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An Oakland mom’s take on the dropout rate and Tech’s Paideia program

By Katy Murphy
Tuesday, December 14th, 2010 at 12:20 pm in dropouts, high schools.

Kim Shipp, an OUSD parent, responds to a blog discussion on Oakland’s dropout rate and access to Oakland Tech’s Paideia program.

Paideia classroom at Oakland Tech. Photo by Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group

In response to Oakland’s dropout rate and the increasing popularity of the Paideia program at Oakland Tech, topics recently posted on this blog, I decided to give my thoughts about both issues from a parent’s perspective. In my fifteen years of experience in Oakland schools with three children, I’ve spent two of those years in a private school setting and two of those years in Paideia with my oldest son.

It is no secret that Oakland has one of the highest dropout rates in California. The constant change of leadership over the past 13 years has had a negative impact on the school system. In Oakland’s case this includes nine leaders in the form of superintendents or state administrators; no organization can sustain itself in meeting its goals without stability in leadership. This permeates down to the school level.

Take Skyline High School for example. The graduating class of 2011 will have experienced a new principal in each of their four years of high school. My son spent his first year of high school at Skyline, the next two years at a private school and is now back at Skyline for his final year. This year, when he returned to Skyline, I immediately noticed some stark differences between private and public schools. In a nutshell, private schools care about what they are doing and public schools appear not to. These differences have little to do with money, but rather willingness on the part of adults and how one entity values education over the other.

For example, at Back to School Night, I questioned some teachers in Advanced Placement classes regarding their pass rates on AP exams. To my amazement, most of the teachers did not seem to care whether students passed or failed these tests. One teacher’s response was, “we have about a twenty-five percent pass rate.” When I asked about preparing the students for the tests, another teacher responded, “ we do not do a lot of preparation because most of the students have other things to do in their lives, like work.”

Private schools pride themselves in their pass rates and there is a lot of preparation that goes on in those private schools. In private school, every effort is made to ensure student success. This is done by providing advisory meetings with students to address their issues, the dean working with the teachers, detailed e-mail progress reports of notification to parents, putting parents on weekly progress notification if necessary and even informing the parent when this is no longer necessary.

In public school, progress checks are left up to the parent. There seems to be no conversation taking place between school leadership and teachers regarding individual student progress. In private school, there is a tremendous focus on building relationships between students and staff on the premise that each student is an individual with individual needs. In public school, it’s based more upon performance and everyone is viewed in the same light. In public school teachers are protected. In private school they are not.

Now don’t get me wrong, there were other types of challenges we faced in private school, and as with anything else, it is not a perfect entity, but at least it knows its purpose. The dropout rate will continue until people regain their sense of purpose, build relationships, and take responsibility for student failure. One has to get to the point to believe if the majority of students are failing under their care, than they are failing students.

Paideia is a humanities program created by a group of teachers at Oakland Technical High School. Much like several other programs and teachers in some schools, these programs are more about the individual teachers and their philosophy than the school itself. These teachers are also the protectors of these programs, and the principal and school district officials can do little to intervene, change, expand or open them up to others. Paideia can be viewed as a “free” private school within a public school.

In 2001, my son was the only African-American senior in the program at the time. It came to my attention that a young African-American girl, whose family attended the same church as me, was denied access to the program even though she had the grades coming out of middle school; she had attended Westlake. Many of her friends who had attended Montera were allowed to enroll in Paideia. We brought this issue before the school board and this resulted in several people, including district staff, the principal at the time, the school board representative, myself and other parents, to get more sessions for Paideia on the master schedule so more students could participate. The other parents were at the table because they were debating private school or Tech. This attempt was not without objection from the original creators of the program. I even had one of the teachers call me at home to express her concerns about making it available to more students. The program was expanded to include a few more sessions, but I am not sure if it has expanded more since then. Over the years, other students of color have attempted participation but there are rigorous requirements of course work and here the advanced placement pass rate is cared about. In fact, one could argue that the program is selective because they want to maintain their successful pass rate, which at the time was about 85 percent.

In terms of some of the equity issues addressed in the blog, my definition of equity is “equity is only afforded to those who demand it and know that they need to.” In other words we live in an unjust, unequal society, and as many of the bloggers suggest, “it is in fact what it is.” As a parent, I cannot wait for a system that probably never will correct itself to provide equal opportunity and access. I have to do the best I can for my family and community with what I know.

Education, employment, opportunities, etc., has always been difficult for most groups to obtain and it remains true today. In fact, people forget that this was the basis on which the country was built, keeping the masses enslaved while allowing only the select few prosper. Remember the old adage, “ a people that forgets its history, is destined to repeat it.” We are almost there.

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  • Curious

    Alice Spearman writes “That is the impetus for re arrainging the configurations of a couple of high schools. Let’s see how long it will take them to deliver it. Stay tuned.”

    Can you elaborate on how rearranging the configurations of a couple of high schools is going to improve things? Which high schools are you talking about specifically and do you know for certain that they aren’t already improving even without your idea to reconfigure? Please elaborate. I would hate to see programs that are already improving be reconfigured and then fall back to where they were in 2003.

  • Harold

    I agree that Mr. Flint’s long posts, have nothing to do with helping the problem: discipline.

    Mr Flint wrote: “• Promoting deep disciplinary knowledge”

    What the hell does that mean? Does it mean there will be a new directive to actually suspend, or DHP, unacceptable behavior? That young ladies dressed like exotic dancers will be sent home? Does he mean it’s not “all about” the A.D.A. anymore?
    I disagree with nextset and Shawn. I don’t want to Balkanize the district.

    Is anyone listening to the parent voices on this topic?

    Discipline, Discipline, Discipline!

    Stop the racial profiling in OUSD.

    OUSD has NO PLAN for all this racial data.

    Here’s an idea for a task force: let’s find a rubric to measure the effectiveness of our site administrators, Superintendent and School Board!

    Lets do an audit of all the money spent on task forces and useless racial profiling.

  • Gordon Danning

    I’m a little confused re: why people are jumping down Mr. Flint for posting a response to a query re: what constitutes rigor. I am even more puzzled regarding why people seem to think that discipline, alone, will create meaningful academic success.

    Yes, discipline is a problem. But an equally serious problem is that there are many, many classrooms in which students are orderly and on task, yet no real learning is taking place because the students are not being even remotely challenged. I am SURE that students who read this blog can back me up on this.

    So, yes, the District needs to step up re: discipline, but it also needs to raise its game re: rigor.

  • Arismom

    So… there are over 50 respondents to this posting and only 4 for the budget cuts that are looming over the entire state?

    That is telling in of it itself!
    As an Oakland taxpayer, I would rather have Ms. Spearman and Mr. Flint respond to how OUSD will stay afloat with such burdensome debt, massive cuts, empty schools, and the vision for the “neighborhood zones”?

    I have got the eerie feeling that more measures for more taxes are coming, more pleas to forgive the 100 milion dollar loan (which by the way) is public money, and more crafty shell games are on the horizon with this and many other districts in the state.

  • TheTruthHurts

    @Arismom – post 54. OUSD is no different than most of America. We all seem to love to talk about what we want and need and leave the conversation of how to pay for it until after we have committed ourselves.

    That’s not always a bad idea (e.g. man on the moon), but it is literally bankrupt as a way of life. When you make it a way of life, you become Greece, Ireland and California.

  • Maria Ku

    Re: back-to-school nights attendance.

    You know, we’ve been struggling with attending all these back-to-school nights, open houses etc., for years. They all get routinely scheduled for the same night in elementary, middle & high school – so how are parents to attend? I’ve been talking to pricipals, trying to reschedule, make them aware, try to plan better for future years – routinely our Joaquin Miller events were on the same night with Montera, Montera with Oakland Tech (look – tonight they’re both having their semi-annual music concerts at the same hour; their back-to-school nights were at the same hour, too). This scheduling just shows how much OUSD cares about us having chance to attend. The only response from all principals involved is “have them reschedule. why should I?” Seriously.

    And why in the world ABSOLUTELY ALL school events are on Thursday nights. Could it be varied sometimes, a little bit. I teach on Thur nights, so am out of the loop whether I want it or not. I don’t get to attend ANY of my kids events, while wanting to attend each one. Why not make some of them on Mon, some on Tue, some on Wed?

    Simple questions, but it shows how much OUSD cares v. just doing it for a checkmark.

  • Shawn

    @Arismom:

    This is Oakland- what do you expect!

    Once again- welfare Baby- welfare!

  • livegreen

    Arismom re the budget is right. And just for once I wish the CA State PTA would announce a family march on Sacrament BEFORE decisions r made, rather than just reading about it in the paper after the fact.

    Along with mouningt a campaign, calls to state leaders, a statewide call for volunteers (including all the Seniors who r saving tons of Prop 13 taxes while their grandkids suffer massive cuts). Something we can actually do to influence things, instead of sitting on our asses watching it happen.

    Our PTA was forwarded a letter from the state PTA about meetings they r in with Jerry and other state officials, and possible action they might take. Has anybody else heard anything similar (or asked) their PTA?

  • Shawn

    Wait a minute. Livegreen, you are suggesting that seniors pay for the going rate property tax! Wow, obviously you are not an economist!

    Have you seen the checks cut to seniors from pensions and SSI? Most are not well to do in this state! My father worked as a machinist and has a union pension that allows him to barely meet his medical bills, housing costs and food- yet you think he should give it to the educrats who will then spend it on things such as the OUSD Thriving Students Plan and welfrae dream espoused by well intentioned people like Mr. Smith and Mr. Flint? Seniors, who have worked most of their lives and paid the state and feds twice over to pay for future droputs, and thugs who could care less about an education and further pay public employee pensions for a nice and comfortable all expense paid retirement package?

    You livegreen yet do not acknowldege those who pick the green in the fields do you. You speak from your middle class haven of course!

    Do you know what dying and homeless seniors will cost the state?

    No- I agree that we should chop the public school pensions, eliminate waste such as the County Offices of Education, eliminate the need for libraries in school (why do taxpayers pay to build up public libraries and then for a school library?), and things as such.

    This budget will whack all that old school PTA nonsense that by the way is a union ploy to espouse their views.

    Crazy times are coming you watch- soon all of these charcters in the district will be gone and where will our tax dollars be????????

    Welfare dreams are a nightmare for us the working class.

    Wake up….change is coming!

  • Works at Oakland School

    Harold, why do you have a problem with Mr. Flint stating that the schools need to promote deep disciplinary knowledge? I would hope that a student would have a deep knowledge of the various disciplines (English, History, Science etc.) rather than a shallow one.
    I would say that the goals are laudatory but dream on. I never cease to be amazed by the incredibly low abilities to understand the simplest concepts or even to follow simple instructions, which I see on a daily basis at my high school. The other half of the class is texting or talking or playing around so they make no effort to listen to the instructions anyway.
    It is a crime that these kids ever got promoted from 8th grade, or even 5th grade. Let’s not blame the teachers – even if they flunk the kids the school still sends them on.
    According to the OUSD parents’ handbook,a child may not be promoted unless they:
    • Maintain a Grade Point Average of at least 2.0
    in core courses. Students who fail a core course
    (English/language arts or ELD, social studies,
    science or mathematics) must repeat the failed
    course(s) during the following year.
    • Score at the Basic, Proficient or Advanced
    Level on the recent California Standards Test
    in both language arts and math.
    I know a lot of children who didn’t manage to do those two things but still got promoted every year at Montera. So what gives? Mr. Flint, will you try to make sure that policy is followed? Maybe if the kids and their parents know for a fact they wouldn’t be promoted they would actually try to learn.

  • livegreen

    Shawn, Not all Seniors are poor. It’s simply not true. We have neighbors who throughout their lives earned much more than we do, and yet they pay 5% of the property taxes we do.

    Not all kids who go to public school in Oakland or in the State of CA are thugs. And if that’s what you think about all young people, then you are discriminating based on age, the same way Prop 13 does.

    Most (by no means all) of the “Greatest Generation” and the Baby Boomers are happy to sit on their buts from the lousy economy they’ve left their youth, and pocket their profits and kick back and watch the State and the Country sink around them.

    Remember, the current generations are the first to earn less than their parents. The pensions of the elders are much better than the pensions of current employees, and will be of future employees (public or private). So I don’t know why you’re biased for elders and against the young. It’s not just pay that’s getting cut. It’s ALL education for ALL kids. (You willfully ignore in your argument).

    I agree that Seniors in poverty should not have to pay more than they can afford in taxes. But Wealthy Seniors should not have to pay the same rates as the poor seniors. There’s something in between everyone of a certain age getting Prop 13 (the current system) vs. just the poor of a certain age.

    Prop 13 is age discrimination against the young, all benefits go to the old.
    “Apres Moi le Deluge” is the mantra of the “Greatest” and Baby Boomer generations. With very few of them volunteering in our schools.

  • seenitbefore

    Two years ago this very day, I wrote to a nationally acclaimed African-American public policy speaker and author about some of the difficult problems facing Oakland public school youth. Here is his response:

    “There’s a lot I can say in response to the problems you cite, but allow me to briefly focus on one – school environment. Civility and orderliness is a first-order condition for meaningful education to occur. If that condition is not met, there’s little in the way of academic excellence that can be achieved. If it requires the expulsion of half of the students, it must must accomplished. I’ve visited and given scholarships to schools such as Marcus Garvey (LA), Marva Collins (Chicago, Cincinnati), and Ivy Leaf (Philadelphia). Each of these schools are black founded schools, students are from low and moderate income families (often female-headed). At each of these, 95 % and more of the students are at grade level, and up to 4 years above. Foul language, disorderliness or disrespect for one another and teachers is not tolerated. In other words, they have an environment conducive to learning and I’d say that should be your first order of business.”

    Professor Walter E. Williams
    George Mason University, Economics
    4400 University Dr., MSN 3G4
    Fairfax, VA 22030
    http://www.walterewilliams.com

  • Harold

    @#60 – Because the district is all talk. Actually, the district is all task force. I blame the adults for the discipline problems that occur in Oakland schools, or any other school district. We make the rules … I’m tired of the enabling administrators, who are obsessed with ADA. I’m tired of nexo’s, who tell administrators not to suspend students, who disrupt the learning environment.

  • Nextset

    With regard to post #62:

    Black schools before the “civil rights” movement were generally run by black males – often with military experience (vet’s preference, etc). There was no such thing as foul language, barnyard sexuality and physically acting out going on. Anyone who tried it was instantly punished and ultimately expelled.

    Women and white liberals got control of black education and the disaster we have resulted. Their point is that the Negroes are still so traumatized by slavery we can’t correct them, physically or verbally. And we can’t expel them either since we have to keep them around and tolerate anything they do. That’s nonsense.

    The rest is history. Years of black advances rolled back in a generation or two. Unemployable “graduates”.

    Kill ‘em with kindness.

    We need to approach the ghetto schools with the thought that the students there are in greater need of discipline and basic skills than the white students, thanks to the government destroyed family structure. And give it to them.

    This is off thread to some extent. Paideia is patently constructed to be (largely) Negro Free. Whoopie for them. Whatever makes them happy. There are differences between the two groups, let them go their own ways.

    Now what are we going to do for the (largely black) student population reading at 4th grade level at 9th grade? In Oakland there are more of them than there are of Paideia candidates.

  • Pam

    Great blog. My son and I have taken about the same route. Private schools, charter school, and Skyline. I feel your pain.

  • Ms. J.

    This year, as of day 72 of school, I have had 14 changes in my class make up–transfers to our school and from it–and that’s out of 24 kids. It is difficult for the rest of the class, for the teacher, and for the students who are being moved from one situation to another. As anyone who has ever interacted with children knows, consistency and routine are extremely helpful in establishing expectations for behavior as well as achievement.
    Sometimes a situation which doesn’t seem very good isn’t very good. But often a situation improves with tenacity and commitment.

  • Alice Spearman

    #51 & #54,
    I am talking about the schools on the Castlemon and Fremont Campuses. With budgets being as they are now, secondary schools that has enrollments of 300 students or less are not able to offer the academic classes needed for students to acheive at high levels, they can now only offer the minimum of services. So to throw the baby out with the bath water is not an option either. Taking what is working and adding to it will be the focus of the district with these schools. The district is looking at bringing the schools together under one roof, which combining the enrollment allows for greater funding to utilize. Offering a larger variety of class offerings, being able to provide couselors, intervention services which are greatly needed and delivering a high level of academic services to our students.
    There has been a “student flight” away from these campuses, enrollment is now at an all time low. We can no longer sustain these schools in their present configuration.
    Now let’s talk about Budget. Last year, the district cut 122Mil from it’s operating budget, it is expected that we will cut more in January after our new Govenor makes his cuts to the state budget. We have a 19M operational deficit. No matter what the district does, we have to maximize our services on a leaner budget. Employees are clamering for raises, well deserved, but what will be sacrificed to achieve this, at this time I have no idea what this sacrifice will be. We do know some things we can do, as the year progreses, the choices will be clear.
    Nexstep, We should meet for coffee, contact me, alice.spearman@ousd.k12.ca.us.
    Finally, if folks are really upset about that state of education in Oakland, you really should contact your State Legislators and demand the state stop cutting education funds. Contact your Federal Legislators and demand more funding for General Education.

  • Oak Teacher

    Wow! This is so much to take in! Blame OUSD, blame the teachers, blame the budget, blame the Union, public vs. private…I just wish that parents would simply be parents and actually raise their own children. It’s so sad, have you ever heard of “What a Business Does With Inferior Blueberries?” http://www.openeducation.net/2007/12/21/what-does-a-business-do-with-inferior-blueberries/

    In any case, I show up everyday to teach children at a school that I would never send my own children to. I have options, but sadly the parents in the community where I teach don’t. I try to express my concerns to my Administrator who simply has his own agenda to just be “principal” (whatever that means because he needs help at doing a better job). I’m so glad that I had a mother who never allowed me to “settle for less”. I come from the same neighborhood where I teach and I live near there too. This is why I’m so passionate about my career in teaching. Everyone has an opinion, but no one has ever taken time to ask for mine. Not as a teacher, not as a parent, not as a product of this very school district.

    Blah, blah, blah as the conversation continues while ignoring the most important stakeholders. All I can do is model the great teachers that I once had here in Oakland, and remember the mistakes of the not-so-great-ones trying not to make them myself. The education saga conintues…

  • Catherine

    Alice: Have we thought of doing what Alameda School District has been doing to offer courses which require specialized teachers that we cannot hire or afford – and that is to allow students to take the courses at the community college (Alameda City College) where the district picks up the $70 tab – rents books, if students cannot afford them – and the students attend in the evenings at a significant savings to the school district.

    In this case, an advanced Math or Science Teacher for 40 students would cost about $6,000 per year for tuition and another $8,000 or so for books. So, about $14,000 would do it – much cheaper than a teacher, personnel department, supply clerk, etc. The community colleges often need the seats filled and everyone gains – except maybe the consultants.

    I have taken foreign language classes with 15 year old students who see examples of responsible adult behavior in these classes. The students, young and not so young contribute to each others’ learning and everyone in the class seems to benefit. These classes also teach teens that certain behavior, such as sloppy speech, vibrating cell phones and eating in class will not be tolerated. It also shows them that respect is earned and given to those who work, share, achieve and commit.

    I think this would be something for the school board to consider in light of the expense cutting that must take place in the coming year.

  • livegreen

    It’s tune for OUSD to move beyond this race vs. that, this economic spectrum vs. that. We already have well functioning successfully diverse schools in Oakland. Yet because they aren’t the poorest or the wealthiest, few pay attention or acknowledge that they are a model for how Oakland can navigate both the ethnic and economic diversity we have.

    Bringing those kids, families and communities together. Not tearing them apart somewhere between unruly races vs. social equity for all poor.

    Bring the families together, give their teachers and families the resources to manage them, and bring in the parents to participate (by force if necessary) and more schools will b successful…

  • Alice Spearman

    #69
    Yes we are currently looking at that program. We are in conversations with Peralta at this time. However what has risin to the surface last month, it looks like due to state requirements, students taking more that 6 units in the Community College System will be required to pay full fee’s. I spoke in front of the Peralta Board Committee last month to oppose this requirement as did the school from Alameda. At this time Alameda is in conversations regarding payment of the fees. If they are no successful, we will see how Alameda proposes to continue the courses because all the students are students who’s families cannot affor the fees. Hopefully it will be workd out.

  • Public School Teacher

    Nextset-I really wish you would stop perpetrating the genetic argument for academic success or failure. Often I find some of your arguments plausible, but not when you fall into Bell Curve territory. If a child studies hard, learns tenacity and perseverance and is disciplined in their study habits, they can succeed in Calculus. Many kids give up on math because they give up easily when the problems become difficult, or they lack essential math skills they should have mastered in their early childhood. Those who are successful often have parents who sit at the table with them and force them to complete their math problems. Is that related to genetics? No. Could it be cultural or reflective of the values or work ethic of the family? Possibly. Never say genetics and never attribute academic success to genetics and race….wrong answer!

  • Catherine

    Public School Teacher: I agree with you that motivation can be better than “giftedness.” This is my huge argument against excellent scores without effort in elementary school.

    In studies on “gifted” and “highly motivated” elementary students tracked in longitudinal studies looking at how they do in college and career, the biggest predictor of dropout, jobs / careers below intellectual level and dissatisfaction has nothing to do with ethnicity, socioeconomics, race (yes, may be different from ethnicity – also may be biracial), religion, parents’ marital status, sexual orientation of parents or students, IQ (assuming in this case it is at least 115 or higher as it was done on a specifically identified population), or the overall quality of the school (although 80% or more of the teachers must have been credentialed) – the biggest predictor of not finishing college in SIX years and/or being underemployed had to do with excellence without effort in elementary school.

    Why we do not require extreme rigor in elementary school is beyond me. It is where students learn to think, learn to build their perseverance. Students who must work hard in elementary school learn self-motivation, self-discipline, and self-direction. I, too believe that students can learn I think we as teachers hold them back academically in elementary school and then expect them to soar in middle and high school – it doesn’t work that way – at least not for those learners fleeing the district.

  • Nextset

    Public School Teacher; You’re living in a fantasy world. Grow up and study the numbers.

    If you want to sit around the campfire and pretend the numbers we are all faced with are a result of nurture not nature, you are free to do so. I say that both are involved with nature being dominant. Now what are you going to do tomorrow about the OUSD kids?

    The liberals have had their way with public education since the 1960s. The results are more than plain. Continuation of these destructive policies raises the issue of extinction of blacks as a political and economic force in the USA (combined with immigration). It’s just that simple. The black common denominator is being pushed so low the group can’t avoid hiest rates of premature death by venereal disease and homicide much less economically prosper in the best economy in the world for the upwardly mobile. And then there’s the crime numbers, what, some 15x as likely to end up in prison??

    And you swear all this is just nurture, we’re not nurturing enough. So you presumably want more taxpayer’s dollare to nurture some more. You plan to get some more blacks into Paideia, you think that’s the answer to these stats? It is not the answer. Paideia is not the answer to the black dropout rate. Programs like this is much of the cause for the black dropout rate in Oakland.

    Until OUSD puts together an education program that is appropriate for ghetto blacks, OUSD is going to continue to have a 50% plus drop rate with the concurrent morbidity and poverty rate amond the Oakland Blacks that at the moment are the core constituiency of OUSD. We need less college prep (as in almost none) and more Voc Ed, more military prep, more life skills, more home & consumer ed, and more socialization and deportment, more standard english and basic math, more PE and health (and weight control) and more apprenticeship and internships.

    (4 year) College prep should be in a different campus. Jr College should be the primary route for all who can take additional training.

    The (4 year) college bound can teach themselves as a practical matter, if the school doesn’t get in the way. No it’s not always that easy, but I think OUSD has to stop using the “college bound” as the sole excuse for ignoring and throwing out the far more numerous lower class black enrollment of OUSD.

  • Nextset

    typr: Paragraph 3, “highest rates”

  • Public School Teacher

    Nextset- Don’t over-generalize what I said. I am not living in a fantasy world. I agree with many of your points, but disagree with the genetic argument. Don’t go into your liberal diatribe with me…wrong person. I didn’t say anything about tax payer dollars, but I do believe we need to strengthen elementary school programs so that kids succeed.

    You need to relax and stop saying things like, “ghetto blacks”. It’s pretty disgusting to hear, even though you think it’s the truth. It demeans the many students who work hard in school, black or otherwise. Merry Christmas.

  • Nextset

    Public School Teacher: OUSD has a drop out rate approaching 50% of the black students. Combine that with the black students who stick around OUSD but can’t write a letter or read a newspaper.

    That’s a large number, and a large percentage of the OUSD population. These are the ghetto blacks I refer to. These are the people I argue OUSD is here to service, not the college bound. And “ghetto” is a very specific and useful word. It fully describes what you are dealing with here.

    As far as being disgusting to hear, it’s supposed to be. OUSD has these people coming of age without the care that should have been given, especially given the money OUSD gets from the treasury. This group is not college bound. They should have been attended to better so that at age 18 they would have some skills to make a living with. I don’t believe that group have above average IQ but that doesn’t stop one from becoming marketable or from making a living.

    The results are pretty clear and the OUSD students are not desired by employers or the military. That could be improved a lot. If the operation of OUSD changed a lot. And that improvement needs to come without any more money.

    My concern over your conclusion that nuture is the answer is that I fear you and people like you will continue to berate blacks with IQs below 90 that they have to take college prep, plan to go to (4 yr) college, and other such craziness. I believe that bad behavior on the part of “educators” is what is driving the black drop rate and what is going to make it worse. I feel you believe anyone can jump through any/all the hoops – so you are going to waste time, money and opportunity and wreck every chance the ghetto blacks have to improve themselves and assimilate into society while at OUSD. Which is what we have here. Then when it happens the “educators” piously say “we don’t know what happened” and need a larger budget and pay raises for the teachers.

    So I do feel that it’s important that policy makers in ghetto schools do understand the “nature” issues. I don’t think you do.

    Brave New World.

  • Public School Teacher

    Nextset-Once again, you are making a blanket statement about my beliefs which mirror what you think about everyone who challenges your theories. My point is that kids whose parents pay attention to them and value education, tend to do well or better in school. I’ve taught kids, black kids, who are in college now, and the two factors that distinguished them from their peers were active parents and the desire to do well in school. I repeatedly say that kids should not be passed along in elementary school until they master grade level skills. I believe that this problem escalates over time to where the kid is too far behind in high school.

    So, where in my “liberal” argument did I say that everyone has to take a college prep curriculum?

  • Nextset

    PST: Reread your post #72.

    Reread it again.

    No. Ability to do well in calculus is not “cultural”. It is not a product of “two parents” in the home – etc. It has little or nothing to do with

    Students with IQs below 100 are not going to do well in calculus, end of story. Much less IQs below 85. If your students are screened to have the chops for calculus and college prep classes, great for them.

    But you should be screening first before you enroll them in such classes.

    Even if they do have 2 parents at home. “Those who are successful often have parents who sit at the table with them and force them to complete their math problems.” which is your quote – is a nice passage but what you are not saying is that first and foremost is those who are successful (at calculus) have IQs above the white average of 100 – and most likely at or above the Asian/Jewish Average of 115.

    Half of all students are below “average”, you understand, and ethnic & national averages are quite different. You can find high scoring students, good for you. Just don’t make this an important part of OUSD because your constituiency in Oakland is not interested in Calculus. And you can’t make them become interested.

    I have a problem with OUSD taking the money they take and running off more than half the black students before graduation while you want to push calculus. I don’t see your calculus classes providing the return for Oakland Black Students that say, a Home Economics program would. Or an Academy of Hotel Housekeeping, or food service.

    The college prep courses at OUSD can be had in one campus. What are you doing for the masses?

  • Let’s Get Real

    Nextset, I implore you to resolve this coming year to dig a little deeper in your quest to analyze the weaknesses in Oakland schools. IQ is not purely genetic. IQ tests (which I don’t think are given in school anymore) were not given until a child was school age. A lot of learning goes on in the first five or six years of a child’s life. While there may be some genetic factors in one’s mental capacity, all kinds of environmental factors influence a person’s ability to learn. I agree with Public School Teacher that what goes on in the home is, in most cases, the biggest factor.

    As an example, in my kindergarten class this year, I have at least six students who did not attend preschool. One started the year as a strong student. His mother had worked with him regularly at home. Since early in the year, I’ve been sending home learning aids (alphabet charts and individual letter cards, sight word cards, etc.) with students who are struggling, and I have instructed the families on how to use them. The students who have shown the most progress are the ones whose families have been using the materials regularly, and who make sure their children do the homework consistently. One has become one of my top students. (I neglected to mention earlier that our school population is predominantly African-American, as are all of the students I’m speaking of now.)

    Fortunately, I have a parent volunteer who assists in my class for an hour and a half two mornings per week.
    Between the two of us, we give as much assistance as possible to the struggling students. Recently, I’ve even resorted to letting a few restless (but strong) students tutor the weaker ones during our half hour rest period.

    There is definitely a problem with African=American students achieving (and I am African-American also, by the way). But it has little to do with IQ and a whole lot to do with a lack in families’ ability or willingness to support their children’s education at home, and schools’ inability to, among other things, give extra academic support to students who do not get what they need at home.

  • Steven Weinberg

    Let’s Get Real is correct. Modern scientific evidence is overwhelming that IQ differences between groups is not genetic. To site just one example: “When researchers tracked down the children born to German mothers and U.S. soldiers during the Allied occupation of Germany [after] World War II, they found no difference in the IQ scores of children with African-American versus European-American fathers.” (Steve Olson, Mapping Human History, p. 62).

    And more news showing the problems of using student test scores to evaluate teachers:

    New Teacher Evaluation Systems Face Numerous Hurdles

    The New York Times (12/27, Otterman) reports, “It is becoming common practice nationally to rank teachers for their effectiveness, or value added, a measure that is defined as how much a teacher contributes to student progress on standardized tests. The practice was strongly supported by President Obama’s education grant competition, Race to the Top, and large school districts, including those in Houston, Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis and Washington, have begun to use a form of it.” However, “the experience in New York City shows just how difficult it can be to come up with a system that gains acceptance as being fair and accurate” as “rankings are based on an algorithm that few other than statisticians can understand, and on tests that the state has said were too narrow and predictable.”

    And

    Professor Finds That Evaluating Teachers Based On Test Scores Has Flaws

    The Deseret Morning News (UT) (12/27, Loftus) reports, “The constant push for education reform has teachers feeling the pressure. A recent study by Lars Lefgren, an associate professor of economics at BYU, questions the importance of evaluating teachers based on student test score performance.” According to the Morning News, “Lefgren found that ‘most of the gains from a highly rated teacher vanish quickly. In reading, 87 percent of the benefit fades after one year. In math, 73 percent fades after one year.”

  • Jesse James

    Catherine wrote: “Why we do not require extreme rigor in elementary school is beyond me. It is where students learn to think, learn to build their perseverance. Students who must work hard in elementary school learn self-motivation, self-discipline, and self-direction.”
    Rigor keeps being thrown around–I am still not sure what it means. Could you give explicit examples of your understanding of rigor at the first grade, third grade and fifth grade levels?

    Mr. Weinberg: I think it’s important to dig deep at those “highly effective” teachers’ scores as well. I, for one, know of “highly effective” teachers whose students are not proctored, have had high levels of erasures for years and are seen as awesome teachers, but maybe, really are not. Look at Redwood Heights’ wonderful teacher, how many more are there like that? Perhaps the non-”effective” teachers just don’t know how to test effectively (wink-wink). The tests are supposed to be standardized but test delivery is not. What do you think?

  • Steven Weinberg

    Jesse, Over ten years of examining test scores results for many schools in the district, I have seen only a handful of results that look like they might have resulted from cheating by the teachers. I think teachers are, as a group, extremely honest and ethical. But I think that if tests like the CSTs are used to determine whether or not teachers keep their jobs, there will be many more incidents of cheating (most of which will not be caught). I think of the explanations I read several years ago about why Barry Bonds started using steroids. The authors of the stories said that Bonds was upset that less able players were setting records by using steroids, and that he had to do so also to have a fair chance. I can see this happening easily in schools as well. People who would normally never consider giving kids answers might do so if they thought that everybody else was and that they might lose their job if they did not.
    Harvard education professor Daniel Koretz, in his book, Measuring Up, points out a greater problem than individual cheating, and that is teaching to the test so that the tests are no longer a random sampling of student knowledge and the results are no longer valid. He also sites studies from fields outside education that show similar patterns of “numbers cooking,” for example, hospitals know they will be ranked based on the success ratio of certain operations, so they refuse to perform those operations on high risk patients who could have benefited from them.

  • Catherine

    Jesse James: A colleague of mine who teaches first grade teaches rigor in writing these two ways: she will use a word they are studying, such as “transportation” – using the letters only as many times as they appear in the word transportation, the students must find as many words contained within the word as they can. She works in a Title 1 – Flatland school. She is African American as is many of her students. These students work for up to 35 minutes at a time – which will be increased to 50 minutes before the end of the year working on finding words within transportation. The students who work rigorously (5, 6 and 7 year olds) can find on average 40 – 65 words.

    Many other teachers who teach first grade would say this is nearly impossible for first grade students to stay on task for 35 minutes – they would say that there should be “starters” or the teacher should be walking around prompting students.

    When the students are looking for words this teacher is able to work independently one-on-one with struggling students. Other students learn to build their time working.

    I have sixth grade students who cannot write independently for 35 minutes. Just to see how my students compared I used the word “Gingerbread” on the Friday before break and asked sixth graders to come up with as many words as they could – my colleague was to ask the first graders to do the same thing.

    The results – the students in first grade and the students in sixth grade came up with roughly the same number of words (6 year olds and 12 year olds) – The six year olds were able to stick with the task more easily than the 12 year olds. What do this “prove.” Nothing really – however, I would rather have a six year old building that mental muscle early – learning how to think critically.

    Jesse – I don’t think you realize what we are asked to do as teachers – we are told to scaffold anything and everything that is difficult – we are to create sentences starters where our sixth graders fill in the remainder of the sentence. We are to have small groups so that students work together rather than having to depend on their own self-discipline. When my students ask why they can’t do every project or writing assignment in groups – I used to ask myself what the students will do when they have to take a driving test, college entrance exam, or write a scholarship essay. Without group work, pair-share work, or whole class, students do not have the rigorous self-determination and self-motivation to stay on task with writing or projects that takes an hour or more.

    Rigor means you work at something just beyond your mental grasp and you have assignments which require ever-advancing working that is just beyond grasp. You master each assignment or set of tasks and work hard on the new tasks.

    In this two weeks I have spent time reflecting on the “gifts” my students gave me with their words Friday, December 16- “Ms. M. Why are you so strict?” “Ms. M, this is too hard.” “Ms. M. I need heeelllppp!” “Ms. M. Why do I need to know how to find words – why do you keep saying vocabulary, vocabulary, vocabulary – people know what I mean?” All of these statements were said because students were asked to come up with words in the word gingerbread – first graders 42 -sixth graders 40.

  • Catherine

    The second way the teacher teaches rigor is to write a sentence on the board such as “The best birthday party I ever had . . . ” students in the first grade must then write for 35 to 40 minutes using writing with all five senses – begin each sentence with a capital letter, end each sentence with an appropriate end mark (student know the terms declarative sentence, exclamatory sentence and interrogative sentence and the appropriate end marks based on the type of sentence) and use commas and capital letters appropriately. The vast majority of my sixth graders cannot name the three types of sentences and match them up to the appropriate end mark. Most do not know what to capitalize and often have every word in sentences begin with a lower case letter.

    Rigor is the expectation that at each grade the writing will be better. The writing will improve in punctuation and the vocabulary of writing will also increase.

    The vast majority of my sixth grade students have a working vocabulary of 500 works – about the same as my colleague’s first grade class – for some of my students they actually have a vocabulary that is noticeably smaller that the first grade students.

    Once again, both populations come from poverty / working class backgrounds, are English learners or standard English learners and are students of color. This difference – rigor. It is not rigorous when we say in sixth grade – Sentences that tell need a period when students should have learned declarative sentences end with a period. To do so is demeaning to the rest of the students. It also says if you slack, it’s okay, I and the rest of the class will dumb down with you. Yet, this is what is asked of most Oakland teachers every day. Just as a English learner or standard English learner can learn the word “tell” they can also learn the word “declarative.” Declarative is rigorous – Tell is not rigorous.

    Jesse James – I hope these two small examples clear up any misconceptions about my use of the term RIGOROUS.

  • Nextset

    Let’s Get Real: OK I’m implored.

    And I implore OUSD and it’s teachers to produce a different result with the black students of OUSD (and by this I mean all of them, including those that are processed into dropping out).

    Stop running the black ghetto kids out of education.
    Make the black children employable or productive at 18 – like the white children tend to be.

    Get the black children’s reading and verbal level up to at least the white 8th grade average – by age 18.

    Train the black children to assimilate into mainstream – read that “white” society.

    Train the OUSD black children to avoid the criminal justice system – as victims or criminals – and to avoid premature death from trauma and disease.

    I could go on but the above points seem like I’m asking too much. I don’t believe OUSD believes it has any responsibility whatsoever for these things.

    Which is why “schools” like OUSD do a disservice to the black kids. Such “schools” fool the kids and their parent into thinking they are “educated” when they are not.

    Merry Xmas, Happy New Year!

  • Let’s Get Real

    Nextset, I think most OUSD faculty and administrators have the best interest of all Oakland students at heart. Unfortunately, as has been the case in many other urban districts with large numbers of African-American students, there has not been a strong enough focus on discipline and academic support. Disruptive behavior is a huge time-waster, and students who come to school ill-prepared academically need lots of extra support. When OUSD officials finally get the picture and make adjustments in school policy and funding accordingly, we will begin to see significant improvement.

    By the way, Nextset, as a professional male African-American, you would make a great role model for our students. You should consider becoming a mentor or, if you’re retired, a classroom volunteer. We can use all the help we can get.

    Happy holidays to you, and all other blog readers!

  • Catherine

    Let’s get real: Do you REALLY feel that GATE identified students of color in program improvement schools (elementary and middle school) are a priority for OUSD administration? Do your really, truly believe that OUSD works to help them achieve their potential?

    I would be really curious to know. I do not know of one single program improvement elementary or middle school who has done anything to advance the academic rigor or “differentiate” learning for the GATE students of color. I could be wrong and if so I know that someone on this list will be able to enlighten me. For the most part these students are not disruptive, give the schools decent to good test scores and whose parents do not know their rights so they do not complain.

  • Let’s Get Real

    Catherine, my post was a reference to Nextset’s comment and was meant to address his concerns about underachieving African-American students. You are correct that more should be done to meet the needs of high-achievers, as well.

    Differentiation is going on to some degree, and administrators are pushing for teachers to challenge their advanced students. But at the same time there is overwhelming pressure for teachers to move their lowest students to proficiency, and that becomes the main focus for teachers and administrators alike. This is especially true in schools where many students are scoring basic or below on the state test.

    You will see more going on in the way of enrichment in schools where the number of advanced students is greater, and where the parents (generally) are able to raise funds to provide special programs, etc. I think funding for the GATE program has diminished significantly, and that affects all GATE students, regardless of color or school.

    Some elementary schools have an ELA and math computer program called SuccessMaker which is individualized so students can move forward at their own pace. The struggling students keep getting similar questions until they get enough correct to advance. The advanced students keep moving forward as far as they can–even to the next program. Even my kindergartners enjoy our SuccessMaker time, and my stronger students are definitely getting challenged. In the classroom, I generally differentiate during periods of independent work, allowing advanced students to do more challenging assignments.

    Hopefully, you’ll get some more feedback from other teachers, but I hope this at least partly addresses your concern.

  • Catherine

    Let’s Get Real: I bring up the subject of gifted kids of color because they contribute to the “brain drain” facing Oakland at the end of 5th grade. A number of students I expected to see in 6th grade based on conversations with the local 5th grade teachers’ GATE identified students in the flats often does not come to fruition.

    When the teachers ask the younger siblings of these students they are often in public schools in other districts or have been recruited with EXTREMELY reduced tuition (as much as 95%) for private schools in the area. Again, these are the high performing kids who do not cause disruption in the classroom.

    Oakland is at a crossroads. I understand the need of Tony and the school board need to address the issue of students of color – Title 1 and school money gives approximately $11,000 – $12,000 per student – when you add in the other money not being used for Title 1 GATE kids – often the district can spend $15,000 per truly “at risk” student – is that enough to make up for absentee parents, gangs around the school, weapons, teen and pre-teen pregnancy? Probably not, but by not spending the money to help highly motivated and gifted students of color move ahead in science and social studies instead of just concentrating on math and language arts – in many cases this does not even include heavy doses of writing or rich vocabulary development.

    What I think should be done is what is required at our school beginning this year. Every week we must provide written lesson plans that address the needs of the GATE / highly motivated students for 60% of the classes / class time. This means that at least three days per week I am required to have writing assignments that require additional depth, deconstruction of ideas in literature, vocabulary using Greek and Latin roots with affixes, mapping of sentences and paragraphs, examples of excellent writing in literature or periodicals and so on. I must also spend 20% of EACH class period devoted to the needs of the high achieving students so that other students see what grade level and more complex work looks like from our students.

    I really believe until we begin addressing the needs of gifted and highly motivated students of color in our flat land schools we will see a continual decrease in overall test scores in middle and high school, we will continue to see a larger percentage of students dropping out (fewer students in middle and high – same or similar number of dropouts = higher percentage of dropouts per student population) and the brain drain will continue and more parents realize that their students are capable of doing the work to get them into Cal and private universities if only they are given access to the increasing complex math and science required.

  • Steven Weinberg

    Catherine, At the school I worked at, Frick Middle, we have done a number of things over the years to help GATE and other high achieving students of color (all we have at Frick) advance. For several years we offered special math sections for advanced students starting in sixth grade, and when those students reached 8th grade our number of student Proficient or above in Algebra increased substantially. Later we set up an advanced track for all academic subjects. (We justified this by reducing class sizes in all the other sections.) Again the math scores showed improvement, but it not seem to make much of a difference for the other subjects. Last year there was no ability-grouping, but class sizes for all students were reduced substantially and we had the best tests scores the school has ever had in every subject except Algebra. (Based on my experiences I believe that ability grouping is vital in math, but not necessary for other subjects, but so many things affect student test scores each year it is hard to draw firm conclusions.)
    Overall the GATE students we have had at Frick have continued the rate of growth they showed in elementary school and left for high school well prepared for challenging course there.

  • Nextset

    An interesting issue was brought up in the above posts.

    PSAT and SAT scores overpredict black success in college. Ditto GPA. Black students will drop out at a higher rate than the white students regardless of higher scores.

    Thus if a college admissions office is trying to avoid miss-matching the black students with the school and it’s mainstream students they might need to hold out for higher scores on an applicant if the applicant is black. This is especially true in Law School & Med School.

    I suspect this is because of negative cultural behaviors and values the black students tend to bring with them. If you are mentoring black students at any level you tend to have to start with the basics – things the white/jewish competitors already understand.

  • Catherine

    Nextset: I know that this is true when you look at Cal graduation rates for black and Hispanic / Latino students. I believe that this is why is critical that we do ability grouping – not for test scores and not for college ADMISSIONS – but for long term academic and career excellence of black and brown kids.

    GATE kids recognize patterns – they will often score well on standardized tests. This is how they were identified as GATE in Oakland – through the Ravens Progressive Matrices (a non-verbal PATTERN test or by two consecutive years of advanced scores on the CST).

    While I understand what Steven is saying about math – my concern is how GATE and high potential (maybe missed GATE cutoff by a few points) students can write high level essays – understand relevance of math across disciplines of science, architecture, religion (the Koran is based on the prime number 19) and such subjects. In other school districts these are the topics – deeper rather than wider or earlier – that high performing students are able to access.

    I still believe that if we do not want to continue the brain drain of Oakland we must consider the needs of our black and brown GATE students. As Nextset pointed out, he is rare in his black background. We need to have students not just enter high school and college, but have the background to succeed once they are there. Why all middle schools do not offer geometry to students who finish algebra is 7th grade is beyond me. Dozens of countries recognize that students who “see” or “sense” patterns in abstract thought can tackle algebra in fifth, sixth or seventh grade without a great deal of difficulty (this is not to say they don’t have to work hard – only that the material is within grasp).

    Even if we keep more students of color actually graduating and having blue collar careers or acceptance in college, we will still have poor ratios if other schools and / or districts are siphoning off our top talent.

  • Trevor Vernon

    I could point out that this article does a lot of public school bashing but gives little advice on how to fix the system. I could also rip this article in twain for being so oblivious to the reasons why private schools are more involved with their students than public schools. A better student/teacher ratio is one. Teachers being paid more to do more is another. But why worry about that when I could talk about what I believe the real problem is with the public vs. private school debate.

    I went to Oakland Tech and was a paidea student. My desk was the one right in front of Ms.Wolfe in the picture at the top of this blog. I’ll try to keep my comments short, but it is hard to do so with such a complicated subject.

    Ms. Kathy or Shipp (I’m not sure which one wrote the article) needs to realize the position of entitlement they are coming from. Most of the students at Oakland Tech do not have the money to choose between public and private schools. While I understand that you need to make the best choice for your children, I implore you to think about the implications of your decision.

    One student going to CPS or Bishop O’Dowd will probably not change the academic atmosphere at Oakland Tech. However, if ten or twenty talented students are taken out of the school, the learning environment changes. As a tutor at the boys and girls club, I have seen firsthand the amount of knowledge a student without a proper social/familial network can pick up over time in a proper learning environment. If there are enough capable students in a classroom that concentrates on success, the expectations will be raised for everyone in the class. In my experience, higher expectations have always produced higher results.

    Oakland Tech needs motivated students to change the atmosphere of the school. While Paidea classes are great and have helped formed me into the awesome young man I am today, there is a huge problem with the rest of Oakland Tech which I believe the article touches upon quite nicely. A majority of the teachers at the school are not good at their jobs and/or do not care about their students. I had to wait many times for Ms. Brantley to show up to her 3rd period class and give the worst spanish classes possible. My friends routinely complained about how dumb Mr. Chan’s lesson plans and grading system were. This is not to say that paidea and engineering are the only good classes in the school; Ms. Chai and Ms. Keeran are some of the finest teachers I’ve ever had the pleasure to study under, but there is a large portion of the school that can have their entire schedule filled with crappy teachers. As a long time liberal and believer in unions, it pains me to say this, but we need to find a way to hold these teachers accountable.

    Anyway, I am spiraling away from your all important children. Going to a public school vs a private school will not decide much about the quality of their futures. If you are involved enough in your child’s life to debate public vs. private school, you are probably already giving them the foundation they need to thrive. The decisions your kids (not you) make within these schools will determine what happens to them and the people they develop into. Both public and private schools have drug dealers and idiots walking their halls. If kids want to get into bad things, they will. If you want to have your child be a good, hard working person, they have to hold these values before a public or private school can corrupt them.

    I need to end this little tirade so let me emphasize a few key points and shut up.

    1.No matter what school you choose, your child will be able to find a place to thrive. It will be harder at some places than at others, but Oakland Tech is abound with opportunities.
    2.The biggest problem I have with a talented student going to private school is that it deprives public school students the chance to learn from him or her. A good learning atmosphere can be pulled out of public high schools. The example of a good classmate is much more valuable than a good teacher.
    3.This entire public vs. private school debate is geared toward parents with the means to send their child to private school. The majority of these students will be fine regardless of what school they go to. The debate needs to involve students that cannot go to private school and are at a much higher risk of failing, dropping out, and turning toward inauspicious ways to make a living . THIS IS A SOCIETAL ISSUE, NOT JUST A PERSONAL ONE.
    4.A lot of teachers don’t care about their students and should be fired.
    5.A lot of parents care only for their kids and should be chastised by society.

    The key to public education working is everyone, including current private school students, teacher and administrators, using all the resources possible to fix public education. The fact of the matter is that private school is a large drain on resources that could go to the betterment of an entire generation, not just part of it. As it stands, those that can go to private school get a much better education while those who can’t have suffered from going to an institution that is hemorrhaging money. Like it or not, private education and charter schools are harming public education by pulling funds away from it.

    Of course private schools are more involved with their students. Less people to worry about plus more money equals more involvement in a child’s life. The real question we must address is what happens to the students that can’t afford private school? They are the majority. Should they just be left to figure out the remnants of a system that the upper class has left behind or should public education be fixed and become a valuable resource for everyone?

    If you would like to talk more on the subject, my email is tvernon23@gmail.com.

  • Trevor Vernon

    I must say one last thing which I hesitate to add only because it will draw attention from my other, more pressing points. I am an African-American male. Never once did any paidea teacher do or say any racist thing to anyone during my time Tech. The sad reality of the situation is that there are few African-American males that come to Tech with the scholastic ability to pass paidea classes. There is a surplus of white and asian kids that can keep up with the work. Yes there is a problem that there aren’t more black male faces in AP classes, but do not blame that on the teachers that have given me and anyone who can keep up a fantastic education.

  • Katy Murphy

    Thanks for sharing your perspective, Trevor. Do you think there’s anything Oakland Tech could do to bring more black and Latino students into these successful programs? If you were in charge of the program (or the school — or the district, for that matter), what would you do to change the status quo?

  • Nextset

    Trevor Vernon: An interesting post, but you seem to take it for granted that collectivism is the way to go, and that people in general share your interest in collectivism.

    Moreover you don’t seem to allow for ethnic and cultural value differences in the population. High IQ populations may or may not have an interest in self sacrifice for the collective good (actually they don’t). Their decision – and it is theirs to make – to associate with the lower SES students is first required for any of their magic to rub off on the proles (I think that’s your point). You can’t put guns to their heads and make them attend Oakland Schools.

    So in the end it may not matter what people think or what people want. The “people” vote with their feet. And right now, the polls do not favor (cognitively) integrated schools.

    So what must happen is everybody takes care of number one and we see what the results are. The most the government can do about it is to have a large selection of schools that various people would like to attend. Like we did in 1965.

    Or like we still do in Piedmont. I doubt people avoid the place because they hate the schools.

    I would argue that all the problems with OUSD are as a result of the refusal to operate the schools as a good-better-best set of (cognitively) segregated campuses each open to district wide enrollment but each run to different standards of performance, deportment and academic programs which are enforced. The herd of students would to a large degree self select and the standards enforced by flunking out and forcible transfers to lesser schools of students who fail a given schools’ requirements. One would think that such a school system run without a concern for racial balance or any other PC issue would not have the problems OUSD has now with attendance or performance. Teachers would be happier and so would students.

    In a free society you can’t make students attend your bad schools filled with bad students. If your desired demographic refuses to enroll or attend your schools, you know what you have to do. Run better schools. How hard can that be? Look at what San Francisco Unified has done with Lowell High.

  • J.R.

    Trevor,
    Well thought out,and well reasoned(albeit just a little naive). Well done young man!

  • J.R.

    Next,
    The problem isn’t about IQ(hard work and diligence can pretty much close that gap up to the point of genius). The problem is mainly attitude and indifference. Family wealth and influence can secure a degree for anyone. There are problems with the affirmative action(quota system)merit has taken a back seat to entitlement in this country, and we all suffer for it.

  • Nextset

    J.R. I think you’re wrong.

    Low IQ cannot be fixed by hard work and diligence. It is what it is and the person involved is always going to be more vulnerable to certain risks and hazards than a normal person.

    While there are certain things you can do to train a willing and compliant low IQ person, you cannot just fix it. You do the best you can. Some people in addition to having an IQ of 85 have other risk factors such a mood disorders, predisposition to drugs and alcohol, and issues with sexuality and personality disorders such as conduct disorders or worse, antisocial personality disorder. You can have these if you’re smart but having them as a low IQ person is gas on the fire.

    The people we see in the criminal courts have plenty of these issues with low IQ being one the the first. The cognitive deficits keep them from learning how to function well with the other disorders fueling the drama.