Public Education is Suffering while Private Education is Getting By

What’s New at Asora in October 2019

Many of the current themes are extensions of subjects we have discussed in previous Asora Updates. You will find a number of relevant articles on them. They can be found in our What Was New pages by clicking here.



October 2019 Theme: Sick Schools


Diagnosis, Cure, and Prevention of School Maladies


By

David V. Anderson

Our theme in this edition, about Sick Schools, introduces our community of K-12 education stakeholders to our new book:

Sick Schools: Diagnosis, Cure, and Prevention of School Maladies

To be released in the Spring of 2020.

If this interests you enough that you’d like to know more details, without having to wait to purchase the book, you can download the book’s first twenty-odd pages contained in the file SickSchoolsEntrance.pdf. You can access it by clicking on its page: Books and Documents on Reform. An even shorter summary of the book is in the Abstract, which we display farther below on this screen.

Many of our current themes and much of the content of the book are extensions of subjects we have discussed in previous Asora Updates. You will find a number of relevant articles in them. They can be found in our What Was New pages by clicking here.

If You Are A New Visitor
If this is your first time visiting here, welcome to Asora Education Enterprises, which has been engaged in:


1.) The production of the just mentioned book that proposes many new avenues of K-12 education reform. This book, entitled Sick Schools, places emphasis on using economic forces as well as technological and methodological developments to make the K-12 education economic sector healthy and one in which most parents can find schooling for their children that matches their interests and requirements. More on this in Abstract and Headlines displayed below in the next section.

2.) Publishing national and regional guides (hardcopy and online) to public and (now) private schools and the supplementary resources locally available that are needed to bring children attending these schools up to grade level.

3.) An achievement test consulting service, in which we analyze state administered test results to remove the exaggerations found therein. Our guides and guidebooks are, in part, based on the calculations we developed for those studies.

4.) The Stellar Schools Franchising Project, which plans to organize K-12 franchising networks of brick & mortar schools that are based on a blended format of self-paced online instruction, a flipped scheduling arrangement, online adaptive tutoring and e-books blended with real instructors, live tutors and hardcopy books.

5.) Helping to overcome the market failure in K-12 education. We can use our guides to inform parents. And they enable aggressive contrast marketing, which can help education enterprises thrive. Other stakeholders can use this information to inform and energize other stakeholders of education.

6.) A speakers' bureau focused on these topical areas.



If you're a new visitor to our website we suggest that you might review the Abstract and Headlines below before venturing into the other areas.

The Abstract of Sick Schools

Sick Schools

Diagnosis, Cure, and Prevention of School Maladies

Our story of education within western civilization starts before the printing presses of the 15th century. Then, most children were illiterate. Some learned in small groups or were tutored. Once printed books became more affordable, circa 1500, more students had access to them, but the numbers of teachers were limited- for obvious economic reasons. Group instruction fixed that mismatch. Soon, graded schools with group instruction were established- not really so much different than those of our own time, almost 500 years later.

In United States K-12 education, a student’s age was traditionally used for the initial classroom placement that could later be adjusted by retention or double-promotion to align that pupil’s placement with the his or her actual performance level. That has changed. Now we have social promotion in which students rise through the grade levels of a school without actually achieving grade level mastery. This means that report cards, transcripts and diplomas generally misrepresent the skill levels of students. Result: Sick Schools wherein many students perform below grade level. We have statistics for this within the United States from the Nation’s Report Card, which has been in business since 1970. Reading and mathematics skills for the early 21st century are dire: In public schools well less than 50% are proficient in 8th grade, and by 12th grade less than 35% are proficient in both subjects. And it is much worse for history and civics. Sadly, private schools are not much better. What are the problems? Who should we hold responsible for this mess?

We could blame the teachers, books and instructional methods. And some reform efforts do that. Sometimes forgotten is the role that healthy economic incentives can play in improving things. Nobel Laureate economist Milton Friedman addressed this in the 1950’s and proposed government funded vouchers that would give parents more control over their children’s schooling. But do they work? Yes, but not all that well. Missing from that market is honest consumer information to replace the reality that schools lie to parents and others about their performance levels and other characteristics. Parents are somewhat complicit in this because they prefer hearing false good news more than the truthful bad news about their schools.

Looking deeper, there are a number of practices within schools that seem traditional, but are also corrupt and dishonest. This book discusses some promising instructional improvements, but makes the larger argument that a healthy economic marketplace for K-12 education is a fundamental prerequisite that will provide the incentives to develop the new methods, technologies, curricula and institutions that will, in turn, give its customers what they need and want. Given that vouchers, alone, seem insufficient when parents have little accurate information about school quality, we must generate that information and get it into the right hands. We identify the culpable parties to this epidemic of sick schools and, though there are individual exceptions, no group in this list escapes responsibility: Parents, students, teachers, unions, school administrators, politicians, religious leaders and even the private sector of our economy. Finally, technological developments allow schools to be structured in more efficient styles, but it is rare to see them realized. That is ending. For-profit K-12 schools are coming online. Some of them are the best in the USA. They are tuition efficient operating at about a 40% discount to the best non-profit K-12 schools. Education of our children can be less expensive and much better. We can have a new and Milton Friedman inspired Reformation of Sick Schools: The “Free to Choose” Reformation. To find out how, keep reading this book.

It first twenty-odd pages are free to access in the file SickSchoolsEntrance.pdf. You can find it by clicking on its webshelf: Books and Documents on Reform.

Headlines From Sick Schools
Being metaphorical physicians of the diseased schools, we examined these patients to find an assortment of ailments as well as proposed courses of treatment for them. The treatments we found are mostly preventative measures designed to keep schools healthy and to improve their levels of academic health. What we found and what we propose is summarized in the following ranking of K-12 diseases, from the most important to least important as follows:

• First is the disease of
propagandaitis. Its primary symptom is the presence of school system propaganda that subsitutes for reliable consumer information about school characteristics, and particularly the academic performance of their students measured against standards for college admission.

[ ] [ ]o To solve this problem, schools need to provide reliable information that is publicly available while researchers and news
media need to report their findings in consumer digestible formats. This will help restore a free market to the K-12 economic sector in which the ensuing competitive forces will push numerous reforms that its consumers, the parents, want.


• Second, and nearly as important as propagandaitis, is
investorphobia that is characterized by the lack of investment capital going to for-profit schools. Without that money, parents will rarely have any for-profit schools to consider for their children.

[ ][ ] o To solve this problem, wealthy investors need to take a philanthropic stance, and become what we have labelled adventure capitalists—like those currently putting their money into fusion energy.

• Thirdly, many public schools suffer from cancerous
neatoma caused by the NEA. Its primary symptom is the interference of teachers unions. Here, sensible administrative policies are replaced by union strategies that do not give priority to student interests.

[ ][ ] o To solve this problem, we would follow the advice of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and abolish these unions.

• Fourth, public schools suffer from the
tyrannitis of so-called non-partisan elections for electing school officials. This non-democratic policy gives the teachers union the status of a monopoly political party. That leads to corruption that is disguised as tradition.

[ ][ ] o To solve this problem, candidates seeking election to school management positions should run under the banner of a political party or as an independent.

• Fifth, the management of public schools is
obese and centralized at the state level. That reduces local control, and makes it more difficult for parents to have an appreciable influence on school policies.

[ ][ ] o To solve this problem, schools need to be operated at the local community level. Only a few educational functions would remain centralized such as state testing. Then parents would have more influence.

• Sixth, public educators have
amnesia concerning their Treaty obligations under the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26 that provides, “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.”

[ ][ ] o To solve this problem, the governments at the federal, state, and local levels should be erecting educational frameworks that give parents that]“prior right.” Vouchers and other choice mechanisms will help this. As Friedman advocated, parents should be “free to choose” their children’s schools.

• Seventh, nearly all schools are
agoraphobic and thereby perform their official testing in-house in formats that invite cheating and conflicts of interest. Look-good grading and social promotion are two of the bad policies stemming from this corruption.

[ ][ ] o To solve this problem, all official testing should be conducted off site by an independent testing organization. High school AP courses do this already.

• Eighth, public education attendance laws are often
megalomaniac by prohibiting parental freedom to choose part-time schooling for their children.

[ ][ ] o To solve this problem, restructure truancy laws to accommodate more flexibility in this area.

• Ninth, official state level standardized testing has
sociopathic characteristics when it lies about student performance levels, and reports results that are often difficult to interpret against reliable standards, such as those used in ACT testing.

[ ] [ ]o To solve this problem, use the ACT tests or something else that is just as good.

Not adequately discussed in this list are vouchers and other financial mechanisms allowing parents to have the choices promised them in the UN treaty of which the United States is a ratifier and signatory. We need a much more robust means of giving them this financial support when they are unable to afford school tuitions. We have the Food Stamp program for nutritional needs that arguably works well enough that few Americans are starving. We seek a similar program in each state, call it an Education Stamp program, that would provide vouchers to fund the school choices made by parents.

There Is Much More On Our Website
For further information, consider reviewing our home page where there are links to more detailed descriptions of the services and activities of Asora Education. Alternatively you might consider visiting "What Was New" to learn more about our recent and not so recent history.