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Showing posts with label public school failure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label public school failure. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Failure of American Public Education

Published in The Freeman, February 1993
By John Hood

Many American critics believe that the major problem with public education today is a lack of focus on results. Students aren’t expected to meet high standards, the argument goes, and the process of education takes precedence over analyzing education results in policy-making circles.

This is a valid argument (as far as it goes). Indeed, it can be taken one important step further. We not only fail to hold individual students accountable for poor performance, we have also failed to hold the entire government-controlled school system accountable for its performance since at least World War II. Public education is itself a failure. Why shouldn’t individual students follow its example?

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Latest Crime Wave: Sending Your Child to a Better School

School districts hire special investigators to follow kids home in order to verify their true residences.

From The Wall Street Journal
By Michael Flaherty

In January, Ohioan Kelley Williams-Bolar was sentenced to 10 days in jail, three years of probation, and 80 hours of community service for having her children attend schools outside her district. Gov. John Kasich reduced her sentence last month.

In case you needed further proof of the American education system's failings, especially in poor and minority communities, consider the latest crime to spread across the country: educational theft. That's the charge that has landed several parents, such as Ohio's Kelley Williams-Bolar, in jail this year.

An African-American mother of two, Ms. Williams-Bolar last year used her father's address to enroll her two daughters in a better public school outside of their neighborhood. After spending nine days behind bars charged with grand theft, the single mother was convicted of two felony counts. Not only did this stain her spotless record, but it threatened her ability to earn the teacher's license she had been working on.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Girl's Arrest for Doodling Should Concern Us All

"They put the handcuffs on me, and I couldn't believe it," Alexa Gonzalez, 12, said of her arrest.

The following story is an illustration of how very broken the public education establishment is in this country.

We aren't known for bleeding heart liberalism here, and we don't condone the defacing of public property, but arresting and handcuffing a seventh-grade girl for doodling on a desk says so much about the state of big, centralized, bureaucratic, government schools. It shows how large bureaucracies lose all sight of common sense and the goals toward which they should be directed. It makes clear that in a system governed by contracts negotiated by big labor unions, workers, not professionals, will work to the contract and are devoid of any sense of vocation, service, common sense and compassion for those whose minds and characters they should be forming. It is an example of a bureaucracy that exists for its own sake, not the students, and instead of acting like human beings with responsibility for changing and forming hearts and minds, they refer the matter, machine-like, to another bureaucracy charged with another set of bureaucratic solutions.

If dumbed-down curricula, national illiteracy, soaring dropout rates, and mediocre results even in the best schools serving the most advantaged students are not enough to make liberals and conservatives agree that the system isn't working, maybe the trauma and damage done to this 12-year-old will force us to see this evil system for what it truly is.

Girl's arrest for doodling raises concerns about zero tolerance
From CNN
By Stephanie Chen

There was no profanity, no hate. Just the words, "I love my friends Abby and Faith. Lex was here 2/1/10 :)" scrawled on the classroom desk with a green marker.

Alexa Gonzalez, an outgoing 12-year-old who likes to dance and draw, expected a lecture or maybe detention for her doodles earlier this month. Instead, the principal of the Junior High School in Forest Hills, New York, called police, and the seventh-grader was taken across the street to the police precinct.

Alexa's hands were cuffed behind her back, and tears gushed as she was escorted from school in front of teachers and -- the worst audience of all for a preadolescent girl -- her classmates.

"They put the handcuffs on me, and I couldn't believe it," Alexa recalled. "I didn't want them to see me being handcuffed, thinking I'm a bad person."

Alexa is no longer facing suspension, according a spokeswoman for the New York City Department of Education. Still, the case of the doodling preteen is raising concerns about the use of zero tolerance policies in schools.

Critics say schools and police have gone too far, overreacting and using well-intended rules for incidents involving nonviolent offenses such as drawing on desks, writing on other school property or talking back to teachers.

"We are arresting them at younger and younger ages [in cases] that used to be covered with a trip to the principal's office, not sending children to jail," said Emma Jordan-Simpson, executive director of the Children's Defense Fund, a national children's advocacy group.

There aren't any national studies documenting how often minors become involved with police for nonviolent crimes in schools. Tracking the incidents depends on how individual schools keep records. Much of the information remains private, since it involves juveniles.

But one thing is sure: Alexa's case isn't the first in the New York area. One of the first cases to gain national notoriety was that of Chelsea Fraser. In 2007, the 13-year-old wrote "Okay" on her desk, and police handcuffed and arrested her. She was one of several students arrested in the class that day; the others were accused of plastering the walls with stickers.

At schools across the country, police are being asked to step in. In November, a food fight at a middle school in Chicago, Illinois, resulted in the arrests of 25 children, some as young as 11, according to the Chicago Police Department.

The Strategy Center, a California-based civil rights group that tracks zero tolerance policies, found that at least 12,000 tickets were issued to tardy or truant students by Los Angeles Police Department and school security officers in 2008. The tickets tarnished students' records and brought them into the juvenile court system, with fines of up to $250 for repeat offenders.

The Strategy Center opposes the system. "The theory is that if we fine them, then they won't be late again," said Manuel Criollo, lead organizer of the "No to Pre-Prison" campaign at The Strategy Center. "But they just end up not going to school at all."

His group is trying to stop the LAPD and the school district from issuing the tickets. The Los Angeles School District says the policy is designed to reduce absenteeism.

And another California school -- Highland High School in Palmdale -- found that issuing tardiness tickets drastically cut the number of pupils being late for class and helped tone down disruptive behavior. The fifth ticket issued landed a student in juvenile traffic court.

In 1998, New York City took its zero tolerance policies to the next level, placing school security officers under the New York City Police Department. Today, there are nearly 5,000 employees in the NYPD School Safety Division. Most are not police officers, but that number exceeds the total police force in Washington, D.C.

In contrast, there are only about 3,000 counselors in New York City's public school system. Critics of zero tolerance policies say more attention should be paid to social work, counseling and therapy.

"Instead of a graduated discipline approach, we see ... expulsions at the drop of a hat," said Donna Lieberman, an attorney with the New York branch of the American Civil Liberties Union.

"If they have been suspended once, their likelihood of being pushed out of the school increases," she said. "They may end up in jail at some point in their life."

One of Lieberman's clients was in sixth grade when police arrested her in 2007 for doodling with her friend in class. The child, called M.M. in court filings to protect her identity, tried to get tissues to remove the marks, a complaint states.

Lieberman says police subjected M.M. to unlawful search and seizure. A class-action lawsuit, filed in January on behalf of five juveniles, is pending. It maintains that inadequately trained and poorly supervised police personnel are aggressive toward students when no criminal activity is taking place.

Several studies have confirmed that the time an expelled child spends away from school increases the chance that child will drop out and wind up in the criminal justice system, according to a January 2010 study from the Advancement Project, a legal action group.

Alexa Gonzalez missed three days of school because of her arrest. She spent those days throwing up, and it was a challenge to catch up on her homework when she returned to school, she said. Her mother says she had never been in trouble before the doodling incident.

New York attorney Joe Rosenthal, who is representing Alexa, plans to file a lawsuit accusing police and school officials of violating Alexa's constitutional rights. New York City Department of Education officials declined to comment specifically on any possible legal matters.

"Our mission is to make sure that public schools are a safe and supportive environment for all students," said Margie Feinberg, an education department spokeswoman.

Several media outlets have reported that school officials admitted the arrest was a "mistake," but when asked by CNN, Feinberg declined to comment specifically on the incident. She referred CNN to the NYPD.

The NYPD did not return CNN's repeated phone calls and e-mails. It is unknown whether charges will be pressed against Alexa.

Kenneth Trump, a security expert who founded the National School Safety and Security Services consulting firm, said focusing on security is essential to the safety of other students. He said zero tolerance policies can work if "common sense is applied."

Michael Soguero recalls being arrested himself in 2005 when, as principal at Bronx Guild School, he tried to stop an officer from handcuffing one of his students. A charge of assault against him was later dropped. He says police working in schools need specific training on how to work with children.

In Clayton County, Georgia, juvenile court judge Steven Teske is working to reshape zero tolerance policies in schools. He wants the courts to be a last resort. In 2003, he created a program in Clayton County's schools that distinguishes felonies from misdemeanors.

The result? The number of students detained by the school fell by 83 percent, his report found. The number of weapons detected on campus declined by 73 percent.

Last week, after hearing about 12-year-old Alexa's arrest in New York, he wasn't shocked.

"There is zero intelligence when you start applying zero tolerance across the board," he said. "Stupid and ridiculous things start happening."

Monday, September 3, 2007

Dumbing Down America's Schools

Do you question whether there has been a "dumbing down" in America's schools? In 1885 the following test was administered to eighth graders wishing to attend the local public high school in Jersey City, N.J. It was reprinted in the Union City, N.J., newspaper, the Hudson Dispatch, and later in the Wall Street Journal, June 9, 1992, Section A, p. 16.

Jersey City High School, JUNE, 1885


I. Define Algebra, an algebraic expression, a polynomial.
Make a literal trinomial.

II. Write a homogeneous quadrinomial of the third degree.
Express the cube root of 10ax in two ways.

III. Find the sum and difference of 3x - 4ay + 7cd - 4xy + 16, and
10ay - 3x - 8xy + 7cd - 13.

IV. Express the following in its simplest form by removing the parentheses
and combining:
1 - (1 - a) + (1 - a + a2) - (1 - a + a2 - a3).

V. Find the product of 3 + 4x + 5x2 - 6x3 and 4 - 5x - 6x2.

VI. Expand each of the following expressions and give the theorem for
each: {a+4}2, {a2-10}2, {a+4} {a-4}.

VII. Divide 6a4 + 4a3x - 9a2 x2 - 3ax3 + 2x4 by 2a2 + 2ax - x2.

VIII. Find the prime factors of x4 - b4 and x3 - 1.

IX. Find the G.C.D. of 6a2 + 11ax + 3x2, and 6a2 + 7ax - 3x2.

X. Divide (x2 - 2xy + y2)/ab by (x - y)/bc and give the answer in its
lowest terms.


I. If a 60 days note of $840 is discounted at a bank at 4 1/2% what are the proceeds?

II. Find the sum of {square root of} 16.7281 and {square root of} .72 1/4.

III. The interest of $50 from March 1st to July 1st is $2.50.
What is the rate?

IV. What is the cost of 19 cwt. 83 lb. of sugar at $98.50 a ton?
What is discount? A number?

V. Divide the difference between 37 hundredths and 95 thousandths by 25 hundred thousands and express the result in words.

VI. The mason work on a building can be finished by 16 men in 24 days, working 10 hours a day.
How long will it take 22 men working 8 hours a day?

VII. A merchant sold a quantity of goods for $18,775.
He deducts 5% for cash and then finds that he has made 10%.
What did he pay for the goods?

IX. By selling goods at 12 1/2% profit a man clears $800.
What was the cost of the goods, and for what were they sold?

X. A merchant offered some goods for $1170.90 cash, or $1206 payable in 30 days.
Which was the better offer for the customer, money being worth 10%?


I. What is the axis of the earth?

What is the equator?

What is the distance from the equator to either pole in degrees, in miles?

Why is it warmer at the equator than near the poles?

II. Name four principal ranges of mountains in Asia, three in Europe, and three in Africa.

III. Name the capitals of the following countries:
Portugal, Greece, Egypt, Persia, Japan, China, Canada, Hindostan, Thibet, Cuba.

IV. Name the states on the west bank of the Mississippi, and the capital of each.

V. Bound New Jersey, and name six important cities in the state.

VI. Tell the situation of the following:
Detroit, Chicago, Portland, Rio Janeiro, Callao, Venice, Bombay, St. Louis, Halifax, Vera Cruz.

VII. Name 10 countries of South America, and the capital of each.

VIII. Bound Russia and name its capital and largest river.

IX. In what countries is coffee raised?

What are the principal exports of France?

Of the West Indies?

X. New York is nearly 75 {degrees} west of London.
When it is noon at the former, what time is it at the latter?


I. Analyse the following:
Perseus ground his teeth with rage, for he saw that he had fallen into a trap.

II. Make a list of all the verbs in the sentence above, and give the principal parts of each of them.

III. Parse for, had fallen, that, saw

IV. Give two uses of the hyphen.

V. Copy the sentence below, and punctuate it properly.
"Will you please to tell me boys, for what the reindeer is useful"?

VI. Write a sentence containing a noun used as an attribute, a verb in the perfect tense potential mood, and a proper adjective.

VII. Correct

{a} It is only me.

{b} Who did she invite?

{c} Whenever my husband or son take an umbrella down town, they always leave it.

VIII. Write the declension of

{a} bird,

{b} man,

{c} fly,

{d} fox,

{e} it

IX. Write four lines of poetry, giving particular attention to the use of capitals, and to punctuation.

X. Make three sentences, using the plural of sheep

{1} in the nominative case,

{2} in the possessive,

{3} in the objective.

XI. Write a declarative sentence; change to an imperative, to an interrogative, to an exclamatory, and punctuate.


I. What people settled Massachusetts?

Where did they land, and what was their character?

II. Name four Spanish explorers and state what induced them to come to America.

III. What event do you connect with 1565, 1607, 1620, 1664, 1775?

IV. Name the thirteen colonies that declared their independence in 1776.

V. Name three events of 1777. Which was the most important and why?

VI. What caused the war of 1812?

Who was president during that war?

What was the result of it?

VII. What form of government was established in 1789?

Into what three branches was the government divided?

What do the Senate and House of Representatives constitute?

VIII. What caused the Mexican war?

What was the result?

What American general commanded at the capture of the City of Mexico?

IX. What was the remote and the immediate cause of the great Civil war.

Who captured Fort Donelson?

X. Name three commanders of the Army of the Potomac.

In what battle was "Stonewall" Jackson killed?


Answers to this Quiz