducive to after school study or doing homework.

Your discussion of the ignoring of B and C students shows how far away from the discussion you are. Go into these schools. Go in classrooms where half the kids have parole officers. Go to schools where they have records for assault, armed robbery, drug dealing. You seem to think that somehow everybody can be an A student. Show me a white school that is not an elite institution where everybody is an A student. Do you think everyone is an A student at Harvard?

I'm going to say something that nobody will admit--as long as our inner cities have the economic and social conditions they do, the problem will not be fixed.
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ABM

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Posted on Saturday, July 05, 2003 - 01:07 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Well said, Chris.

I would add that we must also consider the issue of the wide disparities in school financing. Real estate taxes are often the chief source of public school funding. Thus, schools attended by the children of wealthier (mostly "whiter") families enjoy a great advance in soliciting and acquiring better teachers, facilities, equipment, training/consultation & supplies. So, until schools are financed on a more equitable basis, it will be difficult to accurately, fairly & fully assess & resolve the problems with the schools.

Still, yours is a very clear, succinct and honest description of much of what befalls public schools.
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Claxton

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Posted on Saturday, July 05, 2003 - 10:34 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Chris, I didn't miss the point of the article...In fact, you missed the point of what I was saying...Not only do I have some experience in the classroom (as a student and a volunteer) to back up my point, I'm also painfully aware of the impact of politics on the schools.

Remember that I live in Charlotte, North Carolina's largest city and a hotbed of conservatism. This is a city where textiles and trucking have been supplanted in the last decade by banking and e-commerce. Two of the nation's largest banks, in fact, have their headquarters here. Believe me when I tell you, I know where the money is. It's in Dilworth, Southpark, up on Lake Norman and out in University City. And I also know where the money isn't. It's not on Charlotte's west side, especially not the areas bounded by Wilkinson Boulevard and Freedom Drive, and it's not to the immediate north of downtown, following along the North Tryon Street and The Plaza (from Parkwood Avenue up to Harris Boulevard) corridors.

There's no doubt that politics plays a part in the school system. That much is very evident. And I don't think anyone who posts regularly on this board--particularly me--is so naive to believe otherwise. But I want to backstop that reality with a few points:

1) Every school has problem children. The only difference is in the problems they cause. It's a simple fact that every child will not be reached, no matter how much you do. To use the analogy in the article, you can't reject all blueberries, but some simply won't pan out. That's a fact.

2) The inner city school will only die if we allow it to die. Notice that I said "we"--not the school system, not the politicos--"we". Not having qualified teachers is a large part of the problem, much more so than lack of supplies (more on that in a moment). Some of what the teachers are teaching is another part of the problem. A third part of the problem is the fact that, in this litigious society of ours, discipline cannot be instilled lest someone get their feathers in a ruffle.

Traditional methods of solving these problems have not worked. And as long as parents look to the schools to be anything and everything to their children, and maintain a hands-off approach and not hold the school system accountable and not allow the schools to maintain discipline that should start in the home in the first place, they will continue to fail. The burden on the teachers is too great; can you blame them--half of them truly unqualified to teach anyway, as I've learned over the course of time--for trading in lesson plans for business plans?

3) As a volunteer for Junior Achievement and a tour guide at the Levine Museum of the New South, I can tell you one thing--many of the same students, inner city and surburban, that don't get into history will light up when you start talking money. Some old white dude who crossed the Delaware River in the freaking winter two hundred-odd years ago becomes much more important when he's part of an example involving fiscal responsibility. To the inner city kid, that kind of education may mean the difference between staying on Freedom Drive or moving out to Park Road. To the suburban child, that might mean the difference between working for daddy's company or starting his/her own and buying daddy's out.

4) About those supplies...Last year, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools announced that they could not account for over $3 million in supplies and equipment. The receipts are in hand, but the equipment is nowhere to be found. Now, imagine how much may be unaccounted for in the larger school systems around the country. Charlotte-Mecklenburg isn't that big a system when compared to cities like Atlanta or St Louis, and definitely small potatoes against San Antonio, Los Angeles and New York.

Can't get/retain good teachers? Can't get the schools the supplies they need? Bull!! Can do, should do, and every taxpayer, whether or not they have a child in school or a child at all, needs to be holding the school systems accountable, not exacerbating the problem by footing the bill for private or parochial schools or homeschooling.

Schools are a business, people. Understand that. The administration of schools is a business, and the teaching in schools should be a business. It's the business of learning, nothing more, nothing less. It's the business of giving special attention to those who don't get it, paying attention to those who do get it, and honoring those who get better than anyone else. There's no good reason why it should not be that way. It takes thinking outside that box to make this happen. And it can happen. It takes work, and it takes time.

BTW, I read the article TWICE before I posted my first message. I didn't miss anything; the author should've had the balls to stand up and stick to his guns, and not fold up like a dead lilly, because he was dead-eye on the money in the first place. That's what I'm doing...
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Chris Hayden

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Posted on Tuesday, July 08, 2003 - 02:58 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Claxton:

I live in St. Louis Missouri. The schools have had to ban blue and red clothing because of the gang problem (Crips blue--bloods red)--that don't even take into consideration the Black Gangster Disciples and Vice Lords who have made inroads.

There are schools where ALL of them are problem children. The inner city ITSELF is dying. You missed the part where I spoke about NO parent households--they have them, either because what parent is in the house is working two or three jobs to make it, or because the parents are cracked out, in jail, whatever. We got grandparents trying to take over and raise them some are doing a good job and some are worn out.

People just do not know what is going on in these inner cities. You think it is because maybe folks just need to get their coattail pulled--you got kids coming up in houses where they are berated if they haven't gotten a rap sheet. You got kids themselves slinging crack, getting shot up by rival gangs in drug houses, doing the shooting. You got parents encouraging the drug dealilng, turning a blind eye to it because the kid is the only one bringing any money into the house. Did you ever see the HBO tv movie THE CORNER? This is what's going on in these inner cities. Think about how your grades might do if you been laying up in bed listening to gunfire all night. Even if they aren't involved they have to come up around all this. The author folded up because he realized his original view was unrealistic.

What everyone wants to ignore is that these children are growing up in social and economic conditions that makes any of these Leave it To Beaver solutions null and void. Charlotte, North Carolina? --no man. Sorry. You don't even know what is happening.

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