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In our opinion: U.S. schools still separate and unequal

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  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 5:02 a.m.

    Re: "Officials in each state would do well to ask themselves what type of education system they would devise if they could completely eliminate the current system and start over . . . ."

    Yeah, that ought to do it. Let's just embark into hundreds of brave new mandatory educational worlds created by leftist "educators" and their gritty, greedy trade-union bosses.

    That would certainly guarantee equal outcomes -- all bad.

    The real truth "educators" are attempting to cover up here is that our system is one of the very best in the world. It does exactly what it was designed to do -- give every child an opportunity for a good education. In a real world, equal outcomes will never happen, no matter how much money we throw at teachers and their unions.

    Notwithstanding incessant union bleating, truth is -- class size doesn't matter. Per-child expenditure doesn't matter. Tightly-controlled, centrally-dictated curricula don't matter.

    Student and parent motivational levels do matter. That's something outrageously expensive, tightly union-controlled, socialized-curriculum school systems can never address.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 6:19 a.m.

    The same habits which bring wealth to a family also bring scholastic success. They include work, preparedness, self-reliance, literacy, wise management of personal resources, maintaining physical health, and all other aspects of provident living. Teaching these habits to families is the single most important element in a successful program to improve education. Any program which doesn't address them will likely fail.

    Pumping money into a school system does not address root problems. The focus should be on creating good habits in the family. Civil society will be more instrumental in this regard than government.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 7:16 a.m.

    So the report shows there is little or not correlation between test results and money spent and class size, yet the solution proposed to fix the low scores among poor people is to shift money from some schools and districts to others to "equalize" funding. Did I read that right?

    Maybe the kids from poor families do not score well because their parents (if they have them) do not emphasize the importance of a good education. If parents do not teach and discipline their kids, don't read to them, or make them do their homework then the kids are at a severe disadvantage (no matter how much money government tries to throw at the problem).

    If the "redistribute wealth" crowd would instead focus on the task of "redistributing work ethic" to poor people, the problem would be largely taken care of. Some poor people do work very hard, but usually hard workers work themselves out of poverty just like motivated students work themselves out of low test scores.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Dec. 4, 2013 7:50 a.m.

    Well the haters are up early this morning.

    What's disappointing in all the vitriol is once again there's no solutions here just name calling, blame throwing, and ridiculous suggestions that boil down to make everybody like me.

    There are reasonable solutions out there that actually get at the core problem of behaviors and aren't money centric. They are school programs that help teach children self management.

    It's wrong to think the parents don't want their children to be successful. They are just too lazy to help. There are hundreds of reasons parents don't teach children good habits. Everything thing from working 2 jobs and not being home to not having the skills themselves.

    There's a book that talks about these programs in some details. The title is something about successful children, I can't remember it exactly, and can't find it in my library right now. The point though is self governance can be taught in schools. It is relative to class size but not a direct result of class size.

  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 8:48 a.m.

    JoeCapitalist2 - You stated exactly my thinking.

    Insanity is trying the same thing over and over expecting a different result.

    Most affluent parents value education, impress on their children that they are expected to do well in school and learn a lot, and for the most part make sure the kids know that learning is their 'job' from age 5 - college graduation.

    Too many poverty parents view school as free babysitting, impress on their kids that it is the schools job to educate them, and fail to teach children that they must work at it. (victim/entitlement mentality)

    Redistributing more money to lower income schools only reinforces the dependency low-income parents are already teaching their children.

    A real change would be a massive effort in the early grade school years at character education focused at bringing low-income kids into the mindset of high-income kids. They need to be filled with the idea that they are capable young people, not victims of society.

    If children are indoctrinated to be victims, they will continue to be victims. Schools and parents are proving this now. This (liberal) indoctrination is what needs to be changed if we are to improve student outcomes.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 8:56 a.m.

    pragmatist: So everyone who suggests that it is a bad idea to follow the liberal mantra of "throw more money at the problem", is a hater???

    Before you blame others for "vitriol" and "name calling", I suggest you look in the mirror.

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 9:00 a.m.

    "Children from wealthy families perform well, while those from poor families typically do not."

    ------------

    My family "poor" and from the poorest area of SLC. I had relatives and some acquaintances whose families were more wealthy and lived in much wealthier areas. Most of the kids in my neighborhood were much less successful later in life than most of the people I knew from the wealthier areas. A phenomenon I witnessed personally.

    However, though our father's highest lifetime wage was the $750/mo. to which he was raised 6 months before his death at 60, everyone of his 6 children obtained college degrees, some of them advanced. Only one of us achieved monetary "success" but all have been successful.

    I attribute our relative success compared to most of our "poor" neighbors to one thing. College was for us was nothing more than the next grade after high school, and we were expected to do whatever summer/part-time job and/or scholarship necessary to pay for it.

    From that unstated expectation of higher education came all the opportunities that allowed us to move beyond the very humble beginnings in which most of our friends, whose parents cared little for education, remained.

  • GZE SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 9:21 a.m.

    Badger says, Most affluent parents value education, impress on their children that they are expected to do well in school and learn a lot, and for the most part make sure the kids know that learning is their 'job' from age 5 - college graduation.

    Most affluent parents also feed their children sufficient nutritional food, provide adequate medical care, clothe them for the weather, and are home at night to put them to bed on time. These things are tough to do when you are working 3 minimum-wage part-time jobs, don't have insurance, and are struggling to keep a roof over your head.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Dec. 4, 2013 9:29 a.m.

    I disagree with DN on the issue of class size, especially in areas with high rates of poverty.

    Why do colleges/universities tout class size and pupil-per-instructor statstics? I know my learning experiences were enhanced in smaller class sizes throughout college.

    The Institute of Education Sciences, the research arm of the United States Department of Education has concluded that class size reduction is one of only four, evidence-based reforms that have been proven to increase student achievement through rigorous, randomized experiments -- the "gold standard" of research. (The other three reforms are one-on-one tutoring by qualified tutors for at-risk readers in grades first through third; life-skills training for junior high students, and instruction for early readers in phonics -- and not one of the policies that the corporate reformers are pushing.)
    (HuffingtonPost)

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 9:33 a.m.

    Re: ". . . in all the vitriol is once again there's no solutions . . . ."

    Sure there are. Just leave education alone for awhile.

    It's already doing a fair job of offering an opportunity to those interested in taking it. And, the culture-wide change necessary to increase across-the-board student and parental interest in a good education is simply not the job of "educators."

    Their track record shows they'd muff it, if given the job, anyway. Most teachers are simply ill-equipped to teach motivation, ambition, love of hard work, and an entrepreneurial spirit.

    Besides, their union wouldn't let them teach such "reactionary" material, anyway.

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 9:53 a.m.

    Who doesn't want the most what they can possibly get for the least they can possibly do.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Dec. 4, 2013 10:14 a.m.

    Those who say $ don't matter are strange people. Somehow the law of supply and demand doesn't apply to education? Everybody knows that schoolteachers come from the lowest third of college students because of the mediocre pay. Paycheck-to-paycheck salaries, no "stock options," and now thanks to our Republican legislature a lousy benefits package. In my opinion, anyone who applies for a teaching job should undergo a sanity check. (BTW, private school pay is even worse.)

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 10:26 a.m.

    There is literally no possible way we can guarantee ALL schools are equal.

    Understanding that it's literally impossible to guarantee that everything for everybody is equal is just something you have to come to terms with. IMO the solution is to dedicate yourself to doing everything YOU can do to make YOUR school and YOUR district as good as possible. You can't change all the schools in the United States... so focus on changing what you can change.

    Even IF all schools were equal... you still can't guarantee equality of outcomes.

    So let's focus on getting as much out of what we have instead of pretending we can make all schools equal (which we can't do).

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Dec. 4, 2013 10:26 a.m.

    Joe,"pragmatist: So everyone who suggests that it is a bad idea to follow the liberal mantra of "throw more money at the problem", is a hater???

    Pretty much yes, and here's the reason. You see the problem as.."If the "redistribute wealth" crowd would instead focus on the task of "redistributing work ethic" to poor people, the problem would be largely taken care."

    You assume that poor people have a poor work ethic. Poor people are poor because they work for slave wages. Todays poor are the working poor. The vast majority of SNAP recipients who can work do. They are not lazy. They are poor.

    the culture-wide change necessary to increase across-the-board student and parental interest in a good education is simply not the job of "educators."

    Once again the assumption is that poor parents who's children struggle are not interested in a good education for their children. You are dead wrong with this.

    And it is the job of teachers to help students learn self management skills. It's all involved in how you teach and the methods and skills are available.

    Look for new solutions. Clearly the past hasn't worked.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 10:35 a.m.

    I've read a far more detailed review of this report. A big problem that I see for us is that there are many other countries in which the children of poor parents excel at a far higher rate than do ours. We should see what those countries do differently and try to learn something.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 11:01 a.m.

    Re: "Look for new solutions. Clearly the past hasn't worked."

    That's the tired, discredited liberal bleating that translates to, "Give us more money. Give us more control. Give us the right to make all decisions for you. We're better than you, better than anyone who has come before us, and we deserve to rule over you."

    Nothing more.

  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 11:09 a.m.

    And now you can read how the victim mentality adults jump to the rescue of their narrative. [i.e. "slave wages" (they work to prevent a beating?), lack of food (has been addressed by free breakfast, free lunch, food stamps, food bank,) etc etc etc.

    The victim crowd can run around demanding that others give them money for whatever, or they can change the one thing they rightfully have control over, themselves.

    I came from a family that qualified for government food programs, and WE NEVER TOOK PART IN IT! My father taught me that we make our own way, and that his small wage was sufficient if we were frugal. All 6 kids are college graduates. None are on government supplement programs, nor did we go to college on government grants or loans. We earned scholarships, (back in the day when they were not based on need), or we earned the money and paid for it ourselves.

    It ain't the money! It is the choices and the self motivation. Equality and justice are not found in redistributing money, which includes education money. We have tried redistribution and it is a failure. Something completely different is needed.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 11:39 a.m.

    pragmatist: I am not a hater as you suggest, I am an optimist.

    I believe that just about anyone who truly wants it and is willing to work for it, can gain success in this great "land of opportunity" of ours (even in this bad economy). Those families that are "multi-generational poor" do have a bad work ethic. There is no reason why poverty should be anything but a temporary condition.

    Like Badger, I came from a poor family that would have qualified for all kinds of government welfare today. I worked hard in school and in a variety of menial jobs in order to save for college. I stayed off drugs, stayed in school, and worked my way out of poverty.

    Poor people today need to cast off the victim mentality and be shown the path to success. Unfortunately, too many realize that path is often a steep climb up a hill instead of a paved highway complete with a sports car and decide to "sit it out". I want everyone to have a fighting chance, but I have no sympathy for those who refuse to try.

    If that makes me a hater, so be it.

  • Semi-Strong Louisville, KY
    Dec. 4, 2013 11:48 a.m.

    Part of the problem is the "patchwork quilt of reform efforts from coast to coast."

    "per pupil expenditures do not translate into better results." Maybe not in jumbled up country to country data, but put demographically similar school populations together (not urban and rural or high cost with low cost) and give one the funds to hire more and better teachers and other resources and see which one performs better.

    If we truly are convinced that money and class size have nothing to do with education then we have a simple fix. Let your child (not mine, just yours) go to a school that spends a quarter of what the other schools in similar circumstances and areas do. Let their class size grow to 50 or (heck, if it makes NO difference) even 100 kids per teacher.

    Would you do that? Why not if money and class size make NO difference?

    "Children from wealthy families perform well, while those from poor families typically do not" because they select better areas to live with better schools and have fewer kids with significant issues to attend to.

    BTW - For those offering "the poor create their kids' problems" answer, do other countries have no poor?

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 12:04 p.m.

    pragmatistferlife,
    Nobody had resorted to name calling until you came along.

    You called the other posters "haters"... and complain "no solutions here just name calling, blame throwing, and ridiculous suggestions that boil down to make everybody like me"... but what suggestions did YOU bring?

    I agree name calling is NOT the solution.

    IMO we need to learn to do the best we can with what we have. If Utah doesn't have a lot of money we can give to education... we need to do the best we can with the money we DO have, not keep saying give me more money (when we are already one of the highest taxes States).

    We also can't insist that all schools be equal. That's just an unrealistic expectation.

    But we CAN make each school as good as it can possibly be.

    Some don't agree that money is the solution. That doesn't make them a "hater".

    Maybe the solution is for parents to be more involved... volunteer to help. Donate more money (more than you are required to pay in taxes). Donate your time, money, and other resources they need to your school.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 12:36 p.m.

    Re: ". . . do other countries have no poor?"

    You can take it from me -- a guy who has spent a significant fraction of his life in the third world -- other countries do, indeed, have poor. And their poor have kids.

    The big difference is that in most third-world nations, poor parents teach and daily reinforce to their kids that a good education is the key to leaving poverty behind.

    American liberals, on the other hand, insist that credulous American poor parents their kids that their faux penury is the fault of rich, white conservatives, and that only chumps bother to get a good education, since political saviors will give them what they want, if only they'll sell their vote to the right Democrat.

    Modern liberal politics is the root of poor performance by low-income students.

  • McMurphy St George, Utah
    Dec. 4, 2013 1:06 p.m.

    You can't just look at absolute figures for wealth in schools and districts and draw any valid conclusions as to why wealthier schools and districts do better. You have to look at factors in the schools/districts that go along with money -- e.g., parental involvement including insistence on results and study ethic.
    If the mere difference in numbers between schools/districts was the determining factor then just eliminating subsidized school lunches would solve the problem

  • Semi-Strong Louisville, KY
    Dec. 4, 2013 1:26 p.m.

    procuradorfiscal,

    First, the liberal folks I know are not necessarily poor. My sister and brother in law qualify as quite liberal. They make good money and their kids are well educated and heard the education mantra from birth.

    Second, the poor folks I know are not necessarily liberal. Many are tea party conservatives.

    Third, there are poor folks who are poor through no fault of their own. And there are poor who have made poor choices. Of those who have made poor choices, some have learned a valuable lesson and transmit that lesson to their kids. Others do not (and they are certainly a source of concern). If other countries poor breakdown differently, I am unaware of it. It certainly broke down similarly when I was in South America years ago. I doubt our poor are unique.

    Finally, if anywhere would have less productive poor who are learning the wrong lesson, would it not be in those European states we so often hear about that are promoting socialism?

  • m.g. scott clearfield, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 2:40 p.m.

    I can tell you all this. When I lived in Southern California I used to drive every day past a high school in the Cerritos area that was obviously dominated by the Asian community when you saw who the majority of the students were. That particular school was also the number one high school for academic achievement in the whole state of California. It was definately a middle to upper middle class neighborhood. However, I know cities like Beverly Hills, Newport Beach, Pacific Palasades ect. were much more affluent. There is no doubt in my mind that the reason for such high achievement of these students had little to do with the school itself, and everything to do with the home they came from.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 3:06 p.m.

    GZE: "Most affluent parents also feed their children sufficient nutritional food, provide adequate medical care, etc... These things are tough to do when you are working 3 minimum-wage part-time jobs, don't have insurance, and are struggling to keep a roof over your head."

    I've got news for you. "Affluent" parents are every bit as busy as poor parents (if not more so). Most affluent people I know spend more time working than the 3 part-time worker in your example.

    Busy as they are, they generally still manage to impress upon their children that education is important and see to it that homework is done and turned in on time. They see it as important, make it a priority, and do it (one of the reasons they are successful). Poor parents need to do the same thing. No excuses are valid.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Dec. 4, 2013 3:47 p.m.

    2bits.."pragmatistferlife,
    Nobody had resorted to name calling until you came along. And what?

    You called the other posters "haters"... and complain "no solutions here just name calling, blame throwing, and ridiculous suggestions that boil down to make everybody like me"... but what suggestions did YOU bring?

    From my original post; There are reasonable solutions out there that actually get at the core problem of behaviors and aren't money centric. They are school programs that help teach children self management... self governance can be taught in schools. It is relative to class size but not a direct result of class size.

    To Joe.. Those families that are "multi-generational poor" do have a bad work ethic. That is just blatantly false, and again combined with the self story is exactly what I mean by everybody can and should be like me.

    There's a whale of a difference in being born on 2nd base versus being born in the dugout and it's not just about money.

  • DavidMiller Bountiful, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 3:55 p.m.

    It's amazing an disappointing that the editorial board would seize on the key piece of information from the report and then in the next sentence propose a solution that is based on the faulty assumption that drives both the "more money and smaller classrooms" crowd and the "more educational competition" crowd - the assumption that the problem is in the schools.

    Nate and JoeCapitalist2 hit the nail on the head and samhill's personal experience is evidence of that. It isn't the money in wealthy families that makes the children successful, it is the work ethic they pass on to their children. If they fail to pass on a work ethic those children will fail too. Poor families that pass on a strong work ethic to their children will have children who succeed even if they don't become rich.

  • FreedomFighter41 Provo, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 5:04 p.m.

    Ah yes!

    The typical right wing entitled posters have already posted. They offer their typical anti-union mantra and cry for more accountability from the teachers, and offer vague "market driven" solutions.

    These folks haven't stepped in a classroom for years. They have no idea what is hurting education. Nor do they have any idea what the solutions are. To them, accountability only goes 1 way, TOWARDS THE TEACHER.

    Jimmy misses 10 times in 1 term to hang out with friends and eat out and receives an F. It's the teacher's fault. Many parents have even threatened to sue my school district over an attendance policy. As a result, we have none. Want to know our absences? Through the roof. I know I know, it's the teacher's fault, right?

    The entitled parent believes his son, Jimmy, deserves an A for C work. Blame the teacher.

    The principal tries some plan to try and raise money. It fails. Blame the teacher.

    The Legislature guts the curriculum even more because of pressure from the Eagle Forum. Blame the teacher.

    Why don't we ever make "others" accountable? Our legislature? Principals? More importantly, parents and students?

    To be continued...

  • FreedomFighter41 Provo, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 5:08 p.m.

    For many posters, they haven't stepped foot inside a classroom in years. I, like many other family members, have LIVED inside our educational system for years. So here are my 3 solutions:

    #1 Absolutely tie attendance with grades. If you miss x amount of days you automatically receive a FAIL. I have parents who decide to take their kids on cruises right in the middle of the school year for literally 2-3 weeks. Think that student will succeed? Their grade directly reflects negatively on my teaching ability and my school. How is that fair? Can I hold that parent accountable for their selfishness? We have students here who attend McDonalds and Arbys more often than class. How are they supposed to succeed when entitled parents threaten to sue over attendance policies?

    So again, I repeat, attendance policy and grade must be connected. You come to school you have the opportunity to earn credit. If not, you don't. Find some other avenue to pursue your education.

    To be continued...

  • FreedomFighter41 Provo, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 5:13 p.m.

    #2 Get the State Legislature and Eagle Forum OUT of our curriculum and decision making. You wouldn't turn to a real estate agent or lawyer if you suffered heart pain. So why do we let them control education? Their overbearing influence hinders not helps the education process.

    #3 Most importantly, it's time for entitled parents to finally pay their way. It's time for them to be held accountable for their own personal decisions. See, entitled parents with big families today don't give a rip about education because "someone else is paying for their education." Remember, the paycheck you earn is always more valuable to you than the paycheck you receive. By eliminating the deductions and allowing Utah families to become accountable you will see a surge in parental involvement, caring, and support.

    To summarize:

    #1 Attendance policy. No more vacations, sluffing, becoming "sick" with a 3 week flu. You miss 3+ days (even if they're excused) then you fail. Go to summer school. Stop burdening the system and slowing down the rest of your classmates who actually show up.
    #2 Get the Legislature out
    #3 Force parents to become accountable. We've seen decades of entitlement and deductions.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 6:52 p.m.

    Schools are only as good as the local community they serve.

    The more a local community values it schools and education the better they will be,

    no matter how much money you pump into it.

  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 7:50 p.m.

    FreedomFighter41

    I worked in classrooms for years. I am as right wing as the come. Did you see me blame the teachers? NO! Because I don't. I said that many parents teach their kids that school is free babysitting they are entitled to, and that the entitled parents think it is all the teachers responsibility for the student outcomes.

    I am with you on the solutions side. It fumes me when they want to rate (blame) the teachers. I say that would only be okay if you give every student a rating too regarding how difficult they are to educate, and factor that in to the teacher rating. But there will never be the money or support to do that.

    I would favor fining the parents for excessive absences, especially in the younger grades. By high school, hold the students accountable (fines, JD, make them ineligible for any gov't programs until they graduate, etc. (exclusions for severe and moderate disabilities))

    You have the right idea, but it isn't the right wing that is acting entitled. It is the left-wing Obamaphone voters that dare the system to educate them without any cooperation from the student/parent(s).

  • Stephen Van Orden Mapleton, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 8:07 p.m.

    Class sizes don't matter when we are talking about the difference between 20 and 25. They sure do when we are talking about the difference between 25 and 40. When was the last time Utah had true average class sizes in the 20s (and I'm not talking about the fake numbers we publish as our class sizes)?

    Per-pupil expenditures do matter when we are dead last and aren't even close to the US average.

    Let's not use fake arguments to make political points.

  • bluffdale4ever Bluffdale, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 8:42 p.m.

    One question for you, Freedom Fighter. Why fail a student based on attendance if he/she is able to demonstrate curricular mastery? One might reasonably question why the student took/was assigned to the class in the first place if he/she can demonstrate competence without attending, but why fail him/her purely on the basis of attendance?

    I wish to volunteer my school district for a longitudinal study on school funding. Let's fund my school district at the level they do in Slovakia (US average per article). Shouldn't be difficult to find the money. We can just redistribute it from the districts of those posters who insist that money and class-size are meaningless :o)

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 9:17 p.m.

    If we're digging for root causes, there's a more widespread factor that frustrates our investment in education, creates and exacerbates a lot of social ills, and (unfortunately) portends an ongoing struggle in education, and other aspects: economic inequality itself.

    To be sure, the poor in America are materially better off than the poor in most countries. But as the epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson has impressively demonstrated, it's not the absolute wealth or poverty that is a problem, it's the inequality in economic outcomes that drives a great deal of social problems, including poor health, dispersion in educational outcomes, etc.

    JoeCapitalist and others here have impressive stories, and there is certainly something to be said for emphasizing the values and behaviors that enable their achievement, but there are much larger forces at work, and like the inefficacy of educational reforms, charter schools and every other tactic we take, the magnitude of economic inequalities has a widespread corrosive effect on so many aspects of individual & social life.

    Wilkinson has demonstrated that the degree of inequality determines the extent of the resultant problems. The US has fairly wide inequality, so our problems are more acute.

    The data doesn't lie.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 1:13 a.m.

    Re: Procuradorfiscal "Student and parent motivational levels do matter. That's something outrageously expensive, tightly union-controlled, socialized-curriculum school systems can never address." Well, I hope you feel better blasting unions and socialists etc.

    In part I agree with you, based on my own experience. I come from a poor background. But as a kid it was just myself and my mom and dad. My mother was able to stay at home while I was small. She taught me phonics and read to me often. This gave me a launch that was second to none. Thanks Mom! Parental involvement is critical - no doubt about it.

    I went to a good elementary school - Washington Elementary in SLC. The teachers were for the most part top notch. I didn't lose any ground there. After Washington I had the misfortune to attend Horace Mann Jr. High, a terribly bad school with mostly bad teachers. I lost ground there.

    I recovered somewhat at West High which in those days was a mixed bag of good and bad teachers.

    So I conclude based on my own experience, there is no substitute for parental involvement, but good teachers are critically important.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 8:48 a.m.

    IMO FreedomFighter41 is right on attendance. Many kids have been taught that if you have what you consider to be a good excuse... you don't have to show up. That attitude bites them later in life. I was teaching a young man in my church awhile back and he had a fast food job to earn some money while going to school. I like to talk with him about how things are going so I asked about his job and he said he didn't work there anymore, he said "evidently they think it's important to show up on time". And that was a show stopper for him.

    If we don't teach kids that showing up is the MINIMAL standard... what can we expect when they struggle in real life after being taught for 19 years that they don't have to show up if they have an excuse.

    This should be the parent's job, but many aren't doing it. Maybe IF a component of your grade was based on attendance (they called it "Citizenship" when I was in school). kids would learn about life from their Citizenship grade to help them succeed later in life.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Dec. 5, 2013 10:18 a.m.

    According to U.S. Census data, 21.8% of American children under the age of 18 lived in poverty in 2012.

    "Most human brain growth occurs during our first 6 years of life. Extending through early childhood, there are many factors which continue to be relevant to brain development. High levels of nutrition, appropriate stimulation, and attention and emotional support all help contribute to healthy brain growth, maximize its productivity and essentially prepares the mind for future learning capability. However, many aspects of a child’s environment can adversely affect maximum brain functioning. Two significant and negative environmental factors are poverty and neglect. Research substantiates the negative effects poverty can have on a child’s brain including development, learning and academic performance. Numerous studies have documented that low-income children, as young as age two, perform worse across cognitive measures. Using data researchers demonstrated that family poverty was significantly correlated with lower scores across cognitive and academic readiness in preschool-aged children. This held true even after controlling for the effect of mother's education, family structure, ethnicity, birth weight and gender. As children enter and progress through school, the kids living in poor families continue to perform worse on indices of school achievement."
    (APA)

  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 10:51 a.m.

    10CC - Did Wilkinson look at people who practiced gratitude for what they have to see if the effects were the same? If a person has sufficient for his needs, why should it matter if someone else has more? As you point out, the poor of the USA are much more wealthy than most the rest of the world. Yet the poor in other countries do well in school, despite the huge wealth gap in their country. Why is that?

    Perhaps they don't practice jealousy and entitlement thinking. They are thankful for what they have, and they utilize what they have to the fullest extent, including education opportunities. This concept is lacking in the USA entitlement communities. Here they think someone else to pay for what they want.

    bluffdale4ever -

    "We can just redistribute it from the districts of those posters who insist that money and class-size are meaningless."

    Since you are so anxious to redistribute, start by redistributing your income and school funds to a poorer neighborhood. I am sure there are inner-city areas much worse off than you. Then you could have some compassion for those from whom you seek to take funds.

    LPS

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Dec. 5, 2013 10:56 a.m.

    According to UNICEF provided data on 35 industrialized countries, the U.S. had the 2nd highest (Romania the highest) percentage of children (aged 0 to 17) who are living in relative poverty, defined as living in a household in which disposable income, when adjusted for family size and composition, is less than 50% of the national median income.

    Yet, we have legislators/voters in favor of cutting food stamp benefits of which 3 out of 4 households receiving benefits include children. Additionally we are cutting funding to Headstart programs, and defunding clinics providing healthcare and family planning services to women.

    Some would argue that programs such as Headstart don't work because the initial demonstrable benefits don't persist. Rather than seeing it as a failure of Headstart, perhaps it is an indication that children in at-risk situations need continuing supportive programs. Perhaps once they begin attending school, they get "lost in the shuffle." Children are not responsible for the circumstances of their lives, whether it is neglect, poverty, apathy, ignorance etc. The future success of the U.S. depends on the health and well-being of our children.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 11:47 a.m.

    "EQUALITY"... is a very hard thing to mandate or to codify into legislation. It's like legislating everybody be moral. No matter how well intentioned you are... it doesn't work.

    Equality is the holy grail. But it's just impossible to achieve.

  • the old switcharoo mesa, AZ
    Dec. 5, 2013 2:47 p.m.

    How a child does in school is largely a function of how much effort the ADULTS around her put into the child's education.

    A single parent working 2 jobs has little time to help their kids with homework and if the kid is in a poor neighborhood with constant budget cuts there are probably 30 + kids in her class. The NAZI solution is for poor people to never have children right?

    So it seems obvious that if we are not going to have jobs in the US where one income can support a young family and both parents need a job and single parents need two jobs, poor community's children will continue to do poorly in school.

    Schools need to convert to Khan Academy types of technologies so the job of explaining concepts is automated at the child's pace and teachers can spend individual time with each student as they need extra personalized teaching, coaching and motivating. But that would probably result in 60 kids per class in a republican state.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 11:00 p.m.

    I think we should put 100 students in a classroom and pay teachers minimum wage. I think that should work great (perhaps revolutionize education) because class size and money doesn't matter.

  • Rikitikitavi Cardston, Alberta
    Dec. 8, 2013 12:02 a.m.

    very simple formula: best teachers = best results.. Until schools can/will weed out poorest teachers, poor results will rule the day!! Union has too much power.

  • Homer1 MIDVALE, UT
    Dec. 8, 2013 7:43 p.m.

    Comparing our test scores as a nation to other countries is completely useless!! Education in other countries is not the same as education in our country. As we have shown for over two hundred years, as Americans we have a different commitment to a different ideal. We aspire to provide the golden opportunity of education as a public good, not as a privilege. With our commitment to fair play and equal rights we consider it a public duty to educate all our children. We commit to a system of local control and responsibility for the children of our community. Other countries do not have a public system to speak of . . . they have rich schools for the rich kids and poor schools for the poor kids, with each responsible for paying for whatever they can get. No thought to using the larger wealth of the community to invest in the future of all their children.

  • Homer1 MIDVALE, UT
    Dec. 8, 2013 7:46 p.m.

    Most countries do not test all of their students, only the ones who have made it through the privileged system of acquiring an education, and then, only those who have been passed along through previous testing to get to the point of the PISA test. Even in industrialized countries many students are "sorted" out in the primary grades towards vocational or academic tracks. I find it a source of American pride that we never compare in these kinds of international tests because we have simply chosen to go our own way as a nation. Let's not lose our way as Americans with all the fearful handwringing over these stupid tests because we want to be like everyone else. Let's strengthen our commitment to our local schools, pay for what needs to be done as a community, and get behind whatever needs to be done both in and out of school to help our young people be successful.

  • 1covey Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 18, 2013 8:03 a.m.

    Looking at economic status can be unhelpful.I wonder: in other countries, do they spend a lot of effort on "politically correct" programs? Do they homogenize their culture into "nothing". Do families support and encourage their children to learn? In the good ol' US of A, We create all kinds of domestic turbulence and wonder why Schools have problems.