Chavis on CNN.com: Money won’t fix bad schools

Ben Chavis, former director of Oakland’s high-performing American Indian Public Charter School, surfaces again to promote his educational philosophy (and new book) — this time on CNN.com.

“I believe all the money in the world would not be enough to improve schools run by incompetent public school administrators,” he wrote in a commentary published this week. (Last month, he called to ask what OUSD’s total budget was. I gave him the figure I reported in June, a fact he attributed directly to me in the piece.)

An interesting assertion to make, especially at a time when schools are making such deep cuts, with more to come. In your view, is there any truth to his argument?

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com Sharon

    At this point, anything about Ben Chavis is about sensationalism. The attention he constantly gets from the media is totally out of proportion to his accomplishments, because given the big picture, only a tiny fraction of students have ever attended his schools. It’s as if no other OUSD students have ever produced high-test-scores, which just isn’t true. They’re out there, you know, just not all collected in one spot.

    Chavis overall contribution to improving schools and public education reform will be negligible; his approach will never be able to be taken to scale. The term “fringe lunatic” comes to mind. Nextset would probably be able to do a better job than Chavis with strategizing an approach for the masses.

    Sorry, Katy, but enough is enough. How about, instead, a story on how much money pro-school privatization “venture philanthropists” have been supplementing the budgets of OUSD’s charter schools, to pay for all their extras?

    Here’s a look at the Walton Family Foundation philanthropy to Chavis’ schools. There is a good chance he applied for/and received additional financial supplementation from other pro-charter organizations, but this is all I could have quick access to. I understand that, when he was principal, he drew a negligible salary because he had considerable personal income sources from elsewhere (property ownership). The difference could account for how he helped pay for all the extras at his school, like giving cash rewards to students.


    2005 Form 990 (for grants given in 2004)
    – American Indian Public Charter School = $20,000
    In 2004-05, the total student enrollment was 150 kids. Only one school was in operation. From his Walton sources, Chavis received an additional $133.33 to spend on each student that year.

    2006 Form 990 (for grants given in 2005)
    – American Indian Public Charter School = $230,000
    In 2005-06, the total student body was 196 kids. Only one school was in operation. From his Walton sources, Chavis received an additional $1173.47 to spend on each student that year.

    2007 Form 990 (for grants given in 2006)
    – American Indian Public High School = $230,000
    In 2006-07, the total student body was 246 kids, 174 at AIPCS and 72 at the high school. Two schools were in operation that year, AIPCS and AIPHS. From his Walton sources, Chavis received an additional $934.96 to spend on each student that year.

    Chavis doesn’t ever talk about this, does he?

    No extra money needed, indeed.

  • Katy Murphy

    Nope! Thanks for that bit of context, Sharon, as well as the media critique.

    If you look at the wording, though, Chavis is careful to say extra money can’t help “schools run by incompetent administrators” — not all schools. I’m guessing he wouldn’t put American Indian in the former category…

  • Katy Murphy

    Also, since Sharon sort of called me out there, I have to admit that she’s right: I’m not always above using sensationalism on this blog, and Ben Chavis always seems to get people talking.

    If I hadn’t posted this item, people might not have become aware — via Sharon — of the contributions his school has received from the Walton Family Foundation.

  • http://BoyScoutXmas.com AIPCS Parent


    Re: additional funding: Per your math, an additional ~$2500 per student is raised. Even if you double that, it still is less money that OUSD spends on a per capita basis (even without including the PTA-raised funds at all the OUSD schools)

    I have no insight into the outside funding that AIPCS raises. Two things I do know: 1) Chavis does not take outside money that comes with strings attached; and 2) There is ZERO fundraising by parents and students (no cake sales, etc)

    Both my kids go to American Indian Charter schools. My daughter, after 3 years with Chavis, scored “Advanced” in every category of the STAR test. Note that when she was in OUSD run elementary schools she never scored Advanced on any of the tests.

    The place works… and does so without smoke and mirrors.

    The biggest misconception about the place is that everyone thinks it is a “repressive anti-progressive” place. Chavis’ tweaking of the media helps perpetuate this impression.

    To my mind, AIPCS is extremely progressive in that it spoon feeds the kids the things they need to progress out of the low-income vicious cycle.

  • Nextset

    OK here’s my take on this.

    Chavis is right.

    If the administration of a particular school is incompetent, extra money cannot improve the school’s effectiveness in teaching or adding value to the students. Is this news?

    I use incompetent to mean among other things an inability to get results in working with students & staff. Some people because of their “liberalism” or whatever you want to call Pollyannish thinking can’t improve the students or take them from entry level to becoming an educated & disciplined young adult. They just can’t. Their pets are probably out of control also.

    Running a school is not a place to make friends, to be loved, to get along, or any of those things. You can’t be as nice as you might like to be. It’s hard work especially if you are working with lower class students and are trying to get them upwardly mobile. Black teachers in segregated black schools of the 1950s did it and apparently better than the integrated teachers of the allegedly integrated schools of today. And that is commented on at their funerals. I knew these men and women and some of them were relatives. The current teachers don’t compare for the most part and maybe it’s because times have changed and the current teachers haven’t been given the freedom to run things the way they were previously.

    Chavis and AIPCS are probably no more radical and conservative than Sidney Poiter’s character in “To Sir With Love”. It just feels severe compared to the current standards.

    When I go to an urban public school classroom nowadays – hardly ever I admit – I am annoyed by the informality, the indiscipline and the unseriousness of the students. It doesn’t bode well for their survival post secondary school. I don’t know what the schools are thinking. I do notice that the higher (social) class schools don’t feel this way and the colleges, vocational schools and grad schools don’t either. I’m tired of the loss of standards the urban schools once had – in the name of comfort/happiness for the students I suppose. Urban School students don’t need to be comfortable and they don’t need to be happy. They’re not rich.

    I’m a black lawyer, family and friends are physicians & lawyers in the Bay Area and in Los Angeles and elsewhere. We see the casualties of black folks who can’t take care of themselves and their kids – all the time. I feel that this madness didn’t occur like this in the 1960s. Something has happened that has led to all these people being run down in the street that didn’t happen before. Sure some people got banged up at night while partying but they used to all have jobs during the day, and families.

    So my vote is with Chavis & his schools. The alternative isn’t working for poor people.

    Brave New World.

  • solid teacher

    Chavis spent his money on students.

    Many subpar administrators spend their money on consultants, consultants and more consultants. Do you really need to pay an organization to tell you that your students are not reading at grade level? I’m speculating here, but he probably spent his money on curriculum resources that the teachers and students actually used.

    OUSD throws money away on “researched-based curriculum” that sits in boxes unopened. You may be surprised at the amount of waste in our schools.

    Thanks to AICPS Parent for your amen about the school. I’m looking into middle schools and OUSD has little to offer. It’s good to hear a success story from someone on the inside looking out.


  • Cranky Teacher

    Sharon and Nextset are both right to a certain extent, but they have different values, since Nextet has repeatedly noted he doesn’t care about the “underclass” of poor people and only wants to salvage a few “brights.”

    Chavis’ model is completely limited and unscalable, however it can be a salvation for small groups of certain kinds of kids, especially at middle school.

    However, while I believe Chavis is a complete egomaniac and ass, I do think it is true that vast amounts of money can and are wasted in public schools.

    Most of this money however, is not wasted through simple incompetence but because of decisions made in Sacramento and D.C. that involve catering to educational consultants, political lobbyists and textbook companies.

    The money spent on textbooks alone — the vast majority of which are either never or only sparingly used by teachers — could fuel a radical renaissance for Oakland’s public schools, especially in career/work preparation and the “extras” like music, debate, theater and, yes, sports, that keep kids engaged in school.

    Or, hey, what the hell, OUSD, with super high turnover, could actually bring salaries up to the median for Alameda County to try to keep some folks around for more than a few years. Imagine that.

  • OUSDParent

    Katie —
    Your statement: “I’m not always above using sensationalism on this blog,” actually made me laugh, because I think your blog is all about sensationalism. I think that’s what you do in most of your articles. You’re not alone — I think that’s what 90% of all “news reporting” is in 2009.

    Your strategy is to write a tantalizing, sensationalized little piece, and throw it out to the public to chomp on. It doesn’t mean I don’t read your blog occasionally, but usually after I read your sensationalized lead-in and the various comments the lead-in predictably evokes, especially in your regular readers, I feel a little disgusted with all of us and with the state of “journalism” today.

    You say, “If I hadn’t posted this [sensationalized] item, people might not have become aware — via Sharon — of the contributions his school has received from the Walton Family Foundation.” I think that’s a cop out. You can get good information from people without “priming the pump” in this way.

    How about some true investigative journalism, with good sources, that you can be proud of? You have great access to the OUSD schools and the administration — tell us what’s really going on.

    I bet you could expose real problems and abuses in the school system — without having to sensationalize anything — and challenge the schools, administrators, and the rest of us to get them fixed. I for one would be thrilled to read some real journalism, and I bet I’m not alone in being tired of all the sensationalized drama.

    OUSD Parent

  • Katy Murphy

    I’m sorry you feel that way, OUSDParent. I guess all of us have room to improve.

  • Nextset

    Cranky: While money being spent on textbooks that are not used or needed is a big waste, your school and it’s business model are hellbent on producing products who are uneduacted and undisciplined – people nobody wants to hire. Granted a percentage of your products go on in life to a middle class existence, but that percentage would have done well anyway. It’s not the money or the waste thereof, it’s the discipline and structure the school does or doesn’t give it’s students. And the lower on the socioeconomic scale the student the more structure and discipline needed to keep them competitive and out of trouble. Don’t you agree??

  • Teacher

    On the flip side to OUSDParent’s opinion, journalists at SFGate.com clearly think Katy has developed a rockin’ education blog. I noticed they gave her a big plug last week.

    I second SFGate’s motion.

  • Oak261

    AIPCS appears to be doing quite well, and my impression is they, by virtue of their soaring reputation, are able to be selective about who attends. That doesn’t mean that all who enter have scored high in the past, but at least they are serious about working hard and are in school to learn.

    I think there’s alot to be said for that approach.

    Chavis is able to pull it off as a singular example, and I assume other strong personalities with drive and a certain measure of ability could do the same here and there, but not everywhere. Running ALL schools and districts that way would require a sea change in the canon of public education that has shaped policy for the past 40 or so years. We can’t say that it has served us well.

    One concrete consequence is that we’d probably have tracked high schools (fine with me, but many fear it), and a place to teach kids who don’t tow the line. I am referring to addressing a destructive atmosphere of coddling: what Nextset called “the informality, the indiscipline and the unseriousness.” The the 15+ year effort to achieve truly effective “differentiated instruction” over the bandwidth that exists in our urban middle and high school classes is Pollyannaism. Worse, it harms all students, and the competitiveness of the nation.

  • cranky teacher

    Nextset rights:

    Cranky: “It’s not the money or the waste thereof, it’s the discipline and structure the school does or doesn’t give it’s students. And the lower on the socioeconomic scale the student the more structure and discipline needed to keep them competitive and out of trouble. Don’t you agree??”

    Intelligent structure and fair and consistent discipline are all to the good, of course. But money does play into this, despite what you say. For example, the insane turnover of administrators and teachers at many Oakland schools means adults are unable to build personal and group structures and enforce discipline. Turnover is related to pay, among other things. Teachers definitely leave Oakland for more money elsewhere — I know several.

    [We are like the Oakland A’s of districts: Train up the young ones, ship ’em out to the big payroll clubs and patch things up with some grizzled vets. It’s the same up and down the state. One teacher-turned-principal who had great success told me when I was weighing job offers from both Oakland and two suburban districts: “Work at a ghetto school now; it’s a great experience, and you’ll never want to go back once you leave the dysfunction.” (In the end, I did the opposite.)]

    Similarly, at Oakland high schools, the number of administrators and security guards is much smaller than it used to be, which makes it harder to enforce rules and, especially, follow through with consequences such as Saturday school, parent conferences, and expulsions.

    Veteran teachers will tell you that positive reinforcement systems work better than negative ones, but again, these take experienced professionals with enough time and resources to make them work.

    Money is far from the only issue, and most teachers actually rank it pretty low on their list of complaints — mostly because they knew coming in pay would be low and resources scarce.

  • cranky teacher

    OUSD Parent is too harsh on Katy, who has done a lot of good reporting over the past year or two for a struggling paper that pays bubkis. But I do think he or she raises some good challenges.

    Specifically, I want to know a lot more about the following big picture “hard news” aspects of OUSD and less about isolated characters like Chavis, Bey, et al:

    — What is the status of local control vs state control? People seem to believe power has been given to the new superintendent and the board, but the state retains financial veto and a state trustee. Weird. How long is that going to last?! Is the state using a heavy hand? Who is making the BIG decisions over the next two years?

    — What is the new superintendent planning to do in general and specifically? Shouldn’t we know more by now? He seems very low profile, at least to us plebs.

    — The teacher’s union is being railroaded into a strike within the next 12 months, it seems to me, and I haven’t seen an article on it. My understanding is that the district has received over 20% in cost of living funds since the teacher’s last got a pay raise seven years ago. Yet now the district wants to give us a 3 percent pay CUT, cap health benefits and take away the elementary teachers’ prep. The district declared impasse and seems intent on imposing their version.

    This is simply untenable, recession or no. The cost of living around here has gone up, so must the pay. Freeze consultancy, textbook purchases, even building improvements if you have to, but you can’t keep screwing your ground troops and expect to win the war.

    — Can you make like a mega-chart to show us where the money really does go in OUSD (and where it comes from)? I think this would be eye-opening. I hear the OEA had to hire a financial whiz to try and parse the district numbers and they change every day. I know you’ve covered this in the past, but it is ever more relevant. And everybody on here wanted to know about the alleged $70 million to consultants.

    Finally, I think more feature stories could be done from school sites that capture the good and bad of real life in these halls. As opposed to just reporting on a choir or ball team that exceeds expectations, or a school that completely collapses.

    I know these are not stories you bang out in an afternoon, but they are essential.

    My two cents.

  • Alice Spearman

    Like it or not, the school works for those that are enrolled. I thought that is what school choice is all about, you choose to go where it fits. I hear they have a waiting list also. Not a charter fan am I but this one keeps it’s word. I know many parents who send their children there and like it. I also know those who have left. One thing I do know, the children do not come out like robots, which I have seen in the most charters who are touting success. Ben is a good friend also!

  • Katy Murphy

    All great suggestions, Cranky Teacher. Thanks for taking the time to share them. A few are actually on my to-do list already, and I’ll add the rest tomorrow.

  • Caroline

    Regarding praising AIPCS: I read an interesting article in the UC-Berkeley alumni mag, “California,” which contained an interesting quote about individual benefit vs. the collective good (below). That’s the point of objections to even successful (at least to the naked eye) charter schools. This quote is from an article by UC journalism prof David Tuller, who is writing about health policy, but the same principles apply. Tuller writes that when he started covering health, “I had no notion of a central public-health understanding—viewing health from the perspective of what’s best for the overall population can lead to very different conclusions and policy prescriptions than addressing the issue solely as a matter of individual medical care and choice.”

    And that’s exactly the situation with those charter schools such as AIPCS that are (at least to the naked eye — I am inherently skeptical about too-good-to-be-true “miracles,” as we all should be) succeeding with their own students.

    The issue is “what’s best for the overall population, not just “a matter of individual medical care and choice.” Interestingly, it appears that the health policy world has a much sharper view of that concept, while the much of the education policy world doesn’t get it at all.

    Tuller goes on to write: “As Americans, we live in a society that fetishizes willpower, grit, and self-reliance. We seek private solutions even when the problems demand a collective and public response. And we even deride these collective responses—such as proposals to ensure that every American has health insurance—as “socialized medicine.” ”

    By the same principle, in education, Americans tend to admire and exalt individualized and privatized “solutions,” while viewing our collective and public institution with scorn.


  • Nextset

    Charters are doing what the public schools should have been doing. Charters allow the families to segregate their kids into smaller schools run along lines the family wants to belong to at that time. We used to call this “neighborhood schools”. If your child went to the right neighborhood school, he and she wouldn’t grow up to behave like Serena Williams and Kanye West.

    Caroline: I absolutely agree that a strong public school system is essential for democracy and for the assimilation of foreign nationals into American Society.

    And by “strong” public school I mean one that is ready willing and able to impose common standards on adolescents. Maybe I’m talking about making them learn the 10 commandments – which some of the products of the public schools nowadays have apparently never heard of. And I’m not into religion either but there are some behavioral norms that had better get understood if you want in this society (and you stop at the red light also).

  • Caroline

    Hmm — I’m not sure I want anyone teaching my kids not to worship graven images, or keep the Sabbath holy, or avoid taking the lord’s name in vain. Those aren’t important values in my un-religious (yet principled and moral) book.

  • Nextset

    Caroline, As well as learning that there are rules in the classroom the kids had better learn there are rules in society. All Societies. The 10 commandments are a very old version of the Penal Code. There have always been rules. People expect you to follow them and if you don’t you get shunned or worse.

    As far as the archaic prohibition, that’s history. We have archaic prohibitions in the 29 CA code books also. History lessons are good.

    Urban schools carefully teach students that they are the center of the universe and they get to pick and choose what they wish to do when they get around to it.

    I watch (relatively) young people get life in prison – sometimes without a chance of parole – for first time offenses. And we are not talking about murder either. Yesterday I saw a developmentally disabled 20 year old with no criminal history whatsoever get a CA state prison term because he downloaded photos on the internet to a laptop a year before they were discovered a year ago. Another 21 year old, 110 lbs with no criminal priors got 75 to life for fondling (over clothes and/or without touching-exhibition) 3 underaged relatives years earlier. Crimes, yes. Nowadays crimes can quickly have life altering consequences. Ghetto kids cannot “see” crimes and can’t see consequences. Even when you tell them what the going rate is for a crime, they won’t believe you (and they won’t take a good plea bargain deal when it’s offered). The 75 to life @ 85% defendant didn’t deal because he didn’t want to go to prison (or believe the acts merited it – he wanted probation). Playing Dr with the wrong people is a capital crime for a college aged person. And it takes a lawyer to explain the facts of life to people now. (Remember, certain immigrant groups have high rates of sex between 21 year olds and 13 year olds.) Thing is, if it’s not what they want to hear they just don’t believe it.

    There are plenty and I mean a whole lot of things that fully grown children can get into that decades ago would have been handled in Juvenile Court or would have been subject to a judge’s sentencing discretion that now lead to legal execution of the remaining life expectancy.

    We don’t teach anything in the public schools about morality (except tolerating other’s behavior). Guess which population is rendered more vulnerable for this lack of training? Guess who tends to not have fathers?

    The “poorer” the student nowadays the less training they have on basic sanitation and everything up from that. I don’t buy for a minute that public schools have to withhold such training from the poor, the dull or the colored.

    My Catholic 3rd grade class may not have had a chapter in the book entitled “vicarious liability” but we learned that concept at the end of the Nun’s arm. And the boys there were as rowdy as anything in the ghetto. Murder cases now commonly have class action status.. People honestly see nothing wrong with cleaning up the scene and helping the players with their alibis.

    And the players I see are the blacks and browns. They can’t even spell Trouble. They are so clueless they readily admit what they’ve done not believing it constitutes a crime.

    The 10 Commandments is a good start. Reading the CA Penal Code aloud is a good idea for classwork also. But that’s only a start because the definitions are typically not in the Code and come from case law. I’m afraid that all their lives these kids only learn Rules after they break them.

  • real indian

    I’m tired of all this Ben Chavez BS. My friend showed me this story http://newsblaze.com/story/2009090907010500005.pnw/topstory.html about him showing up with BILL COSBY. He is using those kids for his own self intrest. So he can make some money selling his book. He’s suppose to be helping those kids, not using them up. My cousin went to this school when he was there and she said he was just plain mean. I saw his book to and I’m not that impressed. I can’t believe that Bill Cosby would help this with him. He’s supposed to care about the black community. Not the Indian community. If Chavez even is a real Indian, how many Indians you know have blue eyes???

  • Nextset

    Real Indian: Children describing a teacher or for that matter any school staffer as “mean” may be a compliment. Many of the greatest were once described as “mean” by spoiled brats – who later would send their kids to that teacher specifically.

    We learn what “mean” is when we grow up and get a job. Childhood “mean” is often not real mean.

    As far as Chavis (who I’ve never met) “using” the kids – well, grow up and get a job. People do what they want in their own self interests and in the intrests of causes they advocate. Expect it. That’s life. It’s a free country (for awhile, anyway). Is this a crime??

    And Bill Cosby is capable and competent to make his own decisions of what he does with his time and his reputation. You apparently just don’t like Chavis or what he’s about. Chavis really doesn’t need any aproval from you either. You aren’t accusing Chavis of criminal or immoral behavior I believe, just saying you don’t like his style – am I correct?

    But I do have a question for you. What do you think of the families who send their kids to Chavis’ school – despite anything they may read about him here or elsewhere? Do you believe there is no reason or no excuse for anyone to go to that school? Or are you just saying that you personally would go elsewhere?

    Does anyone care if he is a Native Indian or not? Can Indians be found with blue eyes? Why do you think he doean’t care about the black community?? Do you believe OUSD “cares” about the black community?

  • Caroline

    But this is not true, Nextset, and I call you out.

    “We don’t teach anything in the public schools about morality (except tolerating other’s behavior).”

    You acknowledge that you didn’t attend public school, and it’s not clear whether you have kids, but clearly you’re not sending them public if you do.

    I attended California public schools K-12, albeit long ago; and I have a Class of 2009 graduate and a 10th-grader who have attended California (urban) public schools all the way through. I’m a very involved parent and volunteer at their schools. Basic morals and behavior are certainly addressed all the time at school. I’m very familiar with what’s being taught and you are entirely unfamiliar with it, so how can you even say that?

  • Nextset

    Caroline, I went to Public High School in the East Bay after Catholic 1-8 grade schools.

    I am familiar enough with CA public schools and stand by that statement – although it is a generalization. Public High Schools typically not only do not teach morals and behavior they teach it’s opposites. But that’s just my experience over several decades.

    I’d really like to hear from those whose experiences are different and how so. I’d love for this to not be true, but my work with people and young people in and out of the courts is compelling. They very much not being taught what we were in High School – at all. We can talk about College life also but this blog is specifically primary and secondary education.

    The current emphasis in public school education is that morals and behavior is relative with no absolutes and that people especially “good” people are expected to tolerate all but the most violent behaviors of others. And even then bad actors are expected to be accepted later when they promise to play nice and fair. I can expound on this further but I think the readers understand my point. And for real trouble, teach a girl to grow up pleasing others, agreeing with others, and wanting (a lot) to be “loved”.

    Another way of putting it, a high school 10th or 11th grader is unable to predict or understand why Judge Judy or Dr Laura or Judge Joe Brown would take a position that that they commonly do or why. They would continue to be amazed and surprised at a ruling or judgement in those shows or a position these older people would take. You could call it the Culture Gap except we are talking about law and societial mores that are the foundation of how people do business and relate to each other.

    I see products of the public schools who have run their businesses into the ground, wrecked their jobs, occupations or professions, bankrupted themselves, wrecked their health, and otherwise not taken care of themselves their kids or their property and lives because they just didn’t learn how to live. And those are just the Civil Cases. Yes bad parents contributed to these problems but poor parenting and good schools would not have led to these trainwrecks. Good times hid some of this but tough times are here and I suppose that’s why so many people of all colors (not just black) are in trouble now.

    When I ask these people how could they let all this happen the answer is very often some variation of they were “being nice” – because being correct (as I was taught) involved some variation on saying “no” and not doing something that was pleasing to them and others at the time they did it.

    In my work I wade through an awful lot of pain, other people’s pain. Yesterday wasn’t a good day and I’m still bothered by it. I suppose I’m preaching because I can’t fix all these people, just try and help them as much as I can.

    I can’t imagine being a physician and dealing with people in real distress from preventable trauma and disease. Other relatives get that pleasure. And I watched them develop tough shells also.

    I miss the days when we thought everything would always just get better and better, for everyone.

    Brave New World.

  • Caroline

    I retract my inaccurate statement that you never attended public school, Nextset. That said, you have no current or recent experience with public school.

    Your quote below is entirely untrue and out to lunch.

    (Nextset’s inaccurate and entirely uninformed speculation: “The current emphasis in public school education is that morals and behavior is relative with no absolutes and that people especially “good” people are expected to tolerate all but the most violent behaviors of others.”)

    Public school teachers have to deal all the time with discouraging kids from committing such misdeeds as lying, stealing and hurting others — it’s a thread that runs through their day-to-day classroom communication. (I would assume that private-school teachers do too.) In addition, many public schools (and presumably privates too) focus specifically on anti-bullying and “positive school culture” (meaning don’t hurt others, lie, steal etc.), either by coaching their teachers in getting those messages across or in special programs such as TRIBES. It’s from outer space to imagine that a teacher would welcome the chaos in the classroom that would ensue if the teacher weren’t reinforcing standards of behavior, needless to say.

    What do you think teachers do in altercations and other troublesome situations? You’re really not thinking straight. I mean, I’m trying to remember the rare incidents my kids have been involved in: For example, a scene in 2nd grade where the boy at the next table grabbed the box of markers my son’s table was using, my son firmly took the box back, and the troublemaker grabbed and started choking my son. (The assailant, by the way, was one of the white minority in the school, from a good Catholic churchgoing family — gee, I’m so glad his religion taught him standards of behavior.) In your weird notions of how teachers never enforce any behavioral standards, what would you imagine happened, Nextset? On this actual planet, the teacher rapidly pried the boy off my son and marched him to the office, where she and the principal read him the riot act and called his parents. He was in in-house suspension for a period and referred to counseling too. (My son, by the way, has never even once been in any kind of trouble for anything more serious than neglecting his homework — despite his flamingly godless upbringing.) I mean, this is just one incident the details of which I’m personally aware, but this kind of stuff is what happens in classes sometimes — public and private both — and teachers — public and private — reinforce behavioral and moral standards every time they deal with it. It’s just out of touch with reality to imagine it doesn’t.

    My daughter ran into some difficult situations in third grade with typical third-grade girl bullying: “Who said YOU could play?” type crap. The teacher admonished and sometimes disciplined the bully, whose parents eventually removed her to a private school because she was having “social difficulties.” (The behavior continued in the private school, friends there tell me.) Anyway, in what universe do you think the teacher would just act like all bad behavior must be respected?

    Your whole notion is completely ridiculous and utterly out of touch with reality. As to whether more people who trash their lives come from public school — well, first you’d have to do some kind of study (I certainly know people from both backgrounds who have trashed their lives). But then you’d have to control for the fact that poor people are more likely to go to public school and also more likely to be vulnerable to whatever makes people trash their lives. Same with troubled people, since private schools won’t accept them.

    Correlation — if there IS correlation, which is just your speculation — doesn’t equal causation, as my public-schooled son likes to remind me. If you’d gone all the way through public school as he did, maybe you’d have learned enough to understand that principle too, Nextset!

  • http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com Sharon

    Here’s another anecdote about AIPCS from someone who lives in its neighborhood (me).

    Last night I was told by another local parent that an AIPCS student who was recently sick with Swine Flu and was coughing blood was told by the school to “come anyway.”

    Perfect attendance is worth any cost, I suppose.

  • Newbie Teacher

    Sharon, you’re pushing second-hand, unverified information. Sounds like your neighbor has a bone to pick with AIPCS. Might you have one two?

    Being a new teacher, I would love to work at AIPCS or a school like it. My number one interest is seeing children reach their highest potential. The rest is politics, as usual.

  • Newbie Teacher

    Sorry about that last post, should be “too”, not “two”. It’s bed time, good night.

  • Nextset

    Caroline: You assume again.

    I am far from a “Christian” type despite my familiarity with the holy rollers. I have no reverence for the Catholics and indeed believe their superstitions are no more than a cult in it’s declining years.

    So my feelings and observations are not tieds to any supposed religious fever or bias. Of course there are teachers that manage to move in on bullies or bad and misbehaving kids. BUT. The overpowering experience that I have from the public schools from infrequent personal observations of their classes in session to constant experiences with the products of the public schools (jury selection and life in the courts and streets generally) is that the public schools in no way are in the business of teaching right and wrong in absolutes. My experiences, reading and conversation with others including public school students and parents (poorer relatives are still at OUSD) are that the public schools nowadays firmly teach what the conservative christians like to call “humanism” and I call self-centered BS. My ire in this is also affected by the trends I see. I feel that despite their familiarity with some technology our graduating public school students are more and more clueless about human nature, American and World History, basic economics and economic theory. Despite earlier puberty these fully grown children seem less mature and more childish including having a lack of emotional control. Rightly or wrongly I blame the schools (and to a lesser degree their parents) for this.

    But that’s just my experience related to California urban schools and other states public schools. Your experience may be different which is why I desperately need to hear it. I could use some good news and some reason to hope that these kids might be able to take care of themselves in the bad and Brave New World they are about to get stuck with.

    You will need to write much more than this to impress me with your experience with people. Please do.

  • Nancy

    I recently heard that over 60% of Americans do not trust the media.

    The problem is not a felection of the field, its a rflection of the country. Drama sells, truth does not. Not only that, but there is but a small minority of american who still read the newspaper, most just watch TV. Thus,many do not analyze what is reported any longer as readers may do, most are told by the TV media what is supposedly truth. This blog is an example.

    I doubt that poor uneducated folks are blogging here, but I guarantee they watch TV.

    As for Oakland education, anything that is charter needs to be a sensationalist story, or an attack to sell the story. I have seen bloggers post that Katy is against charters- this I do not believe. I simply think that this town hates challenges to the system , and attack by the educated or middle class establishment, attack it at every level. That creates drama, and in turn sells papers, or creates importance. Newspapers are going broke, so smut sells.

    If anyone out there reads for truth-get off this blog.