Friday, May 16, 2014

DC Schools: $29,349 Per Pupil, 83 Percent Not Proficient in Reading

The public schools in Washington, D.C., spent $29,349 per pupil in the 2010-2011 school year, according to the latest data from National Center for Education Statistics, but in 2013 fully 83 percent of the eighth graders in these schools were not "proficient" in reading and 81 percent were not "proficient" in math.

These are the government schools in our nation's capital city -- where for decades politicians of both parties have obstreperously pushed for more federal involvement in education and more federal spending on education.

Government has manifestly failed the families who must send their children to these schools, and the children who must attend them.

Under the auspices of the National Center for Education Statistics, the federal government periodically tests elementary and high school students in various subjects, including reading and math. These National Assessment of Educational Progress tests are scored on a scale of 500, and student achievement levels are rated as "basic," "proficient" and "advanced."

In 2013, students nationwide took NAEP reading and math tests. When the NCES listed the scores of public-school eighth graders in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, D.C. came in last in both subjects.

D.C. eighth graders scored an average of 248 out of 500 in reading, and Mississippi finished next to last with an average of 253.

Only 17 percent of D.C. 8th graders rated "proficient" or better in reading. In Mississippi, it was 20 percent.

In math, D.C. public-school eighth graders scored an average of 265 out of 500, and only 19 percent were rated "proficient" or better. Alabama placed next to last with an average math score of 269, with 20 percent rated "proficient" or better.

Some might argue it is unfair to compare, Washington, D.C., a single city, with an entire state. However, D.C. also does not compete well against other big cities.

The Department of Education's Trial Urban District Assessments program compares the test results in 21 large-city school districts, including Washington, D.C.

In these assessments, the scores of students from charter schools were removed and the average reading score for D.C. public school eighth-graders dropped to 245. That was below the national large-city average of 258, and tied D.C. with Fresno for seventeenth place among the 21 big cities in the TUDA.

In math, minus the charter school students, D.C. public-school eighth graders earned an average score of 260. That was below the national large-city average of 276, and put D.C. in a tie for sixteenth place, this time with Fresno and Baltimore.

The NCES database indicates that in the 2010-2011 school year, Washington, D.C. public schools spent a total of $29,349 per pupil, ranking No. 1 in spending per pupil among the 21 large cities in the TUDA.

New York City Public Schools ranked second among these large cities, spending $23,996 per pupil. That was $5,353 -- or about 18 percent -- less than the $29,349 the D.C. public schools spent.

Table 236.75 from the NCES's Digest of Education Statistics compares per pupil spending among the states and the District of Columbia. It indicates that D.C. spent a little bit less per pupil -- $28,403 -- who enrolled in the fall in 2010-2011 school year. But that still ranks D.C. as No. 1, out-spending all the states.

How did the D.C. public schools spend $28,403 per student?

Among other things, they spent $10,584 per pupil on "instruction," which "encompasses all activities dealing directly with the interaction between teachers and students."

Then they spent $5,487 on "capital outlays," which includes "the acquisition of land and buildings; building construction, remodeling," etc.

Then they spent $2,321 on "operation and maintenance," which includes "salary, benefits, supplies, and contractual fees for supervision of operations and maintenance," etc.

Then they spent $2,124 on "interest on school debt."

Then they spent $1,613 on "instructional staff," $1,546 on "school administration," $1,404 on "student transportation," $1,208 on "student support," $866 on "general administration," $761 on "food services," $450 on "other support services."

Congress ought to give every family in Washington, D.C., a choice of whether or not they want a government school to spend this money on behalf of their children. The D.C. public school system should be required to provide every family in the district with school-age children with a voucher for each child that is worth every penny the district now spends per pupil in its public schools. Families should be able to use that voucher at any school they want, anywhere they want.


Pupils shouldn't swim during Ramadan because swallowing pool water 'would break the fast' claims chair of governors at school accused of teaching Islamic extremism in Trojan Horse scandal

He must think chlorine is nutritious

A governor who is said to have orchestrated a plot by Muslim extremists to take over a group of schools believes children should not be allowed to swim during Ramadan because it may 'break their fast'.

Tahir Alam, the chairman of Park View School in Birmingham, said there should be sensitivity during the Islamic holy month because pupils could accidentally ‘swallow water.’

The suspected ringleader of the 'Trojan Horse' operation also said Muslim women and girls have an 'obligation' to cover their bodies after denying claims he made schoolchildren wear headscarves.

He describes himself as a 'conservative Muslim', but says allegations of Islamification and extremist teachings at the schools in Birmingham are false.

Mr Alam drafted a document in 2007 suggesting songs with ant-Islamic lyrics should be banned from schools and dancing 'discouraged'.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Alam said no one had praised al-Qaeda in assemblies and refuted rumours that classrooms had been segregated.

He added that schools' policies on areas such as collective prayer, headscarves and halal meat were 'within the legal parameters.'

‘No child has to wear a headscarf, nobody has to go to prayer in a compulsory manner ... only 5-10 per cent of our children pray during lunchtime,' he said.

Despite having a 99 per cent Muslim uptake, Mr Alam said Park View has no 'religious designation', which means they cannot force any faith practices on students.

‘The whole thing has been blown out of all proportion. It's based on an anonymous document, unsigned, undated.

‘I wonder how many other unsigned and undated documents would generate 12 weeks of media hysteria and political storm.’

‘So any accommodation that we may do in relation to catering for the children - for example, if it relates to the prayer maybe, or halal meals or collective worship - all these practices are well within the regulations and the law.’

Whistleblowing teachers have claimed the school is in the hands of a group of extremists who infiltrated the governing body, forcing non-Muslims out and replacing them with hardliners.

Six non-Muslim headteachers at schools in the city are said to have left their posts in the last six months.

But Mr Alam said  he did not know the circumstances of their departures and assured listeners he had taken on non-Muslim staff during his tenure.

'We have run Park View as a highly successful school. Our results are amongst the highest in the area.  ‘It's something that needs to be replicated not removed.’

Birmingham City Council has received 200 complaints about Muslim practices across a number of schools in the city.

The Department for Education has commissioned an investigation into the claims, headed by former counter-terror chief, Peter Clarke.


State schools 'are creating an amoral generation': Private headmaster says staff are too busy chasing exam results to teach children right from wrong

Schools are producing a generation of ‘amoral’ children because staff are too busy chasing exam results to teach pupils the difference between right and wrong, it is claimed today.

A private school head will claim that teachers - mainly in state schools - are under so much pressure to meet exam targets they are failing to equip pupils with basic values.

Richard Walden, chairman of the Independent Schools Association, will say that private schools, in contrast, are turning out ‘well-rounded’ pupils with ‘moral understanding’.

In provocative remarks, Mr Walden will claim that many state school teachers ‘operate in a climate of fear’.

He will suggest that the Government’s regime of testing and league tables is the modern-day equivalent of the birch, which was used to cane pupils until corporal punishment was outlawed in 1986.

But parents are increasingly ‘buying in’ to the idea that only exam scores matter and are demanding ‘quick-fix results’.

Mr Walden, head of £6,867-a-year Castle House School in Shropshire, which caters for two to 11-year-olds, will make the claims in a keynote speech to fellow heads at the association’s annual conference in Warwickshire.

Too many teachers in state schools are ‘overwhelmed by the pressure to achieve results’ and devote too much time to ‘teaching the basics’, he will argue.

‘Schools are turning out too many amoral children because teachers cannot find the time to teach the difference between right and wrong,’ he says.

‘It seems that the only results that matter are those which have created added value in terms of raising a pupil’s statistical level from one stage to the next, and parents are increasingly buying in to this notion.

‘This focus on league tables and attainment levels distracts teachers and effectively disables them from providing children with a more rounded and enriching education - one that will give them the moral compass they need for life.’

Mr Walden will say that the ‘formation of character is fundamental in education’ and done ‘so well’ in independent schools, which offer a broad curriculum and range of lunchtime and after-school activities.

He will dismiss the argument that privately-educated only succeed in life because they are from ‘elitist or privileged’ backgrounds.

‘They do well because they have received a value-rich education, provided with love in our independent schools.’

Learning values allows pupils to ‘distinguish the good from the bad and the true from the false’, Mr Walden says.

‘The very nature of our schools, with their respect for discipline and academic seriousness, sport and culture, citizenship and community, service, environmental awareness, spiritual life and personal responsibility, sends out into the world young people with emotional intelligence, developed moral understanding and a willingness to make a contribution to society,’ he says.

These qualities cannot be measured by ‘inspectors’ tick-charts’.

Mr Walden goes on to say: ‘We cannot measure the growth of maturity in a young person grade by grade.

‘It takes time, but if we hold our nerve as educators and as schools - and that may mean resisting the demands of parents who want quick-fix results, or the pressures of external statistical grading systems, not to mention the difficult financial situations that we can face - if we hold our nerve, we will continue to turn out well-rounded individuals who make a difference to society, as we have for many years.’

He will say it is important to discuss ‘values’ since education ‘does not seem to be enough’.

He will refer to a Muslim scientist who held extremist views while studying at Cambridge, before renouncing them in the wake of the 2005 London bombings.

‘Education is the mark of a civilised society; we believe it should prevent barbarism. But it does not seem to be enough. Indeed often it is the educated who perpetrate wicked acts.’

Pupils need to learn how to ‘think for oneself and choose wisely’ to help them grapple with ethical issues in future, Mr Walden will say.

He adds: ‘We are gaining the potential to improve the human gene pool, for a good end, the eradication of many diseases - but at what cost?’


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