kitchen table math, the sequel: let them eat iPads

Saturday, September 1, 2012

let them eat iPads

I've been talking to a teacher in Manhattan who seconds Barry's argument re: the destruction of education and the preservation of inequality via technology. The more 'technological' the school, she says, the worse it is, especially when the word 'technology' and/or its synonyms appear in the school's name.

She told me about a school so bad the city was going to close it and then re-open it as the Creative Digital Minds High School. (Of course, the original name appears to have been High School of Graphic Communication Arts, which isn't a whole lot better. Although the phrase "graphic communication arts" does signal, to me, an actual skill.)

Apparently the closing-and-reopening scheme is on hold for the time being.

I think somebody should start a brand new school & call it Old School.

Chart of proposed name changes for 24 struggling schools

14 comments:

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

Some of the proposed names for "new" schools are amazingly awful.

Anonymous said...

I've always thought that one of the reasons that charter schools don't make it in wealthy districts are the terrible names. I've seen schools with names like Academy of Excellence, or Young Achievers Academy. Upper income parents simply DON'T SEND their children to schools like School of Career Exploration or Academy of Excellence. They send their kids to schools with low key names, like The Dalton School. In fact, I think that the term "Academy" is almost a marker for a charter aimed at low income kids. If charters want to make inroads into wealthy districts, they need to come up with classier names.

SteveH said...

I've made comments before that in math, you can tell the best math textbooks by their simple names; Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, and so forth. The weaker ones have names like "Math for a Changing World". They might use the word algebra, but they are always followed by some real world phrase.

You can see this for almost any publisher. They know which ones are the stronger, more rigorous textbooks. They are not telling educators that "Math for a Changing World" teaches more critical thinking or understanding. Publishers are not telling educators that the "real world" textbooks would be better for the top math students. Educators know this. The assumption is that the real world textbooks are better for "the rest" of the kids. They think they provide more interesting examples to engage and motivate kids. Unfortunately, they treat all K-6 kids as "the rest" so that only kids who are math brains or get help at home get onto the top math track in high school.

Many think that CCSS sets a high standard and gets the job done, but it doesn't fix "the rest" problem in K-6. It just moves the bar higher and tells kids that they need more engagement and motivation. The problem and onus are on them. They don't prepare kids properly in K-6 and then torture them with a Groundhog's Day sort of repeating of algebra throughout high school. Real world based courses might make for an active classroom, but at best, they only scrape minor improvements in relative (bad) test scores. Teachers then complain about the tests. Since they see only engagement and motivation, they will never fix the real K-6 problem of mastery of skills. Rather than look for real problems, they look for anything else, like computers and technology. As always, the onus is on others.

Go ahead and build a new school. Make it green and high tech. Put Smart Boards in every classroom. It won't make any difference unless they set higher standards in K-6 and ensure mastery of the basics. CCSS doesn't do this. There are too many "fluency" loopholes. Educators need to understand exactly why their best students are successful. They need to talk to their parents. We are not just going to museums, turning off the TV, and ensuring a good breakfast. They will never ask me and continue to assume that Everyday Math gets the job done.

SteveH said...

In our state, charter schools have to have a specific slant or charter. You can't have a K-8 charter school called "Rigorous Classical Education". The state education administration (which decides) will never allow a K-8 charter school that skims off the best students. However, if you have a charter that is vocational in nature or that reflects "green" thinking, it's OK. Regular public schools don't mind if you sludge off the low end, but they will never allow a charter school to skim off the top end. It's interesting, however, that this changes once kids get to high school. Then again, they prefer things like magnet schools for the arts. We had one of those in our area. It was neither good for the arts nor good for academics. That's because it takes a lot more than engagement and motivation.

cranberry said...

In fact, I think that the term "Academy" is almost a marker for a charter aimed at low income kids. If charters want to make inroads into wealthy districts, they need to come up with classier names.

Yes...after all, Phillips Exeter Academy, Phillips Andover Academy, Deerfield Academy, Milton Academy, Concord Academy---all sadly misnamed. (sarcasm)

I'm waiting for the next marine biology or forensics charter school.

Anonymous said...

There are certainly a few "Academies" - mainly old, with a really WASP-y name in front. And people call them "Deerfield" or "Exeter", leaving off the "Academy" part.

More typical
Packer Collegiate Institute
The Fieldston School
Horace Mann School
The Collegiate School
Miss Porter's School
Choate Rosemary Hall
St Paul's School
The Spence School
Harvard-Westlake School
The Groton School

These names are very different from "Knowledge is Power Program" (KIPP), "Inspire Charter Academy", "Mentorship Academy of Digital Arts", "Success Preparatory Academy","SOAR Charter Academy" or "Brooklyn Success Academy" (these are all actual charter school names). These may all be great schools but their names doom them with upper middle class types.

Jen said...

Yup, Academy was taken from all the prestigious private schools named that way, but its use by "reformers" has killed it. Just like whenever my district uses the words "rigor" or "rigorous" or "excellence" I know that whatever follows is going to be something that removes rigor and/or excellence.

It's true that in our state a charter must have a theme or at the least a "scheme" that's different from what's offered in the local district. That's why you have things like this: http://www.imagineschools.com/2011/05/imagine-penn-hills-charter-school-of-entrepreneurship/

Yes, indeed a school starting out with K-3 teaching entrepreneur-ing with a "microsociety" approach.

However, I do feel it leaves open the possibility of opening a charter for a good, solid education -- "School of Actual Teaching" say.

Crimson Wife said...

Well, I live in an affluent area, and the local private classical school that has way more applications than it has slots is called "NorthCreek Academy". The local Montessori charter school that again has way more applications than slots is called "Eagle Peak". A couple towns over there is a very selective private high school called "Athenian". So I'm having a hard time buying the claim that yuppies are turned off by names suggestive of excellence.

cranberry said...

@ Anonymous @11:13,

There's actually a historical distinction between "academies" and "schools."

Schools were traditionally modeled after the English boarding schools, drawing students primarily from socially elite families. Academies were more open in admission. Both Phillips Andover and Phillips Exeter have the mission to draw "youth from every quarter." Academies are traditionally to be found in towns, whereas schools usually have a campus out in the country. (Or at least, the campus was in a rural area at the time the schools were built.)

Boston University Academy follows the tradition of the academically oriented prep school set in a city.

So, in terms of tradition, an urban school which does not seek to enroll only the social elite and features an academically demanding curriculum should name itself the ______ Academy.

ChemProf said...

Crimson Wife, I think you actually made Catherine's point. Those names are all suggestive of excellence. In my neck of the woods, in a much less affluent area, the local charter is called the College Preparatory Academy. Not a lot of yuppies there, because the name doesn't exactly suggest excellence. Upper class folks see that name and think "yes, but which college?"

Bostonian said...

Any school name or course title containing the phrase "social justice" bothers me. Googling "school of social justice" indicates that there are such schools. "Social justice" is code for redistribution and other forms of socialism. Only schools in "people's democratic republics" should have such names.




Catherine Johnson said...

Any school name or course title containing the phrase "social justice" bothers me.

Amen to that.

Catherine Johnson said...

Any school name or course title containing the phrase "social justice" bothers me.

Amen to that.

Catherine Johnson said...

I've made comments before that in math, you can tell the best math textbooks by their simple names; Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, and so forth. The weaker ones have names like "Math for a Changing World". They might use the word algebra, but they are always followed by some real world phrase.

omg!

You're right!

I never thought of that (and somehow MISSED your saying this???)