Saturday, July 07, 2007

Last Word

My absolutely last word on school integration (I hope). Why don't school districts just impliment a pure lottery system to school assignment? Everyone would have an absolutely equal chance of being screwed.

No Sympathy

Supreme Court - School Integration: What Will We Tell Our Children?:

Amid the lawyers, policymakers and pundits debating the implications of Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down the Louisville and Seattle voluntary school integration plans, came the soulful plea of an African-American mother. Interviewed on National Public Radio, Mary Myers of Louisville explained how the ruling against her local officials’ efforts to racially balance their schools may well jeopardize her two children’s school assignments and educational opportunities. Ms. Myer’s children, ages 13 and 16, had benefited from the defeated desegregation plan because it had allowed them to attend racially diverse public schools outside of their community. Had they and their peers attended neighborhood schools, Ms. Myers noted, they would not have been exposed to people of different racial and cultural backgrounds and they would not be prepared for the incredibly diverse and global society they will soon inherit. When asked about her response to the decision, this 49-year-old mother sounded fed up: “Leave these children alone. Let them go to school together…. They have to go into the workforce and work together.”
If Ms. Myers is so concerned about exposure to diversity, then why does she live in a neighborhood that doesn't have any? Also how does sending her kids to the local suburban school prepare her kids for a "incredibly diverse and global society"? Do they have a lot more foreign kids in the suburbs? Maybe she should find a school or neighborhood with a large Hispanic population.

Arguments for race based school integration policies are a lot stronger if they concentrate on school inequities, instead of relying on straight "diversity" arguments, unless of course the community and parents have made a documented proactive concentrate effort to end neighborhood ethnic clustering. Then again, assigning people where to live based on race would be unconstitutional.

p.s. spare me any arguments about Ms. Myers not being able to afford to live anywhere else, I have been to Louisville and there are plenty of poor white neighborhoods.

Update: I want to be clear that I absolutely support integration efforts as long as they don't explicitly take into account an individual students race. Economic integration... love it, school choice... love it, magnet schools... give me more, but I would be beyond pissed off if I was told that my kid couldn't attend a school for no other reason than his race. Of course I consciously chose to live in a diverse neighborhood with integrated schools.

Weak NCLB Growth Models

There are many critics of NCLB. Some people complain that it causes states to lower standards, others complain that it's unrealistic, still others say that it lacks funding, while others complain that "tests" don't really measure learning and the whole premise is wrong.

To counter some of these arguments, several states have been approved to use so called growth model formulas, including my future home state of Alaska (45 days and counting). When I first heard of the concept, I was pretty excited, after all I figured that growth models would make it harder for school districts to ignore students who already meet the low expectations that is required of them.

I was wrong.

Alaska's growth model only uses growth if a student doesn't meet standards. In other words if little Johnny scores two grades below grade level, Alaska can still get credit for him passing as long as he is on target to pass the test within the next few years, or by 10th grade. 3rd graders and 10th graders must test on target.

So basically, there is still no incentive to improve performance of those already making the grade.

I need to find a state that sets their education target at ensuring all kids make AT LEAST one year of progress in one year of school.

Oh well, NCLB is a crappy law but it's less crappy than nothing. I am so pragmatic.