Sunday, July 16, 2006

Important Public School Information You Probably Will Not Get From Kay Brooks

This past Friday, the Bush Education Department quietly (or more like "silently") released a report on reading and math scores, which concluded that children in public schools generally perform as well or better than comparable children in private schools. Kay Brooks is the school board candidate championing charter schools (publicly funded schools run by private groups) and private school vouchers, who sees little but abject failure in Metro public schools, so this report actually hurts her campaign. Charter schools "fared no better at educating children than traditional public schools." Now can we get serious by voting for school board members who will preserve what is good about our public schools and who will actually fix what needs fixing?


  1. The report was national and not specific to the MNPS. Let's see the data - how did you say it Mike, disaggregated - and see if MNPS schools compare favorably to the local private schools.

    Im betting Stratford and Maplewood which are the very schools Kay Brooks is fighting to improve dont come near MBA, Harpeth Hall, or even David Lipscomb.

    Take some data, twist it however you want to make your little political statement, but the fact remains the MNPS are failing.

  2. By all means: disaggregate. I'll wait.

    (Previous comment removed because an "Anonymous" person simply cut and pasted a long WashMo article rather than summarizing, linking, and otherwise having a point. Not only was that lazy, but it was anonymous; thus, it was more likely to be deleted. Word out.)

  3. I'd love to see disaggregated results too, but since the local private schools don't release their test results, I doubt that's going to happen anytime soon. I guess it's much easier for them to claim success when they don't actually have to offer proof of it. That said, while I'm sure MBA, Harpeth Hall, and USN are doing very well, I have my doubts about DCA, Goodpasture, and a lot of the other mid-range private schools that seem to produce a lot of good football players, but not so many National Merit Scholars.

    And a note to S-Town Mike: Sorry this is anonymous, but I'm a teacher who would rather see my comments remain unattached to my name.

  4. ... but I won't wait forever. Kay Brooks, who does not have the credentials that the DOE staff would have, jumped to the conclusion that Gracie Porter was the primary cause of her school's low test scores without reference to any other factors that might have been found had the stats been disaggregated. And as far as I know she has not published her own children's test scores to allow us to judge her as a home-schooler by the standards she judges Ms. Porter. I was passing on the conclusions of the pro-voucher Bush White House, which I am assuming has disaggregated the statistics to draw their conclusions. Also, I contend that Kay Brooks would not convey the findings of that report to her voters, because they would actually undermine her campaign.

    I think that it is significant that the pro-voucher people on Kay Brooks side constantly refer to private and charter schools as better than public schools, yet a study issued by one of their own shows otherwise. Metro schools have problems we need to fix. However, that does not justify the extreme measures that Kay Brooks advocates nor her loose use of disaggregated statistics.

  5. Mike, You should check Ms. Brooks' comments:

    I find it most interesting that she states "scores don't mean much."

  6. to mnbvcxz, I agree that the midlevel private schools arent up to the same level of MBA, Harpeth Hall, or Ryan, but even they far exceed the Metro schools in one key statistic - graduates. You dont need the data disaggregated to see that truth.

  7. To Anonymous:

    But how many of those private school students were at risk of dropping out in the first place? Compare a typical private school with a typicial public school in Nashville and you'll see a whole list of risk factors (special ed, poverty, English as a second language, family history of poor academics, etc) for many MNPS students that probably aren't there for the private school students. Essentially, the private schools can cherry pick a population that will be more likely to succeed with minimal interventions and claim success. A true test of their effectiveness would be to see how good of a job a private school could do with an ESL or special ed program.

    Mind you, I'm not trying to absolve the public schools of their responsibilities in assuring that their students receive a good education, but the public needs to understand that private schools don't face the same challenges as public schools--apples and oranges.

  8. to mnbvcxz

    Given the premise that public schools have a larger challenge educating their population, why limit options and rule out vouchers, charter schools, open enrollment, or anything that may be helpful?

    The root problem in my opinion is an NEA position that feels budgets are a zero sum affair - if any funds are diverted to another entity, even if it might be a more efficient provider, they are against it and fight it tooth and nail. Add to this the lack of any absolutes in their positions - test scores are great when they are headed up and used to support requests for additional funds / test scores are meaningless when used to seek accountability from staff - and you can see why some parents are tired and frustrated.

    Give us more options. Let us have more control of our own kids destinies. Stop expecting patience from us when the changes will occur after our kids are out of school. We want it made right now!