Tag: Michael Holzman


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Rewind: The Dropout Nation Podcast: Iron Forges Iron


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As you continue flipping through the Schott Foundation’s new report on the low graduation rates of black males (and the educational crisis threatening the futures of our young black men),…

Photo courtesy of needsfoundation.org

As you continue flipping through the Schott Foundation’s new report on the low graduation rates of black males (and the educational crisis threatening the futures of our young black men), listen to this rebroadcast of April’s Dropout Nation Podcast on what black men must do to help their sons and the younger men around them. Older black men, raised by fathers and successful in life, must take on the roles of father figures (and champions in improving America’s education system) that these young men lack at home. These lessons also apply to white and Latino communities.

You can listen to the Podcast at RiShawn Biddle’s radio page or download directly to your iPod, MP3 player or smartphone. Also, subscribe to the podcast series. It is also available on iTunes, Blubrry, Podcast Alley, the Education Podcast NetworkZune Marketplace and PodBean. Also, add the podcast on Viigo, if you have a BlackBerry, iPhone or Android phone. On Friday, I’ll have more to say about the Schott report and the black male achievement gap.

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Three Questions: Michael Holzman of the Schott Foundation for Public Education


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As Research Consultant for the Schott Foundation for Public Education, Michael Holzman has helped shed light on the impact of low teacher quality and systemic academic failure on the educational…

Photo courtesy of the Schott Foundation for Public Education

As Research Consultant for the Schott Foundation for Public Education, Michael Holzman has helped shed light on the impact of low teacher quality and systemic academic failure on the educational and economic prospects of young black men. Through his research, Holzman and Schott have done plenty to show in numbers the depths of the nation’s dropout crisis: Few young black men are graduating from school; far too many are being relegated into special education (and placed on the path to dropping out); and that in many urban districts, young black men are subject to the kind of educational abuse that would lead to incarceration for school officials and teachers if it were actual physical abuse. Along with Robert Balfanz, Jay P. Greene and Christopher Swanson, Holzman is one of the leading figures in revealing the nation’s educational decay.

Dropout Nation wondered what reformers such as Holzman were thinking these days, what are some of the surprising conclusions they have reached, and what they think about what’s happening inside the Beltway when it comes to school reform. The result is a new series, Three Questions on School Reform. Holzman offers some of his thoughts below. Read them, give them some thought and, if you so choose, comment and offer your own conclusions:

1) What is the one surprising thing you have uncovered during your research on special education and over-labeling of children as learning disabled and why?

Male African-American students are systematically over-labeled as Mentally Retarded in most districts.  In some cases this reaches levels five to ten times the percentage of male White, non-Latino males.  As percentages of non-institutionalized mental retardation in any large population are approximately the same, this over-labeling seems to be caused by district policies or staff training deficiencies.

2) How is black male academic failure and special ed connected and why?

Given that male African-American students are under-represented in gifted/talented programs in most districts, and very under-represented in Advanced Placement classes, it appears that racial and gender stereotyping takes place in those districts, to the great detriment of opportunities for learning for male African American, and, to a lesser extent, female African American and both male and female Latino and American Indian students.

3) What is the one thing school reform activists inside the Beltway seem to ignore when it comes to addressing education and youth issues and why?

Equal opportunity to learn includes opportunities during traditional k-12 class-time and beyond.  All schools should be equally well-supported, without regard to location and family income.  This means that real estate tax-based school finance methods are inherently inequitable.  It means that variations in the quality of facilities, curriculum and teaching staffs among schools within large districts cannot be rationally justified.  It means that the distribution of students through assignment or “voluntary” methods, as with charters and public school choice, are only equitable when the child least able to protect him/herself is protected by the adults responsible for the schools.

It also means that the educational investments available to the children of middle class families should be provided for children living in poverty by those adults responsible for the schools.  Such investments include 0-3 pre-literacy activities (such as library programs for toddlers), pre-kindergarten programs preparing children for schooling, all-day kindergarten, after-school and summer academic programs, throughout elementary and secondary school.

Another issue, which is not well-framed in most policy discussions is the connection between inadequate schooling and incarceration.  This is not merely a school to prison pipeline.  It is a feedback loop.  As astonishing numbers of male African Americans are imprisoned, it follows that between one-third and half of African American children grow up in poverty, raised by their mothers without financial contributions from their imprisoned fathers (or fathers whose income possibilities have been impaired by involvement with the courts and prisons).

Poverty is a major negative factor in regard to educational achievement, limiting the time of the parents as first teachers, limiting out-of-school educational investments, increasing the likelihood of enrollment in inferior schools.  And limited educational achievement, especially for male African Americans, is highly likely to lead to prison.

There are two lines of work that can break this cycle:  1) End the inequitable targeting of African Americans for drug law infractions; 2)  Make educational investments equitable.

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Burning Questions In the World of School Reform


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Some things to consider this week: Why is it that Jay P. Greene, Michael Holzman, Sara Mead and Erin Dillon are the only players in school reform interested in addressing…

Burning Man

Some things to consider this week:

  1. Why is it that Jay P. Greene, Michael Holzman, Sara Mead and Erin Dillon are the only players in school reform interested in addressing the problems within America’s special education programs? Based on the evidence that school districts are essentially diverting chunks of the $11 billion in stimulus funds for such programs into regular classrooms, shouldn’t this — and the other widespread problems — be as concerning to ed reformers as the achievement gap?
  2. Will the next frontier in social entrepreneurism come in helping children and parents choose the best schools for their educational needs? Right now, this sorely-needed element in sustaining school reform remains all but ignored within the Beltway. But without such grassroots outfits — and companies providing similar information services on regional and national levels — all the progress made by the wonks will be for naught.
  3. As Democrats such as Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd head for greener pastures, will Republicans offer a compelling package of school reforms? Or could many members of the GOP find themselves teaming up with the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association in opposing the reauthorization of No Child and other measures?
  4. Which city will join New York City, D.C., L.A., Milwaukee and New Orleans as the leading hotbeds for school reform activities? Indianapolis could be a possibility if Mayor Greg Ballard fully embraces predecessor Bart Peterson’s charter school mandate. But can he? Will it be Michael Jackson’s hometown, which has one of the highest concentrations of charter schools? Or could it actually be St. Louis? Your thoughts?

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Live Tweeting The Schott Foundation’s National Opportunity To Learn Conference


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I’ll be at the Schott Foundation’s annual confab on Thursday and Friday. I won’t be around for everything, but you can get quick hits on comments by U.S. Department of…

You seen the bird. Do what he says.

You seen the bird. Do what he says.

I’ll be at the Schott Foundation’s annual confab on Thursday and Friday. I won’t be around for everything, but you can get quick hits on comments by U.S. Department of Education honcho Russlynn Ali and Congressman Chaka Fattah via the Dropout Nation Twitter feed . Enjoy.

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The Read


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What is going on inside — and outside — the dropout nation. Updated throughout the day: Surprise, surprise: Poor black and other minority students in Texas are less likely to…

What is going on inside — and outside — the dropout nation. Updated throughout the day:

    1. Surprise, surprise: Poor black and other minority students in Texas are less likely to get highly-qualified teachers than students of all races in wealthier parts of the state, reports Gary Scharrar of the Houston Chronicle.
    2. Spend, spend, spend: The Wall Street Journal looks at spending by the national operations of the NEA and AFT. Given that teachers generally don’t have much choice but to join the unions — either on their own or agency fees that they pay even if they aren’t members — it is important to think about how the NEA and AFT spends the money of its rank-and-file. Especially — and more importantly — as the state and local affiliates lobby state legislators and policymakers for more favorable governance rules.
    3. Mike Antonucci has his own thoughts.
    4. Liam Julian on Affirmative Action: “Affirmative action hasn’t just somehow changed, somehow morphed, into a policy by which privileged whites can expiate past wrongs and rid themselves of guilt… These are what affirmative action has, in fact, always been about.” Credit Kevin Carey for this discussion.
    5. Is education devalued by rhetoric: So asks Mike Petrilli at Flypaper in a discussion about why education doesn’t always grab the attention of the average voter as other issues do. From where I sit, the problem lies in the reality that education is one of the few government goods everyone uses and therefore, each person thinks their experience is the norm. Suburban students who graduate from school, make it to college and succeed in the workforce, therefore, have difficulty understanding why their counterparts in urban schools don’t do so. Or why their parents keep them in those schools in the first place. Thus adding to the difficulty of selling the value of concepts such as vouchers and charters schools to suburbanites. And proving the point that people only know what they see and don’t care about what they don’t.
    6. Of course, it doesn’t help that some people think schools aren’t the problem: Just read the declaration of the Broader, Bolder Coalition, which proclaims that poor-performing schools aren’t the problem. Then read this polemic by Michael Holzman of the Schott Foundation for Public Education — who just oversaw the release of its latest annual report on low graduation rates for young black men — in which he declares that such schools are the problem. One of these folks knows better. The others, well, ignore most of the problem, thus weakening their argument altogether.
    7. Speaking of Schott: Joanne Jacobs offers some thoughts on the report, while commenters offer their own explanations for the academic woes of black males.
    8. In charts: Ken DeRosa explains the correlations between school spending and academic performance.
    9. Suburbia and School Reform, Part MMM: Chicago Public Radio takes a look at one effort to start a charter school in a suburban community — and why the effort is not taking hold. Until suburban parents recognize that their schools are often no better than some average-performing urban high schools, they will not embrace reform.
    10. Self-promotion, as always: The real reason why so many Americans aren’t reaping the benefits of free trade and globalization can be seen not in NAFTA, but in L.A.’s Hollywood High School and other schools in which academic failure has become the norm. Check it out today at The American Spectator.

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