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October 09, 2009


Tanya Foose

I would imagine that anyone reading Bob's blog and books would agree that education needs reformed, and while there are examples of schools that are doing well, the schools can only do so much. Schools cannot fix the broken homes, the children who have no role models. They cannot change the mentality of inner city youth who do not view education as the means to a better life, but only see crime and thuggery as the way to get what one wants.

All the educational reform in the world can't fix the culture that many of our youth face. This is what makes the difference between India and China and the U.S. In China and India, education IS the only way out. Here in America our inner city children are lost. It truly is my hope that we can tap into Obama's legacy and use it as a message to our youth that anything can be accomplished if one uses their brains instead of guns to get what they want.

It all starts at home, and if a campaign to drive that message isn't communicated, implemented and instilled, a school can have the best program in the world and it won't matter one bit. Once we figure out how to fix the attitudes, the rest is sure to come.

Tina McDermott


I listened to you on Brian Lehrer's show today and wanted to make a couple of comments.

If the Arizona school you looked at is filled with great teachers, and great students, and has the ability to let go of problematic students (or students who leave because they can't keep up), it's not that difficult to see why it "succeeds."

There is another kind of success, however. My son's RSP teachers are the most amazing teachers. While his scores still reflect that he is at Basic levels, he has made tremendous improvements with their guidance and his own perseverance.

Of course, you wouldn't notice that type of success if all you are looking for is high test scores and high volume output.

For students with difficult personalities and challenging learning disabilities, it sounds like you are suggesting a "separate but equal" type of system. This is most troubling.

If we really want to follow the models of other countries, we would institute tracking systems and sort our students out at a young age for their careers and trajectories. If that's what you're trying to promote, why don't you just come out and say it? Problem is, it's not very democratic.

Best regards,

Tina McDermott
College Instructor
and mother of a son with ADD/LD


There is a little told fact about charter schools; they remove students who are constant low achievers and behavior problems. As a fund development and education consultant, in addition to substitute teacher for a number of school districts and charter schools, I can attest the later have removed 20% - 50% of their students for being "too bad and/or to dumb." Interestingly the removals come after the state funding is received.


Bob's new video on this unique charter school should be an object lesson to all school districts nationwide. The school portrayed, like a number of other charter schools in the country, operates out of a bare bones facility, and does not offer the fancy underwater basketweaving electives. But the prime directive of our K-12 system should be creating the best minds for the lowest possible investment. And this charter school seems to have hit that target dead on.

One scenario that I have seen played out in many districts is that most kids get lost in the middle school. This school covers grades 6-12. A very smart move. Usually, kids get lost in the middle school on many academic subjects, and never recover. In this school, students have a chance to recover from deficiencies in all their subjects. Similar experiments tried elsewhere have yielded positive results.

Gates Foundation, as Bob blogged earlier, has discovered that when money is thrown at the problem, the results are hit-or-miss, mostly miss. Bill Gates himself admitted that their attempt at creating small schools with "Rigor, Relevance and Relationships" fell short of expectations. Their focus now has turned to charter schools that have produced results, and in figuring out how to replicate them in more districts. I think he has a better chance this time than the last time.

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