vouchers moving forward, despite research!
Posted: 26 July 2006 05:49 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Just a few days ago, the National Center for Education Statistics released a study that showed that public schools are as effective or better than private schools when income and community factors are taken into consideration. [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/07/15/MNGI7JVJ361.DTL]

But that hasn’t stopped the christian right and their friends in congress from shoving school vouchers for private and religious schools down our throats. [http://headlines.agapepress.org/archive/7/242006d.asp]

Make yourselves heard! Write to your local papers and your congresspeople to support effective public schools.

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Posted: 27 July 2006 11:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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A surprising result, at least to me.

The study says that the students in public and private schools perform about equally when income and community factors are taken into account, which is pretty telling.

I went to Catholic school in Philadelphia for a good 11 years, mainly because the academics were much, much better there than at the neighborhood public school, and there were fewer crime and behavior issues.  My local public high school had teachers that were raped by students, kids who were shot or stabbed to death, and many other problems which made it a less than ideal learning environment.  Only families that could afford the tuition could send their kids to private schools.  So, the private schools in the region likely scored higher in these tests than the public schools.  But the private school scores in that urban environment are likely comparable to the suburban public school scores, which are fed by families in a similar income and community bracket.  And the private schools in those ‘burbs could be scoring even higher…I guess the point is that there is still probably a disparity in quality of education, or at least test performance, in public school and private schools in the same area.

This is not a vote for vouchers—I think that they take away valuable resources that could be used to improve our public schools, along with being an unconstitutional support of probably religious education.  I just think it more likely that one could get a better education in a local private school than in the public school, at least the kind of education that makes them perform well on these tests.

Debbie

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Posted: 28 July 2006 05:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I think I read your point to say that: in tough neighborhoods, private schools do better because they are for those families with enough money to pay for the better education. That argument makes some sense. Usually this is explained by supposing that having that “disposable income” to pay for private school suggests that the family members are better educated and have better paying jobs, or that they feel education worth the extra expense and are thus devoted to making sure their kids succeed.

If one assumes that these statements are true, then voucher programs will not be successful. Those who receive vouchers will not be better educated/better paid, nor did they demonstrate a devotion to their child’s education. Unless other reasons are posited for why private schools are better, I don’t see a logical justification for it.

Often, proponents of private schools for low income communities look to the safety and discipline in those schools. But kids can get kicked out of private schools for inappropriate behavior. So parents invest their time and energy in making sure their kids behave, or else they are no longer in that school. You can’t kick kids out of public school. So I wonder, then, if vouchers for private schools will only make public schools that much worse, as those students who really are “left behind” in the public schools are the ones least capable of succeeding. There are no easy answers to school problems, particularly when they are compounded by daunting economic challenges. Vouchers sound like a nice solution to fans of private (and especially religious) schools, but I think it’s unlikely to fix anything.

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Posted: 28 July 2006 06:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Sorry my point was expressed so convolutedly. smile  I think you understood my point obliquely.  The survey in the article said that when economic and community factors are taken into account, private and public school students performed similarly on the tests.  I think that yes, what you said in your first paragraph is correct, those families who send their kids to private schools probably have more money and different community factors than the general public-school families in the area.  This is not the case in just tough neighborhoods, though.

In a nice neighborhood, the local public school might be great, with lots of educational opportunities and money for extracurricular activities, but the private school might offer equestrian classes or something, along with a smaller class size and more challenging classes.  I have the feeling that for most people the local private schools generally offer better education in reading and math than the public schools do.

I do not at all support vouchers, though, and I agree with you that a voucher program would not be successful.  I’m not sure what you meant here:

Unless other reasons are posited for why private schools are better, I don’t see a logical justification for it.

By “it”, did you mean vouchers, or a reason why private schools are better than public schools?

If you meant vouchers, then I agree with you completely.  If you mean the latter, we can get into it in future posts.  I am, however, biased.  smile

I wonder how private school kids would compare to public school kids in science.  I know that in many conservative Christian schools, students get the religious story of the age of the Earth or where stuff comes from, along with a “scientific” explanation of the Flood burying all the dinosaurs and creating the fossils, etc.  It’s too bad they didn’t compare the schools in that subject.

Debbie

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Posted: 28 July 2006 06:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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[quote author=“DebGod”]I know that in many conservative Christian schools, students get the religious story of the age of the Earth or where stuff comes from, along with a “scientific” explanation of the Flood burying all the dinosaurs and creating the fossils, etc.

It is my impression that schools go through certification every few years ... this is the sort of nonsense that should be checked for during the certification process, so that schools that persist in teaching it can be decertified.

After all, would they certify a school that taught that 1+1=3? Or that Washington gave the Gettysburg Address?

Frankly this is the sort of thing that school certification exists to combat, or so I thought ...

rolleyes

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Posted: 28 July 2006 07:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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As to Debbie’s question about the “it:” I mean there needs to be further justification for why private schools are considered better. The research points out that those schools are not better when income is controlled. So my point is that the private schools only appear better because the families pay. That is:
[list]1. The tuition costs filters students whose education/income is relatively high or whose family is more committed/involved.
2. Greater family income and involvement are related to greater academic success and fewer behavioral problems.
3. Thus, private schools in low-income areas have higher achievement than their public counterparts. This is a result of family factors.[/list:u]It is these same reasons why, as Debbie noted, public schools in suburban areas often outperform private schools.

My point is that the use of vouchers removes the conditions that make private schools appear effective. The vouchers give students the opportunity to attend the private school, but does not increase the family’s education/income or committment/involvement in the students’ school life. I argue that these students would not benefit from the private school environment. At the same time, some voucher plans involve taking money away from public schools to give to the private school. The voucher plan then hurts all schools.

I think it will take a much more thoughtful, and perhaps difficult, process to improve education. Two suggestions that I’ve recently heard are:
[list]i)  Have teachers paid much more, but tie increases in salary to measurable success in students’ growth & learning. This has some problems because it is difficult to measure “performance” of the teacher when each class and each individual student have different needs. The assessment of growth therefore becomes problematic.
ii) Have all families pay out-of-pocket for some portion of their children’s public school costs (and decrease the property tax rate) so that every family recognizes that they are paying for education and will therefore not take it for granted. This system is used in other parts of the world, but may be misconstrued to mean that education is not an investment that everyone in the community should make, not just the parents.[/list:u]I’m not sure if I really agree with either “solution.” But I think the cases for them are more substantial than those for a voucher system.

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Posted: 28 July 2006 07:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I wish I could remember the story of the Flood as I heard it from Kent Hovind, or “Dr. Dino”, at a presentation he gave at my college a few years ago.  It starts with Genesis 1, when God separates the waters above from the waters below.

6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.  9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good. (NIV)

That meant, according to Hovind, that there was a layer of water sandwiched under the Earth’s crust.  Then when God became angry at the world, he caused the Flood by rupturing the crust of the Earth.  Gravity made the crust press down on the waters below, which shot the water up forcefully in the air, causing the rains.

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.  (NIV Gen. 7)

Oh, and that crust rupture?  It’s proven by science, for it became the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, of course.  I guess God’s rupturing of the crust caused plate tectonics.  The sedimentary rocks in the Grand Canyon etc. are from the Flood too.

His was the most incredible (as in unbelievable) PowerPoint presentation I’ve ever seen in my life.  Yet my friend Victoria, who went to a Baptist elementary and a Bible Baptist high school, learned all of this in her science classes.  She didn’t learn about evolution or the more likely age of the Earth until she went to college, where she was at a distinct disadvantage in biology class.  But her reading and math skills were above average.  Yay private religious schools.  :?

Debbie

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Posted: 28 July 2006 07:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Yeah, and Immanuel Velikovsky wrote that Venus was ejected by Jupiter 3500 years ago, and that this explains several Old Testament legends!

Crazy stuff.

My question is, if the certification bodies allow this sort of nonsense to pass for valid information in a science class, how can they come back and decertify anyone else for teaching any damn thing that comes into their head?

:?

*Harrumph!*

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