Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

January 28, 2007

No, really?

MySA.com: State Government:

At least half of all high school students in the state’s major cities are dropping out of school, creating a crisis that state leaders are not doing enough to address, some education experts say.

This was true when I did my masters report in the 1980’s. This problem spans generations in terms of “alarm” over dropout rates. All of the dramatic reforms of the past thirty years, no pass-no play, increasing requirements, teacher reforms, etc, have proven to be only tinkering on the edges of the problem with no real results. I suspect things won’t change until the state is willing to go to some sort of equitable state wide funding mechanism while allowing more control at the local and parent level.


What do we have right now–does 4 by 4 ring a bell? No child left behind? Or how about how we handle charter schools?

MySA.com: Metro | State:

Shapiro’s proposed bill would make the closure of a charter school after two years on the academically unacceptable list automatic, removing intermediate steps that have slowed enforcement and helped spur courtroom battles. It would also set an absolute standard that a minimum of 25 percent of a school’s students must pass the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills tests in reading and math. If a school misses that mark two years in a row, it would have to shut its doors.

MySA.com: Metro | State:

Shapiro’s spokeswoman, Jennifer Ransom Rice, said there has been discussion of adding a caveat to the proposed bill that would allow such schools to prove that students are making considerable progress, even if their TAKS scores are sub par, thus saving themselves from closure. Rice said even if that measure is added to the bill, however, it would likely be a one-time-only second chance.

The logic behind this “reasoning” is astounding. First, you have schools taking kids who have managed to fall several/many grade levels behind over ten or eleven years and the school gets two years to bring them up to standards.

Then there is the whole “school choice” aspect of it. No one is forcing parents to send their kids to these schools. If these schools are doing such a terrible job, why are the parents still sending their children there? There are two possibilities.

One, the parent believes that the child is benefiting from the school regardless of what the state standards say. After all, they probably do take into account that their child is six years behind when he started the school.

Or two. The parents really don’t have a clue as to how their children are doing which is probably indicative of their own education experience. Can anyone say “culture of poverty?”

How will increasing standards reduce the dropout rate when part of the problem is that the students can’t meet the existing standards to begin with? How can shutting down a school because it doesn’t meet average yearly progress improve students’ performance if they are simply placed back into the situation that generated the problem to begin with?

Why do we still have a 50 % dropout rate after 40 years of alarm over the issue? Because no one is willing to come out and say resolving it would require spending more on students from poor economic backgrounds compared to those from wealthy, suburban districts. Because it would mean that people in a wealthy district would have to recognize that spending money on poor students is a necessary investment for their own children’s standard of living. It would mean letting go of the idea that somehow “those” students are in such poor schools because they deserve it.



  1. Unless there is a requirement to individually track the progress of students from the closed schools AFTER they are moved to a new school due to closure of the first, there will be no way to know that they have benefitted. Simply closing a school does not necessarily mean that any individual students will be better served.

    Comment by Pam — January 29, 2007 @ 10:10 am

  2. Unless, of course, they are going to a private school 😉 That’s one of my problems with vouchers as currently proposed. You can leave a “failing” public school because it is obviously not spending the public’s money effectively. You can take that money to a private school but no one looks at it’s effectiveness. Hmmm, is this about accountability or parental choice?

    Comment by texased — January 29, 2007 @ 9:38 pm

  3. […] Michelle at Texas Ed writes about the drop-out problem in “No really?” […]

    Pingback by The 104th Carnival of Education at The Median Sib — January 30, 2007 @ 10:51 pm

  4. I could not disagree more with your conclusion. With a voting rate in most school board elections at an abismal rate, giving more control locally will just create larger political machines wasting taxpayer dollars. These are our children and this states most valuable resource. Until we create a system that allows children to be different, i.e, some go to college, some be tradesmen, some receive special treatment due to disabilities, and then create true punishment for problems, this system can not improve; even if you throw an unlimited amount of money at it.

    Comment by stephen pruski — March 10, 2007 @ 8:57 am

  5. […] I love this argument. You will trust parents to make a rational decision to pull the child out of a failing school and enroll them in another school because it is in the best interest of the child. But if the parent chooses not to, the child remains in a poor performing school until society gets around to improving the school. Currently, they get four years. I have a feeling that Reich wouldn’t allow parents four years to show improvement for their children. If they do allow four years, I’m sure even the latest reader or most unschooled unschooler would meet minimal standards. […]

    Pingback by Regulating Homeschoolers « Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas — June 6, 2007 @ 9:45 pm

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