(Updated Oct. 9, 2010, with information about certain members of the Children's Investment Fund steering committee.)
- Seattle’s on-time graduation rate was 70.1% (a drop from 1990 of nearly 11%). For black students, the on-time graduation rate was 55.2%.
- Just 75.3% of Seattle’s 2009 student cohort remained in school through Grade 12, giving Seattle a cohort dropout rate of 24.7%. (For black students, the cohort dropout rate was 38.1%).
That is, indeed, remarkable.
The Communities in Schools program (a national program located in several cities, including Spokane) is supposedly a leading dropout prevention program. The CIS program does not provide data or research supporting its program, although it claims to be "proven" to work. An organization called ICF International is conducting a study of community-in-schools programs. This study is incomplete.
- Ben Stuckart is executive director of the Spokane chapter of CIS, and he also is on the Advisory Steering Committee for the Children's Investment Fund
- Doug Durham is on the board of directors for Spokane's CIS, and there is a Doug Durham on the Advisory Steering Committee for the Children's Investment Fund
- Lee Taylor is on the board of directors for Spokane's CIS, and there is a Lee Taylor on the Advisory Steering Committee for the Children's Investment Fund
Please vote “no” to the Spokane Children’s Investment Fund property tax initiative. Money isn’t going to fix Spokane’s dropout rate. Vote no, ask your family and friends to vote no, and ask the businesses and organizations that support this levy to withdraw their support.
You are being asked, during an economic downturn, to tax yourselves in support of a nebulous program, run by as-yet unknown mayoral appointees, who will give grants to as-yet unknown organizations, which supposedly will be able to (through as-yet undetermined extracurricular services), reduce Spokane’s dropout rate.
Spokane Public Schools has a dropout problem, no doubt about it. Its 2008/2009 on-time graduation rate was 62.1%. For black students, it was 54.6%. Just 71.3% of the 2009 cohort was still in school in Grade 12, giving Spokane a cohort dropout rate of 28.7%. (The black cohort dropout rate was 32.8%.)
Clearly, something needs to be done in Spokane, but the Spokane Children’s Investment Fund is the wrong tool for this job. According to the initiative's brochure, any grantees will have to show “proven effectiveness and successful track records in fighting the root causes of school dropouts.” But if their track records actually were proven, why is Spokane staring at a 28.7% cohort dropout rate? Why would the levy even be needed?
What exactly are those “root causes”? Could some of them have to do with Spokane Public Schools’ counterproductive academic policies?
- Spokane Public Schools has a habit of cluttering the school day with nonacademic activities, events, parties, assemblies and “character classes.”
- The school district’s absolute and unwavering commitment to constructivism (or “discovery learning”) prevents teachers from directly teaching the students critical subjects such as arithmetic and grammar. Every day, students are guided into muddling in herds, teaching themselves and each other, deferring to groupthink and attempting to reach “consensus” on things they don’t understand.
- District policy is to socially promote students to the next grade regardless of what they know. Standard operating procedure is to plunk them into advanced classes for which they’re insufficiently prepared. In response to queries about these policies, administrators have said to me: “Even if they don’t pass, students must have learned something while they’re there.”
Supporters of the initiative want you to vote “yes” for the children by voting “yes” to this tax initiative. I’m asking you to vote “yes” for the children by voting “no” to this initiative. I’m asking you to push Spokane Public Schools to give up on its failing policies, to fire its ineffective administrators, and to give its corps of teachers the freedom to teach their students a strong curriculum in a focused learning environment.
Most of what Spokane administrators need to do for our students is just get out of the way.
Let’s see where we are then with our dropout rates.
Please note: The information in this post is copyrighted. The proper citation is:Rogers, L. (October 2010). "Children's Investment Fund: Vote "no"." Retrieved (date) from the Betrayed Web site: http://betrayed-whyeducationisfailing.blogspot.com/