Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Can Title I Attain Its Goal?

Below are some quotes from a ten year old white paper highlighting some of the ways Title 1 money has been squandered and misused over the years. Things haven't improved.

In a statement released on April 1, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson used the following words to argue for passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965:

This bill has a simple purpose: To improve the education of young Americans.... How many young lives have been wasted; how many families now live in misery; how much talent has the Nation lost; because we have failed to give all our people a chance to learn.... This bill represents a national determination that this shall no longer be true. Poverty will no longer be a bar to learning, and learning shall offer an escape from poverty.... For this truly is the key which can unlock the door to a great society.

More than thirty years and $118 billion later, two national evaluation studies have concluded that these goals have not been met. 1 The skill gap in reading, writing, and mathematics has not been closed between, on the one hand, children from low-income households--often African American or Hispanic and attending central city or rural school systems--and, on the other hand, middle-class children--often Anglo and attending suburban school systems.

This comes as no surprise. The federal government's more than thirty-year attempt to solve the problems of poverty--in particular, the diminished life chances of children from low-income households--has been largely unsuccessful. Title I of the ESEA is, and has been, the most heavily funded program in this area. At $8.3 billion for 1999 alone, this program is funded at approximately twice the level of the better-known Head Start program. The failure to win the War on Poverty is largely attributable to the failure of these two programs to achieve their goals: the school success of low-income children.

In particular, we found these miscellaneous quotes regarding Control by School District Administrative Elites relevant:

....Terry M. Moe agreed that the schools are too little concerned with the control and coordination of instructional activities..... The structure of education ... has to do with who has power, with what their interests are, and with what kinds of structures they demand, design, and impose to see those interests pursued. As presented in a longer work by John E. Chubb and Terry M. Moe, this rational choice and interest group politics view sees individual school actors pursuing power, self-interest, and rents via all the available techniques of interest group politics......Practices and structures often endure through the active efforts of those who benefit from them.... It is clear that elite intervention may play a critical role in institutional formation. And once established and in place, practices and programs are supported and promulgated by those organizations that benefit from prevailing conventions. In this way, elites may be both the architects and products of the rules and expectations they have helped devise.......This emphasis upon school district and education school elites and their use of power in the pursuit of self-interest via all means available, including "preservation of patterns of values"... the selection of new recruits, the socialization of successors, and control over the conditions of incumbency," provides a necessary background for understanding the implementation of Title I in the nation's school districts. 21 The districts we have observed display intensely networked management structures, supporting almost constant strategic behavior by individuals and groups. Classroom teacher is the lowest status among professional staff. Advancement out of this status typically requires the support of the school's principal and assistant principal, but professional specialty groups (for example, the group of reading curriculum specialists, Title I teachers, special education teachers, bilingual education teachers, and so on) and ethnic or other affiliation groups (for example, the Hispanic Teachers Association, the African-American Teachers Association, and their community affiliates) are also a resource. 22 The higher one seeks to rise, the [End Page 68] more important are network connections. Every principal was once some other's assistant principal. And the real jump in power, prestige, and compensation is out of the schools and into the central administration, a step requiring patronage by individuals already there....""

This paper will enlighten you as to the damage done since 1994 and the ESEA reauthorization. We hope that you will read it in it's entirety and work to reverse the trends and end the corruption.

Click here to read the full article in Brookings Papers on Education Policy 2000 by George Farkas and L. Shane Hall.


Anonymous said...

This post shows exactly why we are in the mess we're in. I see it has no comments. It's a shame no one has read about the rise of the administrative elite here.

Square Peg said...

We're too busy reading that long and interesting article to have commented yet.

Low-income children who start behind their middle-class peers fall farther and farther as they move through each grade. The article looks at why Title I money isn't used to intervene early, effectively, cost-effectively, and one-on-one.

The authors discuss the consequences of the 1994 reauthorization of ESEA and about the reading wars (whole language vs. phonics). I wish I could find a sequel by these authors on the consequences of the 2001 reauthorization (No Child Left Behind) and the math wars.

Anonymous said...

This article also talks about the need for consistent discipline with ow income children. That's been a constant complaint with parents all over the county on this blog. They know intuitively what the authors say - that you can't have learning without discipline in place.

I've taught in low income areas, and I can say that an extremely structured environment is necessary. All students and in particular low income students need to know what behaviors are expected of them, and you need to be consistent and fair in your behavior to each and every student in order to create an orderly and safe classroom for all. Only after that is established, can you proceed to the knowledge, comprehension, analysis, synthesis and evaluative stages.

This article is one of the best I've ever read on how to address the challenges we face with low income students. When I was reading about the rise of the educational elite, it was like I was reading about DCSS.

Anonymous said...

So one possible issue is that the fact that we put inexperienced educators into the roles of assistant principal and principal into the schools -- particularly those on the south side -- which hinders their ability to address the issues with discipline. Arguably, if you put educators with a decade or more of teaching experience with troubled, low income youth with certification to be asst. principal and principal in charge of the schools with discipline issues, presumably, they would be better equipped to enforce discipline in the building and these issues would disappear (or be significantly reduced) because with experienced individuals in charge, they would be able to really address those (and other) issues.

Anonymous said...

There's a false premise here. You can't tie the failure to win the war on poverty to the failure of schools. Title I was meant to even the playing field, but it can't break the cycle.
No role models to see that it can be done - then you aspire to the same status as your ancestors and the role models that you have available. Money certainly can help solve the problem...but without creative ideas on a massive scale, you won't break the cycle. My idea - ask doctors, CEOs, lawyers, generals, politicians, Ph.D's, etc. to spend the last five years of their careers teaching and mentoring low performing kids at all grade levels - show them that they can make it.

Cerebration said...


The DeKalb Board of Education Committee on Instruction & Board Policy will hold a meeting on Monday, August 23, 2010 at 10:00am in the Board Conference Room at the DeKalb County School System's Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain. The purpose of the meeting is to review Board policies and system-wide operations as it relates to instruction and Board policies.

1. Proposed New Policies
Presented by: Alexander & Associates
a. Ethics Policy for Employees
b. Whistleblower Policy
c. Conflict of Interest

2. SACS Response Timeline

3. Next Steps

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 11:39

There are schools that break the cycle of poverty. And generally they use creative ideas and not so surprisingly the same firm discipline and structure that the authors of this white paper propose. However, what inevitably happens is school district leaders in low income urban or rural areas try to replicate the programs with a "cookie cutter" approach and include a whole cottage industry of coordinators and administrators. Money ends up in the administrative end, coordinators want to take over to take credit, and the local school personnel are not empowered like the original program. By the time the replication happens, it's not a replication at all. It's something else entirely.

You are absolutely correct that innovation is needed. However, looking at the research that studies the success of these programs, you will see much commonality among these programs.

Anonymous said...

What do AUDRIA BERRY's zombie army of INSTRUCTIONAL COACHES do all day long in the schools? The one I am forced to deal with at my south DeKalb Title I school does the following:

1. Arrives around 8:30 a.m.
2. Spends an hour wandering around looking busy.
3. Spends an hour sitting in the "data room" eating yogurt.
4. Spends an hour sitting in the "data room" sitting at a computer looking "busy."
5. Wanders into various teachers's rooms to "observe" their "openings" and advises that "pictures from the Internet" should be shown the high schoolers for each and every activity so that they might "visualize their learning."
6. Spends an hour eating lunch.
7. Wanders around the school with papers in her hand looking "busy."
8. Spends an hour talking strategy with her math counterpart.
9. Hides out in her "office" with the door closed sending out officious memos instructing teachers in Dr. Beasley's latest idiocy.
10. Leaves in a hurry around 3:00 p.m. to avoid the "traffic."

Great job with the Title I funding there!

Anonymous said...

It is across the board. Please let everyone know if you hear of one effective instructional coach on the south end of the county. The description that you gave echoes across the schools in the south end of the county.

Anonymous said...

Can Title 1 Attain its Goal? Hmmmmmmmmm, NO! As long as Tyson, Turk, Moseley, Thompson, Mitchell-Mayfield, Ramsey, Berry, any Edwards or Guilroy family member remain in place at DCSS, we have no shot at attaining any goal!


The majority of the taxpayers in DeKalb want change and as long as these folks remain in place, perception problems will continue and trust will certainly be lacking!

Anonymous said...

I recently read an article about a student who was taking a state test (not in Georgia) with the assistance of a teacher. The child spend a very long time reading the short reading passage about men walking on the moon. The first question asked if the passage was fiction or nonfiction. The child looked at the teacher and said this is fiction because people can't go to the moon. His life experience did not include the possibility of space travel.

Low-income children can and do succeed in school. They are as smart and capable as middle class children but may need extra help to be successful. Many arrive at school without the life experiences that middle class kids have. They may come from homes where nobody talks with them. There may not be any books in the home, let alone someone with the time and interest in reading to them. While middle class parents take their kids to the zoo or aquarium, these children often don't get to do these things.

A child who has been read to at home knows about stories, genres, and knows what he like and doesn't like to read. A child with reading experience can go into a library and find books that she will read. If she makes a poor choice, its no big deal, there are other books. On the other hand a child who has not been read to doesn't know how to choose a book he would like to read. Libraries can be overwhelming. Choosing a book that is too hard, or not that interesting is a big deal. The child may tell you that this isn't much fun. Why try again?

Educating at-risk children means building a supportive learning environment where the children know what is expected. That includes discipline and routines that can be counted on. You need to be consistent. I don't think you need special programs like America's Choice to do this. All the paperwork in the world won't take the child to the zoo to see a real lion. We need experienced and committed teachers and small classes. We need to trust our teachers to do the job. That sometimes means stepping away from the lesson plan to fill in a knowledge or experience gap so the child can master the material.