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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch

Re: “Once Again, It's Time to Deconstruct the U.S. News "Best High Schools" Rankings

Some feel that education is not a game and should not be largely about learning how to anticipate what corporate employees want you to answer on machine graded multiple choice tests. The "skills" required to successfully complete those kinds of tasks have little to do with what high quality liberal arts colleges will be asking students to do: read and interpret complex texts, conduct and analyze research, think critically, and write well and at length. I've been a teacher in both private and public schools and a parent at UHS and at a college prep private. My concerns about UHS are not a case of "sour grapes." My UHS student took 9 AP exams and got 4s and 5s on all of them. He had a higher than 4.0 weighted GPA and perfect Board scores in math. He's a bright, hard working kid and is doing well in college, but he had to learn some of the things in college that his sibling who attended a college prep private school had solidly in place before the end of his junior year in high school. Why is this? Because the curricula were better in the private school and the faculty and administration understood the role that faculty should play in designing interdisciplinary, complex projects that draw on and developed a much broader range of skills than a multiple choice test or a cookie-cutter essay question ever could.

The critiques of AP cram curricula and the doubts expressed RE the legitimacy of media-generated rankings like US News and World Report you read here and elsewhere are not about putting hard working students down. Among educators, these discussions are about understanding what it actually benefits students most to spend their time doing and how we can give them the best kind of preparation possible both for college-level work and to be constructive citizens and strong contributors in our communities.

Sorry to say it, but in this country we seem to want everything to be easy and cheap. Public is cheaper than private and cramming for a multiple choice test is a lot easier than conducting original research or writing an excellent essay. Easier for the teachers, and easier for the students. Unfortunately for the kids enrolled in these cram programs, it is also considerably less valuable educationally.

5 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Cramming for APs is not college preparatory. on 04/26/2017 at 4:25 PM

Re: “Once Again, It's Time to Deconstruct the U.S. News "Best High Schools" Rankings

My son went to UHS and he has a first class intellect they helped develop. I did not ever see him working simply to memorize useless information. How is "gaming the system" any different from simply playing the game, the game of life. If you want an academic, intellectual curriculum you by and large have to take tests to measure achievement. There are other ways, but they are pretty much alternative models, which have their own place, but are not part of a standard public school system. Any way you cut it, the acheivements of UHS and Basis are pretty awesome and for all these kids' hard work, I hear a lot of cynical adults putting them down.

6 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Luckyone on 04/26/2017 at 2:09 PM

Re: “Once Again, It's Time to Deconstruct the U.S. News "Best High Schools" Rankings

The real story is that the all-AP curricula that successfully game the system to win these awards do not work as valid forms of college preparation, but that's a story David Safier has for four solid years refused to touch, to the detriment of students subjected to these abusive programs and to the detriment of parents who look to education commenters in the media to try to understand which schools will most benefit their students. It's especially sad when EDUCATORS like Safier fail to use their media platforms to disabuse the public about the actual quality of the College Board / AP racket.

I see University High has successfully climbed up a few notches again. They did that in part by adding two inflexible AP requirements to the FRESHMAN curriculum and by adding a pre-freshman year summer boot camp program where they try to give their hapless recruits the "skills" needed to cram for mindless multiple choice tests. Also by requiring seniors to register for a full course load including many AP classes whether or not they needed these classes to meet graduation requirements.

Many in the media and politics seem to be intent on disparaging and undermining the decent private educational programs left and the families using them. The charter- and district-connected political networks haven't found a way to profit from small scale, locally controlled Independent Schools or from schools affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, so economic disincentives must remain in place to discourage constituents from using these kinds of institutions. Meanwhile, in terms of the actual educational value of programs in publicly funded schools, charters and districts are engaging in a race to the bottom to see who can more completely transition to a corporatized, mindless and superficial memorization-and-regurgitation factories first.

Hurray for "democracy." (Corporatocracy?) It's producing great results these days, across the board.

7 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by David Safier continues to avoid real EDUCATION reporting. on 04/26/2017 at 10:40 AM

Re: “Good, Available Child Care Benefits Society

Rat T. is a female. Keep trying. Maybe one day you'll get something right. But I doubt it.

0 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by CW13 on 04/26/2017 at 10:35 AM

Re: “Once Again, It's Time to Deconstruct the U.S. News "Best High Schools" Rankings

Tucson should be damn proud to have these most incredible schools. No one is required to attend, but if you do you get a world class intense education FOR FREE! But people need to complain about something...

4 likes, 10 dislikes
Posted by Luckyone on 04/26/2017 at 9:34 AM

Re: “Once Again, It's Time to Deconstruct the U.S. News "Best High Schools" Rankings

If you want to prove a point and get the public to start thinking the way you want them to do all you have to do is create the illusion with smoke and mirrors. It's especially easy when you are pulling all the strings and pushing all the buttons to make your thingamabob look more beautiful and so much more intelligent and worthy than the other whatchamacallit. Republicans use this ruse over and over and it seems to work because the public believes everything at face value and never pulls back the curtain to reveal the phony behind it. If you trust anything that a Republican supports then you are already too far gone to redeem. There are only two motivators for Republicans and they are POWER and MONEY. They do not know how to govern, just to rule. They have the compassion of an iguana and as a group they are more cohesive than a band of fire-ants regardless of whether their objectives are right or wrong. The day that I trust ANY Republican is the day they pry my computer from my dead, cold hands.

7 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by Beneal Good on 04/26/2017 at 9:11 AM

Re: “Once Again, It's Time to Deconstruct the U.S. News "Best High Schools" Rankings

This is education culture. Test scores, test scores, test scores.

Yet, for 20 years the academic gains, the productivity, of American schools have gone down.

Education is substantially more complex than the average policy makers believes.

Focusing on test scores doesn't work.

It doesn't even work for BASIS. Less than half their graduates go on to graduate from college.

9 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by on 04/26/2017 at 7:57 AM

Re: “Good, Available Child Care Benefits Society

Ummm ummmm ummm. Rat T in disguise.

5 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Rat T should know that he exposes himself by repeating himself. on 04/26/2017 at 7:50 AM

Re: “Once Again, It's Time to Deconstruct the U.S. News "Best High Schools" Rankings

Winds...My Sweet Lord!

That has to be your best comment ever!

5 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by SonoranWinds has her moments on 04/26/2017 at 7:35 AM

Re: “Once Again, It's Time to Deconstruct the U.S. News "Best High Schools" Rankings

Ducey is cumming all over himself ....

9 likes, 12 dislikes
Posted by SonoranWinds on 04/25/2017 at 8:07 PM

Re: “BASIS Charter School News From Phoenix

I agree with much of what was posted by "Fraser." I probably have a fair idea of what makes a school work for different students. I taught in a variety of public and private, as well as Australian schools, in my 37 years in the classroom. As was pointed out by "Fraser," her daughter got a good education from a BASIS middle school. Not so much her other children. The daughter "packed the gear," as I heard Marine Drill Instructors say when I went through OCS at Quantico, Virgnia, about 60 years ago. The daughter had the intelligence and the motivation to do the advanced work required at the BASIS school. Apparently, he other children did not. Which brings me to another point: in the early 1960s when I got out of the Marine Corps, I was fortunate enough to find a job teaching high school English at the Shoreline School District, north of Seattle. The administrators at Shoreline at that time "tracked" kids, mostly depending upon their test scores and grades, but also on written assessments by their former teachers. Kids who scored high on standardized tests, had good grades previously, and received favorable assessments from former teachers were placed in either the "Intensive" or the "Honors" classes. For both these classifications, it was possible for teachers to assign more complex and difficult reading material, especially for the so-called "Honors" students who made up less then 5% of the school population. They "packed the gear." Later I taught in schools where students were not segregated according to their test scores, etc. I found it was next to impossible to challenge the brightest while providing assistance to those who found any kind of abstruse learning material impossible to master. While teaching in Australia, I saw what happens when schools "weed-out" students in the first few years of high school so that in grade 12 a teacher would have a class of no more then a half a dozen students. Finally, as "Fraser" pointed out, a BASIS school may be a perfect fit for one child and not so much for another. The question seems to be: what is the cost, both financially and sociologically, for Charter Schools to drain off public funds for a small minority of students who "pack the gear." One might ask, Wouldn't that student who "packs the gear" prosper just as well in a public school when the school offered the kind of "tracking" I mentioned earlier?

Posted by Morrie Schneider on 04/25/2017 at 4:07 PM

Re: “Good, Available Child Care Benefits Society

This is where our education money went. Given choices politicians lose sight of any priorities, so everything becomes their priority. Take away the funds, leave them the purse.

6 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Debbie Sue on 04/25/2017 at 3:56 PM

Re: “Good, Available Child Care Benefits Society

In the 60s we had no child care and the children were more productive and Intelligent and did not require police in the schools. Less of this:
Several hospitals, including ones in Stockton (40% Hispanic & Bankrupt), CA and Dallas, TX, report as many as 70% of their deliveries are to nonUS-residents. Similarly, the parents of infant citizens still qualify for welfare in order to protect the child.

What other things do these parents have to do since they have kids every 2 years to maintain Welfare Services. The majority don't need daycare because they don't work and don't plan to work!

3 likes, 8 dislikes
Posted by Postimpressionist on 04/25/2017 at 2:11 PM

Re: “Good, Available Child Care Benefits Society

Repeal Birthright Citizenship:
WIC, ($7,000,000,000) SNAP ($80,000,000,000 a year), TANF ($31,000,000,000), Supplemental housing ($24,000,000,000) and MEDICAID ($265,000,000,000), CHIP ($9,000,000,000) School Lunch Program ($11,600,000,000) total $795 BILLION A YEAR this doesn't count 8 Cash Assistance programs 8 vocational training programs 3 utility assistance programs total 2 child care and development programs. ALL together are tax payer burdens.

That would save the US TRILLIONS!
In 2010 there were 6,000,000 kids of illegals in the us. 1 year of education = $12,600 (2010) KP-12 = $163,800 X 6,000,000 = $982,800,000,000.

Mexican Anchor Kids come over the Mexico/US border in Juarez to attend school and burden the people of those counties. Pregnant women sneak over the border to DROP human flesh on US soil leaving US with the Hospital bill and the Educational Bill the Medical bill and any other kind of bill they can suck out of US! The Banditos! Stop Bandito Births!

3 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by Postimpressionist on 04/25/2017 at 2:03 PM

Re: “Good, Available Child Care Benefits Society

A recent study out of the University of Chicago....just think of the irony that U of C could not look at results in Chicago, so they went outside their own state.

Ummm ummmm ummm Obama. Chicago bleeds for you.

3 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by Once Great American City on 04/25/2017 at 12:02 PM

Re: “Good, Available Child Care Benefits Society

Could you make an argument with some actual thought content to it in support of a different point of view?

Compensation and credentialing standards in the child care "industry" are an acknowledged problem among educators. It's people who mindlessly promote expansion of the sector without acknowledging that wage and quality of care issues need to be addressed who are promoting shoddy public policy, a la TUSD's "early childhood education" centers. Talk to an expert in early childhood education some time about whether the execution of that particular local expansion of child care "opportunities" deserved praise or blame.

But asking questions that would help the public understand whether the public policy initiatives party operatives like Safier pitch actually benefit the constituents they are supposed to benefit -- or someone or something else -- is not something you'd be inclined to do. I wonder why not.

8 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Try adding some thought content. on 04/25/2017 at 9:39 AM

Re: “Statewide Voucher Initiatives Has Been Voted Down Everywhere, Every Time

Should all children receive an equal amount of tax funded support for their educations, or should some receive tens of thousands of dollars of support while others receive none?

When a private institution relieves the state of the burden of educating a child at the state's expense, should the state pay for the provision of those services? When private entities provide citizens other services the state usually provides, they are paid to do so.

Why would a tax increase be needed, Frances? You apply your per pupil funding in one institution or another. It's a zero sum game.

The fact is that without vouchers equalizing the per-pupil funding and remedying a situation in which there has been unfair economic discrimination against educational institutions providing excellent services to constituents and thereby contributing more to the common good than many public educational institutions do, what we have going on is the state creating an economic incentive for parents to enroll their children in schools that produce a less educated citizenry. If the government creates incentives, it should be incentivizing behaviors that produce better outcomes, not worse ones, cf. Cass Sunstein on policy "nudges."

3 likes, 8 dislikes
Posted by Ask more honest questions & provide better answers. on 04/25/2017 at 6:20 AM

Re: “Statewide Voucher Initiatives Has Been Voted Down Everywhere, Every Time

There should be two simple questions. The Republican majority is always adding more and more "transparency" requirements to school district bond and override elections. The voters should have a chance at a transparent question, without money laundering "empowering" wording nonsense. "Should the State of Arizona provide taxpayer money to subsidize private religious schools?" Period. The next question should be,"Do you support a dedicated tax increase to pay for these subsidies?" Yes or No. Of course they do not have the courage nor their corporate backers the confidence this would ever pass, thus a bamboozled Supreme Court bought the money laundering nonsense. The writer could add Michigan to the list, as the DeVos bunch put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to repeal the prohibition on public money for religious schools. It also lost bigly.

10 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Frances Perkins on 04/24/2017 at 11:06 PM

Re: “Good, Available Child Care Benefits Society

Did the mothers in the study want to turn their children over to daycare 40 or more hours a week, or would they have preferred to have a family income sufficient to enable one parent to provide pre-school and after-school care while the other parent worked full time? Why doesn't the political party that is supposed to defend the interests of working families defend the right to wages for full time work that can actually support a family properly?

Did the typically insufficiently educated and underpaid child care workers want to work for low wages taking care of other women's children in a group setting, or would they, if they had had the opportunity, have preferred a different way of life -- either a better paying job with better working conditions and benefits or the opportunity to take care of their own children, not someone else's? You forgot to mention what an economic ghetto paid child care workers live in. Try making it a genuine profession and then come talk to us about how much it will benefit society for us to (under)pay an (under)educated child care work force to raise the next generation of children.

12 likes, 11 dislikes
Posted by Come talk to us when "day care" is no longer a ghetto. on 04/24/2017 at 8:08 PM

Re: “Trouble in Republican City Over Voucher Expansion?

Yes, "Republicans Killed the American Dream," that's the party line, a.k.a. the fairy tale the Democratic Party likes to tell over and over and over again to people gullible enough to believe it. It bears about as much resemblance to reality as the party line / bedtime story told on the other side of the political divide, that the free market and its deus ex machina Invisible Hand will magically produce an education system that meets the needs of everyone if we just make sure to destroy all regulatory oversight.

You can see what kind of monsters fantasy-loving constituents on both sides of the political divide are capable of producing: in some circumstances following the Democratic Party line will produce TUSD, a bloated, deeply dysfunctional, inequitable disaster of a public school district, and in a different set of circumstances following the Republican Party line will produce Basis, a Hunger Games-style survival-of-the-fittest public charter chain that runs a program of mindless cramming for machine graded, corporate produced AP exams. Both have massive attrition rates, but for different reasons and through different means.

At the same time, excellent private schools with decades-long distinguished traditions of sound and humane education teeter in the brink of bankruptcy because of the damage the recession and the ever-escalating costs of higher ed have done to Southern Arizona's residents' ability to afford the luxury of a good K-12 education for their kids. And the uproar from the Democrats whose networks feed on public districts and the Republicans whose networks feed on public charters is defeaning. They can't agree on anything else, but they can certainly agree that allowing citizens to apply the tax dollars the state has available to educate their children in an institution that actually does EDUCATE them, rather than abusing them or wasting their time, is the most horrific thing that could ever happen in this nation.

That, unfortunately, is where our local public discourse on "education" seems to be. What further evidence do we need that the project of producing an educated citizenry through public institutions has failed?

4 likes, 10 dislikes
Posted by Perhaps public funds should be used to EDUCATE students? on 04/24/2017 at 7:35 PM

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