Thursday, May 15, 2014

Poverty, language and disability: Trends in CMS

While no one would say CMS educators have it easy,  some of the most challenging student populations have leveled off or dwindled in recent years,  according to data in the 2014-15 budget plan.

The number of students with disabilities or limited English proficiency has dropped since 2008,  even as overall enrollment has risen  (see charts on pages 88-91 of the 310-page budget book).

In 2008-09,  Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools had 14,743 students classified as  "special needs,"  or 11 percent of enrollment.  This year there are 13,532 special needs students,  or 9.5 percent.  The Exceptional Children Services budget, however, seems to be growing,  from about $105 million in 2008-09 to more than $122 million this year,  with another increase proposed for 2014-15.

I'm not sure what that means;  I've asked CMS officials but haven't yet gotten a reply.  The district's budget books used to include descriptions of significant changes with every departmental budget.  The last couple of years,  those numbers have come with no written explanation.

Students classified as having limited English proficiency have gone from 18,407 in 2008-09  (13.7 percent)  to 15,176  (10.6 percent).  The budget for that department appears to be holding fairly steady.

Poverty,  as measured by students who qualify for federal lunch subsidies, has held level at just over 54 percent for the last three years,  after four years of steady increases before that.

My quest to get racial demographics has almost become a standing joke;  we're heading into end-of-year exam time and CMS has yet to provide those numbers.  The budget book may or may not provide a clue,  on a confusing p. 90.  Parts of it appear to have been cut and pasted from last year's book,  with racial breakdowns from 2012-13.  But the bar chart includes 13-14,  and if you look at the color key you'll find percentages that don't exactly match the previous year:  41.1 percent African American,  30.8 percent white,  19.5 percent Latino and 5.5 percent Asian.  Are those the elusive current-year numbers,  long delayed by PowerSchool problems?  We'll see.  I've got that question in, too.

Update: Student placement director Scott McCully confirms that those are the current districtwide demographics.  The school-by-school numbers can be found here,  but they're just that:  Raw numbers.  He's going to get me a spreadsheet and I'll try to generate some percentages soon.


Larry said...

Good luck, my experience with direct data release, and information, from CMS, is that they value it so much they hoard it.

They are an excellent government operation.

Anonymous said...

CMS and other local govt officials cover up a lot of information, to control the masses. And still no information about the Instagram Porn and serious drug use at the south charlotte high schools.

Wiley Coyote said...

Buckets of money, buckets of money and more buckets of money.

The increase in funding for "special needs" kids when their numbers are dwindling is akin to reopening all those schools that were closed due to budget constraints.

It's the government way.

Government, in this case CMS, will fight to the death to keep AND increase every penny they can get, regrdless of whether they truly need the funds or not.

All CMS will do is enlarge the size of the shells to hold the funds while playing the shell game.

Even though the "poverty rate" has been about 54% for the past few years, the actual number of kids receiving the benefit has increased with the rise in enrollment.

When CMS had 135,000 students at 54%, the approximate number based on enrollment was 72,900. At 138,000, the number rises to 74,520 and with the current enrollment at 142,612, the number of students at 54% is 77,010.

Maybe 54% is the number, but I'm having a hard time believing it has stayed the same over the past three years since the number of people on SNAP - which automatically qualifies kids for NSLP - has risen nationally from 25 million in 2007 to 47 million in 2013.

The CBO projects SNAP recipients in the next 10 years to DECLINE by 30% or 14 million people as the "economy improves".

So we should see the NSLP 54% number decrease as well, right?

Probably not.

Regarding the demographic data, or lack thereof, a 30.8% White student population does not bode well for CMS.

Stalling, deflections and silence from CMS is beyond a joke and is a serious matter, yet people will continue to give these fools more money everytime they ask for it in bonds and other buckets of tax dollars.

Anonymous said...

I think you nailed it with this comment:

"Regarding the demographic data, or lack thereof, a 30.8% White student population does not bode well for CMS."

In essence, this wil ensure CMS will struggle, no matter how much money is poured into this system. So to this point, I would agree with larry, charter schools are a better option. The reason being, CMS schools will be spendng less time educating and more time dealing with children who don't wish to be taught, all at the expense of your child's education.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't the feds pay for special education? Isn't it a fed mandate? IDEA comes from them.

Shamash said...

This reminds me of an article I read about schools in China.

A visiting reporter asked a school official about what they do for children with "special needs".

The answer was "We do everything we can to see to it that our top students get all the help they need".

Something about "special needs" apparently got lost in translation.

Anonymous said...

Ann, could you request tardiness rates from CMS for the high schools? At our school it is a huge problem, due to the fact that the high school start at 7:15am. That cannot be beneficial for students or staff members. Maybe you'll have better luck getting those numbers.

Anonymous said...

speaking to this comment by Wiley, this is why most CMS schools are going to struggle/fail.

"Regarding the demographic data, or lack thereof, a 30.8% White student population does not bode well for CMS."

this may deemed to be a racist comment, but the facts speak for themselves. The achievement gap between white students and African American students is massive. So it stands to reason, if a school system is made up primarily of low income minority students, that school system is most likely going to struggle to meet AYP.

This trend is the same for charter schools by the way. The charters that serve a primarily african american or diverse student population struggle, while charters that serve a primarily white student population, succeed.

we can all make our sarcastic comments and banter about education until we are all blue in the face, but the facts are the facts.
We all can see where the problem truly lies, which is the breakdown of the family unit and the decay of real family values. It takes two caring and loving parents to properly raise a happy and healthy child.

Shamash said...

"So it stands to reason, if a school system is made up primarily of low income minority students, that school system is most likely going to struggle to meet AYP."

Again, don't just assume that it's "low income" minority students who have this problem.

Higher income minority students score below poor white kids, too.

This is true whether black or Hispanic, and for Hispanics, whether ELL's or not.

So having money doesn't fix their "problem".

Neither does being an English Language Learner for Hispanics.

Either way, they STILL score below the FRL-receiving whites.

Except that non-FRL, non-ELL Hispanics score SLIGHTLY higher averages in Reading than FRL whites.


So it's NOT just poverty and it's NOT just a "language" problem.

I just want to make that clear.

The problem is slightly different from (and somewhat worse) than what typically "stands to reason".

Anonymous said...

"Lost in translation" is your euphemism for a society that expects the most in sacrifice for achievement which, of course, does not apply to the majority of American families of all demographics today.
Academic slugs cross all racial and socio-economic levels. Rigor, expectations, and constant shoves from families and teachers are a necessity in today's circus of distractions. I taught many of them. But many of my new immigrant students have gone on to advanced degrees and rewarding careers because of the qualities of desire and expectations.
One final thought is the demise of real assistant principals with backbones, verbal communication skills and a no fear attitude of bozo parents. The woosification of the faux assistant principal with constant replacements by two year unskilled yes clones has done much to enable distraction and disable discipline necessary for real student achievement, somewhat like the American parent malaise.

Shamash said...

Anon 9:41am.

"We all can see where the problem truly lies, which is the breakdown of the family unit and the decay of real family values. It takes two caring and loving parents to properly raise a happy and healthy child."

Actually we CANNOT see where the problem TRULY lies because it is not being measured or reported on.

At least not that I've ever seen.

And certainly not by the Dept. of Education.

What you state MAY be the problem, but all we really have is SES and Ethnic data to examine for those "gaps".

I'd love to see a national study which goes into these other factors such as family backgrounds and even attitudes towards education and shows the achievement "gaps" based on those.

But no one wants to look at that for some odd reason.

I think it's because it's hard to get a "Moral" group out on Mondays protesting the lack of stable families and hard work.

It's so much easier to scream about problems of economic and racial "inequality" that we will NEVER really "solve".

But we'll never really know.

Shamash said...

Well, yeah, it was a bit of sarcasm, but it's our use of "special" to mean something other than the best which is the euphemism.

And those subtleties do get lost in translation quite a bit.

If you offered "special education" classes in China, every parent would want it for THEIR child.

Because they ALL think their children are "special".

But I thought it was telling because it underscored a major attitude difference of where the emphasis (and money) should be in education.

That said, the Chinese have a pretty bad record regarding what WE call "special education".

They do tend to focus their resources on their top performers.

But they are working on that.

Shamash said...

"Academic slugs cross all racial and socio-economic levels. Rigor, expectations, and constant shoves from families and teachers are a necessity in today's circus of distractions."

I agree. It takes effort and family support above all.

But no one wants to talk about effort and family support anymore.

(Because the government can't be petitioned for that, I guess...)

Even though effort seems to work quite well for the otherwise "disadvantaged".

The thing I am trying to avoid with my family is the AUTOMATIC assumption that because we ARE NOT "poor" or "minority" (even though we ARE somewhat...) that we somehow have a NATURAL advantage and don't need to work hard.

I keep telling my son that just because he's near the top of THIS BUNCH doesn't mean he is doing his best or particularly well compared to the rest of the world.

Because the schools really do little to push the top performing kids from what I've seen.

Just as long as they get their A's and perform at or above grade level, they are largely left on their own.

(Until they get home, that is.)

Because I have found that if we slack off at home, our kid WILL regress to the mean of what is taught in the schools.

Meaning that his reading and math will drop if we don't catch it and that he won't try very hard at anything beyond class because it isn't part of his "assignment".

Wiley Coyote said...

What will 100 BILLION get you?

$100 BILLION dollars in waste called Head Start.

...The latest federal evaluation (of the Head Start program 13 year study), which effectively shows no lasting impact on children after first grade and no difference between those children who attended Head Start and those who did not, should call into question the merits of increasing funding for the program, which the Obama administration recently did as part of the so-called “stimulus” bill.

Andrew Coulson over at Cato points to the hypocrisy of continuing to bolster funding an unquestionably ineffective program, while ending one of the most effective education programs ever created:

There are other government education programs whose effects actually grow substantially over time, and that are comparatively economical. Consider the federal DC voucher program…by their third year in private schools, the evidence was clear that voucher-receiving students were reading more than two grade levels above a randomized control group that stayed in public schools… But Congress, and particularly Democrats, have defunded the DC voucher program while raising spending on Head Start. President Obama is at the forefront of this travesty.

Yet we keep dumping hundreds of millions into More at Four and Bright Beginnings.

Talk about trends in CMS?

Bright Beginnings is one trend they need to stop immediately.

Shamus said...

Good news in MD. Gov. Martin O'Malley will sign legislation that directs the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to make recommendations that all public schools should start at 8 a.m. or later.

Wiley Coyote said...

Just released yesterday:

NEW YORK -- New York state has the most segregated public schools in the nation, with many black and Latino students attending schools with virtually no white classmates, according to a report released Wednesday....

...Orfield and his fellow researchers say segregation has the effect of concentrating black and Latino students in schools with high ratios of poor students compared with the statewide average. Black and Latino students who attend schools that are integrated by race and income level perform significantly better than their peers in segregated schools, the authors note.

The study suggests that New York's segregation is largely due to housing patterns, because housing and school segregation are correlated, but that it could be mitigated through policies intended to promote diversity.

"In the 30 years I have been researching schools, New York state has consistently been one of the most segregated states in the nation - no Southern state comes close to New York," Orfield said.

...Other states with highly segregated schools include Illinois, Michigan and California, according to the Civil Rights Project.

"Mitigated through policies intended to promote diversity"? You mean government will start telling us where we can live and not live? How do they propose to achieve integration - AGAIN?

Worked out real well the last time didn't it?

Been there, done that and failed.

So government will try to influence housing patterns? What will they do, set quotas on how many by race can buy a house in a certain neighborhood?

Notice every time diversity is used as a solution, the problem only gets worse.

As I said earlier, the dwindling White student population within CMS is a huge problem.

Pretty soon CMS will run out of excuses, just like New York, Detroit and so on.

Anonymous said...

merely food for thought here regarding the voucher program. I am curious as to why those children who received vouchers showed so much improvement in DC. I have my doubts that it was entirely due to a difference in teaching, but more so a result of getting them out of a bad environment. You know the old saying, "you are only as good as the company you keep".

Shamash said...


"So government will try to influence housing patterns? What will they do, set quotas on how many by race can buy a house in a certain neighborhood?"

No, Wiley, they'll use a tried and true method that has worked to put the downtrodden masses within a stone's throw of the rich and influential across this nation.

Housing Vouchers.

They'll build on the "success" of programs like Section 8.

What the government won't support for schools, they'll support for housing.

Just wait for that next housing bubble to pop.

Shamash said...

"Black and Latino students who attend schools that are integrated by race and income level perform significantly better than their peers in segregated schools, the authors note."

Again, notice that no one "noted" whether these "integrated" kids or their families ACTUALLY DID anything differently.


None of that could even be the least bit relevant since no one even bothers to measure it.

So since they only measure race and income, guess what the amazing conclusion was?


Mixing races and incomes are the solution.

No one had to change a single thing they were doing.

Just being around those wealthier white kids was like magic.

Something mysterious just rubbed off on those other kids that we'll NEVER understand.

Maybe it was due to their social "connections", networking abilities, and other "soft skills" which cannot be measured or taught or tested in the classroom.

Why study when you can use sympathetic magic and osmosis to do better in school?

Just mix everyone together, hold hands, sing Kumbaya, and you get some powerful mojo working.

Anonymous said...

What do you think makes the difference?

Shamash said...

Anon 7:18pm.

"What do you think makes the difference?"

I honestly DO NOT KNOW.



They just imply (actually assume) that integration is the solution and leave the proof to others.

Their study just shows that segregation has increased.

They are using the common fallacy of correlation equals causation and not really studying the underlying reasons for any differences in educational outcomes.

So it is left to the readers of all the OTHER research material (to which they give light treatment) to determine if that is the REAL CAUSE.

Even though they KNOW there are examples which prove otherwise (which they note and conveniently discard as "outliers" instead of cases worthy of further study...)

This means we are stuck with whatever implications the headline makers wish to make.

Which is typically promoting the easiest politically correct "explanation" they think a non-critical public will buy.

And they know most people will fall for it.

(You can Google "Epluribus...Separation" to read the actual report.)

One of the dumber statements I found in their report is the IMPLICATION (and, of course, not a proven FACT) that Asian success in schools is due to their higher "exposure" to whites.

At least they note that Asians DO HAVE HIGHER EXPOSURE to whites as if THAT'S THE TICKET to a better education for Asians and further proof of their "integration is good" assumption.

As if "whites" had all that magic mojo to even make Asian kids smarter, too.

In fact white kids have so much good mojo that they can actually make Asian kids SMARTER THAN WHITE KIDS.

Now that's some powerful magic.

But they don't quite go into HOW that's accomplished, either.

They just note that Asian kids get more EXPOSURE to whites and expect the reader to make that correlation/causation connection as to WHY Asians perform better.


Of course, you are expected to assume the Asians do better for the same reasons "integrated" Blacks and Hispanics do better.

And ignore anything else which could contribute to their success.

When I think it's CLEARLY the other way around when you compare Whites and Asians.

The Whites don't always come out on top.

Especially when you look at how Asians perform across the globe WITHOUT ACCESS TO MAGIC WHITE KIDS SITTING NEARBY in places like Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and South Korea.

But, of course, we still have our "history" of "civil rights" and those who continually benefit from dragging out the same old non-working "solutions" to all our problems.

And this study is just another example.

The study is really about how segregation has grown and not about how "integration" actually helps, except to cherry pick a few confirming examples and ignore (or brush-off) those that don't support it.

Shamash said...

Further on...

"What do you think makes the difference?"

Let's see what the "professors" say...

From the Orfield report Foreword, pg xv, "Epluribus...Separation"

"Seeing strong overall relationships between segregated schools and unequal education does not negate the fact that there are a small number of segregated, impoverished schools that perform quite well on standardized tests of reading and math."

H'mm. Maybe we've GOT SOMETHING HERE...


So, what to do about THAT...

"Those schools, which often have remarkably committed staffs, should be strongly praised."


"But we need to face the fact that there are never more than a handful of these outliers, and they often have extraordinary leaders and extra resources. These exceptions are held up as if they prove that we do not need to cross lines of race and poverty. "


And get the show back on the road.

Those darned "outliers" always mess up the narrative.

With their "extraordinary" leaders and "extra" resources.

We can't be having NONE OF THAT.

Well, there you have it straight from the horse's mouth. It is possible to have successful segregated schools.

But we don't want to go there.

Because there just aren't that many examples and they require extra resources and good leaders.

It's like Thomas Edison experimenting with prototype light bulbs and deciding to stop because the first few didn't stay lit very long.

And besides, we've been using oil lamps for years and while they're dim and smelly, lots of folks make good livings keeping them burning.

Fortunately, though, Edison was an extraordinary leader with extra resources and kept trying.

Shamash said...

Actually, I just LOVE this line so much that I must repeat it...

" These exceptions are held up as if they prove that we do not need to cross lines of race and poverty. "

I just LOVE that "as if".

It's just so superior and dismissive of an obvious truth.

But there is NO "as if".

It IS the proof.

Let's remove the "politics" and look at the logic.

All dogs are black.

But some dogs are not black.

So let's dismiss THOSE dogs as "outliers".

Therefore all dogs are still black.

This is exactly the kind of sloppy thinking I've come to expect of "education" research today.

They see evidence contradicting their narrative and brush it off "as if" it doesn't matter.

Because "everyone knows" it doesn't matter.

And continue running with their standard narrative.

Even Sherlock Holmes would agree that the exceptions DO disprove the rule.

If only we could get our supposedly "scientific" researchers to study basic logic.

Of course, when there's an agenda to promote, logic and facts are so inconvenient.

No one dares to further examine those "exceptions" for fear of what they may find.

Anonymous said...

While I appreciate the foreign language departments at our local schools, How about focus on teaching English to our native English speakers? That would be a good start.

Anonymous said...

Maybe CMS is smartening up and is actually going to try to educate their special needs population. The reason the special needs population is dwindling is because CMS and NC education is failing these students (look at the test scores of children with special needs) and parents are moving those students out of state or choosing to homeschool or go to charter schools.