We bailed out Wall Street, GM, Chrysler, Medicaid, so why not...... public schools. Just like the generals in WWI whose idea of fighting a war was feeding troops into the meatgrinder of trench warfare despite the results, so does the president of the American Federation of Teachers want to keep pouring money with the same dismal results:
"The federal government didn't let Wall Street fail. Why would we do less for our public schools, which undeniably are too important to fail? Almost every state will be unable to provide adequate funding for public schools until the financial situation improves.
The short-term solution to ensure kids start the next school year without major disruption is federal legislation to provide a $23 billion infusion to states to avert educational and economic disaster. The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Local Jobs for America Act. A similar measure, the Keep Our Educators Working Act, is pending in the U.S. Senate. President Obama has thrown his support behind this emergency legislation.And there is no doubt that this is an emergency. School districts finalizing their 2010-11 budgets are making tough decisions right now about drastic steps such as whether to cancel summer school, shift to a four-day school week, or issue layoff notices to teachers" Article
Meanwhile, a Catholic school in Harlem takes the worst students and shows how top-notch education for poor kids can be provided at a fraction of what is spent on public schools:
"On June 10, Cristo Rey High School in East Harlem will graduate all of its 50 seniors. All come from families near or below the poverty level. All will attend college. Most were accepted into seven colleges.
Begun in 1996 with the goal of making its students ready to attend college, the Cristo Rey Network now has 24 high schools teaching some 6,000 students in the U.S.—in big cities like Chicago, L.A. and New York; in Sacramento, Portland, Waukegan, Detroit and elsewhere. Virtually all the students in the network's schools are Latino or African-American. St. Martin de Porres High School in Cleveland, my hometown, is near St. Clair Avenue and 55th Street, a hard neighborhood. Its college-acceptance rate this year was also 100%. .....
Cristo Rey explicitly does not take the highest-scoring students. Father Joe Parkes, the energetic Jesuit who serves as president of Cristo Rey New York High School, noted that the first time this year's graduates took the Iowa Test of Educational Development, their average score fell in the 48th percentile. Cristo Rey pulls its student body from the middle of the pack, at best. Four years later, they go to college.
This is not the miracle of the loaves and the fishes. It is a system that works, literally. The system's financial support model, which pays students to work, is surely one of the most innovative ideas seen in awhile in American education.
Every student at a Cristo Rey high school works full time one day a week with a local private company or not-for-profit. For entry-level work—real work, not make-work—the companies pay student teams between $20,000 (Denver) and $30,000 (Washington, D.C.). That money goes into the school's annual budget.
The employer gets a Cristo Rey student every day of the week, freshmen through seniors. So on a Tuesday, the school might assemble all the sophomores and shepherd them to work, and gather them in at day's end. This means the students have to do five days of school work in four days, and that alone may have a lot to do with the success rate.
That work contributes about 65% of a school's budget and keeps average tuitions low, at about $2,350. As a former president of the network has noted, "Our students are by far and away our biggest donor....."Column