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Author Topic: Tulsa Public Schools Spending  (Read 96394 times)
jacobi
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« Reply #180 on: April 24, 2012, 07:59:53 am »

In case anybody was wondering, this thread topic, public school policy, is one of the few thing one CAN get a masters in at OSU-Tulsa.  My wife is working on her masters in this subject now.
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« Reply #181 on: April 24, 2012, 08:04:14 am »

Parenting should be like driving.  Take a course, get a license before you do it.  Although that's not realistic, I know I'm not the only who thinks that way.

We're taking an all day class next Saturday.  No license though.
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« Reply #182 on: April 24, 2012, 08:40:46 am »

No I do not have children. 

Didn't mean to sound harsh or anything.   Just voicing the frustration of seeing and hearing the comments "It's the parents fault."  "The parents should be involved more".  etc.  over and over.  People often say that and then think they have come up with the solution, problem solved, put a smug look on their face and the conversation moves on to a different topic.   But if they were to think it through for only a moment, you would then see that in order to get these people to somehow be "good parents, etc"  it would require even more work, thought, volunteering and or bureaucracy, money, etc. than it would to get the kids to learn.  You would basically have to set up a whole other costly system of education/motivation/enticement, etc. for these adults.  Who would pay for that and or volunteer to do it?  And then we are essentially right back where we are now arguing about how best to do just that, but now on two fronts.  Part of the key imo is to remember that, todays kids are tomorrows parents.  Perhaps if we are in an area where parenting skills/life habits are lacking, then thats something we should be emphasizing and teaching in the schools.  Perhaps thats just as basic and essential a set of skills to learn, or even more so, as the three R's?   



Yes, there needs to be remedial parenting for many people. 

And yes, it IS the parents fault - at least for the vast majority of poorly performing kids.  The parents are absentee's.  They are either too busy with their own lives (the BEST possible case), or sitting stoned or drunk in front of the TV when they aren't out chasing down the next hit of meth or crack or heroin or the mind warp du jour.  And when they have lost every job they get, then they start stealing ("dumpster diving for copper that someone just left laying around), breaking into houses/businesses, committing robbery, or hooking (trading sex for either drugs or cash to get drugs.) 

Check your local elementary school - pick one at random - and ask how many of the kids show up every morning without having breakfast (or dinner the night before.)  Way too many!  And then, if you can look at the parents behind those kids, you will find the majority in that drugged out cycle of sh$t.

Teachers here (or spouses of teachers who have heard the stories) - agree?  Disagree?



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« Reply #183 on: April 24, 2012, 08:58:18 am »

You can't.  Bad parents don't always produce bad kids though.  So you can't give 100% of the blame to a busy mom or dad. The child can be empowered to make marvelous improvements in their own lives in a number of ways, but sometimes I think our Public school system prevents, or acts as an obstacle to that because of how it structures what a child can and cannot have responsibility over.  

Basically, there is so much focus on structure, to provide equality in education from child to child, that exceptional qualities like leadership, and creativity are discouraged.

The British and Indian educational system in many ways offers an interesting model that we might take a few pointers from.  The administration has far fewer tiers, and the curriculum is strictly set by the state and branches off at about age 16 when kids are allowed to pursue specialized focuses.  That's not the interesting part though, the culture of the schools encourages the opposite of American public schools.

First, the house system still exists in most schools, where children are put in different houses or classes that then compete against each other academically, athletically, and intramurally.  This creates a community that I think kids need.  Kids are going to do this anyway because it's natural, but without such a system, it morphs into what we have here, where each sport becomes a click, and the kids not involved in those sports in many cases create their own "houses" in the form of gangs and other primitive community structures.

Second, the cultural norm is that the younger kids admire and "serve" the older kids in exchange for inclusion in activities and respect. Basically a fraternity type system.  Basically the older you are the more you are expected to act as a role-model, mentor, and "executive" over the younger kids.  In many cases, when younger kids get in trouble with a proctor, the older children in the "house" are punished for allowing it to happen.  

This system gives a great deal of responsibility to kids that grows as they mature.  Their class becomes, in many cases, their family, and the necessity (while it still certainly exists and is important) for constant parental oversight is less critical to the development of a child's understanding of responsibility.

I have a very close Indian friend who grew up in GB and Mumbai, and is very passionate about how the British model could improve our education system.  The more I am exposed to the system through my own kids, the more I realize that he has a point.  We do the opposite.  We discourage competition between classes and children because it's "unfair."  We do not engage the development of structured communities among classes or kids, and, as I learned last night from my daughter, they are not even allowed to sit with the same kids every day for lunch.  This forces kids to develop these groups on their own and create the hierarchy on their own, which is usually primitive and more tribal, or gang like.

I think this may be worth more exploration.




It is not foreign to TPS. You have just described the system my youngest son went through at Mayo starting 13 years ago. The structure and techniques they used were based on then current studies on how the brain processes and sociology. It was open architecture but divided into segments (houses) as you describe with emphasis on older student mentoring. Kids progressed in subjects at different speeds and thus migrated within the group to the level they were ready for. To guard against claims of cherry picking students, parents from all over the city were invited to apply and great effort was made to assemble an economically, racially and socially diverse student body. It worked very well and was intended to be used as training for teachers to implement in other schools.

I was quite pleased to be part of a recent field trip with kids in a West Tulsa school and watched as the teachers were using crowd control techniques that obviously came from the Mayo experience. The kids behaviors were fantastic yet they were still having fun. You know, even though the Mayo formula worked well (my kid loved it and is now finishing the high school IB program and headed for college) it was controversial and considered elitist by other parents and schools. Even success in TPS is met with hostility. The principal who successfully led the program was moved up to train other schools in how to implement it.
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AquaMan
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« Reply #184 on: April 24, 2012, 09:09:26 am »

Yes, there needs to be remedial parenting for many people. 

And yes, it IS the parents fault - at least for the vast majority of poorly performing kids.  The parents are absentee's.  They are either too busy with their own lives (the BEST possible case), or sitting stoned or drunk in front of the TV when they aren't out chasing down the next hit of meth or crack or heroin or the mind warp du jour.  And when they have lost every job they get, then they start stealing ("dumpster diving for copper that someone just left laying around), breaking into houses/businesses, committing robbery, or hooking (trading sex for either drugs or cash to get drugs.) 

Check your local elementary school - pick one at random - and ask how many of the kids show up every morning without having breakfast (or dinner the night before.)  Way too many!  And then, if you can look at the parents behind those kids, you will find the majority in that drugged out cycle of sh$t.

Teachers here (or spouses of teachers who have heard the stories) - agree?  Disagree?





Yes, but it is not a majority. Public schools are a microcosm of the community at large. Some schools seem unaffected (Patrick Henry) others are disaster zones (Frost comes to mind). Even Lee had a parent who would walk up the street begging money after dropping his kids off. Talk about cross culturalism.

If the burbs and the private schools handled the same percentage of special needs and low income households as TPS does, their performance numbers would be drastically different. Poverty and crime are focused in certain areas of the city and the schools in those areas have the lowest performance.
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jacobi
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« Reply #185 on: April 24, 2012, 09:11:56 am »

Quote
Teachers here (or spouses of teachers who have heard the stories) - agree?  Disagree?

I hear less about drug use and crime than I do about endemic indifference or hostility towards education.  My wife has had students tell her "My mom says you are just an overpaid babysitter."  Or better yet, "you can't punish me, My mom will come and beat you up."  Apparently the latter has happened.
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« Reply #186 on: April 24, 2012, 10:51:34 am »

We're taking an all day class next Saturday.  No license though.

What is it now, about three months away?
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« Reply #187 on: April 24, 2012, 11:07:56 am »

What is it now, about three months away?

Yep.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5IWHt4OoNk[/youtube]
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heironymouspasparagus
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« Reply #188 on: April 24, 2012, 11:18:17 am »

I hear less about drug use and crime than I do about endemic indifference or hostility towards education.  My wife has had students tell her "My mom says you are just an overpaid babysitter."  Or better yet, "you can't punish me, My mom will come and beat you up."  Apparently the latter has happened.


That's where the remedial parenting might help.  Perhaps a "court" like environment where parents could be held responsible and assigned educational opportunities - kind of like "grown up" court where there is community service or assigned classes.

Very difficult problem.



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« Reply #189 on: April 24, 2012, 11:51:18 am »

It is not foreign to TPS. You have just described the system my youngest son went through at Mayo starting 13 years ago. The structure and techniques they used were based on then current studies on how the brain processes and sociology. It was open architecture but divided into segments (houses) as you describe with emphasis on older student mentoring. Kids progressed in subjects at different speeds and thus migrated within the group to the level they were ready for. To guard against claims of cherry picking students, parents from all over the city were invited to apply and great effort was made to assemble an economically, racially and socially diverse student body. It worked very well and was intended to be used as training for teachers to implement in other schools.

I was quite pleased to be part of a recent field trip with kids in a West Tulsa school and watched as the teachers were using crowd control techniques that obviously came from the Mayo experience. The kids behaviors were fantastic yet they were still having fun. You know, even though the Mayo formula worked well (my kid loved it and is now finishing the high school IB program and headed for college) it was controversial and considered elitist by other parents and schools. Even success in TPS is met with hostility. The principal who successfully led the program was moved up to train other schools in how to implement it.

I wonder if this has any chance of further investigation or traction.  Many of the problems we encounter in the public school system are related to pressures that students place on each other due to the lack of a "structured" outlet for the basic social desire to be a member of a group.  

As children, before we develop/choose our individual identities, it is common for us to affix ourselves to people, groups, or ideologies that give us an identity we like, or separate us from identities we dislike.  Because the school does not foster a structure for this, kids have to develop this on their own, and frankly, when you are that young, you make some idiotic decisions because you are not equipped to forecast the outcome of your choices.  

This is not to suppress "individuality", it's just that many elementary and high-school kids base the development of their individual identities on attention seeking endevors over achievement, skills, or unique gifts.  They are developing individuality without the necessary information or skills to promote happiness in the identity they choose.  Sometimes this only results in wasted years, but other times it results in misery, disfigurement, disability, incarceration, or death.

Requiring kids to wear uniforms is a powerful step in eliminating some of the primary influences that force them to identify with a group. Simple observations that even my 6yo can make, "Johnny is poor," or "Susie is rich," or "Timmy is weird" are mitigated through unified dress.  It forces the child to make character judgements using a different criteria rather than artifactic adornment or appearance.

Then providing the kids with a group identity (house or team) within the school that has structure and can develop heritage, removes the need to seek this group identity elsewhere.  Providing mentors within these groups, gives kids an exposure to good and bad leadership at a young age, and also gives the older students an opportunity to develop the skills necessary to be benevolent leaders rather than overlords.

The final positive step is to create an atmosphere of competition between students and groups. I think that would be the hardest thing to accomplish in our current psychobabble addicted society.  We are going so fast in the opposite direction, trying to eliminate competitive environments, soften failure, and re-defign success in order to make all of our little snowflakes feel like winners, that to create an environment where one group can win, and the other can lose, as a means of personal development, is blasphemous.


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« Reply #190 on: April 24, 2012, 11:58:17 am »

I would like to hear you public school haters on why some public schools are doing so well. Some of you guys seem to spew commentary about how everything is taught wrong and the teachers can't motivate kids to learn, yet many of our local schools seem to be doing very well.

Here is a good example. Hoover Elementary is in a moderate neighborhood (23rd and Darlington, just southest of Expo Square. They are 48% white, with Hispanic, African American, and American Indian students evenly splitting up the remainder. 71% of the kids qualify for reduced or free lunch based on their household income.  

By your mindset, the teachers must be failures and the kids ignorant.

Yet the teachers succeed every day in teaching the kids. Of the 39 staff members, 19 have Bachelor degrees and 20 have a Masters degree. 24 of the teachers have been there 11+ years. The daily attendance for the 568 kids is 94%. The test scores exceed the state target by 20 to 30% in every subject.

This school is succeeding despite many challenges. But I am afraid it can't continue this success with continual reduced funding from the state. The legislature cut almost $100 million dollars out of the education budget last year and you could see a direct correlation with Hoover's class sizes growing and test scores down about two points in every subject. The average class size is now going to increase by another one or two children next year. The average class size in high school is now going to be 29 students

State surplus revenues are not going back into education funding. 75 more teachers will be cut this. Counselors, clerks and coaches will be cut. Most art programs are now at risk. All tutoring programs will be eliminated next year.

Some public schools are succeeding wonderfully, yet the continual budget cuts are threatening even these best schools. It is time to say no more cuts to education, especially in a surplus year when they are talking about reducing taxes.
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« Reply #191 on: April 24, 2012, 12:12:34 pm »

Here is a good example. Hoover Elementary is in a moderate neighborhood...

This school is succeeding despite many challenges.

What is it about this school/teachers/parents/students that the others don't have or do?
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« Reply #192 on: April 24, 2012, 12:25:21 pm »

I would like to hear you public school haters on why some public schools are doing so well. Some of you guys seem to spew commentary about how everything is taught wrong and the teachers can't motivate kids to learn, yet many of our local schools seem to be doing very well.

Here is a good example. Hoover Elementary is in a moderate neighborhood (23rd and Darlington, just southest of Expo Square. They are 48% white, with Hispanic, African American, and American Indian students evenly splitting up the remainder. 71% of the kids qualify for reduced or free lunch based on their household income.  

By your mindset, the teachers must be failures and the kids ignorant.

Yet the teachers succeed every day in teaching the kids. Of the 39 staff members, 19 have Bachelor degrees and 20 have a Masters degree. 24 of the teachers have been there 11+ years. The daily attendance for the 568 kids is 94%. The test scores exceed the state target by 20 to 30% in every subject.

This school is succeeding despite many challenges. But I am afraid it can't continue this success with continual reduced funding from the state. The legislature cut almost $100 million dollars out of the education budget last year and you could see a direct correlation with Hoover's class sizes growing and test scores down about two points in every subject. The average class size is now going to increase by another one or two children next year. The average class size in high school is now going to be 29 students

State surplus revenues are not going back into education funding. 75 more teachers will be cut this. Counselors, clerks and coaches will be cut. Most art programs are now at risk. All tutoring programs will be eliminated next year.

Some public schools are succeeding wonderfully, yet the continual budget cuts are threatening even these best schools. It is time to say no more cuts to education, especially in a surplus year when they are talking about reducing taxes.

No one is calling all public schools bad, or all teachers bad, or all public school students ignorant.  We are only commenting on where the money is spent and why there is such a struggle.  The debate is about math, and waste.

Hoover is an excellent school with excellent teachers.  The state currently takes in approximately $4.8 million dollars in taxes every year to support this single school (around 570-650 students).  The question becomes, why does it cost $7,500-$8,000 per student?  Where is that money actually spent, and why do some schools with twice that budget produce a lesser educational product?  Conversely, why can schools with smaller budgets produce superior educational products?

A single classroom size of 29 students at Hoover represents over $230,000 in school money every year, more than enough to split that classroom in two, give the teacher a raise, pay for supplies, and facility maintenance and transportation.  So, there are obviously other expenses that must come into play outside of the educational experience that are NOT contributing to the excellence produced at Hoover.

That's where the debate is.
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« Reply #193 on: April 24, 2012, 12:27:33 pm »

We've been told over and over by Jenks SE parents "the difference is the parents are involved".  We now live in Jenks SE district.

We moved our kids from a Montessori program to Jenks SE, and they adapted amazingly well.  Jenks manages to get fantastic results with some of the lowest per pupil spending and higher-than-average pupil to teacher ratio (18:1 vs. 15:1 state average).  Sort of blows Heirís supposition that the classroom size hasnít improved since he was in school.  I recall 25-30 kids in a classroom as a rule rather than exception when I was in public school.  Iíd say thatís an improvement.  Also according to this source, JPS spends about $7200 per pupil.

http://www.education.com/schoolfinder/us/oklahoma/district/jenks-school-district/

Excerpts from this .pdf of the 2008-2009 annual report makes for an interesting read:

Quote
-Higher than average student to teacher ratio
-Aging, inefficient facilities
-Low spending per pupil
-State legislature funding cuts

Yet, JPS consistently produces great students?  Whatís the secret?  Are they hand-picked like many private schools? No.  Is the housing so expensive it keeps lower income students out?  No.  In fact, Jenksí district encompasses lower income apartment complexes, trailer parks, and affordable neighborhoods.

2008-2009 report: http://www.jenksps.org/pages/uploaded_files/Jenks_AR_08_09%20compressed.pdf
2009-2010 report: http://www.jenksps.org/pages/uploaded_files/JenksAnnualReport0910%20reduced.pdf

These are the last two reports on the JPS web site.  In the í09/10 report it says future funding cuts from the state would create special challenges.  I highly recommend you read both reports if you want an idea of what a well-run school district looks like.  Spending per pupil isnít much of a yard stick if a district is inefficient and top-heavy on administrative and facility costs.

JCNOwasso presented probably the most outrageous statistic of all, and one which Iíve seen before: Oklahoma has many more school districts per pupil than our neighboring states.  

Unfortunately, public education has been treated like pork in Oklahoma for decades just like our penal system and university/college system.  We have far more duplication in costly facilities and administrative positions than we really need.  Less fiscally-minded legislators have helped create the sprawl as itís increased employment in their district.  More fiscally-minded havenít wanted to risk raising unemployment in their districts so they restrict funding rather than simply owing up to the idea thereís no need for five school districts in a 10 square mile area.  Itís a way to get re-elected by either "bringing in jobs" or ďcleaning up waste in government expendituresĒ.

At some point when Oklahoma was much more of an agrarian state, it made sense to have school districts which were reasonably close to a number of kids so they could walk or bike to school, their parents could get them there conveniently, or so that kids didnít need to be on a school bus 4 hours a day.  We simply donít need that many districts to serve 77 counties.

Finally: If more spending is THE solution, Iíve got to ask:  

Do you really think there are teachers out there who would say: ďIíd be a much better teacher if they paid me $10,000 more per year!Ē  If a teacher thinks a simple raise will make them better at their job, they are in the wrong line of work.

Do smart boards make for smarter students or better results?  Everyone in my generation came from blackboards and text books with computers just coming into the classroom.  If you needed to to advanced research for a project, you had to get on a bus or talk your parents into taking you to   the city library.   We couldnít look things up on line.  However, look at todayís generation of business leaders, leading researchers, legal minds, and medical minds- many are from the same era I am when spending per pupil was even less and we had far less ways to collect information to learn from.

I agree, there are certainly things like the computer which have revolutionized the educational process, and then again there are things Iíd classify as nothing more than gizmos created to rake in profit off school districts with all sorts of suspect promises.  I suspect e-readers and iPads or their equivalent will be the next learning revolution.  Certainly, thereís never been more information available to students than today, and Iíd think with the advent of being able to cut out paper waste, school districts should be able to operate at a lower expense.

Those of us who donít believe throwing more money at a problem arenít being cheap or not considering consequences.  And I donít think thereís anyone here who believes blindly cutting school funding is any wiser than blindly raising it.  At least from Gaspar or ZYXís posts and knowing where I stand, we are simply saying that unless you really take a look at things like how many non-educational jobs are funded by a school district, how much is being wasted on out-dated facilities, or how much is wasted on new un-needed facilities like indoor baseball training centers you canít possibly make a blanket statement that funding should be raised or cut for that matter.  However, thereís some odd correlations between the districts with highest expenditures having worse outcomes.  

You canít simply raise a budget because it makes you feel good or because another district raised theirs.  You have to expect that additional expense or investment is going to provide desired results or a return.  You have got to put some sort of measurable yardstick on what the results are and establish a system of accountability as well.  Standardized tests are the only way to get an accurate measurement of how one districts students stack up against all other students.  Districts which exhibit wasteful practices (again not a hard yardstick to fashion- compare non-educator jobs and facility costs vs. total budgets) shouldnít get more funding until they can demonstrate they have addressed their waste issues.

Take a closer look at the aspects not related to funding in successful districts and I suspect you will find your best solutions.
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« Reply #194 on: April 24, 2012, 12:30:00 pm »

I don't know the answer. They are not the top school in Tulsa, yet they had kept succeeding until the last couple of years of budget cuts.

Many people think you have to go to Jenks or Union to get a good education, yet both of those districts have made their reputation on their excellent high schools. Tulsa Public has the best elementaries in the area, but also the worst.

As a parent who lives in a school boundary with a subpar school, I did my homework and applied for the magnet programs. Now, the parents at my kid's schools hold continual fundraisers to help fund arts and computer programs and teaching assistants.

I just learned that one of my favorite counselors at my daughter's school is being laid off. Years ago she motivated my son to learn chess as a hobby and he went on to win three consecutive Tulsa School championships. Next year she will be out of teaching.  
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