Thursday, July 28, 2011

Save our Schools

I just ran across the "Save Our Schools March & National Call to Action" happening this weekend across the states and it piqued my interest as it reflects one of my previous posts about the tipping point for education reform. Plus, the whole 'grass-roots' part of this call to action excites me because I do believe that real change comes from the bottom up.

I am one for throwing out all the standardized tests and monetary incentives for schools upon raising scores. I realize that there are parents out there who think I am ridiculous and send their children to learning/ tutoring sessions and give them extra worksheets to do on weekends. I wonder if anyone can change my thinking on the counter productive & counter intuitive effects of standardized testing. And at the same time I wonder how I might be able to convince a parent who love drills and tests to think differently. I can offer a glass of Kool-Aid but I know I can't make you drink it.

Which camp are you in? If we were on the debate team, what would be your key points? How would you convince your opponent that your Kool-Aid flavor is best for our nation's children? And those harmonizers out there: Where is the common ground?


  1. Sorry for appearing as "unknown" in this thread. Not sure what I did do wrong when signing into Google, but I usually post as "SF_Mommy."

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  3. Aissa,

    The testing/accountability era is here to stay and it is one of the few issues with wide bipartisan support. There is zero chance of it reversing any time soon and it will only get more influential in the classroom. This is happening because of the nationalization of education. But, for what it's worth, I agree with your position. The big question is whether you want to be part of this trend or not, that is, go public or private?

  4. Aissa,
    1. See Diane Ravitch's book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System on teaching to the test.
    2. Chcck out how Vermont uses essay exams for tests on writing rather than fill in the bubble standardized exams. There is more than one way to give tests.
    3. That my Kool Aid flavor is best is meant to be something good, but, in the SF Bay Area, drinking the Kool Aid has a negative connotation-there's something bad in the Kool Aid (Guyana, Jim Jones, and the People's Temple).

  5. I'm one of those worksheet parents, though I am very critical of standardized tests, especially the NCLB idea that one should and can compare scores of very different student populations and should punish "under-performing" schools. I do believe in tracking progress and accountability, though, and am not sure how to otherwise do that.

    I grew up in Europe and feel that academics were and are valued higher than here. The country of my upbringing, Germany, currently goes through a lot of discussions and agonizing about school reform, but I looked at my nephew's first grade math book, and there is definitely more complexity.

    Though I watch out to not slip into the other extreme, I have a hunch that I do more to supplement her education than the average U.S. parent. I consider school mostly a place to learn to function in an institution and to practice social skills, as well as an opportunity to solidify what she learns at home. She will need the skills and experiences that she learns here for the rest of her life, in many different professional situations.

    I wouldn't home school, because I feel that would have the potential to isolate her and might fail to provide the social learning experiences that she can find in school (make friends, deal with bullies, learn to cope with people judging you). Though this society isn't perfect, I don't believe that raising our kids in a feel-good bubble is the solution.

    I don't expect school to nurture my daughter or raise her self-esteem, because I feel that is my job. But I also don't want school to put her down and wreck her curiosity and joy about learning. She's lucky enough to have gotten into one of the nicer public schools here in SF. Even here, I can see many larger societal problems being reflected in our public schools: poverty, the lack of a social net, parental under-education and anti-science attitudes (e.g. ill-informed vaccination fears) even in more educated parents, ethnic tension, a fast moving society with little employment options that overwhelms families, etc. etc. I am saddened to see the selfish and greedy Republican ideas of low taxation and expected "trickle-down" that somehow never makes it all the way to our public schools so ingrained in this society.

    I believe that any parenting attitude can be pushed to the extreme and in that case may turn dangerous and damaging. My main beef with the "let's nurture them and raise their self-esteem, and everything else will follow semi-automatically" attitude is that I feel it raises little narcissists, who have yet to learn how to truly fight their way through a subject and courageously challenge themselves. I am concerned that that approach brings up a generation of people looking for the path of least resistance and most instant gratification.

    Of course I am not sure if that is the parenting/schooling strategy that you advocate, so I apologize if I am misunderstanding or putting words into your mouth with this post.

    Thank you for starting this discussion. Seems that there has been little of substance here on the board lately, so I appreciate this thoughtful attempt at creating meaningful discourse.

  6. There aren't any significant monetary incentives at present so there's nothing to throw out except a lot of talk and conjecture around the subject of merit pay. .

  7. Testing is needed because teachers are different and you need a neutral barometer of human goodness equally applied across society. Imagine one kid at Lowell, struggling, working 15 hours a week for a 2.9 GPA. 15 is a lot nationwide, way above average, but at Lowell maybe below. Another kid at Mission or Lincoln has a 3.8 or even a 4.0 with some honors. Now if the kid at Lowell gets a higher SAT Score by 100 points, you know who is the smarter, more diligent, harder-working student. Who deserves the spot at a good college more? I think the kid at Lowell does, personally, because the kid at Mission didn't get into Lowell or choose to challenge themselves.

    Lowell uses tests as part of it's criteria because it's easier to get good grades at some Middle Schools than others.

    You can't always trust grades. Teachers play favorites. Some teachers self-appoint themselves to raise kids to fit their desired personality, not too agressive or playful, not too sexually noticeable, even of the right ethnicity or clothes or religion. My daughter had teachers treat her with dislike due to dressing stylishly like a teenager and not being religious, even though that's not supposed to happen.

    You need a morally neutral measure of human goodness. I wish Lowell just used a test, no grades. Tests can't be fudged (or if they are those caught can be jailed). Tests are morally neutral, they don't care your race, gender, preference, religion. If you study hard in school, do math and reading in your spare time and in summers, pay attention, use the dictionary to look up words, you'll do really well on the SAT and Star tests. If you relax all Summer, watch 30 hours a week of TV (the U.S. average for children is 40, this isn't an exaggeration), don't read much, a low test score is a fair reproachment for a childhood poorly spent.

    Parents have to wake up to the new reality. A great book to read is 'Top of the Class' by Jane Kim and Soo Kim (a different Jane Kim from the Supervisor / School Board member). You have to think about how your kids spend their time and how it will effect their test scores and, therefore, future grades, income and achievement. Telling your kid they're great just as a matter of course is poor parenting. Helping your kid become truly great is good parenting. Anyone can get a great score on tests, you just need the character and discipline and work-ethic, but you have to be aware of how many hours you do each thing per week.

    Convincing a TV watcher or video game player to become primarily a reader in their spare time and do test prep books will help solve this problem for the parents/kids who are willing to do the right thing.

  8. And I can think of no better barometer of human goodness than th California STAR test.

  9. I think it's more accurate than GPA because there is no X factor of personal human judgement or school difficulty. It is the only neutral barometer. Grades have human bias and school bias to contend with. Some teachers grade differently, but the SAT Test is the same for everyone, very fair.

  10. What's Wrong With Standardized Tests?

    Submitted by fairtest on December 17, 2007 - 1:51pm
    fact sheets

    Are standardized tests fair and helpful evaluation tools?

    Not really. Standardized tests are tests on which all students answer the same questions, usually in multiple-choice format, and each question has only one correct answer. They reward the ability to quickly answer superficial questions that do not require real thought. They do not measure the ability to think or create in any field. Their use encourages a narrowed curriculum, outdated methods of instruction, and harmful practices such as retention in grade and tracking. They also assume all test-takers have been exposed to a white, middle-class background. (See "How Standardized Testing Damages Education," a FairTest fact sheet.)

    Are standardized tests objective?

    The only objective part of most standardized tests is the scoring, when it is done by machine. What items to include on the test, the wording and content of the items, the determination of the "correct" answer, choice of test, how the test is administered, and the uses of the results are all decisions made by subjective human beings.

    Are test scores "reliable"?

    A test is completely reliable if you would get exactly the same results the second time you administered it. All existing tests have "measurement error." This means an individual's score may vary from day to day due to testing conditions or the test-taker's mental or emotional state. As a result, many individual's scores are frequently wrong. Test scores of young children and scores on sub-sections of tests are much less reliable than test scores on adults or whole tests.

    Do test scores reflect real differences among people?

    Not necessarily. To construct a norm-referenced test (a test on which half the test-takers score above average, the other half below), test makers must make small differences among people appear large. Because item content differs from one test to another, even tests that claim to measure the same thing often produce very different results. Because of measurement error, two people with very different scores on one test administration might get the same scores on a second administration. On the SAT, for example, the test-makers admit that two students' scores must differ by at least 144 points (out of 1600) before they are willing to say the students' measured abilities really differ.

  11. I guess another problem with testing is that it measures only a small subsection of human ability. The skill and motivation to cooperative with others, innovative thinking, and the ability to apply one's creativity to problem solving cannot be taught via worksheet and can be hard to impossible to test for with any of the standardized tests that are out there. To make it worse, in order to teach and nurture such skills, one needs to first possess them, and many teachers don't, partially because the pay is rotten and many of our brightest people are drawn to more lucrative fields. I'm not saying that teachers are not smart, I've met wonderful, intelligent, and deeply idealistic people who were teachers, but those are skills that are in any case only found in a small subsection of all people. I can see that some private schools try to pay more attention to the above but am not sure that they are succeeding in it, I figure they just have the better PR materials and try to sell themselves in that way, but haven't found private school students necessarily to be more well-rounded and more creative than public school students. And I remember with horror every single "group project" or other social learning experiment I had to do in college (I was the exasperated straight A student who did all the work...).

  12. It's human nature to be uncomfortable with competition and being judged. It's why most Americans say they're middle class, from those who make maybe a dollar over minimum wage to those who make millions. People don't like to hear that their child isn't average, or isn't great, they want a system whereby everyone can say their kid is doing "fine" and that's that, but Universities have a vested interest in accurately judging students and the SAT is far better than grades (grade inflation, differences between schools, personal judgement). If a University lets people in who flunk out, it's a waste for a lot of people. Those with low test scores should be encouraged to seek blue collar careers.

    The SAT Test has the benefit of encouraging a centralization of culture, of all people conforming to a common culture instead of creating or maintaining subcultures which make them less connected to society. Ebonics will die out over time as those who embrace it fail to earn as much as those who reject it, and the SAT Test encourages cultural conformity in this way, and that is just one example as there are many other undesireable subcultures of all races.

    The SAT and other tests encourage kids to read and use the dictionary. 43% of adults didn't read a novel last year. This is a bad trend which causes lack of education and knowledge. This helps reverse this trend.

    2 people can have the same GPA and one can be 2-4 years ahead of the other by high school. The SAT test has a small measure of randomness but not much. You can study for it a little, but only improve a slight amount.

    You don't take it at 17. You take it at 1, 2, 5, 10, 12, 15, etc. Every book you read, every test you study for, every time you pay attention or space out, every time you decide whether or not to look up a word affects your score. It's the closest thing we have to a neutral, fair judgement of the quality of your entire childhood, of your character, work ethic and quality of parenting.

    If you look at the subgroups who do well or not on this test, they are in the exact same order of adult income, inverse order of crime rates and divorce, etc. It is something which encourages good behavior and rewards it more than anything else. It is more fair than anything else.

    There is some measurement error which is inevitable, but it has nothing to do with income. Poor Asians outperform middle class whites and rich blacks. It has to do with habits and work.

    What I don't like about these criticisms is that everyone conveniently overlooks one fact, those who test poorly generally have no one to blame but themselves or their parents. A score is the result of many years of habits, good or bad.

    I think there should be a facts section, history, science, geography. There is on the STAR Test. You don't have to teach to the test. If you're a good kid who works hard at homework and reads each chapter several times you'll do great.

    Standardized testing is practical. The tests have explicit directions and are easy to administer. They are also time efficient and easy to grade.
    Standardized testing prepares the student for college. When students prepare for and take the SAT or ACT, they learn test-taking skills that will help them in college.
    Standardized testing offsets grade inflation. With grade inflation on the rise in many school systems, standardized tests offer a way to consistently compare student knowledge and aptitude.
    Standardized testing is objective. Compared to more involved assessments, standardized tests are unbiased. For the most part, standardized tests are graded by machines so grader moods and biases will not affect test scores.

  13. Tests graded by machine.

    Here, I am really testing the teacher to see if that teacher can teach to the test. I am all in favor of standardized tests at the bottom end: 1. to find the bottom of the teachers who might be let go and 2. to find the bottom of the students, who are in trouble. Those standardized tests are of limited use outside of the bottom score. The people who sell the SAT will say that it is good at separating the very top from the very bottom, but less effective in separating the top of the middle from the bottom of the middle. The people who sell the SAT for money do not overadverstise. It is us who misuse the SAT.

    Tests graded by a person.

    This is the Vermont way, and a lot more work. If I do not want to overuse the SAT and other standarized tests, I have to give you the alternatives.

  14. Realistically, the budget is so bad that I don't think they'll test them individually. We still haven't gotten the STAR tests back for our kids and it's been nearly 4 months, and those are multiple choice, graded by machine. If it's by hand, it will take a year or more.

  15. If it is worth doing, it is worth doing well. That means we have to do some Vermont type testing in addition to the standardized exams. If we only have multiple choice exams, we are going to overuse the results--going with what we have. It will be costly, but, at least not a waste of money like some of the other things we are doing.

    Today's Examiner, taking a feed from the NAPS, cited a 2007 study by Alexander, Entwisle & Olson that two-thirds of the ninth grade reading achievement gap can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities during elementary school years.

    A good task for the Board would be to have school staff critique the study and apply it to SF. The Board does not have to come up with answers. The Board should push the school staff to find answers.

    How about it you student members of the School Board? Give the adults some homework for a change.

  16. Charlie, I agree with most of what you say. I would agree to pay more taxes or cut the police or other budgets to pay for better and more complex testing. I only disagree when you say different access. I think people make different choices in Summer reading, but to say they have different access isn't fair. Go to the library on San Bruno Avenue, count the kids reading, checking books out. Asians are the majority, regardless of income. Whites second, then very few others. We pay for public libraries, any kid can go in and borrow a book and read it. There are nonprofits that give books to poor kids. I think you have to consider what you can control and which part is a choice. Sure, there are some advantages to being wealthy, but there are more advantages to making the right choices. This is why poor Asians do better on the SAT than upper middle class whites and upper class African Americans, because they make better individual choices, choices anyone could make. Choices we pay taxes to provide.

  17. The STAR test results take a while to get mailed out because the State waits for every district to do makeup tests before finalizing its results statewide. Many students don't do the makeups until the very last days of school and that can be up to three weeks later than in SF. But the delay has nothing to do with the time it takes to score tests.

    Floyd, it is ironic that you choose to be a character (who turns out not to exist) from a Bogart movie. A real person might have actually done the research.

  18. Don, he does exist, you just never see him. He gets killed before he is ever seen.

    I understand that some kids have to do the makeup test, we thought it might happen to us but it didn't. However, why can't they get the results out for those who took the test, then later for those who did the makeup? Or a couple weeks after school is out, maybe June 10th? I think faster results would motivate kids, maybe a reward and praise in front of the class for those in each class who score the best.

    I know being a good student requires believing in delayed gratification, I just think SFUSD could do a better job getting us the results quickly. We have a high percentage of money going to administration, over half if you deduct the per school amount from the state and city per pupil expenditures. We spend more out of the classroom per kid than in the classroom, yet it's too much to ask that they get us our children's test results in fewer than 4 months, or 2 months from the end of school? I share your concern that not enough is going to the higher performing schools, but I feel the answer is to get more money into the classroom as opposed to in the bureaucratic administration.

    Seriously Don, if you break it down, what are they spending $4,500-5000 in the name of your child on, outside of the classroom, entirely outside of your child's school? You know much more than I on this issue, I readily admit, but do you think this money is being spent well or do you think it could be spent better? If you feel it is being well spent, can you explain why? If you feel it isn't, how do you feel it could be spent better? What would you spend the non-school money on were it your decision?

  19. Schools that fail to meet the growth target in NCLB Program Improvement face consequences. Therefore, the CDE cannot release the data until it is complete.
    In a perfect world it would be better to get the data earlier.

    But how are school site councils supposed to make decisions for the upcoming year in spring when the students haven't taken the test yet and there is no current student achievement data available for such decisionmaking? This is an example of poor coordination bewteen state mandates such as SSCs and the state tests, the results of which are supposedly required in order to understand the student achievement school and student profile.

    The CDE is not in business to serve the parents. They are there to serve the administrators whose lobbies dominate Sacramento and other interest groups like the CTA. Getting results to families sooner is far from their top priority. It isn't even on the radar.

  20. When I was listing unequal access to summer learening opportunities during elemenatary school years as 2/3 of the explanation of the ninth grade reading gap, I was staying as much as possible to the wordage in the Examiner. I do not know how the study defined "unequal access." I would imagine that part of unequal access is financial. There are a lot of educational summer camps (for a fee).

    Of course, the public libraries are open to everyone. The next paragraph in the Examiner articles encourages one to utilize school and local library programs ("Combating the high school dropout rate," SF Examiner, 8/4/2010, p. 37.)

    I am not here to critique the study. I can say I read about it in the paper. Then, a question for school staff: does any of it apply to SFUSD? School staff, what do you think? That is all a student member of the School Board has to do. Consider it a dare.

  21. Sorry, the Examiner article is from this year, 2011, not last year, 2010.

    In any case, there is a study that says 2/3 of the ninth grade reading gap is related to what goes on during the summer. This fits in with the value added people, who say that over the summer, the low achievers are forgetting everything while the high achievers are not taking a nose dive during the summer. (Perhaps the high achievers are continuing their education over the summer?)

    Student and nonstudent members of the Board, could school staff venture a comment?

  22. Charlie,

    I would not attribute summer learning loss to a lack of access (money). What makes you think that the very at-risk students, many of who fail to regularly attend school, behave themselves in class or do their assignments, will be lining up to spend their summers in school? We provide Supplemental Education Services (SES) at great cost during the regular school year and participation and attendance is atrocious. I think it is just misleading or at least naive to to place the blame at the feet of society.

    As for those at-risk kids that have really been applying themselves to the drudgery of NCLB-inspired remedial classswork and afterschool tutoring, don't you think they need a breather?

  23. I don't think you're getting the lesson of the fact that 2/3 of academic differences is due to Summer Learning loss. Kids with good parents get activities, books, camps, parents giving them summer assignments, etc. You're saying those who are hard-working should relax and we shouldn't try to reach those who aren't? The relaxing, this break you talk of, is the cause of 2/3 of the problem of the Achievement Gap. We need to make sacrifices to fix this, we have to relax less. Kids in Asia and Europe are doing better and have shorter Summers. We need to change. This statement that we need to relax sounds like the status quo to me. We need change, the status quo has caused this problem. We need reform. We need to fight Summer Learning Loss hard. We are so used to summer relaxation we take it as a right, but it is a right and a pleasure which is hurting us badly.

  24. The value added people, as reported in Malcolm Gladwell's books, say that the low achievers are working hard and learning, at least, during the school year. It is during the summer that the real damage is done. It is during the summer, without the discipline and routine of the school, that the low scoring student sink so much more than everybody else.

    I have said this before, and I can now add that one study says that this is two thirds of the problem. The original post asked about extra tutoring and worksheets. During the summer, a definite YES.

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  26. It is patently false to meaningly attribute the achievement gap to summer loss. Those that are on the underachieving side of the gap are placed there based upon the tests given in the spring. Are you trying to tell me they score well and then drop back down when they get back to school in August? That just isn't the case and is plain enough to see by a cursory review of the SARC.

    When I was in school we played unsupervised games and tromped through the parks the rest of the time. There was no education crisis, real or imagined. And the instruction is a hell of a lot better now than when I was in school.

    As for your belief of scholastic discipline and hard work, if that is what you really believe in, Floyd, why would consider downgrading your child out of honors? Just to get better grades? Is that what's really important? Is it all about getting into Lowell or is there something more to education?

    Charlie, - as for Gladwell, his books are interesting for sure, but they are more about sociology than education. Many of his examples are picked to illustrate a point. His simplification of education issues have been discussed at length. They stand out like a sore thumb.

  27. I enjoyed reading Gladwell and i appreciate his novelle approach, but it should taken with a grain of salt given his cursory analyses.

    Wikipedia excerpts:

    Criticism focused on the book's style and oversimplified conceptualizations. Displeased with Gladwell's generalizations drawn from small amounts of data, Roger Gathman wrote in The Austin American-Statesman that this was uncharacteristic of him, and believed that the approach points to a "certain exhaustion in his favorite method".[14] He remarked that in Outliers, the experiments, analyses, and conclusions drawn are too mechanically applied to historical or cultural phenomena to "create a cognitive 'gotcha' moment", that Gladwell's analytical method was no longer working, and that "it's high time for Gladwell to produce something more challenging than his beautifully executed tomb robberies of old sociology papers."[14] Boyd Tonkin in The Independent held a similar opinion, and wondered why Gladwell "does not yet hold a tenured professorship at the University of the Bleedin' Obvious".[15]

    Jason Cowley, reviewing the book in The Guardian, felt that Outliers was an argument with Gladwell and himself, referring to the many times that he uses the word "we" when defining his position, such as in the example: "There is something profoundly wrong with the way we look at success. [...] We cling to the idea that success is a simple function of individual merit and that the world in which we grow up and the rules we choose to write as a society don't matter at all."[16] He also believed that there was a "certain one-dimensional Americanness at work", observing that many of Gladwell's examples are from the United States, particularly in New York City.[16] Finding it ironic that Outliers provides suggestions on how to resolve cultural biases, the Sunday Times review by Kevin Jackson agreed that the book itself suffered from an unbalanced focus on American subjects, predicting that this would lead to better sales in the United States than in the United Kingdom. Jackson was disappointed in the book's lack of new ideas, noting that it merely expands on the concept that "you have to be born at the right moment; at the right place; to the right family (posh usually helps); and then you have to work really, really hard. That's about it."[17] He was also skeptical towards Gladwell's arguments for the 10,000-Hour Rule by countering that The Beatles' success had more to do with "the youthful spirit of the age, the vogue for guitar bands and a spark of collaborative chemistry".[17] In an article about the book for The New York Times, Steven Pinker wrote, "The reasoning in 'Outliers,' which consists of cherry-picked anecdotes, post-hoc sophistry and false dichotomies, had me gnawing on my Kindle."[18] In a review in The New Republic, Isaac Chotiner called the final chapter of Outliers "impervious to all forms of critical thinking".[19]

    Statistical analyst Jeff Sauro looked at Gladwell's claim that between 1952 and 1958 was the best time to be born to become a technology billionaire. Sauro found that in fact "a software millionaire is more than twice as likely to be born outside the 1952 to 1958 window then [sic] within it." While Gladwell's claim is therefore false, Sauro notes that it is used more as a means of getting the reader to think about patterns in general, rather than a pursuit of verifiable fact.

  28. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb by trying everything under the sun, and finally chancing upon something that worked. Each failure was a discovery of what does not work. To know what does not work is also new knowledge.

    As we try to make a better school system, we are going to be trying some things that will end up not working. Eventually, we will invent the light bulb.

    There are no guarantees about the summer learning issue. There are some sound studies about it. Let us try to invent the light bulb.

    " 'Tis a far, far better thing to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all."

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  30. I do not doubt that you, Don, did not suffer from the summer vacation problem. Will you allow that others might not be so fortunate? The value added people, who test at the beginning and at the end of the school year, say that this is the case for the low achievers.

    The hypothesis is that the low achievers suffer from the summer vacation problem. We have one year round school in SF--Argonne ES. Let us test those students at both the beginning and end of the school year. Randomly select a number of regular school year ES's and test all the students there at the beginning and end of the school year. Let's see what we get.

  31. It's interesting that the school you mention, Argonne ES, does not perform any better and in many cases worse than similar schools nearby, despite its year round status. It is not exactly a school to choose as booster summer learning loss prevention.

  32. I believe in Summer Learning Loss and have gone out of my way to limit TV and require my kids 5 hours a day of reading, studying or other academic work in the Summer, which still allows plenty of time for play and fun considering kids are up 15 hour or so. My kids have consistently scored in the top 5-7% statewide. I know this is anecdotal, but I believe in this a lot. The studies which have been done are thorough and control for income and other factors. I have to agree with Charlie on this one. As to Argonne, we'd have to study the longitudinal effects and control for income and ethnicity, as we know poverty does not affect Asians as harshly as other groups in terms of academic output. I've never read anyone who said relaxing all Summer leads to higher test scores than doing some reading and math. It's counter-intuitive and flies in the face on the consensus of education experts to say it is not a problem at all. I have never deviated from requiring hard work from all my children. I believe 4 years of high school makes a bigger difference than 2/3 of a year in middle school. Not everything is cut and dry, sometimes you have to make difficult decisions based on individual situations, but I have never deviated from espousing hard work.

  33. Research on Summer L
    By Harris Cooper
    Educational Resource Information Center (U.S. Department of Education)

    A research synthesis conducted by Cooper et al. (1996) integrated 39 studies examining the effects of summer vacation on standardized achievement test scores. The 39 studies included 13 that could be included in a meta-analysis (a statistical integration) of the results. The meta-analysis indicated that summer learning loss equaled at least one month of instruction as measured by grade level equivalents on standardized test scores-on average, children's tests scores were at least one month lower when they returned to school in fall than scores were when students left in spring.
    The meta-analysis also found differences in the effect of summer vacation on different skill areas. Summer loss was more pronounced for math facts and spelling than for other tested skill areas. The explanation of this result was based on the observation that both math computation and spelling skills involve the acquisition of factual and procedural knowledge, whereas other skill areas, especially math concepts, problem solving, and reading comprehension, are conceptually based. Findings in cognitive psychology suggest that without practice, facts and procedural skills are most susceptible to forgetting (e.g., Cooper & Sweller, 1987). Summer loss was more pronounced for math overall than for reading overall. The authors speculated that children's home environments might provide more opportunities to practice reading skills than to practice mathematics. Parents may be more attuned to the importance of reading, so they pay attention to keeping their children reading over summer.

    In addition to the influence of subject area, the meta- analysis indicated that individual differences among students may also play a role. Among those examined in the studies used in the meta-analysis, neither gender, ethnicity, nor IQ appeared to have a consistent influence on summer learning loss. Family economics was also examined as an influence on what happens to children over summer. The meta-analysis revealed that all students, regardless of the resources in their home, lost roughly equal amounts of math skills over summer. However, substantial economic differences were found for reading. On some measures, middle-class children showed gains in reading achievement over summer, but disadvantaged children showed losses. Reading comprehension scores of both income groups declined, but the scores of disadvantaged students declined more. Again, the authors speculated that income differences could be related to differences in opportunities to practice and learn reading skills over summer, with more books and reading opportunities available for middle-class children (see also Alexander, Entwisle, & Olson, in press).

  34. I have your attention about testing in Sept. and in May at Argonne, compared to regular school year ES. Argonne is the only year round school we have, so it is an obvious choice to do more extensive testing on.

    If it turns out that students at Argonne do the same as others in the area, there are many things to look at.

    1. Maybe the summer loss problem really only applies to the low scorers. Perhaps the high scorers are already enriching thier summers with a little something. Could be as minimal as checking out books from the public library. Worth looking into.

    2. Maybe it is not fair to compare Argonne to Alamo. Most schools suffer in comparison to the scores achieved at Alamo.

  35. DonK,
    "Again with them negative waves, Moriarty," (the Donald Sutherland character, in "Kelly's Heroes.")

    What is your positive idea for helping the low achieving schools and students? Is it just to go to school where you live?

    If you do not like other people's ideas, do you have any of you own that you do like?

  36. I just copied some findings and pointed out that the year round school wasn't exactly a shining example of a remedy. What is the "negative wave" you are referring to or do you just want me to be upbeat and perky?

    The findings say, in so many words, that kids across socioeconomic lines suffer equally from summer learning loss, with reading being a possible exception. But keeping up on reading skills is probably the easiest to remedy. Turn off the TV and pick up a book, magazine, newspapaer or cartoon. You don't have to go to summer school to practice reading.

    In a perfect world we'd have resources for every need. The US is broke. We borrow 177 million an hour. You can talk about providing schooling year round at the cost of billions, but how are you going to pay for it? It would be great to have free summer school, free health care, free lunch, free rent free clothing. Oh, I forgot, public school is free. Too bad so many students don't go.

  37. One difference between negative and positive thinking is to assume the worst (negative thinking) and giving something the benefit of the doubt (positive thinking). Let's apply it to the summer learning issue.

    I run across some material on value added studies in Malcolm Gladwell's books that say that low scorers suffer from summer vacation. I see an article in the Eaminer that says that the summer problem is 2/3 of the achievment gap problem. I have not read the studies for myself and I am no education expert. There is plently to be unsure of, but, in a positive frame of mind, I put out that this is something that could explain what is going on. I am proposing possible solutions.

    In a negative frame of mind, on the other hand, without reading the studies for myself, and without being an education expert myself, I cut and paste some negative comments and rush to judgment. It is OK to be a nay-sayer. But maybe one day a week could the nay-sayer put out something constructive?

  38. It isn't constructive to propose universal summer school with no way to pay for it. It is nonsensical and childish. Anyone can make positive comments like let's have summer programs or year round schools. But, Charlie, this is not constructive. Explain how how society can pay for all the wonderful things you want to try in name of goodwill? Having good will might make you feel better, but it doesn't pay the bills and it doesn't educate anyone.

    If you think another service is what is needed, take a look at Supplemental Education Services. It provides all kinds of additional support classes above and beyond the traditional school day and by all accounts it is a massive failure and waste of money. But there are many technical ed service contractors who make a lot of money for services that are chronically underutilized and shown to provide little academic gain.

    If as you say you are no expert why do you pretend to be one?Being uniformed is no excuse to indulge in optimism.

  39. I think the idea that Summer Learning loss accounts for 2/3 of all of the achievement gap isn't based on formal schooling. It is based on behavior, which is why I am a proponent of standardized testing. As you said, many kids read a lot all Summer. You encourage your kids to read and this helps them test better. Charlie, I believe, and I assume that in the groups scoring poorly, no parent is taking them to Borders or Barnes and Noble to buy books, getting math books for their kids, and making sure their kids are reading during the Summer. Therefore Summer School is one proposal which could fix the problem. If you go to libraries, even in poor neighborhoods, you will find many kids do go throughout the Summer and most are Asian. Therefore another solution may be championing the idea that to be a good parent requires more than feeding your kids and having fun with them, but requires making sure they don't have Summer Learning loss based on their activities.

    Don, you're obviously a very dedicated father for your children. However, what is your proposed solution for children who don't have the luck that your kids do, or have no father at all. 70% of African American babies are born illegitimate, with no father, and most of the rest don't have a father in the home by high school.

    I think it is worth the money to try to reverse the cycle. Yes, we're broke, but we are broke due to stupid expenses, spending hundreds of billions on wars, tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, prisons ten times as packed as in the rest of the industrialized world, a corrupt prescription drugs bill, to name a few. This would be a pittance compared to those follies. Even in SF we could slash police overtime with little effect on public safety, how many times do you see 10 cops and 5 cop cars dealing with one muttering drunk arguing over a donut?

    I think Charlie has a good point about being constructive.

    Don, I know you have had very constructive ideas in the past, but lately your focus has been more negative. If you were superintendent, tell us what you would do differently. Please focus on the macro solutions and provide a broad overview. You want them to fire Garcia, so imagine you replaced him and had control of the board, had likeminded people on the board, what would you do differently?

    You tend to criticize most of the ideas on the blog, but what would your ideas be? Would you run things similarly? Would you keep tenure and the dance of the lemons? Would you get rid of wasteful or unproductive spending and what would you replace it with? Do you think your proposals would reduce the gap? Improve education at all schools? Or at some schools? What would your master plan be?

  40. School Board Race
    Run, Floyd, Run

  41. Negative: there an Ohio State study that says that year round schools do not improve test scores. The Ohio State sociologist concluded that there is no academic benefit for year round schools compared to summer vacation schools.

    Positive. That study only tested at the kindergarten and first grade levels. The benefit of the doubt says do not rush to judgment about the rest of the school years. The achievment gap for ninth grade reading may reflect a summer learning problem accumulated over the entire elementary and middle school years.
    Even if that Ohio State study is definitive (and it is only one study) it may be only saying that the summer vacation problem is for older kids.

    Negative. You can not convert to district wide year round school in San Francisco. The unions will not agree. High school football is in the way. The work schedule of parents do not fit year round schools.

    Positive. I am not wedded to year round schools. I am just saying do something about atrophy of the head during the summer, when they are past kindergaten and first grade, when they can be expected to read on their own.

  42. What is the point of playing a child's game of pretend? Carlos Garcia is the Superintendent, not me. The job of the public school community is to review the performance of those in charge, to speak out at the Board, to write letters and to file complaints where violations of law or ethics occur.

    I couldn't care less if you think I'm negative. It goes with the territory. You, Floyd, seem to think that discussion on a blog about issues is a solution to all the structural problems that you write about at length. Perhaps the Students First ballot measure that you participated in is an exception in terms of being proactive, but it is purely symbolic.

    As for your contention that we could pay for these programs if we had a different political and economic reality - we don't. If you want to play Superintendent in a parallel universe, well, have fun. I think education reform is going to take more effort than a an enthusiastic game of charades.

  43. WOW! Floyd as the voice of reason.

  44. In the case of doing something about "atrophy of the head" I would recommend thinking your thoughts through before suggesting summer school lest you change your mind and decide maybe you aren't so "wedded to it" after all. Thank goodness we didn't spend billions since you changed your mind. You do indeed have a postive attitude and an open mind.

    As for Floyd for Board, that would stir things up. Amy Chua for Superintendent. They can have frank community discussion on the positive and negative aspect of one's race. He's another reform: Expel every kid that doesn't do homework or acts out in class.

  45. There's nothing positive or negative about one's race. It's culture, not race, and it can be learned. There are African American parents who are very demanding of their children from a young age, and Latinos, members of every race. However, we can't be closed-minded and blow off anyone who achieves as doing it because of money. We can't make every poor person in SF rich, but we can show examples of the poor who are doing great in school as something to emulate if you wish to limit poverty to a single generation. We need to focus on what we can control. Every parent and child can control their day-to-day behavior. We should also have Summer reading, which costs very little, required at a certain age.

    I will run in the late '20s but I will lose big time. I will run for the experience and to get my message out there, and that message could change over 15+ years. I don't think anyone should be on the school board until they have raised kids or taught or been involved in education for many years. I don't think it should be a stepping stone. I will run when I'm old enough that that isn't an issue. I'm sure I'll lose but I do think my message needs to get out there, but I won't do it while I have kids under 18.

    I hope Don runs long before then. He would have valuable things to add and definitely wouldn't be a part of the status quo, though lately he is naysaing if he ran, I know he would raise hell and fight to change many of the bad practices currently accepted. He would be an awesome board member. Charlie, you should also run.

    Right now there is no controversy. They pretty much agree on everything. Even people who run as reformers, like Rachel Norton, once on support the status quo. We see crises but they see status quo.

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  47. Blacks and Latinos score lower on average even in higher SES categories (across the spectrum of culture)and that is because culture and race are intimately entangled. You can't separate one from the other in such a facile way like separating egg whites. The idea that SES, not race, is the operative factor is just the left's new modus operendi in the post consent decree era- the so-called "achievement gap as a civil right" crap. If you can't use race to divert funding, use something else.Now YOU are buying into the culture versus race nonsense? I'm surprised. I thought you didn't go for that?

    Of course not every AA or Hispanic student scores low and some Asians and whites underperform, too, given the inherent variation of genes, parenting and other environmental considerations. But the fact is that culture and achievement correlates roughly equal to race and achievement. I appreciate your confused politically correct attempt to tone down your racial rhetoric, even if you are anonymous. But please spare us the politically correct crapola.

    And yes, you can teach culture like in a black or hispanic ethnic studies class. Teaching people to change their culture is anything.

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  49. I meant to say - Teaching people to change their culture is another thing.

  50. That the achievment gap is our greatest civil rights issue is not true in the legal sense--San Francisco is not discriminating against Blacks--but it is true in the emotional sense--the advancement of African Americans is being held back by the achievment gap.

    The Black-White Achievment Gap, written by two education experts who are also black, are critical of the staus quo African American leadership. Floyd is not out of line with much of what they say.

  51. That the achievment gap is our greatest civil rights issue is not true in the legal sense--San Francisco is not discriminating against Blacks--but it is true in the emotional sense--the advancement of African Americans is being held back by the achievment gap.

    The Black-White Achievment Gap, written by two education experts who are also black, are critical of the staus quo African American leadership. Floyd is not out of line with much of what they say.

  52. How can people be held back by a statistic? And what is emotional about a statistic? You lost me.

  53. When the statewide science exams were given recently, half the students in the public schools who took the science exams were Latino.

    The public schools were not half Latino at kindergarten. Are we seeing immigration at post-kindergarten grades? If the answer is yes, then, for most of us, we are talking about saving our public schools for the education of the children of another ethnicity.

    Statewide, that ethnicity is Latino. For San Francisco, that ethnicity is Chinese and, to a lesser extent, Latino.

    Thank you to everyone who care enough about public education to bridge ethnic differences and promote the education of the children of California, no matter where the children come from.

  54. Geez, Charlie, I don't know what the hell you are talking about. We know that California's public school population is in excess of 50% Latino. Do you have a point?

    With all these platitudes on goodwill and mutual understanding I'm beginning to think you're boning up for a run for Board.

  55. For those who don't already know this, Floyd, Charlie, and Don are all the same person.

  56. That is your opionion and that is all it is.
    If you have any opionions on education issues, let's hear it. To date, we have not heard a peep.

  57. We are all very different people. If you read, you will see very different opinions. Tell us yours.

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  60. Wow, I didn't know that either. I need to get more in touch with myself and my multifacted personality.

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  62. Don is the only one who admits who he is. Charlie and I are both fictional characters but neither of us is Don and we are different. I wish if people disagreed, they would state why, not accuse the people on here of being the same person and then writing hateful comments they later decide to delete.

  63. I take issue with your charcterization. I do not "admit" to who I am. I proudly state my beliefs and do so in my own name and in line with the great freedoms we enjoy in this country, freedoms that have largely been taken for granted in modern times. Not to be dramatic, but I think it is worth remembering from time to time that one should stand up for his or her beliefs. The groupthink liberals on this board
    hide themselves in fear. Be bold.

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  65. Don, I meant nothing disparaging by the way I stated it. I just meant most people use pseudonyms. If anything it makes you the bravest and most honest among us. I had no intention of disparging you in any way.

  66. The US Constitution was drafted and debated upon behind closed doors. The secrecy of my pseudonym is in keeping with American tradition.

    The use of fictional characters would also seem to be prudent, considering the road rage found on the information superhighway.

  67. If you want to be anonymous, that is no crime, even if it is meek. But, please don't try to convince us that your anonymity is the American way. I've sat back and listened to you say some pretty dumb stuff, but that definitely takes the cake.

  68. Insult recieved.

    Still not received: actual constructive ideas from you for a better SFUSD.

  69. OK, you did say eliminate Superintendent Zones, fire Garcia, and close Lowell High School. Those are your concrete ideas.

  70. I just don't see how those 3 actions will close the achievement gap. In an ideal world closing Lowell would help as kids would emulate smart kids, but in my life I've seen smart kids treated as nerds and ostracized, Lowell creates a place where it's OK to be smart. That should be everywhere but we're not there yet. There is an argument for that improving high schools overall, but to close the gap you need to start younger, by high school a bad student will stay bad 19 times out of 20. Firing Garcia would lead to someone similar, I'm sorry but I don't see that leading to someone being hired Don would approve of, and I say that because the new person would be chosen by the same board and would probably be pretty similar. I really didn't like Ackerman's performance.

    In all fairness, Garcia's spending on the Superintendent Zones is doing very little good for the amount of money being spent. That being said, I am for spending money to fix the problem, I just think that if the money is doing nothing you either stop spending it or spend it very differently. In the current situation, that money is achieving nothing and would do more good being distributed evenly. It would make a difference at Alamo but isn't making a difference at Muir, it's going to jobs and other things that aren't producing results.

    I do think that we shouldn't mix social services with education. A lot of people seem unconcerned we're spending money and test scores aren't responding. That's the reason for the spending, getting smarter kids so the next generation isn't dependent and asking for a handout or making others' education worse because thye're complaining their disadvantaged. We're not ending poverty in the next generation now, the kids in poverty in SF will, for the most part, raise kids in poverty, with the exception of Asians in poverty. We don't have a system now where poor AA and L kids (or W kids in CA) are getting an education that will make their lives better than that of their parents. There's a lot of wasted money in SFUSD.

  71. Still waiting for you, Don. to stand up for your beliefs, which are...what?

    Was it neighborhood schools, less spending of money on struggling schools, and something else? Please comment on issues, not personalities.

  72. Charlie,

    If you want issues not personalities, why are you hassling me about not posting fast enough to suit you? I had business to take off, if you don't mind.

    By a mile the largest issue in SFUSD is the massive differential between what is spent on students (SPED excepted). There is absolutely no accountability in this regard. Funds are distributed to students and schools without concern for results. This is the problem with liberal ideology and massive government spending.

  73. I agree with this point. No one ever says, this money is achieving nothing in closing the gap, should we maybe not spend it or spend it far differently? It just gets spent and spent. Sometimes I wonder if it's more of a jobs program or worse. SFUSD should not spend money if it doesn't improve education in some way, I'm all for arts and sports but if you look at all the bureaucrats in offices and consultants at schools with poor test scores and no real improvement, that money would be better off just put in a bank until they can actually figure out a way to spend it which will produce results. Or used to create more fairness and equity in funding. The better schools get the shaft, and for no real reason.

  74. How do you measure the results? I say give standardized tests at the beginning and at the end of the school year.

    How do you use tests as a teaching tool rather than as punishment? I say start using Vermont type non-multiple choice testing to work on teacher skills.

    If I understand Don correctly, one of his big issues is wasteful spending in education. How do you know it when you see it?

  75. Don, I see that you appreciate courtesy. We all do.

  76. My point is NOT that money in the Superintendent Zones is being wasted, though my review of those budgets seems to indicate some money may be poorly spent. That experiment and the $45 SIG money has only just finished its first year of implementation and most of the money arrived late. So it is still pretty early to speak definitively about results on the basis of standardized tests. We should have some information soon to give us a partial picture.

    My point is that students should be treated with equality and equality should not mean we can give money to our lowest performers at certain schools at the expense of everyone not at those schools. There is plenty of funding in the form of compensatory education ALREADY set aside for that purpose. We should not allow politicians to pile on in the name of social justice in order to win political favor. What is just about robbing from a child?Why do the leaders think it is OK to take away essential services from most students (mostly in the form of teachers and class size) so as to fulfill a mission to provide small class sizes and redundant staff to a few?

    Margeret Weston of the Pulic Policy Institute has spoken at length about the need to provide a statewide per pupil funding metric at the district level. Right now money is distributed to the districts on a per pupil basis, but that doesn't mean students get that money. Districts can have different priorities and reroute funding as is done in SFUSD in a rather extreme way.

    This district as well as all others have the flexibility to use formerly restricted funds to equalize funding to some extent. In large part SFUSD chooses to keep all the funding for underperformance to a few select schools and underperformers at other schools are out in the cold.

    If this is their idea of equity and social justice it just goes to show you that they are are indeed the phonies I have been making them out to be. All they want to do is turn around a few schools and if the rest of the district has to pay a heavy price, they are willing to do that. And why is this? Because all the media attention is on the lowest 5% and few in the community take any interest in school budgets, per pupil expenditures and the plight of average and higher performing schools. They just deal with the school budgets they are given. But no one stops to ask why one school gets so much and another so little.

    Kevin keeps trying to make this point that the Superintendent Zones are a failure. Based on what, Kevin? Provide some data. You're just speaking without any knowledge whatsoever about what is going on there, just to sugar coat your own views. Once again, I don't say they are a failure, I say it is unjust to provide such large grants and then not make any efforts to use flexed money to create a little equity.

    In response to this the District has said that doing so would be supplanting. Supplanting in this instance means using the fungilibilty of pooled money to undercut a benefit. That is, they say the arrival of SIG money does not mean that other funding should be removed. That is false. The flexed restricted funding was flexed by law specifically to allow district to make such decisions. SFUSD's response is just a hollow attempt to cover their unjust funding practices. This is the end result of ideologically driven local education policy.

    Carlos Garcia has said that if you don't like that he's spending so much on the Superintendent Zones, send yours kids there,too. What a lousy attitude.

  77. I forgot to mention that I find it very telling that Kevin, who we all know is a big fan of standardized testing, is quite willing to pass judgment on the value of the Superintendent Zones before he's even seen the test results. For a sperson that likes to admonish others on their lack of good discipline and study skills, why not show a little yourself?

  78. I agree with you. You know more than I on the details.

    What I mean by past failure is that for as long as I can remember there have been efforts to provide extra benefits to the students who are not performing well, or in the past specifically to AA and L students, but I have never seen that end up in equal test scores. I believe there are cultural issues which are not addressed due to a desire not to upset anyone, but that these issues are essential to fixing the problem. Basically, habits, study hours, and cultural views of education. DC spends 30k per kid for horrible results. I would like to see an effort to really focus on convincing families to treat education as the most important thing. In our society, the coolest people are the fashionable, always moving, dancing, running around, beautiful. You see the images. The scholar isn't as respected, teachers aren't as respected, as in Asia or Europe. Most people don't know who won the Nobel prize or the Pulitzer but know who was MVP, Miss America, who won Dancing with the Stars. More Americans can name the 7 dwarfs than 7 Supreme Court Justices. We have an amazing example in our midst and we make no effort to learn from it and convince families to focus.

    Most of the white upper middle class has enough cultural capital for their kids to be successful without an obsessive focus. Not very successful, but moderately so, and in some cases more so. Therefore they oppose this, but it is necessary for those with no cultural capital to get to that level, because while these kids might be playing creatively and reading novels with freedom, others are watching shows and hanging out.

    We don't differentiate strategies. We try a one-size fits all approach and differentiate the funding in ways that don't produce results.

    If I thought we had a plan to limit this poor performance to a generation, I'd be for it, a plan to teach those parents and kids who are failing to do better and change their home life to create equality and prosperity. I just don't see that. I think this money is going to have the same results as DC. I hope I'm wrong but that's what I see.

    So I agree, equal funding would be more fair and would allow us to focus on the real issue. I predict this money is going down a rabbit hole. I could be wrong but this is my prediction. It just doesn't sound like it will make much difference. If we find a way to spend money that will really improve peoples' lives, I'd be for it, but I feel it's not tied to results and if it fails they just try the same thing and call it something else. We need parenting classes.

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  80. If you want to criticize the Superintendent Zones, do it on the basis of fact, not just your fantasies. You do a disservice to your own cause of equalized funding when you cannot substantiate any of your allegations. It just makes you look small, close-minded and feckless.

    In regard to the overall history of compensatory education nationwide, you are correct:It has been oa massive failure,billions spent with little to nothing to show for it. But the liberal minded people are just fine with that and think we should keep doing what has failed.

    Having said that, in regard to the Superintendent Zones I really don't see why community outreach coordinators need to be paid $150,000 a year. Why do we need class sizes in the low teens and 2 teachers per class room on top of it? Why do we need instructional coaches for every subject? Why do we need a numerous master teachers whose only job it is to make sure the teachers follow the curriculum? The list goes on and on.

    Is it really fair to provide all these services and spend more than 3 times as much on some students, ignoring the best and the brightest as well as at-risk students in the higher performing schools? Past efforts at remediation in SFUSD been a failure and now they want to spend more. It sounds like stimulus excuses.

    When the API results come out will the media review the cost of Garcia's grand experiment relative to the results? Or will it be ignore as usual.

    Carlos Garcia thinks you should send your kids to Superintendent Zone. This illustrates his disinterest in other schools. I wants to pull those schools out of the mire and he will bury the district doing it. He must be removed at all costs, but this mean removing the BOE. Vote out all members that support Garcia.

  81. Sorry for the typos.


    Where are you?

  82. I agree, a superintendent needs to care about making all schools better. He should not just totally blow off the idea of helping the schools he doeesn't care about. That's wrong.

    The problem I have is that the language hasn't ever changed. It's always blame the successful, the expectations, the District. I've never seen a suggestion that we need to focus on the family or the student or the # of hours studied. They send one piece of paper home a year about the damage TV does, with a bunch of statistics, but it probably gets thrown out by the families who need it most and read thoroughly by the families who already believe in limiting TV to 7-10 hours a week if not eliminating it altogether, in some cases. Maybe the kids labeled at risk in Kindergaren's parents should be required to go to parenting class once a week, so they can convince them to change their habits before it is too late.

  83. I'm listening.

    You describe the Superintendent Zones as a financial black hole, sucking in all the money in the district, leaving little for the rest of us.

  84. That's too simplistic. Most of the money is from the grant. That was over and above what we already had so it is a net plus. The problem is this: Everybody is taking it on the chin except for the so-called poor schools. They have their full budgets,the grant money as well as all the various other state and federal sources of funding. Then, when the legislature changes the rules to allow more discretion, what did SFUSD do? They took even more of the money available to all and diverted to the few. This is the modus operendi of the social justice zealots - redistribution of wealth.

    With the assignment redesign debacle, incumbency on the Board is not necessarily a good thing for reelection. The members deserve a lot of blame for that foul up, but their real crime is overseeing the institutionalized theft of the public funding of schools. I'll be glad to see them go for any reason.

  85. Every single one of them? Mauffas got re-elected despite a thieving dropout daughter. Norton seems pretty moderate, no?

  86. Sounds to me like you are getting at the need for a "New Deal."

    The school district is broke. It is a financial despression for most of our schools. We need a new deal to curb the favoritism that we now have, you seem to be saying.

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  88. Charlie,

    Not sure where you get that idea.Can't you see I'm not a New Deal type person? What did the New Deal get us? It put us on the Keynsian(sp) path of deficit spending and now we have saddled an entire future generation with debt.

    I don't think the fundamental problems in education are the result of lack of funding. Much of that money is in obligations - salaries, state and fed mandates, operations, etc. But much is a matter of the discretionary decisions made on how to spend SFUSD's half billion dollars. We are talking about 12% that is up for grabs. The rest is accounted for, though management costs are an exception. SFUSD is very top heavy, despite the legions of district and union apologists who benefit by the largess of management. More cabn be saved there. too. But it is hard because many principals and managers are unionized. We are the ONLY major district in California with unionized principals.

    Most people don't understand the budget in detail. I'm somewhere in the middle as far as my knowledge of it. The significant change for budget- minded people has been the discretionary release of billions in restricted funding into the general fund of districts. This fungilibilty money gives districts more leeway as to how they want to use funding. In SFUSD they have chosen is to use it in much the same way as before. Most district have released this funding to help backfill the revenue limit losses. SFUSD has been content to let the bulk of schools lose funding in order to preserve the programs at low performing schools.

    Serrano was intended to equalize funding to stop the unconstitutional favoritism in tax rich districts. Now we have favoritism again with district ideologues deciding who will and will not be the beneficiaries of education funding. That's why the Public Policy Institute of California has advocated for basic per pupil supports, to avoid such money grabs for personal pet projects like Garcia's SZ. He has transferred millions to private technical service contractors like Partners for School Innovation and Pivot Learning. He's giving contracts to his friends and associates, handing out the goodies. He effectively put all the chips on one number, his Superintendent Zones. If he can't show some phenomenal result the Board should give him the boot he deserves. I know it is rather blunt talk, but frankly, Carlos Garcia is a phony.
    My younger child is at-risk yet he receives not one penny of all the funding thrown at at-risk students. That's because he lives in the wrong neighborhood.

  89. The situation you describe is that the school district is not broke, but administrators are starving successful schools to spend at struggling schools. Why? Only scores at struggling schools make the newspaper headlines. If successful schools slip to mediocure, who really notices?

  90. They hoot, holler and throw a party at 555 if struggling schools raise test scores fractionally, even if, as reported in the Chron ,it takes 187 years to close the gap at the current rate of improvement. It is telling that most better schools continue to outperform despite cutbacks. I guess money isn't everything. I don't mean to imply that some students need more resources than others. It is all about how much more. The liberal mindset is that it doesn't really matter how much more - the more the better, despite results.

    That is the society we live in here in SF.

    To answer your comment - If SFUSD were broke it would go into state receivership and a superintendent would be appointed. That would be the best possible outcome for SFUSD students right now.


    None of the Board members are objecting to Garcia's policies - so they support them.

  91. With apologies to the US Navy, the school spending problem is that school administration is spending money like a drunken sailor at struggling schools, while more successful schools go starving, as I understand what you are saying.

    How much money did we sink into Willie Brown ES and what did we get for it? Nada? I don't mind spending money where it is needed, but there has got to be some bang for the buck.

  92. Charlie,

    How much money won't you mind spending? Do you think it is reasonable to spend $1.50 on a small group of at-risk students compared to a buck for everyone else? Is $2 enough? How about $3? That's about what is spent now. When did it become OK to spend without regard for results? When hard line progressives took over SFUSD. No longer is it necessary to show results. All the Board demands of Garcia are goals and goodwill. But goals are elusive and as long as the achievement gap exists progressives like Garcia will pour in the education dollars in the name of social justice and for the benefit of the unions and the private ed services contractors.

    We've spent hundreds of billions nationwide on compensatory education and the achievement gap is bigger than ever. Funding for compensatory education is not about solving the achievement gap. That's just the tag line. It is about lucrative contracts for providers. Special interest groups are fighting like mad to keep formerly restricted funds out of the general fund. Unfortunately, these backroom brawls take place out of the spotlight which is pretty narrow to begin with. Parents are more interested in discussing "issues" like street parking and start times.

  93. This is why I try so hard to argue what I believe, which is that spending to close the achievement gap is wasted money for the most part because it doesn't address the real reason behind the achievement gap. The achievement gap between AA/L and W/A Students at Presidio is about the same as the gap between such students as say, AA/L Students Denman vs. A/W students at Gianninni or Hoover. This immediately disproves the inferior schooling argument. Then there's an argument teachers expect less, but I don't see that either. The money isn't worth it, we're making kids like your son suffer unfairly and not addressing the root cause of the gap. It may seem harsh, but the main reason for the gap is the fault of those who are failing and their parents, not the fault of teachers, spending, or unfairness at the district level. In fact, the effort made by these students and parents is so much worst that even double or triple funding doesn't make up the difference. This is why I say you need a buy in. I don't think anyone should get triple funding unless the parents buy in and agree to send their kids in on Saturday, late, and help with homework.

    This is why I support spending more on KIPP but not on Willie Brown or Muir. We need it to be a joint effort and it is just one way. You can't ask other schools and taxpayers to give you more than your fair share if you won't put in 15 hours a week as a kid and some significant time as a parent. If it's just one way, we should distribute evenly, or at least fairly evenly, have a cap on the difference.

    I'd rather have exactly equal funding than what they're doing now. It's not achieving anything measurable.

  94. They can spend all they want at the struggling schools as long as the successful schools are getting what they need. That means a fair share of funding.

  95. Government should only help those who are willing to help themselves. We're tearing this City apart, polluting it, stealing from some kids to give to consultants in the name of others, to help those unwilling to help themselves. I support a hand up but not a hand out. If you want a bonus you should be willing to put in the same effort as those who are testing high. If not, just be honest, your test scores are lower because it's not important enough for you to sacrifice for a better score. You can't have it both ways. If we're spending 150k on someone who's a consultant who can't demonstrably show how they are helping people to help themselves, they should be fired.

  96. My focus is not at how much the other school is getting in funding. My focus is on what the successful schools are getting or are not getting. If there really is enough money in descretionary funds to have avoided cutbacks, that is what should have been done, not starve the vast majority of schools to play favorites on the pet projects.

  97. More than half ($36M) of all the newly flexed (discretionary) funding is in one program, the Targeted Instructional Improvement Block Grant. SFUSD flexed none of it last year and only 10% this year. The vast majority of school districts are flexing all of it to prop up the general edycation program. Not SFUSD. Its focus is on a small group, the lowest %5. $36 million would provide about $700 per student district-wide, a 14% increase in average per pupil funding. If they flexed the other half as well we could decrease class sizes across the district.

    Last year SIG schools, with all the various forms of funding, couldn't spend all the money in their budgets. This is a recipe for waste and abuse and that is just what we got. The Department of Education even removed some of their funding for this reason. Had SFUSD flexed TIIBG, this would have moderated budgets and SIG schools would have spent everything allocated to them. SFUSD would have kept the whole SIG grant and all of SFUSD's 53,000students would have gotten an extra $700. That equates into a 10% decrease in class sizes.

  98. A pie chart of discretionary spending would show that a tiny slice of the student population is getting almost all of the discretionary spending, resulting in the layoffs and cutbacks at the successful schools. This is the problem of the school administration's pet projects.

    All of school administration, Superintendent and Board of Education both, are authorizing this extremely skewed level of funding. Adequate services for the rest of us is suffering, I believe is your argument.

    The educational issue is
    Descretionary Spending: Service, not Favoritism

  99. In one sentence, I guess the message is to save our schools from lop-sided discretionary spending.

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  101. Charlie,

    When I started looking at school budgets and learned a bit about district finance I was not aware at first that the disparities were a problem. I took it for granted that some schools and students just got more than others and I accepted the premise that some students need more. I still believe that, however, I have come to realize it is not enough to say some students need more funding. We need to have a conversation about how much more and scrutinize the way we spend these funds considering the consequences.

    Year after year little has been accomplished in closing the achievement gap, yet year after year we continue to fund failed programs, and with the profligate Garcia administration the school funding imbalance has been taken to a whole new level. I feel that if people just new what was really going on with spending they would be sickened to see how their children are short changed and would demand more from our elected officials.

  102. The achievement gap is a very broad term. At its most broad, there would be no color difference among scores for different ethnic groups. Even if you factor out income differences (and we have not in our look at raw scores) there will still be a gap for various reasons (summer learning loss, bias of standardized tests, net worth of the parents, cultural issues, etc.)

    The achievement gap at a less broad meaning would be more helpful. What about an achievement gap in basic literacy. Can the student read and write? Yes, that gap can and must be closed to claim any equity and access to education.

    Then, Bam! Kick it up a notch, as Chef Emeril likes to say. Define the achievement gap in terms of proficiency at your grade level. I'm not saying everyone gets as many A's and B's as everyone else. I'm just saying eveyone get got of the D's and F's. That type of achievement gap, that PROFICIENCY GAP, can and should be closed.

    The good news is that the State and the City are making progress on closing the proficiency gap. We are able to teach to the test.

    Let us not starve and harm the already proficient as we teach to the test and close the proficiency gap. That is what is meant by:

    Save our schools from lopsided discretionary spending.

  103. There will always be a difference between groups and individuals. To say it's racial is too simple. There would be a huge difference between white kids in San Francisco and white kids in say, Reno or Fresno or Ukiah, where the culture is less academic and intellectual. The key problem is effort and getting all kids to put that in. Maybe some kids need to stay late to get it done. Geoffrey Canada says adjust the school date to fit what it takes for kids to succeed. That often magically changes effort because kids will study harder to avoid mandatory Saturdays and late days being assigned. This works in Asia, where kids know if they are below a certain level, they have to stay 2-3 hours late and on Saturdays, so most will do enough to at least avoid this designation.

    I don't think we should say there is a cultural bias. There is a bias towards proper English. Nations do better if they have a standard accepted educated speach, and we have that. If you go to areas where we make fun of the hillbilly or redneck accent, like say Dallas, the educated people in the City speak very well, but the people off in the small towns have heavy accents and slang terms. We should strive to encourage every parent to make an effort to teach their kids' proper English. Any parent who speaks Ebonics in front of their children, or any other substandard form of English and there are many, should be reprimanded and have to go to night school to re-learn proper speach and enunciation. You hear parents say "we was" and "I is" in front of their children, and they are doing irreperable damage to their children by speaking this way to and in front of them. It's a form of child abuse because you are teaching your children pride in something that will make them not fit in and earn less in life.

  104. Charlie,

    I really didn't understand your comment, what it was you were getting at.

    I think the per pupil funding policy needs to focus on value, just as we individuals make consumer decisions with value in mind. So it should be for education and the allocation of tax dollars. We have to allocate each dollar with more than just good intent. There has to be some accountability for programs, with special focus on those that have failed to deliver. Is an investment of double the mean worth a 2% achievement annual gain? What does it mean for us as a society when we punish success and reward failure?

    Your comment - "Yes, that gap can and must be closed to claim any equity and access to education"- is just wrong. You make an assumption that the achievement gap is a measure of access. Access does not guarantee achievement. This is the tired old liberal line which says that students underperform because they don't get enough service and in the context of black and hispanic underachievers the idea is promulgated with racist undertones - a tact designed to limit opposition. What lack of access is there? Please, tell me. There are more programs and opportunities at uunderperforming schools than anywhere else. That is why Garcia says that complainers should send their kids to his Superintendent Zones. That's like saying if I don't like the high price of food I should aplly for food stamps. The reason he's encouraging middle class families to attend SZ schools is because he knows that they will do far more to raise test scores than his expensive give-away of grant dollars to provate consultants.

    All this is not to say that underachievers don't have incredible cultural and economic hardships to overcome. But with some very limited and particular exceptions, by and large the school district is not violating the civil rights of the underperformering demographic. To the contrary, they are providing more services than they are required to do by law. If they are violating the civil rights of children, it is those students at the poorly funded schools, and in particular the at-risk students at thise schools, who are not receiving equal treatment under law. It is not a coincidence that most of them are Asian and white. Garcia's policies are those of race-favoritism.

  105. I am not going to micromanage the efficiency of programs at struggling schools. I do not begrudge a Harlem Children's Zone spending exhorbitant amounts of money if that is what it takes to get results.

    In San Francisco's case, the Superintendent Zones and funding at struggling schools, take such a large share of discretionary funds that the sucessful schools are getting starved. All to make the low performing schools into a kind of magnet program of school spending. The magnet is that that is where the district is spending its money on, to the DETRIMENT of the rest of the school system. All to reward the locals in the area to stay with the local struggling school, instead of going private, out of the city, or to a citywide school.

    They bring up the average if they go to school there and make school administration look good.

    And you pay the price by having your school starved for funds. Is that OK for you? The individual struggling student at that struggling school does not necessarily do better, but with a more academically inclined mix of students there, it sure looks like the school improved. Neat trick.

  106. In fact very few middle class Asians or whites choose to attend the struggling schools. The district has tried to make choice less available in the new SAS in the hope that it will increase enrollment of middle class families in CTIP1 areas. District officials publicly denounce neighborhood schools while they try to implement neighborhood schools.

    So you are still willing to spend exorbitant amounts of money on struggling schools if that is what it takes? If your child's school has no music or art programs and classes of 40 or more you are OK with that?

  107. My son was signed into his google account so I accidently posted as Albert.

  108. Asians and whites do attend struggling schools. It's called immersion. They bring up the average at the school and the school, as a whole, no longer looks so terrible.

  109. Charlie, please check your facts. Struggling immersion schools have VERY low relative percentages of white and Asians.

    A few examples:

    Revere Asians and whites 5%
    Chavez 3.5
    Marshall 10%
    Everett 12%

  110. Don, you're right about some schools but in the Bayview there are a lot of Asians at some of these schools, and some have a substatial # of whites. For instance Visitation Valley is 34% Asian and 13% Filipino (for some reason SFUSD, in it's infinite wisdom, has separated Filipinos from Asians on it's SARC section). At VV, blacks average 501 and Asians 834. At James Lick, Hispanics are at 674 and a small # of whites raises the school average to 729; very few Asians go there. 85 and 68% of whites and just 33 and 28% of Hispanics were advanced or proficient. At Presidio whites are at 901 and Asians are at 884.
    African Americans are at 34 and 25% proficient or advanced, whites at 79 and 75 and Asians at 74 and 81.

    It's pretty easy to see that if you can force people into a school, you can make it look better. It's phony statistics. If you drive people away from the district, they consider that collateral damage to their propping up fake statistics to look good.

    Look how much this City has suffered, how many potential leaders move away, under the theory that going to a good school will make you a better student, then fewer than a third are proficient or advanced in the school. In the same school you see a huge difference.

    It is clear that sitting next to good students does very little for African American students. The only thing that would get the scores equal is to get the study hours equal and have some minimal help, like one person running a homework club and helping with questions. Any time you go from 3 hours homework to 15-20 you will drastically improve.

    Honestly, if you take a kid in the Bayview and just convince his parents to take the time he or she would be on a bus and mandate that their child use all of that time, some 1.5-2 hours a day, in their room quietly studying, from an early age, that would reduce the gap far more than the musical chairs policy.

    It's not so much about sending AA and L kids West, it's more about hoping you can force a few MC A and W kids East to prop up the scores. That's why they make no effort to build enough schools and close West Side schools like Cabrillo while people are mad they can't get into a nearby school.

    Charlie is right, it's musical chairs. This raises the average score.

  111. Floyd,

    I was responding to Charlie's comment about IMMERSION schools, not all schools.

    He said:

    "Asians and whites do attend struggling schools. It's called immersion. They bring up the average at the school and the school, as a whole, no longer looks so terrible."

    In fact some of the immersion school do look terrible and they are. That's why they were in the lowest 5% of schools and recipients of SIG.

    But that isn't the point. You don't want the district to play musical chairs. You want kids assigned to the neighborhood school, except in your own case in which you want your kids to go to Lowell. If Wash, your neighborhood high school, is underenrolled because many kids go to Lowell, they have to send kids out there to fill the seats. And you are against that,too. You'll take any damn position if it's good for your family. You want neighborhood schools so you can go to Alamo and Presidion and Lowell, not a neighborhood school, so you don't have to go to Wash.

    If you plan to respond, please respond directly to my point and don't write a whole bunch of malarky that is just designed to avoid having to answer for your contradictory points-of-view.

  112. Don, I always make an effort to respond directly to your points. If I missed one it was inadvertent.

    I think that most schools should be neighborhood schools in a way in which you are guaranteed to have the option to send your child to your neighborhood school. I don't think the neighborhood designation should impact SOTA or Lowell. Who's to say smarter, harder working kids live near Stonestown or more artistically talented kids live near Forest Hill Extension? These are merit-based schools which is what makes them so outstanding.

    Why do you want to pressure me to send my kids to Washington, a worse school, because I said there should be neighborhood schools? It doesn't mean every public school in SF would be neighborhood. Rooftop would not be, nor would the language immersion schools for elementary school. You could have some have a neighborhood element, for instance having one Chinese school in the Sunset and one in the Richmond, and one Spanish school in the Mission and another in the Excelsior, maybe one Russian School in the Richmond. But for the most part, there would be a neighborhood school any kid could attend plus alternative schools you could apply to.

    I don't think this is inconsistent. Boston has neighborhood schools and Boston Latin, very much like Lowell, is merit-based. New York, Dallas, Chicago and many other cities have this, there is a suburgan one in Northern Virginia which came out #1 last year.

    So I think most schools should be neighborhood but we should have some alternative schools that doesn't apply to. You'll never have a #26 school in the country or #1 in Northern California if you make it neighborhood. Lowell has a great tradition, founded in 1856, a Supreme Court Justice, many famous graduates. It would be a shame to lose that just because some people resent it. It's a race to the bottom. You can't have a selective school because some fake guy on SFK Files who was fictionally killed in the '20s says he's for neighborhood schools.

    As for Washington being underenrolled, many kids close by want to go and were told they could not. It maybe would be, but at present it is not. There is no space. My daughter has a friend a few blocks away who was sent to O'Connell.

  113. The immersion program helped turnaround many a struggling school. Turnaround means that the scores at the school, as a whole, no longer look so terrible.

    The hard way to incrrease scores is to work to get the low scoring students do better. Another way to increase scores at a school is to get different students. Hence immersion, to get different students. To a large extent, it is a shell game about statistics. Even if you tried to argue that having better students at the school helps the poorer performing students, the immersion track is different from the GE track.

    With the exhorbitant amount of spending at the "discretionary spending magnet schools," as I have labelled them, the low and the better achievers will be in the same GE track.

    This is an improvemet in terms of less game playing on statistics. The cost, however, is significant--the starving of all the other schools in the district for their fair share of discrestionary funds.

  114. But you are the one promoting neighborhood schools and you don't want to send your own kids to Wash. It is just like your admonistion of public officials who claim support of public schools but send their kids to private. Your words don't follow your actions.

    There shouldn't be merit based schools. This undermines the premise behind neighborhood schools which is that everyone should be able to attend a quality school. One large reason why people don't want to attend neighborhood high schools is because the quality goes down when the top 10% of all high school students abandon the neighborhood schools for merit based schools like Lowell. You promote the quality neighborhood schools measure but advocate policies that lower quality for everyone else. our position just doesn't make any sense and seems more self-serving than anything else. No wonder you blab on about the wonders of personal issues like study habits, rather than advocate for education reforms that mights make all SFUSD high schools quality neighborhood schools. It suits your purposes.

  115. My point was simply that there are many Asians in the schools considered black schools and they do fine. Asians have great character in terms of studying, so they do fine wherever they go. The same is true of Jews. If everyone studied like Lowell kids, every school would be as good as Lowell. It does hurt the other schools some, but you have a chance to earn your way in and that makes kids study harder in Middle School, so a lot of the kids that didn't get into Lowell but really tried end up going to Lincoln. In many places, it's OK to go to college or not. Here, everyone wants their kid to go to college, so that helps achievement. Lowell could be a plus in that it improves our middle schools.

    Would you favor having all neighborhood schools? Are you in favor of SOTA? I'd like to see SOTA expanded personally. I think there are more kids who are good at art and being rejected. We have a huge arts community, I suggest they increase SOTA from 600 to 1200. It would make more people happy.

    Lowell does get less money.

    My point on musical chairs was that they need to work to get black families studying together 8 hours every Saturday like I do with my kids. That's harder to do, to convince an entire people their habits, not racism, are the reason for their poverty, or at least the reason they can control, to teach them that Asians are doing it so that proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that it can be done, and to convince them to make that lifestyle change and buckle down. That would be an achievement, as Charlie would say, moving chairs is just a gimmick. If I see the average Black and Latino kid in SF getting 800 or 900 like white and Asian kids, then I'll be impressed with SFUSD. But it will take convincing them to change their basic way of life, including summers.

  116. I have one gate and one at-risk kid. When students at risk at other schools get three times as much funding and have all sort of supports in place to help them, why is it that my at-risk child with an IEP has a resource teacher at the school only one day a week and gets very little in the way of any additional support? I'll tell you why - because the district is run by administrators who only care about their own. It is unconscionable that students with similar needs are treated so differently. Our Board of Education is a disgrace to all people who believe in equity and equal treatment under law.

  117. Consider the favoritism at the discretionary spending magnet schools to be an incentive (bribe) for better achieving students who live near the low achieving students in the southeast to stay in the southeast. We used immersion as the incentive/bribe, but as completely separate tracks that was not entirely satisfactory. It did keep the school open, however. Now the incentive/bribe for the GE track, to wit, the discretionary spending magnet schools.

    I did not realize this strategy of school administration until Don brought it up. We are all indebted to Don's eagle eye on budget matters.

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  119. Because SFUSD elects to run its Title One Program with the Schoolwide instead of Targeted Assistance model, by virtue of their differences, high performing students at low performing schools get benefits they don't need and low performing student at high performing schools don't get the benefits they do need. And when SFUSD has the opportunity to ameliorate these kinds of inequities by tranferring the $36 million TIIB grant to help disdvantaged and at-risk students at better schools, they refuse in the name of equity. This is great injustice. That is why I say Carlos Garcia is nothing more than a liar, a thief, a coward and a disgrace. What kind of person steals from children?

  120. Don, I pay you a compliment, and then you go off and shoot yourself in the foot.

  121. Thanks for the compliment, but my job as I see it is to fight for the rights of students who are after all minors and, therefore, rely on others to protect them. So when I see the Superintendent trappling on the rights of the very students he claims to champion, I think it is time to call a spade a spade. I'm just saying what most teachers in this district already know, but are not in a position to say.

    So thanks, Charlie, and sorry to disappoint you, but I see no reason to be polite to the man that is robbing so many children of the education they deserve.

  122. I might be doing the same as the Superintendent, strictly as an incentive and bribe to southeast middle class parents to stay in the southeast schools, as challenging as those schools are.

    In the same vein, even if immersion costs a little more at the MS level (I'm not talking about a 7th period) I'd be open to expnded MS immersion in the SE.

    I'm all for incentives and bribes. I'd like to be a little more open about it. I'd like to watch out that the other schools, the schools not part of the "discretionary spending magnet program," are not starved too much. Maybe an ES the size of Alamo should have one counselor. Maybe there are minimum standards to guide discretionary spending.

  123. What I see is, on the one hand, a school that has no counselor, no IRF, no programs whatsoever to help at risk children and, as in the case at Alamo, a special ed teacher that only works one day a week and, on the other hand, schools that have so much money and redundant services that they can't figure out how to spend all of it and risk losing it for that reason. Now this directly impacts the education of my child who is in the SPED program, such as it is. But I should be more polite and respectful of the Superintendent? He has it entirely in his discretion to provide services to all qualifying students, but he refuses to do so. Do you know why? Because if he concentrates his efforts at a few schools, he's more likely to show some statistical benefits and he can stick that feather in his hat. Well he can stick it someplace else. What burns me up is his reputation as the champion of the underserved. He is the architect of the large swaths of underserved students in SFUSD, both of my children being in that group.

  124. 1. The statistical benefit is false if all that has been accomplished is to increase the average scores at the school by getting a different mix of students. The feather for that belongs...below.

    2. Is the proficiency gap of the struggling students, in particular, closing? That is the statistic where the feather does go...ontop. We are embarked on a southeast discretionary spending magnet program, by fiat of the Superintendent. It may well increase the average score at a particular school by rewarding SE middle class students for staying in the SE.

    But the true acid test is the proficency gap of those who were struggling, and are still struggling, despite the money pit of the southeast discretionary spending magnet progam.

  125. My whole point all along has NOT been to begrudge the extra spending, but to ask for some modicum of balance and a metric to determine how to fund. We put in place a Weighted Student Formula to fund students according to need. But that funding is just a drop in the bucket compared to what students in the SZ get in addditional funding above and beyond the WSF.

    Please see my new topic on the forum about how the CDE has temporarily pulled the funding on the Superintendent Zone SIG schools due to violations of law, the result of administrative mismanagement of which I often speak.

  126. You've heard about trophy schools.

    Now we have "money" schools. Money schools are the ones favored by the de facto southeast discretionary funding magnet school program.

    When we follow the money on discretionary sending, we see this unofficial policy.

  127. There's nothing unofficial about it. The Superintendent Zones have been touted widely by the District and followed in the media as has been the SIG funding for them. Superintendent Garcia has advised parents to send their kids to SZ schools if they don't like the way the funding scheme has impacted their current schools, which is to say that he's willing to sow discontent in the name of social justice. He's not elected. That means he's got the Board in his pocket.

    In San Francisco you don't have to hide the policies which are couched as in service to the underserved. District leaders use terms like underachievement and underserved interchangeably. But who is really underserved in Superintendent Garcia's brave new world - Alamo or Muir with more than a 3 to 1 difference in per pupil expenditure?

    Shame on him and shame on the Board of Education whose members have a duty to serve all of SFUSD's students. But I don't expect any uprising anytime soon. When you see the way Rachel Norton cozies up to him at Board meetings it strikes me as unlikely that she will question his judgement on equitable per pupil funding. He's bulletproof given whom we've elected to guard the public trust.

  128. I talked to someone with a special ed child in Davis. The public schools there are providing for them far and above anything SFUSD provides.

    The financial impact of the money school southeast discretionary school magnet program is that the successful schools in SF become no money schools. It is the no money schools in SF that are broke.

    There are schools in SF that are not broke. They are the money schools favored by the Superintendent's discretionary spending.

  129. Special education is a largely unfunded mandate. Much has to be paid for out of the general fund, rather than from restricted categorical stream. This puts a drain on resources. Combined with the State education funding crisis, the predicted future decline in Federal dollars and the hoarding of large amounts of discretionary money for the Superintendent Zones and you have a perfect storm.

    Charlie, I'm glad you see my point. The problem is that parents are very removed from the funding part of education to see how we are really getting ripped off in SFUSD. And I'm afraid to say the inequities of this administration will likely grow as a result of the increased discretion that is being directed towards the districts. When the leaders have genuine equity in mind such power can be a force for good. But with a man such as Garcia and his band merry men (well women, with the possible exception of Yee) things will become even more lopsided.

    You see, they have a very simple prespective. The data driven professionals don't look at children, they look at numbers. If high performing schools seem to do well despite the cuts, they figure the cuts are OK. It may have occured to them that high performance and cuts don't jibe with their theory of social justice funding, that is, if more money increases performance less must decrease it. But as I said before, it isn't really about social justice. It is about keeping as much money out of the union's control so that favors can be handed out at will to preferred contractors.

  130. Is this how/why Cobb is getting a fairly large makeover? I drove by it the other day. It looks pretty darn nice.

  131. Nothing to do with it. That is an expanded ADA upgrade paid for with school bond money.

  132. Don is the whistleblower about the rich school/poor school favoritism in SFUSD discretionary spending.