Letter to The Editor pegs it! Get federal government out of the schools

Get federal government out of schools News Journal / Letters to the Editor 

There comes a time when things reach a tipping point. I have watched for many years the creeping cancer of federal intervention into K-12 education, education is a local matter, not a federal matter. Every time the federal government interferes in education, it makes things worse. Whether it is nutrition standards that children will not eat or alleged equity, its heavy hand inevitably makes it worse. Race to the Top was supposed to help education, but for every dollar to the classroom $2 to $5 of overhead was created in the bureaucracy. Administrators spent countless hours redoing plans to satisfy multiple approvers, only to have to redo it again. Of the $100 million plus devoted to Delaware, half stayed with Department of Education in Dover. How does that help children? In the meantime, local districts had state funding cut from initiatives that were already in flight that directly impacted the children.

Now we hear of the new accountability system ostensibly done by the state to rate schools, but the federal government wants “consequences” for those who want to opt out of the Smarter Balance tests. There are a multitude of ways parents can determine the quality of the schools that serve them, including accreditation organizations, parental feedback web based services and actually visiting the schools. We all know there are some students to whom the state tests offer no value to, whether special education or gifted, they add no value other than provide some basis for this accountability system. I applaud parents who stand up for their children against the bully of state testing. Not only do the tests take an inordinate amount of time for students with little value, they monopolize school technology resources for two months of a nine month school year. In conclusion, I think it is time to just say no. No more should we allow federalization of our education system, it is time to return to local control. If that means we forgo the small amount of money we receive from the federal government, then so be it. Let them reduce the deficit or pay the national debt, not spend money they do not have.

Ralph Ackerman

Claymont

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21 responses to “Letter to The Editor pegs it! Get federal government out of the schools

  1. Publius e decere

    As a purist, should “get the Feds out” extend past conditions for funds to include eliminating the following?

    Actually cutting off Federal funds?

    No more uninfored references to charter school “best practices”?

    Eliminate IDEA? Accomodations?

    Civil rights?

    Wow, we now realize how much the Feds are involved. So should we be picking and choosing when we do like it, and when we don’t like it — but always taking the money? Christina showed us what it is like to insist on the money AND insist on not complying with the conditions for that money. Hardly a teachable moment. Unless you are teaching petulant childishness.

    Publius

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  2. Either the USDOE has been a massive failure, or they are an argument that we don’t spend nearly enough on education. We either spend far too much, or far too little on education. Nobody can seriously make an argument otherwise. It (DOE) is either inconsequential in improving education in this country, or they have been a failure.

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  3. The Golden Age of public education (if there ever was such a thing) refers to a time of segregated education, de facto or otherwise. Public education used to be very attractive for the white middle class and their easy-to-teach kids. And the cost wasn’t onerous, because we were excluding a hell of a lot of kids, primarily the more-difficult-to-educate populations.

    But now we rightly have civil rights laws that require us to educate everyone, not just some. OF COURSE it costs more to educate all the kids rather than just some of them. And OF COURSE it costs more to educate disadvantaged or special-needs kids. Who says it doesn’t?

    Delaware’s response of course is instead of digging into its wallet, to double down on the segregation and legitimize it in the form of “choice” and selective enrollment schools.

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    • I heard a brief presentation yesterday by a board member of Nativity Prep in Wilm., a private Catholic school that enrolls 13 kids per yr., grades 5-8, to ready them for college prep high schools that they might not otherwise be able to access. The school is tuition-free, but it costs them $17,500 per year per child. I assume that their selection process looks for underprivileged kids with “potential” to succeed in a rigorous high school, which would usually mean high academic aptitude and solid family support (someone needs to get the rising fifth grader to apply, for starters). I am guessing that none of these students have significant special needs, since the school is so small. (If anyone knows more, pls add.) But for these “cream of the crop” lower-income kids, the price of getting them ready to succeed in a selective HS is several thousand dollars more per yr than our average spending on public school students. Even assuming some economies of scale in the public system for certain services, that’s one indication of what the actual cost would be, if we wanted to make that kind of commitment to low-income students in the public system.

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    • Quick follow-up on Nativity Prep admission, from their website: they have an application, a test and require parental involvement/support. They are also clear that it is a very challenging program and if you are not up to it, you may be asked to leave.

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    • Publius e decere

      I assume that their selection process looks for …
      I am guessing that none of these …
      Even assuming some …

      Guessing and assuming. Huh. I guess the glass is always half empty somewhere.

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    • Pubs, feel free to follow up on any of this, if you have time, and post more info. as you find it. I’m basing my statements on a presentation by their board pres. and the application info on their website. The glass isn’t half empty, it’s just pricey (if we want to do right by lower income kids, as that private school aims to). That’s the point, as you undoubtedly understand.
      See you tomorrow?

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    • Publius e decere

      Not sure what you mean by tomorrow, but no thanks.

      The people operating Nativity are good people. Their way is not the only way. They believe in what they do. But it is not public education, so parallels to such are limited.

      Give David a call. Don’t assume.

      Publius

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  4. Eve the economies of scale are why the smaller school is much more expensive, plus they do A LOT MORE for the kids than the traditional public school does and the teachers are asked to do more also and their salaries are more closely aligned with a public school salary. Just consider their day at the school:

    They decided to put together a class day that stretched from 7:30 AM until 3:00 PM with sports and activities from 3PM until 5:00 PM, adding evening study from 7:00 PM until 9 PM. They used Saturdays for field trips, and a mandatory summer program. They kept class size to 15 students with time for tutoring where needed.

    get that day past DSEA.

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    • Absolutely, a considerably longer day. But I think that’s the point, no? If we want those kind of results (and from our general public school students, not a carefully selected dozen), we would need to make that kind of investment–time & money. That’s what it costs (in response to Mike’s comment above). I’m all for what Nativity Prep is doing.

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    • Eve – I’m on board for public schools doing what navprep is doing, but have the public schools do it the same way – fund raise the money don’t raise taxes for it.

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    • Certainly worth a try (private fundraising to add financial support for public schools). That is more easily done on behalf of kids (even poor kids) who have the aptitude & home support to be academically successful–it may be a harder sell to aid a wider range of students. But I agree we should be doing more of that, in public districts.

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  5. Get it past DSEA? Excuse me? Teachers have children to raise (their own…I know, I know…we raise so many others, it’s just assumed we don’t have our own to raise). Teachers have other (2nd) jobs (because their teacher salary is so low, they can’t afford to send their kids to college.) Get it past DSEA? C’mon. It’s a job. Are you suggesting that on top of the 15 hours a week of planning I do at home, I should work those extra hours, and that the only reason I don’t is because you can’t get it past DSEA? Clueless. How about, I don’t want a job where I have to work 70 hours a week. Get it past DSEA? Please.

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    • John – a) my wife is a teacher
      B) how do the teachers at nativity prep do it?

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    • So we need to hire more teachers, aides, and paras and reduce class size. This is why I say it will cost two or three times as much per student to educate our high-needs students. Not even WEIC is confronting this fact.

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    • Publius e decere

      In the private sector people are regularly being asked for more, continuously and with ever-rising standards They also have demanding bosses, a demanding public, and externalities. They can be laid off because of lack of performance, lack of need for their narrowly defined job without any consideration for repurposing, and can be canned for simply not being a team player. You survive by adding value, and that barometer is ever-rising.

      Sounds to me like the people who signed on at Nativity Prep know the goals and don’t narrow their path towards it. Sounds like the blog-commenter is taking for granted his position as a public employee. The days for “my eight hours” are gone “bro”, you sign on for the ride or you might have to get off the bus.

      If you want to punch a time clock, I’m sure there is something for you at Walmart. Professionals need not apply.

      Publius

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    • John,
      This IS NOT a post devaluing teachers or the work they do. I could NOT do their job. Juggling many personalities and all the associated implications of trying to keep students focused, is a daunting situation. This is just a comparison of career choices and implications of schedules. Coaching or extra curricular activities, in most schools, have additional stipends attached.That would mean more hours and more pay. Some teachers have heavy loads at different times to grade student work. Private sector jobs have projects, deadlines and business trips that expect additional time. The nature of “salaried” work is a variable time commitment.

      Non teacher salaried job”
      Average hours:
      45 hours (minimum) x (52 weeks-2 weeks vaca-1 week misc holidays)=
      45 hours x 49 weeks=2205 hours

      Teacher salaried job:
      45 hours (# just for comparison) x (52 weeks-10weeks summer-2weeks Christmas/ New Years-1week misc holidays)=
      45 hours x 39 weeks= 1755 hours
      50 hours x 39 weeks= 1950 hours
      55 hours x 39 weeks= 2145 hours
      To approximately approach the same number of hours as a “regular” salaried job for the year, a teacher would need to work over 55 hours EVERY week, ALL 39 weeks of the school year.

      Median college grad salary
      http://time.com/money/3829776/heres-what-the-average-grad-makes-right-out-of-college/
      45k / 2205 hours = $20.4 /hour

      MEDIAN (not average) “starting” teacher salary (FOR THE YEAR, WHICH is not a 50week year)
      http://www.payscale.com/research/US/All_K-12_Teachers/Salary#by_Years_Experience
      Approx.: 36k / 1755 hours= $20.5/ hour

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    • lastDEconservative

      “It’s a job.” What? I thought is was a calling, a noble one at that, selflessly answered; or an oceanic grant of magnanimity from one who would take to the blackboard for free were it not for those pesky hunger pangs. “It’s a job.” Perhaps one of the most forthright statements ever made by one of the union disciples of Beldar and the Fred and Co.

      PS: 15 hours a week of planning. No, I won’t say it, you all can say it for yourselves.

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    • Publius e decere

      M Ryder’s math is helpful. In short, when the data is normalized, teachers’ cash compensation and “pro bono” hours are comparable to the rest of us.

      So any “extra” effort should also be comparable. “Professionals” don’t quibble over it. “Wage earners” do. Which camp should one claim?

      Publius

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    • lastDEconservative

      ” “Professionals” don’t quibble over it. “Wage earners” do.”

      Insightful observation. Curious to hear any responses from the “educators.”

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    • lastDEconservative

      Educators that willingly pay union dues, that is …

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