Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Tale Of Two Schools

In middle school, Ivan Cantera ran with a Latino gang; Laura Corro was a spunky teen. At age 13, they shared their first kiss. Both made it a habit to skip class. In high school, they went their separate ways...

The divergent paths taken by Laura and Ivan were shaped by many forces, but their schools played a striking role. Capitol Hill and Santa Fe South both serve the same poor, Hispanic population. Both comply with federal guidelines and meet state requirements for standardized exams and curriculum. Santa Fe South enrolls about 490 high school students, while Capitol Hill has nearly 900.

At Santa Fe South, the school day is 45 minutes longer; graduation requirements are more rigorous (four years of math, science and social studies compared with three at public schools); and there is a tough attendance policy.

This year, the majority of Santa Fe South's graduates will attend a vocational, two- or four-year college. About one-third of the graduates from Capitol Hill plan to get a higher education.

Find out more at the Wall Street Journal Online.

12 comments:

maxutils said...

And the school probably had nothing to do with it. I'm guessing they went to different schools because Laura's parents cared enough to get her into the 'good' school. Reverse the schools, and the outcome would have been the same.

Darren said...

An unprovable hypothesis.

maxutils said...

Well, of course it is. Then again, so is the hypothesis that the schools made the difference.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Maxutils, the sample size is too small to use to make any legitimate generalizations. On the other hand, are you really contending that the professional skills of the principal and the teachers, i.e. the quality of the school, won't result in differential outcomes for the students?

Ellen K said...

Schools can only do so much. Parents who have rules and goals set can do more. I am willing to bet the Capitol Hill kid's parents didn't enforce things like attendance, homework and diligence. Schools cannot make up for lackadaisical parenting.

maxutils said...

Allen, I am a teacher, and I consider myself a good one, but I have long believed that for the vast majority of students, their outcome is determined primarily by how seriously their parents treat their education. Good teachers will always enrich a child's education, and we should do what we can to make sure we get the best possible teacers . . . but, in my experience, a serious student in a 'bad' teacher's class will always outperform an indifferent student in a 'good' teacher's class . . . and, small sample size or no (thanks for picking up on that), the parents who are serious about education will see that longer school day and think it must be better. It's a self selected, biased sample population.

allen (in Michigan) said...

And it's been my gradually strengthening conviction that "how seriously their parents treat their education" is, in no small measure, a function of the extent to which parents have input to the educational system.

A district system is inherently resistant to parental inputs beyond selling cookies and a perfectly understandable response to that powerlessness is resignation and indifference.

You may want parents to be involved, to actively and consistently stress the importance of education but the education system conspires against you.

For many parents the first and last real decision they make regarding their child's education is the decision of where to live. That's not a good basis on which to build parental confidence and assertiveness which is what you're really demanding.

So which one's it going to be? Are parents to be in charge or not? The current system says "not".

mazenko said...

Administration, administration, administration. It's all (or a lot) about leadership.

maxutils said...

I don't need or want parents running the school . . . most wouldn't have the faintest idea what to do. I just want parents to start out by reading to their kids, making sure they have some sort of experiences outside of school, making sure they get there every day, and making sure that homework gets completed. Do that, and the students will almost all succeed. Everything else is ancillary . . Now, if you want to have a true voucher system, with teachers earning a guaranteed minimum plus bonuses, I'll listen -- but no one has yet to propose anything that turns out to be other than a tax credit for people already in private schools.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Actually maxutils, you do need the parents running the schools.

Like most folks you're far to steeped in the current situation to be able to look beyond it but if parents aren't in charge all it leaves is the current state of affairs and as a teacher that means you're at the bottom of the professional heap with no one all that interested in what you have to say.

Why do you think ed schools are never called to task for pouring out a constant river of edu-crap? The people in charge of public education can afford to listen to all that nonsense because they're not on the hook to prove they're capable of educating kids.

maxutils said...

You make an excellent point Allen . . .Those who can, do; those who can't, teach; those who can't teach, administrate or run education schools. I'd still be willing to bet my success on students whose parents all cared that they were learning, but if parents could get rid of some of the gobbledy gook, it would be a blessing.

Darren said...

"Administrate"? Gawd, I hate that word. What's wrong with "administer"?