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Wed Jan 9, 2013, 04:51 AM

 

EDjango Unchained: The Coming Revolt against ‘No Excuses’ Schools



For tens of thousands of black and brown students who attend what are billed as “college-prep” academies, today’s return to school begins as always: in straight, silent lines. For these students, more and more of them in our cities every day, school is now synonymous with control. While the specific systems of rewards and punishments vary from one urban charter school to another, the premise is the same: poor minority children must be made to be compliant. Resistance is met with still more punishment until the lesson is finally learned: compliance = success. No excuses.

The label ‘no excuses’ to describe urban charter schools that use a culture of control to extract high scores on standardized tests originates from the right-wing Heritage Foundation. But the no-excuses cause gained real momentum with the 2003 publication of No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning by conservative academics Abigail and Stephen Thernstrom—two of America’s whitest writers, as it happens. In search of what charter advocates are fond of calling “the special sauce,” the Thernstroms set out from their leafy Massachusetts suburb to uncover the mysteries of high-performing, high-poverty urban schools and liked what they saw:

These schools are not waiting until the day social and economic disparities disappear. “No Excuses” is their relentless message. Every student is expected to work hard to acquire the skills and knowledge that tests measure…Those we came to admire set social norms that create effective learning environments. Students learn to speak politely to the principal, teachers, and strangers; they learn to dress neatly, to arrive at school on time, to pay attention in class, finish homework, and never waste time. Teachers work hard to instill the desire, discipline, and dedication—the will to succeed—that will enable disadvantaged youth to climb the American ladder of opportunity. These are essential ingredients in the definition of effective education for high-need kids.


The Thernstroms get into the matter of WHY minority students require a compliance-based approach to learning later in the book (see black youth, too much TV watching by, chapter 4, and Asian culture, superiority of, chapter 5). The topic of why black and brown children must be educated differently than their white peers is one that the no-excuses schools and their advocates prefer to steer clear of; it is dangerous, queasy-making stuff. Instead they focus on the specific ingredients that make up the high achievement stew: longer school days, weeks and years for students, what one academy bills as “Wall Street like hours” for teachers, and an elaborate architecture of punishment, complete with a monetary-based system of rewards for compliance.

The speed with which these schools have become the urban education ideal is nothing short of astonishing. (For example, 9 of the 11 proposed new charters in Massachusetts are no-excuses schools, including the Argosy Collegiate). While the schools themselves are often the subject of fawning media coverage, neither the no-excuses philosophy nor the schools’ punitive culture has received much scrutiny. The difficult subject of race that underlies the philosophy, meanwhile, is barely mentioned at all. I’ll put it bluntly. With a few notable exceptions this is largely a movement driven by white people—from the young teachers who staff the schools, to the advocates who serve as flacks, to the funders who underwrite their expansion, to the edupreneurs who now seek to “scale up” and “leverage” the schools’ success and earn a hefty return in the process...The potential explosiveness of this race dynamic has been on vivid display in Memphis recently, where parents are demanding an end to what they say are humiliating and demeaning disciplinary measures at a former public elementary school turned no-excuses charter...

http://edushyster.com/?p=1700


Meanwhile, the black urban teaching force is being disproportionately fired or laid off:

The Chicago Teachers Union and three teachers who lost their jobs this year have sued the school district, saying the city's campaign to reform or close underperforming public schools discriminates against black teachers.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in federal court in Chicago, and the plaintiffs are seeking class-action status, reported the Associated Press. The teachers — Donald Garrett Jr., Robert Green and Vivonell Brown Jr. — said the firing of all staff at "turnaround" schools has led to a steady decline in black teachers in the school district.


http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/121227/chicago-teachers-sue-district-discrimination-black-teachers

The percentage of new teachers in New York City public schools who are black has fallen substantially since 2002, dropping to 13% in the last school year from 27% in 2001-02, city figures show.

The change has dramatically altered the racial makeup of the new teacher workforce, which last year included about 400 more white teachers than it did in 2002 and more than 1,000 fewer black teachers.

The changing demographics come in a school system that is increasingly made up of non-white students.


http://www.bnyee.org/vanisingblackteachers.htm

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Reply EDjango Unchained: The Coming Revolt against ‘No Excuses’ Schools (Original post)
HiPointDem Jan 2013 OP
leveymg Jan 2013 #1
HiPointDem Jan 2013 #2
leveymg Jan 2013 #3
Odin2005 Jan 2013 #6
loose wheel Jan 2013 #4
Fumesucker Jan 2013 #5
ProgressiveProfessor Jan 2013 #7
HiPointDem Jan 2013 #9
ProgressiveProfessor Jan 2013 #10
HiPointDem Jan 2013 #11
ProgressiveProfessor Jan 2013 #16
HiPointDem Jan 2013 #12
ProgressiveProfessor Jan 2013 #15
HiPointDem Jan 2013 #8
pnwmom Jan 2013 #17
MrScorpio Jan 2013 #13
HiPointDem Jan 2013 #14

Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 05:01 AM

1. Slave plantations, prisons, and the military are also "compliance based" institutions -

What are these Brown and Black Inner-City kids being educated for?

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Response to leveymg (Reply #1)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 05:03 AM

2. the school to prison pipeline?

 

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #2)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 05:42 AM

3. Someone has to be fed into the Charter School-Prison-Military Industrial Complex.

Last edited Wed Jan 9, 2013, 06:46 AM - Edit history (1)

Why not South Side Chicago's school kids? Not like they're going to become Hollywood Producers, Oncologists, or US Congressmen. And, there's money to be made for the smart people from Wilmette in privatization. Right, Rahm?

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Response to leveymg (Reply #1)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 08:45 AM

6. Exactly.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 08:29 AM

4. I was made to stand in line

 

I went to school so far out in the suburbs that some of the kids were living on farms.

We were made to stand in line. The teachers expected us to listen to instruction and do our class work. If we acted out we got to stand in the corner. If we acted out enough we got sent to the principal and our parent's got called. Our teachers and most of our parents didn't listen to an excuse of why school work wasn't done or why we were acting out. Nor should they have accepted any excuses. An excuse and a good reason are two different things.

The schools I went to weren't rich but were consistently highly rated in the state.

My cousin went in the Army and one thing he likes to talk about from basic training is how failure wasn't tolerated. It wasn't that they didn't fail, because they did. It's that they were held to be accountable for it and for making corrections to succeed.

Inner-city school systems are in trouble. They need the best teachers they can find. The skin color of those teachers is not important.

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Response to loose wheel (Reply #4)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 08:33 AM

5. Pretty good description of Lake Wobegon n/t

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Response to loose wheel (Reply #4)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 10:00 AM

7. I saw markedly higher behavior standards when I went to school vs my daughters

Parochial schools were even more strict. Don't get me going on dress codes.

These are voluntary attendance schools. Maybe some one should talk to the parents if they are that horrific.

My own observations at the high school and collegiate level is that many students are convinced that there are no fixed standards. STEM students seem to do better in that regards.

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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #7)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 03:48 PM

9. it's not exactly 'voluntary' when your neighborhood school has been closed and replaced by a

 

charter.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #9)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 03:55 PM

10. There is still a non-charter public school to which they are assigned

and depending on the district there should be transportation provided.

I am really looking to hear from the parents of students in these schools. There have clearly been bad incidents, but overall are they more satisfied or not?

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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #10)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 03:57 PM

11. Neighborhood public schools in black urban districts are being closed. No transportation is

 

provided to the new prison charter schools; you're expected to transport your own student or use public transport.

No, overall *they* are not 'more satisfied'. That's why *they* are suing.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #11)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 05:00 PM

16. I asked about transportation to the now more distant regular public schools. Charter school rarely

if ever provide it.

Parental involvement and support is the critical factor in student success. Though often ignored by administrators, teachers are well aware of that. Do the bulk of the parents think that this approach will help or hurt their kids in the long run? Are they too cowed by the district to even speak up? Clearly there have been some ugly incidents.

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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #10)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 04:11 PM

12. and that's one of the reasons chicago's murder rate is so high; sending kids into enemy turf.

 

when you close down neighborhood schools & replace them with charters while making the only 'choice' further away & in 'enemy' territory, you're creating a privatized monopoly & privatizing some of the only public community spaces in the neighborhood.

the 'progressive' professor wants the results of the consumer satisfaction survey because free market values are what progressivism is all about...



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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #12)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 04:55 PM

15. I had not considered the gang turf issue...but for elementary schools?

I am as African American and since I am working in education, I have some serious interest in this. Several things are clear:

- I teach in the STEM area, and many of the AA students I see come through my classes are clearly not as well prepared as whites, asians and latinos. The difference is at time dramatic.

- Parental involvement and support is the critical factor in academic success of the children. If the parents are being supportive of this highly structured approach, it matters and is not a "consumer satisfaction survey".

- That it is being used only in predominately black areas is troublesome, but then again, it is also where the performance is the worst.

- As a parent, if you knew that such an approach would raise your child's academic performance and help them do better in life, would you support it?

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Response to loose wheel (Reply #4)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 02:54 PM

8. I was made to stand in line too. I was not made to maintain silence most of the day, follow a

 

Last edited Wed Jan 9, 2013, 04:15 PM - Edit history (1)

script during the only times i could talk, pay fines when I broke a rule, or be subjected to prison-style discipline regimen.

It *is* about skin color, because it's only BLACK CHILDREN that this kind of 'education' is deemed suitable for.

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Response to loose wheel (Reply #4)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 05:06 PM

17. Right. You had to stand in line silently and eat your lunch silently

and never open your mouth except to reply to the teacher?

This isn't the answer for inner-city schools or schools anywhere else.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 04:13 PM

13. Welcome to the modern day version of "Civilizing the natives" nt

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Response to MrScorpio (Reply #13)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 04:14 PM

14. +1, good analogy

 

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