Wednesday, August 09, 2006

School of Blogger weighs in

I'm sure Chris will have much more to say about this article later (as well as responses by the Chalkboard, Alexander Russo, and Kevin Carey at the Quick and the Ed). I'll just leave it at wondering if any of the responders, the last one in particular, has actually read Rothstein's Class and Schools. Carey uses the same reductionist logic to indict Rothstein as he accuses Schemo of using.

Look, Chalkboard, Russo, Carey, Schemo: we all care about kids. We've all spent "even a little time in one of the deeply dysfunctional schools that many urban students are forced to attend," so stop accusing each other of not having done so. (Anyone who's read Kozol, for instance, could not possibly make that accusation of him.) It's obvious to all of us that schools can do better. However, it is also obvious to all of us that we can eliminate a good chunk of that achievement gap if we start talking about the real problems, the ones that are even harder to fix than poor schools and inadequate teachers. I'm getting bored with people trying to frame someone else as the enemy just because they feel the need to have an enemy. Nobody is the enemy.

Except for those voucher people -- they really don't care about kids!


Alexander Russo said...

hi, julie --

i have seen rothstein talk about his book, and he's pretty clear that we shouldn't be looking at schools.

however, maybe my post came off as more critical or personal than i meant it. mostly, i was pointing out that the times reporter hadn't presented a very balanced look at the nature/nurture debate. and also that, in the past, telling educators that it's all about home factors tends to reduce their ability and willingness to do everything they can.

julie said...

Thanks for responding!

I've also heard Rothstein speak about the book, and the sense that I got wasn't that he was relieving teachers of the burden of raising student achievement. But maybe I was just hearing it through my own filter. I don't think he -- or anyone -- is saying that it's ALL about home factors.

LarryMishel said...

Thanks for telling these folks to go read Richard's book. The title and subtitle alone show that he does not ignore the need for school improvements:
Class and Schools:
Using Social, Economic, and Educational Reform to Close the Black–White Achievement Gap.

It is also ridiculous to keep claiming that Richard's position is that we have to fix inequality and poverty before doing something about schools. Plus, those who deny the importance of social factors in student/school performance seem to think it is really hard to make progress on social policy. Really? How hard is it to have every child with decent health insurance and a decent place to live. It just takes political will and money. It is curious how the same folks think that tweaking educational policy (from Washington)to get better performance from schools is so easy and effective.
Larry Mishel

Hirsh said...

Hey Julie,

Have you ever visited some of the great charter schools that do seem to be making a difference, e.g. the KIPP schools and the Achievement First schools? The people that run these schools seem to think that they are part of the "real" solution and that they can make a huge difference in educating inner-city kids. What do you think?


Mike,soldier/teacher in Texas said...

Living in Houston, we hear quite a bit about the KIPP programs.

One thing that is under-reported are the contracts that both parents/guardian and the students must sign.

Bottomline: KIPP works to minimize home problems and then provides effective teachers. That's a winning combination.

However, it is unlikely to be adopted by the public school system because the conduct restrictions are pretty strict.

Hirsh said...

Hey Mike,

Best I know, KIPP almost never kicks kids out of their schools. The contract that is signed is used as a tool to make clear what is required to maximize the probability of success and to encourage the active involvement of the parents. Meanwhile, KIPP schools are public schools, although I am guessing you were comparing them to traditional public schools. As charter schools, most KIPP schools are not subject to the local union contracts that usually prohibit some of their actions like longer school days and the ability to terminate teachers if they can't seem to get the job done. The traditional public schools generally have problems with these sorts of things.


sexy said...