For the first time in the U.S., more district schools than charter schools are expanding the school day or year, according to a recent report. But the national trend does not appear to be catching on in California.

About 1,200 traditional schools compared with almost 800 charter schools offered either a longer school day or year in 2013-14, according to Learning Time in America: Trends to Reform the American School Calendar.

But in California, charter schools still far outnumber traditional schools in offering expanded days or year: 102 charter schools compared with 34 district schools, according to the report, which was released April 16 by the National Center on Time & Learning, a nonprofit advocacy and research organization based in Boston. Of the district schools, more than a third were in San Francisco Unified, according to the report’s database.

Many charter school organizations have traditionally required longer school days, which has been much less common with school districts.

In California, charter schools still far outnumber traditional schools in offering expanded days or year: 102 charter schools compared with 34 district schools, according to a report from the National Center on Time & Learning.

A school had to offer at least seven hours of instruction each day and have at least 30 additional minutes each day than nearby schools or require at least 10 extra days of school during the year compared to neighboring schools to be considered an “expanded-time school” by the center.

California requires schools to offer a minimum of about three hours for kindergarten, about five hours for grades 1-8, and six hours a day for grades 9-12. Most California schools are open 180 days a year.

“We were surprised at the rate of growth among district schools,” said Blair Brown, vice president for communications at the national center. In 2012-13, she said, 56 percent of expanded-time schools were charters. By 2013-14, 61 percent were district schools.

Federal policy is part of the reason for the upward trend, according to the report, specifically the $3.5 billion invested in the School Improvement Grant program. That program encouraged increased learning time as a strategy to improve low-performing schools and “has helped to drive a policy trend that many districts and states have embraced,” according to the center.

In one example, a School Improvement Grant jump-started an expanded learning program at Elmhurst Community Prep, a middle school in a low-income neighborhood in Oakland, in 2010-11. After the grant funding ended, the school and its nonprofit partners were able to keep the nine-hour school day for three days each week by cobbling together other grants and relying on volunteers.

The National Center on Time & Learning report also chronicled the continued growth of expanded learning programs. During the past two years, the number of students in these programs has almost doubled from 520,000 in 2011-12 to 1.1 million in 2013-14, with most of the students living in low-income urban communities.

“We were excited to cross the 1 million threshold,” Brown said. “Once we’d crossed that threshold, we thought OK, this is really starting to happen.”

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  1. CarolineSF 4 years ago4 years ago

    Don, way, way off topic. But you got my original point. If KIPP were open about the hurdles it imposes in the admission process (not to mention attrition), THEN the impact of the selectivity and attrition could be studied, and so, separately, could the impact of the longer school day and year. As I'm sure you know, KIPP used to roundly deny in all public official channels that it gave applicants tests before they were … Read More

    Don, way, way off topic. But you got my original point. If KIPP were open about the hurdles it imposes in the admission process (not to mention attrition), THEN the impact of the selectivity and attrition could be studied, and so, separately, could the impact of the longer school day and year.

    As I’m sure you know, KIPP used to roundly deny in all public official channels that it gave applicants tests before they were admitted (or, as KIPP puts it, entered into the lottery*). Then a parent in SFUSD mentioned his daughter “testing into” KIPP, and so I applied for my own daughter (to KIPP S.F. Bay Academy for 7th grade) to see if they would tell us she had to take a test, which they did. (We didn’t follow through.) It’s quite clear-cut. If they would tell the truth, the impact of all these things could be studied. THEN we might find out the actual impact of the longer school day and year. Meanwhile, Malcolm Gladwell got snookered.

    (*Reference to “lottery” is not valid in the case of S.F., because they don’t have more applicants than openings — these schools are not particularly popular here.)

  2. Gary Ravani 4 years ago4 years ago

    Larry Cuban is a long time (now emeritus?) Professor of education at Stanford. You can find a 2 part analysis if "tinkering with school calendars and the instructional day" on the net. From Prof Larry Cuban’s blog: (exceprted) "The few changes in lengthening the school year, day, and schedule that did occur in the past quarter-century did so seldom because research showed strong academic gains or cost savings resulting from more time in school. Cultural … Read More

    Larry Cuban is a long time (now emeritus?) Professor of education at Stanford. You can find a 2 part analysis if “tinkering with school calendars and the instructional day” on the net. From Prof Larry Cuban’s blog: (exceprted)

    “The few changes in lengthening the school year, day, and schedule that did occur in the past quarter-century did so seldom because research showed strong academic gains or cost savings resulting from more time in school. Cultural changes, political decisions, or strong parental concerns trumped research every time in tinkering with the school calendar. Moreover, the available research was (and is) skimpy. What studies exist are challenged repeatedly for being weakly designed…As one report concluded: “[N]o truly trustworthy studies have been done on modified school calendars that can serve as the basis for sound policy decisions” (p.5).”

    Prof. Cuban suggest that, for the most part (as I read his essays), the “tinkering” is more “political theater” than real education reform. Districts and politicians can look like they are doing something effective when, again, the research doesn’t really back it up. This “theater” can be particularly important for charter schools operating in that weird gray area between operating a “private” institutions while on the public dime. They need advertising!

    Some of the reasons for the seeming paradox of the limited real impacts of the tinkering are clarified by Prof Richard Rothstein who states there is more to “instructional time’ than merely fooling around with a longer school day and year. There is

    allocated time (day and year)

    engaged time

    time-on-task

    academic learning time

    transition time

    waiting time

    “aptitude” (of the student to use time time effectively)

    perseverance (see above)

    pace (of instruction)

    So, there are a multiple of factors related to time, and messing around with school days and yards is merely doing the easiest thing in the most obvious (theatrical) way.

    Replies

    • Don 4 years ago4 years ago

      Having research to back up reform is critical, unless it is Common Core, which, bizarrely, Gary supports fully, though it is joined at the hip to the NCLB-style of math and ELA high stakes testing for both student and teacher evaluation. The historical compulsion to support the left at all costs, even when fault lines that have been draw are false ones, has put Gary in bed with his arch enemies in the corporate … Read More

      Having research to back up reform is critical, unless it is Common Core, which, bizarrely, Gary supports fully, though it is joined at the hip to the NCLB-style of math and ELA high stakes testing for both student and teacher evaluation. The historical compulsion to support the left at all costs, even when fault lines that have been draw are false ones, has put Gary in bed with his arch enemies in the corporate reform movement. It’s hubris and ideological inertia that the cause of the failure to believe that the Obama democrats have abandoned the teachers unions. The spectacle of teachers celebrating their own demise is something I never thought I’d witness. But I am getting off topic.

  3. Jennifer peck 4 years ago4 years ago

    The schools in the NCTL study are defined as lengthening the traditional school day or year, and the reason California doesn't show up in the national study about longer school days and years, is that we have been approaching "expanded learning time" in a very different way here and approaching it, I believe, in a more equitable way. Between state and federal dollars, California spends more than all other states combined on after … Read More

    The schools in the NCTL study are defined as lengthening the traditional school day or year, and the reason California doesn’t show up in the national study about longer school days and years, is that we have been approaching “expanded learning time” in a very different way here and approaching it, I believe, in a more equitable way. Between state and federal dollars, California spends more than all other states combined on after school and summer learning programs, the vast majority of which are operated at public schools in very low-income communities. The additional learning time that participating students receive is a huge asset to their overall learning experience. These are students who come from neighborhoods and families where tutoring, music lessons, summer camps and other educational enrichments are not accessible, and the very things middle and upper income families provide to their children as a matter of course because we know they matter. California is actually ahead of the nation in expanding learning time and opportunities, and our publicly funded programs are doing very innovative things such as using the after school and summer hours to reinforce Common Core skills, build social and emotional skills, offer project-based learning in STEM, creatively infuse literacy skills in creative endeavors, and help struggling students feel successful in ways that build their confidence for school day learning. Lengthening the school day is one approach that deserves to be tested, as long as it carefully integrates all the rich experiences and relationships all children need and deserve.

  4. CarolineSF 4 years ago4 years ago

    The bestselling pop-science writer Malcolm Gladwell's popular book "Outliers" has a chapter that guilelessly portrays the longer school day and year at KIPP schools as the secret sauce/magic feather/silver bullet -- THE secret to KIPP's high test scores -- THE magical miracle solution to all the challenges of public education. Well, d'oh, Malcolm Gladwell. His chapter also quotes a young KIPP student who describes in amusingly dramatic terms her intake interview with the KIPP principal, who … Read More

    The bestselling pop-science writer Malcolm Gladwell’s popular book “Outliers” has a chapter that guilelessly portrays the longer school day and year at KIPP schools as the secret sauce/magic feather/silver bullet — THE secret to KIPP’s high test scores — THE magical miracle solution to all the challenges of public education.

    Well, d’oh, Malcolm Gladwell. His chapter also quotes a young KIPP student who describes in amusingly dramatic terms her intake interview with the KIPP principal, who she says terrified her about how hard she would need to work when she came to the school. And the student tells Gladwell that her friends in the neighborhood refuse to come to the KIPP school because they hear it’s so hard and there’s so much work. It’s a very clear portrayal of the weeding-out process, which Gladwell describes in complete unawareness of what he’s portraying and its obvious effects on student achievement.

    I know this EdSource article isn’t doing the magic feather/silver bullet/secret sauce gushing of which Gladwell is cluelessly guilty. I just couldn’t resist pointing out how myths are created.

    Replies

    • Don 4 years ago4 years ago

      You could make the same case for traditional magnet school Lowell High. What’s the point? That schools should be equally difficult? That KIPP shouldn’t tell students that it will be challenging./ That it shouldn’t be challenging? That some kids might find it unappealing to work harder than going to a traditional school? Or that Gladwell is clueless? And what is the myth?

      • CarolineSF 4 years ago4 years ago

        The myth is the one Gladwell created by making a resounding judgment that KIPP's secret sauce is its longer school day/year, while simultaneously clearly demonstrating another way KIPP achieves success (by self-selecting for highly motivated students and aggressively frightening away those who aren't, based on the KIPP student's account of her intake interview with her school's principal). Lowell isn't relevant in this discussion, because it's open and known to all that Lowell admits only high … Read More

        The myth is the one Gladwell created by making a resounding judgment that KIPP’s secret sauce is its longer school day/year, while simultaneously clearly demonstrating another way KIPP achieves success (by self-selecting for highly motivated students and aggressively frightening away those who aren’t, based on the KIPP student’s account of her intake interview with her school’s principal). Lowell isn’t relevant in this discussion, because it’s open and known to all that Lowell admits only high academic achievers, and nobody is clueless enough to decide that Lowell’s secret to success is its bell schedule or its location or its exterior color scheme or whatever.

        • Don 4 years ago4 years ago

          Caroline, you're saying that KIPP selects students who dedicate themselves to work hard. How terrible. KIPP has a history of turning that potential for success into high graduation and college readiness rates. That's it's crime, the crime of separating out those willing to commit to hard work from the other students and then fulfilling on the promise of hard work and dedication. That is an unforgivable crime because it demonstrates the ability of students … Read More

          Caroline, you’re saying that KIPP selects students who dedicate themselves to work hard. How terrible. KIPP has a history of turning that potential for success into high graduation and college readiness rates. That’s it’s crime, the crime of separating out those willing to commit to hard work from the other students and then fulfilling on the promise of hard work and dedication. That is an unforgivable crime because it demonstrates the ability of students of color to succeed in the face of adversity – that hard work has the potential to trump poverty. And that is, ironically, exactly what public education was created to do. And if these students can prove to succeed given the right motivation and support, traditional schools could be required to change, too. Allowing students to choose between working harder at a school like KIPP or staying at a low-performing school is just to much choice. And when it come to public education, choice is an affront to the one-size-fits-all paradigm of American public education.

          • CarolineSF 4 years ago4 years ago

            Don, that's not terrible; as I've said about KIPP, the problem is that they deny the selectivity while aggressively engaging in it, so they're entirely dishonest about it. I don't have a problem with the selectivity as long as it's honest and in the open. I sent my own kids to a selective public high school -- which is open and honest about its selection process. Don't you agree that the selectivity and the whole … Read More

            Don, that’s not terrible; as I’ve said about KIPP, the problem is that they deny the selectivity while aggressively engaging in it, so they’re entirely dishonest about it. I don’t have a problem with the selectivity as long as it’s honest and in the open. I sent my own kids to a selective public high school — which is open and honest about its selection process. Don’t you agree that the selectivity and the whole process should be honest and transparent, not covered up with lies?

            BUT my point in this context was just to poke fun at the fact that pop-psych writer Malcolm Gladwell somehow got convinced that the miracle secret sauce magic feather silver bullet was the longer school day and year, even though he himself was clearly describing the process of hand-picking the most motivated and committed students, and driving away the rest.

            • FloydThursby1941 4 years ago4 years ago

              Caroline, I think all schools should push longer days, tutoring, and more effort. Asian American parents in California prepare 60% of their kids by teaching them to read before kindergarten, vs. 16% of whites. In high school, that leads to superior study habits, 13.8 hours vs. 5.6, on average, which in turn leads to over 3.5 times the likelihood of qualifying for a UC. If KIPP can convince more and more African … Read More

              Caroline, I think all schools should push longer days, tutoring, and more effort. Asian American parents in California prepare 60% of their kids by teaching them to read before kindergarten, vs. 16% of whites. In high school, that leads to superior study habits, 13.8 hours vs. 5.6, on average, which in turn leads to over 3.5 times the likelihood of qualifying for a UC. If KIPP can convince more and more African American and Latino children to follow this pattern and effort, they will have upper middle class incomes and raise their kids to put school first and work long hours. It’s all about effort. I believe all public schools should hold out the example of the hardest working kids with the best character, discipline and work ethic and teach all kids that they control their future success and their effort is a big factor in whether they will become successful, admirable people or not and live good lives.

              KIPP at least tries to do this and I have seen very little effort by the union dominated status quo to provide parenting classes, reduce TV, increase study hours and improve behavior by kids. Sure, some are already motivated to join, but just saying to poor people, we can help your kids get rich and teach them what it takes, but they’re going to have to have good posture, put in strong effort, study when they don’t feel like it, and take pride in grades and shame in bad grades. It is working in Harlem and at KIPP, which has better test scores for African American and Latino kids.

              This is about the nation we want to become, a nation of upper middle class prosperous families of all races, not just those with advantages and money. It’s harder to get poor kids to succeed because their parents did not make those decisions and most kids blindly follow their parents’ behavior. It takes a game changer. I don’t see that from the union. I spoke with the head of the teacher’s union in SF about Asian success and he brought up Asian gangs and suicide and cracking in college. Why would you do that if not to obfuscate what works? Asians murder at 1/7th the rate whites do, commit far less suicide than whites, and do better in college, grad school, careers and all stages of life, statistically. We want to hold on to a me first, Instagram, hedonistic culture of taking selfies because it evolved from our culture and is what we know. We don’t want to embrace sacrificing now for the long run, even though it works, we are in denial. I have seen no proposals fromt he union to enhance study efforts, behavior, etc. Can you show me an example? It’s not all about teachers, you have to convince kids and parents to prioritize education and step up their games or our caste system merely replicates itself.

            • Don 4 years ago4 years ago

              I won't defend KIPP for instances of clear deception though it is easy to accuse them on vague terms such as these. There have been students counseled out and I'm not sure that is wrong if the students were not making the required effort. I will say that some of this has to do with perception. If KIPP is forthright about explaining its program and the requirements for students and the result of that … Read More

              I won’t defend KIPP for instances of clear deception though it is easy to accuse them on vague terms such as these. There have been students counseled out and I’m not sure that is wrong if the students were not making the required effort. I will say that some of this has to do with perception. If KIPP is forthright about explaining its program and the requirements for students and the result of that clarity is, effectively, a weeding out of students, is this deception? Wouldn’t it be deception not to inform students about the high expectations and requirements of students? It isn’t clear to me what it is you want KIPP to do.

              You say your utmost concerned is about transparency. Really? You’ve made it clear that cherry picking is a problem with charters, whether they are transparent or not. You tend to paint the whole group with a broad brush and you rarely provide any real evidence, just anecdotal stuff. You’ve spoken about Gateway HS to this effect. I can’t speak to the 20 years of the high school policy because I have no experience with it and I didn’t follow this issue. I can speak assuredly that the middle school does not cherry pick. The students arrive as a function of the lottery and anyone is free to apply with about a one in three chance of acceptance. There seems to be quite a large number of special ed students at Gateway so the reputation of the school plays into who chooses to apply. Like most schools there are difficult discipline issues and I know of no student who has been counseled out. The discipline challenges the school faces are the same this year as last. Students could have been counseled out but that didn’t happen, though you constantly claim it does.

              It seems clear that at least in part KIPP’s longer school day plays an important part in the overall process.

              Regarding Lowell, it doesn’t admit only the highest academic achievers due to band 2 and 3. But as concerns band one, Lowell is cherrypicking the best students and doing so to a degree that affects the entire district, leaving other high schools with a dearth of top performers. A school like Gateway Middle is doing the opposite. It is removing a very academically and racially diverse pool of students with the exception of a top heavy load of special ed students. But Gateway concerns you while Lowell doesn’t due to your concerns about transparency? I don’t think so.

  5. Gary Ravani 4 years ago4 years ago

    As the OECD, the international outfit that runs the “all important” PISA, points out those nations particularly noted for high international test scores (Finland, Sweden, Korea, Japan, Denmark)all have in common is a much shorter instructional year than does the US. The US, for example runs around 1200 instructional hours a year and Finland around 600. That’s about half the time, for those not math proficient, for the kids and the teachers. This means US teachers … Read More

    As the OECD, the international outfit that runs the “all important” PISA, points out those nations particularly noted for high international test scores (Finland, Sweden, Korea, Japan, Denmark)all have in common is a much shorter instructional year than does the US. The US, for example runs around 1200 instructional hours a year and Finland around 600. That’s about half the time, for those not math proficient, for the kids and the teachers.

    This means US teachers put in double the amount time before students as teachers in “high performing nations.” As a consequence, US teachers have far less time for planning and collaboration.
Some of the other difference between Finland and the US is a teaching force that is totally financially supported during its education, preparation, and induction periods and then paid at about the same level as other professionals (i.e., doctors and engineers). The teachers are almost totally unionized and government policy is to collaborate with the unions rather than demonize them. (What a concept!)

    
Of course, the most telling difference between the US and Finland, as well as other “high performing” countries is–the topic which must not be discussed under threat of being accused of “being afraid of accountability,” or worse, “making excuses” –and that is childhood poverty. The “P” topic, never heard in domestic policy debates, is a disgrace in the US, the world’s wealthiest nation. Childhood poverty runs in excess of 20% in the US and under 5% in most “high performing” countries.”

    
“All children will arrive at school prepared to learn.” Remember that one? That was “goal” number one in Goals 2000, created under the administration of G. H. W. Bush by the governor’s commission chaired by, then governor, Bill Clinton. That little jewel was dropped like the proverbial hot potato as soon as the politicians realized they might be held accountable for the conditions children live under prior to the kids arriving at the classroom door. Can’t have that! Better to come up with NCLB which puts accountability for all of the societal ills generated by having near the highest childhood poverty rate in the industrialized world onto the shoulders of classroom teachers (and their unions).


    Maybe that’s why Finland’s kids do so well on international assessment with half the time spent in their desks compared to US kids. They are not sitting in their desks sleepy from living in a shelter, hungry from being “food insecure,” sick from lack of health care (a condition now starting to be remedied under ACA), unable to see because of no vision care, and distracted by pain from lack of dental care. It’s a wonder what kids and teachers can accomplish when both are supported adequately.



  6. Don 4 years ago4 years ago

    Looks like charter competition may be rubbing off on traditional schools.

    Replies

    • FloydThursby1941 4 years ago4 years ago

      That's really the benefit of charter schools. The Vergara Lawusuit and al the positive reforms which are helping poor children wouldn't have been possible without charter schools. It shows the union doesn't really want to prioritize turning around the lives of poor children. They care more about keeping a culture where everyone calls in sick 11 days a year and everyone has a job for life and there's no pressure to work … Read More

      That’s really the benefit of charter schools. The Vergara Lawusuit and al the positive reforms which are helping poor children wouldn’t have been possible without charter schools. It shows the union doesn’t really want to prioritize turning around the lives of poor children. They care more about keeping a culture where everyone calls in sick 11 days a year and everyone has a job for life and there’s no pressure to work harder. Charter schools have it on the right track. Poor kids deserve the same opportunity rich kids in private school have. The first priority needs to be whatever it takes to get their test scores up, not whatever it takes to make union members comfortable and secure. We all need more stress in our lives, teachers who are missing too many days and not pushing hard enough, parents who are letting their kids watch 40 hours a week of TV and study 6, and kids. More stress will lead to more performance.

    • navigio 4 years ago4 years ago

      Actually, looks more like SIG.

      • Don 4 years ago4 years ago

        The reason why SIG schools could extend learning time was non-union contractors hired to supplement staff and, in some cases, collective bargaining exceptions for certain hard-to-staff schools. Extended learning time is right out if the charter playbook, even if the charter turnaround model was not employed in favor of one of the other three. BTW, the charter option was highly unlikely as a turnaround model under the circumstances and rushed timeline of SIG. The author didn't … Read More

        The reason why SIG schools could extend learning time was non-union contractors hired to supplement staff and, in some cases, collective bargaining exceptions for certain hard-to-staff schools. Extended learning time is right out if the charter playbook, even if the charter turnaround model was not employed in favor of one of the other three. BTW, the charter option was highly unlikely as a turnaround model under the circumstances and rushed timeline of SIG.

        The author didn’t mention that SIG was probably the biggest bust in the history of public education – a disaster that the USDE did its best to downplay. But at least something good came out of it here and there despite the $5.5B price tag. Unfortunately, the whole boondoggle was swept under the carpet by the national media just as is the perennial failure of Title One. Those omissions helped Brown in his effort to take more of the same tack in throwing money at schools without accountability for how it’s spent. Damn the torpedoes,full speed ahead!

        • navigio 4 years ago4 years ago

          Charter schools are by definition allowed to ignore the rules. It should be clear they would be more likely to implement alternate schedules as a result (not that it's helped them any). Needing additional funding to implement ELT is one way to phrase it. I prefer admitting that we under-staff public education (have you already forgotten your exchange with Paul in the linked-to ELT piece?). Regardless, the idea of ELT has been around for as … Read More

          Charter schools are by definition allowed to ignore the rules. It should be clear they would be more likely to implement alternate schedules as a result (not that it’s helped them any). Needing additional funding to implement ELT is one way to phrase it. I prefer admitting that we under-staff public education (have you already forgotten your exchange with Paul in the linked-to ELT piece?).
          Regardless, the idea of ELT has been around for as long as compulsory education has.
          The sad fact is we use it today as a way to counter the impacts of ‘normal life’. There is a reason it’s effects are disproportionate. There’s a reason our president is careful to caveat pushing it only ‘for children who need it’. That is a sadly tacit, though no less intentioned statement that we will continue to allow our ruling class to run roughshod over the poor; and then use the result to demonize unions. Zzz…
          We take away at least two full weeks (and likely more in total) of ‘learning time’ just to run standardized tests in this state. For what? To measure the fact that we don’t have enough learning time? Wait, wha…? No, give me a break!

          • FloydThursby1941 4 years ago4 years ago

            The rules are the problem and that's what Charter Schools shine a light on. Before tests, he had people graduating functionally illiterate. We even had a woman recently arguing against the Exit Exam. All these teaching to the test claims are crap, any decently educated child with parents who care and spend time doing educational things with their kids, who pay attention in class, read and do their homework will pass with … Read More

            The rules are the problem and that’s what Charter Schools shine a light on. Before tests, he had people graduating functionally illiterate. We even had a woman recently arguing against the Exit Exam. All these teaching to the test claims are crap, any decently educated child with parents who care and spend time doing educational things with their kids, who pay attention in class, read and do their homework will pass with flying colors. Kids who watch 40 hours a week of TV and read under 5 try to find gimmicks with teachers helping, but any kid who works the average European or Asian American workload will have no chance of failing, any child whose parents emphasize education, any child who pays attention. The tests are easy to pass if you simply pay attention in class and study. The fact is we accept that the average kid spends 40 hours or more staring at screens and under 6 studying. Of course if you act like that and your parents let you you are going to fail standardized tests and be a problem for society. That’s just common sense. The test is not esoteric it is skill based. If you think you can create a perfect test try, serve on the committees. The union lackeys never offer to do that and oppose all tests. It’s like artificial sweeteners, you know before it comes out the sugar industry will spend millions opposing it even if they come up with a new chemically different artificial sweetener, and the union lackeys will oppose any test once it comes out. Why? Because tests shine a light on the truth and the problem with bureaucratic rules that hurt kids and help union members.

    • FloydThursby1941 4 years ago4 years ago

      Gary, Lowell High School used to allow just 40 minutes for some classes on the theory that the kids are gifted and hard working and could be responsible and learn as much in less time, and the test scores backed it up with Lowell at 41% free and reduced lunch constantly outperforming all other schools in the Bay Area, and the union complained and made them institute a block schedule. You need parents to … Read More

      Gary, Lowell High School used to allow just 40 minutes for some classes on the theory that the kids are gifted and hard working and could be responsible and learn as much in less time, and the test scores backed it up with Lowell at 41% free and reduced lunch constantly outperforming all other schools in the Bay Area, and the union complained and made them institute a block schedule.

      You need parents to back this up. The problem is parents aren’t teaching kids that grades, study, and reading and discipline are of the utmost importance. Asians do, and they do far better than any other race. In Finland, kids read novels all the time and parents teach their kids. Here only 16% of parents, 1 in 6, teaches their child to read and do basic math before starting Kindergarten. In Finland and Germany and Korea and Japan, parents who just deliver a 5-year old to the door with no knowledge are considered insane or child abusers. Here it’s 5 in 6.

      • Don 4 years ago4 years ago

        I don't teach my kids any more, having given up on that idea years ago. I let them learn things for themselves and guide them if I can - help them to be explorers. I want them to have enthusiasm, to find out what it is that interests them. Whether they get good grades is immaterial. If they enjoy learning about the world they won't need to be browbeaten to study and pressured to learn. … Read More

        I don’t teach my kids any more, having given up on that idea years ago. I let them learn things for themselves and guide them if I can – help them to be explorers. I want them to have enthusiasm, to find out what it is that interests them. Whether they get good grades is immaterial. If they enjoy learning about the world they won’t need to be browbeaten to study and pressured to learn. Pedestrian concerns for grades and test scores is small-minded. Your idea that stress is good is one way to think of education – if you want to call it that. In my opinion, it is no way to treat a child to discover his or her potential.

        “We don’t need no education, we don’t need no mind-control…”

        You may believe your ideas about education, but you are mistaken if you think others ought to find your beliefs important. Your preachy tone tell me you are not really sure about your own convictions, otherwise you wouldn’t have to proselytize. There are many ways, no doubt, to train children to conform to their parents wishes, particularly when they are young. Some children, if they feel abandoned, alone and scared might even go along. But one may also run the risk of revolt when the situation gets revolting enough. The question then will be whether their enthusiasm has been sucked dry.

    • Manuel 4 years ago4 years ago

      Gary, you left out one important thing: Finland has roughly as many students as LAUSD. Maybe that's why they can do so well: http://www.stat.fi/til/pop/2014/pop_2014_2014-11-14_tie_001_en.html And they don't spend as much money in administration: http://www.stat.fi/til/kotal/2012/kotal_2012_2014-05-08_tie_001_en.html Can you believe that they spent about 4.4 billion euros (nearly $5 billion) in "comprehensive school education" in 2012? LAUSD's general fund budget is somewhere between $6.4 to $6.8 billion, depending on who you talk to and when. The Finns spend less money and … Read More

      Gary, you left out one important thing: Finland has roughly as many students as LAUSD. Maybe that’s why they can do so well:

      http://www.stat.fi/til/pop/2014/pop_2014_2014-11-14_tie_001_en.html

      And they don’t spend as much money in administration:

      http://www.stat.fi/til/kotal/2012/kotal_2012_2014-05-08_tie_001_en.html

      Can you believe that they spent about 4.4 billion euros (nearly $5 billion) in “comprehensive school education” in 2012? LAUSD’s general fund budget is somewhere between $6.4 to $6.8 billion, depending on who you talk to and when.

      The Finns spend less money and they get better results. Apples to oranges? Maybe. But if we are going to be making comparisons, might as well look at other things and not just scores.

      • Gary Ravani 4 years ago4 years ago

        Manuel: If you read (or hear) the work of Pasi Sahlberg, a Finnish Education Minister, you will find his explanation. Just a few decades ago Finland had very poorly performing schools. The they decided to reform...not the schools...but their social support system. Focusing on social, economic, and health equity they found (drumroll) that if you support parents and children school performance is supported also. There is nothing that says the US could not replicate the seamless … Read More

        Manuel:

        If you read (or hear) the work of Pasi Sahlberg, a Finnish Education Minister, you will find his explanation. Just a few decades ago Finland had very poorly performing schools. The they decided to reform…not the schools…but their social support system. Focusing on social, economic, and health equity they found (drumroll) that if you support parents and children school performance is supported also. There is nothing that says the US could not replicate the seamless social service system (what alliteration!) that Finland and the other social democracies provide for their populations. We did it with Social Security, Medicare, and now the ACA as it continues to roll out. Nothing, outside of the Hoover Institution et al and Fox news, says we can’t expand on those programs. Finland makes relatively large investments in “equity” and needs less in the schools. Finland is a small country with fewer resources that it uses wisely and we a re a large country that seems to insist that most resources must flow to the very top. The American public, at least in certain areas, has been convinced that providing an equitable social and economic support system will leave them with communists hiding under their beds.

        It is interesting to note that while the economic competitiveness of the US slipped during the recession, according to the World Economic Forum, because (the Forum asserts) of misfeasance in the “financial sector,” Finland with all of its “socialism” rose to the top.

        I can find no real evidence that size per se has much to with it. We in the US are handcuffed by our own ideology not because of the size of the school population. There are school districts in our own state and nation (I wrote about these in School Reforms That Work in the WAPO) that have implemented reforms that have real positives for the poor and minorities, but we don’t want to do those on a wide scale either. Those districts don’t focus on tests, don’t fire teachers (or administrators) en masse, and have real collaboration between management and the unions. Those types of reform have little appeal because they don’t attack unions and don’t cut costs in ways that the corporatists and vulture philanthropists want and, in the more populist mode, lack the kind of social policy masochism that demands, if progress is to be made, someone must suffer. At the moment teachers are in the sights of that mob mentality.

        • Manuel 4 years ago4 years ago

          Oh, Gary, you stole my line: "What? You want socialism in our God-fearing country? We will all go to H-E-Double Hockey Sticks if we increase the gimmes to the 47% who are takers. You must be a Commie. Or a union thug. Or both." Indeed, Finland has support for its citizens. They figured it costs them less to provide such support while increasing the standard of living for all its citizens. We don't do that here … Read More

          Oh, Gary, you stole my line: “What? You want socialism in our God-fearing country? We will all go to H-E-Double Hockey Sticks if we increase the gimmes to the 47% who are takers. You must be a Commie. Or a union thug. Or both.”

          Indeed, Finland has support for its citizens. They figured it costs them less to provide such support while increasing the standard of living for all its citizens. We don’t do that here despite and, instead, try to dismantle as much of the Safety Net as possible. No, we want everyone to be responsible for themselves, unless, of course, it is advantageous to get collectively give a tax break to the “makers.”

          Why does Finland do this? Because they are a small country (hence my reference to its size) and the population knows that if it doesn’t cooperate with each other, all of them will suffer. Instead, we are the opposite: the so-called “rugged individualism.” (Unless, of course, we are hit by a natural disaster at which time we demand that all of us, as embodied by “the government,” take care of us.)

        • Tom 4 years ago4 years ago

          Gary, Socialism is a great idea, but just doesn't work. If you want to point to Finland's "success," I can point to Greece's failure. It is a fact that the United States system of capitalism has produced the highest standard of living for the most people in the history of the world. Of course it takes diligence to protect people from the small percentage of greedy in business but there … Read More

          Gary, Socialism is a great idea, but just doesn’t work. If you want to point to Finland’s “success,” I can point to Greece’s failure. It is a fact that the United States system of capitalism has produced the highest standard of living for the most people in the history of the world. Of course it takes diligence to protect people from the small percentage of greedy in business but there are plenty of examples of corrupt government officials in power who are greedy and corrupt who seek to enrich themselves. This might be playing out right now with the Clinton Foundation.

          • Jake 4 years ago4 years ago

            Gary, Socialism is a great idea, but just doesn’t work. If you want to point to Finland’s “success,” I can point to Greece’s failure. That's some serious cognitive dissonance right there. Rather than be capable of admitting that socialism has worked when implemented democratically (as opposed to communism which is not) in the Scandinavian countries, you ignore that and fall back to where it's failed to reinforce your preconceived notion. BTW, Greece's modern history is … Read More

            Gary, Socialism is a great idea, but just doesn’t work. If you want to point to Finland’s “success,” I can point to Greece’s failure.

            That’s some serious cognitive dissonance right there. Rather than be capable of admitting that socialism has worked when implemented democratically (as opposed to communism which is not) in the Scandinavian countries, you ignore that and fall back to where it’s failed to reinforce your preconceived notion.

            BTW, Greece’s modern history is very complicated, and the current crisis there was largely due to economic devastation during the Great Recession.

            • Tom 4 years ago4 years ago

              I'm going to blame Gary for redirecting an education subject to an economic subject, but in any event Jake, don't all of us cherry pick examples to support our arguments? Be honest now. Checked Wikipedia, and the problem with using Finland as a success story is that they have 8.5% unemployment and 17.9% "at risk of poverty" so how is socialism working for those people? Greece is far worse, and the their overspending on … Read More

              I’m going to blame Gary for redirecting an education subject to an economic subject, but in any event Jake, don’t all of us cherry pick examples to support our arguments? Be honest now.

              Checked Wikipedia, and the problem with using Finland as a success story is that they have 8.5% unemployment and 17.9% “at risk of poverty” so how is socialism working for those people? Greece is far worse, and the their overspending on their social support system go way back before the recession. Check out their work rules sometime and you’ll see why, e.g. did you know that a hairdresser is a hazardous occupation and can retire and receive state benefits when they are relatively young, like 45 or 50 years old? It was Margaret Thatcher who said that socialism was a great system until you run out of other peoples money.

          • Gary Ravani 4 years ago4 years ago

            Tom: "I’m going to blame Gary…" Feel free. Just take a number and get in line. George Burns, an old time radio/TV comedian whose "signature' was a smoking cigar, you may not have heard of, once said: "I've been reading a lot lately about how bad smoking cigars is for you. So I've decided to quit…reading." You should probably thin about that as you read further. Greece is used a lot as an example of something..usually why it's a … Read More

            Tom:

            “I’m going to blame Gary…” Feel free. Just take a number and get in line.

            George Burns, an old time radio/TV comedian whose “signature’ was a smoking cigar, you may not have heard of, once said: “I’ve been reading a lot lately about how bad smoking cigars is for you. So I’ve decided to quit…reading.”

            You should probably thin about that as you read further.

            Greece is used a lot as an example of something..usually why it’s a terrible thing for a country to try and treat its people in a decent way. But Greece is a victim of other nations who thought it a great idea to loan it money, at risk mind you, and now don’t want to accept the fact that the risk might cost them. Germany is leading the pack in Europe in this, and who ever heard of Germany trying to take advantage of another country and putting the entire continent at risk?

            Anyway, Greece, obviously, is a southern European country and Finland and the other highly successful social democracies are northern European.

            But the topic is education and the inevitable effects economic and social policies have on measured educational achievement. Finland comes up a lot because it often leads the world in international achievement tests. Finns account for this by emphasizing that they improved educational outcomes, not by focusing on schools, but by focusing on the well being of parents and children. Finland runs about 3% childhood poverty. This required Finland to do what other northern European social democracies did and establish seamless social service systems.

            The US is often criticized, with the criticism focused on the schools, for being in the middle of the pack on the international tests. The US is the worst of the major world economies in terms of child poverty and now runs at about 30% of our kids shamefully living in poverty.

            If we want those high international test scores, and many (Arne Duncan for example) say they do and that it is vital to the US economy, then perhaps we should look to the countries that do it? Just a suggestion. Read on.

            To do it would require a huge increase in the US social service system with equal improvements in living wage regulations and likely programs to make jobs available. All off this could be looked at a a “New” New Deal. And, like Social Security has worked and Medicare has worked and the ACA as it spools up is working, those programs done right would work. Obviously, they would need to be funded.

            On the latest 2014-15 rankings of nations by economic competitiveness done by the World Economic Forum, Finland is one place behind the US. So, Finland’s “failing” socialism doesn’t hamper its economic development. If you check you will find the other northern European democracies are equally high in “competitiveness” and weathered the last recession in a considerably smoother way than did the US.

            So, the point is, neither “socialism” nor Keynesian solutions to economic and social problems, detract from economic success and it adds to educationally measured achievement. Why not give what works a try for a change?

            • FloydThursby1941 4 years ago4 years ago

              For socialism to work you have to not be greedy. Racism also plays a role. In homogenous societies people are less greedy and feel more respect for the poor. Here we scapegoat others, even if people hide it. Everyone blames immigrants, the blacks, even Asians get blamed for outperforming whites who flee them in many cases (Cupertino, Wall Street Journal). For socialism to work, everyone needs to contribute to maximum … Read More

              For socialism to work you have to not be greedy. Racism also plays a role. In homogenous societies people are less greedy and feel more respect for the poor. Here we scapegoat others, even if people hide it. Everyone blames immigrants, the blacks, even Asians get blamed for outperforming whites who flee them in many cases (Cupertino, Wall Street Journal). For socialism to work, everyone needs to contribute to maximum ability or at least reasonable ability. Look what happens when we try even modest anti-poverty or redistribution of opportunity. Tax inheritance on the top 0.5% and you get complaints of family farms lost even if Republicans can’t find one. Integrate schools and you get white flight and private schools get popular. Taxes are opposed almost religiously. In China, most people believe in it and the rich have restraint and do what is good for all. In the Soviet Union there was too much corruption. For socialism to work, Americans would would have to all agree to be far less greedy! I see so much greed everywhere, on this board, in society look at me, conspicuous consumption, and most don’t want to live near many others either and we have exaggerated fears of crime. Look how many lies were spread about Obamacare. Europeans live longer, spend half on health and are healthier but we heard lies about death panels in the Netherlands, where people live longer for less spending than we do. I don’t think it would work here. Most people find a fig leaf to cover it but their core emotion is greed. It’s like in ‘American Psycho’ when the guy said his only two emotions were greed and disgust. You aren’t going to work hard without getting a lot of money if your heart is filled with greed and other people disgust you.

            • navigio 4 years ago4 years ago

              who ever heard of Germany trying to take advantage of another country and putting the entire continent at risk?

              Wow.

              Historical slurs aside, you might be interested to know that Finland is into Greek debt at a per capita rate only slightly behind that of Germany and Holland. And higher than the rest.

              Those huckster finns..

            • Gary Ravani 4 years ago4 years ago

              You believe recounting Germany’s relatively contemporary history in Europe is a “slur?” (As far as I am aware they remind themselves of it constantly.) Or in their intransigence in dealing with the current Euro crisis threatens the rest of the continent is the same as Finland’s?

              Really?

            • navigio 4 years ago4 years ago

              Not only really, but absolutely, to your first point. The only reason you brought it up was to liken current Germans and their behavior with that of 75 years ago. Maybe you believe its the same, but I don't. (Note, this is especially relevant given Greece is involved.) And the reason they constantly remind themselves of it is to try to come to terms with their past in an attempt to avoid reliving anything like that … Read More

              Not only really, but absolutely, to your first point. The only reason you brought it up was to liken current Germans and their behavior with that of 75 years ago. Maybe you believe its the same, but I don’t. (Note, this is especially relevant given Greece is involved.)
              And the reason they constantly remind themselves of it is to try to come to terms with their past in an attempt to avoid reliving anything like that again. They probably will never be able to do that, not only because it’s not a past one can come to terms with, but also because no one else ever lets them forget it either. Of course, not that they should, but treating them as if that process is still ongoing is different than highlighting it while recognizing it as also part of history, even if only ‘relatively contemporary’. (Not that it matters, but personally, I also think the latter also risks obscuring some of the modern versions of this challenge that appear to be on the rise in many places.)
              On the second point, I was merely pointing out that Finland is deeper into Greek debt on a per capita basis than any other european nation besides those two I mentioned (and at that, is very close to them). Of course, due to its size, that doesn’t mean it necessarily has the same absolute power in determining direction, but it also doesn’t necessarily mean they are simply innocent bystanders nor don’t agree with Germany, or anyone else. In fact, ironically, I believe Finland was one of the strongest proponents for austerity during the initial process, and even now seems to be the sticking point to any debt forgiveness. That doesn’t seem to jibe with your attempt to analogize the extent of a country’s ‘socialist tendencies’ with its stance on the Greek bailout conditions (though I don’t think thats a useful analogy anyway as the distinctions between continental european countries on the former–especially culturally–are likely mere nuances relative to the culture of the readers likely reading this).
              In addition, in the economic realm, intransigence is not only a subjective term, but is also measured only in hindsight.

            • Tom 4 years ago4 years ago

              Good to know you have a sense of humor Gary. I know of George Burns, funny guy, smoked a lot of cigars and lived to 101 years or something like that. If he were still alive would tell him to not believe everything he reads but to be a critical thinker with an open mind and do his own research. Not too far from what Thomas Jefferson said was necessary for … Read More

              Good to know you have a sense of humor Gary.

              I know of George Burns, funny guy, smoked a lot of cigars and lived to 101 years or something like that. If he were still alive would tell him to not believe everything he reads but to be a critical thinker with an open mind and do his own research. Not too far from what Thomas Jefferson said was necessary for a democracy to survive.

              So now Greece is a victim of the countries who lent them money? What are people who take loans and don’t pay them back – victims as well? That’s just crazy talk Gary, and not worth discussing because, like George Burns, you are reading the wrong things, e.g Saul Alinsky, Carl Marx, etc. Socialism just doesn’t work with the human condition.

            • Gary Ravani 4 years ago4 years ago

              Navigio: I seem to have stepped on some (possibly) sensitive ancestral toes here with a rather offhand remake in the total context of the discussion. "Navigio." Who knew? I believe current évents in Europe would show the junk-yard-dog of the Euro-union is indeed Germany. Their intransigence is both public and imbedded deeply in the "now." Hindsight, though frequently ("Those who forget history…") valuable, is not necessary in this case. My understanding of the Greek situation vis a vis … Read More

              Navigio:

              I seem to have stepped on some (possibly) sensitive ancestral toes here with a rather offhand remake in the total context of the discussion. “Navigio.” Who knew?

              I believe current évents in Europe would show the junk-yard-dog of the Euro-union is indeed Germany. Their intransigence is both public and imbedded deeply in the “now.” Hindsight, though frequently (“Those who forget history…”) valuable, is not necessary in this case.

              My understanding of the Greek situation vis a vis Finland is that the Fins were considerably more helpful to Greece previously than they are currently, in that they have a relatively new prime minister who is a conservative and more a hardliner on the issues. But, I think you are correct that as a whole the northern European countries have been (wrongfully) committed to austerity measures, particularly when the austerity measures have to be practiced most painfully by southern European countries.

              None of this changes the fact that a Fin conservative would likely to be on the left of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Saunders ( a self-identified socialist) in this country. As far as I am aware the seamless social services and concentration on social and economic equity that are the true and fundamental basis for Finnish educational “success” has not changed at all. As far as I can determine, and as its articulated by Sahlberg, “austerity” on the home front, and as practiced in the US, is not even a significant political issue in Finland. What is a political issue is how they treat the influx of non-native speaking immigrants into the country and the fact that the Fins, like us, don’t have a resounding amount of educational success with that population. At least in the short term–for the Fins.

            • Gary Ravani 4 years ago4 years ago

              Tom: Again, if you can get away form whatever sites you think you're getting "information" from, you will find the whole tier of northern European social-democracies who thrive economically. It's interesting that a new UN report on the world's "happiest" ("happy" defined as a number of metrics like health, etc., as well as surveys of personal perceptions) defines most of the Nordic countries as far happier than the US. Even Canada, with its conservatively defined "terrible … Read More

              Tom:

              Again, if you can get away form whatever sites you think you’re getting “information” from, you will find the whole tier of northern European social-democracies who thrive economically. It’s interesting that a new UN report on the world’s “happiest” (“happy” defined as a number of metrics like health, etc., as well as surveys of personal perceptions) defines most of the Nordic countries as far happier than the US. Even Canada, with its conservatively defined “terrible socialized medicine,” leads the US by a considerable margin. The fact that every other major industrialized nation has government provided health care and that the US is 32 of 34 industrialized nations in terms of child poverty (the US is very, very high) does not a “happy” place make. It only makes us more ideologically pure and, as I’ve said, more than a little “masochistic.” So again, those scary socialized countries lead most of the world in happiness, educational outcomes, health, life expectancies, and beat the heck out of the US in lower infant mortality rates. And all that must count for something.

              And, BTW, George Burns (though the cigar may have been a prop) is a classic case of a “statistical outlier.” Smoking a lot and living a long time are, when looking at large populations, typically mutually exclusive. That’s the science.

            • Don 4 years ago4 years ago

              Tom, if I may, it is a waste of time to engage with someone who considers himself, smarter, more informed, more ethical and overall better than those who do not share his same political ideology. That being the case, it makes one wonder why the snobbish, ultra-radical union leadership is on the run even in bastions of progressive politics. Will the hubris of people like Gary, who sneers at grassroots parent action and … Read More

              Tom, if I may, it is a waste of time to engage with someone who considers himself, smarter, more informed, more ethical and overall better than those who do not share his same political ideology. That being the case, it makes one wonder why the snobbish, ultra-radical union leadership is on the run even in bastions of progressive politics. Will the hubris of people like Gary, who sneers at grassroots parent action and demeans the conversation with his conceit, be the downfall of the unions or will rank and file teachers rise up and make the necessary moderate reform that will ensure the well-being of the profession?

            • FloydThursby1941 4 years ago4 years ago

              Gary, many European nations have stayed happy only by taking the work of their parents to give them opportunity and not doing that work themselves, meaning they deprive the future generation of the chance to even exist. Birth rates are far below replacement and they sacrificed their future for the present. It's a cheap form of happiness not built on a sustainable future and the pain to their societies of having a low … Read More

              Gary, many European nations have stayed happy only by taking the work of their parents to give them opportunity and not doing that work themselves, meaning they deprive the future generation of the chance to even exist. Birth rates are far below replacement and they sacrificed their future for the present. It’s a cheap form of happiness not built on a sustainable future and the pain to their societies of having a low birth rate for so long is starting to come and was inevitable.