Friday, November 23, 2012

Cause or Effect?

For years now I have chafed at Racine Unified's poverty excuse. Year after year, Racine Unified ranks as the worst of similarly sized school districts in Wisconsin. You might think this would cause some soul searching.

It doesn't. Rather, as the annual and predictably poor results roll in, it is time to blame poverty once again.

It is no doubt true that poverty presents learning challenges at home and especially at school. I write "especially" because I strongly suspect that the poor are typically stuck with the worst school districts. And crappy schools produce lousy results such as those we see year after year in Racine.

But Racine Unified whines that it is a victim of poverty.

It is too bad there isn't an institution in town tasked with preparing children to function properly as adults in society.

Oh wait, there is such an institution and it has been around for several decades. It is called Racine Unified.

Perhaps it is time to consider to what extent Racine Unified is the cause of the poverty that they now use to excuse their continual and predictable failings. Don't look for Racine Unified to lead the way on that inquiry.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tolerance is the great enabler. The Racine Unified schools do have strong AP programs for the students that want to be challenged. A voucher system is a great formula to bring private sector competatiness into the public sector.

Sean Cranley said...

We've had this discussion before Denis and you lost decidedly every time. But if you want to have it handed to you again, well by all means.

Now let's start by you naming a school district where a significant portion of the students are struggling to achieve academically where there is NOT also substantial problem with poverty among the students. The name please?

Sean Cranley said...
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Anonymous said...

Does Sean have a PhD in Climate Rebutology from Racine Unified?

Denis Navratil said...

Sean, perhaps you could glean from the title of my post that I am wondering whether Racine Unified (or any other poor performing/high poverty district) might just be the cause of the poverty that they use as an excuse. So your question is irrelevant to the question I am posing as I have no doubt that there is a correlation between poverty and poor academic performance. But correlation should not be confused with causation. As such, the discussion I propose is to explore whether poverty causes poor academic outcomes or if the reverse is true. If the reverse is true, then perhaps Racine Unified just might be the cause of poverty and that their preferred narrative as the hapless victim of poverty might just be a lot of excuse making.

Oh, and poor people can learn.

slinkeey said...
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slinkeey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
slinkeey said...

I believe that I read the same article in the JT that sparked you to create this blog entry.

"Unified also has many more black students than the other nine districts" -- Dr. Ann Laing (Racine Unified Superintendent)

Would someone please explain to me how skin color has anything to do with intelligence? This is the same garbage that I keep hearing from the left in terms of Voter ID. Since when is skin color related to intelligence or the mental capacity that is needed to obtain an ID?

[I need to find the edit so that I stop abusing the delete function.]

Sean Cranley said...

Denis, I understood completely the point you're attempting to make and it is a ludicrous point. I just couldn't believe you wanted hash this out again, when there isn't really any logic or evidence to back up you position and that's been aptly demonstrated before.

But I suppose in your mind RUSD is responsible for the city losing it's manufacturing jobs and the family supporting wages those jobs provided. It couldn't possibly be the destructive economic system that's been thrust on us all by the GOPlutocrats you worship.

No you'd rather go back to your failed ideology of blaming the public schools in Racine and by extension of course, the teachers union for problems that come from far outside the city. The dog won't hunt and you want to blame its tail. It's pure cynical silliness.

Now if you will please name ONE school district where a significant portion of the students are struggling to achieve academically where there is NOT also substantial problem with poverty among the students.

Dear Slinkeey, you asked "Since when is skin color related to intelligence or the mental capacity that is needed to obtain an ID?" Of course your question is a diversion whether you're smart enough to understand that and do it purposefully or not. Skin color is related to poverty, or perhaps you haven't noticed. And there are long standing, centuries long, reasons for that. And poverty is related to a lot of other difficulties including academic difficulties and difficulties in obtaining unneeded photo IDs, which are not unnecessary since there is virtually no voter fraud problem to begin with and only GOPropagandized fools have been deceived into thinking there is, while being provided with ZERO evidence to back up such a whacky conspiracy theory.

Denis, the name of the district please. If your question has ANY merit whatsoever, you should be able to find an example of at least ONE district in this great country of ours where such a condition exists. I fact if you can find such a district that does not also have a substantial minority population AND a deteriorating manufacturing base I'll give a bazzillion bonus points!

Denis Navratil said...

Sean, if the poor black kids can't learn, as you seem to think, why then are we spending the money on them? Could it be that Racine Unified is just a jobs program for teachers, janitors, assistants, administrators etc...?

I wouldn't say that Unified is fully responsible for the loss of manufacturing in Racine, but they play a role insofar as they lead the way in taxing the hell out of local businesses, causing them to close or leave for a less hostile environment. Also, Racine Unified makes it very difficult to recruit talent to Racine. There is nobody, and I mean nobody, when weighing the pluses and minuses of Racine, and contemplating the education of their children, that puts Unified in the plus column. This too hurts manufacturing in Racine.

You have been pestering me about the high performing district with poverty, knowing full well it doesn't exist in the USA at least. And this is your slam dunk, your proof, that the problem is the poverty, not the schools. Of course in every school district, you also have the harmful teachers union, so how can you tell if it is the union or the poverty that is causing the problems? You have to compare unionized schools in impoverished areas with charters, with non-unionized teaching staffs, with the KIPP schools, for example. If you do that you will find that poor black kids can learn and that the greater obstacle to said learning is not poverty but bad, unionized school districts.

As long as we are on the subject of correlation and causation Sean, perhaps you could explain why cities and school districts run by Democrats are such disasters. Is it because of all the black people who can't learn? Shouldn't the opposite be true? Or are the Repubs to be blamed for that as well?

GearHead said...

@Sean: if RUSD ISN'T responsible for manufacturing leaving town, what is the point of pretending it's responsible for bringing new jobs to town? That so-called skills gap we hear about? Naturally, not fully funded at that. Kinda inconsistant in your ideology, no?

Sean Cranley said...

Denis said: "Of course in every school district, you also have the harmful teachers union, so how can you tell if it is the union or the poverty that is causing the problems?"

Answer: Because as you said yourself every school district has a teachers union, but not all school districts have failing students, therefore it can't be the unions. However, the school districts with lots of failing students all have large poor minority populations.

I run circles round logically, must we go through this excercise again?

I would like the name of the school district with large numbers of failing students that does not have a large poor minority population. The name please?

Sean Cranley said...

OH Gearhead I didn't know you wanted RUSD to also produce journeyman trades people like welders abd electricians. I thought that job fell to our technical colleges that your Gubnah slashed the funding for.

I also recall that manufacturers used to have apprentice programs where they produced the skilled workers they needed privately instead relying on the public to pay for everything. The manufacturers barking about the skills gap need only look in the mirror.

slinkeey said...

Denis,

thank you for not deleting/moderating my comment.

Another local blog operator modified my posting and then accused me of being a racist.

This is what caused me to seek out a new Racine related place to communicate.

slinkeey said...

Sean,

Burlington High School had vocational classes. Some of those very classes helped mold me into deciding what I would like to do post High School. They also made it clear that there was a demand for what we were getting a taste of.

So don't tell us that RUSD should have nothing to do with helping to ready students for the real word.

slinkeey said...

Sean,

I do agree with you about apprentice programs. Some of the trades still have them, but many of the corporations have gotten rid of them.

There must have been a time where you could easily find skilled labor, so industry done away with apprentice programs. Maybe we will start seeing these programs return. There are a few CNC Machine shops in the Milwaukee area willing to pretty much train anyone that has a pulse and is willing to learn.

You know they didn't just have these programs out of the kindness of their heart. A business is interested in turning a profit.

Sean Cranley said...

Slinkeey, Yes BHS has shop classes. In fact they have a partnership with Gateway Technical College that allows students to work on getting technical degree credit while still in high school.

I know that RUSD also has vocational classes as I took some when I was a student there and when I was back at Park HS this summer I saw some of the class rooms.

Those are good launching pads for going on to get a technical degree, but it's at the Tech College level that one becomes a tradesman. And that is what I was responding to with regard to Gearhead's semi-coherent comment.

I think part of the problem with the skills gap is that people are afraid to go into manufacturing or tell their kids to do so, because they're very uncertain if there is any future in it in the U.S. since our economic "system" has become so adept at exporting those jobs.

Denis, the School District name please.

Richard Head said...

RUSD is a cause of poverty through their tax levies,borrowing schemes, misuse of monies, and overhead expenses. It is a Corporate monopoly with taxing authority that MUST be abolished.

RUSD has NO incentive to educate children - beacuse they raise taxes every time they want more. That is the wrong way for a Corporate Tax-Funded monopoly to be organized.

A tax levy % should have been set - in concrete - and that remained constant to fund RUSD. THEN, IF RUSD wanted more money - they would have an incentive to do their job and increase the tax base through education. Grow the tax base = more money. Shrinking tax base = less money.

As it exists today - RUSD is a failed institution that provides jobs for those indoctrinated at Colleges and "certified" by other indoctrinated individuals.

As it stands, IF RUSD was a success, and something besides a glorified babysitting service - Racine would be economically healthy and vibrant. It's NOT.

Be a fruit inspector - see what the fruit is - what is the fruit of RUSD? Rising taxes rates, increasing poverty, increasing unemployment, increasing crime, a City with a failing economy.

Also, what people fail to consider is that when the Elites that run taxing authorities, like Gateway, RUSD, City of Racine, etc. raise their wages and benefits - they increase the cost for the residents in the private sector and their gains are at the losses of the private sector. The disparity between the Elites in the "taxing authority club" and those in the private sector is a large driving force in the poverty, homelessness and unemployment that is destroying Racine.

RUSD is part of the problem - not the answer. RUSD must go.

Sean Cranley said...

What a load of nonsense. RUSD ranks 179th out of 426 WI school districts for per pupil spending and pretty much right at the average dollar amount. And keep in mind that many of those districts are k-8 only and therefore, much less expensive to run than those that include high schools.

http://www.homesurfer.com/schoolreports/view/schoolrankreports.cfm?state=WI

By Richard Head's ranted "logic" of throwing all of Racine's problems at the feet of RUSD and the taxes required to fund it, then 178 communities in Wisconsin with more spending per student should be doing worse economically. However that just isn't the case.

Again we see the Cult of Con faith and the "thinking" that underpins it fail to hold up to even the briefest of scrutinies.

What do you propose to replace RUSD with? In Milwaukee the students that are being siphoned off from MPS by the purposely unaccountable voucher schools are doing WORSE academically and costing more money. Further proof that it isn't the schools but the students that are failing.

So Denis, when ya gonna pony up with the name of ONE school district in this great country of ours with large numbers of failing students that does not also have a large number of students in poverty to support the premise of your post and your chaffing at RUSD's poverty excuse? Put the social worker degree of yours to work and do a little research to back your claims. Your continued silence speaks volumes.

Denis Navratil said...

I guess reading comprehension wasn't emphasized at Unified during your tenure eh Sean?

slinkeey said...

I wonder if Sean is part of the "Not in my backyard" crowd?

Maybe he fears a voucher program bringing more students from RUSD to BASD.

Sean Cranley said...

My reading comprehension is excellent Denis. Your one sentence factless attack is feable. Your silence with the name of ONE district that fits your model of non-poverty based student failure is deafening.

GearHead said...

At some point in time doesn't it make sense to implode RUSD, kill off the union and start over? We were lead to believe that a unified district gave us certain economies of scale and a consistent educational product. I've seen no evidence of either, but do see a lot of useless wxpensive administrators running around, and a continuously obstinante union that places its own agenda above the students. The results are predicatbly dire.

At what point do you scrap the system and begin anew? At what point do you scrap Head Start and 4 year old kindergarten, being there is no evidence that 4K achieves anything, and at great cost. Is there ever a program the likes of Sean would concede should be scrapped?

Nemo said...

sean, "Now if you will please name ONE school district where a significant portion of the students are struggling to achieve academically where there is NOT also substantial problem with poverty among the students."

From the LA Times, 2/17/05,"Only 5% of 200 wealthiest school districts would fail under the revised rules"*

"%5 of 200", that's a fancy way of saying 10, sean.

For those of you keeping score at home...

sean: 0, Nemo: a bazzillion


*No Child Left Behind

Sean Cranley said...

Ah Nemo, A one sentence regurgitation, a misleading link with no analytical though or explanation and an undeserved victory lap.

Not only is that typical of Nemo, but pattent dishonesty. The link to the article is: http://www.history.ucsb.edu/projects/ge/iv/news/LAT052-17USCloseDistricts.htm

NOT: ,"Only 5% of 200 wealthiest school districts would fail under the revised rules" as you deceptively posted.

NOR does it say anything like ,"Only 5% of 200 wealthiest school districts would fail under the revised rules" ANYWHERE in the article. You're a fraud.

Furthermore ALL of the districts named in this 2005 article ranged from 45% to 75% of their students getting subsidized lunches, one of the key indicators used to measure student poverty.

And finally, your bringing this to our attention and using No Child Left Behind standards shows your ignorance about what a peice of crap program NCLB was. It was a Bu$hite trojan horse that would incrementally cause ALL school to fail as imposed increasingly impossible hurdles.

I've go to run, but I'm not done with you and your dishonest tactics yet. And for those of you keeping score of intellectual integrity at home...

Sean: A decent amount, Nemo: 0

Nemo said...

Ah sean, did you see the graphic that takes up about 1/3 of the page on the link. It's on the right (no wonder you missed it, heh). It's titled , "Failing school districts".

Now, I'll read to you what is printed near the top just even with the top of the state. (bold added by me, Nemo)

"Only 5% of 200 wealthiest school districts would fail under the revised rules, versus 64% of the poorest districts".

TLAh, (You lose, again. heh)

As to further underline his short bus seat warmer stature, sean also sputtered something about No Child Left Behind would cause ALL school (sic) to fail.

Really sean? ALL? Care to document that? Didn't think so.

sean, you seem to be confusing Existential with Universal again. All/Some, , Near/Far, Intellectual Anything/sean are not the same. They are kinda opposites, but there is help for you sean. Obama was reelected. Sesame Street is still on the air. Consult your local listings for days and times. Heh.

Sean Cranley said...

Nemo challenged: "Really sean? ALL? Care to document that? Didn't think so."

Why yes I can Nemo. I would start with the letter to the Editor from the professor of education conveniently included below the LA Times article you linked to. THANK YOU!

EXCERPT: Schools across the nation can't keep up with requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act because they're impossibly demanding and funding is too little and too restricted.
Could it be that the Bush administration wants public schools to fail? This would allow Bush to usher in the voucher system, one more part of his destructive "ownership society" plan. END EXCERPT

But wait there's more!

Diane Ravitch was the Assistant Secretary of Education appointed by George H.W. Bush and a huge advocate for No Child Left Behind: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124209100

Excerpt: "We should thank President George W. Bush and Congress for passing the No Child Left Behind Act ... All this attention and focus is paying off for younger students, who are reading and solving mathematics problems better than their parents' generation."

Four years later, Ravitch has changed her mind.

"I was known as a conservative advocate of many of these policies," Ravitch says. "But I've looked at the evidence and I've concluded they're wrong. They've put us on the wrong track. I feel passionately about the improvement of public education and I don't think any of this is going to improve public education." END EXCERPT

But here Diane Ravitch gets to the heart of the matter why "failure" under NCLB is a ludicrous standard for you to apply Nemo as evidence for rich districts failing: http://dianeravitch.net/2012/09/25/the-power-of-magical-thinking/

EXCERPT: No Child Left Behind is widely considered a disaster.

The law mandated that 100% of all students would be proficient, as measured by the standards in each state, by 2014. We now know that no state will meet that requirement. Schools have been closed all over the nation because of this idiotic law. Principals and teachers who were doing their best to meet unrealistic expectations, were fired.

NCLB is the Death Star of American education. END EXCERPT

Designating as a failure if it doesn't achieve 100% proficiency is lunacy. And for education, especially when it includes special education students too it is a complertely unachievable goal. A goal designed to destroy America's public education system and completely unsuitable for your use as a benchmark.

So I'm STILL waiting for the name of the school district with large numbers of failing students that does not have a large poor minority population. The name please, Denis, Nemo?

Nemo said...

First sean, remember when you blathered,'NOR does it say anything like ,"Only 5% of 200 wealthiest school districts would fail under the revised rules" ANYWHERE in the article. You're a fraud.'? You did not mention it in your last post and tried to refocus the debate elsewhere. I was hoping that you would clear up the problem with either your reading comprehension problems or your idiocy issue.

sean, "Now if you will please name ONE school district where a significant portion of the students are struggling to achieve academically where there is NOT also substantial problem with poverty among the students."

I gave you 10 sean (%5 of 200) in CA alone. I see that you swapped "substantial problem with poverty among the students" with "have a large poor minority population". Why is that?

Your insipid attack on NCLB doesn't hold up given the numbers in my link (i.e. 36% of the poorest districts would not fail under the new rules).

YLAh