Thursday, March 08, 2007

Those who flee TPS are sending a very loud message - is anyone listening?

This article in today's Blade has raised many questions for me.

It's about parents deciding to enroll their children in TPS schools that are in academic emergency just so they can qualify for vouchers. And there are several things very concerning about this.

One - what does it say about parents' perception of the Toledo Public School system that they're willing to risk the education of their children by putting them - even temporarily - in a failing school so that they can, in the long run, permanently leave the school system? And this is an issue that's more than just 'perception' that needs to be changed by some advertising campaign.

Two - what does it say about our school leaders that they refuse to acknowledge the problem and instead see this as some conspiracy against urban school systems? Interim Superintendent Foley said this was "...just another way for the state to harm urban schools..." As if the entire goal of the voucher program was to decimate urban schools rather than to give students an opportunity to choose something other than a failure in their education.

Three - when a business begins to lose its customers, it starts to look internally at what's going wrong - are my prices too high? is my quality not what it should be? does my competition have better customer service?

Our school system, on the other hand, starts trying to place blame anywhere BUT internally.

Then there is this paragraph in the story:

"The teachers’ union reported two Bowsher High School students transferred recently to Woodward High School because they want free public cash toward tuition at St. Francis de Sales High School in the fall." (emphasis added)

Which leads me to point four - why is that these school leaders fail to understand that it isn't 'free public cash' as if the educational funds belong to some nebulous group or entity. These 'public' funds are OUR tax dollars which we expended to purchase a product - that being a quality education. There is no ENTITLEMENT of public schools to these monies - the only entity ENTITLED to such funds is the CHILD. And if such a child cannot get the quality education to which they're entitled, they should have every right to take their own monies and go to where they can.

If the TPS school system wants to stop the students from leaving, it needs to realize that criticizing its competitors - and insisting upon the usage of a failed monopoly - is not the way to do so. The test scores at these failing schools are already speaking loudly and clearly as is the decision of parents to send their children elsewhere - but is anyone really listening?

UPDATE: I wanted to add a link to this column by Debra Saunders, "Higher Grades, Lower Scores," which discusses the decline in proficiency despite an increase in grade point averages.


-Sepp said...

Of course these fools are going to blame everyone else! Our pc society gives everyone an "out" for their own failings. As a parent of TPS students, my perception is that the TFT has long ago decided that people become teachers for the money and summers off...the kids aren't even a factor anymore. People don't always move to the suburbs so their kids can go to better schools, they move there so their kids can go to school with better kids.
Ever since I can rememberm TPS has had it's hand out for more money but, no promise of better services in exchange. The school system here in Toledo is a direct reflection of our local government. The hand is always out and expecting more in return for less. I remember my teachers having classes of 30+ kids and maintaining control and delivering an education to all of us. Today, 20 kids is considered large and, overwelming. I only wish McCauley high school was still operating. I shudder to think of what education in Toledo will be when my daughters hit high school.

Maggie Thurber said...

"I shudder to think of what education in Toledo will be when my daughters hit high school."

Agreed ... I'm a proud graduate of Woodward High School and I believe I got a very good education there. However, I couldn't support sending kids there today as it's one of the schools whose students are eligible for the voucher. But I probably wouldn't move away from TPS - not when the voucher would allow me to stay in the Point and still send any kids we'd have to a different school.

Kate said...

Wow - hard hitting and right on the money, Maggie. Pun intended.

No wonder TPS has the issues they do - they think this money is delivered by fairies?

Until they do begin to spend their energy into real problem solving, and that does mean introspection, then this problem will continue to get worse.

I guess it took a while, but the public has figured out a way around 'mandatory attendance'.

Hooda Thunkit said...

Your analysis is spot on Maggie.

We were fortunate enough to be able to send our children to decent parochial schools, so none of this horsestuff was a problem for us/them, so I can understand why parents without the means would gamble with their children's education in order to assure them of a guaranteed out.

The sad thing is they HAVE to do it to begin with.

With the money (our money) that TPS has to spend for our children's education, maybe they should just contract with the parochials to do the job that they can't seem to get a handle on and refund the rest back to "We the Sheeple..."

I don't really care who teaches our children as long as they do it well, and the sooner that TPS realizes that, the sooner they can begin to fix what's broken.

Maggie Thurber said...

I've said this on several blogs/forums now...

We need to stop worrying about perpetuating the system and start worrying about educating the child.

The sad part about the way the article portrays school leaders is that it makes it seem as if perpetuation of a failing school system is more of a priority than the child actually getting a good education. And I realize this may be a kind portrayal, but I've had too many conversations with reporters that last for 10-15 minutes only to have one sentence reported...

For more on this topic, visit the thread on swampbubbles.

Hooda Thunkit said...

What TPS really need is ~ 3,000 nuns with attitudes for the children and a few hundred "goons" to keep the parents away while the children are properly educated.

Oh yes, I almost forgot, and a healthy board of education in every school; hickory or ask would do well. . .

Neither the parents nor the students would like it at first, but in time, they'd demand the same for every generation.

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