Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Climbing Out Of The Educational Abyss ...

According to the Education Nation Summit, 
out of 34 countries, The United States is:

14th in Reading
17th in Science
25th in Math

Nearly 1/4 of 8th graders can't read at grade level.

With nearly 15% living in poverty,
there is a call to
for poor education results.


Anonymous said...

Poverty is not an excuse. It's a fact. You can throw all the money in the world at the schools (as we've done) and you're not going to solve a thing until you address the underlying root of socioeconomics.

More punitive testing does absolutely nothing to fix these problems:
Lack of parent participation
Frequent moving of schools
Environmental hazards such as lead and mercury exposure
Low birth weight
Hunger and nutrition issues
Lack of talking and reading to babies and young children
Excessive television watching
One-parent households
Summer achievement loss

Another thing punitive testing does not address is American culture, which does not value education, but rather revels in ignorance and idiocy.

We are doomed. Nothing's going to change that.

SCATS said...

To 1:03AM ~~ Why is it that inept teachers never makes the list of problems with America's public education?

Tom Kackmeister said...

Reading recommendation:

The current edition of CITY newspaper (free at Wegmans etc.) continunes a series they are running on the city school district. CITY does a good factual reporting job (excluding their liberal slant on what they do report).
That article is well done and it also includes a link to their previous article on this subject.

Also worth a read is the September issue of the SMITHSONIAN. It includes an article on the much acclaimed FINLAND school system.

My take: Let's knock down the student testing vib a little and spend a little more effort testing and evaluating teachers and administrators and in particlualr their professional motivation.

It may take a long time to get pay for performance into employee contracts in a meaningful way but it could pay big dividends if we did a better job of hiring and keeping motivated teachers and administators.

Anonymous said...

Poverty plus racism is a double whammy. Some of what we are seeing here is the result of our 30 year quest to impoverish the middle class and those who do low paid work. Deep and persistent inequality does have an effect on the way children are bought up and their expectations for the future.

If we had a first rate eductional system we might be able to mitigate some of these injuries. Our school systems however are becoming factories for corporate aims. High stakkes testing is a part of that agenda and serves no good educational purpose.

Charlie Hubbard said...

We have a government run monopoly with virtualy no accountability (like tenure) (worthless contracts) and we wonder why we have a problem?

These things are not new. The 1:03 posting - question - what the he## are you going to do about all these items? Work on the things you can (but won't) control. We have been on a decline for years.

The worst part - these kids leave our schools with a sence of entitlement that defies all logic.

Anonymous said...

In nearly all reports on educational reform, the main focus is always on reforming the schools. The reports will center on teacher preparation, curriculum, length of the school day, teaching methology, number of computers, smarth boards, uniforms, gender schools, Saturday school and the list goes on and on.

Rarely will the report speak to the home. This is an INSULT to the importance of the parent and the influence of the home in a child's education. The home is responsible for getting the child to bed early, having a study place at home, feeding your children, showing the importance of a good education, getting them a library card, reading together, getting your child to school, clothing them, buying school supplies, taking them to cultural community places, being involved in their childs school and BEING A LOVING, SUPPORT PARENT.

Are there a few "deadwood" teachers, maybe a few, but the vast majority, I will say 98% are dedicated hard working teachers that work their butts off to teach the children that they are responsible for in their classrooms. Sadly there are many more "deadwood" parents today. Gone are the days "When if you got in trouble in school day, you got in double trouble at home tonight." Now we have "My child did not do that." How do you know that, you were not present?" "My child told me he/she did not do it and he/she would not lie to me as we have good communication between us" The school is wrong, the teacher is wrong, the principal is wrong every body is wrong but not the student.
Looking at only one thing that Vargas is trying to do in the city school district and that is student attendance in schools. Where are the parents? Why is it the schools, the police or the community's responsibility to get the students to school? Again where the parents? Some of those students were missing 30, 40, 60, and 80 days of school. Please tell me how can the schools be held responsible for a child's education when they are missing 80 days a year?

Successful student academic progess takes the SCHOOL,the TEACHER and the HOME.


Doug Skeet

Anonymous said...

"the 2011 HHS poverty guideline for a family of 4 is $22,350". The negative effects of low family income begin at a much higher family income than the poverty level- not an excuse but a reality that school districts must deal with. By no means is it the only problem in education but it is a major contributor.

38% kids in greece (2009/2010) qualified for free/reduced lunch. $41,348 family income for four is upper level for reduced lunch eligibility (2011/2012).

Anonymous said...

To SCATS at 1:45 AM:
The problem is not inept teachers. If you re-read the comments of 1:03 AM you will be on the right track. As that person says, "American culture, ... does not value education, but rather revels in ignorance and idiocy." That statement points out the greatest problem education faces today.

SCATS said...

To Tom @6:22AM ~~ Are you suggesting that Greece has been hiring substandard teachers & administrators? If so, how can that be since we are constantly told that we get many applicants to choose from for every job?

To Charlie @6:40AM ~~ Agreed!!

To Doug @734AM ~~ Personally, I get tired of hearing how horrible all of us parents are. It's been the boardroom mantra in GCSD for the last decade at least!

I'd like to hear how the folks in charge of our district are responsible for MUCH of the trouble, since:

1 - parents aren't present in the classrooms;
2 - policies prevent students from ever recording what really goes on inside them;
3 - those who run the schools water-down academics by cutting electives, instead of extra-curriculars;
4 - grades are very often subjectively assigned;
5 - honor rolls are overflowing with achievers but the test scores show they aren't;
6 - the "powers that be" are fine with the kid that wins the race by .01 seconds but can't stand to give an academically talented kid the honor of valedictorian because it might be by only .01 points in GPA
7 - textbooks are tough to come by but our administrators constantly look for more ways to buy more "Smart Boards," iPads, etc.

Given items 3-7, school district employees & BOEs are making VALUES STATEMENTS THAT STUDENTS HEAR LOUD & CLEAR!!

Kids understand that academics aren't really the reason they are in school because those who run them show these kids in many ways that other things are more important ;)

Anonymous said...


Stop it!. You are smarter than what you are writing today. You see your involvment but you are the exception. What are you saying to us? Do you think the majority of parents are involved in their child's education?

Your points:
I never said all parents but for example whose responsibility is it to get their children to school?
#1 I don't know what you are saying. Parents can come into a classrom.
#2 I don't know what you are saying. What policies?
#3 Parents don't force their children to take advance courses. Parents sign off on courses. Students choose weaker, lower level courses because they do not have to work so hard. Parents approve this. How many parents spoke at the BOE meeting about these cuts?
#5 Agree to a degree. Like our society. No more middle class. Have and have nots.
#6 Agree
#7 I do not believe their are not textbooks. Maybe the kid has not paid for the last lost book and can not get a new book until the lost book is paid.

Show me data for your last paragraph.


Doug Skeet

Anonymous said...

6:25,1:03,8:46 Good little Marxists all of you. Food stamps at an all time high but hunger is part of the equation? How about personal responsibility how about a little of that. Well the 60's radicals kept it up with the establishment is evil our ideas are better BS and this is what people like them have wrought and now you don't like it so much. Teachers are well intentioned until they are Unionized and then and then well just log on to the National Education Association or the United Federation of Teachers website and take a look. You don't like what you are seeing with public ed well take a long look into the mirror and you will see the real problem. I will end with your Union boy Shanker's quote " I will advocate for the students when they begin paying Union dues". Public School Teachers and Public Ed is a bad deal period.

SCATS said...

To Doug @9:29AM ~~ Just so you are aware, the portion I wrote in bold was a general response to what several of you have written, not an "attack" on you personally.

I know you didn't say all parents, but what percentage are you pointing a finger at? You ask for data, well how about the next person who blames "the parents" tells us the data they have supporting that contention in relation to GCSD (since that's what we're familiar with)? My last statement is something many kids pick-up on from the underlying messages the adults in charge give in how they handle the things I enumerated.

Yes, parents can visit a classroom, by previous arrangement! If a student comes home & tells dad their math teacher is a screamer, a rage freak, there's nothing the kid can do to show anyone else that might be true, without subjecting themself to persecution ... or worse.

The disciplinary code prohibits students from having cell phones (cameras), and tape recorders are contraband. It's been that way for years.

My item #3 was a reference to the BOE eliminating courses from the budget, instead of cutting extra-curriculars! How many TEACHERS/ADSMINISTRATORS spoke to the BOE? NONE!!

#5, you say you "agree to disagree." I have NO CLUE what basis you have for disagreeing and I see little to no relationship to haves/have nots in the honor holl lists.

#7 - Textbooks - ASK THE PARENTS BY A SURVEY!! I've heard textbook complaints every year for 20 years. You NEVER hear about any discussion of textbooks at budget time. Why is that? I think because, again, it's not a priority!

SCATS said...

To 11:07AM ~~ That quote was very insightful, wasn't it? ;)

Anonymous said...

To 11;07 List of highest scoring countries: South Korea, Finland and Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai in China and Canada.

Calling names is not nice and gets little accomplished...

Anonymous said...


I did not say "I agree to disagree" Please check I said "Agree to a degree"

You are avoiding the basic question concerning parental involvement, do you think parents have a very important role in the education of their children?

I am on record here of saying it is the school, the student and the home that are responsible for academic success. I put the importance of parents at 33.3%. Parents have a great deal of influence at the lower levels of school and less as the child goes into middle and high school.

All of this discussion is a gross generalization of the issues and there are always exceptions. I realize that but generally parents are backing away from their child's education.

Based upon the absence of parents at parent conferences, open houses, sporting events, principal meetings, signing homework sheets, calling teachers, responing to teacher emails and phone calls I would make an estimate that 40% of the parents have little or no involvement in their childs education.

If I would call two active Greece teachers, my guess is that they would state a higher percentage.



SCATS said...

To Doug ~~ I apologize, I misread that one sentence. However, I'm still not clear on what you meant about haves & have nots as it relates to my statement.

Doug, I am sure there are SOME uninvolved parents. However, I'm also aware that many involved parents get put down by teachers, too. Ever hear the term "helicopter parents?" Who coined that phrase?

I'm also aware that parental involvement isn't really wanted in classrooms following 5th grade at best. How often are parents given messages like "Teachers are professionals" or "It requires an advanced degree to teach a child" ?Both of those statements are tossed around whenever parents get too involved in Susie's classwork.

I disagree that parents are 33.3% responsible for a student's success in school. In reality, most teachers want parents "involved" only in certain clerical tasks, like signing papers, report cards, hauling them around, buying copious quantities of supplies, etc. They certainly do NOT want parents questioning why Johnny got a "B" even though all of his work sent home had "A" on them. Do you think it doesn't happen? It's happened in our family, more than once, by more than one teacher along the way!

In my opinion, Open Houses are a total waste of time ... nothing but a PR night. Conferences reveal little that I don't know, unless I ask what it will take to pull that "B" up to an "A" next quarter ... and at that point, the stammering begins.

Doug, I'd like to see a study that correlates lack of attendance at Open Houses, sporting events, PTA, etc. to the actual decline of a Greece student's academic performance on NY State tests. You cite that up to 40% of parents are under or uninvolved. Well, if the kid is rested, fed, dressed for the weather, has his homework & backpack when he gets on the bus, THEN I BELIEVE THE PARENT DID THEIR JOB! Going to Open House isn't required, nor should it be. It's what happens between those 6+ hrs that they are in GCSD classrooms with the person holding the MS degree that is supposed to count most!

Anonymous said...

Teachers or their representatives seem to always fall back on lack of parental involvement as the reason for poor performance.

If the parent is so vitally important in the education of students why do we have to continue throwing ever increasing amounts of money at teachers.

Why don't the teachers and their union advocate for or create a fund to offer monetary assistance to the parents of low-income, underperforming students in an effort to get them more invloved?

Anonymous said...

Rhetoric about Marxists just doesn't cut it. Who is a Marxist? certainly not Shankar, I'm not his biggest fan either but wild attacks miss the point.
Can we talk about issues and not senseless labels meant to smear opponents. There is enough to discuss without that stuff.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we need to come to grips with the idea that 10% of these kids are never going to get it.
Maybe it's time we got that 10% out of the regular schools so the other 90% can learn.

SCATS said...

To 3:12PM ~~ And maybe we ought to admit to ourselves that another 15% probably aren't really college material, but would do very well in vocational/technical training programs where they could learn & earn an income after graduation.

Anonymous said...

SCATS:We maybe we are closer to agreement than it appears. Your last paragraph is right on. I agree with that but what I am saying and many teachers are saying that what you outlined is NOT being done. Parents are not doing what I would call the basics that you outlined.

Kids tell their teachers they were texting until 2 am under the sheets, slipped out of a window to go to friends house, no time to eat in the morning because of everyone is over sleeping every day and kids not in school for 60 days. This is NOT parenting.

I agree these are basics that are not being done by current parents. I would add to the list reading at home, valuing education and being a supportive parent.

Somewhere out there, I am sure there is a correlation, that would show students do preform better in school with INVOLVED parents as you and I define good parenting. Not just attending Open House.

As you said about teachers and administrators sending a message to students, as to what is important and what is not important, I will make a case that when parents do not attend Open Houses, to meet your child's teacher or when you do not attend parent conferences on your child, YOU SEND A MESSAGE to your child as to what is important or not important.



Anonymous said...

Most people that learn to do a trade do learn it after graduation. Where would they learn it before? The Wemoco classes are for cosmetology and food service. Automotive? Anything else?
The schools seem to plan for all the students to go to some college after graduation. How many of Greece graduates do that? How many in the city go to a 4 or 2 year school? How many go in the armed forces?
So the school system prepares all for college and those that choose can go to a trade school. And those that choose can go to college. Maybe it is not the job of the Greece schools to teach a trade. Maybe it is the job of the counselors to wake up and help students choose from more than one path after graduation. Maybe the counselors and the state ed should assure that there are vocational schools after high school. But none in Greece in case they upset the neighbors with students relaxing on the campus and buses causing odors.

SCATS said...

Doug ~~ One last thought ... please think about the messages sent by teachers who wear union shirts to class, or who decide to not attend certain events due to not having a new contract, or who do the minimum because the contract hasn't been renegotiated also are a problem.

Anonymous said...

No credible evidence or citations exist to prove that Albert Shenker ever said "When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children."

None. Whatsoever. Nada. Zip.


It's an attractive lie commonly cited by conservatives because it fits their worldview.

Charlie Hubbard said...

I don't disagree about the parents - my problem as stated earlier - what can you do about it?

What 'standards' do we have as a district? The mention of the 50-60 days off rang my bell. Let me keep this simple with two words


Someone tell me the kid that misses 50 days of school is held back??

Again, what standards or expectations do we have and do we stick to them?
My point is knowing we have #### parents tells me we need standards even tougher. AND MEAN IT.
If WE make excusses for the kid are WE not just as bad as the #### parent?

Anonymous said...

Cosmetology, food service and automotive?
How about also offered by WEMOCO: computer technology; carpentry; plumbing; residential and industrial electrician; certified nursing assistant; heating and air conditioning; baking; graphic and commercial arts; media production; heavy equipment operation and maintenance; welding; laboratory technician; and dental assisting.

All students should be CAREER or COLLEGE ready upon graduation. Going through WEMOCO gets students a leg up on the career path.

Anonymous said...

Doug, thank you for your energy on this topic.

You want a true indicator of where America is today, just go look at the PISA scores with the poverty equation taken out and you will see that when comparing apples to apples America is a lot closer to Finland, Singapore and all those other countries in the top tier.



SCATS said...

To Doug & Charlie ~~ If students are missing 50-60 days of school or more, why isn't the district stepping in earlier to make contact with family? Why aren't we proactive about reducing truancy? It's my understanding that when the Town of Greece omitted funding the truant officers, GCSD didn't bat an eyelash in response! In fact, it was several years before a BOE member even thought to inquire about the issue. GCSD is asleep at the helm far too often, my 2 cents worth.

To 6:15PM ~~ I'm not sure that the source matters as much as the fact that many feel the attitude contained in it is pervasive among those who work in the public education sector.

Anonymous said...

SCATS: That is my point about a parent at least getting their children to school. Honestly what can a school do?
In the past I have:
1. Called parents..hanged up on or they swear at me. Talked to parents, no change in behavior
2. Called parents to come in..no show. Parents come no change in behavior.
3. Go to the home..no one answers. Invited in no change in behavior
4. After 20 days absence from school you can go to court for a PINS petition. You will wait a min. of 3 months to get into court.
5. First time in court judge may give poor little child a second chance. Must judges look at only absence as a minor problem as they deal with big problems.
6. If the student is 15 yrs. old the courts will not take the case as the student will leave school at 16.

All of the above must be accurately documented with a perfect paper trail. All with certified letters to the parents. If they are separated to both parents.

If the judge rules in favor of the school a case worker is assigned to the case to work with the parents.

The time that the above takes is unbelievable but I have done all of the above with many students. If the parents or parent will not cooperate we had little success in changing behavior.



SCATS said...

Doug ~~ I thought school personnel were able to report parents for child neglect/abuse? Failure to send a kid to school is neglect, isn't it?

On a different issue, I heard tonight's study session where Special Ed students, students of different races/ethnicities and students from low income homes were discussed once again in relation to lousy test scores. I MUST ASK:

Isn't it possible, probable even, that teachers & administrators are delivering some subconscious message to certain groups that amounts to "We really don't expect you can/will achieve."?

How often are such students overtly told that they CAN succeed by school staff? When adults layout HIGH EXPECTATIONS, kids often perform to the level of the expectation set ;)

Anonymous said...

6:15PM Al Shanker in my opinion is a socialist shakedown artist. Much like the NEA and the UFT and NYSUT and GTA. the Shanker blog you reference would not put his inflammatory rhetoric on display for all to see but he said it none the less. I suppose you think that Billy Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn were not contemporaries of his. Same radical rhetoric nothing changes just the faces

Anonymous said...

Interesting reading this thread. I would offer this quote by social activist and writer Eric Hoffer. Every great cause begins as a movement becomes a business and degenerates into a racket. Public Education is now a racket run by and to serve the interests of the racketeers.

Anonymous said...

I fear the problems are much deeper than some of the superficial blame placement contributions.

Our society recognizes sports performance much more than academic performance. We Recognize young men and women in Greece and put them on a Hall of Fame for the "outside, social" activities' where is the Academic Hall of Fame? Not that these other activities are "bad" , but where is the call to academic excellence?

Maybe it's because of grade inflation.
Maybe it's because the parents don't instill a sense of education value or expectation.
Maybe its because education is a long term benefit, not an immediate gratification.
Maybe it's a hundred other reasons...

But fundamentally, we don't value education and academic performance. We are raising a generation of kids who cannot read, reason or think critically but who can tell you the batting average or yards per game stats of their favorite sports celebrity.

Maybe we should look at schools that are succeeding and try to emulate what makes them work:
SOTA- finding an interest that attracts and motivates students to work in order to realize their interest.
Charter schools with longer school days and more days in a year
Other successful schools around the country that we could shamelessly copy.

Where, finally, is the academic research that produces countless Ed D and PhD students that could really help us with the practical problem of education today?

Anonymous said...

12:23 -

Really? The Weather Underground, a bunch of 60s radicals, is equivalent to the leader of a group of teachers who joined together to assert their right to collectively bargain? What are you trying to do here, relive the 60s? Word up. It's 2011.

That's a fascinating peek into your worldview.

That peek is only compounded by the argument that even though there's no verifiable proof Shanker ever said the words attributed to him, you still believe it's an accurate quote because it fits your perception of what he stood for.

SCATS said...

To 8:29PM ~~ I'm fascinated that even though that quote has been posted & discussed on this BLOG in the past, it's origin wasn't questioned until now. Does it sound like the guy who headed a large powerful union? Yes!! Just because you can't find the documented origin of it doesn't mean he never said it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again. This is very illuminating.

Anonymous said...

12:23 Got it it is 2011 I lived through the 60's and the seeds that were planted then are indeed producing bitter fruit today. Is William Ayers not a founder of the Annenberg Chicago Challenge a spin off of the Annenberg Foundation. He is also "Professor" of Education at the University of Chicago and an adviser to our commander in chief on matters of public education.