Mike Miles Is Tough, but Sometimes the Gentler Way Is the Road to Hell for Children

Categories: Schutze

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Love of children, compassion for children, the instincts that propel us to shelter and nurture our young: These are profound and innate. But that doesn't mean they can't be tricky.

Back in the '90s I was on the board of directors of Head Start of Greater Dallas. Briefly. African-American leaders came to me, they said, because they knew I was a "bleeding heart." They said a group of white people were pressuring Head Start to change the way it dealt with very young black children, trying to force Head Start to treat the children in ways they considered harsh, mean and, frankly, white.

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George A. Crofutt, "American Progress"
We didn't win the West and create the nation of today by believing in "multiple intelligence forms."

It was the very first inkling of the movement we now lump as "school reform," based on the urgency of bringing all children to full literacy and mathematical competence by the end of third grade. The people pressuring Head Start to stiffen up its teaching model were not in fact all white, but most of them were. They were operating out of a body of research that later inspired Texas Governor George W. Bush's education initiatives and later his "No Child" program when he was president. And, by the way, they wanted Head Start to treat kids way more rigorously than most middle-class white people do.

Compared with Northern Europeans, for example, or Asians, for that matter, the white American middle class is very soft, gentle and lap-dandling in teaching its babies to read. No drill and kill. No slaps in the face for drifting attention. Somehow that just feels fundamentally American. Most of us don't believe any kid should get slapped for being a kid.

But the truth is that the middle-class method, soft or not, works. Middle-class American kids show up for kindergarten knowing what a book is, that it has pages, that the pages have a squiggle code on them called letters, that the letters make things called words and sentences, and that if you know how to turn the pages and decode the squiggles a story will bloom in your mind.

Poor kids know none of that. A book is a brick. Where's the "on" button? What do you expect me to do with this sucker?

So how do you catch the poor kid up with the middle-class kid? What about this more fundamental question: Is it too late already? If a kid has a bleak beginning and illiterate parents and impoverished circumstances, is that all she wrote? Is it over for that kid already?

Decades of research findings -- so uniform that no one even considers them controversial any more -- say no. You can catch the kid up. You can bring that kid to full literacy by the crucial deadline of third grade, just like the middle-class kid. Thereby you will change the entire balance of that poor child's school career, because from third grade on he or she, having learned to read, will be able to read to learn.

How? The hard way. All children, no matter what house the stork brought them to, are endowed with a marvelous capacity for rote learning. All of those squiggles and codes and rules that the middle-class kids learned the soft lap-dandling way, the poor kids can learn the European way, by memorization.

It takes some finesse. You can't make kids do it at the end of a whip. Not in our society. They have to buy into it themselves. Their school needs to have a kind of team spirit that says, "We're the smartest kids in town, we can do anything." That tends to depend on principals and teachers who can sell the deal. But it can be done.

All kids can be taught to read. All kids can be taught to do numbers. Teaching them to read and do numbers by the end of the third grade is the single biggest thing this country can do to resolve centuries of corrosive inequality.

All of this leaped to my mind this week when I read an essay on The Dallas Morning News op ed page by retired Dallas business leader J. McDonald Williams, arguing that the current Dallas schools chief, Mike Miles, should be fired. I disagree strongly with him about that. I know, however, that Williams has earned the right to speak on these issues with his own decades of selfless service and generosity.

But he used a term in his essay that flew off the page like a cinder in my eye. In attacking Miles' approach to school reform, he said, "Among its weaknesses, this model fails to take into account multiple intelligence forms and learning styles as well as socioeconomic conditions of students."

The phrase is "multiple intelligence forms." I first heard it when the Head Start staff tried to talk me into voting against allowing those very early school reformers into Head Start schools 20 years ago. They told me it wasn't right to try to teach poor black kids to read like white children. They said that kind of approach ignored multiple intelligence forms.

Multiple intelligence theory was introduced to the popular audience by Harvard researcher Howard Gardner in a 1983 book, Frames of Mind, arguing that human beings can have different kinds of I.Q. -- musical, logical, visual, spatial and so on. I bet that's an area I would be wise to keep my nose out of.

I can't help sensing in my gut, however, that multiple intelligence theory, whatever its internal validity, gets hijacked, misappropriated and abused the instant it is married to race, if for no other reason than that race itself is such a specious concept. Culture, sure, history, sure, habit, sure -- all of those things could impact the kind of intelligence that is inculcated and encouraged in children in different sectors and niches of the society.

But skin color? C'mon. People with darker skin have more musical intelligence, less logical intelligence, than people like me who look like they've been under a rock all winter? Who believes that?

The black Head Start people who wanted me to get the school reformers off the backs of black children believed it. And I note that J. McDonald Williams, who is a smart, deeply principled man, uses the phrase. I think they believe that operating on the basis of that idea is a mercy for children born to cruel circumstances.

I think it's death. Death. Anything -- even love, even duty, even the most profound commitment to protect -- everything that gets in the way of teaching kids to read and do numbers by the end of the third grade commits those children to illiteracy and pushes them out the schoolhouse door early into a truly cruel and racist criminal justice system where their lives will crushed forever.

The black Head Start officials who wanted to spare poor black children from tough instruction were acting from love and a profound desire to protect and nurture. J. McDonald Williams, I believe, is acting from those same impulses. They're wrong.

I know that the anti-Miles cadre has convinced itself it is only anti-Miles, not anti-reform. But look at what they say. The only leader who will satisfy them is one who accepts the notion that poor children have fundamentally different potentials and fundamentally different destinies from privileged children. They espouse what is now education writer Diane Ravitch's latest line -- that the only way to change an under-privileged child's destiny is to improve his level of privilege.

That's wrong. We can do it now, right now, with what we've got, with the social reality that confronts us. The pain and disruption of the reform process Mike Miles is helping to lead us through right now are the cost of salvation for the children of the city. They are a small cost and a good price if we keep our eyes on the prize. To give up now, when the process is already showing positive results, would be morally inexcusable, even if our motives are morally pure.

That's a tough one, isn't it?


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82 comments
williamstodd
williamstodd

Jim, we have studied the data from the roughly 150 elementary schools within DISD from 2012 and 2013.  We have plotted their academic achievement on every subject in every grade tested along with that school's percentage of economically disadvantaged children.  What it shows, regardless of grade or subject tested, is the following....the poorer a school is, the broader the dispersion of academic achievement among schools with the same level of poverty.   Said another way, when we look at schools with say 90% poverty, there are 50 to 60 point differences in academic achievement among these schools.  This is not a DISD phenomenon; looking at Dallas County, or even all schools across Texas, particularly at the elementary school level, shows the same phenomenon.  National studies show the same thing.

What this clearly tells us is that poverty is NOT destiny.  Within our own backyard, we are seeing open enrollment (non-magnet) schools with high levels of poverty achieving at a substantially higher level than others with the same demographic.   Our challenge is to understand the effective practices at the outlier schools and see whether those practices are occurring at the schools with lower achievement.   The contributing factors could be a number of things; inconsistent resources....less training....a lower expectation culture, etc.  Regardless of the reason, what it tells us is that children, despite the challenges of poverty, can learn at a high level and we should NEVER allow anyone to tell us that they can't (or that we need to somehow account for "multiple levels of intelligence" and "different learning styles").    Let's resolve to do the best we can for our kids and figure out what's not working (and solve it) instead of coming up with excuses to explain the disparities.  We are better than that.

BettyC1
BettyC1

I support Miles also ,hate Don has taken wrong position on this one.If DISD is ever to catch up its now with Miles.All kids can learn if taught.

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

damn Jim.....what a TERRIFIC article and commentary!!

eastdallascam
eastdallascam

Now, I haven't researched this, but, directing teachers to NOT to give assignments or classwork to elementary-age students that involve coloring sure doesn't seem like something that would benefit said students, rich or poor, black or white. This is an example of Miles' "reform" instruction in the classroom.

sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

thank you for this article


same here in CA


same all across the nation and the world


the left speaks out of both sides of their mouths


the country tries to please them and it causes the breakdown not just of the country but of the very community they try and help



holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

I suppose the best examples are the Asian kids.  Whatever method as a class of Americans they employ puts them at the top of the class and in the universities on scholarships. 

Whatever they’re doing, let’s do that. 

And I suspect it is a variant of the KISS rule. 

Yeah, yeah, yeah . . . I know.  80% of black kids are born out of wedlock and they don’t have the other side of the push-pull equation. However, that is no excuse half those ninth graders don’t even graduate from DISD.  

It may be a reason but it is not an excuse.  

There may be reasons why a fella finds himself delivered into the TDC system, but it is never an excuse.  I can’t be, for then the American Dream is a gyp, or in fact, a nightmare. 

Unless, of course, the Horatio Alger axiom truly is but a myth.

rbeezlee
rbeezlee

So not a darn thing about the death of Hermann "The German" Bockelmann?  It was only a handful of years ago that The Observer gave his "Europe Today" program on KAAM major kudos.  Requiescat in pace, Mr. Bockelmann.  

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Geez...all this energy. But how many voted in sch bd elections. We are all arm chair philosophizing. To little end. Until we stand up to the sch bd and demand they not micromanag, and keep their parochial interests in check, no Supt has a chance.

I've not made a judgement on Miles yet. Not enough time.

As for the charge against him, there is so much conflicting info, innuendo, and emotion, it is hard to judge. So there is a good reason NOT to judge. Also, if it is true that a contract document was so hosed up, he was right to get involved before it got in ked and dug the district a bigger hole.

markzero
markzero

Ask Prof. George Farkas (who created the very successful Reading One to One structured tutoring project in the 90s at UTD and is now at UC Irvine) what just a little time spent by parents, a few times a week, can mean to the progress of a child's reading ability -- and how quickly it can be lost when there's no reinforcement from those at home. 

When I was a tutor in his program, we tutored kids individually for just 15 minutes per session, for between one and three sessions a week, during most of a school year. The only rewards we gave out were stickers. All the kids, as far as I knew, were Title I funds eligible (the program used Title I funds from each elementary school where we operated), so they were all "at-risk." Additionally, many of the kids I personally saw were first-generation English speakers, so that was an additional barrier. But even with the limited time we had to work, the kids we tutored ended up on average about half a grade ahead of their peers that were not in the program, according to exit testing.

We didn't test different teaching styles for different races or backgrounds. We had one system for everyone. We taught simple memorization, from sounds and shapes for letters, to the whole words they could form. All memorization requires reinforcement, of course, so it was pretty easy to tell with some kids whether they had involved parents simply by whether they retained everything (or even jumped ahead) over weekends and holidays. Even parents who didn't know any English themselves could help make sure their kids studied in general, or hold the flash cards we taught the kids to make for specific practice work, or invite neighbors' kids over to help study.

If you can spend just an hour teaching a kid to read, spread out each week, you can do a lot more than we ever accomplished in the research program. It is lazy and shameful to pretend someone of a certain race or ethnic background can't learn this way. But it's ridiculous to think it can happen without parents being involved in the process at home.

bruce.levy1
bruce.levy1

The kind of teaching that went on in America throughout the 40's, 50's 60's and '70's produced the smartest, most prosperous and innovative generations in world history.  These were the days of small classrooms, well-funded public education, strong teacher unions, etc.  What's changed in America to want to dismantle that model?  What's changed is the reemergence of Neo-Liberal economic policies that are deeply suspicious of unionism, the public sector, teachers, etc.  The point is to return to what has worked so well... not to institute new policies that seek to turn teachers into production line workers, who can be replaced by 22 year old's from teach for America, etc.  There is whht Freud called "Kettle Logic" at work here. You create suspect metrics that don't really measure learning, you claim that the metrics have gotten better under a certain system, and then say we need more of that system.  But, are nonsense.  Jim:  Do you think teaching for the test actually makes our students smarter????????  As a university teacher for 30 years, I can tel you it doesn't!!!  I see everyday students who have been taught that way, and I am amazed ant their inability to grasp concepts, think analytically, and solve problems.  


ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Ba Da Bing, Jim.  The time for addressing different skills like math, music, etc. is after gaining some competency in the basics.

all these meddlers are fools, experimenting with/on kids.

explain to these old farts that any kid left behind, or pushed out early by ostracism, fear, whatever, is potentially in their garage at 3am.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

Multiple intelligence theory was introduced to the popular audience by Harvard researcher Howard Gardner in a 1983 book, Frames of Mind, arguing that human beings can have different kinds of I.Q. -- musical, logical, visual, spatial and so on. I bet that's an area I would be wise to keep my nose out of.

It's pretty well established now that all these various IQs are simply small variations of g, the ultimate intelligence factor.  If you have high g, you are likely to be higher on all those IQs, and if you have a low g, then you have limits on how high any of those can be.

You are right to stay out of it, though, because skin color has a very, very high correlation with g, and unfortunately blacks in America are a full standard deviation behind whites and Asians.  Right now, it's very much up in the air how much of that is nature vs nurture.  There's been some evidence that black children adopted to white parents in white neighborhoods achieve white levels of g up until adolescence, but the catching-up factor seems to end there.  There's good arguments both ways on why; if it's all genetic, then that's when it really expresses, and if it is all nurture, then it's our culture that tells the black kid to "find his racial identity" which also includes being dumber (because we are dumb when it comes to race.)

So yeah, stay away from IQ, because there are LOT of uncomfortable truths there.  If you are willing to risk it, The Bell Curve is a good place to start (you know, that horribly racist right wing screed that just happened to be written by a dyed in the wool libtard like yourself.)

bruce.levy1
bruce.levy1

I have been over the years a great admirer of Jim Schutze. He has long been the go-to guy in this town when you wanted to get the real story or the story behind the story.  And, I appreciate his ongoing critique of the way power brokers in South Dallas play their games at the detriment of their constituencies.  BUT--when it comes to Mike Miles, Schutze is blinded by his loathing of certain Black leaders in this town.  Nowhere does Mr. Schultze actually discuss the nature of Miles' so called reform agenda.  Here he just has some vague sense that Miles will be tough on the kids--and toughness will be a good thing. Mr. Schutze doesn't bother to talk about what Miles is really up to, how he is replacing one patronage system with his own, how he is putting his own "Yes" people in place, how he is attempting to centralize authority--or how his so called reforms undermine teachers as a professional class, demoralize staff, and serve no purpose than to artificially ramp up highly suspect "metrics."  Mr. Schutze is a partisan in this debate.  He should be Miles' Communications Director!!!!!  Fact is, Mike Miles has proven himself time and time again to be a horrible manager, an ineffectual Administrator, a horrible messenger.  He is little more than a Broad Academy flak, who thinks that military and business models are somehow transferable to the the world of education. Jim needs to school himself on educational policy and pedagogy!  


wcvemail
wcvemail

The Association for Psychological Science (APS) published a 2009 study in "Psychology Today" stating flatly that Gardner's theories had never been proven because they had never been properly studied. That's still true. Even the U.S. Dept. of Education quietly removed references to learning styles in 2012. Nonetheless, this pseudo-science continues.

Preferences? Sure! Psycho-social needs, such as Donna Harris mentions about need for hugging? Absolutely (and bless you) Binding, must-be-accommodated restrictions? No.

Disclosure: M.S. in instructional design, 20+ years in adult training and development.

DonnaHarris
DonnaHarris

As a long time volunteer in DISD, children most certainly have learning differences and IQs,  both overall and in certain specialties, however, it is not differentiated by color or class. Luckily for middle and upper middle class children, whose learning difference may be such that a public school cannot work, we have specialized private schools to meet those needs. Unfortunately for low income children, there are no such schools, because they cannot afford them, so we attempt to work with them as best we can, using the public school model, which doesn't always work.

On the other hand, we do have children (of all colors)  with healthy average and above average IQ's who come from homes with special circumstances, which is not the child's fault.  Children in K-3, whose Mothers are prostitutes or drug addicts, as an example, have peculiar language, body mannerisms and an almost desperate need to be hugged and held, that make many middle class volunteer tutors uncomfortable. Trying to figure out the PC of the situation or overcome our own guilt for letting it cross our mind, that what we are doing is hopeless, can be emotionally daunting, even for the most rah, rah, sis boom bah cheerleading Mom. Those children most certainly do get left behind. The teachers and community is not to blame.  But we need reform to help these kids.

I am one of those East Dallas parents whose children were middle class and had advantages, but they were not bored. As an involved parent, I made sure they were not.  In 15 years in DSID, the teachers always gave challenging work to those who needed it. They have to. It is state law.  On the other hand, I did not think my kids were  too good or special to be in the same classroom with children who didn't have the same advantages they did.  Believe it or not, children from poor homes have just as much to teach our children and family, if one is willing to open their mind and heart, as a child from a middle class home. 

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@williamstodd 

That's actually the first really interesting helpful productive thing I've heard anybody say about this stuff around here in some  time, maybe including yours truly. Notice I said maybe. Thanks. That really is interesting.

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

@eastdallascam DEPENDS UPON WHAT THE ALTERNATIVE IS DEFINED AS WHAT TO GIVE THEM AS ASSIGNMENTS.   COLORING IN ITSELF TEACHES COORDINATION AND MOTOR SKILLS.....BUT READING AND MATH ARE FIRST REQUIREMENTS.....AND THOSE ARE WHAT THE EARLY SCHOOLS MUST ABSOLUTELY PUT FIRST....COLORING AND CRAFTS ARE COP OUTS FOR ELEMENTARY LOWER GRADE TEACHERS AND TEACHING ASSISTANTS.  THEY OCCUPY WITHOUT EDUCATING.

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

@ozonelarryb FACE IT....YOU HAVE TO BE STUPID TO RUN FOR SCHOOL BOARD IN DISD DUE TO THE RACIAL DEMIGOGING AND THE TURF WARS ....NOT ON THE WHITE SIDE EITHER.   DALLAS COUNTY HAS BECOME A CESSPOOL OF RACE CORRUPTION USING THE FINANCIAL CLOUT OF DISD AND DALLAS COUNTY.

markzero
markzero

P.S. for the people who wonder what this has to do with DISD, I forgot to mention that these were DISD schools in which we operated.

Guesty
Guesty

@bruce.levy1 Yes, if we let our high school graduations rates settle well below 50% nation wide, like we did in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, and if we send less than 20% of our kids to college, like we did in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, and if we just assume the girls will stay at home and focus their education on home economics, like we did in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, and if just exclude black and brown children entirely from the equation, like we did in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, then things would be great.  

Data:  http://0-nces.ed.gov.opac.acc.msmc.edu/pubs93/93442.pdf

bmarvel
bmarvel

@bruce.levy1"Neo-Liberal economic policies"

Your misuse of the word "liberal" -- even with "neo" attached -- casts a deep shadow over some of the otherwise cogent points you make. Your comment would have been far more convincing had you not tangled it up in bogus political analysis.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@bruce.levy1 

So does your model get the credit for the high schools in Dallas where one percent of graduating seniors meet the state's college-ready metric?  All this bullshit here from teachers sounds like it's coming from some gold ribbon Olympic team. Why don't I hear more alarm over the achievement gap? Why don't hear a single voice taking responsibility for the staggering failure of contemporary public education. Anybody out there concerned?

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@ozonelarryb 

Yeah, maybe we're all talking at cross purposes here. It;s fine to talk about sensitive teachers following their teacher muses tp reach each kid AFTER EACH AND EVERY KID CAN READ, WRITE WITH A SOLID GRASP OF GRAMMAR AND AND DO BASIC MATH. 

bmarvel
bmarvel

@everlastingphelps  "skin color has a very, very high correlation with g..."

Phelps - you swallowed the Bell Curve poison. Correct for poverty, family situation, neighborhood, peer pressure and what differences remain?

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

@bruce.levy1 Having been a successful Turn Around Corporate CEO for years, not all turn arounds are successful.  Reason, the entrenched losers do not want to give up their power or turf to fix the obviously failing components.   It is entirely possible to take any kid that is not brain damaged or lacking, and to fully educate, socialize, motivate, and to exit as a productive citizen....no matter what.  The issue, is WHO has time and money to allow EACH child to progress at the CHILD's rate, and to educate in manners consistent with the WAY that that particular child grasps information.  Now put them into a blender, and on an assembly line, make them change classes constantly moving around a building, make them sit totally quiet and endure boredom from drones called teachers, and you are going to assemble a version of the Edsel.....looks like a human, runs like a frog.

Jim is right.....Miles has the right ideas....but man, NO ONE likes his brand of changes....but they hated Hiney too, and everyone that came before as well.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@bruce.levy1

Listen, man, Mike Morath, a better man and a smarter man than I on this topic -- well, on any topic -- gave all the arguments on these points a couple days ago,   

http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/latest-columns/20130910-mike-morath-why-disd-leader-miles-should-stay--evidence-of-academic-success.ece

and then Garrett Boone and Todd Williams hit it again today. 

http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/latest-columns/20130911-student-gains-not-adult-conflict-must-guide-decision-on-disd-s-mike-miles.ece

The Miles reforms are not a failure. They are a success.

The turmoil in his top staff has been 95 percent generated by school board members who are opposed to reform.  They run off his staff, and then they say, "Look, his staff ran off!" What grade are we in here? 

Not to whine or anything, but it's not fair to say I haven't written about reform and how it effects the classroom. I have.

http://www.dallasobserver.com/2013-05-23/news/in-dallas-isd-a-fight-over-principals-race-and-a-slice-of-the-pie/

 The  huge disconnect between the substance of reform and the battle over Mike Miles isn't my fault, nor is it his. Read Boone and Williams. The disconnect is the fault of people who care more about their adult control over money and power than they do about their own damned kids. 

In that sense this doesn't qualify as a debate about school reform, you're right about that. I guess after we settle the sword play over the treasure, we can check and see if the kids are still aboard ship.

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

@wcvemail first get rid of the Unions, get rid of the DEA, get rid of textbook lobbiests and religious power mongers for curricula, hire competent teachers that are not social misfits and immature, angry demigogs, and maybe school could do something positive for kids....other than cheer for football teams and raise money for the gym and band.

JMFitzmaurice
JMFitzmaurice

@DonnaHarris Other than once a week TAG class, In the six years we have been in DISD neither I nor any other parent I have talked too have seen their elementary child be given different work to suit their level. Believe me, I undertsnd the advantages of mixing different economic, educational, and ethnic backgrounds. That, after all, is the reason we chose to live in Old East Dallas. We ourselves are kind of an odd fit as we value education highly - my wife is pre-school teacher - and exposed our kid to the arts, literature, etc from an early age - but certainly do not have a "middle class" income. So I guess we mix within ourselves :)

However, treating all kids the same isn't an effective model. It never has been. I have never understood why we switched to it. Not all 4th grade English classes have the same average level of knowledge and ability, and not all kids within that classroom have the same knowledge and ability. We are still smart enough to know that it doesn't work in High School. No one would suggest mixing remedial and AP English into the same classroom. When I was a kid we separated out into different English and math groups based upon ability. This enabled each group to be taught at the pace they needed to be. We weren't teaching kids who could barely read to look for the deeper themes in Charlotte's Webb, and we weren't teaching kids who could read at an adult level how to spell cat. The Goal of each reading group was to get as many kids moved from that group into the next higher group as possible, and it worked. The same with math. Everybody got the best possible education, and the kids still mixed in most subjects. 


rufuslevin
rufuslevin

@Guesty @bruce.levy1 the kids that WENT to college were prepared FOR college, and no one was there for DIVERSITY or Affirmative Action Social Engineering.  in the 40s, many were at war, supporting war, and doing labor jobs at age 18....college was touted as REQUIRED to get a JOB...skills and attitude and stamina got JOBS.

Black and Brown children did much better in Black and Brown schools, where they were taught by black and brown teachers who did not have discipline, attitude, disrespect, and unengaged parents to deal with.    Separate but equal would have turned out better educated kids, but would not have forced cultural change on the nation which ADULTS were not prepared to work through....none of the races were READY for the CONSEQUENCES...but the Congress and Supreme Courts took over from the local school districts, and made a debacle out of education.....

this is more complex than your simple considerations take in to count.
Equal

gregmarcydagama
gregmarcydagama

@Guesty @bruce.levy1 You distort what the writer intended and you do it poorly in broad sunlight - his point was that those principles he DID articulate, if applied to ALL students equally and fairly TODAY would work to our advantage. But you know that. Now, eat crow. ~ / ~ OM

dalmom
dalmom

@JimSX @bruce.levy1 Where are you getting 1%. I think its closer to 18%, which is still deplorable, but its certainly better than 1%.  There are teachers, administrators and community members working to close that gap. For evidence, see JL Long and Woodrow Wilson going from academically unacceptable to met standards with distinction for student progress. I think that the education of the 40's-70's is glossing over reality a bit.  There were children who were not part of that system and weren't ever on any sort of college track.  

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

The fact that you are arguing this means that you only read the smears, not the book. All the things you listed are reasons posited in the book for the phenomenon.

It's there. Acting like it isn't does nothing but keep us from correcting it.

dalmom
dalmom

@JimSX @everlastingphelps Your critique of The Bell Curve aside, there is evidence that the performance of high achieving kids has actually declined during this maniacal testing experiment known as No Child Left Behind. 

stevesinbox2006
stevesinbox2006

Do you consider jones one of the trustees opposed to reform? Because from what I see in her voting record, she's given miles everything he's asked for. Has she asked some tough questions, sure, but isn't that the trustees job? Jones is my trustee and I think you've been sold a bill of goods on her. In my conversations with her, she's all for fixing this district , and need I point out, she hasn't been around long enough to be entrenched in the patronage system. I think we're going to find you got played on this. I bet there's something else driving miles (with Smelkers help ) to go after jones.

bruce.levy1
bruce.levy1

@JimSX It's easy enough in this age of disinformation to cherry pick the "experts" you choose to support your case and pile on the links. I teach my students how to evaluate sources and discern between the reliable, the unfairly partisan, and the sound.  I have no doubt that there are system wide problems in DISD.  It is not clear to me that Miles isn't adding to them.  How do you account for all the teachers fleeing the district?  What was Miles doing by sending letters out telling other districts not to hire them, regardless of their experience and credentials?   I am amazed that you are not troubled by Miles' participation in writing a resignation letter that attacks his opponents and praises himself. The man impresses me as a petty tyrant, a martinet, vindictive, and a spoiled brat. If he can't take the heat........  

dalmom
dalmom

@JimSX Mike Morath is also blinded by some overwhelming love of Mike Miles despite all evidence to the contrary and despite what his constituents have voiced repeatedly. Yes, he is smart and a know it all but that doesn't make him right 100% of the time. Todd Williams? Another supporter for reform it involved more testing and advocating for charter schools. I will believe Todd when he has been a long term educator OR actually done the hard work of sending his kids to public schools and getting involved with teachers and the administration at that underfunded public school to actually improve the learning of all kids at the school.  Do you think he goes and tells Hockaday and Lamplighter how they can improve their schools?

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

links messed up again.

DonnaHarris
DonnaHarris

@JMFitzmaurice

I asked for additional reading and  on the other hand, there are lots of things outside the classroom, which sounds like you guys are already doing. Art galleries, learning how to ice skate, ride horses, draw, sculpt, are all good teaching skills. It does not have to always be about reading and writing.  Once your child gets to college, everything they learned in public school, will be adequate. I promise. Will one of your children need to take a technical writing class to bone up, maybe, but so what. In the grand scheme, it's okay.

I am adamantly against separating children by ability.  I grew up in a homogenous school system that put 4, 5 and 6th graders in classes based on their abilities in Math and Language Arts. I was always in the lower class because at the time,  I was shy, had an overactive imagination and was a year younger than my graduating class. My parents had me start first grade at a Montessori type school when I was five, because of my big imagination, that was distracting. 

Anyway, I never want feelings of inadequacy, caused by classification, to happen to another child. Not every kid has the hutzpah to overcome misplacement and successfully graduate from college and life.

Guesty
Guesty

@gregmarcydagama @Guesty @bruce.levy1 

The simple fact is that today's educational system does a far better job of educating students today than it ever did in the 1940s-1960s.  Our top 10% is far better educated than it ever has been, and we do a better job educating a much larger and diverse population of people than we ever have.  Our fondness for our gilded history of education is built on a faulty recollection of what we actually did to educate people in the past, and we accomplish this self delusion by conveniently excluding everyone who was failed by the education system of the past.  

That is not to say that we wouldn't be better off if we increased education funding, made classes and school districts much smaller, etc.  But history isn't evidence of that because the numbers show a deplorable education system in the 1940s-1960s by today's standards.  

And by way of reference to the particulars:  Small class sizes and "well funded education" are easy if you have more than half your kids dropping out of school before the 8th grade, as was the case in the 1940s.  Education wasn't well funded, it was just that the funds were directed to a small sliver of the population.  And Teachers unions held almost no power in the 1940s or 1950s.  They didn't really get going until the mid-1960s, and even then their influence is relegated to only a few large urban school districts.  

We won't improve our education system through slogans or conventional wisdom.  If we don't think critically about what we advocate and look at the evidence (rather than seeing what we want to see), we won't improve.  The original comment is an uncritical assessment of history, and is completely useless in formulating a solution for today.    

dalmom
dalmom

@JimSX @bruce.levy1 Also, 40's-70's offered a vocational track that I would like to see return to schools. Certainly everyone should be able to read, write and do math at a certain level but if they are mechanically inclined, I see no harm in helping the child also improve that skill set and have work ready skills upon college graduation. 

bmarvel
bmarvel

@everlastingphelps  Pheps -- i read the book ten years ago, when it was first published. (I think it may still be in my library somewhere, or in storage.) I found it important and disturbing enough at the time to carefully read as well everything I could find about the book, both pro and con. I eventually came to the conclusion that the book was completely unreliable, a misuse of statistics to arrive at a false conclusion. I have seen nothing since to convince me otherwise.

The authors did cite  the reasons I posted. But they also argued that genetics play a considerable role in determining intelligence, and that race can be tracked by genetics, a conclusion decisively disproved since then. 

Since you read the book, you are aware that a keystone in   Herrnstein and Murray's argument is that IQ is inexorably declining in the U.S. How has that fared in the years since Bell Curve appeared?      


Just_wonderin
Just_wonderin

@stevesinbox2006  Don't know about her voting record but she's clearly one of the trustees who expected to be Superintendent of her own sub-school district, hiring and directing principals, etc.  Miles has taken away the power she expected to have.

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

@bruce.levy1 @JimSX TEACHERS FLEEING?  WHEN SOME DON'T WANT TO WORK HARD, OR TO HAVE DIFFERENT RULES, AND HAVE CUSHY RETIREMENTS....AND ARE ABOUT TO GET RIFFED....THEY LEAVE...THAT IS NOT FLEEING...THAT IS CLEARING OUT DEAD WOOD.  IF THEY WERE ALL THAT GOOD, THE PRIVATE SCHOOLS WOULD BE SNAPPING UP THE FLEEING TEACHERS....NOT HAPPENING.

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

@dalmom @JimSX HOCKADAY AND LAMPLIGHTER KIDS' PARENTS TAKE CARE OF MAKING SURE THE SCHOOLS ARE WORTH THE HIGH TUITION COSTS...NOT POLITICAL OR TEACHERS ORGANIZATIONS.  SMART KIDS WITH ENGAGED KIDS DO NOT STAND A CHANCE IN THE DISD BECAUSE OF ALL THE "ME FIRST" INFIGHTING OF THE RACE AND POWER MONGERS.....

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

@DonnaHarris YOU WANT SOCIETY TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR PERSONAL FEELINGS OF SELF ESTEEM?  WHAT ARE YOU?

dalmom
dalmom

@DonnaHarris Why would the BOT be developing curriculum? That is Ann Smisko's job. Their selection of textbooks is terrible and the same curriculum across the district doesn't serve low performing or high performing children well. I agree with JMFitzmaurice. 

JMFitzmaurice
JMFitzmaurice

@DonnaHarris The curriculum itself, not entirely. The enforcement that no additions to it are allowed, yes that seems to be. The linking of evaluations almost entirely to testing and the requirements for near total uniformity in classrooms were certainly his ideas.  

I know Lakewood was less homogenous back then, and I totally blanked on the time span you were talking about. nevertheless, I doubt it was majority low income and about 50/50 English Spanish speaking, from what I have been told at least - I would certainly bow to your superior knowledge of the subject. My greater point is still that different populations have different needs, and teachers and principals should be free to fill the needs of their students, not an imaginary, composite, target student. 

We will have to agree to disagree about the "inclusive classroom" model.

DonnaHarris
DonnaHarris

@JMFitzmaurice 

Is it Miles' fault what curriculum we follow?  I thought that was the Board of Trustees job, based on input by parents and what the state requires.  And the Superintendents job was to design how to make whatever the curriculum is, work.

At the time we were at Lakewood, it was NOT homogenous. We had three section 8 housing apartment complexes feeding into it and the Lakewood parents had an amazingly generous spirit towards disadvantaged children.

The Lakewood back then, is not the Lakewood of today. Not that the parents aren't generous in their volunteer efforts toward disadvantaged kids. I don't know. We're not there.

JMFitzmaurice
JMFitzmaurice

@DonnaHarris @JMFitzmaurice 

Well among other reasons, because that wouldn't be part of the "all classes must teach the same lesson, at the same time, in the same way, targeted only at the test," of Mr. Miles. 

I guess that is really my point. The same method isn't going to work at every school, for every group of kids. Lakewood is a great school, it is relatively homogeneous in it's population compared to Lipscomb - my neighborhood school which is also excellent; therefore, the classes don't reallyneed to be run the same way. The method you described worked well there. Would it work across the district? I don't know. Schools serve different populations, but if it works at your school (even if I disagree with it :) ) why shouldn't you be allowed to do it?

For example. Lipscomb has a high number of Spanish speaking parents - and therefor kids - who need to be in a bilingual classroom. Probably near 50% at the lower levels.There are also a number of kids who speak and read English well enough not to be in the bilingual class, but frankly not as well as the kids in the English language classroom for whom English was their first language. When Language arts is taught at the right pace for those kids it is way too slow for the kids like my son. If it is taught to those kids at the pace of the bilingual class, it is too slow for them. Clearly a third way is needed..... but not allowed. This is why more authority to define lessons, procedures and educational style needs to belong to the teachers, and not Mr. Miles.

DonnaHarris
DonnaHarris

@JMFitzmaurice

When my oldest started at Lakewood Elementary, they had a great program where the child stayed with the same two teachers for three years. One class was 1st & 2nd graders, the other was 2nd & 3rd graders. It was very diverse. You had to apply to the class. Oddly enough, most parents did not want to be in this class. For the life of me, I could not figure out why.

When she started first grade, she was doing some work at 1st grade level and other work at 2nd grade level. It was a brilliant program, that unfortunately, they quit doing, shortly after that. Wish I could remember the name of the curriculum.

There is not a single kid that is at a the same grade level in every subject.  The teachers were outstanding, well trained in the program and they were able to teach all the kids at their individual level. Why can't we do more of that.? 

JMFitzmaurice
JMFitzmaurice

@DonnaHarris @JMFitzmaurice  

I am the other extreme, I think it is terrible not to separate. I was separated into the highest groups in elementary school. When we moved down here that ended for my sister and I. We were thrown into an "inclusive classroom" environment. From that moment on we hated school, because from that moment on we were forced to do work below our ability, to read books we could have read years ago, to do 30 example math problems that we could have done in our sleep. I refused to do homework entirely, rather than feel insulted and bored. My grades fell from all As to Bs and Cs solely because I relied only on project, Quiz and Test grades. My homework average was 0. The second I could drop out I did, took the GED, SAT, ACT and enrolled in college.

My parents were not going to let that happen to my younger sister. They put a lot of pressure on her to make her do homework. She ran away at 16.

I should make it clear this isn't an "I'm so bright" type of thing.  We lived in the UK when I was very young.  By age 5, I could read at a US second grade level, knew my multiplication tables, an had started doing long division.  So could every other child in my class, no matter our background. It was expected, we were made to do it, and we did.

As for feelings, I don't think it matters much. Yes I had friends who were embarrassed to be in the low reading group, but my son has friends who are embarrassed and mocked because they are in an "inclusive class" and obviously behind the others and delaying the class, or have an assistant with them all the time.  In other words, I think that is going to suck either way. Which is terrible, but I don't think one system is any better than the other from that viewpoint.

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