Wednesday, May 21, 2008

California API scores are in!

The 2007-2008 California Academic Performance Index results are in. You can check schools' API scores at http://www.sfgate.com/webdb/2007api/.

I always find it interesting to check the results, but can you judge a school by its test scores?

70 comments:

  1. No, you can't judge a school by its test scores. Although you can tell what the population of the school is like by looking at the test scores.

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  2. The "base" scores posted today reflect how students did on tests last spring (that's spring 2007); if you are interested in seeing how the students did on the tests they took a couple of weeks ago, what you want to look at is the 2008 "growth" scores, which will be posted in August. Ideally, the "growth" score will be higher than the "base" score.

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  3. Yes, these are the results from last year. What's interesting is that the rankings are out. Schools are ranked into deciles by overall performance (API score), and then against "similar schools". I think the similar school ranking is the most interesting. Seeing a school with an overall rank of 10 that only scores 4 when compared to demographically similar schools makes me wonder what's going on. A school with an overall ranking lower than its similar school ranking may be doing something pretty spectacular - if it's in my school's cohort, I might try to get an opportunity to observe there.

    Since there's no doubt that the STAR is culturally biased and that testing requirements favor native speakers of English, the similar school results can be more interesting than the overall results.

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  4. I agree with Poppy, the similar schools rankings are the most interesting stat. Have a look at some of the most requested schools--they're not doing so well against similar schools in many cases. Meanwhile some of the popular but not outrageously so schools are doing well in the similar schools category. This is definitely something to look at. Makes me wonder about Clarendon.

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  5. This is a link to a San Jose Mercury News article on the newly-released similar school rankings. Silver Oak (discussed in the article) is one of Clarendon's comparison schools.


    http://www.mercurynews.com/education/ci_9338716

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  6. does anyone know what factors the similar schools rating compares? also, are ELLs, for instance, considered apples and apples wherever they go to school, regardless of whether or not they are in a gen ed program, dual immersion, bilingual or newcomer program?

    kim, still trying to cull apples from oranges...

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  7. I was kind of surprised to see Galileo High School at the top of list right behind Lowell. Things have sure changed (for the better) since back when I went to school there.

    Do the private schools publicly disclose their test data? If so, where can I find it? If not, why not? It would be nice for comparison purposes.

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  8. I've found when I look at the 'similiar schools' to my school it isn't similar at all!
    That said, what matters (and isn't as easily shown) is how a school is tracking over time. A one time API score is only one point in time and doesn't show everything.

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  9. Kim, to find out how the similar schools are calculated, go here:
    http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/ap/index.asp
    Under "2007 Base API Documentation",
    click on "information guide" and scroll to page 62.

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  10. It seems that there are many high-scoring schools that weren't very popular with the crowd who post on this blog, possibly because they were viewed as too far away for the Noe/Bernal crowd and/or too Asian. IMO parents looking at kindergartens this fall for '09 would do well to give these schools a more careful look.

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  11. Yup, too Asian many for some people's tastes.

    Look at John Li Ho Chin in Chinatown. A rank-10 school with about the highest test scores in the nation. But populated by just-off-the-boat immigrants. The kids there are amazing for their hard work and diligence.

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  12. at risk of being incinerated by the dragon breath of my fellow posters, i am going to dare the ethnic stereotype tightrope for a second and posit something we probably all already know deep inside: complacency sets in within a generation or two after arriving from the old country. i have never seen people work harder than new immigrants do. that, of course, produces a culture clash with the majority group-culture. who wants to be shown up as lazy by comparison?

    in my experience, it is often the case that "rich" white american kids want something for nothing, as it were. just part of the status package, i guess. when the hunger to not just succeed but survive dissipates, more varied urges are given space to develop: toward artistic and spiritual sustenance, for instance. sure, we may call stuff like this "core" education curricula, but it can only be so when you aren't damn hungry every night.

    i think just-off-the-boatness is definitely a factor that affects a given demographic's test scores (my case for this statement being on-topic). i got quite a giggle when caroline grannan said that lowell used to be called "temple beth lo-ell" back in the day. there's a reason, i suppose, that some folks refer to our asian immigrants as "the new jews." but it's all good: hopefully, everyone who came here will fulfill their american dream, or at least earn some credit card debt at target, and grow as complacent as the rest of us.

    kim, already shivering in fear of the flames...but still hoping we can vent some of our dark thoughts and change for the better (although not too much, because i am, as i said, too complacent, white and lazy).

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  13. No, the above analysis definitely rings true for me.

    Immigrants (or, I should say urban immigrants) definitely work harder than the landed natives, and, by extension, their children study harder. I know race is a completely taboo subject in the United States, but I will also go out on a precarious limb and say that Asian-Americans are being treated much like Jews were a hundred years ago.

    As evidence, many private universities today deliberately tamp down Asian admissions, much like the Ivy League colleges and others did in 1900 for Jewish people. Look at the University of California, which is one of the only egalitarian universities in the entire nation in that it does not accept legacy entrants at the one hand nor discriminate by color on the other side. And schools like UCLA and Cal are maybe 50% Asian-American, even though the population of California on the whole is less than 10% Asian.

    Gleaning this, my wife and I always put our children in public schools in San Francisco back in the day with very large Asian demographics (I am not Asian myself). I knew they could never get into Clarendon or Rooftop, so we didn't even bother trying, but it was fairly easy to get kids into very good schools in Asian neighborhoods. If I still had children in school, I would continue following this policy. I used to tell my son when he was whining about his homework, "the Asian kids are raising the bar for you!" And the kids at these schools were almost universally nice and very friendly with my kids. My kids felt no prejudice whatsoever. It was a great way to get a great education on the cheap.

    I hope I (and the poster above) don't take too much crap for opining thus.

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  14. I just heard that the Middle School at Claire Lilianthal is going up to 45 students in a classroom next year. Is that true? That seems crazy to me, especially when I hear some private schools are still willing to take middle school applications for fall (my best friend has her kid at Live Oak, with something like 18 kids in a middle school classroom, and she says they still need girls for 6th). How many kids are public middle schools allowed to have in a class? Should I worry about my kid? He'll be going to Hoover.

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  15. You all realize you are making the point that the population of a school defines its success, or lack thereof, right?

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  16. no, no...there must be so many other factors that affect an entire school's overall performance. i was just saying that i believe recent emigration seems to have an effect on work ethic -- and vice versa -- in many cases.

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  17. Kim,
    You say there must be other factors. What are they? Do you think there are some schools that just have a bunch of bad teachers? Isn't it rather telling that the schools populated by certain groups have almost perfect correlations to student success, or lack thereof?

    There is nothing wrong with stating the obvious, as you and I have. I stand by it, though you seem to shrink. Let's start to be honest about the problems facing education. Let's deal with poverty, and the media, and the wholesale dismantling of teacher autonomy. If we focus on fixing the bigger, societal problems, many other problems, including education, will fall in line.

    We cannot close the gap with more staff development, or different curricular materials. It is the families themselves that need fixing.

    Ok, rage against me......

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  18. No, I would never rage against that opinion. You are right.

    In sum, good parents make good students and good schools. Bad parents make bad students and bad schools.

    Blaming teachers for bad schools is just as ridiculous as blaming police officers for bad neighborhoods.

    And the silly argument for merit-based teacher salaries gleaned from student standardized test scores is just as ridiculous as merit-based salaries for police officers based on the number of arrests they make.

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  19. I'm so deeply put off by the comments above that good parents make good students and bad parents make bad students. I take the implication of that to be that schools that are serving predominately low-income students of color where those students are not doing well in comparison to their white and asian counterparts at other schools - that it's the parents to blame. This to me is beyond preposterous and totally racist (oh yes, I realize that calling it like that may make some people completely dismiss everything I'm saying, but it's hard for me to see it any other way).

    I have never in my life met a parent that did not want the best for his or her child. Some parents are better able to provide the kind of background for their children that enables them to come to school already with a love of books and or language and prepared to engage in the culture of school than other parents.

    It's the job of the schools, the whole purpose of our educational system in this country, to provide everyone with an equal educational opportunity. If that means something different for kids who come from homes whose culture does not match the culture of school - than that's the job. If you are not interested in that job, than don't teach in those schools - you will do no good for those students, who need teachers who understand their culture and what assets and skills and funds of knowledge they do bring to school, even if those are not white middle class characteristics.

    I've been in bad schools and while I'm reluctant to blame the teachers, there is no denying it's their responsibility. Different kids need different instructional strategies. If you don't want to put in what it takes to meet the needs of your students, then, as I said, DON'T teach in those schools. You are not doing anyone any favors. There are lots of schools out there serving low-income students of color that are totally meeting the needs of those students and where those students are doing great. So then how do you explain the schools that are not? The parents? I don't think so!

    SFUSD, I hate to say it, is filled with mediocre teachers. Is it harder to teach students who don't come from homes that match the culture of school and whose parents have already basically taught them to read before they get to kindergarten? Sure. But that's a teacher's job!

    If we don't believe that a kid's future should be determined by their parents status in society, than we must fully support the idea that it is the responsibility of the schools to provide every child with an equal educational opportunity. And equal cannot mean the same. It must mean equal outcomes (unless you believe that some groups of students are less smart or capable than others - in which case, I'll tackle that in another reply, but of course hope we don't need to bother going there).

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  20. Sometimes it isn't about the parents and whether they are "good" or "bad". It is sad but true that there are quite a number of students in the SFUSD who live in group homes, or who are being raised by a grandma or auntie well past the age when she should be having to bring up another generation, and who may also be raising a number of the child's siblings and/or cousins as well. The folks who are guardians to these children do the best they can, but to expect from them the same level of "parenting" that a middle class child with two parents at home receives, is probably not realistic. Some schools have more of these students than other schools, and that may account for some of the range of test scores one sees between schools which are rated by the state as serving "similar" populations.

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  21. 10:21 am - I disagree

    A. Factual - Read the studies. Success in school IS based predominately on education and income levels of the parents.

    B. Anecdotal - My sister-in-law works in a Chicago public school and teaches children that are low income and significantly influenced by gangs. At one of the parent-teacher conferences, she told one mother how her son was such a good helper in class. You know what the response was? The mother smacked the boy on the head and called him a suck-up.

    Enough with bashing the teachers.
    What more can our society do to overcome the street influence that devalues education?

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  22. it is the responsibility of the schools to provide every child with an equal educational opportunity.

    That's certainly true, however schools cannot arrange an equal outcome. Whether they don't get breakfast or are crack babies, some kids are indeed less capable than others.

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  23. (unless you believe that some groups of students are less smart or capable than others - in which case, I'll tackle that in another reply, but of course hope we don't need to bother going there)

    I think you should go there. Explain how every kid is the same, and if we just figure out the "killer" strategy, we will successfully teach every student to your expectation.

    Or does that just sound silly on its face?

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  24. Another thing. It gets very tiring hearing folks make assumptions like "all kids can learn" and "it is the teachers responsibility". Yeah, all kids can learn, some more than others. And yes, it is my responsibility, like its the responsibility of a doctor to re-attach your arm after an accident...IF POSSIBLE!

    Please, you do everyone a disservice when you make ridiculous assumptions based on your desire to make life fair and equal. Life is not fair or equal. Come back to reality and help us solve the bigger problems, of which education is a symptom.

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  25. 10:21:

    Your key point is absolutely correct: if you aren't willing to challenge the system, don't teach in schools serving those the system actively leaves behind. It's not necessarily a harder job than teaching in a school serving white, upper middle-class kids, but it is a different kind of job and the work is different. I do it and I'm good at it, so I think I'm a fair critic of it.

    Unfortunately, the current movement in education seems to be that everyone can do my job. It just takes smarter, more business-oriented people. Or people who went to better colleges than teachers are assumed to have attended, or who have some kind of vague "leadership" qualities that are more important than training. This is demonstratably false and frankly, often displays an alarming level of white privilege and class privilege.

    I think that blaming educators for school outcomes inspires more of these types of teachers, who often (not always) subscribe to bootstrap philosophies in the classroom and who may not be suited for the schools they want to "fix".

    I agree that all caregivers want the best for their children, although what they see as the best may be different than what I might want for mine. And I think blaming parents and communities is racist. However, by placing the blame on individual teachers, you are making more or less the same argument you decry.

    I would prefer taking less of a deficit model and more of a strengths model: what is it that the teachers at this school can do better/learn more about/challenge more deeply/reflect upon that will result in better outcomes for students? How can schools overcome a legacy of failing certain populations and reach out openly to their communities? Some teachers and schools are successful with students who are typically failed: what is it that's working?

    TFT: I hate being blamed for school failure, too. And experience has taught me that the kid who comes to school dirty, underslept and unfed is going to have a harder time with learning that day. The thing is, it's still my responsibility to teach him. That's what they pay me (poorly) to do. And by doing so, I can help one more child rise to challenge the system rather than just feeling crushed by it.

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  26. Poppy,

    Of course it is our responsibility to teach all the students in our class. And you are right that some students will be less successful, or, in your words, have a harder time, than others. What I am frustrated with is the notion that my ability as a teacher seems predicated, in the mind of the public, on the success or failure of students. Why is my effectiveness dependent on the ability of a child, who I see for 6 hours a day, to score well on a test, or any assessment I may give?

    Helping one more student is a worthy thing to do, and we both do it every day, and with your statement that you do it well, we both seem to do our jobs well. But, is helping one more student really all we can do? I submit that we can do more; we can attempt to change the zeitgeist. People think it is the fault of teachers and schools. The post you responded to (10:41?) even went so far as to say that most of the teachers in SF are mediocre. WTF?!

    We need to expose the real reason there is an achievement gap: poverty. Fix that, and education falls in line, eventually. Throwing new materials, high-stakes testing, and more staff development does nothing, NOTHING, to help solve the problem. What they do is make the public more sure that we teachers are the cause and solution of the achievement gap.

    Please, don't confuse the word blame with accountability. Kids and families are not to blame. Teachers are not to blame. Families need to be held accountable, as do teachers. This is not a racist statement. Calling it racist begs credulity. It adds to the notion that teachers "can't do, so they teach".

    So far, it seems we are holding only teachers accountable. That is wrongheaded, and exacerbates the problem!

    Tell me where I am wrong Poppy!

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  27. Anecdotally, I have a student who consistently can't handle the math in 2nd grade. There are good reasons for his inability. Inevitably, when he brings in his math homework, it is wrong. And it is not wrong because he did it wrong. it is wrong because his daycare "teacher" doesn't know how to do 2nd grade math. She can't help him, nor can his parents.

    Why bring this up? Because it is another symptom of the problem. We pay teachers nothing, and pay daycare providers even less. You get what you pay for, don't ya?

    Then, we propagate the nonsense that we teachers are not in it for the money. I call BS. I am not in it for the money, but I am not in it to take a vow of poverty either. Let's stop mimmicking, paying lip-service to, or even respecting the notion that teachers teach out of altruism. We teach, hopefully because we like it, we are good at it, and we can send our own kids to college on our paycheck (which we can't, but we take the blame for those who might afford it, but can't hack it).

    I amy be done for the day....

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  28. TFT:

    I wrote a long response to your comment and then lost it. Anyway, in briefer:

    I worry any time an issue that involves both class and race is reduced to poverty. It may be the case that your students are white and poor, but that's not the general case. And SFUSD has pervasive achievement gaps between racial subgroups that are larger than any other urban district's in California.

    I also think I'm ill-paid, and I'm in it for the money: something I both mentioned directly and that fuels my resentment of untrained teachers in the classroom. I'm a trained professional, not a Peace Corps volunteer. I don't appreciate the idea that my job is easy and that anyone can do it. But I'm also in it for social justice reasons. Frankly, the pay is so poor that none of us would be doing it unless we had something else to drive us to it.

    I'm leery of "accountability", which has become a nasty Republican concept wherein everyone is accountable except the people in charge. So I've got to ask you: what is it you hold parents/students/yourself accountable to? There are some things I want from myself/parents/students, certainly - and there are preconditions that I think need to be set before I can expect them.

    Anyway, I'm very willing to elaborate on the last point as I did before I confused "preview" and "publish", but it's kind of off-topic - if you'd like to continue this maybe we should move it to your blog?

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  29. Happy to do so Poppy. Look for a thread over there, and we can go crazy!

    I understand your concern over the word "accountability". I am using the little "a" and not the buzzword, capitol "A" when I use it. Parents and students need to be accountable for their learning. We do the teaching, they do the learning. We are accountable for what we teach, they are accountable for what they learn. It is the synchronicity that produces the result. Both must come prepared, and the one who doesn't needs to be held accountable. Maybe I can help them account, but i can't be held accountable for their accounts!

    Since that was so clear, i can't wait to try it again!

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  30. "they are accountable for what they learn" ???

    "I can't be held accountable for their accounts" ???

    That's not clever, it is inane.

    YOU are accountable for HOW TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO TEACH THEM WHAT THEY NEED TO LEARN, and not all children are the same things the same way. You obviously approach it all with the attitude that the kids are idiots and they are lucky to have you for a teacher, that your self-imagined "talents" are wasted on "those kids who cannot learn because they have awful parents".

    SPARE ME.

    As a parent, I find your scribbling very creepy. I hope to God my kid never has you for a teacher. Just your monniker alone (the frustrated teacher) should tell you that it is time to GET OUT OF TEACHING, if you're so frustrated, if you have so much bitterness against families and the kids, RETIRE. LEAVE. STEP ASIDE.

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  31. oops, that was supposed to say

    not all children learn the same things the same way.

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  32. Relax now....I am frustrated with the grown-ups, not the kids. And of course it is my job to try to find a way to educate all these kids, no matter how useless their parents are, or how feeble their minds, or whatever.

    You are the reason I am frustrated. You make broad statements without knowing me, or just reading a couple snippets. You have made your judgment. Forget that you are wrong. Your impression, as the impressions of the public show, is that if we teachers are not perfect (insert your definition of teacher perfection here), we suck. What do you do? Can I come critique your job performance, or what you say about it?

    I am accountable for finding out what they need [in order]to learn, you say. I have a pretty good idea. The need the country to eliminate poverty. They need parents who are as interested in them as they are in plasma screen tv's. They need a lot, and I provide a lot.

    How dare you post your screed without know a damn thing about me.

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  33. You obviously approach it all with the attitude that the kids are idiots and they are lucky to have you for a teacher, that your self-imagined "talents" are wasted on "those kids who cannot learn because they have awful parents".

    Is it really obvious? Is it possible my talents aren't imaginary? Is it possible they ARE lucky to have me as a teacher?

    Look, just because I refuse to take the blame, and have disdain for incompetent parents doesn't mean I should leave teaching. In fact, for me, it is the motivation to stay and try to bring some sanity back to the industry (horrible word, but it is what it is).

    Your anger and misinterpretation of my words is one of the problems.

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  34. It is scary that this person is around children all day.
    He's truly unbalanced.

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  35. I just looked at the frustrated teacher's blog, and I think it would be helpful to know which at which public school he teaches. Public school parents, take note.

    I'm currently planning on going private, and unless and until I know at which school TFT teaches 2nd grade, I sure wouldn't change that decision.

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  36. the achievement gap is pretty pervasive. so blame it on whoever you want, but it is in schools with teachers who want to be with kids of color and who have skills to teach those kids well,that the kids do better.

    obviously poverty and family and culture are all involved. but to break the cycle i think teachers do need to try and reach these kids however they can. i know some amazing teachers, in elementary, middle, and high, who do just that and whose students are doing well.
    if teaching kids from poor backgrounds and cultures with values that don't align well with the educational system doesn't appeal to you, work in a district that doesn't have so many of those kids.

    of course of course of course poverty is involved. so vote and fight for more equal distribution of wealth.

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  37. Do private schools do psychological screening of the teachers they hire?

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  38. I don't know but private schools can fire their teachers' asses on a dime.

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  39. the achievement gap is pretty pervasive. so blame it on whoever you want, but it is in schools with teachers who want to be with kids of color and who have skills to teach those kids well,that the kids do better.

    I have no idea if this is true, nor do you. You folks are really upset with me! You are primed to blame a teacher, and you are primed to think we are devious and mean, or something.

    I love my students. I give them all I have. I work in an inner city district, and my students score an average of 10pts higher on the CST than my district. Its because I teach! I do try to make up for the deficits my student come to me with. Its not easy when folks out there are so ready to condemn a teacher for the failure of a student.

    I am not unhinged, just at the end of my rope with NCLB, blame, bogus staff development, constantly changing curricular materials, threats of being taken over by the state, all of it. And then, to come here, to try to show that the notion that teachers can fix everything is not the way to go, and to expose the erroneous notion that teachers/schools can be judged by test results, some of you claim I am crazy!

    Look, I am a great teacher, my students and parents, as well as co-workers like me and seek out my advise, and want their kids in my class.

    My blog, like many, is anonymous because folks will take anything I say and twist it for their own purpose. Don't worry, I don't teach in SF. But if I did, and your child had me as their teacher, I am sure you, and your child, would be quite happy.

    Cut me some slack.

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  40. I hope my kid's 2nd grade teacher will know the difference between advice and advise, and how to put an apostrophe in "it's" when appropriate to do so.

    Most parents do not blame the teachers, that is, until we read drivel from one like you, and then we start to worry that maybe some of the problem is the lack of quality teachers, and/or teachers who refer to their students as having "feeble minds."

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  41. Most parents do not blame the teachers, that is, until we read drivel from one like you, and then we start to worry that maybe some of the problem is the lack of quality teachers, and/or teachers who refer to their students as having "feeble minds."

    I have seen a lot of parents blame teachers. You even decided to correct my speling, insinuating that I am not worthy of the profession. Ever made a mistake? Ever decide to forgo proofreading a blog comment?

    What have I said that bothers you so much?

    Continuing to assume that everyone is the same, and can learn the same, in the same way, with the same depth of understanding, is just dishonest. And that is what your comments seem to imply, to me anyway. We are not all the same. We are actually very different, and have different levels of interest and aptitude for different reasons; it could be genetic, environmental, a combination of the two, or any number of other things. Why not call it like it is?

    I think you rail against my characterizations because they fly in the face of political correctness. I may be politically incorrect, but I am not wrong.

    I treat every child with respect, as it is not their fault they have lousy parents (or just incompetent, or bad, or unsophisticated, or whatever PC term you would prefer). I go to great lengths to make up for whatever deficit they may have; it is my job.

    Again, what have I said that is so offensive? Or is it my tone? If it is my tone, get over it and speak to the substance of my remarks. If it is the substance, then argue on substance.

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  42. I tend to agree with the substance of tft's comments. Living in this city and frequenting playgrounds, I on occasion have seen some parents who seem much less concerned with their children's well being than with themselves. They are often very young parents, hardly adults themselves. Of course I don't know their circumstances and perhaps they do put their child first and want the best for them, but that's not how it appears to me. I don't doubt that their children are less capable of learning, but I do think they face many more obstacles and may have little encouragement from their parent(s).

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  43. "I'm so deeply put off by the comments above that good parents make good students and bad parents make bad students. I take the implication of that to be that schools that are serving predominately low-income students of color where those students are not doing well in comparison to their white and asian counterparts at other schools..."

    I made no implications whatsoever concerning race or income in my statement you criticised.

    It's just a fact. If parents put education first. If there are two parents in the home, creating a safe environment. amd cherishing good ethics and learning, the children will succeed. In short, good parents DO make good students.

    And I resent your seemingly racist statement that African-Americans and Latinos cannot be a good parents. Good parenting is color-blind.

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  44. Living in this city and frequenting playgrounds, I on occasion have seen some parents who seem much less concerned with their children's well being than with themselves. They are often very young parents, hardly adults themselves. Of course I don't know their circumstances and perhaps they do put their child first and want the best for them, but that's not how it appears to me.

    You're judging by your standard of parenting here. Since I don't know what you're referencing, I have no idea what you saw, but the level of autonomy expected by parents in their children is a cultural value. It's heavily reported that white, middle- to upper-middle class parents tend to expect less autonomy from their children (the "helicopter parent" phenomena).

    I'm intentionally using loaded language here to flip the script. What strikes you as less concern for a child's well-being might strike another parent as fostering a child's independence. Assuming the universality of one's parenting style is unfair to other parents.

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  45. Here's a story about a really awful teacher:

    http://tinyurl.com/3foby2

    This story is just so sickening, and makes me so sad.

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  46. Kim:

    i am going to dare the ethnic stereotype tightrope for a second and posit something we probably all already know deep inside: complacency sets in within a generation or two after arriving from the old country. i have never seen people work harder than new immigrants do.

    ...i think just-off-the-boatness is definitely a factor that affects a given demographic's test scores (my case for this statement being on-topic)...there's a reason, i suppose, that some folks refer to our asian immigrants as "the new jews."


    Okay, I waited to respond to this until I was confident I could do it without flaming.

    I find it telling that this comment references Asian immigrants and the stereotype of the model minority. San Francisco's schools also have a large number of very recent immigrants from Latin America: are they included here? There's a large opportunity/achievement gap between Latino children and their white peers, so if we're using test scores to judge how "hard-working" recent immigrants are, then they must not be. I'm not saying this as a flame, but it is meant as a challenge. If this is deep-seated knowledge that all (white, middle- and better- class) Americans have, do we include Latinos? Or is this our perception of Asian immigrants only?

    Also, the point is demonstratably false in California at least. Last summer a large study looked at school performance among Asian Americanss. They found that while Chinese Americans have no appreciable achievement gap when compared with white students, other Asian groups do. Vietnamese Americans, Cambodian Americans, and Hmong Americans performed much more poorly, and there was a significant achievement gap.

    Looking at immigration rates, the immigrants from Asia that meet your qualification (first/second generation) are more likely to be from Southeast Asia than China. And these students aren't doing as well. So I think your deep-seated belief is more stereotype than fact.

    There's an ugly (false, too) rhetoric that certain immigrant groups came to the United States, assimilated, and everything was perfect for them. Those immigrants that haven't done so well? Refuse to be part of the American dream. They're lazy. (Notice how African Americans utterly disappear from this analysis, too - it's not a very nice one.) In short, there's no racism or classism here: assimilate and you can have the American dream! Don't and it's your fault!

    I'm not accusing you of selling this racist ideology here, but I am asking that you think about your deep-seated belief a little further.

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  47. Many of the Asian children in the city of SF are Cantonese-speaking children of recent immigrants from China who make poverty-level wages. Their STAR test results are typically stellar, even in English after 4th grade or so. Admittedly, SF may have different demographics from other cities in CA, where Asian immigrants from other countries are more prevalent.

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  48. poppy, come on. you are putting words in my mouth and spoiling for a fight. all i said was that i have never seen anyone work as hard as people who have recently emigrated from another place. i did not splice it further than that because, frankly, i am not qualified to comment on more than what i have observed personally. i do not have reams of data at my fingertips; i am just a layperson. i did not invent the notion that asian-americans do well in school, but, yes, i was interested in discussing that widely held belief with people who do have data points at their disposal (as you seem to).

    i just think it takes a lot of gumption to pick up and move to a different society. that is all i said -- no more, no less.

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  49. Kim:

    I'm sorry that it still read to you as an attack. As I stated, I waited until I felt I could respond calmly.

    But I still ask to you reread your comment. It aligns very nicely with up-by-the-bootstraps ideology that's pretty inappropriate. Also, I ask you to rethink your use of the term "fresh off the boat". I don't know where you're from, but in Northern California it's been used (also shortened to "FOB") as a slur against Asian Americans perceived to be recent immigrants.

    Anonymous:

    I can't speak to San Francisco immigration rates. SFUSD uses a fairly unique system for classifying Asian American students. I do know that the city generally also has a growing Vietnamese American population.

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  50. poppy, i have to respond just this one more time, but i'm sure our fellow bloggers want to stick to the subject at hand and i need to get to work, so here goes: i think your response was very informative and thoughtful and i mulled over it. i am more than willing to admit when i am wrong, but i just don't think the big-fat-racist or even big-fat-racist-who-doesn't-know-she's
    -one-and-is-unwittingly-helping-the-big-fat-racists
    because-her-thoughts-"align"-with-their-vitriole cloak fits here; i just won't put it on.

    with regard to JOBness...my own family is one small step from the dock, and we all say it with pride. when did that become a crime? perhaps given the tense climate around immigration, and, as you say, the pervasiveness of the idea that there are "good" immigrant groups and "bad" ones, it has become unfashionable to be proud of and interested in your family's roots, and the roots of others. that is really too bad. i do understand your point that words are important, and we should be careful what we say and how we frame things...but PCness taken too far has a chilling effect on real communication, and i would have to come down on the side of real communication every time. i guess that is my bias and my nature.

    for the record, i don't believe in the bootstraps ideology you say my comments perpetuate. i think the situation is much more complicated than that, and i don't pretend to fully grasp it. i'm not shirking; my comments just didn't extend into that realm, so i feel i am being misquoted and misinterpreted.

    i see now the upside of discussing these things anonymously, which i never felt was quite necessary before. now i do. this turn has made me feel very exposed. i can see how someone -- however well-intentioned, which i believe you are -- can run away with a few bits and pieces of your words and put the puzzle back together in a different, potentially insidious way, and it will live, in perpetuity, haunting, bugging....

    i'll make sure i check in to get your last comment (it seems unfair to leave you without a rebuttal). but then i want to stop arguing this publicly for the reasons stated above. thanks for all the time you took to discuss....

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  51. Kim, thanks for your commentary. I think we live in such a highly charged time right now that it's hard to say anything without being called a racist. Think, for example, about what is going on with the Democratic primary. If I hear one more RACISM outcry on MSNBC I'm going to scream.

    I don't know why this bothers me so much but it does. Poppy, lighten up on Kim - she is ON YOUR SIDE!!

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  52. To 10:21 am
    "I'm so deeply put off by the comments above that good parents make good students and bad parents make bad students. I take the implication of that to be that schools that are serving predominately low-income students of color where those students are not doing well in comparison to their white and asian counterparts at other schools - that it's the parents to blame.....I have never in my life met a parent that did not want the best for his or her child."

    I used to work in the criminal justice system and I met lots of parents who didn't give a d--n about their child's best interests. You would be utterly appalled at the way some people treat their kids. It is not always a socio-economic issue either. It is a fact that alcoholics and drug addicts and wife beaters and child abusers exist in all walks of life. The well-being of their children is just not a priority or even a consideration.

    Trying to blame any one factor is pretty pointless. A variety of factors influence educational success. Personally, my finger tends to point most strongly at the people who make decisions that cheat our schools financially. At the end of the day, money does make a difference. That old bumper sticker about the airforce holding a bakesale to buy a bomber holds true today.
    You should probably allow for the reality that some parents suck and consider the likelihood that many teachers rock. Equal education for all is a lovely goal that won't be reached without appropriate funding.

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  53. I have to agree with anonymous, obviously. Poppy, you are apologizing for the institutions. I am not. The institutions may have problems, but they are not--should not--be used as an excuse, which is what you allow folks to do when you claim that "the institution" needs reform. Maybe, just maybe, there is more than just institutional fixing we need. maybe just maybe, we need people to take responsibility for themselves, and their children.

    Your waaaaay to the left, and it is this reactionary (almost) leftism that makes liberals look ridiculous.

    Sorry to come down so hard, but it is how I see it, and I think you know I don't mean it personally (as in, I am sure you are a great guy, why else would you teach, or engage with me?, but I think you should examine whether or not your beliefs are a reaction to something you just don't like, or whether your beliefs are indeed backed up by reality. I suggest the former, with a sprinkling of the latter because you are clearly sane.

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  54. "your" instead of "you're"

    "its" instead of "it's"

    Why is it wrong to expect the people who teach our children to have a certain level of literacy and skill?

    I never used to be in favor of testing teachers; now I sure am.

    Frightening, truly frightening.

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  55. I'm not a teacher, and I know my grammar, but on email I often get it wrong. It's just a less formal means of communication, and I think the standards are a bit lower.

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  56. Thanks anonymous for pointing out to anonymous that there are some blog comment conventions that exist, like shortening contractions, using creative spelling, and simply ignoring silly but obvious errors (teh comes to mind). If her concern is my spelling, I can assure her that when I am presenting something professional, I check my spelling. Too bad all she has to say about the achievement gap is that I cant spell (can't: can not. I left out the apostrophe just for you, anonymous).

    Any other petty nonsense you would like to point out? Grammar isn't the be all and end all of someone's intelligence, clearly.

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  57. I have to agree with tft here. Even though I pride myself on my grammar, I do catch myself using incorrect and more colloquial words/responses like answering "good" sometimes when someone asks how I am. Why do I do this when I know it's wrong? I guess because "fine, thank you , and "well" now sound a little stuffy, so I decide when I use the correct and when I don't. Same with finished and done.

    Also I always mix up Paraguay and Uraguay (even after studying Latin American Studies. Okay it was many years ago.) Thank goodness the Dakotas and Carolinas have North and South attached to them, although which State is Charlotte in?

    Have noticed that very smart people sometimes also still get their lefts and rights mixed up. If they are using their hands while also saying the direction ("go to the corner and turn right," she says holding up her left arm), it's always best to go with what their hands said!

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  58. If they are using their hands while also saying the direction ("go to the corner and turn right," she says holding up her left arm)

    I'm glad to find out I'm not the only one who does that, day in and day out, even when consciously trying not to.

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  59. I just don't trust him because of his blog. Anyone who worships the misogynist Keith Olberman obviously lacks respect for girls or women. I'm just glad he is nowhere near my daughter.

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  60. Yup, gives one shivers. I wish teachers had to undergo regular psychological testing.

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  61. Anonymous doesn't like me because, as she says, I worship "the misogynist Keith Olberman(sic) [who]obviously lacks respect for girls or women."

    I worship him? No, I think he is right about Hillary. And your feminist nonsense that KO is a misogynist, surely because of his stance on Hillary, says way more about you than KO or me.

    You should think a bit more deeply before coming to conclusions about people. You are very wrong about me. And your continued abuse--ad hominem attacks, spell checking me--are a reflection of your lack of depth, which may or may not be the true you. I assume you have a bit more depth than your comments reveal, but your comments, if taken on their own, reflect close-mindedness, a lack of depth, and an unwillingness to listen to people whom you have prejudged. Too bad.

    And about your friend's shivers...you have no idea what kind of shivers are sent down the spines of teachers because of unhinged parents like you two, who will assume anything, based on nothing, and make public statements of "fact" about teachers you have never met, talked to, or even observed in the physical world, as if you know me, or my practice, or anything except my blog.

    Talk about troubling!

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  62. What is troubling is A TEACHER using the words "FEMINIST NONSENSE."

    Please, someone, tell me where this guy teaches! And please lord tell me that he doesn't teach that feminism is nonsense.

    As Mirriam Webster defines, feminism is:

    "the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes"

    If you call equality "nonsense," then that is troubling.

    Honestly, please tell us where you teach so that we can avoid you forever.

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  63. Keep digging, anonymous. The nonsense I referred to was your erroneous (uniformed, assumed)reference to KO being a misogynist, and my likeness to his supposed misogyny. That is your feminist nonsense.

    If you think I am against equal treatment, you are just plain wrong. I am against erroneous, fallacious use of a term, and then twisting it to fit you presupposition that I, and KO for that matter, are against the feminist notion. I am against any zealotry, especially when it claims a mantle, like you claiming the feminist mantle, and using that mantle inappropriately to tear down someone you know nothing about.

    Seriously, take a second, and read what I have said. Or maybe that is just asking too much. How was my spelling?

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  64. Oh, and I am such a misogynist that I link to Shakesville and Feministing on my blog.

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  65. maybe you all can take this pointless fighting to tft's blog or elsewhere.

    This blog has really been my first blog experience and I am continually surprised at how many stupid squabbles arise and how petty and mudslinging people become. The anonymity thing really seems to cloak a hell of a lot of pent up hostility and judgementalism (is that a word?) while all the while you same people are probably telling your children every single day to be polite, to use nice words, not to hit etc. Or is that just carefully managed image for the Noe Valley playground and really wr're all a bunch of pissed off bitches?

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  66. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  67. Here is the thread on my blog. Be an mean as you want!

    http://tinyurl.com/54y7d6

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  68. Disclaimer: I am going to just type my little heart away and will not double check for grammatical or spelling errors.

    This is an old thread that looks like it has been put to bed, but I stumbled upon it in a web search for "understanding the API" and had to post a comment. This may have already been said by someone in one of the posts (I have to be honest, I read about half, then skimmed the rest.) I generally do not post on blogs, so I apologize in advance if my "blog etiquette" is poor. Someone said "It's the job of the schools, the whole purpose of our educational system in this country, to provide everyone with an equal educational opportunity." This statement is true. But have you ever heard the expression "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink?" Once a child has left the classroom, the teacher has no control over what that child does with the educational opportunity that was provided to them that day, or the next, or the day after that. This is where the parents are supposed to come in. If a parent is not involved in driving that education home by sitting with the child while they are studying or doing homework, checking their assignments for accuracy, if the parent is not available to answer questions and not generally enhancing the education provided at school by reading to them and providing with a educationally stimulating environment outside of school... how is that the fault of the teacher or the school? Parents who are shocked when a report card comes out make me angry. (This is more prevalent in parents of children who are in the later years, but I have seen it enough in younger children to know that it starts early.) There is no reason for a parent to ever be shocked to find that their child is failing classes or skipping them altogether. Many schools have attendance and grade information posted on-line, and if your child attends a school that does not have that information available at your fingertips, make a phone call and check on your kid every once in a while, for God's sake. Don't subscribe to the "no news is good news" way of parenting. Check in, stop being lazy and waiting for someone else to tell you that your child needs help. One of your many jobs as a parent is to make sure that your child is doing what they are supposed to be doing, and that includes making sure they are at school, they are doing their homework and taking their tests. Your job is also to take some sort of action if your child is not doing well. Go to the school, talk to their teachers, come up with a plan to help your child succeed academically. The parents and the teachers need to work together, they both play a very important role in the education of a child. They both need to be present and accountable for the roles they play. You, as a parent have just a few kids, or maybe even just one kid to worry about. The teacher has a huge classroom full of them to worry about. They need to parents to help out and do their part as well.

    I don't want to get too involved in the race/class issue. I am a white middle class woman NOW, but was a dirt poor poverty class kid (Yeah, I was still white back then too.) ;) We didn't have electricity or running water. My dad worked as a handyman picking up odd jobs here and there. But he was always there to help me with my homework and to make sure I was doing what was required of me in school. When I brought home a test or report card with a good grade I was praised and rewarded with hugs and kisses and it was hung prominently on the refrigerator and I was bragged about to friends and other family members. When I bought home a poor grade, he called my teacher to see what he could do to help me do better.

    There are good teachers and bad teachers; I have had both. But because my parents were involved in my education, they more than made up for the teachers who weren't as good as some of the others. People need to quit being lazy, quit pointing the finger and just get involved. If you, as a parent think that a teacher isn't doing their job, whining about it isn't going to alleviate the immediate problem. Go whine to the school if you think it will help, but what you really need to do is get a little more involved with your child to make up for what you feel is lacking in the education of your child. Whining about it may make a difference in the long run, which is great - but your children need you NOW. Being stubborn and refusing to help your child because "it's the teacher's job" is unbelievably irresponsible. I am not accusing anyone on this thread of doing that, but I have seen enough of that going on to know that it is a huge problem for people of all races and all classes. Yes, rich white people are just as bad; let the nanny raise the kids, or let the kids sit for hours in front of the big screen playing video games instead of doing their homework because you are too busy with your career or your own interests to get involved with your children or even know where they are half the time.

    Sorry - I just had to get that off of my chest.

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  69. ^^Thanks!!

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