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I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.








Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Is it Time to go “ALL IN” for the Nanny-State Model at Certain Schools?


Like the protagonist in the X-files, Fox Mulder, I want to believe.

 I want to believe that an extra hour of intensive reading at  selected, high poverty schools is what it takes to get these schools back on track academically.  I want to believe, so I voted for the expenditure of $2.4 Million dollars for a handful of Escambia County elementary schools to provide an extra hour of reading instruction each school day next year.

A part of me has grave reservations about whether or not this will work.  We’ve tried lots of different strategies at schools like these, and we’ve been unable to sustain consistently acceptable academic achievement long term.  We’re told it’s the high poverty—but that’s not really the root cause; everybody knows this but nobody says so.  It’s all about Parents.
More seat time, new facilities, computers, smart boards--still we have several very low scoring schools. 
Tutors, mentors, excellent leadership, great teachers, committed community partners—and still we’ve got low scoring schools.
What we need are committed families working with us!  But this isn’t occurring in many schools…
So if this latest $2.4 Million effort fails-we need to have the



 fortitude and chutzpah to JUMP out of the box and try something radical!
How about paying STUDENTS to succeed?
One of the most successful inner-city school programs in the nation, Harlem Children’s Zone, pays their students for good grades and good attendance.  The director of Harlem Children’s Zone, Geoffrey Canada, has said the following about paying student bonuses:
 “I love to bribe kids.... People say, ‘Well Geoff, look, don’t you want kids to do it for the intrinsic value?’ Sure, I’d love them to do it for the intrinsic value. And until then I’d love them to do it for money. I just want them to do it!”
Economics professor Roland Fryer, Jr., one of the youngest African American tenured professors in the history of Harvard University, has advocated the use of monetary rewards in inner-city schools to drive performance.  He’s written scholarly papers on the subject and field tested the concept in Washington DC, Chicago, and New York.
There is evidence it can be effective.
Should we formulate a cash reward system locally for Escambia schools where parents haven’t historically participated?
If we took the same schools next year and divided up the $2.4 Million we’re spending this year—we’d have a pool of roughly $1,000.00 per student for 2013-2014.
How could we divvy it up into bonuses?
-How about $2.00-$3.00 a day, paid weekly, for being in class and not getting  discipline referral(s)?
-How about $5.00 for reading selected book(s) and passing short quizzes demonstrating comprehension?
-Perhaps something different at each school?
-Fridays could be student paydays!
We’re dealing with a crisis; we’re losing many of the lowest achievers in our schools.  We live in the Nanny-State, yet we’re still not succeeding with all the students-especially the ones most wrapped in nanny-state entitlements.
Many of the most academically-challenged students in our chronically underperforming schools have their every need paid for by the nanny-state—their meals, homes, healthcare, rides to school, parents’ incomes, dental work, cable TV, light bills, groceries, parent’s cell phones-- practically everything.  Do we need, is it time, for us to go “ALL IN” and start PAYING students to take their school work seriously, too?
Is this what it takes?  Will going “all in” for the nanny state model in schools work?
We may not like it, but maybe it will work where other large expenditures fail.


4 comments:

Alice Sohn said...

Here's something interesting. Remember Finland, that "socialistic" country whose schools are top-ranked today? The Finns pay parents for every child enrolled in school, with additional "stipends" as necessary. They also provide enough counselors and special needs teachers to meet the needs of EVERY student. In addition, Finland's students receive free total health care, even taxi service if necessary. At the same time, Finnish teachers and students spend less time in class than we do and take great care that learning is a joy for students, not a source of stress. There are no standardized tests, unless the teachers request one and there is no "tracking," no honors or remedial classes. Teachers, drawn from the top 10% of the nation's graduates, receive the same respect and pay as doctors and lawyers. It is those teachers, not CEOs or politicians, who make the decisions. For the Finns, education is a national goal around which all citizens have united. The last time this country rallied around a national goal was our mission to send a man to the moon.

Moral to the story: It does no good to compare our schools with those of another country without comparing, also, the context in which the schools exist.

Jeff Bergosh said...

Alice, Finland is recognized for the achievement of their students, and as you correctly point out, their society is much different than ours. I'll take this opportunity to point out that our cream of the crop still blows all these other countries away. People like me are just frustrated with the staggering expenditures as a percentage of our GDP for education and all the while watching our performance as a country slip to countries like Finland Poland Slovakia Singapore Japan and China. People like me are tired of the bar lowering, the lowering of expectations, and the genuflecting to unions that care more about their members than students--and

Jeff Bergosh said...

Alice, Finland is recognized for the achievement of their students, and as you correctly point out, their society is much different than ours. I'll take this opportunity to point out that our cream of the crop still blows all these other countries away. People like me are just frustrated with the staggering expenditures as a percentage of our GDP for education and all the while watching our performance as a country slip to countries like Finland Poland Slovakia Singapore Japan and China. People like me are tired of the bar lowering, the lowering of expectations, and the genuflecting to unions that care more about their members than students--and

Alice Sohn said...

Jeff, I absolutely understand the discouragement, but, again, don't we need to understand the context? We are more sharply politically divided in this country that we have been in a long time. I came of age in the time of "ask not what your country can do for you. . . . ." Those words have guided me all these years, but where is that idealism now? Where is our coming together for a national good? Our schools are a reflection of our society, not a separate entity. We can't "fix" our schools anymore than we can "fix" our economy or our health care system. The most important thing Finland did was not giving parents money; it was setting education as a national goal. Consider what's happening in this country today. We have CEOs and politicians, who have never been in a public school, setting education policy. Teachers, the most maligned and underpaid "professionals" in this country, are for everything. We know what makes schools work--just listen to people who have made it happen--and little of that involves money, but we can't even come together to discuss, much less, enact some of those ideas.