"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Do You Understand the Math Your Children are Learning?

How can a student "think like a mathematician" if the student doesn't understand mathematical facts?

Barry Garelick writes in The Atlantic about math reform and the need for a revolution in how it's taught in public education classrooms.  From It's Not Just Writing: Math Needs a Revolution, Too:

I first became aware of it (mathematics education) over 10 years ago when I saw what passed for math instruction in my daughter's second grade class. I was concerned that she was not learning her addition and subtraction facts. Other parents we knew had the same concerns. Teachers told them not to worry because kids eventually "get it."
This was my initiation into the world of reform math. It is a world where understanding takes precedence over procedure and process trumps content. In this world, memorization is looked down upon as "rote learning" and thus addition and subtraction facts are not drilled in the classroom--it's something for students to learn at home. Inefficient methods for adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing are taught in the belief that such methods expose the conceptual underpinning of what is happening during these operations. The standard (and efficient) methods for these operations are delayed sometimes until 4th and 5th grades, when students are deemed ready to learn procedural fluency. 

The idea is to teach students to "think like mathematicians." They are called upon to think critically before acquiring the analytic tools with which to do so. More precisely, they are given analytic tools for "understanding" problems and are then forced to learn the actual procedural skills necessary to solve them on a "just in time" basis. Such a process may eliminate what the education establishment views as tedious "drill and kill" exercises, but it results in poor learning and lack of mastery. Students generally work in groups with teachers who "facilitate" rather than providing direct instruction.

Here is an example of how math is taught in many classrooms today:

Garelick explains how parents complain about these methods to their school boards to no avail.  What do parents do to ensure their children are learning "traditional math"?  They search out supplemental services:

Parents have objected to these programs at school board meetings. For a period now spanning more than two decades, we have been told that traditional math may have worked for some people, but it also failed large numbers of students. School boards usually don't bother to define what they mean by fail, or specify how many students in fact "failed," or even clarify what specific era they're talking about. They just say that traditional math doesn't teach all students, but this new program does. 

Many of these parents are then forced to teach their children what they are not being taught in school, hire tutors, or enroll their children in learning centers like Sylvan, Huntington, or Kumon. At my daughter's school, Huntington would put on an infomercial meeting every fall (somehow the principal allowed this), ostensibly to discuss how parents can help their children study effectively. I went to one of them. The presenter explained that the reason our kids weren't doing well in math is that schools no longer teach the math facts or standard procedures. "At Huntington, we do!" she said. The light went on in many parents' minds: The learning center uses the traditional methods decried by school board methods as having failed.

Advice to parents?  Don't waste your time with school boards or your school.  They're tied into the Common Core and will teach what the consortia mandates.  Test your child on math facts and if he/she is struggling, enroll them in an program that uses the traditional methods decried by school board methods as having failed and your child won't be using the convoluted method of solving a math problem as the student featured in the above video.

It is your responsibility as a parent to ascertain your child masters basic math facts so he/she can be successful in higher math classes.  If your school won't teach them, you as a parent must step in and obtain what your child needs.

Read the entire article here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

What We Learn Going 100% Digital

Hewlett Packard began creating computers over forty years ago. They entered the e-reader market almost six years ago and remain a consistent supplier of digital connectivity. Therefore they have great reason to be excited about Arne Duncan's latest comment about digital text books. “Over the next few years, textbooks should be obsolete,” said Duncan in an interview with the Associated Press.

He has pledged to do away with printed the books in the coming years in favor of digital editions, much like South Korea who has vowed to use only digital versions of textbooks by the year 2015. “The world is changing. This has to be where we go as a country,” Duncan said.

On the plus side there would be tremendous cost savings for e-editions, up to 60% over printed versions.

Opponents of eBooks point out the trade offs in the switch. Less cost for the purchase of printed editions (which can be as much at $1,000/year for college students), but greater cost to universities to supply wiFi and sufficient bandwidth to meet the needs of the entire student population. This could be cost prohibitive for smaller colleges.

Those are the technical and cost issues associated with digital books. No one is talking about the ideological possibilities of fully digitized education materials.

One of the benefits to the written word in the electronic ether is that it is so easily changed. If you want your students to have the most up to date information on a topic, you want some way to provide that electronically. A student's science text could be updated daily or weekly to capture the latest knowledge in the field. Think how beneficial this would be for planet/dwarf planet Pluto in an astronomy class.  Even the number of planets in our solar system is changing based on our exploratory technology. An e-text for an astronomy class could keep the students from learning outdated material.

On the other end of the spectrum is the e-text for a history class. The benefit of an ever changing text book here is more debatable. In fact, the mere though conjures lines from 1984. Have history texts always contained the bias of their authors? Sure. But at least you could highlight a section of text on Napolean, then go back and compare it to some other text and know that what you read yesterday is still the same as it is today. With books that may update overnight, that assuredness goes away.

Are history texts likely to change overnight or even over the year in a particular class with digital textbooks? Not likely. Those kinds of changes would require a flexibility on the part of the teacher that is unheard of. They would render a syllabus almost useless. It would, however, elevate the importance of original documents. Unfortunately, future generations won't be able to read those documents because Common Core does away with teaching cursive writing. I hope Google Translate is working on a way to make the fancy writing in old documents readable.

Tell us what you think about this switch that the Secretary of Education is pushing. Answer our survey or share your thoughts in the comment section.

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Are School Vouchers (and Charters) Really the Free Market at Work? Does the Free Market Include Government Funding/Regulations?

School "choices".

Andrew Coulson from CATO writes about the idea of "choice" and why many "choice" proponents who espouse "free market" are actually promoting unconstitutional ideas.  We at MEW have some rather spirited discussions the last several days with "choicers" about our recent articles on "choice" questioning whether this "choice" actually is free market or markets propped up by tax dollars.

Education is free market when the government doesn't fund it and regulate its operation.  Coulson wonders how government funded vouchers can be considered free market by the choice movement.  How can does a government funded "choice" in education containing the same mandates as traditional public school be classified as free market?  Coulson explains why vouchers are not really choice at all in Obama, Romney, Teachers, and Choice:

Jay Greene has an excellent piece in the Wall Street Journal this week revealing that the teacher workforce has grown dramatically over the past forty years—and at enormous cost—without improving student achievement by the end of high school. And he rightly disparages President Obama for arguing that even more teachers would somehow do the trick. Even better, Greene notes that American education will not reverse its productivity collapse and become efficient until we allow it to benefit from the freedoms and incentives of the marketplace.

But then Jay cites Governor Romney’s goal of “voucherizing federal education funds so that parents can take those resources and use them to send their children to schools of their choice,” and he does so with apparent approbation. Even ignoring the fact that the Constitution does not empower Congress to run education programs, this is a very dangerous idea.

There has been no civilization in the history of humanity in which governments have paid for private schooling without ultimately controlling what was taught and who could teach, erecting barriers to entry and thereby crippling market forces.

For that reason, I recommended against a federal voucher program under the Bush administration. Since then, additional evidence has come to light. When I studied the regulatory impact of U.S. private school choice programs last year I found that even the small existing U.S. voucher programs do indeed impose a heavy and very statistically significant additional burden of regulation on participating private schools.

Perhaps a way will be found to enact and maintain minimally regulated voucher programs in the coming years. Until that time comes, it would be the height of folly to introduce a federal voucher program whose regulations would suffocate educational freedom from coast to coast.

In my statistical study of choice program regulation, I found that K-12 tax credit programs do not impose a statistically significant extra burden of regulation on private schools. But even a national K-12 tax credit program would be far too dangerous. By leaving education policy to the states and the people, we can see which programs flourish and which become sclerotic. We must encourage and learn from that policy diversity, not squelch it with federal programs or mandates.

Coulson has the correct idea about educational delivery and the only solution that is constitutional:  leave education to the states and the people.    Don't try to sell the federally funded voucher idea as a viable alternative to traditional public schools when the private schools will have to conform to the same mandates and regulations of the traditional public schools. 

He doesn't mention charter schools in this CATO article, but I wonder if he would make the same argument when scrutinizing the free market argument made in favor of charter schools.  In this 2001 article from thefreemanonline.com critiquing a book on charters, he raises concerns about taxpayer funding of charters and understanding that once the government funds these schools, they lose their autonomy:

The risks and shortcomings of charter schools are several. For one thing, whenever the state rather than the consumer pays for a service, we have the breeding grounds for fraud and corruption. Parents cannot be duped into paying for children they do not have, but the same can’t be said of government agencies. The authors describe several fraudulent abuses, but fail to acknowledge that the problem is intrinsic to the separation of payment from consumption.

Allowing the government to hold the educational purse strings also draws the attention of charter schools away from families and toward the state. In a market, producers increase their income either by cutting costs or demonstrating improved services for which consumers are willing to pay more. Charter schools will only be able to raise revenues by lobbying the state. The 14-fold increase in inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending that has occurred in government schools over the past 75 years is a sobering harbinger of what to expect under charter schooling. The authors provide evidence of this lobbying already occurring among the country’s nascent charter schools, but seem not to understand its importance or inevitability.

Finally, charter schools preclude the direct financial responsibility of parents that history shows to be crucial for the maintenance of parental involvement in, and control over, their children’s education.
Based on historical and contemporary precedents, charter schools are likely to be re-regulated to the point where they are indistinguishable from traditional government-run schools. The authors are aware of this “ominous threat,” but can offer no solution.

The downside of charter schooling would be of negligible importance if their impact were limited to charter schools themselves. Charter schools would still constitute some improvement over traditional public schools. The real concern is that previously independent private schools are being lured into the charter fold. If large numbers of private schools adopt charter status, the eventual re-regulation of charter schools will expand the government education monopoly. The authors make no mention of this Damoclean sword hanging over the charter movement.

Don't try to pass charters off as free market when they are taxpayer funded.  Don't privatize education via charters where taxpayers and parents have no decision making abilities and mandates (not laws) dictate how and what standards/assessments will be taught to students and pre-determined vendors cash in on supplying the curricula and systems needed because of the mandates.  

If your state legislators espouse "choice" as conservative and free market ideas, send them a copy of Coulson's article.  These "choices" as they are currently constructed are neither. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Schools As Public Institutions Is Just So Old School

The move to privatize public education is in full swing and there are many out there stepping on the gas. We have  covered the issue of making money off the public sector through the charter system many times in this blog. It unfortunately does enjoy bi-partisan support so we get little attention from our legislators when we balk at things like charter schools and parent triggers. Such tools appear to embrace free market solutions which satisfies those who believe the free market can fix anything. It ignores the fact that the education market will never be free because the government has a vested interest in controlling how future voters are educated. Such tools appeal to the conservative right because they appear to put the parent back in the equation for raising children and that is a position parents have not held for a couple decades now. But these tools offer false choices and bring people, who do not have education in the forefront of their thinking, into the system that provides education.

An interview on CNBC's Street Signs demonstrates, with painful clarity, that the focus of charter schools has little to do with children and education, and everything to do with making a profit.

It is eerie to hear the interviewee brush off the failure of some charters as a mere nuisance that fortunately doesn't really impact their bottom line because of the way they have structured their investment. The word to investors is, "Come on in. The water's fine."

To make sure that these investments function as good "businesses" the Eli Broad Foundation is working to put entrepreneurs into top administrative positions within the school districts and government to make sure that the business education reform measures are carried out well. Like a TFA for administrators, Broad's new Leadership Academy draws participants from outside the field of education and reduces “the experience level required for entering [the] training program.” According to the Washington Post, the Academy’s revised program of study "will aim to prepare leaders for positions beyond the superintendency of districts to include leaders of charter management organizations and state education departments."  Got that?  They are actively working to put people who have little education background or even interest into state education departments that will deliver your child's education.

But hey, as long as these business whiz kids do a great job, who cares that they aren't totally focused on education? Well, ask the parents of Prince George's County Maryland Public Schools who have enjoyed Broad leadership for the last several years.

The Broad Academy acolytes that have honored us with their presence barely stay in their positions for three years, getting out when they realize their Broad ways aren't going to work. PGCPS is a mixture of urban and suburban areas. When "Dr" John Deasy's illegitimate doctorate came to light, he left. Now Dr. Hite is leaving for Philly where he won't have to listen to parents. He told parents in PGCPS that he didn't have the time to visit every school. He ran into a concrete wall when he tried to close suburban schools in Bowie and bus all the kids to a massive, 900 student elementary factory school (Fairwood , which is not going to be built). Their deputy Bonita Potter Coleman is leaving for Mississippi to be close to home. 
And we see the failure of Broads in Philly (Ackerman) Rochester (Brizzarre) and Seattle (Monica Goodman?). 15 years of failure from Eli.
Prince George's County Public Schools has had several Broad disciples, all who have used PGCPS as resume padding. "Dr" John Deasy left for the Gates Foundation when his questionable doctorate came to light and spends his time running LAUSD and telling lies to Rick Hess. Dr. Hite, who claimed he wanted to turn gray while at PGCPS yet told parents he didn't have time to step from his chauffeured driven Denali to visit all the schools (though he did visit a classroom at Duval HighSchool twice), has left for Philly where he doesn't have to answer to the parents. 
For more background on the Broad Foundation, check out Parents Across America's Guide to the Broad Foundation's Training Programs and Education Policy.

The future of education will no longer be the Three R's, it will be ROI.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Would Monsanto Trust a Lab Worker with 5 Weeks Training? Should You Trust a Teacher with a 5 Week Educational Training Period?

Would you take on more college debt for $7,000 take home pay? What and where is the payoff?

The Monsanto Fund is donating to St. Louis Teach for America.  From the St. Louis Post Dispatch Monsanto donates $1 million to Teach for America:

The Monsanto Fund has donated $1 million to Teach For America’s local efforts to recruit teachers for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The gift from the philanthropic arm of Monsanto Company will enable Teach For America to recruit a greater number of teachers with STEM expertise to St. Louis classrooms during the next four years and provide them with the support and resources. The donation will help Teach For America bring up to 270 teachers with STEM backgrounds to the region by 2016.

This fall, 190 Teach For America corps members are in high-need classrooms in St. Louis, reaching more than 13,000 students. More than 375 alumni of the program now lead and support efforts to ensure educational equity in the region.

Maybe that $1 Million will go toward subsidizing the estimated $11,303 it costs applicants to become an elite TFAer.  The graph above details the St. Louis statistics for what TFAers are paid and what it costs to get certification.  Those accepted for the program will take home approximately $6750 a year (after expenses) and incur a two year cost of $11,000 to teach at risk students for a two year commitment to teach.

Why would college graduates (many from Ivy League schools) accepted into TFA agree to such a low paying job and even more debt?  Is it for the love of teaching?  If it were for the love of teaching, wouldn't you think most of them would have degrees in education that would allow them to teach with a four year degree and not have to go through an intensive initial 5 week training period to learn how to become a teacher before setting foot in a classroom?

From the Daily Trojan:

This summer, The New York Times’ “Room For Debate” blog, where non-journalists write brief pieces arguing their opinion on a topic, discussed the pros and cons of Teach For America, the renowned nonprofit that sends students fresh out of college into low-income schools to teach. Post titles ranged from “A Glorified Temp Agency,” to “Teach For America Changed My Life,” to “The Problem With Quick Fixes to Education.”

All of these are legitimate descriptions of Teach For America. There are many stereotypes about the organization, but none of them matter. Sending accomplished, smart and motivated young leaders into struggling schools is what matters.
Up until about a month ago, I would have added my own idea to the “Room For Debate” blog: “A Cop Out for Graduates With No Other Option.” I knew next to nothing about the organization, but had only heard of students who couldn’t get into law school or medical school or couldn’t find a job in their desired field, so they turned to Teach For America as a fallback. And as options go, it’s a pretty good one. Teach For America is a two-year program that promises a salary ranging from $25,500 to $51,000, health insurance, retirement benefits, up to $6,000 of no-interest loans or grants to help pay for relocation costs, plus scholarships and benefits from grad schools and employers. Why wouldn’t a college student with no other prospects apply?
But when a USC TFA recruiter emailed me at the beginning of the semester, asking to meet and talk about the program, I scoffed. I had no interest in being one of the college graduate cop-outs, but I figured I could meet with the recruiter to find out if there was more to the program.

I am now amid a rigorous, yet very interesting application process that proves what TFA is all about: finding motivated leaders who are unwaveringly committed to its cause. The process begins with a traditional application — statement of interest, explaining past professional and extracurricular activities and submitting your resume. One week later, you are either granted a phone interview or out of the running. In the meantime, you complete “online activity” that entails a timed multiple-choice test where you analyze data and complete a short answer portion. After that, you either move forward to a final, all-day interview or you’re out.

Even if a student chooses TFA as a fallback, if he or she gets through such a thorough application process and are selected, he or she deserves to be there. And even if it seems like a “glorified temp agency” that swoops up talented young people for two years then loses them to another career path, they were there for two whole years. More likely than not, they made a difference in many children’s lives and in turn, those children probably changed their life forever as well.
But this is yet another stereotype promoted by TFA — inspiring stories about college graduates helping disadvantaged students achieve the level of education they deserve. This stereotype has plenty of truth to it, but it ignores the darker side of the organization.

Though less-interested or less-qualified applicants are weeded out through the intensive application process, and those who are selected go through a five-week training program the summer before they begin teaching, nothing can fully prepare an applicant for standing up in a classroom in front of children who face some of the most challenging issues today. Horror stories about TFA teachers dealing with gangs in their neighborhood or struggling to teach students who refuse to respect them are left out of the TFA feel-good narrative. The organization’s website is full of education, poverty and admission statistics — but nowhere does it mention their retention rate.

The writer ends the article by stating:

For students interested in applying to TFA — for whatever reason — it is definitely important to be aware of what truth there is to all the stereotypes about the organization. The nation’s public schools and students, however, need help however they can get it. The myths and stereotypes don’t matter half as much as the fact that, at the end of the day, TFA offers that help.

My questions come from the statements highlighted in yellow. 
  • Are students applying for these jobs because they can't find jobs in their chosen fields?
  • Can a TFA make a substantial difference in a child's life in 2 years and then leave?  Doesn't it take longer than a 5 week training period and being thrown in a classroom for 2 years to learn how to become an effective teacher?  What difference is the writer referring?  Will he/she be able to dramatically raise assessment scores in 2 years for students?
  • The challenging issues students face today are out of the hands of the teachers: poverty, lack of parental support, etc.  What makes these teachers so much more effective than classically trained teachers?  Do TFAers have a magic wand to eliminate the issues for the students?
  • "The nation's public schools need help however they can get it".  TFA is paying TFAers a take home salary of $6800, requiring them to secure more debt for a 2 year commitment and throwing them in classrooms with no teaching experience?  What's with the Peace Corps type structure?  Is that supposed to make these "teachers" more passionate about "making a difference"?  Should inner city parents be satisfied with "we'll give you help" with inexperienced college graduates with no teaching experience who will probably be gone in 2 years?
How is it that TFA can offer help that is allegedly not forthcoming from teachers with education degrees who select teaching as a profession?  Why are many TFAers not staying in the classroom but are leapfrogging into administrative posts or other governmental positions?  Retention rates are not posted for these TFA positions but many TFAers are using this two year stint for future bureaucratic positions.  From minnpost.com and Teach for America teachers moving into policy positions:

Yes, corps members, as TFA calls them, are weaving their way into the very fabric of the nation’s education establishment. You might even call it a conspiracy.

You’d be right. One of the criticisms that has been leveled at TFA in recent years is that only a third of its elite recruits stay in teaching when their Peace Corps-style tours are over. This is true, and whether it’s a demerit or not it obscures a more interesting fact, which is that another third go on to work in other capacities in education.

According to Daniel Sellers, who runs TFA-Twin Cities, this is by design. “The program has two aims and that is the second,” he said in an interview yesterday. “The first is to put talented people into classrooms where they can improve the lives of kids.”

At the very least, when those that leave teaching do, they will go on to advocate for education as they become kingmakers in other arenas. At best, corps members will become effective teachers during their stints and will be energized by watching the conventional wisdom that some kids are going to get lost fly out the window.
One reader's (amended) response to the article:

....TFA represents an interesting trend. I remain somewhat skeptical, but what Beth is reporting is encouraging to some degree. Offhand, I’d like to know why – if these people are, in fact, as energetic and successful in the classroom as seems to be the case at least some of the time – a third of them are leaving the classroom, where their skills have brought success, for administration, where their contact with children will be minimal, and usually substantially constrained.

I was a very good teacher, but I was never interested in administration precisely because what I enjoyed about teaching was working with kids and my subject matter. Moving to administration would not only have dramatically reduced the amount of time I had to interact with those kids, it also would dramatically alter the *kinds* of interactions I had with those kids.

People who move to administration, writing, advocacy, and other education-related fields are, in my experience, people who do not want to teach. They want more money, more influence, more prestige, more control over their working lives and conditions, more… something else besides the decidedly non-material satisfaction that comes with a job of teaching well done. For me, at least, that’s a negative factor, though yes, it may well be a good thing to see some newer, younger voices becoming part of the educational establishment. That “good thing” label is tempered by the knowledge that two years is not a career, and that they’ve left the more important job just about at the time when they began to know what they were doing.

Moreover, by “moving on,” even if – perhaps *especially* if – they’ve been doing a superb job in the classroom, they’re depriving faculty room colleagues and their own school administrators of an example with real credibility.

What I’m looking forward to are studies done with those TFA members who stayed in the classroom for a decade or more. Were they able to maintain their energy, enthusiasm, innovative curiosity, and most important, their effectiveness? If so, then by all means, this might well be a model that schools of education ought to jump on and ride hard. At the same time, what about the third of the group that left teaching, but stayed in education? Similar questions about energy and innovation ought to be asked, and results arrived at. And, lest it be assumed otherwise, I want to know why the other third of the group left education altogether.

It’s an interesting trend, but I want more information before I jump on that bandwagon.

Do you wonder if Monsanto asked questions about TFA and looked at its track record in actually improving students' lives (whatever that entails) before donating $1 Million to its bandwagon?  Would Monsanto be keen on hiring non-scientists, giving them a 5 week training period, then throwing them in a lab to do research and then two years later, have these bright prospects leave for higher paying opportunities?  Is TFA the difference in educating at risk kids or is this another moneymaking organization to create more policy makers and bureaucrats in the future?

If you have some more time to read about TFA, read Why Some People Like TFA Somewhat Less Than Others Do by Gary Rubenstein, a 20 year veteran in the TFA movement.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Do CCSSI and RTTT Mandates Ensure Educational Exellence..or is it Something Else that the Government Hasn't Yet Mandated?

Are government mandates the answers to educational success?

"Boys Hope Girls Hope" is a program in St. Louis and other cities designed to help at risk students.  The St. Louis Post Dispatch recently ran an article explaining how the privately funded program works and the enormous commitment needed from the students and families so students succeed in school.

What I didn't read in the article that made kids successful were the following talking points from the Obama administration on how education needs to be reformed:
  • The need for global competitiveness
  • Common Core standards
  • Race to the Top funding
  • The need to be tracked into the workforce via Longitudinal Data Systems
  • The need for charter schools
  • The need to track teachers via assessment scoring to determine if they are effective
According to the article, what helped make these students successful in school were:
  • Structured daily life
  • Two hours of study each night
  • Dinner at a family type setting
  • Weekly chores
  • A designated bed time
  • No tolerance for disrespect
  • Mentors providing academic support, tutoring, and serving as role model
  • Every student is required to attend some kind of worship service weekly and prayer is said before dinner
The article states the program moves students into an environment that encourages development, promotes scholarly ways.  Some those in the organization also believe an active faith life is essential to healthy personal development. 

Are these the magic keys for education reform?  Students learn to take control of their own development on educational and emotional levels.  If so, do any of the current educational reforms mandated by the government incorporate these successful methods by "Boys Hope Girls Hope"?  Or are they reforms designed to track children for the workforce and create jobs for private corporations funded by taxpayers that are then unaccountable to the taxpayers?

From Havens for learning help keep St. Louis children on road to college:

Last year, the Boys Hope Girls Hope organization was named by the Educational Policy Institute as one of 10 exemplary programs in the U.S. that prepare students for college.

In Boys Hope Girls Hope, all of the more than 3,000 students in the last 20 years who stuck with the program have graduated from high school, and 79 percent of those students have either completed their college degrees or are on course to do so.

The success comes from what the organization calls "arms around care." The organization picks up the tab for food, clothing, transportation and any other needs of the students, including college. Costs per student can go as high as $50,000.

How can the government create a nurturing and structured environment for students?  Is this what a private group can accomplish that the bureaucracy cannot?  Local, state and federal governments are systems.  Systems are designed for efficiency (since when is a government system efficient?) and are not designed for personal needs.  What these students in the STL Post Dispatch article were missing were people in their lives unable to attend to the students' financial and/or emotional needs.  College money may be available due to a federal program in the future, but if the student is not prepared emotionally and educationally, college entrance is meaningless if the student is unable to perform well.

If a nurturing and structured environment is important in student success, how can the government mandate loving, caring, stable, and attentive parents and/or other adults to tend to their children?  Do any of the current reforms allude to the important aspect parents and other caring adults play in their childrens' lives?   Can governments mandate parents or other adults care and become responsible for their children? 

The title of the Dispatch article, Havens for Learning, says it all.  Much of what creates student opportunity for educational excellence is to provide a haven for children which traditionally has been a family's responsibility.  That's what's missing from these billion programs, isn't it?

If you agree the Boys Hope Girls Hope is a valid recipe for educational success and you believe it is government's job to educate children, then the government's only logical choice is to use this recipe to ensure educational success for failing students.  Otherwise, if CCSSI and RTTT are the government's idea for educational success, without the parental/adult support, they will be useless and expensive mandates doomed to fail. 

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