Detroit Public Schools: 93% Not Proficient in Reading; 96% Not Proficient in Math

Source: Detroit Public Schools: 93% Not Proficient in Reading; 96% Not Proficient in Math

So 90+% of Detroit students are not proficient in math or reading? The hell you say.

Cue the shopworn liberal bleat about needing more money. Yet Detroit spends $18,361 per student. That’s not enough? The average private school tuition in Michigan is $6,366, or nearly one-third as much. Therefore two conclusions are inescapable: a) the results obviously do not correlate with expenditure, and b) Detroit’s public school teachers are awful, and/or Detroit public school students are thick.

Considering that Detroit spends $18,361 per student for these awful results, I have a modest proposal: cut the spending way, way back. The worst that happens is that Detroit students go from 90+% lacking proficiency to 100%. Who misses one more slice off a cut loaf?

And here’s another example of the lack of correlation between expenditure and academic results: Here’s why $7 billion didn’t help America’s worst schools

OK, we’re out $7 billion, and we still have pretty much the same bunch of uneducated dumb asses that we had before. This article tries to relieve the gloom by including a feel-good anecdote about a single school, but obviously those sanguine results were gamed.

Why do I say that?

First, there would be enormous pressure for somewhere to produce better results, or curmudgeons such as yours truly would be drawing some invidious conclusions regarding the ability of the teachers and/or the students. (Consider the Administration’s fervent desire – and fervid efforts – to get women through Ranger school and the Marine infantry officers’ course, where they’ve made every effort to have some woman succeed.) As one way of gaming the results, let me turn around liberals’ knock on private schools and wonder if they cherry-picked the better students for their experiment (and/or de-selected the cognitively disenfranchised). “Tomorrow’s test day, Antoine, so no need to come in.”

Second, by what criterion was that school’s performance adjudged to have improved from an “F” to a “B?” We’ve already seen Atlanta schoolteachers coaching kids on standardized tests, and in some cases correcting errors.

Third, and most cogently: if, as the article suggests, educators now know what works and what doesn’t … um … then why the hell aren’t they doing everywhere what they now know works?

But here’s the killer:

When the $43 million in SIG money arrived in 2010, Carvalho and Vitti knew that improving personnel in the failing schools would be the key to their success. That meant moving weak teachers out and replacing them with stronger teachers from high-performing schools.

Wait – how did they know which were the stronger teachers? The teachers’ unions tell us that there’s no way to determine a teacher’s efficacy, and hence offering merit pay would be invidious. But somehow Carvalho and Vitti have cracked this problem, the education industry’s equivalent of the unified field theory. How did they do it?

And one last point: consider what this misbegotten program has done. It has transferred good teachers from good schools to lousy schools (and presumably the converse). So now the good students have lousy teachers, and the lousy students have good teachers.

Now our intrepid reporter failed to ask the next, obvious question: what was the retention rate of the good teachers who were sent to the lousy schools? I can imagine teachers transferred from La Jolla to Compton would be resigning in droves, either from having to teach uninterested and untalented students, or from fear for their lives, or both. On top of which, since their school district identified them as being good teachers, they’d be prime candidates for hire at private schools.

And what happened to performance at the formerly good schools? Isn’t that relevant to the question? Inadvertently, the liberals have (or could have, assuming they didn’t game the results) actually performed a controlled experiment that addresses the question of whether performance is more a function of the teachers’ ability or the students’ aptitude.

But I suspect liberals don’t want to know the answer to that question.

Update: a cri de coeur from a teacher leaving the DC school district (By Show of Hands…How Many of Your Schools Have Had Teachers Leave Already?) indicates why money is not enough, and in fact probably not even relevant:

I’m leaving because in the first week one teacher had his arm dislocated by a student while another suffered a broken hand. They threatened to rape a female teacher after work. One of my students was arrested in my classroom for fighting another student for “looking at him.” That same day, another student was beaten unconscious in the classroom next door. The students intentionally threw laptops from the laptop cart to the ground, shattering them, because they “didn’t feel like reading.” All of these students are still enrolled. At most they received a two or three day suspension and returned with new shoes, new hairdos, and a new lore among their peers.

Could this just possibly be the source – or more likely, a symptom – of the fundamental problem?


3 comments to “Detroit Public Schools: 93% Not Proficient in Reading; 96% Not Proficient in Math”
  1. It’s White PrivilegeTM that supplies the money that these districts piss away.

    Case in point: Newark NJ. It’s in Essex county, along with Short Hills….one of the richest communities in the country.

    Property taxes are outrageous, in part because the expenditure/student in Newark is among the highest in the country.

  2. Money well-spent. (laughs bitterly)

    I think we need a program to teach my golden retriever calculus. With enough money …

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