The Politics of Education

To continue the discussion started in this thread about about endorsements and this thread about the school board race, let's discuss the politics of education in southern Orange County.

Many people including the local NAACP have long complained about the stratification in our schools, asserting that there are really two systems: one for affluent and/or gifted children and another for low-income and/or African-American students. (I know everyone doesn't fall into these categories, please allow me this generalization for the sake of discussion.)

I've heard countless examples of how these less-favored children are treated poorly by teachers and administrators. I have seen the school system make decisions based on politics and expediency, often at the expense of those who need the most help. But I will readily admit that I don't know much about our school system. The issues are way complicated, and I'm not a parent. (Although I am the child of a former C.H.H.S. teacher, and I was called a "G/T" student when I was at Carrboro elememtary.)

So what is at stake here? What are the current policies, what is their impact, and why do you like them or not? What is "differentiation?" Who is PAGE?




I don't think it's any secret that a lot of parents and public school advocates feel threatened by homeschoolers. Any insecurities and doubts they might have about the experience and education their kids are getting or -in the case of the educational establishment - the effectiveness of what they do, may be exacerbated by hearing of homeschool successes. Rather than respect and appreciate the many approaches that are available and possibly learn from what can accurately be called "differentiation" taken to the limit, some parents react defensively and want to crticize homeschooling or keep it out of view.

Again, if as you say, there are a lot of folks reading this but not posting who are opposed to allowing a homeschooler to try out for a middle school team, I'd welcome hearing an actuall ill effect of such a policy - beyond of course just adhering to The Rules.


Mark--do you READ my posts? ALL I was trying to say was that y'all have a BIT of a PR problem...caused by some of your own. Y'all will do what is best for YOUR children. But I DO notice that you have, once again, chosen to deliberately mis-read my posts, and completely IGNORE Terri's question.

So, I will re-state it. Has the family in question explored the possibilities raised by partial enrollment, per Terri's research? That would at least give the kid a chance to play THIS SEASON while they pursued the rule changes that would make YOU happy. Is the point of all this getting the kid on a team--or making a STATEMENT?


umm--That should read "IGNORED Terri's post." Finger missed the "d"...



I do believe that home schooled children should be allowed to participate in school activities--all activities including academic topics a parent may not feel adequately prepared to teach. I wrote to the individual school board members when you raised this issue a month ago, and I am more than willing to write again. But I need facts. Sometimes it appears that your personal agenda obscures the practical aspects of what needs to be done to effect change. I understand that political change needs people like you who are focused on large issues, but I would propose that you also need people like Melanie and I who are willing to take on the small issues that change the foundations upon which the larger issues are built. If you'll give us the facts we need to be activists in this small case, we'll help (sorry for speaking for you Melanie!).

Sorry if you think I'm playing games, deliberately misreading, etc. Not my intention.

If there weren't aspects of the public school system that homeschoolers weren't critical of, why wouldn't they just send their kids there?? And I feel a bit silly posting the obvious here, but if anyone thinks that there aren't real problems in the public schools then they aren't reading the news or eading posts on this very site. No need for people to be over-sensitive about it.

As to enrollment, I thought I'd addressed that a couple of weeks ago, but the boy's parents and others (including myself) don't think that is necessary. There is other wording in the policies which can be interpreted to simply allow him to play. I honestly believe that the school board could make this happen.

As for making a statement, I'm ok with that as long as it's a good one. I can assure you that this is not solely about making a statement, although even if it was, I'm still ok with that. I wish more people would make statements. What kind of statement is Pedersen making when he attmpts to short circuit school board consideration of this issue by responding to a reporter before he even heard the request that it isn't allowed.


I am guilty of being an avid reader/non-poster for a few weeks now. But I do have a thought on this. I may not have a dog in this fight because I do not have a child of school age. I do I plan to home school (although I think it's great when a parent makes that sacrifice to do so). My heart goes out to any kid who wants to play sports and is denied the opportunity. However, I think my heart would go out more to the public school child who might not get to play, or even make the team, because the home school child got the chance to try out and make the team. Just a thought.

But the memo was sent TO Pederson...FROM the SBOE. Of course the PS's are not perfect. Neither is Home Schooling. NOTHING is perfect. BUT--when speaking with HS parents, I have the good taste to refrain from pointing out what I consider to be flaws in their chosen way of schooling their children...and I would NEVER stoop to the sort of hyperbole that was evidenced in that column. Though I have been sorely tempted...and there IS ammunition out there... WITHOUT being hyperbolic.

You keep saying that the PS are interpreting the rules too narrowly, PS claims they are only following state guidelines--and on and on and on. Is this a game of "whoever blinks first loses?" Or do you want this kid to be able to play?

Terri--you can speak for me anytime--I'll correct youif you get ti wrong! ;-)

Melanie See

That was supposed to read "I do not plan to homeschool" <--typo due to public schooling

Trish--I see that as a problem as well--which is why I think "partial enrollment" is a decent compromise--my friends who HS don't see it that way. They claim that they ARE members of the PS community--they pay taxes. I can see validity in both arguments.

Thanks for de-lurking, BTW! Nice to have an additional voice in the mix!

Melanie See

I see it as a decent compromise too. At least there would'nt be any questions as to whether school coaches selected recruits based on talent vs. eligibility. As far as paying taxes go, we all have to pay them, kids or no kids. I worry about folks not seeing the big picture. Why stop at sports? As far fetched and silly as it sounds, why not challenge the rules (if there are any) of HS kids being eligible for school marching band, proms, science/math/drama clubs, etc.

why not have more sports teams in every school and allow all children who want to play to have that chance? Is it really fair for the best athletes to get all the spots on the teams? Plus, I think the kids who have no real sports ability could learn a lot by being allowed to work with the top athletes in teh school

Mr Klavatnei--that is how competitive team sports works in the US--in theory the best kids get on the team, and compete against the best kids from other schools. It would be NICE if there were intramural sports available to everyone--but that doesn't seem to happen here. (Happened more in least where I went to PS...)


Mr. Klavatnei,

That's a great idea. Unfortunately, it appears that the adults who are "petitioning" for the child to play on a team have a more vested interest in confirming their previously held negative attitude toward the district administration than on negotiating an opportunity for the child.

Mark--how often does OWASA negotiate their rules?


First off, a McDougle Middle School baseball coach explained that the rosters are flexible and no other kid in the district would lose a slot. Non-issue.

Terri - We NEVER change The Rules at OWASA. We have respect for The Rules. Aww, just kidding. Sorry I know I shouldn't be kidding about The Rules.(Thought police - have mercy...)

Even though I smell a trick question, the best answer I can give is that after the great drought of 2001-02, we changed our emergency conservation rules. That is a good example of reacting to new situations and info and evolving the rules to better serve the community. Our eyes were on improving the way we handle droughts, not on paying obeisance to The Rules.

Terri - Your charge is entirely unfounded and I challenge you to provide some proof that the parents "have a more vested interest in confirming their previously held negative attitude toward the district administration than on negotiating an opportunity for the child." That's a low charge and really unworthy of debate. Only if you have spoken at some length with the boy's mother could you make that charge with any authenticity & I'm pretty sure you haven't.



I sincerely apologize to the boys parents if they thought I was including them in my statement. Since you have speaking for the parents in this case, my charge was directed at you individually. I don't know the parents, have not communicated with them, and will not generalize to them based on what you say. However, you made the point "the boy's parents and others (including myself) don't think that is necessary (to apply the special enrollment option for home schoolers). There is other wording in the policies which can be interpreted to simply allow him to play. I honestly believe that the school board could make this happen." Mark, if the Rools say the boy can be enrolled for special functions, why not enroll him under that Rool and then fight to have the Rool changed or the other policies correctly interpreted? As I recall, OWASA didn't change their Rools based on a couple of individual requests--it required several board meetings and public hearings.

Most people who know me would be laughing themselves silly about me advocating for following Rools. But if following them, regardless of what you think about them, let's the boy play, what's the difference? Can having his name on the school's enrollment roster be that bad? If you won this case, his name would have to be on the team roster. The price of success will be affiliation.

I made "the statement" to the BOE when you first raised this issue in good faith that the goal was for the boy to play baseball. I don't agree with a lot of the decisions made by this district administration, but this wasn't a fight on principal for me--it was a fight for a little boy's right to play ball--that's all. I trust all you home schooling parents to make it a norm after the barrier is first broken.

Given all your past rhetoric about the big bad, compulsory school system, I don't see any way to interpret your stance other than you wanting a fight with the evil empire. Fine...fight them. Maybe others understood that was your agenda. But I didn't and feel like I've stepped into something bigger than I intended to step into.

All that said, I still think the boy should be allowed to play baseball--and that all children living in this district should be able to join the band, tryout for performances, play sports, and attend dances.

Mark M--I don't know about OWASA culture now, but years ago when my church built it's first Habitat house, we tried to get the hook-up fee waived or reduced--and was told they couldn't do that--it was against the RULES. If memory serves--OWASA cahrged a single set fee--regardless of the size of the house.(Can't remeber the exact number--but it was several thousand dollares.) For a time, CH's Habitat houses were among THE most expensive/foot to construct in the USA--becasue of the hook-up fee. (This cost/foot figure excluded the lots.) I believe OWASA has corrected thefee structure since--but it took a LOT of work--and a great deal of time.

And I agree with everything Terri said as well--though I would be concerned about dances--from a safety standpoint. NOT that the average HSrs might cause safety issues--but that children who left the PS system for discipline reasons and were now being HS might cause problems. (and that IS one of the reasons SOME children end up doing HSing) Kids on sports teams, or in band, or drama, could be dismissed if they posed an ongoing problem--but a dance is a one-time event. I suppose the guidelines could be worded in such a way as to eliminate this potential risk...but it would bear consideration.


In addition to the obvious fact that I am constantly promoting ignorance, I would like to add that my comments on education are honest and what I think They are made for purposes of expanding the parameters of the debate and helping to evolve educational approaches. Obviously, I don't expect everybody to agree with me (Actually I don't expect very many to agree with me after learning further from these discussions about the "sacred cow" nature of the public school system.) I certainly don't think that I should be required to respect the public school system any more than they respect me. And, I think it's fair to say that there are many open-minded, tolerant, secure people within and connected to the school system that are cooperative-minded and creative. So I'm not trying to generalize across the board.


Mark--I never said nor tried to imply that your previous comments about education were dishonest. I don't agree with your opinions about eliminating public education, but so what--you don't agree with my opinion that it's a basic right for everyone. Nor do I expect you to respect the system. What I do expect is that if I volunteer to take action on your part or in support of one of your causes, you make your agenda clearly known to me so that I can decide whether or not I want to endorse that agenda. '

For what it's worth, I fully support home schooling. I know many parents who feel their children are best supported by learning outside of the public education system. I see no reason why there can't be many options for how children are educated. What I will never support though is the elimination of the free (for children anyway) public education option.

This remarkable quote was in a letter-to-the-editor in today's CH Herald:

"While we honor the rights of free speech at Chapel Hill High School, we need to clarify that students, staff, parents and the community are not at liberty to use school property to espouse a political point of view."

Mary Ann Hardebeck

Principal, Chapel Hill High School

Mark, Mr. K--

I wasn't trying to pick a fight either. Mark--is it possible that the feedback you are getting is--shall we say filtered? because people know you are an HS parent? Because we ARE receiving different feedback. Many of the PS parents I've spoken with (there are a LOT more people readingthan posting, BTW) have a gut level, negative reaction. When they explore further (as I have) frequently they become less adamant--but the gut reaction has been (almost) universally the same.

As to Ms. Wright's column--I agree that it is one person's opinion--but it is an opinion I have heard from more than one HS parent. Not all, perhaps not even the majority, but more than one. Additionally-- you know as well as I that for many people "perception IS reality." At the risk of generalizing--people DO generalize. Case in point:"I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but homeschoolers are generally much more attentive and easier to coach and not "bouncing-off-the-walls" so much. I attribute a lot of this to the fact that they were not cooped up all day and are not releasing pent-up energy." While this may be true--it IS a generalization. Surely you can see how a column like Ms. Wright's, personal opinion that it is, could "confirm" people's pre-conceived notions?

I didn't take your comment as criticism--I agree with you. Kids, particulary at the middle school level, do NOT get enough time OUTSIDE. BUT--statements along the lines of Ms. Wright's ARE critical--and intended to be so. And my friends who HS confirm that there IS a segment of HS parents who hold those views--though they generally only share them with other HSing parents. I called three different people in three separate geographic areas (Ohio, NC, and VA) to ask...anecdotal, but there you have it. Not a scientific sampling--to be sure!

It WOULD make an interesting doctoral thesis--but for a PhD in psychology--or education? If I could bear the thought of going back to graduate school (I can't) I might be tempted to explore it more!

Terri--you made a GREAT observation--it begs the question--is the point to play baseball--or MAKE a point?

Sorry for the length of this post--I had a GREAT deal I wanted to cover.



When we discussed the home school/athletics issue previously, I reviewed the FAQs at the Division of Non-Public Education and learned that home schoolers can be enrolled part time at public institutions for the purpose of non-academic activities, including art, drama and sports.

Has anyone specifically asked for the child to be allowed to enroll at Smith MS (?) for this purpose? It may be that the laws/policies are contradicting one another, but if you can establish that it becomes a legal issue rather than an intrepretative issue, which is where I think it is right now based on yesterday's newspaper report.

So, the homeschooling parents money is fine, just not their snooty attitude?


On why the memo - Do you remember when Charter Schools were proposed a few years ago? Neil Pedersen was adamantly opposed. He is the quintessential public school bureaucrat who espouses the view that ONLY the public schools can provide an adequate education. I think any thoughtful person knows that this is not true. I wouldn't treat a memo from the superintendent's office as unequivocal Truth.

On going to the State - There is wording in the state policies that seems to give local school boards some latitude. I'd like to see that discussed. I also prefer local decisions. Rules were not necessarily made to be broken, but they were made to be evolved and I think a progressive school district that advocates open-mindedness, inculsiveness and adaptability for students should have the gumption to address this issue.

The feedback I'm getting is different - overwhelmingly people tell me that they think it would be no problem to allow Karsten to try out for the team. And I must state again - other than "It's The Rules", no-one has put forth any reasons why it would be a problem.

Wright's column - One person's statements. Some people say that homeschoolers are getting a complete education. Some people say that public schools don't serve their children's special needs very well. Let's not be too sensitive. It's our children, so we are all very involved in the issues, but still it's just debate and better to have ideas expressed than repressed.

On playing well with others - (Are the thought police reading this? Have mercy and keep the context...) I wouldn't worry about homeschool parents. They are actually generally smart, self-reliant, and flexible. I would say that, in the educational arena, I have seen some parents who don't play so well with others and they are not homeschool parents. It's just people and there are all sorts in every group. I wouldn't worry about it.

A final comment - I've spent a lot of time with kids coaching baseball & basketball. I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but homeschoolers are generally much more attentive and easier to coach and not "bouncing-off-the-walls" so much. I attribute a lot of this to the fact that they were not cooped up all day and are not releasing pent-up energy.

I hope you take these thoughts as constructive. I'm not trying to personally criticize anyone. I just think that, if we step back and look objectively, different educational approaches can enrich rather than negatively challenge a community.


I wonder if this statistic is more what Mark had in mind...

Funk, et al, (1999). Drop-outs are three times more likely to be unemployed; 2.5 times more likely to receive welfare benefits, and 3.6 times more likely to be in prison that high school graduates with no college.

Still googling...there is a LOT to wade through.


Must quit researching for a bit--but will add one last observation:

I came across research from pretty much every nation on EARTH--including Canada, ZImbabwe, Australia, to name but a few. Drop-outs all over the world, as a group, earn less than HS graduates, are more likely to be in prison, have poorer physical health, and greater incidence of mental illness. I would not say that dropping out is CAUSAL in ALL of these areas, (it might be argued that the mentally ill would find it difficult to finish HS, for instance) but it certainly doesn't appear to HELP. And the one thing the nations of the earth appear to agree on is this--dropping out of HS is bad.


Damn, penultimate sounds like so much more than "next to last". Thanks for helping me out on that Melanie - seriously - I'm glad to have my vocabulary improved.

At the last School Board meeting, the Board was asked to review this issue soon since 1) baseball season starts soon and 2) no real negative repercussions of letting Karsten try out for the team have surfaced. The bureaucratically efficient memo that appeared to refer so definitively to rules and statutes failed to point out that those rules and stautes aren't really all that clear and are open to some interpretation. The board now has to decide which way to go - be inclusive and respect the diverse ways that individuals learn and work openly to meet the needs of a child in their district or hide behind some interpretation of The Rules.


Hey, Mark--no problem! A lot of people make that error--when what they really want to say is "ne plus ultra." At least you didn't use one of my REALLY big pet peeves--"irregardless." (shudder)

About the HSrs playing sports--if the rules are open to interpretation--why the memo? The News made it sound like the SBOE had said "NO." Have y'all pursued that venue? On the State level? I doubt the board will allow the HSrs to try out if they are concerned that the teams will be challenged for ineligible players...and I can't say that I blame them. After doing some more research, I've decided that I don't have a huge problem with HSrs playing--though I do wonder what other cans of worms it might open--since they are in the same category as private schools. I think,however, I am in the minority. There is a perception out there that HSrs feel that the schools aren't good enough to EDUCATE their children--but are good enough to supply SPORTS teams. Perhaps because of things like Catherine Wright's column published January 19 :

""Pssst ... you don't really have to wait till third grade to be able to read on your own...

News flash: They're not being taught anything, so they're not learning anything."

Ms Wright continued:

So why are homeschoolers being punished for choosing a better educational route for themselves? "

Because their parents say stuff like that? Frequently?

Statements like that do NOT endear HSer parents to Public School parents. Petty? Perhaps, but we ARE only human, and many of us bust tail to make the public schools work. We do not care to have OUR schools denigrated. Besides, it's not even true. MY kids were reading on their own WELL before the end of third grade. And I sure as heck didn't teach 'em higher math! Though I WILL take some credit for their excellent vocabularies... ;-)

In short--I think many people worry that HS PARENTS won't work and play well with others...Of course, I could be absolutely mistaken!


So sorry Mark--That was why I asked you (nicely) to DEFINE YOUR PARAMETERS. If you'll notice, I said in MY post that I didn't consider potential earnings the ne plus ultra measure of a worthy life. Excerpted and posted first decent site I came to. And did you really mean PENULTIMATE?


SYLLABICATION: pe·nul·ti·mate

ADJECTIVE: 1. Next to last. 2. Linguistics Of or relating to the penult of a word: penultimate stress.

NOUN: The next to the last.

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin paenultimus. See penult.

OTHER FORMS: pe·nulti·mate·ly —ADVERB

ne plus ultra

SYLLABICATION: ne plus ul·tra

NOUN: 1. The highest point, as of excellence or achievement; the ultimate. 2. The most profound degree, as of a condition or quality.

ETYMOLOGY: Latin n pls ultr, (go) no more beyond (this point) : n, no + pls, more + ultr, beyond.

Terri--There was an article in today's Chapel Hill News. according to the paper, Lisa Stuckey, Neil Pederson and Elizabeth Carter will discuss it at a meeting Monday. Unfortuanately--according to the article, the NC High School Athletic Association and the State Board of Education forbid Homeschoolers from playing (per a memo sent to Steve Scroggs). It would appear that the HS'rs need to take it to the STATE level first...unfortunately, the article doesn't appear on their website, so I can't link to it.


Upon further reflection, I think it is really up to the school system administrators to do the research on the questions I posed. To simply state dropout rates with no historical or social context or data is to reveal a less than solid commitment to completely understanding this issue.

And Melanie, certainly many (including, I would think, professional educators) would consider earning potential to be the penultimate measure of success. I don't. Especially when it comes out as money lost to the State. If a dropout at 17 ended up in the Peace Corps at 20, is that a success? Or working at a restaurant while practicing piano in her spare time?

Terri - For many, I wish ignorance was a choice! :)


Mark--on a slightly different topics, did the school board decide that the home schooler was not eligible to participate in the public school sports program? You posted something that led me to think a decision had been made but I can't find mention of it on the school board agenda.

In the mid-90s, I had a contract to evaluate a national high school dropout program that was operating in 28 states, including North Carolina. One of our major, and constant problems, was that it was very difficult to uniformly operationalize what a dropout was when you wanted to compare states and districts. Driving this were the various policies in effect that differed from state to state. For example, in NC at the time, if the student dropped out and then went to a GED program at a community college, s/he was not a dropout and the district didn't loose money for that student. And as you might suspect, a lot of the reporting in many states was driven by funding issues.

In some jurisdictions for example, the schools had no incentive to report dropouts because the average daily attendance money would have been lower. Most states developed systems to try to deal with this problem. Also, if a parent claimed that their (dropout) student moved to another jurisdiction, many systems didn't have the resources or desire to verify such information.

One thing that we did see over and over: systems that had intervention programs for likely dropouts were more successful in retaining those students than districts that had no program. As I remember, there was some interesting work by economists (I think one of the RTP firms was doing some of this) on the dropout's cost to society. Many dropouts can't keep jobs even at fast food places for many of the same reasons that they dropout. When they realize that they have a limited future and decide to get a GED (harder than many high schools in America), the skills they developed to complete the GED usually carry over to the work place. Of course, the aging process for some tends to develop maturity.

If committed, districts and states can reduce the dropout problem. But my bottom line: I now look with a jaundiced eye at all dropout statistics, and especially comparative ones.

Mark--found this in less than a minute--will look for more.

" In a lifetime, a high school graduate will earn $280,000 more than a high school dropout (MDC, 2001). The economic cost is staggering and repeats itself every year. North Carolina surrendered almost $6,100,000,000 in lifetime earning potential when 21,773 students dropped out of high school in 2001. Another $6-billion potential vanished in 2002 when a similar number dropped out. The loss repeated in 2003. Arkansas gave up $2-billion with 6,987 dropouts and repeats the loss potential annually. The story is the same in Mississippi, which lost $1.7-billion with 6,108 dropouts, and Virginia won't see $3.2-billion because of 11,415 dropouts in 2001 (National Center for Education Statistics, 2000-2001). "

Found this excerpt at

Is this what you wanted? I found this, and many other articles for many other areas and Nations, by googling "earning potential High School dropout". Not that I think a person's worth is defined by his/her earning potential--but it's a fairly easy figure to track--and certainly being ABLE to earn one's living is a GOOD thing.

While I agree that it might have been helpful if the paper had included some hard data--was it REALLY neccessary?


(Doing research for others--WHEN I have the time!)

I was, of course, referring to the local coverage of our local system's dropout rates. My post was basically to point out the paucity of information provided by the school systems, the newspaper, or both and the fact that we cannot draw informed consclusions from this incomplete information. It was also to point out that certain seemingly unquestioned assumptions underly the reaction to dropout numbers.

If you are also saying that this perspective only has value in relation to the amount of research I do on it, then I really have no response for that.


Orange Co is one of the districts where the drop out rate has increased significantly. There is some speculation that recent increases in drop out rates are a result of the pressure of testing (NCLB). I would add to Mark's list of questions:

How many recent dropouts would have stayed in school if there had not been system pressure to drop out?

Although Mark wants to promote ignorance, I feel sure he wants ignorance to be a choice! :)


Ah. I'm sorry--your "tone" did not come through in your post. I thought you were being SERIOUS. My bad! There HAS been research done on the national level--I'll see if I can find it for you.

Terri--as I have learned--one should never ASSUME anything.


Skywriter--This site will take you to a chart deliniating the two types of tests:

You seem to have mastered the art of posting--do you find "googling" onerous? I typed in "criterion referenced tests" and got a WHOLE PAGE of sites that specify the differences--I just posted the one I though worked best graphically.

I don't know why the Curriculum Management Plan Specifies that they don't want "criterion referenced tests."



Well, looks like Terri was posting while I was researching! Thanks Terri!


I highly recommend the following for your viewing and educational pleasure.

Harvard Prof hosts PBS special on Black America

PBS will present the series "America Beyond the Color Line" airing

Tuesday, Feb. 3 and Wednesday, Feb 4. The series will feature interviews and comments from African American newsmakers including Maya Angelou, Quincy Jones, Colin Powell, Chris Tucker, Alicia Keys, and Morgan Freeman among others.

The show will be hosted by Harvard prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., examing black America in the 21st century. The series is made up of four one-hour films, as Gates travels to four distinct regions of the US to discover what, if anything, has changed for black Americans socially, politically, and exonomically.

The four shows are titled, "South: The Black Belt," "Chicago: Streets of Heaven," "East Coast: Ebony Towers," and "Los Angeles: Black Hollywood."

The dropout rates recently made the news. I was struck by the incomplete nature of the information. The basic story line was dropping out is bad. Maybe it is, but -

The following is the type of information that would allow us to better understand the dropout issue:

1) How many (& what percentage) dropouts per year going back 20 years or so.

2) What are the dropouts from the past doing now? For instance, can we track down dropouts from 1985 to see what they have done with their lives?

3) What are the graduates from the past doing now? Can we track any of them to discover what they are doing?

4) How many dropouts vs. graduates have "gotten in trouble" and what is the nature of this trouble?

5) Are there any very successful dropouts? (I know some smart, successful dropouts who are by any measure valued members of society)


(member of The Society for the Promotion of Ignorance)

Mark--you raise some interesting questions. Are you referring to a particular school system's drop-outs, or drop-outs in general? If in general, then on a statewide level, or national? If someone is going to take the timne to research this (I would suggest YOU since you brought it up) then the research parameters must be defined. I'm certain the statistics are out there.

I'm also certain you know drop-outs who are successful. Anecdotal cases, while interesting, are largely useless in discussing drop-outs as a whole. I know some successful drop-outs. I also know OF some begging on the streets. Literally. Doesn't make a darn bit of difference statistically/scientifically.


Standardized tests are norm referenced: A specially constructed test, either intelligence or achievement test, using the performance of other individuals as the standard by which the student is compared. A criterion refernced test (usually designed by the teacher or educational agency) is one in which the student is compared to a predetermined standard of performance. (Example: end-of-the-year social studies test.)

What the district lists in its "What we want" column is "Emphasis on student work and performance-based assessments."

Why not criterion referenced tests--not sure on this. I think they may be saying that testing alone is not acceptable. I would prefer to see them say that they want to use a combination of criterion referenced tests, student work, and performance-based assessments. As much as I hate all the testing, there doesn't appear to be anyway around it.

What are criterion referenced tests, and why doesn't CHCCS want them?

“what we don’t want: criterion referenced tests”


I don't understand how you can criticize something that you read about third hand. You don't know any details about this assignment other than what a disgruntled parent described. I hope your child is a more critical thinker.

I am happy to hear more details about this assignment--although I was not talking about just one assignment, but rather a pattern which I have observed.

Well, some good points have been raised about just what is really being taught in this differentiation stuff. Melanie points out there is some higher level thinking going on in creating a board game. But higher level thinking about WHAT?

I truly believe that most parents assume that when higher level thinking exercises are offered, that it is higher level thinking REGARDING THE SUBJECT MATTER. I think parents expect their students to do higher level thinking about the science principles, not about what kind of theme of a board game to make and what kind of posterboard to use, and how to get your exhausted mom to drive you to the store to buy it when you need it, and whether to use macaroni or rice cake pieces, shellacked to keep them integrated, or empty film cannisters or what, for game pieces when you forgot to buy clothespins when you were at Roses hunting for a decent peice of posterboard. Higher level thinking, yes. Science thinking? Mmmmm. . .no.

Another thing that always raises my eyebrows is the scoring of this stuff. Generally speaking, the principles being studied can only earn you 20 percent or so of the grade. The rest of the grade is on completely peripheral stuff like "appearance of the game", "creativity", "originality in use of the game pieces" etc. Spelling, grammar, neatness etc.

If you can get an 80 percent without even bothering to learn the science principles, that is a pretty good indication that the school system's focus is not really on academics.

Sounds like a good, integrated assignment. Sounds like the stuff my kid did the year he was at McDougle...the teaching team gets together and INTEGRATES what they are teaching. There are a lot of things to be learned in designing a game--as Terri stated above. It's really difficult to do--and requires quite a lot of higher order thinking and problem solving.



On what basis do you object to the technical writing assignment you described earlier? Did you ask the instructor what objectives were being addressed by the assignment or how it aligned with the writing standards? Did you ask if there were other elements of the weather activity that focused more on the science? I ask because it sounds like a fairly good technical writing assignment to me--one that gets the kids to think about how someone else learns to do something. Describing procedures, as anyone who has ever tried to read a software manual knows, is not easy. Writing out the procedures for playing a game sounds like an age appropriate assignment for mastering a hard concept to me. In the spirit of openness though, I will tell you that I used a similar assignment with graduate level teachers back when I was teaching. It took several iterations for them to begin thinking systematically and not leave out important steps.

Neither Science nor Social Studies are part of NCLB OR EOG's in the MS. Once one gets to HS there are EOG's in all subjects.


Someone wanted to hear differentiation success stories. Well, I won't identify the school, and I surely will not ID hte child (after reading what happens to children "singletonned" out by this school system). But I have sincere doubts about this differentiation program. In one activity proceeding now , the kids are making a weather game. There are four writing pieces to the game. Sounds good so far.

But when you read the instructions, you find that one writing revolves around things like explaining the moves in the game. How do the pieces move, who goes first, where is the start and things like that. Another part of the game is built on background info, which must be fully explained. Well, this MIGHT be instructive, if the kids were supposed to write about WEATHER!!! But the background they are writing about is the THEME of the game, not weather. They also are to write about the characters in the theme and the goals in the game. Yet another writing is step by step instructions of the game. I am getting tired just thinking about having to do this. It is such a tedious project.

I can see why peole do not feel much learning is taking place in our schools. But this is not a problem of LEARNING. it is a problem of FOCUS. When the child is directed in science class to make a board game, that is a lot of energy going to work on something OTHER THAN SCIENCE. I assure you the science concepts being mastered here are few. And typically these differentiation activities take three weeks. So that is three weeks on the tedious designing of a board game to learn science material that can be mastered by reading in about 20 minutes.

So far I am not impressed with differentiation at the schools that do it the best.

If you do a Google search on "illegal audiotape minor" you will find that many of the archdioceses have codes of pastoral conduct, many of which specifically address what can be done with an audiotape of a minor child. Their ethical policies are consistent with human subjects research standards. Perhaps someone should suggest that the school district/BOE adopt similar standards to make sure that nothing like this happens again.



Community Guidelines

By using this site, you agree to our community guidelines. Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will result in moderation or eviction.


Content license

By contributing to OrangePolitics, you agree to license your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Creative Commons License

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.