So $100,000,000.00 was just spent (that’s right, 100 mill) and, as this article points out, virtually no positive results were reaped by the extra expenditure of cash-o-la invested in education by a fella with a pet education project named Randy Crew. Hmmm, what can we deduce?
*The Sticky Floor Theory is alive and well. (For those of you not familiar with the “sticky floor” theory in education it basically postulates that those who are down, once down, stay down — because the “floor” is sticky. Put another way, the thinking goes that once you sink into the combustible mix of poverty, sparse employment opportunity and low levels of education, there is a cultural sort of tar to this bottom-of-the-rung environment that seems to keep the feet of those who wish to climb up stuck to the ground levels. And upward mobility is plagued by there being an invisible yet formidable substance oppressing those who wish to rise. Essentally, it’s kind of an inverted cousin of the glass ceiling.)
*Money alone doesn’t solve problems. Without good ideas and intelligent practices, more money spent is not going to equate to higher results achieved. (Maybe this is why NCLB remains so under-funded? They know if they do fund some of this buffoonery it ain’t gonna make a spit of difference. Hey! I just realized something. George Bush was actually a fiscally prudent, insightful, almost prescient president. Whoo-dah-thunk-it?)
*More time in and of itself isn’t going to solve the problems. As you see the article mention, the kids were more fatigued from the extended hours, the teachers were more fatigued from the extended hours and yet there seems to be virutally no improvement from simply spending more time in class. (Might it be that quality supercedes quantity? However, I, for one, do believe that America’s kids need more time in class — not less, not the same but more. WAY MORE! Yet alone, this isn’t going to do anything.)
*The assessments are flawed. Ask any real teacher in a real Florida classroom about how much faith they put in the FCAT’s as an authentic measurement of student achievement — or as a tool that gives true insight as to the qualities of the educator — or as to the true aptitudes of the students and you’ll hear a boatload of complaints. Standardized testing, as it currently exists — and in my opinion — is a sham.
*The teachers charged with achieving the results sought were not properly prepared for the task. What was the PD prior to the expenditure of this money? Can we assume that this Zone experiment might have needed more prep time so that the people working in the Zone were properly readied for the task? Or, is it a case of the next item on the list…
*The teachers stunk. Unfair to say, but this certainly provides more artillery for those who want to fire every teacher in America and then hire a whole new work force. (As if people are beating down doors to go work in Miami’s lowest performing schools.) I mean, hey, we just spent 100 million for no improvement — it’s gotta be the teachers fault, doesn’t it?
*People will now be frightful of signing off on spending money towards, what seems to have been, an exceptionally ambitious and meritorious aim. I know very little about this guy Randy Crew. He was forced out with a six-figure buy-out according to this article but only the lord above knows what really happened in Miami. However, I salute the guy for going to bat for the poorest, lowest achieving schools and really trying to make a difference. I mean the man seems to have staked his career on this venture and he came up as the goat. So what, I say. He apparently took a swing of the bat and gave his best run for the money in an effort to help some of Florida’s least fortunate. (And if you know anything about Miami/Dade county, you know that when we’re talking about a textbook case of America’s severely disadvantaged.) Crew went to bat for these kids and for that I think he’s to be saluted. And I am not alone. As Board member Agustín Barrera said in the article, ”It was a well-thought-out plan that, unfortunately, did not bear the fruits we all thought it would. The mistake would have been not trying the zone, because then we would have failed the students by not trying something new.”
Was it a an attempt for personal glory — the article implies that, too — or a case of going to bat for the kids in a real and earnest and dramatic way? I really don’t know.
But it does seem that education reform for America’s lowest performing schools — not just in Miami, but all across our country — just took a Crew cut.