Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Majority-black public school districts spend more per student, waste more money, get worse grades

Note: This was first posted on December 4, 2012 but I am bumping it up as I will be discussing some of this on the radio this week as well as my earlier post about Bolivar County schools.

Highlights of post:
-All district report cards reviewed with charts included below. 

-Districts reviewed on # of teachers hired/Total # of employees
-Total spending per student compared by grades and majority race. All federal, state, & local funding dollars is included.
-Statistics are compared between majority-black and majority-white districts. Charts included.
-Districts over 80% of one race are compared to each other. Charts included.

A review of annual report cards for all Mississippi public school districts reveals some uncomfortable trends: majority-black districts in Mississippi spend more money per student, hire a fewer percentage of teachers, and have worse ratings than majority-white districts. The picture worsened for districts at least 80% black. They spend $2,000 more per student than  districts at least 80% white while performing much worse.

JJ examined the report cards for all school districts at A list of all districts was compiled with the following pieces of data for each district:

  • Total student population
  • Majority Race and its percentage of students
  • Report card grade for the district
  • Total spending per student
  • proportion of the number of teachers v. the total number of employees. This was calculated in an effort to show which districts are directing more or fewer resources on teachers.

The list is comprised of 152 districts. There are 83 majority-black districts, 65 majority-white districts, and four districts that are even in racial groups.  There was no clear trend by grade levels. For example,  F's weren't spending much less money than  A's. The D's had a much lower percentage of teachers than the B's.

The average ratio for the number of teacher/total numbers of  employees in a district was reviewed to see how districts were managing their budgets and if there were any trends.   When studying the ratio by grade levels, none existed:

F’s: 46%
D’s: 48%
C’s: 45%
B’s: 49%
A’s: 51%

The A's are somewhat misleading as there are only three of them, and it is not hard to skew that figure. There are F districts such as Aberdeen that are at a 51% ratio while there are B districts such as South Delta that are at 39%.

The same observation holds true for spending per student. JJ used the total amount of spending per student provided in the report cards: federal, state, local. It doesn't matter where the money originiates as this correspondent determined it was more important to calculate how much money was spent on each child. What is interesting is the amount of money spent per student does not change much when classified by grades although the better the district got, the smaller the amount of money spent per student became. The B districts spent approximately $700 per student less than the F districts. The chart below shows the spending per student by district grade. Since there are only three A districts, the amount for that level should probably be discounted. 

Click on chart to enlarge

What is interesting is that in terms of spending per student and on teachers, there is no real trend among Mississippi public school districts. However, there are differences that appear when compared in terms of the majority race for each district.

The majority-black districts hire a fewer share of teachers and spend more money per student- with worse results. The chart below shows the distribution of grades among the majority-white and majority- black districts. Three districts have no grades.

Click on graph to enlarge
As one can plainly see, the majority-black districts report worse grades than those majority-white. While it is true the majority-black districts traditionally suffer from higher levels of poverty, they also spend more money per student and hire a fewer percentage of teachers:

Black Districts: 44.6%
White districts: 50%

What is disturbing is the comparison between the two groups of districts when one looks at the districts where more than 50% of the employees are teachers and also districts where less than 40% of the employees are teachers:

Black districts more than 50%: 8
White districts more than 50%: 36

Black districts less than 40%: 5
Whit districts less than 40%: 0

The spending more student follows the same trend. The majority-black districts spend over $1,300 more per student than those that are majority white:

Black: $9,752
White: $8,409
50/50: $8,154

However, when one compares the districts among those whose total spending (federal, state, and local dollars) is below $8,000 per student and over $10,000 per students, the results follow those of the teacher/employee ratios. There are 31 majority-black districts spending over $10,000 per student while there are only five that are majority-white. There are 22 majority-white districts spending less than $8,000 per student while there are only 6 majority-black districts that do so. Many of these 22 districts are A or B districts such as Pearl, Rankin,and Desoto. However, the differences become more stark when one compares the 80's- the districts that are at least 80% of one race.

JJ also compared districts at least 80% of one race. There are 49 districts over 80% black and 17 districts over 80% white.  The trends were the same regardless of grades, spending per student, and the teacher/employee ratio. The white districts hire more teachers, had better grades, and spent less money. The chart below shows the distribution of grades:

Click on chart to enlarge
The differences between the two groups in the teacher/employee ratio is seven points:

# of teachers/# of employees in 80% or more black districts: 44%
# of teachers/#of employees in 80% or more white districts: 51%

However, 13 of the 17 80% white districts had a teacher/employee ratio of over 50% while only 3 of the 49 80% black districts had the same ratio.  Meanwhile there are 5 of the 80% black districts that have less than 40% ratio of teachers/employees.  Then there is the spending.

Total spending per student in districts more than 80% black: $10,299
Total spending per student in districts more than 80% white: $8,294

A difference of $2,005 per student. However, it gets worse: 26 of the 80% black school districts spend over $10,000 per student. NONE of the 80% white districts spend over $10,000 per student while 7 spend less than $8,000 per student.  

It is true more statistics can be examined.  The goal of this post is to provide a more accurate picture of education in Mississippi as we once again enter the debate over educational reform.  However, the report cards reveal the same trend regardless of how many different ways they are sliced and diced: the majority-black school districts in Mississippi spend more money per student, hire fewer teachers, and perform worse than those that are majority-white*  Is Mississippi education really a tale of two states: the haves versus the have-nots or is it a case of one group of school districts wasting their resources while making excuses for rotten grades?  We report, you decide. 

*Look at the Bolivar County schools, especially the grades, size of the student population, and the superintendent salaries.  Then remember they fought consolidation tooth and nail. 

Blue: More than 80% white Red: More than 80% black


Wender said...

Interesting data. Question: Is there any way to control for family income? If, as I suspect, the black average income is significantly lower in Mississippi than the white income, wouldn't it be likely to go a long way toward explaining these discrepencies, since poor kids often struggle at home and therefore at school? Is there some way to control for average family income in viewing these numbers?

Benny053 said...

Thank you for breaking that down, JJ...good stuff. Will share.

Anonymous said...

A couple of things that stand out here:

1.Spending more money per student does not mean that they will have better grades or learn more than spending less per student.

2.We have too many school districts. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that we are top heavy. Our sups have high salaries, and I think if we could see total administration costs per district this would be frightening.

3.What we have been doing is not working.

Anonymous said...

wow! what a news flash! ZOWIE! Name just ONE thing, JUST ONE where whites have been forced out and an all black take over was created and it wasn't a dismal failure???? Public education? government? nope...county government? nope...kroger clerks? enforcement? nope....somebody help me...

meople said...

One word... PARENTING.

Wender said...

Anonymous, not going to get into your hysteria except to say that in none of those areas were whites "forced out."

Anonymous said...

Controlling the data for income would be less important than controlling for parental condition, i.e. no parents, one parent, two parents, etc.

The effects of poverty are a given.

My bet would be that the most impoverished areas overlap substantially with the school districts that spend the most per pupil.

The "struggle" at home is socio and economic but other studies have repeatedly (and reliably) reported that poverty (economic) being equal that good socio trumps bad socio across the board.

If the status quo of the current approach to the delivery of public education is the only option then no amount of money poured by the state into failing public school districts can solve the socio problems in the black community.

The choice is try something else, i.e. charters, school choice, etc in order to try and save some of the children in failing districts or rigidly adhere to the irrational demands of liberals that doom nearly all because failure is the only non-discriminatory result that can be equitably distributed.

Forced sterilization would be a better spend.

ShadowFunds said...

Look: Harvey Johnson spent a decade learning the art of Grant Application. His only work experience before 'public service' was as a grant writer. That's the reason very little happens in Jacktown unless propped up with a grant. See Union Bus/Train Station.

Black school administrators spend an equal amount of time being schooled on fund diversion, 'creative' use of federal funds intended for a single purpose and hoodwinkery.

Perhaps Kingfish will eventually look into the Money Nissan has been pumping into the Canton system for specific purposes which the administration diverted.

In summary; there is really no way to track the shell-game manipulation of funds in these school systems where 'creative switchery' and 'chicanery' have been taught for decades to the administration. Why do you reckon the new JPS bowtied guy brought his top 'money people' with him?

Anonymous said...

Still waiting for you to NAME ONE. You can focus on the phrase "forced out" all you want. You just can't come up with ONE.
Having said that, there are some really good AA members of law enforcement officers. I had occasion to deal with some recently. As with most things, the bad apples hurt all.

Anonymous said...

1.02; I'm not the guy you addressed. But whites have been voted out (forced out?) of office in the city and county. The President of the Hinds County BOS has stated it is his goal for there not to be a single white elected official for a county wide office. Imagine the hysteria if a white BOS president made this statement. In Hinds County, no one noticed because everyone know that sentiment abides.

I imagine the Jackson firefighter test fiasco carries throught the city goverment, unless you think Chokwe will start championing the civil rights of white folks.

Anonymous said...

KF, I'm probably blind but I didn't see the Bolivar County numbers in your document.

What gets me is how much we are spending per pupil vs. private school tuition. There's a lesson to be learned in there somewhere.

Kingfish said...

They are in there. N. Bolivar, Benoit, W. Bolivar, cleveland, shaw, mound bayou.

Anonymous said...

Oh. got it. was looking for just bolivar.

Anonymous said...

"wow! what a news flash! ZOWIE! Name just ONE thing, JUST ONE where whites have been forced out and an all black take over was created and it wasn't a dismal failure???? "

The NBA is doing just fine

1:20- the private schools are hard to assess because they don't have to handle the Special ED students who can run up some spectacular expenses for a school district that are really medical expenses, not education expenses but the school district has to come up with the money anyway

KaptKangaroo said...

I thought JPS was in violation of not providing special education.

Spend per student is astounding. Issue I see is too many school districts with heavy administration systems.

Simply Confused said...

If you live in MS, this right here has to piss you off:

Bolivar County has 6 school districts in it. Total number of students = 6,496. Total superintendent salary = $567,041.

Compare that to Madison County School District. Total number of students = 11,811. Superintendent salary = $139,455.

Also compare it to Rankin County School District. Total number of students = 18,937. Superintendent salary = $148,000.

Why in the world does Bolivar County need 6 school districts? And how does the Superintendent in Benoit possibly deserve to make $112,850 per year with only 284 students in the district? And we wonder why our public education system is so shitty...

EAB said...

I think looking at the teacher/employee ratio is the wrong statistic in this context. You state that the black and low/achieving districts hire fewer teachers, but the student-teacher ratios listed in your data simply don't support this.

I took the time to yank the numbers in your document into a spreadsheet and then into a relational database where I could pivot them around. Here's what I found:

Majority-white districts have an average student-teacher ratio of 14.67, while majority-black districts have an average student-teacher ratio of 14.2. The distribution curve is nearly identical, with MORE majority-black districts with a student-teacher ratio of 13 or below. There are only 11 majority-black districts with a ST ratio 16 or higher, versus 13 majority-white districts.

The numbers hold for districts with 80% majorities of either race. Half of 80%-white districts have a ST ratio of 15 (8 of 17), with 6 of 17 being 14 or lower and 3 being 16. There are 52 80%-black districts, so the raw numbers are higher, but 31 of those 52 districts have a ST ratio of 14 or lower, and only 7 have 16 or higher.

I also pivoted the data to see how the ST ratios are distributed according to teacher/employee ratios. It doesn't track there either. There's a median and mean ST ratio of 15 in districts with teacher/employee ratios of 40-44%, and in districts with teacher/employee ratios of 55-60%. The distribution curves of ST ratios are uniform across the teacher/employee ratio brackets.

While the teacher/employee ratio impacts per-student spending and is worthy of discussion, it doesn't appear to be because some "bad" districts are wasting funds on hiring admin staff instead of teachers. Instead, the data suggest it's because some districts hire additional non-teacher employees as well as the same aggregate number of teachers. Since those non-teacher employees include classroom aides, school nurses, and librarians, as well as admin staff, I find it hard to imagine how the teacher/employee ratio should have a negative direct impact on student achievement when the student/teacher ratio is relatively constant.

Can you discuss why you focused on teacher/employee ratios instead of student/teacher ratios?

Anonymous said...

A lower average student-teacher ratio in the majority-black districts only makes the story worse. Increasing spending and lowering S/T ratios are two of the things we are traditionally told deliver results. We never spend enough and we never have low-enough S/T ratios, therefore we end up with failing students... or so we're told. But the data proves that's not the case.

It's time to consolidate some of these districts as well as trying charter schools and even vouchers. The education establishment's "solutions" have failed our state and our students.

Kingfish said...

First of all, student/teacher ratios did not differ all that much. There was no one that was 20 or 10, they were all within three or four students of each other. It is also not accurate to use them as much because they do change for different grades. Teachers told me they are smaller ratios in lower grades.

I am using the teacher/employee ratio because I am focusing on the management of the district. If you have five thousand students, there is not much you can do about that. If you have a much lower share of teachers compared to a similar district, then its time to ask some questions. I think the ratio is a good indicator of how efficient or wasteful a district is in spending its money. If you only have a 35% percentage while another one is 55%, it is entirely appropriate to ask why. You focus on student teacher ratios, I focus on teacher/employee.

Anonymous said...

Word is that those JFD recruits hired in Oct 2011 are still not on the trucks. While JFD is paying tons in overtime. A twelve week class had turned into 13 months.

Anonymous said...

Can you discuss why you focused on teacher/employee ratios instead of student/teacher ratios?

You did nothing but crunch some numbers and then lurch to obliquely posit on one ratio versus the other. Why are you focused on student/teacher ratios if not to misdirect?

Anonymous said...

Kingfish, I lived in Mid-Maryland for over 20 years before coming to Mississippi. I've seen the same sort of statistic when you look at Washington, DC and Prince George's County, MD public schools....

Then you throw in the impact of public school administration being a jobs program for the minority middle class in DC and PG County...

The problems are more class and culture of the best descriptions came from a college friend of mine who came to LSU from the Los Angeles area and ended up teaching school in North Baton Rouge. As she put it, you need to get the kids away from their parents by the time they are 3 or 4 or you've already lost them...

In my short time in the Vicksburg area, I've seen the same sort of thing.

and I'm not sure how you break the culture...

Michael Van Veckhoven said...

Kids who are impoverished and dealing with all sorts of outside baggage take more time and require more specialists and counselors, i.e, $$$. NEWSFLASH: We have more poor kids than any other state in America. ANOTHER NEWSFLASH: Income levels and student performance are directly, indisputably related. Some of you really, really need to go visit a majority-black public school and talk to an administrator. You will learn a lot about public education.

EAB said...

Student-teacher ratios do change across the grades, but I still think it's valid when we're comparing district-to-district (rather than comparing school-to-school). Each district has roughly the same grade distribution, so the teacher ratios should follow in the aggregate, even though it might change across individual schools. Teacher/employee ratios likewise change across grades, since elementary schools have a lot more non-teacher employees like classroom aides. From that perspective, it's no more and no less apples-to-apples.

Teacher/employee ratios are also heavily dependent on the number of physical schools in a district. A district with ten schools is necessarily going to have more non-teacher employees than a district with three, because you've got more secretaries, school nurses, librarians, janitors, cafeteria workers, and so forth.

To pluck out two schools basically at random, let's compare Picayune (T/E ratio of 41%) to a similarly-sized district like Itawamba (T/E ratio of 51%). The two districts have exactly the same number of teachers (247 for Picayune vs 245 for Itawamba). The difference is that Itawamba has 238 non-teacher employees vs 360 for Picayune. I don't think that's necessarily shocking evidence of mismanagement, given that Picayune has 7 schools versus 6 for Itawamba, and that its schools are mostly elementary schools, which are comparatively resource-intensive. We can ask whether Picayune should consolidate some of its elementary schools to be more resource-efficient, but I think it's a real stretch to conclude that the reason Picayune is lower-rated than Itawamba is because it has 11 more non-teacher employees per school.

As for the question of how student/teacher ratios cluster, teacher/employee ratios do the same thing. Both the median and the mean are around 47%, and 96 districts fall somewhere between 46% and 53%. Those are awfully narrow statistical bands to draw meaningful inferences from. The lowest and highest teacher/employee ratios skew heavily toward the smallest districts, which strongly suggests statistical artifacts, especially coupled with the relatively small raw numbers of employees involved. It's hard to say that a district with 265 admin employees is qualitatively worse than one with 285, even though one has a teacher/employee ratio of 46% and one has 50%.

That's the danger of looking at ratios versus raw numbers. I think you're seeing causation where there is, at best, a relatively weak correlation with a LOT of noise in the data. I just don't think the numbers are there to support your hypothesis that the achievement gap is a product of district wastefulness on non-teacher employees.

Anonymous said...

Causation? Who said anything about causation? Why are you jumping to conclusions?

EAB said...

Anon 6:02: Kingfish's hypothesis is that the achievement gap is caused by districts which spend too much money on hiring non-admin staff *instead of* teachers, because failing districts have lower teacher/employee ratios.

To prove or disprove that hypothesis, the first logical question to ask is whether failing districts do actually have fewer teachers than successful ones, and whether districts with a lower teacher/employee ratio have fewer teachers than districts with a higher one. If failing districts truly are hiring admin staff instead of teachers, there should be a correlation there.

The data says that they don't have fewer teachers, and that the student/teacher ratios are basically constant across the board, though some districts hire more additional non-teacher staff.

Therefore, we cannot blame the achievement gap on districts which hire inadequate numbers of teachers. We've already half disproved the hypothesis.

The next step is to look at the teacher/employee ratios in more depth to see if there is really a legitimate correlation, or if it's just an accident of noisy data. In statistics, it's very dangerous to compare ratios rather than raw numbers, especially across small populations. Kingfish is drawing a causation out of those teacher/employee ratios, but that looks to my eyes like a relative coincidence that's largely explainable by other factors like district size and normal variation. The correlation doesn't hold up when you examine it in more detail. Correlation doesn't imply causation, but absence of correlation DOES imply non-causation.

I've got no real dog in this fight beyond a professional aversion to sloppy data-mining and bad logic. I just don't think the data really says what Kingfish thinks it says -- you can't compare ratio to ratio like that and expect to wind up with a meaningful analysis. That's why you look at things like standard deviation and p-values, and when you do that, the correlation Kingfish sees doesn't actually exist.

I'm sure that you too don't want to draw conclusions based on incorrect data, Anon. It behooves us all to ask what the data really says, which is what I have tried to do to the best of my abilities. If you disagree, I welcome your explanation of your methodology.

Anonymous said...

oh yes indeed 11:26 AM... whites were forced out in every arena there never fails...a new place 5 Guys in Madison for example... all white kids, happy place to eat..oops.. fast forward to the present..all black workers now... loud, obnoxious... and crappy food because the workers are more tuned in their "culture" of loud "shuck & jive" rather that what they are paid to do. Me? heck, I will flip my own burger at home to avoid the culture shock that has overtaken the "bold new city"!!!

Anonymous said...

you are right 2:17 PM..the NBA is doing just fine..however, the last time I checked the NBA was not funded by tax payer $$$$..

Anonymous said...

I would like to know whether the price per student value takes into consideration "free lunches." An ENORMOUS amount of (federal) money is spent on breakfast and lunch for children whose parents fall below a certain level of income. I would think this would skew the numbers. (But it may not be considered, rendering this comment moot.)

Anonymous said...

I've got no real dog in this fight beyond a professional aversion to sloppy data-mining and bad logic.

You deposited over 1100 words (so far) specifically to refute KF and you don't have a real dog in the fight beyond your aversions? LMAO Sure, whatever you say.

Shadowfax said...

Very interesting to read the post of 6:35 who lived in Maryland for 20 years. I say 'interesting' because I did not know public employment 'outside the real South' was also 'a jobs program for the minority middle class'.

That truthful analysis alone nails one of the largest parts of the problems we see throughout the public sector, including school systems in this state. In the City of Jackson, for example, as we all know, Harvey Johnson has made it his primary goal for the City to exist as an employment agency for middle class blacks; primarily family, friends, friends of friends and others in the secret circle of Hinds County blacks in brick houses. It's indisputable no matter how hot that statement makes the back of your neck.

And, as the expatriot of Maryland says, the same is true of the school systems across this state. As much fund diversion and job creation as possible are done simply in order to keep the District Employment Agency working. And this is not simply wild-ass guesswork or assumption on my part.

Michael Von Veckhoven, at 8:28, buys into the tired notion that 'kids who bring outside baggage require more specialists and counselors and money'. Really? He no doubt buys into the liberal notion that black neighborhoods require that we have affirmative action, entitlements and various other 'legs up' forever and ever, amen.

He recommends we 'go visit a majority black public school and talk to an administrator'. Hogwash! If you really want your finger on the pulse of the district, the school, fund diversion, the mindset of the parents and students and the meddlesome 'input' from local politicians, sit down and talk to two or three white teachers in these districts, not an administrator.

Kingfish said...

EAB and I simply and respectfully disagree on which statistic to use. I think the teacher/employee ratio is ignored and should be highlighted. He disagrees and thinks it should be teacher/pupil ratio. Fair enough but two points:

1. If you look at the numbers across the board on the teacher/pupil ratio, they averages don't deviate all that much. 16 is not the big a difference than 14, for example.

2. The teacher/employee ratio by itself is not a leading indicator. When one looks at a district by grade, it doesn't mean that much upon examination. However, when one breaks the districts down by race, that is where the trend is. By itself it still may not mean much. But when you throw in the higher levels of spending per student, and the grades, well, then the trend appears and that is my suggestion.

Kingfish said...

Michael never debates anything. The Used Car Salesman's whole schtick is to ask if you've volunteered to help in a public school. If not, then STFU.

Michael said...

Kingfish, I'm trying to help you. You spend all this time mining data, yet you are utterly clueless about the realities of public education. Forgive me for asking you and your readers to simply be informed. I'm not even asking you to volunteer. I'm simply asking you to step foot on a campus; something that you have clearly never done. To simply blame poor student performance on "mismanagement" is lazy, shortsighted, and ignorant. The average student spends ELEVEN PERCENT of his young life on a school campus. Who is "managing" the other 89% when he's not in school? How many parents are in the household? Is Dad incarcerated? Is Mom working three jobs and unable to help with homework on a nightly basis? Is there drug abuse? Physical abuse? Sexual abuse? Do you think maybe, just maybe, yhese things might affect how the student performs? (Don't answer that because the facts prove that they do) Wake up, Fish.

Anonymous said...

Michael, you're wasting your time here. You need to be explaining to thousands of KIPP students around the country that they need to stop succeeding.

Anonymous said...

How many parents are in the household? Is Dad incarcerated? Is Mom working three jobs and unable to help with homework on a nightly basis? Is there drug abuse? Physical abuse? Sexual abuse?

... and you can find out the answers to all these questions, and more, by simply stepping foot on a campus.

Carry on.

Anonymous said...

michael needs to go organize a community -- but don't try it with mine.

Anonymous said...

Van Veckhoven is another Parents for Public Schools cultist who also is afflicted with a severe case of Ladd Syndrome.

He knows the facts (you don't) and he has divined the absolute truth (you haven't). Any position different than his can't simply be correct because he's already reached the mantle of Supreme Self-Annointed Expert.

He's only trying to help each and every one of you to understand how superior his knowledge is compared to your own.

ShadowPaddle said...

What are the libs waiting on to straddle the neck of "Michael Said"? Several times on this thread he has claimed that public school campuses (for the most part) are warehouses for miscreants 'stayin at' houses where there is drug abuse and pedophilia and there is no dad or he is incarcerated and the mother is mostly absent. He left out the fact that most of these houses, like that of Abraham Lincoln, have only candle light which makes hitting the books impossible for a drug-mule or child who hangs at the corner til midnight.

I view his whole body of posts as similar to those people who claim we need affirmative action because their people are simply too dumb, too stupid, to incapable and to unmotivated to play on the level field. Poppy-cock. That means bullshit in England.

No school, public nor private, should carry out the role of parent. It's the Department of Education, not the Department of Parenting.

Michael said...

Stepping on a campus is a start. What are you doing now, other than living in the bizarre, fantasy world of policy wonkdom? Data is one piece of a very large puzzle. Start asking the "why" questions that are behind the data. Get away from your computer and your conference rooms and your data mine shafts every now and then, and come join the rest of us in the land of the living. Because as of now, you are clueless.

Anonymous said...

The clueless one Mike is the one who assumes what others aren't doing. The clueless one is the one who arrogantly believes that if others would only do what you are doing then they too would see things exactly as you do.

Get over yourself.

Anonymous said...

Good post, KF. Not only provided good data but apparently pissed off one very specific group who think the current education system is a pot of gold for them, um, I mean the kids. Always 'for the kids'.

Well done.

And December 5, 2012 5:09 AM, I believe I heard the hammer hit the nail on that one.

Anonymous said...

10:07 PM: Several owners of NBA teams are making large profits from teams that play in arena that were built by taxpayers. they threaten to move to another city and mayors and City Councils cave in and build them a new one.

I also lived in Maryland. Prince George's County seems to be 100% occupied by African-American federal government employees (it borders D.C.).

This guy Michael sounds like a zealot, a flake, or a used car salesman. And FYI both my spouse and I volunteer to give lectures at the private school we pay a fortune to send our kids to, as do several other med school faculty that we know. Involved parents make all the difference in the world.

KaptKangaroo said...

Do you know what I have not heard in all of this? I haven't heard a word about "Adult Education". I'm not talking about college, I'm talking about how to fill out a job application (although there are any), or how to read a Sunday circular to find sales on food to save a few bucks (or food stamps), or how to read (to find a job to relieve one of the dependency upon food stamps).

If we are going to argue about the role of parents, we should examine the Adult Education system, or lack there of in MS. I know for a fact these programs work - when they are properly introduced into the communities.

The lessons for children to learn are not only from school but from their role models. What a great way to introduce positive role model behavior.

Oh and why not make it a mandatory activity for unemployment claims, food stamps, etc. Or, at a minimum a simple test to see if they can accomplish these simple, yet, impactful behaviors that, while a drop in the bucket, might just inspire a few, or at least one.

Michael said...

ShadowPaddle, thanks for helping me prove my point. Like you said, the schools shouldn't have to play the role of parent, but the fact is that they're forced to when, effectively, there are no parents around. Do you suggest that teachers sit back with folded arms and say "Not my job", while a child stands in front of them and essentially begs for guidance and support? Your description of my assessment of many of the students who populate our schools is spot-on, except for one crucial point -- Poverty, and the problems that go along with it, is not an excuse for low student performance. It is a diagnosis.

P.S. Y'all would be taken much more seriously if you would lose these cowardly aliases.

P.S.S. Your responses are predictable and are in line with most other ed rephormers. When folks disagree with you, you respond with name-calling ("used car salesman" and insults(?)("community organizer"). Either throw up the white flag or hit back with some factual, experience-based substance.

Anonymous said...

bet mike forced his little snowflakes to go to public school, where they developed life-long complexes, and lost their lunch money daily...

Michael said...

Hey, "Anonymous", since you're too chicken **** to give us your real name, I bet you've probably had your lunch money stolen more than a few times.

Anonymous said...

... or hit back with some factual, experience-based substance.


Anonymous said...

no, but i could take yours if i wanted to.

Anonymous said...

Michael doesn't give his last name and yet he calls people cowardly for posting as anonymous.


Anonymous said...

'Michael' is anonymous. But he likes to huff and to puff!

Michael said...

Michael Van Veckhoven
Meridian, MS.

I'm outta here. Good luck, boys and girls.

EAB said...

Anon 5:09: I do data analysis on a professional basis, I type at 90 words a minute, and I'm home sick with the flu. Frankly, it's not that hard to make that argument, especially given that I am legitimately interested in what the statistics actually say.

I like to form my opinions about politics based on things like actual data, and there's no better way to do that than actually getting up-close-and-personal with the raw data. I learned something from looking into those numbers, which makes it not a waste of my time.

I'm not a teacher or anything, if that's what you're implying, although I am the parent of young children in a suburban public school.

Anonymous said...

I live in Meridian. Here in our community MVV's first reflex is to refer to anyone who dares disagree with him as stupid, ignorant or dense. But he has no background in education.

Then with his next breath he'll cry about being a victim of name-calling.

The man is an insufferable promoter of himself. It is all about his oversized ego, his Napoleon complex and his plans to run for higher office.

KaptKangaroo said...

The more dribble I read by MVV, the more I'm convinced he is a product of "Shut-up and Write" or vomit, whichever you prefer.

Anonymous said...

I hate to burst all of your bubbles, but it has absolutely nothing to do about public education. My wife, a teacher, can tell you within the first week of school what kids have a solid 2-parent home or at a minimum a parent at home who cares.

That alone makes a substantial amount of the difference in success and failure. Unfortunately the black "families" have nearly ceased to exist, thus the fallout.

That being said, it also validates KF's points that throwing money at problems won't fix it and plenty of school(and other government entities) have a propensity to waste money employing people who are incompetent...

Kingfish said...

I am not disputing one bit what you said about parenting. If you've read this blog for a long time, you've read my earlier post about the unwed birthrates. Translates into performance at school. Hence why you are seeing some schools around the country to long school days. Either the school can raise them, the parent can raise them when she has time to do it or is able to, or cares enough to, or the streets, MTV, and the iphone can do it.

What is more troubling is the leaders who defend this status quo.

Michael said...

My fellow Meridianite, you misjudge me greatly. I have no plans of running for a higher office, nor have I ever alluded to such a thing.

When our schools are unfairly attacked with lies, I will defend them. Our public schools graduated me and currently educate 91% of Mississippi's children, and I make no apologies for setting the facts straight when our schools are misrepresented in any way.

Obviously, I have offended you. I am truly sorry for this and it is never my intention to offend, although I am certainly guilty of meeting fire with fire more often than I should.

I humbly and sincerely ask that you contact me so that we can sit down face-to-face and, perhaps, better understand one another.

I pray that you find forgiveness and that you accept my offer, and I wish you a peaceful and joyful holiday season.

Kingfish said...

I lied?


EAB said...

Kingfish, I agree that there's not that big a difference between a student-teacher ratio of 14 and one of 16. What I'm trying to caution you about is that there's also not necessarily a big difference between a teacher/employee ratio of 45 and one of 50. Ratios will fool you every time, especially when we're talking about districts with a couple hundred employees where that 5-point spread represents 10 people.

Ratios are relationships of two numbers, which is why you can't compare them directly. You can change the teacher/employee ratio either by decreasing the number of teachers or increasing the number of non-teachers. You can't tell just from looking at the ratio whether one school district has fewer teachers or more non-teachers.

To put it another way, the teacher/employee ratio tells you how many teachers there are for every non-teacher employee, not how many teachers there are. A teacher/employee ratio of 50% says that there is 1 teacher for every 1 employee, while 40% says that there are 0.67 teachers for every employee. However, that doesn't actually tell you which one has fewer teachers, unless you also know the number of teachers and the size of the population. It's just how the math works. A district with 45% teachers can have the EXACT SAME NUMBER of teachers as one with 50% teachers, if the latter has more non-teacher staff. The 45% district could easily raise its teacher/employee ratio to 50% by firing 10 classroom aides. That might bring its spending down, but it's not going to do a thing to improve education of the kids in that district, unless those funds are redirected elsewhere.

It's worthwhile to look at the teacher/employee ratio in the context of overall spending, and I've never argued otherwise. However, it simply does not and cannot prove that some districts hire *fewer* teachers than others, as you repeatedly assert in your original post. It's just the wrong statistic to do that, without relating it back to something concrete like the raw numbers of teachers and the size of the student population. The data says instead that there's parity on the number of teachers across the board, and that some districts have additional non-teacher employees. We can ask why that's so, and who those employees are and whether they benefit students, but those are different questions from the correlation you were originally trying to make with teacher/employee ratios.

(Have I mentioned that I think all math curricula should be required to focus heavily on practical statistics? Having a basic understanding of statistics and probabilities is so much more important than, say, trigonometry. )

Michael said...

Fish, you didn't lie. It's a fact that most of the poor in MS are black, and it's a fact that it is more expensive to educate the poor than it is the affluent. So, no, you didn't lie.

Kingfish said...

Let me see EAD, I took stats in college and survived Dr. Cox's Genetics class at Mississippi College.

bill said...

The discussion of how to fix schools is meaningless until we figure out a way to fix parents. It's not the government's responsibility to instill values in our children. How many generations of kids have been born since the Great Society? Each has become more dependent on government. Is it any wonder that they're not so hot at parenting, that their kids continue in the cycle that they learned from their own mothers and grandmothers? And it's not a problem peculiar to blacks in the inner city. Whites and Hispanics are no different - it's hard to pull yourself out of poverty if that's all your family has ever known. There have been and will continue to be individuals who will find a way to break out of it, but by and large it's a problem that can't be solved.

Kingfish said...

George Elementary, Jackson MS. Poverty Percentage: 95%. A rating.

McWillie Elementary: 69% Poverty. A rating.

JPS spends less than $10,000 per student.

Shadowfax said...

Kangaroo envisions a number of things that were popular federal-state programs during the eighties and nineties.

Regarding 'teaching adults to fill out job applications' and requiring certain things as a requisite to receiving unemployment insurance, consider this: Millions of dollars were spent on adult literacy classes across this state. More millions were spent providing Job Search classes. The state was blanketed with federal dollars. Community Based Organizations popped up overnight in every town in this state to rake in a share of the money. Requests for Proposals went out like wildfire and Proposals came in by the bucket-load. Planning and Development Districts pumped out more cash than Exxon pumps oil. It's nothing new.

Congress would extend the unemployment benefits beyond 26 weeks and along would come additional requirements to attend Job Search Skills Training classes. How to prepare a resume. How to go on an interview. Where to find job leads. Who not to take with you. How to dress. How to get up in the morning.

Literacy programs were everywhere and all of it was 'free'. All one had to do was sign up, get out of bed and attend. In some cases attendance was required.

Now we are anxious to blame lack of educational progress on bad situations at home. And we moan about parents not being able to assist their kids in the learning experience. And we pine for programs to assist the parents. But, when we had them, they soon disappeared as failures. What did we blame the failure of all those other programs on?

The incentive to achieve has to outweigh the incentive to fail. In a nation of children, Santa Claus will win every time. The federal government has been Santa Claus for decades. The number of children (all of us) holding out our hands to the man in the red suit grows daily.

Meanwhile, single mothers of single mothers in Canton can't wait for their babies to drop out of high school and get a minimum wage job so they can bring some money home to momma. They view graduation as delaying by two years that flow of additional cash. What difference does it make, they opine; she's going to work at the same place after high school as she would if she dropped out in tenth grade.

KaptKangaroo said...

If that is the result here in MS, I guess you can say with some certainty MS is f-Ed any direction you go, it is a failing of inbred expectations and will take generations of enlightenment for any real change to take hold.

Anonymous said...

Just a few ideas to get us going in a better direction:

#1 consolidate school districts - merge our administration and implement massive attrition (this should help with the top heavy problem)

#2 charter schools - time to give this a shot, it has been shown to be successful in other states

#3 vo-tech - This is the dark horse that should be given some consideration. We need to have a plan on what to do with the students that have little chance of going to college. We need to utilize our education system to train students. Equip them with knowledge of a trade, so that we can all have a brighter future. If some are incapable of hitting the books, lets teach them a trade.

Eliminate the bloat at the top and apply the savings towards providing our children the skills to get a J O B.

Kingfish said...

Tell you what, since you don't want to argue facts but tell stories, lets see how well your dealership does if you have only two salesmen and 3 receptionists, 5 finance people, two janitors, and four managers. All that overhead, all those people, and hardly anyone selling cars. I wonder what will happen to production.

Curt Crowley said...

Damn, I failed to notice this when you first posted it.

I would have posed a few questions to Michael VanVeckhoven:

1. Is he the same Michael VanVeckhoven that occupies a seat on the Board of the Meridian Public School District?

2. Are the inept bafoon administrators at MPSD still calling the cops on kids for talking in class?

3. Did MPSD's administrators waste so much of Meridian PD's time that the Chief had to issue a memo to officers instructing them not to respond to those idiotic calls, and only to go to the school if the call involved a felony, weapon or drugs?

4. Does MPSD really have a "Meridian Public School District Police Department," as alleged by the Justice Department?

5. Why on Earth would a school district the size of Meridian have its own little police department?

6. How much does the school district's chief of police and 3 officers cost taxpayers each year?

7. Considering that the school district has its own band of jack booted government thugs to keep the kids in line, why was the school continuously calling Meridian PD to handle routine, minor discipline problems?

8. Is pissing away public funds and using law enforcement to cover for the ineptitude of school administrators part of the "realities of public education" you were talking about?

Anonymous said...

People need to realize that charter schools and vouchers should be a part of improving education in Mississippi, but they are not the solution to solving Mississippi's educational system. You can add charter schools and vouchers, but there will still be students attending these F and D districts and having the same issues that lead to their poor scores. This state needs a comprehensive early childhood program because if you don't get students taught at the kindergarten level in today's world, then you are headed for failure.

Anonymous said...

People need to realize that charter schools and vouchers should be a part of improving education in Mississippi, but they are not the solution to solving Mississippi's educational system.

Show us where anyone here @ JJ has claimed that charters and vouchers would be the solution.

Anonymous said...

You can't fix stupid by throwing money at it!!! The Mississippi Legislature should have learned that by now! "Fully fund public education" is the same old tired song we hear every year! Do you see the level of education improving in Mississippi - NO! A good start would be to have a "house cleaning" over at the MS Department of Education - get some people in there who truly care about the education of the children of MS and not their salaries and the "top heavy" administration in the public school system - NO, the legislature will not make any demands on the MDE because they are afraid of "hurting their little feelings" - "their feelings be damned!" I, for one, am getting very tired of them pissing off my tax dollars with no positive results to show for it - especially since my children were educated in the private school system that I paid for as well!!!

Anonymous said...

It's not the money but how it's spent.

KF, you should also look at how our private schools are rated nationally. One way is to find out what numerical weight they are given by universities...particularly those out of state.

Since we don't attract teachers from out of state, you might want to look at how our education depts. at our universities are rated nationally.

You might want to look at what courses are required and what the required reading lists are here compared to those in states with high performance levels like Maryland.

Anonymous said...

KF, you should also look at how our private schools are rated nationally. One way is to find out what numerical weight they are given by universities...particularly those out of state.

LMAO ... You must be a numbskull ... Exponentially more students gain entrance each year to Ivy League schools, as an example, than those from Mississippi's public school system.

Anonymous said...

A few years back (around 5 years ago) St Andrew's was on the list of the top 100 feeder schools for Harvard College. 3 (Maybe 4) years ago 3 of their 72 seniors got into Harvard.

Shadowfax said...

10:16 brings up Vo-Tech. Every school district has access to Vo-Tech. It is also a requirement (law) that the network of Vo-Tech departments also enroll home-schooled and private-schooled students who wish to attend. Years ago, the State network of 'Junior Colleges' functioned more as Vo-Tech than four year college feeder programs. Please educate yourself by calling any school administrator or community college president and asking them to schedule a tour of the program for you. It's no longer about teaching boys in 'shop' how to make something out of tin that will pick up pecans.

Also, to correct the poster who suggested that students who can't make the requisite grades should be channeled into a vocational is not simply for people who made good grades. Nor is vo-tech for students who make poor ones.

Unknown said...

"We report, you decide."

Based on the title of the article, you already decided, unfairly and unbalanced.

Kingfish said...

refute one fact I've posted.

Anonymous said...

Dec 27 @ 10:50 Sorry, but facts are stubborn things.

Anonymous said...

The student-teacher ratio is a little misleading. It looks like each district has an average ratio around 14, but the kind of class matters significantly. For example, a senior chemistry class in a smaller district may have only 8 students. While the middle school science class in the same district may have 32. This was the case in the district I worked for. STR was high in classes not state tested, the majority of classes. But, it was very low in state tested classes and advanced classes.

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

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