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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.

1 like, 1 dislike
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.

1 like, 1 dislike
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.

4 likes, 4 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, 3 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...

0 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Luckyone on 04/26/2017 at 9:34 AM

Re: “Editor’s Note

I've learned a lot during the last few years from reading the comment streams on Safier's blog and on selected other pieces in the Weekly. I appreciate those who take the time to explain their reasoning and how they look at things, especially when I disagree with them politically. It helps me understand the diversity of opinions in local politics and what beliefs (and sometimes fears) certain policy preferences are based on.

The commenter above seems to comment frequently and has a very distinct style, but I've never been able to get a clear view of what he or she believes, beyond that the appropriate way to respond to anyone who questions any point of liberal orthodoxy is to use insults and assertions not backed up by any valid arguments or evidence. One trope is, while insulting another commenter, to assert that the commenter being insulted lacks love and / or compassion. The hypocrisy doesn't seem to register.

Interesting. Puts a new, ironic spin in the term "liberal," doesn't it? As does the Weekly's pervasive failure to delete comments that involve insults and name-calling, in direct violation of their own clearly stated "Comments Policy." Kind of like when TUSD reps say the district puts the wellbeing of the kids and teachers first. It doesn't take a whole lot of observation to recognize the betrayals and inconsistencies.

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Posted by Hypocrisy should end, too, but, sadly, it won't. on 04/26/2017 at 9:33 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.

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Posted by Beneal Good on 04/26/2017 at 9:11 AM

Re: “The Skinny

Raul's picture next to "skinny", now that's irony.

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Posted by CW13 on 04/26/2017 at 8:02 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.

6 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by jhuppent@hotmail.com on 04/26/2017 at 7:57 AM

Re: “Good, Available Child Care Benefits Society

Ummm ummmm ummm. Rat T in disguise.

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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!

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Posted by SonoranWinds has her moments on 04/26/2017 at 7:35 AM

Re: “Editor’s Note

The commentary above lacks true human love.

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Posted by Unfair discrimination started with the comment right above mine. on 04/26/2017 at 7:30 AM

Re: “The Skinny

Mr. Nice Guy? Seriously?

NO!

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by No More Mr. Nice Guy on 04/26/2017 at 7:27 AM

Re: “The Skinny

"If you look closely you can see the remains of last nights dinner in his beard." There is a pack rat colony in there also, i could not see them,but, i seen cactus, so they are in there somewhere!

1 like, 2 dislikes
Posted by mrniceguy on 04/25/2017 at 11:17 PM

Re: “Editor’s Note

Thanks for encouraging us to talk to our kids' teachers, Ms. Herrerras. My kid's teachers teach in a Catholic school, so I'll be able to tell them the budget cuts and frozen salaries and worries about losing enrollment to charters they've experienced during the last several years may be over, now that the state has further scaled back its economic discrimination against schools affiliated with one of the religions this country's Constitution guarantees its citizens the right to exercise. Hallelujah.

(The Catholic school teachers I know make less than public school teachers, even in Arizona, where public school teacher salaries are shockingly low. They have been willing to make an economic sacrifice to teach in an environment where the community is focused on values they believe in. They know that their sacrifice helps the schools keep tuition affordable for families, and they care about the wellbeing of the community as a whole and the families of their students, many of whom are living on very tight budgets. The students graduating from the Catholic schools I know are better prepared academically and in terms of civic values / volunteerism than the kids graduating from the public schools with which I have direct experience. I am able to make a direct, 1:1 comparison, having taught in Arizona public schools and in Arizona Catholic schools and having been a parent in both systems as well.)

Why shouldn't the state pony up and support the hard work of teachers in Catholic schools, who prepare students well for lives of service in the professions and in the broader community? Without vouchers, the state saves over $5K per year for every student enrolled in a Catholic school. That money belongs in the pockets of the parents paying tuition and the teachers working sacrificially at unacceptably low salaries. Not in the pockets of corporations which receive tax breaks as the real cost of educating the next generation is falsely suppressed when the government refuses to pay for education taking place in certain contexts.

We hear a lot about "discrimination" in the U.S. Strange that some of us still can't recognize a genuine case of it when we see it.

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Posted by Unfair discrimination should end now. on 04/25/2017 at 8:28 PM

Re: “Money and Challengers, Oh My

Don't think McSally is much of a lay....
(your subhed...)

Posted by SonoranWinds on 04/25/2017 at 8:09 PM

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

Ducey is cumming all over himself ....

8 likes, 9 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.

5 likes, 6 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.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michealene-cristini-risley/the-14th_b_1343158.html

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, 7 dislikes
Posted by Postimpressionist on 04/25/2017 at 2:11 PM

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