Roper: Defund our systematically racist public school system

By Rob Roper

The latest Vermont standardized test scores are out, and the results are not good, especially for students who have been “historically marginalized.” This is nothing new. The “achievement gap” has been persistent for decades.

In 2017, when these numbers came out, then Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe stated, “The achievement gaps between our vulnerable youth and students with greater privilege remain.”

Rob Roper is the president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

Cut and paste from 2016 when she said, “Our most vulnerable youth — those living in poverty, with disabilities, from marginalized populations and who speak English as a second — continue to have test scores that are on average lower than our general population.”

Cut and paste from Holcombe’s predecessor, Armando Vilaseca, who said when he left office in 2013: “I am particularly concerned that we still have not made major progress in closing the achievement gap for students living in poverty.” Though, it would be more accurate to say that our public school model has not made any progress in addressing this issue.

I could go on, but you get the picture.

In a 2015 report titled, Kicked Out! Unfair and Unequal Student Discipline in Vermont’s Public Schools, Vermont Legal Aid reported, “Vermont’s students with disabilities and students of color were two to three times more likely to be excluded from school through suspension and expulsion.”

The “reforms” put in place to bolster a flawed system not alter it (expanding public school oversight to pre-K, Act 46 consolidations, etc.), clearly are not working and are arguably making the problems worse. As you can see from looking at this year’s posted scores from the Agency of Education, the longer marginalized populations remain in the system, the larger the gap grows.

X.1 ~~~English scale scores~~~ X.2 X.3 ~~~Math scale scores~~~ X.4 X.5
Grade Historically marginalized Not historically marginalized Difference Historically marginalized Not historically marginalized Difference
Grade 3 2394 2459 65 2407 2470 63
Grade 4 2434 2506 72 2446 2507 61
Grade 5 2471 2550 79 2470 2541 71
Grade 6 2491 2568 77 2475 2557 82
Grade 7 2516 2598 82 2497 2582 85
Grade 8 2524 2605 81 2502 2595 93
Grade 9 2528 2616 88 2492 2583 91

Perhaps it’s time to accept that this is a structural problem with the system. The way we provide education does not work for the most vulnerable in the system, and hasn’t worked for a long time. Forcing any child, especially those from marginalized groups, into a system that, as the evidence repeatedly shows, does not work for them is a form of cruel and unusual punishment.

According to this VTDigger article, “Bill Mathis, the managing director of the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado, said that both the age of the scores, and the fact that they largely reflected longstanding and stubborn achievement gaps, suggested that they offered little insight into what is working or not in Vermont’s schools. ‘The ball game is socio economics,’ said Mathis, who also sits on (but was not speaking for) the State Board of Education. ‘You’re measuring socio economics more so than the quality of the school.’”

In any other context this would be derided as a “dog whistle.”

Stop Police Terror D.C. Project organizer Sean Blackmon said in a June 9 NPR story regarding policing reforms, “We keep seeing a massive investment into the D.C. police even though policing isn’t working. I mean, homicides are going up in Washington, D.C. So, we have to ask ourselves, why does money keep going to an institution, an agency that is clearly not working?”

The same could be said of the Vermont public school system, and should be.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of TNR
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21 thoughts on “Roper: Defund our systematically racist public school system

  1. Can’t argue with you. State employees wouldn’t allow change buy dems to keep it all going.

  2. https://slate.com/human-interest/2020/06/kids-cant-be-anything-they-want-stop-lying-care-and-feeding.html?fbclid=IwAR1HYMVtMJrnskr-Z-6JcqGHxudvgFMBnJziR4djfstT0nfX_zOxJk1-3po

    Defund ?

    Okay
    End all sports, arts & music programs because it’s socialized entertainment and a waste for most people. Town or county parks & recreation programs could be used for things like that.
    End all the proms, year books and other hype which is meant to get people emotionally attached to schools and has no educational value so a waste of public resources.

    Have k-8 schools and same teacher from start to finish. No more phys-ed seeing as how it didn’t help the obese Americans. Guidance counselors guided the Millennial’s into over $1 trillion of student debt so stop funding their employment.

    High schools should be like college, apply to get accepted and stop warehousing people who lack ability or motivation or self control and baby sitting them.

    Teach young teens some money smarts so they don’t go threw life without a clue about building net worth.

    The obsolete 1950’s education system needs to be changed.

    • It is BEYOND reform

      Get the GOVERNMENT out of it.

      Privatize it with parents paying 50%to the private school

      Parents would think twice before having children.

  3. A lot depends on the parents, and their skills.

    My sister has a son whose wife is a teacher, and a daughter who is a teacher.

    One family has two children, both near the top of their class in private high school, and received full tuition to private colleges.

    The other family has two daughters, both at the top of their class in private high school, and received full tuition to private colleges.

    This outcome was entirely predictable.

    Last night, I was at a party of at least 30 people.
    We watched the fireworks to celebrate the summer solstice.
    No one wore a mask.

    My neighbor and his wife were at the party, both are teachers in private schools.
    Their daughter was number 2 in her private high school, and will go to a private college in Maine on full scholarship.

    If parents are incompetent regarding raising children, they likely should not have them.
    It would be better for the parents and the children and the rest of us.

    Dem/Progs setting up all sorts of expensive socialistic, government programs, paid for by competent, tax-paying people, to hopefully (fingers crossed) offset that parental incompetence, is an expensive folly, as outcomes per invested dollar usually are mediocre.

    Nevertheless such programs are DECLARED a success, and therefore become permanent.

    • I disagree that ‘incompetent’ parents should not have children. The concept smacks of Eugenics. That some parents are incompetent (or at least appear to act so) is the greater concern. Studies on human psychology, specifically those on self-determination, intrinsic motivation, volunteerism, and autonomy in our education system clearly and consistently demonstrate that:

      “The more students were externally regulated the less they showed interest, value, and effort toward achievement and the more they tended to disown responsibility for negative outcomes, blaming others such as the teacher. By failing to provide supports for competence, autonomy, and relatedness, not only of children but also of students, employees, patients, and athletes, socializing agents and organizations contribute to alienation and ill-being.”

      In other words, our one-size-fits-all public education monopoly has created what appears to be parental incompetence. In fact, they are acting as most disenfranchised people do. The only way to incentivize parental competence is to enable parental efficacy. As long as our public education monopoly continues the draconian principles of conduct that tell parents to leave the education of their children to assigned experts, many parents simply capitulate. This phenomenon has been going on now for generations and the level of incompetence we perceive is a direct result of our public education monopoly.

      • Jay,
        My elder sister, fresh from Europe (legally), went to register her daughter at a US high school.
        She took one look at the ZOO
        My daughter is not going there!

        She registered her at a Montessori high school, where she was so outstanding, she entered college at 15, graduated at 18, taught for a year at the college, before being accepted, on full scholarship, at John’s Hopkins, ultimately became a research cardiologist.

        Her son followed a similar track, but via Rutgers U, now at Princeton U, as a systems analyst.

        The problem is, most parents have no standards from the get go.

        They are just floundering/leaving it to others, i. e., government, which is the THE WORST EQUIPPED TO DO ANY EDUCATING, as proven by outcomes and costs.

        • The well-off folks in the US typically send their children to private schools, including Obama’s, Clinton’s, Bushes, etc.

          They know Public Schools would damage the minds of THEIR children.

        • The problem is, most parents have no standards from the get go.

          The problem is, most parents have no alternatives from which to choose. If they had choices, they’d have standards.

          • Jay,

            Our cleaning lady has her priorities straight.

            She knows what HER standards are, from the get go.

            She works 50 hours a week to make sure her children can continue to go to College.

            Her husband is a property manager.

            Children will never forget what their parents did for them, how they sacrificed, without complaints.

            A family tradition is born, and pathways to success are opened.

            No government “ help” required.

        • Many parents have no choice where to send their children, the big public education monopoly does everything it can to force children to attend, even if it’s harmful to the student.

  4. This situation compounds itself over generations of falling accountability standards for students, parents and teachers combined with a sea change in the negative presentation methods and content of the powerful and positive aspects of our country. We reap what we sow.

  5. What we are missing is an attitude fostered by the inspiration of America. We used to recognize what we could achieved as individuals and how that would contributed to our country. History was taught, but focused on the progress made by individual accomplishment, thus unleashing and empowering the potential of each student to realize even they can make a positive difference.

    The idea we could accomplish anything we put our minds to as individuals fostered a creative liberating spirit that engaged our endeavor, we were not entitled, but rather on a mission to contribute and this made us feel an important part of something bigger!

    Our enemies would have us dwelling on our sins instead of celebrating our accomplishments!

  6. With a declining student population, a stagnant number of teachers and ever increasing school budgets leading to yet more dollars per student, one would logically expect a yearly rise in test scores. That not being the case, one has to wonder where is accountable in the mix. As in any other business, substandard performers are moved out. Under NEA’S control, it will never happen.

  7. Every student regardless of race comes to school equal. What do they do with the free education opportunity given to them? You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink. Don’t play the race card.

    • Many parents have no choice where to send their children, the big public education monopoly does everything it can to force children to attend, even if it’s harmful to the student.

    • Frankly I wouldn’t want my children “learning” much of the things being “taught” by the liberal big public education monopoly. Indoctrination

  8. Please. That our education system isn’t working isn’t news.

    There’s one statement by Mr. Roper that skirts the real issue. ” Forcing any child, especially those from marginalized groups, into a system that, as the evidence repeatedly shows, does not work for them is a form of cruel and unusual punishment.” But that’s as far as he goes.

    Please understand the specific problems School Choice mitigates? It’s not just a political issue. The act of making a choice counts. It’s called ‘self-determination’ and ‘intrinsic motivation’.

    “Perhaps no single phenomenon reflects the positive potential of human nature as much as intrinsic motivation, the inherent tendency to seek out novelty and challenges, to extend and exercise one’s capacities, to explore, and to learn.”
    https://selfdeterminationtheory.org/SDT/documents/2000_RyanDeci_SDT.pdf

    “Recent research indicates that “self-determined students were more likely to have achieved more positive adult outcomes including being employed at a higher rate and earning more per hour than peers who did not possess these skills.” (Wehmeyer & Schwartz, 1997).

    “An enormous amount of research shows the importance of self-determination (i.e., autonomy) for students in elementary school through college for enhancing learning and improving important post-school outcomes.”

    Conversely, “The more students were externally regulated the less they showed interest, value, and effort toward achievement and the more they tended to disown responsibility for negative outcomes, blaming others such as the teacher. By failing to provide supports for competence, autonomy, and relatedness, not only of children but also of students, employees, patients, and athletes, socializing agents and organizations contribute to alienation and ill-being.”
    https://www.apa.org/research/action/success.aspx

    If we want to correct a grievous wrong, give every parent a voucher to choose the school that best meets their children’s needs. Concurrently, educators (teachers, principals, and administrators) will be able to choose to work in the schools that best meet their students needs too. They will thrive and innovate as well.

    School Choice. It’s just that simple.

  9. We have a unique opportunity this year to make a statement that Montpelier can’t ignore – don’t pay the education portion of your property tax.

  10. Let’s see we have the NEA harboring inept teachers under the union blanket,
    and now for all the teacher coddling, let’s blame it on Racism, yup Liberal best
    talking point ………..

    So for those with kids in school, how are your tax dollars working for you, yeah
    that’s what I thought !! Wake up people, vote these fools out save the state.

  11. These articles have been released for years and they all have the same theme; they don’t do as well as the kids with two parents. — Now is the issue bad parenting, or are some kids just smarter then others? And the real question is why is society responsible for this — which is where the articles lead — spend more taxes money and we will fix it…

    Back in the 1950s and 1960s, I knew kids with very poor parents, who were top notch students, and others who had parents who didn’t have to worry about much, and they were poor students. — I think the wrong problem has been the focus.

  12. As everyone has heard by now, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Let’s get off the merry-go-round of failure in public education and look and making systemic improvements.
    Either that or focus on systemic racism is the cause for failure. That is an easier approach with no possible results.

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