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11 Schools Tapped For Transformation

by Melissa Bailey | Dec 13, 2010 4:00 pm

(44) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Schools, City Point, School Reform

Melissa Bailey Photo Sound School Principal Steven Pynn may get rid of letter grades and keep more students after school, after his marine-themed school earned a top grade in the latest round of rankings. Meanwhile, the low-performing Roberto Clemente and Wexler/Grant were flagged for more drastic reforms.

That was the takeaway Monday morning at a press conference in the library of the Sound School Regional Vocational Aquaculture Center at City Point, with views overlooking the Long Island Sound. The occasion was a report card day not for students, but for schools.

Sound School (principal Pynn is pictured above) was the only high school to earn a top score Monday, when the public school district for the first time ranked all its high schools as well as its elementary schools.

The city graded 43 schools into Tier I, II or III as part of an ongoing school reform drive that focuses on accountability. The grades are based on absolute performance on scores, growth on tests, and school climate surveys—click here and here for more on that. Based on the ranking, schools will eventually get more autonomy, more resources, or they may be completely restructured. Download this PDF for an explanation of the rankings, or scroll to the bottom of this story, to see the list of schools.

Not all schools face immediate changes. Seven schools have already begun implementing changes. Eleven more schools were tapped Monday to follow suit. More will join them in the coming years.

The select group of 11 schools will undergo changes next fall, as the district phases in the reforms. Principals at the three top-performing Tier I schools—Sound School, Nathan Hale and Worthington Hooker—will be given more autonomy to run their schools. Columbus School, Conte-West Hills and Metropolitan Business Academy all scored in the middle-performing Tier II; they’ll get more resources in their areas of weakness.

Five schools scored in the bottom-performing Tier III: Wilbur Cross High, James Hillhouse High, Hill Central Music Academy (K-8), Roberto Clemente Leadership Academy (K-8), and Wexler/Grant Elementary School (K-8). Of those, some may be chosen as “turnaround” schools, meaning they would be dramatically restructured, and possibly turned into charter schools.

The district has not yet decided how many schools will be “turnarounds,” according to schools Superintendent Reginald Mayo.

Mayo (at center in photo) said the aim of the rankings is not to punish schools, but to give them extra support.

The batch of 11 follow an initial batch of seven schools that implemented changes at the beginning of this school year. Those in the top-performing Tier I, Davis 21st Century Magnet School and Edgewood Magnet School, added arts enrichment and a joint summer program. Those in the middle tier, John C. Daniels and King/Robinson, are getting more support for areas of weakness. Those in Tier III, Barnard Environmental Magnet School, Brennan/Rogers, and Domus Academy, experienced more serious overhauls, including longer school days and staff changes.

High Schools

Last year, the district didn’t grade any high schools, because the process for doing so was more complicated. Just last month, the district came up with a new way for grading high schools, called a “graduation trajectory”—click here to read how that works.

Sound School out-performed all high schools along that metric: 78 percent of its students are on track to graduate within four years, officials calculated.

By contrast, less than 50 percent of students at Cross, and about a third at Hillhouse, are on track to graduate, according to the school district. Cross and Hillhouse are already being restructured into smaller learning communities as part of a federal School Improvement Grant. Both have new principals and have already got a head start on changing the way the schools are run, said Mayo.

Pynn , the Sound School principal of 13 years, said one reason his school is doing so well is that the school has a rigorous tracking system for watching whether kids are falling behind on tests, competing homework, or grades in school. Those who slip behind get an action plan for getting back on track, and meet with an advisor to monitor their progress, he said.

“Students are getting very regular feedback on their performance,” Pynn said.

The other factor in improving students’ progress, Pynn said, is “time.” Three days per week, he extends school hours to 5 p.m., so that students can stay after for extra homework help. The session is optional, except for kids who are on academic probation, Pynn said.

The Tier I ranking gives Pynn more leeway in how to run his school. He already has a few ideas of how to take advantage of his newfound liberty. He said he has long sought to do away with letter grades of A to F, because they aren’t very helpful. He said he’d also like more power in making kids stay after school for extra help if they’re slipping behind.

When school reform czar Garth Harries shook his hand to congratulate him, Pynn broke into a broad smile and said he’d be reporting back shortly with new ideas for his school.

“When you throw one over my plate, I’m going to hit it,” he said.

The Report Card

Here are the rankings for 43 schools across the district:

Elementary/Middle Schools:
Tier I:
Betsy Ross Arts
Davis Street
Edgewood
Nathan Hale
Worthington Hooker

Tier II:
Benjamin Jepson
Bishop Woods
Clinton Avenue
Columbus
Conte-West Hills
East Rock
Engineering & Science (ESUMS)
Fair Haven
John C. Daniels
King/Robinson
Lincoln Bassett
Mauro-Sheridan
Ross Woodward

Tier III:

Augusta Lewis Troup
Barnard
Brennan-Rogers
Celentano
Clemente
Domus Academy
Hill Central
John S. Martinez
Beecher
MicroSociety
Truman
Wexler/Grant

High Schools
Tier I:
Sound School

Tier II:
Co-op
Hill Regional Career
High School in the Community
Hyde Leadership
Metropolitan Business
New Haven Academy
Riverside Academy

Tier III:

Dixwell New Light
James Hillhouse
New Horizons
Polly T. McCabe
Wilbur Cross

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posted by: Threefifths on December 13, 2010  5:05pm

I keep asking this question.If the school turns
into a charter school and the school stays in the bottom-performing Tier III,Then what happens to that school.

posted by: Marcie Dimenstein on December 13, 2010  5:07pm

Congratulations to the administration, teachers, students and parents at The Sound School.  Having spent four years as a parent there, I know that this has not been a simple task but has taken everyone’s participation.  I also know that this opportunity won’t be taken for granted but Steve and his staff, with the help of the students and parents, will step up and take the school to the next level.  I am proud to be able to say I am a parent alumni.

Marcie Dimenstein

posted by: Cedarhillresident on December 13, 2010  5:35pm

Congrate’s Mr Pynn!!
I sent my kids to this school because it was a different way of educating English, language, math you name it they did not go by the book! And kids LEARNED because of that. They matter in this school. Not just the courses, but life is part of the program! Take a walk through the school see the diversity, see everyone hanging out together. See acceptance of each other. The school lacks one thing separation!  It is a beautiful place for children to learn. My son as always I use as an example, not an A student, but I remember Mr. M calling me in for meetings and not doing a touchy feely meeting but a blunt and honest one with my son sitting there. AND IT made the difference for him! My kids will always love this school because of the amazing teachers because they had the freedom to teach! I wish more schools could implement the magic this place has. It is not just a school it is a family.

posted by: anon on December 13, 2010  6:14pm

Parents at a low-performing school in Los Angeles recently rose up in protest, and demanded that their school be converted into a new charter school, or be shut down for being so ineffective. 

This is what should happen here when we have schools that are as low performing as some of the ones on Mayo’s list of Tier IIIs.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/07/parent-trigger-law-compton-mckinley-elementary_n_793537.html

If people don’t stand up and demand immediate change, and take their protests to City Hall and the state capitol in Hartford, things will pretty much stay the same.

posted by: Allan Brison on December 13, 2010  6:36pm

3/5ths

I understand that one of the key provisions of Obama’s Race to the “Top” is to ask states to pass legislation making it virtually impossible to revoke a charter school once it has been issued.

So the answer to your question is, probably, nothing. No matter how bad the charter school might turn out, it will be here forever.

This should make anyone who doesn’t share the right-wing privatization mania to be alarmed.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on December 13, 2010  6:41pm

Why are the Tier 3 schools going to be turned into Charters, have their hours massively increased, or any of the other radical changes? Why not just redesign the Tier 3 (and while we’re at it the Tier 2) schools to be identical to the Tier 1 schools?
The reason we can’t do that is because the Tier 3 schools are already identical to the Tier 1 schools in every way - new facilities, qualified teachers, approved curriculum and administrative staff - except average student performance.
By not simply stating that the “failing” schools will be redesigned to mimic Tier 1 schools, the city has admitted that average student performance is not a problem of schools. If it were, then they would use the existing examples of Worthington Hooker, Davis Street, Edgewood, etc for Hill Central, Beecher, Truman, etc. Those Tier 1 schools don’t have absurdly long days, particularly high student:teacher ratios, nor are they Charters. Now that the city has essentially acknowledged that the problem is not in the schools, it becomes clear that they are spending massive amounts of money on radical changes in the hopes of overcoming the real, underlying problems facing under-performing students.

Meanwhile in New Haven’s neighborhoods, parents have remained unemployed and underemployed for the last several decades due to a lack of easy accessibility to unskilled jobs. Luckily, the government is using tax dollars to subsidize ‘Green Initiatives’ like installing solar panels. Oh wait a second - unskilled Chinese workers, not American citizens, are assembling those Engineer-designed solar panels and that wealth is being shipped out of the country. Looks like the only remaining option for employment is McDonalds where employees get to have the morally degrading pleasure of serving the public with obesity-inducing food, how rewarding! God forbid if, at the very least, those food products were produced and grown in the New Haven area, perhaps in communal back-yard plots and on suburban land, instead of on midwestern industrial farms and on recently ravaged forests in South America. Nope, we need more “educated” Wall Street execs to screw millions out of the American Dream with volatile mortgages, pharmaceutical drug developers to over-medicate increasingly sick Americans, who are sick due to a lack of exercise and healthy diets, not lack of pills, and we need more intellectuals to provide solutions for problems through social engineering.
If the already left behind generations can’t find employment while taking classes or going to weekend trade school programs and raise half-way decent kids, then forget ‘em, the market has spoken, “Extracting local resources, processing materials out of those resources, and assembling manufactured products to provide the public with tangible goods that they need was so last century; besides, those pesky workers unions and US regulations can’t touch me in China!”

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on December 13, 2010  6:53pm

Congratulations, Principal Pynn.

Tom Burns and others…it sounds as though Mr. Pynn embraces the use of data in order to drive instruction and make sure that no student falls through the cracks at his school.  This is a strategy that Sound school has in common with highly successful public schools including charters.  But I guess you and Diane Ravitch would consider this to be simply turning kids into test scores, right?

3/5 - Same rules of accountability should be in effect for ALL public schools be they district or charter.  BTW, every charter school is reviewed by the CT. SDE at least every 5 years for performance criteria and the same NCLB criteria that judges regular public schools and districts also judges charters.

What this city has not done is to include in its portfolio of schools those that are charter.
They should.  The charter students are public school students.  If all of the 1,400+ kids at Amistad or Elm City were included in the city numbers, the district average would go up. 

Hartford includes its charter schools in their portfolio results.  Why are the children at New Haven’s public charter schools not viewed as being part of the system of education in the city?

posted by: new haven res. on December 13, 2010  7:27pm

I want to know how many of the 78 percent of sound school students, that are passing, are from new haven. Can you give us that stat.

posted by: faithless on December 13, 2010  7:28pm

and when New Haven lands itself in the sludge of standstill education reform like D.C. who will be to blame and who will have taken the brunt of the hit?

posted by: Proud on December 13, 2010  7:36pm

I have never seen a school climate of excitement for learning and acceptance amongst peers as I have through my child at The Sound School. It is a place where anyone feels welcomed and the teachers truly want their students to learn deeply and do well. Way to go!

posted by: Threefifths on December 13, 2010  8:05pm

posted by: Allan Brison on December 13, 2010 5:36pm
3/5ths

I understand that one of the key provisions of Obama’s Race to the “Top” is to ask states to pass legislation making it virtually impossible to revoke a charter school once it has been issued.

So the answer to your question is, probably, nothing. No matter how bad the charter school might turn out, it will be here forever.

This should make anyone who doesn’t share the right-wing privatization mania to be alarmed.

I agree.In fact this privatization is now Globally.

Think Globally, Privatize Locally: Public Education Is Under Attack Around the World
By Lois Weiner
From the May 12, 2010 issue

http://www.indypendent.org/2010/05/13/education-under-attack/


posted by: anon on December 13, 2010 5:14pm
Parents at a low-performing school in Los Angeles recently rose up in protest, and demanded that their school be converted into a new charter school, or be shut down for being so ineffective. 

This is what should happen here when we have schools that are as low performing as some of the ones on Mayo’s list of Tier IIIs.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/07/parent-trigger-law-compton-mckinley-elementary_n_793537.html

If people don’t stand up and demand immediate change, and take their protests to City Hall and the state capitol in Hartford, things will pretty much stay the same.

Check this report out.

Charter school students do not out perform public school students, according to report
By Connie Llanos, Staff Writer


http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_12596726

posted by: Threefifths on December 13, 2010  8:11pm

My other question is why did New Haven schools do away with The DR.James P. Comer School Development Program.This program is used around
the world.And some states are still using this model.

http://medicine.yale.edu/childstudy/comer/index.aspx

posted by: Sad truth on December 13, 2010  8:57pm

How can half of the school be given a failing grade and Mr $225,000+ Reggie gets a 3 year contract and administers just settled a contract with raises. All them $100,000+ jobs and this is the best they can turn out? Lets start grading the people at the top instead of blaming the ones at the bottom.

posted by: OhMeOhMy on December 13, 2010  9:16pm

Jonathan,

There IS a difference in how schools work in New Haven. Recess for example. TOC (Teach Our Children) has made a big point of trying to restore recess for k-8 kids. RESTORE RECESS????

Nobody has tried to take recess away at Worthington Hooker. The parents would, rightly, scream bloody murder.

Some schools have 20-minute lunch breaks with, guess what, NO TALKING. Again not at Worthington-Hooker.

These draconian measures only occur in the low-income areas. The successful schools, like Sound, get to do their own thing.

Longer school days, no recess, rushed, no-talking lunch breaks, drill to the test. Sounds like prison.

Making schools into prisons seems to me to be a setup for failure.

Then, in come the charters, like knights in shining armor, to FIX OUR SCHOOLS.

And we end up like DC.

What bull bleep!

posted by: To three fifths on December 13, 2010  9:26pm

To three fifths.. there are several schools who still practice Comer.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on December 13, 2010  10:31pm

Addition to my first post:
“Now that the city has essentially acknowledged that the problem is not in the schools, it becomes clear that they are spending massive amounts of money on radical school changes in the hopes of making up for ignoring the real, underlying problems facing under-performing students. The city should be strategically funding neighborhood stability initiates (employment, local retail options, civic amenities, etc).

OhMeOhMy,
Aside from student backgrounds (and therefore student performance for the most part) there are certainly many marginal differences between Tier 1 schools and the others. Perhaps those marginal differences (or inequalities) should be changed, but to think that they will have more than a marginal effect on student performance is naive. Any positive change is good and should be encouraged, especially one’s so easy to implement like allowing talking at lunch and including recess more adequately throughout the day. At the same time, let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that more recess, and other similar measures, will turn these performance levels around.
I finished 8th grade at one of the “Tier II” schools, Conte-West Hills, in 2003 and I can remember there being instances when the lunch room would be forcibly (not physically) quieted down, but I honestly hadn’t thought about that in 7 years, until you mentioned it just now.
What sticks in my head today more than the draconian policies and occasional bad teachers or ineffective lessons that I experienced at both West Hills and Wilbur Cross (class of 2007), is everything EXCEPT the schools. What was happening in my neighborhood, my house, and with my friends was more influential than schooling. This is normal. The problems only arise if those influences are negative or detrimental.
If my parents were unemployed, if I was getting jumped on my way home everyday, and if I had stayed friends with certain people, I can’t honestly say that I would have graduated, and gone on to college.
School was something in the background that at various times I would either use as a tool to further my education, or just ‘put up with’ while I pursued other things. Because of certain structures in my life outside of school, in my junior year of high school I was able to get my act together (after about 4 years of slacking off and barely getting by), and started applying myself to my courses and I ended up taking honors classes and then AP classes my senior year.
Pretty much every student in New Haven has this opportunity to take advantage of great classes and great teachers who can be found in every school in the city. The way that we increase the probability of the most students as possible taking advantage of these classes and teachers, is to ensure that kids are coming into the school system with basic understandings of how to conduct one’s self in public, control themselves, get along with others, and absorb information from instructors. This happens when the neighborhood and home life on school children are hopeful, encouraging and nurturing environments. This occurs when parents are economically secure, have a career that makes them useful to fellow citizens, and neighborhoods are desirable and functioning places to live.
If we want to be serious about improving schools, then we need to be honest about why student performance is low and also realize that schools cannot and should not replace the nurturing and structuring role of the family unit.

posted by: Curious Melanie on December 13, 2010  10:54pm

My children went through the New Haven school system, and I was always happy with the education they received. They have all attended, or are attending reputable colleges, and making their own way in life.

I am surprised at the low ranking most of the schools they attended are getting. Much more detail on Mr Harries methodology, and the rankings not just between schools, but within schools needs to be given. This must also relate to the social, econmoic and racial information of the kids at these schools.

While I can understand why Mr Pynn is so happy at his success, some very serious questions must be asked about Hill and Wilbur Cross. These are the 2 largest high schools in the city, and if they are the lowest ranked it is very bad news for New Haven and its future prosperity.

posted by: Somewhere in CT (maybe New Haven, maybe not) on December 13, 2010  11:01pm

Some students were given “off track” because they got a C in ONE CLASS….sometimes it was an AP class.

The tracking system has its flaws.

posted by: Tom Burns on December 14, 2010  2:09am

Hi all-great submissions—now to get it right——Thank you Curious Melanie—-Many people received any excellent education in New Haven and this continues today—-This is not a ranking system of good and bad schools—-we are not New York nor Washington nor the other fakes who enrich themselves at the peril of your children——Harries has integrity—Klein and Rhee do not—Harries has ability—Klein and Rhee do not—-

These #s are an honest assessment as to where we are(as best as we can measure—and it ain’t exact) but looking at the numbers it seems pretty right on—-Now—NO judgement—Now—-support and assistance to improve——-Cross has some of the most dynamic teachers I have ever seen—your kids are in good hands—-same to say at Hillhouse. so many good teachers with Kermit at the lead—-you are in good hands—The other Tier 3’s are special schools with special populations and very special teachers—trying their best everyday and going the extra mile—-you are in good hands—

Allan Brison—you are astute

Comer is is still here and we aim to utilize his program

Fix—did you read the story—Mr Pynn wants to do away with grades not just testing—You see that school instills the joy of learning and they succed w/o worrying about incessant testing—

Testing has its place and I love when my kids score all 5’s , but if they didnt I would know they have other gifts and we would celebrate them—

but you see,to celebrate anything but test scores would stop your freakish, foolish, selfish movement—fix—how much is enough?? at who’s expense? grow up—and leave a real legacy—-I will

Who have you touched? What individual difference have you made? Whose life have you made better, day to day(not in your theoretical never happen dream world) Who?——that’s where we differ—what kids and families know my name—what kids and families know yours———-

....

Love and Community—thats me—-ask around—you’ll see—-

I can help you Fix—you can make a difference before you leave this world——call me—-if not today—15 years from now when your empty shell realizes you missed the boat—-

Oh me oh my—you hit it on the head—

Anyway—Kudos to Sound and all our schools—-teachers you are appreciated more than you know—-you make a difference—just ask your kids—they love you and I do to—you have my utmost respect and support always—-

Your colleague—Tom

posted by: David Low on December 14, 2010  3:03am

Fix: I won’t speak for Steve, but I can tell you that he’s far closer to agreeing with Diane Ravitch than with you on this one. Sorry.

Good data isn’t always in the form of a test score. Good data can be talking to an adult who knows the child well and can contribute valuable information about that child. THAT’S what separates some schools from others: what the adults in the building are empowered to do to make a difference in kids’ lives, and whether or not the structure of the school allows them to put it to use on a consistent basis. All the test data in the world is completely useless as anything but a diagnostic device, at best, and that’s at BEST. At worst, the possibilities for damage are endless. It still comes down to what you do with any information you have, and how you engage children in the learning that takes place on a daily basis. In too many schools with students who have significant challenges to overcome, the data is used as a bludgeon, to remove any and all hope of joy in or engagement with meaningful learning, and all at the altar of the almighty test score. Meanwhile, the students who already get the enrichment at home and during their summer vacations get to go to schools that offer - wait for it - that’s right, you guessed it: more enrichment. Never mind that that’s exactly what ALL students need, and is the only way that ANY progress will ever be made in “closing the gap”. No, let’s take it away from the students who need it the most: take away their art, take away their music, take away their recess, take away their science and history, maybe. Because we gotta drill ‘em longer and harder with the prescribed curriculum. You know: the one that we’re going to MONITOR with such diligence, because we want to hold everyone ACCOUNTABLE. Because the system works great the way it is, if we JUST DO IT WELL ENOUGH.

Sheer idiocy.

Not for nothing, but we should all keep in mind what Dr. Mayo said numerous times today: tiering is not about saying this school is bad or this school is good. Tier 3 is not a punishment, nor is Tier 1 a reward. It’s meant to be used to determine what supports schools need in order to do best by the students in their building. Anyone who takes this (very limited, very preliminary, first-attempt) information and uses it to conclude that certain schools should be closed and turned over to new operators is completely missing the point of the process. If it were a complete coincidence that the tiers fairly well mirror the depth and quantity of challenges faced by the students in the buildings, then we could have a conversation to that effect. Give us all the same students with the same supports and we can hold that competition. But we all know that’s not what’s going on here. It’s not a competition: it’s the lives of young people, being shaped and molded the best way the adults around them know how. Unfortunately, we’re all still figuring out what we can do that will work. So bringing in somebody new to diligently adhere to the current model with greater fidelity (“Higher expectations! More time on task! Back to basics!”) will never get us any closer to our goal than firing the management in the Hyundai plant will yield a Mercedes at the end of the assembly line. It’s simply not a well-considered approach.

Let’s not mistake the major point, which is that, in the end, what matters most is support for kids. Those who aren’t getting enough of it outside of school need more of it IN school, plain and simple. And that’s what Steve Pynn is talking about when he says that time is such a key factor. Not sitting kids down and talking at them for longer, but a caring adult sitting down with them and giving them authentic, meaningful intellectual work that will prepare their minds for the challenges they will face beyond school. Supporting kids means respecting them enough to do something other than the tired old model of school that never really worked for any of us, no matter how we “survived” it and came out on the other side. “Oh, it was hard, but I got a lot out of it in terms of LIFE lessons”, or some such other huge rationalization. It’s just code for:“I had to sit through it, kid, so I’m going to make you do it, too.” It’s not what’s good for kids, it’s not what’s good for business, it’s not what’s good for the country to “compete” or whatever reason you want to give to send children to school (usually reasons that have little or nothing to do with the actual interests of the child, by the way). The reason most parents think their child’s school is doing fine, in the face of evidence to the contray, and even though they will say that there’s a problem with education in this country (“…just not at MY kid’s school”), is because what they see coming home, or in their brief visits, is FAMILIAR to them. It’s what they remember from when they went to school, and that must mean it’s pretty good. What we are too caught up in our own lives to realize is that the very FACT that it’s like what we experienced when we went to school is the PROBLEM. “we had forty kids in my high school classes, and we all learned just fine!” No, I’m sorry, but you DIDN’T. The majority of you never went to college, and those that did often failed to finish. And if the learning was so profound, then I defy anyone to take their forty closest friends from school and sit down and take the CAPT or CMT tomorrow. Then come back with your collective test results in hand and tell us all how much worse the schools are now than they used to be. The data and research (Bracey, Whittington, Sandia National Labs, Berliner, etc.) say that we’re graduating more people per capita than ever before, sending a greater percentage off to college than ever before, and that the “fact recall” of “the basics” (e.g. dates of wars, laws of science, U.S. presidents, vocabulary, etc.) really hasn’t changed in over 90 years. That’s 90. YEARS. And we’re still putting our students in age-based cohorts, making them sit for long periods of time while adults stand and talk at them, all the while leading them from separate subject area to separate subject area, handing them arbitrary grades in order to sort them to their “proper place”, and hoping:”Maybe it will work out this time”.

Better yet: get somebody from outside of education, who knows nothing about it, to come in and try something else that’s “worked” somewhere else. Notice that it’s often a model brought in from “something else”, but that it involves putting our students in age-based cohorts, making them sit for long periods of time while adults stand and talk at them, all the while leading them from separate subject area to separate subject area, handing them arbitrary grades in order to sort them to their “proper place”, etc. Maybe just using more standardized test scores to do it, is all. THAT will make the difference.

Education is a human endeavor. That is why it defies comparison with the business model, the professional model, the standardization model, the factory model, or any “model”. You can’t import the practices of capitalism, corporatism, or anything else that people are trying to import into education these days to “fix things”. As if there’s this one panacea out there, if we just look hard enough. The cold truth is that it’s slow, painstaking work, this education thing, and it happens one human being at a time. You start with what’s good for children, and you go about it in ways that are meaningful, authentic, engaging and absolutely “rigorous” (lest any detractors drag out THAT old horse). Then you get together as adults and analyze what you’ve done, and if you need to adjust, you adjust. That’s the “data team” model that everyone is so entranced with after all, to a certain extent. Too bad we’re unwilling or unable to analyze that having more test score data to plug back into our current methodology just may never get us any different results. Einstein’s definition of insanity applies here.

Humans crave challenge, not boredom. We are curious and wide-eyed with wonder at our universe. Look at any kindergartner’s face. Scores will never get at that piece, and it will never make anyone want to learn more or read another book on their own time.

Instead of trying to determine the best and most efficient ways to numerically sort them out, we should be getting together and figuring out what we all do in our schools that pulls kids in. That’s what we try to at the Sound School, and we’ve got a long way to go before we get it right, but we’re going to continue to give it our best shot.

posted by: trainspotter on December 14, 2010  5:04am

I totally agree that the way this is presented is somewhat convoluted and unless we have more data we can’t begin to tell if their methodology is correct. Let’s see the nitty-gritty numbers for each school and how they reached their conclusions. I would also like to see what the administration at each school, regardless of tier, plans to do to improve performance in their respective schools. Not fluffy, feel good initiatives but actual action plans that address specific weaknesses. This information should be made public yearly. Not enough scrutiny of the top heavy Administration of NHPS is taking place.

posted by: anon on December 14, 2010  12:19pm

“Now that the city has essentially acknowledged that the problem is not in the schools, it becomes clear that they are spending massive amounts of money on radical school changes in the hopes of making up for ignoring the real, underlying problems facing under-performing students. The city should be strategically funding neighborhood stability initiates (employment, local retail options, civic amenities, etc).”

Jonathan is absolutely correct.  As a society, we have no hope to “turnaround” these schools until we address basic conditions within the city’s neighborhoods. 

Schools with students from high SES and from neighborhoods with numerous amenities will continue to do well, while 90% of those from disadvantaged backgrounds and concentrated-poverty housing will continue to fail to graduate from college. 

The best we can do is shuffle students around and come out with massive data charts to try to make things look better than they are. 

Instead of spending millions on this, how about cleaning up some of the sidewalks, removing the broken glass, dime bags and overgrown shrubs that makes so many areas unattractive and dangerous to be in at night, fixing the bus system so that it can actually be used to get somewhere, and, given the 30%+ underemployment rates in the city, adding some real workforce training programs that reach more than a couple dozen people. 

Ask a few hundred kids what they want to see—you’ll know right away what the issues here really are.

posted by: Oncecatholic on December 14, 2010  1:10pm

One post-er asked, why not replicate the Tier One schools in all schools?  Many of the schools have pretty much the same curriculum (for example, Tier One Worthington Hooker and Tier Three Hill Central)  but are worlds apart in terms of parent involvement and how prepared children are when they come to school. The W-H kids have so many advantages… such as parents willing and able to navigate the byzantine process of getting their kids in!  The Sound School is a terrific place but has a built-in advantage because it’s by application, not by strict lottery.

posted by: Cedarhillresident on December 14, 2010  2:56pm

Oncecatholic
I agree it is about parents, and the two schools mentioned because of parents create the village. A home away from home. And some kids that may not have the parents have the mind set to take advantage of the village with the help of the teachers and friends. All schools offer the education. Can you replicate the village in the others? I think you might but…here is were I put myself out there… it is not the problem kids that ruin that, problem kids can be taught right from wrong, but when you have out of control parents making it impossible for teachers to have said freedoms to implement a village aspect in schools that is the problem. A teacher that is friends with students in some schools would have to fear a money grubbing parent from tagging it as inappropriate. So schools that see a high volume of parents that behave that way have to have across the board rules not allowing that freedom for teachers to interact with students in a village way. Were schools were the parents are not sue happy or “I am not the problem the schools is” parents, excel because they are free to implement a more caring and family like atmosphere.  Just one reason I see as a probem and a difference between the schools.

And sounds application method is more realistic for the one reason… before they did that kids would go to the school not realizing they would be out in the rain, knee high in mud and harbor scrum, and many of the other pretty nasty parts of going to sound school and most ended up leaving because they would not participate in alot of the unusual parts of the curriculum….a big part of the interview is to make sure the kids can play in the mud and with animals and all and all wear not care that at the end of the day they may go home filthy. :) Remember there courses are outdoor oriented and not so pretty.

posted by: Cross Teacher on December 14, 2010  4:57pm

Here at Cross we’ve taken a great first step at turning around our school.  I hope that our turnaround goes beyond the federal SIG grant that is guiding our transformation.  I hope that some of the other interventions suggested in our contract and the tiering plan are applied here, especially the requirement that teachers re-apply for their jobs.  This would be a huge undertaking given the size of our staff.  Depending on how many are rehired, this could be a tedious challenge, re-assigning those who are not.  However, real change cannot happen here unless we have close to 100% buy-in to changing how we run a school, how we teach, how we discipline students, how we communciate with children & parents, how we control our classrooms.

posted by: Somewhere in CT (maybe New Haven, maybe not) on December 14, 2010  7:45pm

Why does the new chart work on a negative X axis? Why change the way the data is presented? I don’t understand why they would do this unless it is to confuse the reader.

posted by: JB on December 14, 2010  10:00pm

I read an article in the NYT Mag a long time ago that talked about the curriculum in highly successful, specialized inner-city schools.  The school day was longer than the norm because it had to accommodate the regular academic stuff and include some important “extras”.  Essentially, these schools (and I believe Amistad was one of the examples) were teaching middle class behavior explicitly.  Things like how to make eye contact and for how long, being conscious of your body language and tone of voice.  I remember thinking that those lessons sounded more valuable than learning things like what year the Revolution started.  We live in society dominated by middle class values and it’s very difficult to succeed without embracing that norm.

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on December 14, 2010  10:03pm

3/5 - if a charter school fails it gets shut down by the state - and should be shut down. 

Also, the Comer model only works in a functional system in which the adults’ interests are alligned with the students’ interests.  I am sure that Jim Comer is sad that his hometown isn’t a national showcase for his great ideas.

Allan Brison - From what source do you get your nonsense?

Hopkins and anon - We won’t reduce poverty and its symptoms UNTIL we fix public education.

new haven res. - Great question.  Check out the dissagregated results on the CAPT website.  Sound School is outpeforming the state average in certain respects but it is not an achievement gap closing school - nor does it pretend to be.

OhMeOhMy - Draconian measures?  How about we lengthen the school day by two hours and then you’ll find that all schools will have plenty of time for recess!  (btw, what is it that you do down at the BOE?)

Curious Melanie - Wilbur Cross and Hillhouse have been low performing schools for 40 years. 40 years! The time for asking the questions is over.

David Low - There is probably some good insights somewhere in there especially the part about needing more IN school help.  But otherwise you sound really defensive. 

I think in general, you support a monopolistic institution known as the public education system.  If parents enjoyed more REAL high quality school choices for their kids I daresay that the critics wouldn’t nearly be as loud or as angry at teachers.  Why? because people generally vote with their feet when they’re not happy with the service they are getting.  But in our public school system there are no real choices so we are relegated to baking cookies, helping, complaining, protesting, arguing, criticizing, etc.  As a smart guy who cares about kids, why wouldn’t you embrace high quality alternatives for parents and students?

Trainspotter - Best post so far.

Cross Teacher - you get extra credit for honesty.  But c’mon,  “We’ve taken a great first step at turning around our school”?  FIRST STEP? Why weren’t the teachers and administrators at Cross part of a school turnaround a decade ago?  Do you have any idea how many children have been lost over the last ten years due to mis-education?

And why should parents accept teachers who were rejected by Cross to be placed in another school?  This is what I mean by the go-it-slow approach and this is where the priorities of the union diverge from the priorities of children.  Why do we have to tolerate a jobs program in NHPS at the expense of educational quality?

And finally to Tom Burns - Merry Christmas!!  from your friend Ebenezer (aka Fix The Schools)

posted by: Eric S. Yuhas on December 14, 2010  10:11pm

To the Sound School team: In spite of the random notes of congratulations I have received over the past couple days, this is entirely YOUR victory. My role was always, and will always be, to help you do YOUR jobs better and more easily.

And by *victory* I mean not an end. I mean the work begins anew here. This status is the next step in our collective building of the best high school that ever was.

To Steve Pynn: You set the tone, you helped us define the vision, and then you let us do the work. With words of encouragement or a poke here and a prod there, and always as a guiding father-figure, you made the school thrive.

To the parents: You took a risk by allowing your kids to enroll in one of the strangest schools that exists. Then you got behind us full-force and helped advance our agenda.

To the students: The love that you have for the Sound School is obvious to anyone who spends five minutes on the campus. And you have achieved things that your age-peers at other schools only dream of.

To Dave Low: Our acerbic, brilliant compass…You, my friend, have written in this space what should be considered a manifesto for all who aspire to practice public school reform.

The Sound School is a Tier 1 school. And I never doubted that it would be. I am so proud of my association with this school and these people, that it is difficult to imagine being anywhere else.

Eric S. Yuhas
Assistant Principal
The Sound School

posted by: cross teacher on December 15, 2010  1:39am

fix the schools:  Keep your extra credit.  I neither want nor need it.  I enjoy your world where we can go back 10 years and change things.  I wasn’t in education 10 years ago.  Your statement implies that we shouldn’t try now because we diddn’t fix things 10 years ago.

As far as rehiring teachers goes…if a teacher isn’t rehired by Cross, it doesn’t mean that they’re bad.  I’ve seen ineffective teachers flushed out by the rules in our old contract.  These teachers often do well in the suburbs, once they are able to teach without the many challenges our student population serves up.

Speaking of which,  how do charter schools help those kids who make up a substantial minority of our students at Cross:  kids whose parents have no motivation to choose?  You could point to Domus, but I wonder at their progress.  Something isn’t working at a school that has a third of its faculty turn over by Thanksgiving.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on December 15, 2010  4:43pm

Fix,
Public education isn’t broken. If it were I doubt anyone from NHPS would go to Ivy League schools, but that is not the case. Or perhaps it is broken, and those Ivy League students would have just gone straight to becoming doctor’s, lawyers and scientists from high school, had they been afforded the proper public school education?

The education is just sitting there for the students to take advantage of. The challenging courses exist, the engaging teachers are there, kids just have to sign up for them and do the work. For several years I just took the required classes, minimally participated, occasionally did homework and generally acted inappropriately/disrespectfully towards teachers and administrators. However, I got my act together junior year and started getting involved in my own education by challenging myself with tough courses and good teachers.
If we want to be serious about improving graduation rates, and student performance then we would focus on addressing the problem that causes students not to take advantage of the already provided excellent public education that is currently available in every NHPS. Unfortunately, in order to do that, people would have to admit that our efforts of “school reform” have been misguided and wasteful. Instead we will likely continue to throw money at a problem that doesn’t really exist.
Let’s work to empower families and communities, which are the things that are really failing our children. A more productive work force, less incarceration due to crimes committed because of a lack of employment, fewer abandoned buildings and vacant lots, more businesses, stores and residences, and a more evenly distributed tax burden will help to instill hope, stability and encouragement in children’s lives more than any increased time with a suburban-dwelling teacher would.
Let’s work to improve schools (which is a continual work-in-progress) but not at the expense of a dwindling tax base, and other efforts for improvement in other sectors, especially when there are much simpler, and cheaper school improvement initiatives that can be taken.

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on December 15, 2010  5:00pm

JH - When I say the schools are broke, I am referring to the achievement gap. The average African-American high school graduate performs at an 8th grade academic level.  If that ain’t broke then I don’t know what is.  There is no good reason that this is the case.  While negative external influences and tough family situations are huge handicaps, we have far too many examples of excellent schools that adequately compensate for those factors and end up turning out college-ready students.  Family circumstances is not an excuse for a system that should meet the child where they are.

posted by: Threefifths on December 15, 2010  6:22pm

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on December 14, 2010 9:03pm
3/5 - if a charter school fails it gets shut down by the state - and should be shut down. 

Also, the Comer model only works in a functional system in which the adults’ interests are alligned with the students’ interests.  I am sure that Jim Comer is sad that his hometown isn’t a national showcase for his great ideas.

You must not have read the Comer model.It addresses the parents who are not alligned with there children interests. 

Hopkins and anon - We won’t reduce poverty and its symptoms UNTIL we fix public education.

Wrong.What about the new class of poverty.Did you know that a study was done and most of the people now in poverty are people who have collage degrees.They are now leading in unemployment.Look at the group call the The 99ers.Did you know the most of them have collage.

Unemployment Benefits: The 99ers

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwpdGyIY2fQ

No my man poverty and education go hand and hand and if you don’t think so how many educate people are now in poverty because they don’t have a job to pay back there student loans

posted by: anon on December 15, 2010  7:24pm

Fix the Schools - you are incorrect.

Fix the neighborhoods, require landlords to maintain their housing, reduce crime, create clean parks and retail districts, nice sidewalks, and provide better day care and preschool, and the schools will fix themselves within a generation.

Continue to tolerate piles of trash and crime on every corner, unusable parks, run-down tenements, smog-filled speedways instead of attractive roads for kids to play on, and a system that fails a good portion of kids under the age of 5 by not preparing them for kindergarten, and K-12 schools will go nowhere no matter how many hundreds of millions of dollars you continue to pump into them each year.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on December 15, 2010  7:48pm

Fix,
I don’t understand how these reform efforts get rid of the gap. Students who perform well now will just do better when these reforms are implemented. It doesn’t get rid of the gap, it just moves people unilaterally up achievement notches. It won’t level the playing field, unless the reform efforts are banned to students who are already achieving and are only made available to those who are underachieving.
So for someone like me, who’s reading comprehension is deficient for my age, should I have been awarded special treatment and extra in-school attention that other students who were already reading at grade level or above and also in my class were deprived of? Is that fair? Shouldn’t we provide the same opportunities to all students, even those who are already proficient? Or no, because that would simply raise the bar and not get rid of the gap?
Should we mandate that teachers become replacement parents and schools become replacement neighborhoods, or should we work to ensure that the at-home preparedness for students is adequate through economic development that stabilizes working class families through employment accessibility, encourages middle class residents to move to inner city neighborhoods with tax credits, and incentives local business and store ownership?
I question whether or not we can afford education reform AND continue paying astronomical costs for incarcerating people and funding entitlements like welfare, section 8 and food stamps for the population that has already fallen through the cracks and not graduated high school, not gone on to college and is basically unemployable in a “services-based” economy.
Instead of funding education reform, it seems wiser to fund efforts that improve the prospects for the already-left behind populations. That way, we largely get rid of publicly funded entitlements AND create an environment that is conducive to positive childhood development in homes and in communities, thus translating naturally into better student performance in school. The disparity isn’t in the schools - all children have access to the same quality education, although many don’t take advantage of it, which is largely a result of their out-of-school situations - the disparity is in the accommodations made for people of different skill levels in our economy. An economy that is highly influenced and actually designed by government policies, subsidies and various incentives and disincentives. I feel as though we need to provide opportunities to those people who have access to none and have been completely marginalized in main stream society for the last several decades. The economic opportunities made available for highly skilled and educated people, but deprived from those of low skills should be corrected. That is fair. It is delusion to think that all or even most children can perform to a certain level regardless of their home and neighborhood lives, no matter how much we can practically invest in reform efforts. Additionally, it would be unfair to provide underperforming students will accommodations that already-proficient students do not have in order to level the playing field and get rid of the gap.

posted by: David Low on December 16, 2010  4:25am

This is all pretty good stuff. A few minor clarifications, if I may:

First of all, nobody should be taking any of the “Tiering” stuff too seriously. Don’t assign meaning to, nor make assumptions based upon, the listing of a school as Tier 1, 2, OR 3. It’s a best guess, it’s a valiant attempt, it’s whatever it is, but what it most certainly is NOT is definitive, and it’s a very small group of people’s very subjective opinions on what data makes for a good determination of needs in a school. The idea that anyone should look at the “rankings” and pull their student out of a school is simply preposterous. As numerous posters have already asserted, with good reason, there are far too many factors contributing to what goes on in schools to ever come close to being able to quantify with even a reasonable level of certainty. First of all, the majority of the factors aren’t even remotely quantifiable (“good parenting”, anyone?), but second of all, the somewhat-almost-quantifiable factors don’t have very good measures, and NONE of them have been tested for validity. So please, people, have a little bit of perspective on this. I know it’s much easier to just look at the list and start in with the litany of complaints, but you’re lending credence to something that just doesn’t have that much substance behind it to begin with, so save your energy. That’s not to say that the conversation isn’t worth having: it absolutely is. But nobody came down from a mountain with carved stone tablets with the results of tiering on them.

Okay, show of hands: who here DOESN’T think that doing something meaningful to change education is the chicken and doing something meaningful to alleviate poverty is the egg? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller? Come on: there’s no way it’s not cyclical and self-perpetuating. And regardless of whether or not you agree with my assertion, the fact remains: we have students in school RIGHT NOW. We don’t have the luxury of waiting the 10 or 20 years (when was it that poverty was going to be fixed, again? I always forget….) until all of the poverty is eliminated and THEN start “educating kids right”. If you’re in education, it’s just like they say in kindergarten when they’re handing out colored anything: “You get what you get, and you don’t get upset”. Don’t go crying because you didn’t get the green one, and don’t come whining because your students come to school faced with numerous challenges: we have to take them where they are, as Fix mentioned. But at the same time, let’s not pretend that one school’s kids should be expected to “perform” exactly the same as another’s, as Jonathan said, too. Notice that the word “perform” keeps popping up when people talk about education, by the way. It says a great deal about how we view schools, and children, when the performance is what’s got our attention. Never mind how happy children are, or whether their social and emotional needs are being met, or anything even remotely human. Watch them perform. Aren’t they cute? Might as well get a pet….. But that’s another conversation for another forum.

Jonathan: I mostly agree with what you said about the education being equally available to whoever takes advantage of it, and it’s great that you did, but as you said yourself:”School was something in the background that at various times I would either use as a tool to further my education, or just ‘put up with’ while I pursued other things”. There’s a reason you had to “just put up with” it, and that’s because it wasn’t structured in a way that made a connection to you or anything about your world. It wasn’t meaningful, it wasn’t challenging you at your level, and it wasn’t the slightest bit interesting compared to the myriad other distractions that anyone in high school faces. But I’d be willing to bet that somewhere along the line someone helped you make a connection to your future or your present, and that that helped you change your course. If I’m wrong, and you came to it all on your own, then great: more power to you. But if not, and as is the case with most people, then it’s adults making personal connections to children and adolescents that makes the difference. That’s not a “fluffy, feel-good” thing, trainspotter: that’s a reality thing.

Somewhere in CT: the chart for high schools’ X axis is backwards so that the bubbles on the top right are the “good” ones and the ones on the bottom left aren’t. It’s just so it will match the layout of the K-8 schools’ charts better, so nobody would get confused. Ironic, isn’t it?

Fix: I see how you could read what I wrote as defensive, but what I really am is impatient. I get very frustrated when so many good people with good intentions get sidetracked down a path that leads nowhere. Both the accountability/testing craziness AND the charter/public “dichotomy” are red herrings that get keep us from questioning the fundamental assumptions we must spend lots of time really sitting down with if we’re going to craete a true education system. Thinking that the charters and the public schools are different is like thinking the Republicans and Democrats are different. When it comes to the spectrum of what’s possible, they might as well be twins. Right now, charter/public/private, no matter: what we’ve got is school, not education. And that’s ALL it will ever be, no matter who “operates” it, or who’s teaching, or whose kids we’re sending in there. It works for some, and it plainly doesn’t work for most. None of what I said really has anything to with charter schools at all, quite frankly. I recognize that that is your frame, so you interpreted my comments that way, but I must assure you that the charters were not front and center in my mind. There are ample instances within public education of “reform” and “change” and the vast majority of it isn’t just useless: it’s deplorable. I’m all for anyone, in any educational setting, who wants to try something new and different that engages kids with authentic intellectual work, but please, not just “more of the same but better”.

Although I have no interest in perpetuating a monopoly, I will say that I support having a public education system. Not only do I teach in one (although it can be frustrating), but the simple math just doesn’t work if we do the free-market approach. It’s already been tried in enough places with enough research to back it up to show that the most disadvantaged families end up even further behind because there just isn’t room for everybody, and the ones with the support systems get served and those who don’t get stuck. There’s no market in the world that has to serve every customer the way we’re saying we have to educate every child. The comparisons break down within the first couple of seconds, if you spend even a little time thinking about it rationally and on the individual level. I believe you want to help kids, but the free-market approach won’t get us there. And if Tom were here, he’d be saying stuff about how, if we just do the free-market voucher system, we’ll end up with all of one type of student over in this one school and this other type of student over here in this other school (be it by religion, ethnicity, SES, you name it), and you know what: he’s got a point.
Your assertion that people “generally vote with their feet when they’re not happy with the service they’re getting” sounds good, on the face of it, but it’s simply not what happens on the ground. The hard data show that not even ten percent of the students in “failing schools” move when given the choice and other options, for numerous reasons. But the students you’re most interested in helping will be done the greatest disservice if we dismantle public education as the free-market model undeniably would. As if the gap between the classes isn’t big enough already.

If the charters (or anybody else, for that matter) had found a model that could be “scaled up” (as Arne Duncan is so fond of saying), then I’d just say:”Make all of our schools like THAT”. But it’s not going to happen. First of all because nobody’s really thinking about shool any differently on any real level, and second of all because it has to be done at the school level, by the adults in the building and outside of the building (i.e. the parents/guardians). Together. It has to be cooperative, and it has to provide relevant, meaningful work for kids, and it has to ensure professional collaboration between adults at all levels, and all of the other things that are so difficult to mandate and bureaucratize, as we have more than enough evidence for anyone to even question. It’s a gargantuan, daunting task. Deb Meier describes what it’s like very well in “The Power of Their Ideas”. If you really want to get a glimpse of what it takes, I highly recommend it.

And hey - I’ll come sit on your Board, if you want. I’m all for helping anybody educate children who thinks they’ve got a better idea.

anon: I’m all for the things you mention, but I don’t see a straight line between them and children doing anything different in school. The vast majority of parents of any income level or neighborhood haven’t the slightest idea how to be their child’s first teacher, but the fact is that they ARE, and there are lessons being taught every day in homes of all sizes and prices that have little or nothing to do with the outside environment. And more often than not, those lessons aren’t preparing the children to succeed in school or anywhere else. As Alex Johnston said at a recent BoE meeting: “There’s no handbook” that comes home from the hospital with the child. “Better day care and pre-school” isn’t the problem. Kids aren’t going to get the 1000 hours of lap time that they need with adults and books before getting to the age of 5 in a better day care program. They might get some of it, sure, but if the parents aren’t doing it, then forget it. Pretty streets won’t change that. Maybe if we spent a generation or two teaching our children about child development and what profound effects parents have on their children, we’d start to see some progress there, but that’s still assuming there’s a parent around to put what they know to good use. To Jonathan’s point: If there aren’t any good jobs available that will afford the parent the “luxury” of being home to implement their good parenting practices, then all the knowledge in the world of how to do better goes right out the window. For the most part, parents love their children and do everything they can for them, but we haven’t got a social structure that supports people doing their best. We’ve got to figure out a way to let people realize their own potential more easily. Who’s ot that solution at the ready? Any takers?

Better yet: anybody ready to have the “what about the fact that summer vacation accounts for 60-70 percent of the achievement gap, and no matter what we do with schools, we’re never going to even make the slightest dent in closing it while we continue to perpetuate summers off” discussion?

I’m all ears…..

posted by: Threefifths on December 16, 2010  12:46pm

You must look at the real deal on Charter Schools.Charter Schools try to say that they are public schools but they are not.They are publicly financed schools that are run by private usually nonprofit and for profit organizations.Some are independent and some are part of larger charter school oganizations or chains.Caes in point when I go downtown to the IRS the security is run by a private firm who is being paid with public tax dollars.In fact magnet schools are more public then Charter Schools.Another thing how about the Three Card monte that Charter schools do to make them look good.They have the power to move out students who are toughest to educate, students with behavior problems, or students who struggle academically.And were do these students go.Back to the public system which by law have to take them.Two.Most Charter Schools
don’t enroll as many kids with disabilities or limited English.But the public schools has to by law take them.So if Charter Schools are public then why are they not follwing the same rules as the public schools.In fact read this report.

10 Things Charter Schools Won’t Tell You


http://www.smartmoney.com/spending/rip-offs/10-things-charter-schools-wont-tell-you/


I will say it again.This whole education reform
is nothing more then a cash cow and it is not just the public school.These corporate vampires
are making money on all of education.Look at now how these vampires are now riping off the Veterans.

Profits and Scrutiny for Colleges Courting Veterans
Matthew Staver for The New York Times


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/09/education/09colleges.html?pagewanted=all

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on December 16, 2010  2:28pm

“we have students in school RIGHT NOW. We don’t have the luxury of waiting the 10 or 20 years”

This has been true for 5 decades, this sudden urgency is manufactured. If a couple more generations of kids have to live without a solid education in order for funding to be allocated to, what I consider, better uses, then so be it.
The problem here, is that by focusing on “the poor little defenseless helpless children” we are unintentionally stating that we just don’t care about the already-left behind generations. If we work to improve access to jobs of all skill levels in our neighborhoods, that would help the already-left behind generations. That would improve the home and neighborhood lives of kids, resulting in them doing better in school. If it takes a couple generations to incentivize and create a decent number of working class jobs, then the kids that drop out or graduate with poor grades still have opportunity to succeed in life through meaningful employment that creates goods that the public needs, and with this structure in their lives, their kids will most likely succeed in school.
After the Civil War, many southern blacks became sharecroppers. However, due to increased industrial manufacturing in urban centers by immigrant laborers producing things like tractors and other mechanized farming equipment, manual labor on farms became increasingly obsolete. Unemployment in the black south was rampant by the early 20th century. During WW2, European immigration had curtailed and manufacturing labor demand had exploded due to factories running 24/7 in order to produce goods for the war effort. Blacks came by the thousands on trains to midwestern and north eastern industrial centers in search of employment. And they found it in places like New Haven, where influxes of blacks, largely from North Carolina, began settling in the 1940s.
With the close of the war, factory production slowed enormously and the recently hired blacks were the first one’s laid off. Each year following the war, working class, unskilled jobs became increasingly scarce. The GI Bill, government backed mortgages, and new construction incentives subsidized the middle class out of urban neighborhoods and into the suburbs. The retail soon followed their customers, followed by business offices. The people remaining in the cities were largely those who lacked skills and did not own cars. By the late 60s, crime had skyrocketed in New Haven and continued to climb upward until the 1990s, when mass imprisonment put a dent in it. With the jobs, middle class, and shops all gone, the social environment in city neighborhoods eroded. Civic life became non-existent, schools fell apart, and the tax burden grew.
Many late Italian immigrants also faced problems, but eventually most assimilated into the middle class. Puerto Rican migrants of the 70s also faced many problems similar to unemployed blacks. If you were unskilled, you were out of luck.
I don’t think that its impossible to educate people out of poverty, but I question whether we can afford to do it AND also pay for the already left-behind generations with incarceration rates, section 8, welfare, food stamps, etc.

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on December 16, 2010  2:39pm

3/5,

You’re like the Cal Ripken of being wrong.  And today your streak is still intact!.

Charters are PUBLIC schools.  Why?  Because they enroll non-tuition paying children who come from a given geographic area and with no application requirements.  And charters are publicly-financed (you’re right on that point.

So who gets to attend charters?  Answer: Anyone who gets to attend any other public school. Almost all of New Haven’s schools are now part of the school choice lottery system.  New Haven’s system is one of the widest choice programs in any urban district.  To Dr. Mayo’s credit, he includes all charter schools in the same pool of choices as all other NHPS schools.  So entry is the exact same. 

There are no prohbitions on any ELL or Special ed. students…none whatsoever.  And despite the spurious rumors perpetuated on these pages by a teacher union rep., AF charters never ask students to leave or counsel them out. 

If you think that charters cream students, I will remind you that the toughest student population in the district is at Domus, a charter school.  Domus used to be called Urban Youth, a school that the district schools themselves would use as a dumping ground for their toughest cases.  What is that if not creaming or counseling out?  Charters have to take any student who wants to attend.  Same as every other public school. 

So , what about your question on enrolling special ed or ELL?  The answer is that AF admits roughly the same Special Ed. % as is found in the district.  The difference is because AF exits children from Special Ed. status at a faster rate it’s overall % of special ed. appears to be lower.  How can AF exit kids from AF and while NHPS does not?  Maybe that’s an interesting situation that you should begin to ask about. 

ELL?  Yes, lower percentages generally at AF vs NHPS.  The reasons are a combination of the failure of AF to effectively attract a whole lot of ELL applicants - but also how the schools choose to count ELL students.  At NHPS, ELL students are counted either by their own EL status and/or the EL status of people who they are living with at home.  However at AF, the schools largely do not choose to classify a student as ELL unless the child does not speak english as his/her first language.  So there are plenty of students at Amistad who are not classified as ELL but who would be classifed as ELL in NHPS. 

But if “creaming” is your concern, maybe in all of your research, you can look up ethnic and free and reduced lunch demographics on the CMT and CAPT for the top performing schools in New Haven and compare those stats to Amistad or Elm City.  What you would find is that the only schools in NHPS which have comparable results to the charters are Hooker, Edgewood, Hale, Sound etc.  But then please examine closely who attends those high performing NHPS schools.  Then ask yourself, who is “creaming” who?

posted by: Threefifths on December 16, 2010  6:01pm

You’re like the Cal Ripken of being wrong.  And today your streak is still intact!.

Charters are PUBLIC schools.  Why?  Because they enroll non-tuition paying children who come from a given geographic area and with no application requirements.  And charters are publicly-financed (you’re right on that point

Charter Schools on paper are public schools.But Basically,these schools are free from many of the regulations that apply to traditional public schools.Case and point. why do the Charter school parents have to sign a contract.and the parents in the public school system don’t.Charter schools are free to counsel out students.Public Schools can not.Also Charter Schools are run by a board of trustees who are are selected by the owners of the charter school and can be removed by the owners of the school only.Public schools are run by a superintendent who is selected by a school board or elected official.Like I said charter schools publicly financed and do not have to follow most rules that the public school system has to.

So who gets to attend charters?  Answer: Anyone who gets to attend any other public school. Almost all of New Haven’s schools are now part of the school choice lottery system.  New Haven’s system is one of the widest choice programs in any urban district.  To Dr. Mayo’s credit, he includes all charter schools in the same pool of choices as all other NHPS schools.  So entry is the exact same

I don’t disagree.

There are no prohbitions on any ELL or Special ed. students…none whatsoever.  And despite the spurious rumors perpetuated on these pages by a teacher union rep., AF charters never ask students to leave or counsel them out. 

Them may not do it at AF but it is being done.But it is being done.Also There is a report that Af in New york was not taking Homeless students.

Most vulnerable students shut out of charter schools
Written by Vanessa Witenko

http://insideschools.org/blog/2009/05/19/most-vulnerable-students-shut-out-of-charter-schools/

Also does Af here in New haven do this.

.Strict rules at Crown Heights charter school put 16% of students in detention every day
BY Ben Chapman

Tuesday, November 16th 2010

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/brooklyn/2010/11/16/2010-11-16_strict_rules_at_crown_heights_charter_school_put_16_of_students_in_detention_eve.html


If you think that charters cream students, I will remind you that the toughest student population in the district is at Domus, a charter school.  Domus used to be called Urban Youth, a school that the district schools themselves would use as a dumping ground for their toughest cases.  What is that if not creaming or counseling out?  Charters have to take any student who wants to attend.  Same as every other public school. 

But Charters do not have to keep there students like public schools have to do by law.
I woukd like to see the records of how many students leave charter schools and the reason why.Can you tell me how can I this information as a taxpayer .I know for a fact that AF and Amistad Academy do let students go. because I know parentswoh had the children there.And by the way how come domus did not stay in the community that the students came from.Remember the agree was that the building was to but turn
into a charter school.

http://newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/domus_gets_new_domus/

But if “creaming” is your concern, maybe in all of your research, you can look up ethnic and free and reduced lunch demographics on the CMT and CAPT for the top performing schools in New Haven and compare those stats to Amistad or Elm City.  What you would find is that the only schools in NHPS which have comparable results to the charters are Hooker, Edgewood, Hale, Sound etc.  But then please examine closely who attends those high performing NHPS schools.  Then ask yourself, who is “creaming” who?

My concern is the cash cow that these corporate
vampires are going to make off the back of inner city school students.

posted by: Daily Reader on December 16, 2010  6:18pm

Fix- Your info is actually very inaccurate as well.  Having taught in traditional NHPS as well as Charter schools I know first hand what happens.  Students do leave without choice for behavior & academic reasons, it’s FACT.  Schools like Hooker, do well for various reasons (Parental support for their children being A1).  If you research the test results of ALL sub groups that attend Hooker, you will find that all do well.  This includes students who might otherwise attend any school in New Haven.  The problem with the comments that take place here is that many see them as FACT.

posted by: Tom Burns on December 17, 2010  3:23am

Dave Low—you are my idol-great, great stuff
Yuhas—you are what a principal should be
Hopkins—right on concerning the achievement gap(we can close it by stop teaching the top students and only teaching those behind, I guess)
Fix—Merry Christmas——and my offer to help you with your legacy still stands—- so that people on the ground know your face and voice because you have touched their hearts—-and you will live on in their memories forever—-(that’s what it is all about)

Take a breath and look at our so-called reformers (sans your wife Dacia for she has touched peoples lives) but Rhee, Klein, Moskowitz and on and on (they may as well be insurance companies—middlemen who produce nothing)

All phonies out to enrich themselves—and I don’t lump Dacia into this SICK group—

What has Rhee ever accomplished anywhere? Your wife has done much more for kids than Rhee will ever do—unless Rhee goes back into the classroom to show us how it is done—but she won’t cause phonies cant succeed where it is the toughest—on the ground floor—yet she will judge us—-WHO IN THE WORLD GAVE THIS IDIOT THE RIGHT?——-

You can only follow this false prophet if by following her lead you can make money off it—-you see, I could join this facade and make myself quite rich (monetarily)but I would have to sell my soul and my humanity to chase this empty goal—-

Fix—at least please call her out—or instead name one thing she has accomplished that has helped an individual child—-it hurts to see these jokers running around, preying on the weak and uninformed—

Anyway Fix—-the banter is always appreciated and soon we will be in the same camp====Again, Merry Christmas and here’s wishing you and yours a happy New Year—Tom

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on December 17, 2010  3:59pm

3/5 - Yes charters are free from some of the self-imposed rules that apply to traditional public schools, rules like collective bargaining and BOE BS. What is wrong with that?

Parents don’t have to sign any contract.  They do because they want to.  Non-legally binding.

Charters are not free to counsel out students.

You describe a governance structure which is far more accountable to parents, children, and the authorizing body as if it were a problem.  The central disfunction with public education is in its political governance model. Direct democracy doesn’t work in education. Politically controlled systems will always ignore the needs of people who don’t vote or have money (kids & poor parents).  Why do you think NHPS has been so bad for so long?  You think an elected school board would have made any difference whatsoever in quality?  The only thing an elected board would have done would be to fight about who gets jobs in the system, who gets the patronage spoils!

On your point about some charters counseling out kids but not AF.  YES - some charters are bad actors so they need to be reigned in or closed if they are failing to educate the kids who come through their doors. 

But just because some charters are not good doesn’t mean that all charters are not good. Some are VERY good like Amistad and should be replicated - urgently.  But you can’t replicate success without equal funding.

AF takes all students! They don’t reject anybody who wins the lottery.  What has to happen is that AF has to do a better job of marketing to homeless students or other populations that are not applying for a spot in the lottery.  Charters are a choice based system. But increasingly there are charters that are set up to take the kids who don’t or cannot choose (Domus).

Yes, Amistad and AF schools are strict but they are warm strict, loving strict.  They make sure the “J-factor” (Joy) is a central part of the school culture.  But its not easy to climb the mountain to college and become a good citizen.  AF schools have high expectations for behavior and values.  And frankly thats what we as a society are missing today - a greater commitment to good values and citizenship. 
We lack role-models today and schools have to compensate for that.  Think back. Wasn’t the best teacher you ever had a warm-strict teacher?

And on your last comment, ok so you don’t like high earning people or corporations.  Well, AF is not-for-profit, doesn’t have any “owners”, spends only 10% of its funding on administration costs (vs 35%+ in BOE runs schools) and puts any operating surplus that it creates right back into its operation.  Far more effective and efficient than government-run schools.

But why don’t you seem to care whether students are learning anything or not?

Tom - Thanks for bringing up Michelle Rhee. 

In DC under Michelle Rhee, math proficiency scores went up from a dismal 27 percent to 42 percent.  Reading proficiency improved from 29 percent to 43 percent.  She fired hundreds of ineffective tenured teachers and principals.  She set DC on a course towards success for kids.  And now she is going to run Students First and change the face of American education

(http://www.studentsfirst.org)

Michelle Rhee is a hero of epic proportions and she will leave a wonderful legacy for MILLIONS of children that goes far, far beyond what you or I could ever do over several lifetimes.

Joel Klein is also an education super-hero! And please don’t think you have heard the last from the greatest NYC chancellor ever!

(Tom, If you haven’t been there, please come to see Amistad on morning of January 21st for visitor morning at 7:45am)

posted by: Threefifths on December 18, 2010  7:01pm

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on December 17, 2010 2:59pm

3/5 - Yes charters are free from some of the self-imposed rules that apply to traditional public schools, rules like collective bargaining and BOE BS. What is wrong with that?

A lot is wrong with this.You have some teachers in charter schools that want collective bargaining and a union like the teachers in the public school system and are being fired for trying to get it.Far as the BOE BS how come you don’t want a elected school BOE.

Parents don’t have to sign any contract.  They do because they want to.  Non-legally binding.

Charters are not free to counsel out students.

Not true.Look at the state of Florida.

http://www.fldoe.org/ogc/opinions/2003/03-05.asp

As far as Charters not being free to counsel out students,He is what they do.They will tell the parent that your child is not making it here in the school and will tell them that they are better off going back to public school.I have had parents who children were sebt back to public schools. What I would like to see is the charter school records on the number of students who leave the charter schools to come back to the public schools and the reason why they left there charter schools.

You describe a governance structure which is far more accountable to parents, children, and the authorizing body as if it were a problem.  The central disfunction with public education is in its political governance model. Direct democracy doesn’t work in education. Politically controlled systems will always ignore the needs of people who don’t vote or have money (kids & poor parents).  Why do you think NHPS has been so bad for so long?  You think an elected school board would have made any difference whatsoever in quality?  The only thing an elected board would have done would be to fight about who gets jobs in the system, who gets the patronage spoils!

You can blame the current system of Mayoral Control of Schools for this.You talk about who gets the patronage spoils look at the current BOE Memembers who King john has put on.You talk about The central disfunction with public education is in its political governance model.Look at king Bloomberg of New York and How he put in Cathleen Black to replace your man Joel Klein who like him has no back ground in education.In fact a News Reportor ask King Bloomberg the question how come you have Teachers College Columbia University right here in New York City and you could not find some one there to become schools chancellor.West Haven has a elected school board.No we need a elected school board.Let the peopel make that choice at the polls.

But just because some charters are not good doesn’t mean that all charters are not good. Some are VERY good like Amistad and should be replicated - urgently.  But you can’t replicate success without equal funding.

And just because some public schools are not good doesn’t mean that all public schools are bad.Look at the suburbs public school systems.They are not failing and most of them out perform charter school.So why not use there model.

On your point about some charters counseling out kids but not AF.  YES - some charters are bad actors so they need to be reigned in or closed if they are failing to educate the kids who come through their doors. 

Again I want to know how can I find out the number of charter school childern who are put out for behavior problems.What is the rate at AF.

AF takes all students! They don’t reject anybody who wins the lottery.  What has to happen is that AF has to do a better job of marketing to homeless students or other populations that are not applying for a spot in the lottery.  Charters are a choice based system. But increasingly there are charters that are set up to take the kids who don’t or cannot choose (Domus).

The question is what do charter schools do with there out of control students.All school systems have out of control students.


And on your last comment, ok so you don’t like high earning people or corporations.  Well, AF is not-for-profit, doesn’t have any “owners”, spends only 10% of its funding on administration costs (vs 35%+ in BOE runs schools) and puts any operating surplus that it creates right back into its operation.  Far more effective and efficient than government-run schools.

Here is the real test for charter schools.Like Diane Ravitch said let the charter schools take
in the low performing students and the public school take the high performing students.And by the way she pin both alex and your man from AF to the mat.

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