Thursday, May 24, 2012

Omaha paper: Learn from CMS

Like Charlotte, Omaha, Neb., has a large,  urban school district with a new superintendent.  It has tried a battery of programs to solve academic failure among its low-income and minority students.  A team of reporters at the Omaha World-Herald set out to find districts that seem to have answers,  and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is one of seven they're highlighting in a series running this week.


"Leaders of the Omaha Public Schools have tried everything from shrinking class sizes to busing kids between schools to waging political fights for more funding — only to see many of its most disadvantaged students scrape bottom on the latest Nebraska state achievement tests,"  Joe Dejka, Jeffrey Robb and Paul Goodsell write. "Yet, elsewhere in America, some school districts battling similar, entrenched poverty produce significantly better results. A select few districts outscore their urban peers on state and national tests, win national prizes and attract researchers and educators eager for a glimpse inside their playbooks."

The Broad Prize and CMS' performance on the "nation's report card" exams played a role in the decision to highlight CMS as a success story.  The findings won't be much of a surprise to those who follow CMS, and the reporters acknowledge the district has hit snags,  such as a backlash to increased testing.  But it's always interesting to see the district through others' eyes  --  in this case, a "virtual field trip" to glean the best lessons from across the country.

20 comments:

CharlotteIn2012 said...

Look folks the water here on our deck is not as high as on others deck.

If only we did not have the front of ship so deep in the water.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Omaha should use a chunk of their budget and start a Bright Beginnings program to babysit kids and waste tax $$$ like CMS does instead of giving teachers raises ... maybe they could catch up to CMS?

Anonymous said...

Just learn how to "cook the books" and play to game like CMS. Smoke and mirrors baby!

Anonymous said...

Looking at the district charts provided in the World-Herald article article, it shows that CMS is almost 3 times the size of the Omaha district. Does the district include the entire county--is it strictly the actual urban core of Omaha or are suburban areas included?

Interesting how similar school issues seem to be everywhere, including the infamous busing strategy, which apparently didn't solve Omaha's problems either. Also if you read the comments following the series' articles, you would almost think you are reading comments found on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Another MINOR league city touting how great Charlotte is. We have the Broad prize for raising our under achievers grades from 50% to 55% great they still cannot flip a burger. Our national reputation is terrible accept it and stop trying to be something we are not as a County District. Or just split the damn thing up already.

Susan said...

Why in the world anybody would take the Broad Prize seriously? That should be a negative, just like superintendents who are "trained" by the Broad Academy.

Wiley Coyote said...

"Leaders of the Omaha Public Schools have tried everything from shrinking class sizes to busing kids between schools to waging political fights for more funding — only to see many of its most disadvantaged students scrape bottom on the latest Nebraska state achievement tests,"

What you see in that one paragraph is a summation of the FAILURE of public education for the past 40 years.

Looking at CMS schools isn't going to change one thing.

Wiley Coyote said...

I would also say 49,000 students doesn't come close to a comparison of Omaha schools to Charlotte's nearly 140,000 students.

Omaha's enrollment has only increased by 4,309 students in 10 years and that includes pre-K.

Omaha's Allowable Budget, the amount to which the General Fund
budget may increase in accordance with state statutes, is $643,522,728. That's for 49,000 students.

Compare that to CMS.

Anonymous said...

Wiley, Maybe Ann has had some ChamberAide. She may have stumbled upon a city who looks up to us much like Charlotte does every other city that has something we dont. Why look at our mass transit, Hall Of Fame and empty schools what a model city we are ! We should win the Board award again next year just for that.

Anonymous said...

An on-line tool lets you compare demographics of school districts (http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/sdds/ethnicity.asp?county1=3174820&county2=3173740&state1=31&state2=31).

There are 5 districts in Omaha's county, which is Douglas. A comparison of Omaha Public School District to these individual districts shows that Omaha City schools have a high number of minority and low income students, while the county districts are mostly white and middle class and above. Also by comparing population information it appears that while Omaha overall population is 71% white, the school population is only about 34% white. Sounds like what goes on in CMS, doesn't it.

Really not much to compare between the two districts. Of course it is interesting to note that the county itself apparently has retained a high number of middle and upper middle class families in schools in its suburban districts.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else think this was related to Obama at first glance? Damn my mind.

Anonymous said...

The problems are the same across the country and cannot be solved through "politically correct" means.

Too bad, but keep slamming your heads against that wall.

Some things just won't be changing any time soon.

The best thing anyone can do is move when things get too bad because you can't change people's culture that easily.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me the best thing for our school board (or any school board) to do would be to say "Look, we've given you every opportunity. There's no excuse for this poor showing. It's time to stop blaming and start working."

Anonymous said...

Omaha, do keep learning from our costly mistakes. Glad to help out.

Anonymous said...

The article states CMS spends $8,229 a year per student. Hmm....

Anonymous said...

Reviewing several comments seems to be in order. So it seems Omaha spends or can spend $13.1K per student versus CMS's $8.2k. But I think if you take only the urban school comparison for CMS, you probably get +$10k. But also I would raise the question of what is their source of this tremendous level of tax money if the suburbs are not part of the tax base. Unless Nebraska has already had its version of Leandro and an extra state tax was developed like the judge did for Kansas City schools.

Secondly, another poster indicated the obvious cause of Charlotte's issue. This "subculture" is the the cause of this. It is incongruent to expect a level of public education success for this culture. Human nature simply is not going to bring about that success. CMS's only hope is that enough high end white kids and families leave the system so the few left do not pass statistical validation for the comparison to be used anymore.

Anonymous said...

Susan, it is called being the best of the worst.

Anonymous said...

Wiley should love this--Omaha Public Schools provide free breakfast and lunch to anyone ages one to eighteen during the summer months. Apparently this is a state program because "families can locate free meals across the state by texting "freefood" at 877-877". What a deal--especially for those who can afford a cellphone but can't afford to feed your own kids!

http://www.ops.org/District/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=XZ3CPoQBfug%3d&tabid=1846&mid=4866

Anonymous said...

Actually, Anon 2:17, this is a Federal program and happens here in little ol' Charlotte and other parts of NC too.

Wardtwcs said...

Actually, Anon 2:17, this is a Federal program and happens here in little ol' Charlotte and other parts of NC too.