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The Commercial Appeal aka Comic Appeal ^ | 11/17/01 | Michael Erskine

Posted on 11/17/2001 5:08:13 AM PST by GailA

Chorus of boos follows Fogelman call to lower bar

By Michael Erskine

Some local and state education officials Friday criticized a state Board of Education member's plan to lower the academic bar for Memphis City Schools.

State Board of Education member Avron Fogelman told The Commercial Appeal Thursday he'll push for lower requirements for Memphis schools after the system received yet another poor report card.

The state board's next meeting is Feb. 1.

Fogelman was out of town Friday and couldn't be reached.

The Memphis businessman argued Thursday that comparing an urban, poverty-plagued district to other school districts is unfair.

Critics said Friday his ideas would hurt, not help the 118,000-student Memphis school system.

Memphis school board member Hubon 'Dutch' Sandridge reacted angrily, calling Fogelman "racist" and "insane" and said he should resign from the appointed post.

"He knows nothing about what it takes to reach out to impoverished children. . . . We've fought too long to raise the bar to say that standards must be met," Sandridge said.

Sandridge said schools are educating students for a global market that requires higher expectations.

"How can you lower standards when you are trying to prepare people for the world, not just Memphis, Tennessee?" Sandridge asked.

Memphis school board member Wanda Halbert said poverty is no excuse for low achievement.

"You can be poor in the pocket, but you don't have to be poor in the mind, body and soul," she said.

Meanwhile, Connie Smith, executive director of accountability for the state education department, called it "dangerous" to have different standards for different sets of students.

"That's sending a negative message, that you don't really truly believe that they can perform," she said.

Smith said children will meet expectations, whether high or low, so it is best to set the bar high.

"I believe we should have the same high expectations for all children and students, not dependent on where they live," she said.

Fogelman's comments Thursday also drew skepticism from fellow state board member Cherrie Holden, who also represents Shelby County.

Holden suggested other districts will want lower standards if Memphis is treated differently.

Thursday, Fogelman predicted that up to 70 percent of students won't graduate because they will fail the tougher Gateway tests required for graduation this year.

About 70 percent of Memphis students qualify for free or reduced-price meals, a common indicator of poverty - and student achievement. Only 13 percent of students in Shelby County Schools do so. The county historically scores much higher on achievement tests than the city.

Fogelman brought up the idea for separate standards briefly in September after the state identified low-performing schools in jeopardy of a state takeover. Two thirds of those, or 64 schools, are in Memphis.

But state board members and Education commissioner Faye Taylor argued against a separate set of standards for the state's largest city.

- Michael Erskine: 529-5857

TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
fogelman is a MORON and a half. If you expect the least out of children then that is what they will give you, the least.

The mayor of Memphis, Willie Herenton came out of poverty to be the super of the Memphis City Schools, and then to be mayor of Memphis. (Not that he did a great job of running the schools, but he did better than Gerry House who they chose after him, who put the schools in horrible shape).

1 posted on 11/17/2001 5:08:14 AM PST by GailA (
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To: GailA
It's OK all we have to do is Double the Money we spend on Education plus allow the Teachers Unions more power and everything will be alright! (/Sarcasm)
2 posted on 11/17/2001 5:34:45 AM PST by Mad Dawgg
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To: GailA
At least it sounds like everyone else involved has some sense.

Poorer children, on the whole, DO achieve less in school. I'm not sure if this is because they CAN'T do as well. Most of them are from single-parent homes, often the parents are very young and don't have a clue, many of the parents don't have a lot of time for child-rearing (whether it's because they are working or partying), and on the whole there isn't as much emphasis put on education as there would be in middle-class homes.

On the other hand, if you expect less of these children, you get what President Bush expressed so well as "the soft bigotry of low expectations" -- the children end up undereducated, with no job skills to speak of, and continue the cycle of poverty.

What they need is something along the lines of parochial schools for at least the elementary grades, IMO.

3 posted on 11/17/2001 6:07:48 AM PST by Amelia
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To: GailA
You know, I always had a high opinion of Fogelman until that idiotic remark of his about lowering school standards. They're already lowering standards (in terms of teaching quality and course offerings) at the Univ of Memphis business school that bears his name.

Poverty does not equal ignorance, and money does not equal education. The Memphis City Schools have one of the highest per capita expenditures per student than any school system in the nation. It's not the money that's the problem. (Kinda takes wind out of the anti-NBA-arena crowd's argument that we should spend more money on schools so we can improve education. Sorry -- couldn't resist! LOL)

The problem with Memphis education has absolutely ZERO to with a "lack" of money and everything to do with maintaining standards and proper resource management by the bureaucrats in charge. Herenton is an excellent example of one who grew up in poverty, got educated, and has become a pretty good mayor for our city.

I just wonder if his remarks might just spark enough outrage to get the school board to more agressively fight the underperformance of their school system. He apparently got Wanda Halbert's attention, and I hope the other school board members are insulted to the point that they agreesively move toward improving the schools.

We'll see ...

4 posted on 11/17/2001 7:22:32 AM PST by JoeMomma
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To: Amelia
My parents had 5th and 6th grade educations. They made sure I had the proper tools to do my school work, but beyond that I received no help from them, as they made it CLEAR it was my responsibility to LEARN what I was taught. When I left the 8th grade I could read at the 12th grade level. I graduated HS from an inner city school in Hammond, Ind. Middle of my class of 365 students. Of course this was PRE-dumb down the kids era. 1953-1966.
5 posted on 11/17/2001 1:23:18 PM PST by GailA
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To: GailA
You had two parents, and you were in school before the Era of Victimization, back when everyone still believed that Education was the Key to Your Future, and that if you worked hard, you could make something of yourself.

Now the kids seem to believe either that they deserve all the finer things in life whether they work for them or not, or that the cards are stacked against them because they are (poor, black, whatever) and no matter what they do, they will never succeed.

It doesn't help when board members such as Fogelman, or educators, tell the children (and their parents) that they shouldn't be expected to achieve as much because they are poor.

Another problem is teachers or administrators socially promoting children who don't have adequate skills to move on, thus dooming them to failure -- rather than making sure the children have the remedial help they need to catch up & get the skills they need. I'm not sure that this is done out of malice -- I think some of the "educators" feel sorry for the children because they are poor, or don't want to "hurt their self-esteem" -- but the net result is that the children aren't able to reach their full potential.

Of course, we also have some parents, the NAACP, etc., who believe that if a child of color fails, it's because the system or the teacher is prejudiced against that child - and there are teachers or systems who will go ahead & promote those children to avoid lawsuits of that sort.

6 posted on 11/17/2001 2:17:21 PM PST by Amelia
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