Segregationist Neanderthal 1, Florida’s First Integrated School 0

September 22, 2016

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Make sure to catch this post over at RedefinED by Patrick Gibbons about the racist “founder of Florida public education” and his 18 year jihad to close a racially integrated private school.

You couldn’t make this stuff up, and even if you tried, no one would believe you, which is why Gibbons included a sources appendix at the end of the post. Very worth the read.

 


John Oliver Has it All Wrong- We WANT ineffective schools to close

September 22, 2016

bottom-10

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

So I went through the Arizona Board of Regents report on college graduation by high-school some more, and looked this time at the bottom to see whether charter schools were over-represented at the bottom as well as the top. A few caveats I eliminated alternative high schools from the list, as these schools are basically dropout recovery programs. Second, there is a lot of missing data for a lot of high schools, so this may not be the actual bottom 10, more like the bottom 10 for the schools we have data on. Another * goes to Metro Tech which is teaching career and technical skills which might keep graduates gainfully too busy to finish college in a six-year span (although many CTE students do eventually earn college degrees).  Metro Tech may be great or it may leave a lot to be desired but I would not conclude much of anything from their place on this list.

My method for eliminating alternative schools was to look at the oldest available list from the Arizona Department of Education, having said that when you look at the website for the International Commerce High School it mentions serving adult high school students and my spidey sense tells me that it is an alternative school. The other charter school on the list (delightfully imo) closed.

Regular ole district high schools dominate the bottom of the list even more than charter schools dominate the top.  John Oliver should do a segment on how horrible it is that bottom dwelling schools flounder indefinitely without any fear of closure.

 

 


Arizona Board of Regents Releases High School Graduate College Tracking Study for the Class of 2009

September 21, 2016

top-az-high-schools

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

The Arizona Board of Regents released their annual college attendance/completion study for Arizona public high schools for the Class of 2009.  The aggregate numbers continued to inch up- the total percentage having been 18.6% of the Class of 2007 earning a four year degree in six years, 19.4% of the Class of 2008, and 20.8 percent for the Class of 2009. When you include two year degrees the numbers improved from 25.8% to 27.9%.

Now if you would happen to like to send your child to a school that beats the living daylights out of a statewide one in five college completion in six years rate, we’ve got what you are hankering for in the form of charter schools, magnet schools, and leafy suburban district schools. I’m happy to say that the Ladner kids are attending the #2 and the #5 schools on the list.

Tempe Prep was the prototype for the Great Hearts system, so special kudos to my band of great books happy warrior nerds for effectively capturing the top two spots!

 


Parent Power Gives Teachers Freedom to Teach

September 20, 2016

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(Guest post by Greg Forster)

OCPA’s latest Perspective carries my article reviewing evidence suggesting that, where parents are in charge of education, teachers are free to teach. The data come from a study of federal teacher surveys that I did with Christian D’Andrea in 2009, but they are of fresh interest in light of the recent crisis over accountability in education reform.

Government power over schooling harms teachers in many ways. It takes away their control over what and how they teach:

On accountability, we found private school teachers were much more likely to say they have a great deal of influence on performance standards for students (40 percent versus 18 percent), curriculum (47 percent versus 22 percent), and discipline policy (25 percent versus 13 percent). They were also more likely to have a great deal of control over selection of textbooks and instructional materials (53 percent versus 32 percent) and content, topics, and skills to be taught (60 percent versus 36 percent).

It also saddles teachers with a legal and regulatory environment that prevents them from keeping order:

Shockingly, we found public school teachers were four times more likely than private school teachers to say student violence was a problem on at least a monthly basis (48 percent versus 12 percent). That means about half of public school teachers are being asked to work in an environment where violence is a regular problem. Nearly one in five public school teachers had been physically threatened by a student, compared to only one in 20 private school teachers (18 percent versus 5 percent). Nearly one in 10 public school teachers had been physically attacked by a student, three times the rate in private schools (9 percent versus 3 percent).

Where student violence is a problem on some days, student disorder is a problem every day. Sure enough, we found public school teachers were much more likely to report that student misbehavior (37 percent versus 21 percent) or tardiness and class cutting (33 percent versus 17 percent) disrupt their classes. One in eight public school teachers reported that physical conflicts among students occurred every day; only one in 50 private school teachers said the same (12 percent versus 2 percent). How are teachers supposed to teach?

The institutional environment is undermined by government control in other ways, too, undercutting teachers’ relationships with peers and school leaders:

Where parents are in charge, the school is free to be itself, and that cultivates a strong spirit. Private school teachers were much more likely to strongly agree that there is a great deal of cooperation between staff members (60 percent versus 41 percent), that their colleagues shared their values and understanding of the core mission of the school (63 percent versus 38 percent), and that their fellow teachers consistently enforced school rules (42 percent versus 29 percent).

These intangible factors affect how schools manage their more material affairs. Private schools almost always have smaller budgets than public schools. Yet somehow private school teachers were more likely to strongly agree they had all the textbooks and supplies they needed (67 percent versus 41 percent). They were also more likely to strongly agree they got all the support they needed to teach special needs students (72 percent versus 64 percent). And although their class sizes were only moderately smaller, private school teachers were much more likely to strongly agree that they were satisfied with their class sizes (61 percent versus 34 percent).

Sure enough, teachers who are accountable to parents are a lot happier than teachers who are accountable to government. Check it out and let me know what you think!


TXESA

September 20, 2016

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

The Texas Public Policy Foundation, the Texas Business Leadership Council and Excel in Ed teamed up to publish a new white paper by yours truly called The Yellow Rose The Achilles Heel of Texas: Improving College Eligibility Rates through K-12 Savings AccountsBottom line: only a minority of Texas public school students get prepared for even a moderately selective college or university, and the percentage moves to catastrophically low levels when looking at the ethnic minority student groups which now constitute a large majority of Texas students. Meanwhile an annual 90k+ of new students per year has been driving resources out of the classroom and into debt, with no end in sight and an aging population that will slow revenue growth and create new costly problems in health care and pensions.

Judging from the number of applications received in the first year of NVESA, enrollment growth in Texas could be substantially slowed by a universal ESA program, which would give the public system a chance to focus resources away from the debt spiral of constantly building new facilities and then surrounding them with portable buildings. We could expect such a system to have the well-established positive effects for both participating and non-participating students, but also represents an opportunity for low-income students especially to save and build assets for future higher education expenses.

 

 


The 2016 AZ Merit: Improving but Meh versus Mehssachusetts

September 19, 2016

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

The Arizona Department of Education released 2016 AZMerit data last week, and charter school students show an across the board advantage.

az-merit-2016

Breaking down the data by subgroups consistently show charter advantages as well. Let’s start with Anglos:

azmerit-anglo

Move on to Hispanic students:

az-merit-hispanic

African-American students:

azmerit-black

 

Native American students:

azmerit-native-american

Asian students:

azmerit-asian

Special education students (btw the percentages of special education students among district and charter schools were roughly equivalent among tested students):

azmerit-sped

Economically disadvantaged students, but with an *.  A high percentage of Arizona charter schools do not participate in the federal free and reduced lunch program, and about 85% of alternative (dropout recovery) schools in Arizona are charter schools. Having said that, charter schools score higher again:

amerit-ecodis

This next chart required me to dust off my algebra skills and use the existing data to solve for X:

azmerit-non-disadvantaged

What we can take from this: while differences in student populations explains some of the differences between overall charter and district scores, when the charters lead in each and every subgroup it does not explain anything close to all of the difference. Every difference across every subgroup counts, and in the end the add up to:

az-ma

For those of you squinting at your Ipad, that is the statewide averages for Massachusetts (the highest scoring state) on the left, Arizona charters in the middle, and Arizona Districts.  MA of course is much wealthier and spends a great deal more than AZ, but when you break down the subgroups Arizona charter students outscore like students from Massachusetts, which makes me want to CeleNAEP good times here in the cactus patch:


Usual Suspect Mark Pocan spins a Keyser Soze story on GAO Parental Choice Report

September 16, 2016

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

The American film classic the Usual Suspects (spoiler alert!) features a quick thinking unreliable narrator Verbal (played by Kevin Spacey) who concocts a vivid tale based on material on a bulletin board sitting behind the police officer who is interrogating him. Representative Marc Pocan has used equivalent powers of imagination and a recent GAO report on private choice programs as his bulletin board to spin his own imaginative and deceptive tale.

First the report:

gao

The report is a straightforward description of the nation’s voucher and ESA programs, and deals with primarily with a state of confusion among school districts as to whether they are obligated to provide “equitable services” to special needs students who participate in private choice programs. It’s a fairly dry 49 page read if you go through the report, although it does have the occasional interesting graphic like this one:

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In any case after a number of pages of descriptive work the report concludes:

gao-4

You are welcome- I waded through this report so you wouldn’t have to!

So from this bulletin board material Rep. Marc Pocanconcocts his tale of woe and destruction visiting down upon the states like Biblical plagues from private choice programs in a piece in HuffPo titled omniously Why You Should be Worried About the Rapid Rise of Private Voucher Schools:

gao-3

In other words, private choice programs are the most vicious gangster in the history of Pocan’s imagination:

These claims have even less to do with the GAO report than Officer Kujan’s bulletin board relationship with the tale of Keyser Soze.  The only “discovery” in the GAO report-districts are confused about whether they are obligated to provide special education services to students participating in private choice programs in the same fashion they do to other private school students, which is to say, not much to begin with. Thus the report recommends USDoE guidance to districts to dispel confusion because the districts retain discretion on whom to serve.

The real discovery here is that Rep. Pocan is willing to spin long-known facts about private choice programs into a breathless but ineffectual attempt at a hit piece. In order-

  1. Teacher prep has always been different between public and private schools and there is approximately zero evidence that traditional certification produces better learning, but hey if you want state certified teachers the public school system is still there as an option.
  2. Some private choice programs require schools to change their admission policies, but many do not. Let me know when you get the GI Bill to require random admission lotteries into the Ivy League and I’ll start to take you seriously on this. No? How about random lottery admissions for open enrollment transfers between district schools, who currently get to pick and choose at will? The total number of seats available may be greater for lighter touch programs and overly meddling with private schools can and has backfired in a lack of seats in high quality private schools.
  3. Money is following the child, lamest claim in the opponent playbook.
  4. Perceived deficiencies in taxpayer-subsidized public schools to students with disabilities is why parents choose to participate in the first place. Satisfaction surveys of special needs choice programs have been off the charts. Private choice programs expand the options for special needs parents.

Sadly, rather than engage in an intellectually honest debate, Rep. Pocan has constructed a boogey-man story and attempted to claim that the GAO told it to him before he started repeating it. They did nothing of the sort, and silly efforts like this is example number 89,623 of why choice opponents willingly surrender their credibility on a regular basis.