Discover more from Forza...for Education
A Tale of Two Systems
And why quitting might just be the thing to do
Abysmal. Horrendous. Awful. BAD.
We call it malnourishment. When you feed people, they thrive. When you don’t, everything from their body to their mind and heart suffers. Same with education. When you fail to feed the mind, it cannot process what it is given. In fact, muscle memory declines.
That’s what’s happening with the record drop in student achievement. Scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card, are the worst they’ve been in 30 years. And it’s not just the pandemic, as CER said in its release. It’s a continuation of bad education policy, pandemic or not.
But AFT’s union boss and her comrades dismissed it entirely. She chose only to quote a Washington Post reporter, Eugene Robinson, who argued it’s much ado about nothing.
“It turns out that all the bitter back-and-forth between red & blue states about how quickly to reopen schools during the covid-19 pandemic was nothing but political theater, as far as test scores are concerned. Student performance suffered across the board,” wrote Robinson.
Actually, Mr. Robinson, you’re wrong. As Kathleen Porter-Magee the Superintendent of Partnership Schools pointed out, “If Catholic schools were a state, they’d be the highest performing in the nation on all four NAEP tests.” But more on that in a minute.
As the nation was beginning to digest the fact that students who don’t learn to read proficiently by 4th grade may never catch up, that 8th graders without reading or math skills are more likely to drop out, Randi turned to cheering on happy, striking health care workers in Connecticut.
The responses were many. Here’s just one, by a licensed counselor, to his 20,000 followers, about Randi’s callous treatment of the scores.
The facts about Catholic Schools and how they compare on the latest NAEP:
Why? Because they stayed open throughout Covid. That’s the secret. Doing the job. Well.
Remember that Blaine guy?
The 19th-century dude whose efforts kept kids from attending religious schools as a matter of the supposed public good, just because they were Catholic? Thankfully his legacy of bigotry was thrown out by the US Supreme Court, twice now. Just imagine what kind of results there would be today if more parents had had access to these and other schools like them. As research scientist Anthony Bryk concluded in his seminal publication Catholic Schools and the Common Good, their success derives from their focus on the common good of their students, reducing disparities among students from different backgrounds and instilling high expectations and a consistent value base in the communities they serve.
And according to the Urban Institute in a report by David Figlio, Catholics outperform other non-public schools.
Keystone State lawmakers were talking Blaine just today
Forty or so members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly came to listen to attorney Eugene Scalia about how recent Supreme Court decisions dousing Blaine pave the way for lawmakers to legally enact school choice programs. With both candidates for Governor endorsing the Lifeline Scholarships Program pending in the state house, the fate of education freedom has never been closer. Using his expertise and a state roadmap we commissioned subsequent to the High Court’s decision, Scalia made clear that if Pennsylvania were to give parents more education opportunities including private schools, they’d be on solid footing with any oppositional court challenge.
BOO… and maybe a hiss.
That’s my feeling about the Lower Merion School District which canceled the school district’s annual Halloween Parade. I remember the fun of every Halloween, figuring out if there would be hand-made costumes or a quick trip to the store (which was usually way too expensive to justify for one day). After the various school parties and parades, it was home to do some quick homework and then go trick or treating. People came in everything - some kids wore a mask, others had hand-me-downs, some just put on a crazy outfit. No one felt excluded like school officials are claiming today. I’m not sure where school officials thought they needed to become both the community policing agency and the family, but to cancel Halloween school celebrations - just like they canceled Christmas and Hanukkah celebrations for the 90% of people who celebrate one (or both) - well, it’s just a bridge too far.
“Buckman [the Lower Merion school official] says the other issue is not everyone celebrates Halloween, and those kids have had to sit in the library in the past during the parades.
‘We looked at all of that and we said, 'Are the parades really that important to the students?' And the answer we came up with is not really,’ she said.”
Remember the news on NAEP? Maybe if district officials spent more time talking about effective strategies to help students achieve rather than social engineering, there’d be more progress. Maybe.
Maybe they need to learn when to quit
That’s what Annie Duke, my fabulous podcast guest this week might say. The author, World Famous poker champion and decision strategist talks to me about the power of quitting, of knowing when to walk away, on In Piazza.
“We are often told that the secret to success is hard work, determination, and hours of practice. But in a fast-changing world, what if the really crucial skill is knowing when to stick at something and when to change track and walk away?”
Speaking of interesting people and books…
Gisèle Huff is one of a kind. An entrepreneur, Holocaust survivor, and once incredible chairman of CER’s Board of Directors, Michael Horn’s review of her book and his podcast will tell you everything you need to know about this force of nature - and might compel you to fight a few good fights yourself! Grab a copy today!
Love these strong women! Stay the course wherever you are…especially on Halloween 😉.
With thanks to my team for their contributions again to Forza -