Friday, December 20, 2013

What's real message of urban district scores?

Before we all break for the holiday, I wanted to pass along some interesting posts on this week's "nation's report card"  tally of how 21 urban districts fared on national reading and math exams.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools rated high compared with the other districts on the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress,  though proficiency rates remain frustratingly low across the country,  especially for low-income and minority students.  As I noted in my article,  CMS' large numbers of white and middle-class students compared with most other districts contributed to its high rankings.

Paul Hill of the University of Washington's Center on Reinventing Public Education elaborated on that issue in a Friday blog post.

"It is tempting to squeeze the urban NAEP scores for evidence about what city is doing better or worse than other cities. But the big messages are that everyone's scores are very bad, and that cities with the highest concentrations of low-income and minority kids do the worst,"  Hill writes.  "Some cities have gotten unstuck from the bottom and are regressing a little bit to the mean. That's better than staying stuck, but unless those cities increase a lot faster, and keep improving for a long time, most of their disadvantaged students will not be ready for higher education or good-paying jobs."
"The deep message here is that nobody knows how to educate large numbers of disadvantaged kids successfully. A new curriculum or teacher training initiative can move the needle for a while, but results then level out. A great school can do wonders for a few kids, but efforts to replicate are seldom as successful. As a country, we still haven't accepted the core fact that this problem remains unsolved."
Andy Smarick of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute also took a dim view of the results and the cheerleading that ensued. He blogged that  "today is a day to be sad for millions of disadvantaged kids,"  not to celebrate.  He also noted that winners and finalists in the Broad Prize for Urban Education competition fared poorly  (though he didn't mention CMS, the 2011 winner).
Robin Lake of the CRPE called for expanding the data,  especially on cities that have some of the most innovative approaches to urban education,  including extensive use of charter schools. 
"The NAEP TUDA has effectively focused our attention on cities, where reforms are most urgently needed, but the data don’t tell us what mayors and civic leaders across the country need to know: which cities are most quickly and equitably increasing students’ access to high-quality public schools,"  Lake wrote.  "Our cities have long since moved past the notion of districts as the sole provider of public education. It’s time that our assessment and evaluation systems do, too."


Anonymous said...

NC has been out of recession since March 2009. Latest data has NC unemployment at a 5 year low.

A teacher with degree from Harvard will make the same in Charlotte as a teacher with a degree from JC Smith.

How is CMes EVER going to attract the "Best and Brightest". Even the intrinsic rewards are getting fewer and far between these days.

Just in......... PowerSchool down again for teachers this weekend.


Anonymous said...

"The deep message here is that nobody knows how to educate large numbers of disadvantaged kids successfully"

Well, we ALL know that education starts in the home, disadvantaged or not. No more excuses, Obama used to get up at 4am to study. I can be done.

Anonymous said...

Parents do not support eduction at home and no students that needs a salary / wage to live on wants to go into teaching.

ASJ said...

Conservatives, you just don't want to take any responsibility for the wellbeing of the community as a whole, do you? For those of you with an open mind, see Kay McSpadden's Saturday column about the educational effects of poverty. ASJ

Wiley Coyote said...


School systems have no idea who is "in poverty" and who isn't. The USDA only allows a 3% sample of applications to be audited - if the school system even does that.

There is no question many kids are in need, but the USDA states that over $2 BILLION dollars in food from kids on the school lunch program throw away their food each year, called "plate waste". That's on top of the $1.6 BILLION the USDA overpays in benefits to those who do not qualify.

This country has spent trillions on education and the war on poverty since the 60's with little to show for it.

Poverty in itself is no excuse for not learning. It is only one of many factors.

This is not a conservative issue.

It is the fact of the matter that some people don't want to talk about while blaming "conservatiives" as a matter of convenience.

Anonymous said...

America has lost the eye of the tiger.. It went out the door with religion and the constitution.

Anonymous said...

There are at least 30% of jobs within Cmes that can be consolidated into 4 to 1. This would be a good start. Workers at the Administrative offices are "stealing paychecks"

Anonymous said...

Among the poor, marriage rates keep getting lower and the vast government welfare system just creates perverse incentives for marriage rates to decrease further. There's only so much schools can do when kids grow up without 2 parents at home.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1st comment...your statement is based on the
faulty assumption that because the teacher has a degree from the Ivy League that they would be better than a teacher from an HBCU. I know teachers educated and credtentialed at both and that is not the case. A better comparison would be to associate the cost of going to school to become a teacher vs. the salary at any NC school. An education major from JCSU and a teacher credentialed at Harvard would both draw the same conclusion...teach somewhere else based on the culture, lack of resources, and bottom line, the lack of pay!

Anonymous said...

Somebody local published a paper a few years ago and said that they need to change the basic teaching message for disadvantaged kids.

It needs to be one-on-one or one on three like in Montessori classrooms. They need to be taught while the teacher can see their faces as they get it (or don't).

So long as we don't change the basic classroom method, we will be fulfilling Einstein's definition of insanity, "continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different result."

Whatever happened to that person's ideas?

Anonymous said...

After billions, no trillions, of Dollars have been spent the "poor" are no better off.

Fortunately for all of us, knowledge is free.

Carol S. said...

9:56am cost prohibitive

Anonymous said...

9:56 suggestion is not cost-prohibitive. What we are doing now is cost-prohibitive. Prison cells and impoverished next generations andre cost-prohibitive.

Montessori classrooms work better. You need another adult in the classroom, not necessarily a teacher.

Not changing will waste more money.

Anonymous said...

For the poster who said that for the trillions of dollars spent, "the 'poor' are no better off" -- perhaps you should read "How the Other Half Lives" by Jacob Riis. Perhaps your thoughts only span your lifetime, but we have made a difference in the lives and education of the poor. Yet, we still find ourselves vexed with a slowing of progress today. Still better off than in 1913 or 1963.

Wiley Coyote said...


Even "official government numbers" on the poverty rate is called into question.

There are those who believe based on their research that show the poverty rate in the US to be half of what the "official" government number is.

The poverty rate in the US was falling dramatically since 1950 until the federal government started the war on poverty in 1965 and the rate has remained about the same since, again after spending trillions on the poverty war.

…“One in seven in total federal and state dollars now goes to welfare. But this is a completely unknown story,” Rector said. “This is not being reported. No one knows Obama is spending $10 trillion on welfare.”

Welfare spending has taken its toll on the federal debt. Since the beginning of the “war on poverty,” $15.9 trillion has been spent on welfare programs. The total cost of every war in American history, starting with the American Revolution, is $6.4 trillion when adjusted for inflation.

By 2012…Under the Obama plan, 70 percent of American families as a group — those earning less than $109,460 — will receive more in benefits than they pay in taxes, Hodge said.

Page 13 of the 2012 Census Report shows clearly the poverty rate has stayed pretty much the same since Big Brother got involved.

The Monihan Report might be a good read for you as well.

Shamash said...

Yeah, let's all believe Kay McSpadden because she's spouting all the politically correct BS about "the poor".

Well, at least she admitted that the poor were found to have smaller brains, but really didn't explain the whole study very well.

So I found it.

If you read this report, you will find that they suspect that POOR PARENTING is the most likely culprit, NOT POVERTY.

Apparently many of "the poor" just don't know how to raise kids so that they can develop their brains properly.

They probably raise their kids the same way they were raised.

Surprise, surprise.

AGAIN, education begins in the home.

And the PARENTS make the biggest differences in their kids lives.

TROTS said...

To add to Shamash and Wiley, a study was done many, many years ago (and in NC) documented in the book about Dr. Canada, that came to the same conclusion. The lack of parenting is the cause of the lack of brain development in poor children.

One of Dr. Canada's programs is geared toward correcting this parenting deficit. Some examples in the book will make you shake your head that they are as out of touch with common sense.

Again coming from the a similar census report, you have less than a 5% chance of being poor if you just do 4 simple things. One, graduate high school, two, get a job, any job, three, get married before having children and four, stay out of trouble with the law. There is no deviation due to race and such thus is not a soap box platform for the "community organizers".

The Moynihan report is also a great read. He documented how the standard of living for black families had improved so much post WWII that they were on a trajectory to a better standard of living. However, the war on poverty threw a wrench into it all and as the decimation of black families accelerated, the poverty rate started languishing at its current level. This "infection" has spread to other demographics.

And as so many other experts have speculated, no other program could be designed to decimate the future prospects of a whole race. Much like how Planned Parenthood was designed to suppress the birth rate of this demographic.

Anonymous said...

Well 2:05 if that's true CMS and it's teachers are screwed.... Not to worry. Tillis and Mcory will keep blaming and bashing teachers.

Shamash said...

It seems to me that a relatively simple and inexpensive way to "get the word out" is to have the "at risk" crowd attend basic home economics and parenting classes while still in school.

Maybe start in middle school to catch the whole "baby mama" and "baby daddy" crowd a few months before they reproduce.

In those classes, they can learn how to raise the inevitable children they will be having on their own at a young age and also learn how to stretch a buck under the WIC and EBT program.

Oh, yeah, (and for Wiley's sake...), they can learn how to fill out government assistance forms.

Give that a shot for a few decades and see if there is any improvement in "the poor".

For what it is worth said...

ASJ, I realized a longggggg time ago that Ms McSpadden suffers from the educated superiority complex. Like most of the CO editorial staff, they believe they are the only ones in our society, other than the big government advocates, that know best for us the "unwashed".

They know these "parents" are unqualified to raise their children. And they feel the rest of the productive society should just turn over more and more of our paychecks to raise these kids. Only more government and bigger government is the answer.

The rest of us know these generational, chronologically poor people are poor because they lack the same thing that produces successful children. The only way to break the cycle of poverty is to stop them from producing more children. Sad to say but the facts continue to reinforce this conclusion.

Shamash said...


"Some examples in the book will make you shake your head that they are as out of touch with common sense. "

NOTHING surprises me any more.

I just read this:

Obamacare Explained (Like You're An Idiot):

Apparently, many people have no idea how insurance actually works, either.

It's no surprise their children don't do well.

For what it is worth said...

8:28, Dr. Gorman took teacher bashing to a whole new level years before McCrory and Tillis. It is the mantra of the "community organizer" crowd. Educrats and politicians have succumbed to this crowd to keep the PR spin on their side courtesy of media like the CO. It is reinforced by Bill Gates and the Broad guy. You need no better proof of that than the article today on the 2 kids at Ranson Middle School.

For what it is worth said...

Shamash, they should also consider a few levels of personal finance to start in middle school and goes through high school as required courses.

Anonymous said...

I agree, but Gorman took his money and ran.. Tillis and Mcory are still here. I am a conservative. I believe education should be local. Not DC or Raleigh.... Tillis is a neoconservative liberal.. The worst kind.

Anonymous said...


Cmes already spends 4x as much on students on the Westside as say a student at Ardrey Kell. That does not include the $55 Million in private money.

Is this fair to the students from disadvantaged homes that are near poverty in these areas? They are in classes of 50 compared to 12 in the other zones.

The only reason for all the spending IS the class size. If you put 40+ Westside students into one classroom nothing and nobody could control them.

Anonymous said...

8:44, Here in Charlotte in the early 2000's certain public education "advocates" cranked out data and graphs "proving" that high poverty school teachers were inadequate and that suburban schools had the best teachers (thus explaining the much higher test scores). They developed quite a following in certain parts of town (with their community organizers) and in the media. Ironically these same advocates are now relentlessly leading the charge against the current state government'e teacher reform efforts and its use of test data. I believe that they and others like them throughout the U.S. helped create the testing frenzy and teacher bashing, as school administrations and state and federal governments attempted to respond to charges of inequity and racism. It certainly happened in CMS.

Anonymous said...

Pay $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

1 SUPER = 10 Teachers

With all the Zone Supers and other layers administration, why do we need to keep paying all these salaries?

The day to day running of each school in CMS would not change one bit !!!!!!!!!

Shamash said...

I agree that a basic finance class would be great. I'd wrap that into "home economics", with an emphasis on "economics" for the home.

The kids at the bottom of our society are apparently getting out of school (not necessarily "graduating") with a lack of the most basic skills needed to survive in our society, much less prosper.

We should address those problems first.

Then maybe a dim bulb will go on in their shrunken brains showing them that continuing their education despite their being raised by wolves (with apologies to good wolf parents) is a good thing.

For what it is worth said...

10:23, a coworker was president of West Charlotte PTSA while I worked with him. I asked him what would happen to achievement if you simply switched the teachers at Providence High School with the teachers at West Charlotte. His immediate response was "nothing". He told me the issues with these kids learning was not at school. It was in their homes and neighborhoods.

Shamash said...

I'm having a lot of fun with the Kay McSpadden comment about shrunken brains.

It is typical of the kinds of specious arguments people use to support more money for "the poor".

Of course, no one has proven that these smaller brains mean anything special.

For a more balanced account and a few suggestions that this doesn't mean much (or that not much has been proven), see:

Anonymous said...

10:23... I agree but I expected better from Mcory.. Tillis is a typical progressive neoconservative.. He knows all and the people are here to serve him.

Anonymous said...

Tillis got in to politics so he could have tax payers build a mountain bike park in his neighborhood.... Conservatives, independents and teachers do not like him..... Does he have the mark:)

For what it is worth said...

Shamash, clearly a better written article than Ms McSpadden tried to sell us. After reading this article, I might would submit that rather the opposite is true. Think about it. Mighten the possibility be that this different brain form type is simply what leads to these other conditions of poverty, stress, etc. due to missing features and capabilities of this different brain.

Is this really pointing out the case that genetically, the human race has is diminishing? Or is this a case that if were not for artificial means i.e. government interference, that the laws of nature would be culling this portion of the population out?

Anonymous said...

At least half of Providence High School teachers would quit or resign if they were mandated to teach a West Meck for a year or more!

Merry Christmas

Shamash said...

I think the liberals out there have to realize they are treading on thin ice when they point out physiological differences between "the poor","at risk",and "normal" society.

A lot of this starts sounding like what the eugenics movement claimed in the early 20th century.

And we know where that led.

Some states are still paying for those sterilizations.

Anonymous said...

Natural ability is a factor but there are many studies that show environment has a major role to play. The problem with liberals and progressive of all stripes, is they keep tinkering with schools. No matter what we do to schools. It will never compare to the home or ones own choices. Obama, Bill Gates and Tillis need to reflect on what made them... I am not worried about test scores. America has never done well on international comparisons. The top countries are usually small Nordic countries that have smaller economy's the California. China, Russia and India are notaries cheaters. The US test all children. Do you think the child making your shirt or Nikes is being tested. Does Russia have special education. America is loosing God and family.. Fix that and we will be fine.

Shamash said...
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Shamash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shamash said...

Here's a short list of things that may affect a child's performance in school:

Tooth Decay
Being "Gifted"


If you can think of something, there's probably a "study" on it

It's like each potential problem (or agenda) has its own cottage industry and group of supporters today.

In today's society, critical thinking and the ability to analyze "studies" is an important part of being educated.

That is why reading some of the articles we see from "educators" who don't seem able to dissect "studies" and cherrypick the ones that fit their agenda (without any serious critical analysis) concerns me so much.

I don't see how they can develop critical thinking skills in children when they don't show that ability themselves.

But, then, that's what parents are for.

Anonymous said...

Nurture vs nature.... Old argument ... Its both, one we can control, the other is out of our hands. I believe teachers do their best and are only one factor in the equation. I had a friend who taught in China after college. Students paid to be in school. Teachers lectured and presented material, they had assistance grade all the work and test. Students did home work and read their text every night. Children saw school as a privilege. They did not misbehave. If they did, they where gone. My friend enjoyed his experience and came back to the United States to teach. He taught for 6 months.....

Anonymous said...


This is why teachers dont want the PfP model because of all the variables involved with a single testing process.

Administrators making the salary of 4 to 8 teachers is certainly something that can be addressed.

Anonymous said...

Your child is in CMS.... If you are so superior, you must have a great job.. Send your children to a private school. My sister graduated with a 4.0 with a dual degree. When she was not happy with public schools in union county, she sent her children to St. Mathews. Y stay and bitch?

Anonymous said...

Administration is overpaid, Mcory and Tills gave a 10% raise to there cronies the first month in office. Theses are people who where already making a 6 figure salary's.... My kids teacher has been at it for 11yrs and makes 40... Top down NC..

Shamash said...

Anon December 26, 2013 at 10:29 AM

I agree.

I also taught in China for one year (in several locations, mostly provincial capitals in the North East).

It's too bad we don't have a program which would send future teachers (administrators, etc., etc.) to China for a half-year to a year just to see how the "other half" (of the planet!) lives.

I think it would be an eye-opener.

Especially for those who fall for the "poverty" excuse over and over again.

I've seen people so poor in China that they wouldn't even register on our scale of poverty.

Yet they manage to find money for EXTRA school for their kids.

And their kids pay attention and are appreciative of their parents efforts, not a bunch of thuglets.

It's all a matter of priorities.

And for a lot of people in the US, those are screwed up.

That's one reason I don't think our schools or our teachers are the problem.

Put our schools and teachers in China and they would produce some of the best students in the world.

Because the Chinese parents and students would meet them more than halfway to get the job done.

But parents and students here have little concept of the opportunities they are wasting.

And how eager the rest of the world is to take our place.

Shamash said...

Anon December 26, 2013 at 11:08 AM

Why pay for a private school, especially since they aren't necessarily better academically.

Especially when you compensate for the demographics of the students.

In most school systems you can find schools (even in CMS) with about the same demographics as the Catholic schools (or even better).

That's 90% of the battle.

If it's "values" you want taught, then whatever floats your boat.

Personally, I think my kids will do well no matter where they go to school.

As long as the school isn't full of disruptive little thugs, that is (in which case we'll take them out).

And there are plenty of public schools which are just fine.

Even though I know people who send their kids to private school, I'm not exactly sure WHY since, from what I've seen, they don't always get a better education.

If a few parents don't stick around the public schools to complain, then more schools would be like the "urban" failures we've all come to admire.

Anonymous said...

Every study in the world.... Universe says Catholic schools are better. But your right, the teachers are the same subtract government (Mcory, Tillis, Obama) add parents Morales and effort equals.. Good education and person.

Shamash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shamash said...

Not every study.

Remember, there is usually a study supporting just about every point of view in education.

Again, just giving parents a "choice" doesn't mean that they will necessarily make the BEST CHOICE.

It just means that they will make a choice.

Which is fine, but no guarantee of success.

After all, people have choices in automobiles and many choose lemons for all kinds of reasons.

I've seen the studies that show that Catholic and Lutheran private schools ARE better than generic "Christian" private schools.

Again, demographics play an important role in the success of a school.

The students and parents matter a lot.

Keep the riff-raff away (or under control) and the same school with the same teachers will do a better job, in my opinion.

Also, some kids will perform better in some environments, so maybe a Catholic school is just the thing for some kids, but not others.

I have nothing against private or charter schools personally, I just don't see them being worth the extra money in most cases (or for my kids at this point).

Maybe for the absolute best school in an area (like Charlotte Latin?), it would make a difference.

But, again, for some kids.

Since Charlotte Latin is college prep it wouldn't be best for someone who isn't planning for college or who isn't quite up to par just yet.

I've just known too many parents who are wasting money sending their obviously unmotivated children to private schools only to see them get "C" or "D" averages.

But maybe they're getting the best possible "D" average education available to them and would be "F" students in CMS and drop out.

Again, it's good to have those choices, but I don't think one type of school is automatically better.

Anonymous said...

we moved our kids to private school BECAUSE of all the disruptive little thugs in CMS. Best decision we ever made.

Anonymous said...


Moved our kids out of CMeS beacause of the thugs (students and administrators)

Carol S. said...

A very good private school in the area is Covenant Day school. You don't hear much about that one but a very good education, and no thugs.

Anonymous said...

I have never had a problem with any of my children's teachers... Its the politics of it all. The Obama, Tillis, Mcory and school administration that bothers me.. people in high rise offices down town or in some far away land.
conservatives against Tillis.

Anonymous said...

Always love Malcolm Gladwell's books out of sheer fun! Halfway through Gladwell's latest book, 'David and Goliath', which explores topics including class size, educational outcomes at prestigious private schools vs. average public schools and the the "Theory of Desirable Difficulty" related to dyslexia. Hate to break it to Ya'll, but having a few "thugs" in your child's class might actually be a very beneficial and good thing.


For what it is worth said...

Alicia, I would submit that in the case of Gladwell's book, he is referring to an environment where the "thugs" can be kept at bay from doing too much academic and respect damage to the school, students and especially the teachers. I have personally seen the thugs here challenge teachers and even to physical altercations just to have the "cowardly" administrators return the student to the class. CMS thugs are a much different breed than most other places. They thrive to disrupt classes and the learning environment. If they can get the teacher into a position of weakness, then they can turn more students against the teacher. In the past, peer pressure might have kept the thugs at bay, however, due to community organizers and other "progressives", they are protected and can even get the good students in trouble with complaints of harassment. Minorities in CMS are severely undercharged with these "crimes". One might expect the reason CMS has its own police force is to prevent too much publicity of these events in the schoolhouses.

Anonymous said...

If a Harvard graduate decides to go into teaching in CMeS, they will never be able to pay off their student loans. This is almost true if the same graduate went to CPCC and JC Smith.

How does CMeS expect to attract and retain the best and brightest?

Bottom line is they DONT !

They will take what is given from TFA or whatever backwater applicant applies for the job.

Shamash said...


Having thugs in the classroom takes the School of Hard Knocks to a new level.

Eastwick said...

9:51pm You hit the nail on the head.

I do not know of any circumstances where thugs in the classroom are a good thing. First off, the thugs intimidate students and teachers and don't allow the teachers to teach. Therefore, they affect everyone at the school, everyday.

My son was a CMS student and went to a south charlotte middle school. The constant distractions and bullying that went on in his classrooms was a joke. Security had to sit in the classes and the school administration said "those kids are entitled to the same free education that your son gets" when I brought the issues to his attention. My son came home with pencil and pen marks and jabs on his skin on a daily basis. We left CMS the following year and have had no issues since.

For what it is worth said...

Eastwick, I have cases exactly like yours. The trouble is, there are no advocates for the "good" students anyway in public schools. If I had known of your situation, I would had advised you to be sure your child had a witness and then press charges with a magistrate. Since you could have their wounds documented, they would have no choice but to file a warrant for his arrest and then with a restraining order, you could get the thug removed.

I know of a couple of schools where this worked. I know of one case where a good deputy got the principal to the point of handcuffs for interfering with a law enforcement officer.

I hope someone reading this would tell me if this has been tried anywhere in the last few years.

Anonymous said...

Re: Gangs, Bullies and Thugs.

Meet Katrina.

At age 26, I went to work at a high school in Prince George's County MD as the school's first dance teacher. At the time, Prince George's County was a predominately black county bordering Washington DC with a less than stellar public school reputation. My goal as a lateral-entry teacher was to excel here so I could then transfer to Montgomery County or a similar county in VA which were predominately white and wealthy with excellent public school reputations. The school environment in Prince George's county was nothing short of culture shock compared to the public high school I attended in CT. Broken windows in my classroom were semi-boarded up, there was little heat, and an entire village of mice lived under the floorboards. One student was shot and killed a block away from the school 6 months earlier. I was repeatedly warned about the need to "crack down" on students starting day one. I kicked 9 students out of my classroom and informed them they would have to withdraw from my class my very first day on the job warranting a seasoned principal conference. My principal laughed about me kicking out a student named Katrina and then simply asked me to make sure that if there were any more class expulsions to made sure those kids made it to his office instead of wandering the hallways causing more mayhem.


Katrina was a 16-year-old "thug" in every sense of the word. When I threw her out of my class after 3 warnings the first day of school she proceeded to call me every three and four letter word profanity in the book and then some I'd never heard. Apparently, Katrina had a reputation with every teacher at the school. I was delighted to be rid of Katrina. The problem was, Katrina wasn't going to have some uppity 26-year-old George Washington Univ. educated dance teacher dis' her the way I dissed her. Katrina demanded to be remitted into my class with various threats in order to take beginning level Ballet 101. We had a conversation, and I allowed her to re-enroll. It was a tough road but we got through the class together. I'd often invite Katrina to come into my room during lunch to rehearse something or stay after school with me before driving her home to the dreadful public housing project where she lived. When I took a field trip to see 'Sarafina!' at the Kennedy Center soon after Nelson Mandela's release from prison, Katrina sang and cried on the bus all the way back to school. Later, Katrina hugged me in the school hallway stating she wished I was her mother because she didn't have a mother.

I had similar experiences working with teenage gang members through a summer arts program directed by a DC public school teacher and supported by Mayor Merriam Barry during the height of the crack cocaine epidemic in Washington DC. The mayor's wife and sons attended our first performance entitled "Stop the Killing!".

Katrina the Thug.


Anonymous said...

The worst THUG at that school was the wrestling coach who called me a name that starts with a B and rhymes with witch after I requested that his team stop repeatedly bullying a gay student in my class. The tenured coach intimidated me and I didn't want to lose my job so I said and did nothing. Today, I'd have enough courage to stand up to that b-stard in a way Katrina would have.


Wiley Coyote said...


You hit the nail on the head of the "thug mentality" in the public school system.

It's a nice Kumbaya moment, but you vivdly pointed out that it is NOT the teacher's or school system's responsibility to be mothers and fathers to kids who are the "Katrinas" of the world.

As harsh as that may seem, it's the way it should be; let social services handle their problems and teachers do their job and teach. If kids don't want it and disrupt school, kick them out.

Not long ago, Ann did a story on Ashley Park Middle School where one kid had been suspended 13 times because "he was angry". Why was he allowed to stay in school? Because he's guaranteed a public education sans discipline? Then people wonder why we have a critical mass of bright flight, white flight and black flight from public schools.

I looked at it awhile back and if my memory is correct, CMS had 186,000 suspensions with no expulsions a year or so ago.

Until we crack down on the disruptions in school and eliminate them, nothing will change.

Shamash said...

I just love all the Kumbaya moments as well.

But that's because we mostly hear only one side of the story.

The HS I attended in a medium sized southern city during the early 1970's was one which was allegedly "de-segregated" without incident (according to the official history of the school).

What went unreported, however, was the years AFTER the initial peaceful "integration" when the thugs started running the school.

The year I went there, there was (that I personally recall) one serious razor fight between girls in the hallway with blood spilled all over the place, one serious beating of a white kid by a black gang using baseball bats just outside the schoolgrounds, and several other unreported incidents of harassment and bullying which would stun folks today.

The year after I left they had a shooting in the school and installed a permanent police station.

But, oddly, you can't find much about any of that in any of the news or the "official" school history.

Back then, schools were like an alternate universe in which normal laws and civil behavior weren't enforced at all.

(What happened in Vegas, stayed in Vegas, I guess...)

I want to avoid that in ANY school my kids attend.

I agree with Anon December 28, 2013 at 9:19 PM.

The best solution is to shine the light of the law on these activities.

No excuses for thugs.

Anonymous said...

Wiley and Shamash,

I wholeheartedly agree that reasonable rules with consequences need to be enforced in school. My own father (a retired public school superintendent) personally handed down out-of-school suspensions in high school to my Yale educated brother and I. Neither of my children are choirboys. I kicked 9 unruly kids out of my class my first day teaching in a public school. Teachers can't teach and students can't learn in an environment of chaos.

My Kumbya point is that there are sometimes alternative ways of reaching students who don't respond to crack-down discipline techniques. Katrina had been repeatedly cracked-down on at school to the point this disciplinary approach actually made her behavior worse. Katrina relished confrontation with school authority figures and had no fear of disciplinary consequences. The crack-down approach had ceased to work long before I met the kid. Convincing Katrina to behave in my class required an initial crack-down approach (permanently expelling her from my class) followed by a second chance opportunity to redeem herself with a mutually agreed upon set of expectations and rules. It also required taking some personal interest in her life outside of the classroom which didn't need to entail heavily armed forces. As a reminder, the other 8 "thugs" I expelled from my class in order to create an environment where I could actually teach and students who wanted to be there could actually learn never came back. It was never about trying to save the world.


Anonymous said...

If a on a consistent basis a student is a disruption to teaching or learning they should be gone. They should be given the option to take online classes. If they choose not to, then they have made a choice. We can not expect all teachers to be like the ones in the movies, that sacrifice all for the sake of their students. Taking on part time jobs to buy supplies and special text. From what I have seen, teachers in NC need part time jobs just to keep the heat on. The Obama, Purdue , Mcory and Tillis crowd ask for much but do and give little. Except over pay fellow "admin".... Conservatives against Tillis.

Shamash said...

Further to the comments by

Anon December 28, 2013 at 9:19 PM.

I think that by making excessive excuses and covering up for the thugs in school, they are actually enticing them into a (hopefully short) lifetime of crime.

I'm fairly sure that's NOT the intent, but what else can you expect from someone who has learned in school that they are "above the law".

Then the real world hits them hard.

I've seen it happen to too many kids who were given the benefit of the doubt just because they were minors.

When they try to behave on "the outside" like they did in school, they find that folks on the outside are much less tolerant.

(Well, at least they used to be. Now with all the repeat, repeat, repeat offenders on our streets maybe not so much now.)

Anonymous said...

CMS ignoring misbehavior in classrooms sends message of disregard for teachers and others who work with our students. This happened recently at Harding High. "Disrespectful student drops female teacher at HUHS". The student was on the news bragging about it.

Mamma Mia said...

School is for learning, right? So how can our kids learn with all of this nonsense going on. Some of these comments disgust me. No, I do not believe that ALL students are entitled to their free education CMS. It is a privilege, and until CMS treats it that way the misbehavior will continue. CMS needs to take a stand and get tougher with these "thugs". No tolerance.

Shamash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shamash said...

"Disrespectful student drops female teacher at HUHS"

This is exactly what I'm talking about.

This behavior "outside" the classroom will get you thrown in jail for assault/battery.

That is what should have happened here.

And you won't see that sort of behavior tolerated at any other place of work. At least not any place I've ever worked.

That kid probably belongs in jail, not school.

And he's most likely had more than his share of "second chances".

Of course, this video is only a piece of what happened, but it sure looked like he was hiding behind that door waiting to ambush the teacher when she walked in.

I wouldn't be surprised, though, to find that they BOTH have a history of problems.

Wiley Coyote said...

The whole troublemaker issue boils down to two "-versities"

Too much pushing of "di-versity" and not enough focus on "ad-versity".

"It's your job to get along with your teacher, not your teacher's job to get along with you."... James Lehman

Anonymous said...

Was a teacher knocked out Ann??? Was is this not on the news? Why are teachers not protected like other government employees? I can't Evan yell at the DMV.... I am sure administration and Pat and Tillis are well protected... Conservatives against Tillis...

Shamash said...

Here's an interesting article about the 2011 HUHS "crime spike" after the "merger" with Waddell.

Seems that excessive "school spirit" was to blame for a lot of the problems.

Funny, but that is EXACTLY the same thing that they said when my old HS was closed and merged with a cross-town "rival" a few years back in another city and state.

So I see that this "problem" isn't just local.

Shamash said...

Why they don't have problems in some schools...

Anonymous said...

CMS does not want this news in the public. There are issues that happen on a daily basis on every CMS campus but no one ever hears about them.

Carol S. said...

I so understand now why people decide to homeschool.

Anonymous said...

Research is consistent that smart teachers=better teachers when controlling for other factors. Makes sense given the average math SAT score for teachers hovers below 500 and the actual difficulty of some 3rd-5th math concepts. Teachers who can actually master the material themselves are more effective in teaching it (duh). And the reality is, a Harvard graduate is probably a lot smarter than a JCSmith grad (although there are surely exceptions) and definitely has more career options. If we want to get the best and brightest, then we need to do what other fields do...and offer different salaries based on the quality of someone's resume. In every field I've been in before teaching, I've negotiated a higher salary due to my credentials. Now in education, you can have a killer resume and amazing test scores from your kids...and the best you can hope for is trading tenure for 500 bucks...or keep making the same as the teacher next door w no resume and terrible test scores.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher I am saddened to read a lot of these comments, as most of them are true. Reflecting over this past year, I would say that the students are more disconnected from the education process than ever, even more disconnected from each other (due to their technology) and the parents are more disconnected from their kids and the education process. Here's hoping 2014 brings better education news.

Philip said...

Teacher 11:04

There are several good books on this subject and should be required reading for all school administrators and teachers, as well as parents. The books are 1. The Big Disconnect 2. The Virtual Child 3. The Dumbest Generation 4. What the Internet is Doing to our Brains 5. The Digital Divide and 6. The Digital Invasion.

These are all good books with important and relevant information about what and how technology is affecting us. Happy Reading (if anyone does that anymore).

Anonymous said...

Personal Finance Class


Then the BofE and CMeS would have to explain all of their spending and have someone accountable for all the wast that goes on in the


Ann still hasnt made a response to PowerSchool beining down for teachers for a week. Do you think she is going to address the teacher being knocked out at Harding and the student on the TV news that very night laughing?

Good Luck

Anonymous said...

In the words of my hero, Ronald Reagan, "There you go again".

For the past 23 years, we've have plenty of grand poo-bah Harvard educated teachers standing in front of American classrooms. They're called TFA (Teach for America) teachers which two decades of research has shown don't perform any better than teachers with traditional degrees in education. TFA teachers don't stick around very long either prompting the head of Harvard's education department to state that TFA might be "perpetuating the very things it is trying to solve".

Happy New Year.


For what it is worth said...

Alicia, even Judge Manning told them (the NC public schools) not to have that type of teacher in front of the "disadvantaged" students.

Now, Dr. Gorman, Heath and others will tell you that the one place where TFA's are improving scores is with middle school math. But the rub is no one can get into the data deep enough to really tell if the data supports that conclusion.

Thus part of the reason to take any scoring, or improvement, or such with a large grain of salt because no independent testing and reporting source is used.

As far as TFA longevity, their supporters will point to half a dozen cases here or there to support their advantage. In actuality, these teachers cost us the taxpayers more than a education school graduate. CMS has a contract with TFA that requires us to pay for all sorts of side things like the half summer training class, routine reviews outside of CMS requirements, etc. Additionally, the teachers in the schools are leaned on by the administration to be sure they succeed even top the point of front loading the TFA's classes with the better students.

Wiley Coyote said...

2+2=4 and there are 26 letters in the alphabet. I don't give a rat's rear who teaches it,just TEACH it!

Beyond that, all of the testing, not enough money for teachers, and continued educrat crap is a just plain BS.

Time to get serious, hold parents and students accountable and move on.

Anything less is a waste of time, money and kid's minds.

Shamash said...

TFA sounds a lot like the Peace Corps with a savior complex to me.

Glad my kids aren't "disadvantaged" enough to warrant such an experience.

Best thing any parent can do is not trust their children's education to the schools.

Always stay on top of what they are learning and supplement it any way you can.

Anonymous said...

Alicia...if you think the only teachers with impressive schools on their resumes are from TFA, you are mistaken. I graduated from a highly ranked undergrad institution and got a Masters in education from a top 5 education school. I find it insane that people seem like they want to dissuade people from the best schools in the country from becoming teachers. Better universities w. degrees in high difficulty majors=better post-grad options (all other things equal). So yeah, you have to pay more to get these competitive people into education if you want to keep them.

Anonymous said...

My brother has a Masters in engineering from a prestigious university and has a well paying job in the field.... He could not teach if his life depend on it. Teaching is more then content knowledge, agree, or SAT scores...
There are many studies on this. TFA is currently having its run of the DC schools... Lets see how it goes????

Anonymous said...

The reason going to prestigious schools is so helpful to non teachers, is THE CONNECTIONS. If you are truly wise, you do not get a 150000 dollar education to become a teacher. People who do that could not hack it in business. I would say this is not a good reason to give them a raise, unless they can prove they can hack it in education.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, teaching is more than an SAT score....but why do people continually act as if being smart would make you a WORSE teacher?? With other factors being equal, smarter teachers are better teachers. And there are prestigious universities w. Education programs...and I would definitely prefer ( other factors equal ) a Vanderbilt, Columbiia, UVA, or Univ of Texas grad teaching my kids than a grad from a college w a 90% acceptance rate.

Shamash said...

The main problem with TFA as I see it is that it is run by the usual crowd of social engineers out there trying "eliminate inequity" and save the world.

And reality just doesn't support their view of the universe.

In other words, it's just more of the same old misguided feel-good crap that got us into this mess in the first place.

Shamash said...

I agree that smarter people make smarter teachers.

But, sadly, even our schools have a bias against "smart" folks.

It's a deeply ingrained part of US culture to depict "smart" people as inept in so many other parts of life.

Even though it's really not true.

However being "smart" is probably better for some teachers than others.

That's one reason TFA hasn't worked so well.

They're wasting "smart" on the wrong kids.

They should pick their recruits from the Marines, not Harvard.

Not that there aren't "smart" people in the Marines, they're just better trained for urban warfare.

Anonymous said...

Shamash, love it. Yes, a Marine (or equivalent hard-as#%^&!%) would be the perfect teacher in some of our schools. Just what some of our students could use. Can they start JR ROTC programs in elementary school?

Anonymous said...

the most important qualities a teacher needs to have are enthusiasm and passion.

Wiley Coyote said...

Being "smart" is a relative term.

Having a Master's degree in education means nothing if you can't actually teach, get along with peers, students and parents.

Give me a teacher that has a clue, doesn't whine about their professional lot in life and is effective at what they do and I could care less what credentials they have.

Anonymous said...

Why should a minority kid study?
They've been told by the race hustlers they have no chance. They've been told by NAACP, Jesse and Al the only way to success is blackmailing corporations.
My empathy goes to the minority students who do put out the effort and truly earn their way. Other minorities make fun of them. Others assume they are in the group that achieved only because of hiring and college set asides.
When will we understand the race hustlers play a major role in the demise of several generations of children.

Anonymous said...

If you've been paying attention, then you know that there are people here who think that having a master's degree in education is useless. This summer's NC Republican controlled legislature apparently thinks the same. I hold a master's degree from the School of Education and Human Development at George Washington University that I received on full tuition scholarship plus stipend. I taught undergraduate classes at GW as a graduate TA before teaching at the college level at the Univ. of the District of Columbia and Penn State University in addition to the Prince George's County MD pubic school system as a lateral-entry teacher. I wrote my master's thesis on the topic of arts in education. I also ran teacher in-serives through an artist-in-residency program for the Harrisburg PA County Public School System.

I think what matters most at the secondary level of education (grades 7 - 12) is how knowledgable a teacher is in their specific content area in addition to other intangible factors that simply can't be measured on a standardized test. Where a teacher went to college is far less important than what a teacher knows about their subject area. I don't buy that being the "best" elementary school teacher requires a $60,000 a year degree from Princeton. The history of public education in America doesn't support this argument. For example:

My brother holds a degree in physics from Yale Univ. and a law degree from UConn. My father holds a PhD from Columbia University (from the School of Education) and a law degree from UConn. My father is a retired public school superintendent. My mother earned a B.A with honors in her late forties from UConn after transferring an associate degree she earned at our local community college. The funny thing is, no one in my highly overeducated family had the so-called benefit of a single Ivy League educated K - 12 teacher. The vast majority of our K - 12 teachers attended traditional public teaching colleges like Keene State, Potsdamn Univ., and other state schools with similar rankings. Yes, I think it would be smashing to have more Ivy League graduates among America's teaching corp. ranks but to suggest that a committed, passionate and talented teacher from UNC/Charlotte, Johnson C. Smith, Queens Univ. or Belmont Abbey College who's passed all of the required coursework and national standardized testing for state licensure is automatically less qualified to teach 3rd grade long division than someone with a degree from Harvard is absurd.


Shamash said...

I think education degrees are better for elementary school while subject knowledge and/or degrees are better for high school (and some middle-school).

I think one of the problems teachers have is that just about everyone has had a few really bad teachers over the course of their schooling.

No matter what their degrees were in (and it was usually education), they just weren't worth a flip.

I remember having several, so I don't buy the argument that having the degree and passing the standardized tests ensure that teachers are particularly good.

Maybe they can teach third grade long division, but I wouldn't want them teaching Algebra.

Shamash said...

One of the worst teachers (as far as not knowing much) I ever had was in sixth grade.

Her name was Mrs. Hatter.

I'm sure she got her degree at one of the schools that accept nearly anyone.

We could smell dumb all over her.

One day she left the class and I wrote the following on the chalkboard:

"Mrs. Hatter is a pedagogue"

I suspected she wouldn't even know what that meant.

Sure enough, she came back into the classroom and blew up, demanding to know who wrote that about her.

No one would tell her.

It was truly comical to watch, but then she took it up a notch (when no one would tell her) and brought the principal in to show him what someone had written.

He just looked at it and said, "well it's true" with no further explanation and left the room leaving her even more disturbed than before.

She might have been able to teach third graders, but probably not much.

Anonymous said...


I think just about everyone has had a few college professors who weren't worth a flip despite having all the right credentials. No different than K-12 educators or people in every other field.

I agree that simply having a degree and passing a test doesn't ensure that a teacher is particularly good. Just as I agree that having a degree from Brown vs. a degree from UNC-Wilmington doesn't ensure that a teacher is particularly good.


Anonymous said...

You very bad boy. I'm writing you up for insubordination and general thuggery on behalf of Mrs. Mad Hatter!


Anonymous said...

Some TFA teachers are good, some are not... No matter where they teach..

Anonymous said...

long division is 4th grade math, not 3rd. and agreed, ivy league is not and should not be required for teaching. but showing some kind of competence in the material they have to teach would be a start...and below 500 SAT scores (which is a measure of high school skill level...not impressive ivy league standards) don't show competence, regardless of how much passion a teacher has.

Anonymous said...

Most of the truly smart people I know, never talk about being smart. They do not talk about degrees or accolades. They do not need to. The people I know who talk about being smart, usually are just people who studied hard and enjoyed school.. Nothing wrong with it, just misguide.

Anonymous said...

The people I know that are truly smart, do not talk about it. They do not talk about their degrees or accolades. They do not need to. I find that the people who do where just good students who studied hard and enjoyed school. Nothing wrong with it, just misguided.

Anonymous said...

I'm student teaching 4th grade through a post-bac. licensure program which includes Common Core long division. My comments were directed at the "gifted" crowd who don't think someone attending an average ranked university is qualified to teach an average 3rd grader. Welcome to Lake Wobbegon.


Anonymous said...

On the other hand, maybe the "better" top dog college folks have it right because look what happens when you have a mayor and a governor with a degree among the ranks of Catawba College.


Shamash said...


You didn't seen what the other kids wrote on the board about Mrs. Hatter.

I was being nice.

(In a way that I was fairly sure would disturb her).

From what I can tell, though, they kept her around for a while and even let her teach eighth grade.

My other favorite mind game with her was when she was teaching geography.

Her rhyme:

Longitude goes up and down
Latitude goes round and round.

Of course this dumb rhyme only describes the LINES and not the DIRECTION being measured, so I'd just repeat it the other way.

But, Mrs. Hatter, when you're MEASURING, it's Latitude goes up and down, Longitude goes round and round, right?

Oh, well, I was a bad kid, bur far from the worst.

Anonymous said...

Ann, please look into this issue for the parents. What happens when an average teacher decides to stop teaching a particular class half way through the year due to constant behavior problems in the classroom that are not being adequately addressed by the middle school administration? Now the entire class has to finish the course on-line for the rest of the school year. This is happening right now at a suburban ballantyne middle school. Why weren't the behavior problems addressed or removed from the classroom so the teacher could teach and the "good" students could learn, complete the course and get the high school credit? I am questioning CMS policy and school administration on this issue. Thank you, From a concerned parent

Shamash said...

Again, there are all kinds of "smart" out there.

Politicians only have to fool most of the people some of the time.

Maybe a degree isn't even necessary to do that (and might even hurt).

Anonymous said...

They blame it on the teacher.. It happens all the time. It comes from the Bill Gates Philosophy. Teachers have all the responsibility, very little power. Witch is kind of funny because Bill would loose his lunch money at most of CMS high schools. Look up Teach For America horror stories.. Some of the stories are funny..

Anonymous said...

I would love to see Gates, Tillis, Obama and Mcory, try to teach in the inner city.... Good luck boys..
Conservatives against Tillis

Barbara B. said...

I wouldn't want to be a teacher nowadays, dealing with a bunch of spoiled, undisciplined brats everyday. Parents need to start parenting, and children need to learn what it means to respect adults. Children are given everything and are treated as little adults now. Big mistake.

Reading many of these comments, I don't think it's the teacher that's the problem, most can adequately present material to a class room of students. The problem is the over indulged, disrespectful children. Glad mine are grown and gone and productive citizens. I did my job properly.

Anonymous said...

On the earlier topic of Catholic schools vs. public schools.

I was not raised Catholic and never had any experience with nuns until I was asked to be PTO president at St. Ann's Catholic School not because I was remotely qualified for the position but because everyone else ranked higher on "the list" declined the offer. I'll never forget my first meeting with Sister Helene - the school principal. There she was in all her gray haired glory sitting behind her desk with some guy nailed to a giant cross directly above her. I don't recall Sister Helene (who actually had a wicked sense of humor) having too many issues with parents, the school board, or rascals like Shamash. Sister Helene had a way of getting her way.


Anonymous said...

I agree Barbara, but the problem is the powers to be are under the delusion that parents and personal choice are not a factor. The administration, liberals and neoconservatives believe that schools and to a greater extent, government can fix the issues. It is a classic soslitic belief. Ronald Regain warned us of an academic elite controlling us. Education should be local. Not common core sent from Obama on high and then supported by and dictated to by Mcory, Tillis and the rest of the neoconservatives. Local..

Shamash said...

Hey, Sister Helene probably knew the definition of "pedagogue".

So she would be off MY hit-list.

I rarely messed with the smart teachers, even though I later heard that I scared a few (like my HS English teacher).

Not sure exactly why, but I think it was because I once challenged her in class to explain why she gave me a 99 on a test diagramming sentences.

I challenged her to use the word "Mexican" as an adverb (as she claimed it was on her test sentence).

I labeled it as an adjective.

(And properly so for the extremely long run-on sentence she used to try to confuse us).

Her attempt to defend her position was ridiculous, of course.

And here it is:

"I went Mexican".

(Used to describe her attire at a recent party.)

Yeah, she deserved any grief I caused her.

But, for what it's worth, I agree that it's rarely the teacher who is the problem in the schools.

Most can teach more than the kids are willing or prepared to learn.

I have more horror stories about the students than the teachers.

Anonymous said...

Concerned parent, can you shoot me specifics at Did this teacher actually quit, or is he/she just relying heavily on online learning?

Anonymous said...

I have no doubt Sister Helene knew the definition of pedagogue related to her own calling in addition to knowing something about Paul's letter to the Galatians regarding the role of the pedagogue. My advice to you would have been to avoid any sort of schoolboy shenanigans with Sister Helene. She was a smart cookie at the helm of a school she believed in.