Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Interesting Research

I received this article from the MEA Leaders email. Please read on:
New report urges policymakers to address poverty in order to increase student learning
Contact: Teri Battaglieri – (517) 203-2940;
EAST LANSING, Mich., (March 9, 2009) – A new report argues that out-of-school factors related to poverty are the major cause of the achievement gap that exists between poor and minority students and the rest of the student population. This is in direct contrast to current federal education policies that are based on the belief that public schools should shoulder the blame for lack of achievement on the part of impoverished students.
“Schools are told to fix problems that largely lie outside their zone of influence,” says David Berliner, Regents Professor of Education at Arizona State University and author of the report Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success, which was released today by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
Berliner’s report comes as debate continues over the renewal of the No Child Left Behind Act, which imposes stiff accountability measures on schools in return for federal aid. NCLB requires public schools to demonstrate “adequate yearly progress” toward the eventual elimination of gaps in achievement among all demographic groups of students and imposes a variety of sanctions if they fall short.
Berliner says that NCLB’s accountability system is “fatally flawed” because it holds schools accountable for student achievement without regard for the out-of-school factors that affect it.
“This report provides exactly the type of information that should guide education policy,” says Teri Battaglieri, Director of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice. “It clearly explains why poverty must be directly addressed by those interested in closing the achievement gap, and it makes the case for spending our resources on strategies that will significantly impact student learning.”
Berliner’s report reviews six out-of-school factors that have been clearly linked to lower achievement among poor and minority-group students: birth weight and non-genetic parental influences; medical care; food insecurity; environmental pollution; family breakdown and stress; and neighborhood norms and conditions. In addition, he notes a seventh factor: extended learning opportunities in the form of summer programs, after-school programs, and preschool programs. Access to these resources by poor and minority students could help mitigate the effects of the other six factors.
Because of the extraordinary influence of the six factors identified in the report, Berliner cautions that “increased spending on schools, as beneficial as that might be, will probably come up short in closing the gaps.” Instead, he calls for an approach to school improvement that would demand “a reasonable level of societal accountability for children’s physical and mental health and safety.”
“At that point,” he concludes, “maybe we can sensibly and productively demand that schools be accountable for comparable levels of academic achievement for all America’s children.”
Find David Berliner’s report, Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success, on the Web at: https://webmail.wlcsd.org/owa/redir.aspx?C=9c74a211ac61454ea04538739b0233d5&URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.greatlakescenter.org%2f.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The news today said that the economy had fallen to levels as low as in 1981. I asked my husband, "Do you remember as many people being out of jobs in 1981 as now?" He hadn't.

However, as I sat here thinking a little harder (1981 was a LONG time ago and I'm not getting younger!), the principal at my job in Whitmore Lake at that time, came to me one October day and told me the Board of Education had voted to lay me and several other teachers off in 10 days due to emergency financial conditions. The teachers there had been working without a contract for over a year, and money to small districts was even less than before (schools were supported merely by their millage votes back in those days....no Proposal A). I was so sad and I cried on the way home from school. I was a special ed teacher in those days and I had done my student teaching at the Children's Psychiatric Hospital at the University of Michigan, so I saw that they had an opening. In 2 weeks I was working there. I was geeked. A pay raise and it was a great place to work.

That same year, after getting the new job, my old black Mustang was getting old, so I went out to buy my OWN first brand new car. The cheapest interest rate I could get was 14%....YIKES. I bought a little Ford EXP (a sportsy version of the Ford Escort) and I was thrilled.

Three years later my husband and I bought our first house. We got an adjustable mortgage at 9%....YIKES.....and that was cheap. The first house we had TRIED to buy, and eventually let the deal fall through, was an adjustable 11% loan. We decided that was too much. Of course, a fixed rate mortgage was much higher at that point. THANK goodness the overall cost of houses and cars was much lower then. We later refinanced the house for a cheaper fixed rate.

My point being.......things were kind of bad back then, but they got better. Hopefully, things get better now as well.