Save our schools from No Child Left Behind

Cross posted from ControlCongress.com, we have a guest post from John Konop:

Our high schools are facing skyrocketing drop out rates, declining test scores, and limited tax revenue (because of the recession). No Child Left Behind’s one-size-fits-all education model, with its unfunded mandates from the sate and federal government, has been a massive failure by any measurement.

Georgia has unfortunately followed No Child Left Behind’s lead and established a one-track-fits-all philosophy, which forces all students into a college-bound curriculum. The result: students with an aptitude for vocational/tech curriculum are demoralized (and dropping out in greater numbers) and college-bound students are not challenged by an increasingly watered-down curriculum aimed at accommodating everyone (including students who would be better served by a vocational/tech curriculum).

A commons sense approach

The solution to these problems requires only common sense and familiarity with an already proven approach. For example, Macon, GA, has developed a multi-track (college-bound and vocational/tech) system based on each student’s aptitudes. By putting vocational students and college bound students on different tracks, the school has realized amazing results.

From Macon.com: “…the immediate benefits from the career academy include lower dropout rates, higher graduation rates, and a more skilled labor pool in the county, [school administrator Carpenter] said. The Newnan school’s web site states the county’s dropout rate has fallen by half since it opened, and the graduation rate for students in dual enrollment programs is 98 percent.”HR-215

Georgia State Representative Steve Davis has proposed a bipartisan bill (HR-215) to promote this multi-track concept. The bill will provide separate tracks for high school students (a college-bound track and a vocational/tech track) using joint enrolment programs with local colleges and technical schools to support honors and vocational programs.

HR-215 would 1) increase graduation rates, 2) provide our local economy with work-ready students who will increase tax revenues, and 3) decrease the money governments spend on welfare and crime. It will also lower the overall cost of education by better utilizing college and technical school resources, many of which have surplus capacity.

Act now

Please contact the new Speaker of the House David Ralston, who promised to put Georgia’s kids before lobbyist interests. Hold him accountable by demanding that he bring HR-215 to a vote. And please forward this e-mail to your friends who care about the quality of Georgia schools.

E-MAIL AND OR CALL! [email protected] –or– 404.656.5020

http://controlcongress.com/uncategorized/save-our-schools-from-no-child-left-behind

44 comments

  1. polisavvy says:

    I agree with you. The dropout rate started climbing even before “No Child Left Behind” when the schools decided to drop vocational education. Not all students are college material and to consider them so only hurts the students. I know about this because I had two such children: one was always destined for college; the other tried it and could not succeed, so he is now in the construction industry. Some have the aptitude for math and science, other have the aptitude for plumbing and construction. People seem to forget that if there were no blue collar workers that the white collar workers would be working in a thatch hut in their backyard. Skilled workers are vital to society.

  2. B Balz says:

    Here is something that I learned about Vo-Tech viability in a large metro county: It is unpopular among some African American school board members and ostensibly their constituent voters.

    Why?

    They feel that African American students will be ‘steered’ into ‘blue collar’ vo-tech career, and not encouraged toward college and potentially more lucrative ‘white-collar’ job.

    I saw this ‘below the surface’ perception firsthand, as I began encouraging vo-tech in Dekalb. DeKalb has new, state of the art vo-tech schools, BTW. But the perception is out there.

  3. John Konop says:

    I would hope John Lindsey, Earl Ehrhart…. and other lawmakers in Georgia who post and read the PP would at least tell us why they would not put this vital bill to a vote if they do not support it.

    Also if you do support the bill when will get the bill to a vote?

  4. Progressive Dem says:

    The Atlanta Public School system has started an intiative to transform the delivery of high school education and it includes vocational training. Many high school students get lost in the cracks of a big high school with a thousand or more students. Cartainly that is more likely if there is only one set of curriculum offered. Research shows they do better in more personalized settings. The New Schools of Carver High is divided into four schools of 400 students. Each student chooses a path, either Early College, Health Sciences, Technology or Arts. Within the smaller setting teachers and administrators deal with a more manageable number of students. Kids aren’t so much a number as a familiar face. Carver is the pilot school and it appears to be making progress.

    • polisavvy says:

      I am really glad to hear that. Thanks for sharing. Glad to see Atlanta Public Schools tackling this issue. Both of my kids attended a high school of 2500 students (trailers and all). Kids do get lost in the shuffle in these really large schools. I saw this firsthand. It is truly sad to see. It’s a lose, lose proposition.

  5. IndyInjun says:

    Somebody needs to regroup.

    There is a certain element of human kind that is manually dextrous but learning-limited. Manufacturing, mechanics, welding and carpentry gave them a saleable skill. We will be returning to needing those skills, very, very shortly.

    Conversely, 40% of the USA economy became FIRE. FIRE is going to shrink to 5% or less, no matter how deep in denial the Keynesians are and how determined they are to resurrect the corpse. When your business model was centered on providing the world’s financial services and you sold the entire world poison finance, you best figure another strategy.

    • polisavvy says:

      Thanks a bunch. I appreciate that. Not happy to read your stats, though. My husband owns his own construction company. We have survived, but barely. You did not give me happy news, but thanks for the explanation.

      • IndyInjun says:

        The happy news, to the extent that there is any, is that we are in better shape than California and Florida. That has to be weighed against the fact that Georgia was #1 0r #2 in mortgage fraud for 5 years running.

        Builders who build with the ‘boomers need to downsize in mind will survive. The multiple-story 3000 to 5000 sft homes are WAY overbuilt and demand is unlikely to revive.

        Building the type of housing needed will run headfirst into zoning that was written around the obsolete model.

        The children’s education will change and so will the FIRE folks.

  6. Three Jack says:

    does anybody actually read legislation anymore? from hr215: “Only students pursuing the college preparation diploma option shall be permitted to use the school code for purposes of SAT administration.”…that will get us out of last place!

    “Have completed 100 hours of community service approved by the local board of education in accordance with State Board of Education guidelines.” — really? the state boe is going to force our children to perform community service along with the people fulfilling their criminal sentences??

    i thought conservatives supported local control. if this bureaucracy creating disaster passes, might as well just go ahead and abolish all local school boards.

    • John Konop says:

      Three Jack,

      The SAT is test for kids seeking to get into college. If a kid is not on a college prep track in high school, why should a school gather information for the performance of the test? It does not prohibit the kid from taking the test.

      Would you suggest that college prep kids be tested in cutting hair…..and the school spend the money tracking it?

      • Three Jack says:

        why should state government set local school policies konop?

        instead of pouring more tax money into the failed government school system as you support, why not start working toward school choice including viable private options (including hair cutting if you so choose)?

        • John Konop says:

          Three Jack,

          In all due respect you are very confused about the facts, this bill does the opposite if you understood the details how the system works. No Child Left Behind has created heavy handed unfunded mandatory requirements like math 123 on all students.

          What this bill does is go back to creating multiple tracks to graduate. I also talk to Steve about the bill and he had no issue from a suggestion I made to allow waivers for certified degree programs in good standing setting the curriculum requirements for graduation.

          It has always made more sense to me to allow the degree programs to set requirement over the state. The Tech/vocational schools must meet tough requirements on graduation and job placement to maintain good standing to be eligible for student loans.

          If a student does take that track and they latter change their mind, they can always enroll in a junior college to make up needed course work if they want to eventually get a 4 year degree or higher.

          • John Konop says:

            Three Jack,

            The system does allow for private and public programs through the joint enrollment program. That is how the money is saved for the state while increasing the quality of education.

            This bill would make it easier for kids to joint enroll before graduation at a private and or public university, technical school…..

            BTW we are doing it in Macon and it is working!

      • Dave Bearse says:

        JK:

        I don’t know anything about the legislation other than what I’ve read here, but 3 Jacks made a good point. It doesn’t speak well for the bill that the legislature makes the call on the SAT.

        • John Konop says:

          Dave,

          I am lost ,why do you think a school should be forced to track the SAT scores of students not on a 4 year college bound track? Is this not a current waste of money? Are we not facing tough economic times? Should we not look at using resources more efficiently?

  7. IndyInjun says:

    i thought conservatives supported local control. if this bureaucracy creating disaster passes, might as well just go ahead and abolish all local school boards.

    Isakson, Chambliss, and the GOP House delegation voted for NLCB, which takes education out of BOTH state AND local boards, so they aren’t “conservatives?”

    I agree with that assessment.

  8. Ramblinwreck says:

    If you ever expect to fix public education you’ll need to wrestle it away from politicians. As long as politicians are in control of it at the state and federal level every solution will be a political one and not necessarily a practical one. The “solution” will usually involve throwing more money at a problem that can’t be fixed by more money. School vouchers and open enrollment would help but returning control to local school districts would work too. At least the local taxpayers will be getting the education they deserve from the school boards they elect and the administrators they hire. Let’s try something radical like taking public education away from politicians.

    • seenbetrdayz says:

      Or we could keep pooling our tax dollars together, sending them off to D.C. to bureaucrats, lobbyists, and statisticians who don’t know/will never know our children and/or how they learn most effectively—but do care more about making themselves look good. Then after they have divied up our finite amount of tax dollars between whatever special interest groups are present, we might eagerly await whatever scraps slip from the edge of the table and fall back down to the local level, provided that we have met their arbitrary performance criteria which takes no account of a student’s individual talents and skills, which are better known to a child’s parents and teachers than a thousand-page bill-writer in the halls of Congress.

      I’m with you all: Local control, for the win.

  9. Harry says:

    John, here’s a thumbs-up for your efforts. On education policy it’s time we get a reality check not to mention more bang for the buck. Worrying about things like SAT statistics is indicative of rearranging the deck chairs.

  10. paynegausa1 says:

    Wouldn’t it be fantastic if the legislature was able to nip this in the bud in the first place, and just use the tax revenue already in the coffers to fix this? I realize this is pie in the sky, but why does the public school system budget have to suffer, while the legislature dreams up new ways to tax us only to bailout, among others, phone companies??? Has anyone seen this new tax on phone bills across GA, whose revenue will go not to the students, not to the teachers, not to social services, but to phone companies? Talk about sending it where its needed most…

  11. GodHatesTrash says:

    Not really fair to blame the problems in Georgia education on NCLB.

    Georgia has always had most of the worst schools in the nation, since before there was a nation.

    Let’s face it – putting education in front of a Georgian is like casting pearls before swine…

    • ByteMe says:

      The first two paragraphs are definitely true.

      When there was only local control of schools, Georgia schools were awful.

      When the state took over to shift funding around to make sure those in poor counties had a better chance to get an education and tried to enforce a standardized curriculum, Georgia schools were… still awful.

      The Feds came in with NCLB and they give a LOT of money to Georgia for schools and Georgia schools are… still awful.

      Awful, that is, outside of the “moneyed” areas. Rich people insist that their kids go to great schools. Johns Creek is considered a “top 25” city for public schools (in the country) and you won’t find too many poor people who live there.

    • seenbetrdayz says:

      Godhatestrash:

      Do you live in GA? If so, you know the state line isn’t made of plexiglass. You aren’t going to bounce off if you try to leave this ‘horrible’ state.

        • polisavvy says:

          So true, seenbetrdayz and GOPGeorgia. There are several that I wonder why they still live here if this is such a bad place to live.

      • GodHatesTrash says:

        I left. Just couldn’t stand the smell any longer.

        I live in the Nawth, and let everyone I know know that Lincoln was wrong.

        The trash took itself out, and he stupidly dragged it back in.

        But what did you expect from a gawddam Kentucky hillbilly like ol’ Abe?

        • Ken in Eastman says:

          I’ll probably be sorry I asked this, but what burgh of enlightenment are you now sullying with your presence? (I’m regretting this question already because it implies I actually am interested)

  12. Groundpounder says:

    The Vision School or Bridge School programs are increasing graduation rates. Georgia should look very hard at this program.

    • polisavvy says:

      Groundpounder, I just read about both of these programs. I am very impressed with the concepts of each. Seems to be something that Georgia should investigate. I especially like the fact that Bridge School helps the challenged children (have a soft spot in my heart for them and their parents). I want the best for them. As for the Vision School, it seems so simple — getting back to basics and teaching things like reasoning, critical thinking, encouraging reading, decent moral skills (you know, the things that are sometimes missing in the present education system). When my children were younger, I would definitely have liked to have seen a program such as the Vision School available for mine. There seems to be so much emphasis on future success at Vision (either college or votech) which is, after all, the purpose of education.

        • Groundpounder says:

          Working with Rep. Barry Loudermilk both the Vision School Bill and the Bridge School Bill are in his hands. We are receiving positive support thus far. Thanks for the support. Its in the works. If we can cut the DHR budget enough to cover the cost then we have a good shot at advancing the program.

          • polisavvy says:

            I wish him all the success in the world for the future of education in our schools. In my opinion, for whatever it’s worth, we need to do what we have to do in order to help our pathetic education system even if it means cutting the DHR budget. A little off topic, but important just the same, I just heard on Fox News that there is a big battle raging on about history textbooks. No more Independence Day in text books? No mention of George Patton? No mention of Paul Revere? What the hell is that all about? We have got to get back to the basics and quit trying to be so damned politically correct all the time. It’s killing us and the well-being of our children. Sorry, I digressed; but, this certainly doesn’t help hearing something like that.

  13. Joshua Morris says:

    Career academies are not a new idea here. We just need more of them for kids who are not college bound:
    http://www.georgiacareeracademies.org/

    Also, folks. Keep in mind that NCLB was a bipartisan proposal. Some of it has been beneficial, while some has been terrible. Accountability of schools is necessary. HOW we make schools accountable is the issue. Fix that, and NCLB may hold some promise.

    • polisavvy says:

      True. All is not lost (yet). I think people keep forgetting the bipartisanship of NCLB. Thank you for reminding folk.

    • John Konop says:

      Joshua,

      The problem with No Child Left Behind is the goal was to reduce achievement gaps between students based on race. The goal should have been to raise achievement level based on skill sets of students regardless of race.

      And when you make a goal about equalizing over color blind achievement you end up with a failed policy like NCLB.

      Our country was founded on the principal of equal opportunity not results.

  14. Kevin Wood says:

    I am an assistant principal in charge of curriculum at a metro high school and a die hard conservative Republican. This bill, even with a few flaws (and it does have flaws), is far preferable to our current one size fits all graduation requirements. Our current graduation requirements are not friendly to anyone who wants to enter the workforce and is not interested in going to college. This bill does provide more flexibility to local systems to creative innovative courses that meet the needs of our students under these new requirements.

    We need graduation requirements that meet the needs of our students and our business community.

    On a related note, the new math curriculum is NOT working.

  15. Republican Lady says:

    One of the problems I have noticed in teaching the first and second year college students is poor time management skills. I gave an assignment that is due next Tuesday and got complaints from students that some would not be able to watch sports on TV if they did the work.

    I have students who fail to turn in homework and term papers on time, then get mad and want to argue when turning them in on the day of the final exam. I refuse to take them that late in the course and get told, “Well my high school teacher always took them and gave me credit.” I have to remind them they are in college, not high school.

    I don’t know if this attitude is from the “No Child Left Behind,” or if they were coddled, or if they just haven’t learned to accept responsibility for their actions or lack of action. I just know that I cannot compromise the integrity of the course because if I do, the degree is meaningless and it insults the good students who not only toe the line but go over and beyond course requirements.

    • ByteMe says:

      It’s definitely not from NCLB specifically, but it does show the difference in goals between high school and college. High school gets measured by the number of kids graduated and standardized test scores; college gets measured by money and research.

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