It continues to amaze me how educational leaders persist in manipulating American’s to believe that throwing money at our education system will improve student achievement. In an article posted on March 19, 2012 called “School Turnarounds Are Succeeding” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan implied it was the School Improvement Grants (SIG) that was responsible for producing impressive gains in learning. SIG has dedicated more than “$4 billion dollars to accelerate achievement in our nation’s lowest-performing schools” and in one year Secretary Duncan announced:
- Nearly one in four schools saw double digit increases in math proficiency.
- Roughly one in five schools had double-digit increases in reading proficiency.
- In nearly 60 percent of SIG schools, the percent of students who were proficient in math or reading went up in the first year.
As superb as these statistics are, it has absolutely nothing to do with money; it has everything to do with a change in attitude towards students. Chaparral High School in Las Vegas is one of those schools benefitting from SIG and I will guarantee you that Chaparral will be at the top of the one of the most improved schools. Why? In talking with one of this year’s Deans at one of last year’s poor performing schools I learned exactly why they are improving.
- There is no tolerance of student disruptions.
- Students are required to be in class – On Time.
- Consequences are immediate and stern.
- There are no limitations on the number of expulsions allowed.
I would like you to inform you that none of the above porcedures requires additional money to put into practice. Chaparral’s Dean stated how the halls of Chaparral are quiet during class and orderly and respectful between periods and during lunch. He expressed how wonderful it was to be able to speak with the students knowing his words would be listened to and heeded and if not those students would suffer the consequences. The Dean also noted how much happier the students were under this structure and how teachers and administration were able to actually make a difference in those students lives.
So you see it actually has nothing to do with money it has to do with attitude. America’s schools should ALL have these exact same guidelines. If this were the case it would not be necessary to remove half of the schools teaching staff, replace the principal and pour billions of dollars into these schools as is the price for being a poor performing school. If Chaparral would have had these same guidelines in place in the 2010 – 2011 school year I guarantee you they would not have been a poor performing school.
Duncan articulates, “At the heart of all these successes, are teachers and school leaders who are excited about the prospect of change.” Funny the change he is referring to has nothing to do with teachers, school leaders or money; it is a change back to a time when self-control and self-discipline were important, not self-esteem.