Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Urban Sprawl

We've had comments on the unseasonable weather and the high cost of gas and the perverse growth of the city. These can all be tied together, along with terrorism.

The cost of gas in going up, despite or because of the US government invasion of Iraq. Mayor Cole supposedly is on board with the mayors trying to stop global warming. Big Brother is closing the net on our freedoms, watching our communications and -soon to come- forcing us to carry a biometric specific ID card to show to authorities on demand. This, we are told, is to keep us safe from oil rich terrorists. Why not move to deprive the "terrorists" of their oil dollars? Thereby also solving the global warming and high gas problems?

Well, the city leaders pay lip service to this, but the sprawl along Hwy. 13 continues unabated, while the gutted inner city remains vacant. Those of us trying to keep small businesses open are rewarded with a city employee whose only job is ticketing our customers, while the big box stores have tax supported acres of free parking.

So people are subtly forced to drive by city design, and penalized for patronizing small business.
And the city council just voted to turn a soybean field in the flood plain outside of town into a subdivision, against the unanimous vote of the planning commission.

Where's the beef?

Comments:
The truth is, Carbondale is becoming a crime friendly ghetto, and it is heartbreaking. Thugs are finding Carbondale to be a welcoming home, and in turn, Carbondale's lack of acknowledgement is sending law-abiding citizens to other towns. Carbondale is dirty, the police are only interested in parking tickets, the schools are subpar with badly behaved students, and real business development doesn't exist. Would you want to live in a town like that?
 
Your comment that schools are subpar with badly behaved students doesn't h old water, I'm afraid. Parrish school -- where my child attends -- is quiet, orderly, welcoming, and has students that are on task. I'm in the school every couple of weeks and see this first hand.
 
Well, there's crime and there's crime. If you're afraid of teenaged pickpockets, that's one thing.
The biggest mugging is the millions of tax dollars spent on subsidies to wealthy developers. Road widening, utility and sewer installation-all done at tax-payer expense to benefit the rich. If they had to spend the millions of dollars it costs to provide infrastructure in the targeted farm fields, they wouldn't be able to sprawl the city as easily.
So go ahead and fear the poor, while all along the rich are costing you much more.
 
I am confused about the comment on Parrish School. It only goes to first grade, has a significantly different demographic than Carbondale schools with older children, and is not part of any comparative testing regime.No doubt it is well run, and for that I'm thankful. But, it proves nothing at all about the quality of the Carbondale School System, which is abysmal by most accounts.
 
How can you discount Parrish School when it constitutes 25% of the school system? Because it doesn't comport with your view of the district? If you think that Thomas is bad, say that Thomas is bad then...don't extrapolate to the entire district.

But past that, I have seen no evidence to suggest that the "demographic" is significantly different. Age is obviously different from one school to the next, but certainly that isn't what you meant. Are you really implying that there is some magical shift between first and second grade where every white person takes their kids out of school after a good experience at Parrish?

And what does "by all accounts" mean precisely? Sure, a bunch of people seem to think the schools are bad and move out of town, but I have yet to hear any specific reason justifying that opinion. But to the contrary, there are large number of things that point to a good school district:

1. The Thomas strings program, which is very unique in my experience.

2. The middle school history fair students, who did some really cool projects last year.

3. Significant gains in test scores over the last three years, exceeding improvement in surrounding school districts.

4. Highly qualified teachers, demonstrated by test scores.

The school system isn't perfect, but its so far from failing or being bad that it just ain't funny. If you want to see a failing system, go check out the St. Louis public schools. But Distrct #95 offers a number of programs that you just can't get anywhere else (e.g., two year pre-school) and has never been identified as failing by any of the powers-that-be which mandate such things these days.
 
I appreciate gadfly's offer to show me a failing school system such as one in St. Louis. But, no thanks, I've seen many failed school systems. In the case of Carbondale Elementary, according to the Illinois Standards Achievement Test, District 95 students did not reach the state AVERAGE in any subject area tested. That is while it has a smaller class size on AVERAGE than other districts in the state and higher expenditures on AVERAGE.
As to the issue of "demographics" which I suspect the earnest Gadfly thinks was a reference to race, on the contrary. It is a matter of class and education. People from every ethnic and racial group who are highly educated and well paid appear to abandon the Carbondale elementary schools after they send them to Parrish. The FAILURE in our system is the lack of attention to working class students both at the grade school level and at the college level. And I'm not talking about learning the violin.
 
Its still not clear why you think the demographics -- class, race, or otherwise -- magically changes after kids leave Parrish.

I accept that the school district isn't perfect, but I keep hearing how "horrible" it is and have yet to see credible evidence to back that up. I've looked at the test scores, for example, and its clear that there are significant gains being made. I've looked at the measures of teacher qualification, and its clear that Carbondale has some of the best qualified teachers around. I've looked at programming -- music helps with math, by the way -- and its clear that we offer unique education opportunites you can't get everywhere. And I've seen up close and personal how great at least one of the schools is (which you want to just dismiss).

Where is the beef to this claim?
 
No statistics from me but anecdotally, I have a friend, who, when he and his wife were buying a house in the area, looked at all the school districts in the area when deciding where to locate. Ho chose to buy a house in southwest Carbondale, since, and I'm paraphrasing, the Carbondale school district was the best of those in the area, including Caseyville, Murphysboro and Anna/Jonesboro.
 
Weird that my urban sprawl comment turned into a school debate.
For what it's worth, my kids went to Thomas(one of them) Lincoln and CCHS, before it moved out of town in an egregious urban sprawl kind of way.
As far as I know, the children behaved in the schools. The school buses were outrageous, and I ended up driving my kids to Thomas and Lincoln.
I think my kids got a pretty good education. They were in band and scholar bowl and the speech team. It depends on what your children are interested in whether they get a good education or not.
 
"It depends on what your children are interested in whether they get a good education or not." Well, sometimes. But it may be even more important what the income and educational level of their family may be. The cultural capital that is handed down in families is invaluable to the children - and its reflected in their achievements in school. Which is why Carbondale is such an enigma. In a town with a massive number of highly educated people, including hundreds of PhDs, it scores below AVERAGE among school systems in Illinois. In fact it is at the bottom of the list of college towns in Illinois and perhaps the region. I could have dismissed the comments of the "gadfly" poster as shallow and naive, but it is a view that is reflected among a number of the "progressives" in this town, including Sheila Simon who also was enamored with the "strings education". Its all symbol and no substance. In the meantime, high achieving parents, including African Americans and east Asian, have voted with their feet by moving to Carterville or the Giant City Schools. And the libs cite "racism" as the overriding issue. I know. I've heard them, including directly from the Sheila herself. As long as the school system is broken into the weird 1960s model that is supposed to promote diversity and refuses to have neighborhood schools and/or charter schools that promote excellence, its not going to change. And Carbondale will continue to bleed families into the suburbs in a urban sprawl.
 
It's hard to get into this discussion without falling into the "empty backpacks" role that George Maroney fell into.
But-that said- I went and looked at the stats for District 95. They're rather hard to decipher, but it looked like although, on the whole, the district does worse than others in the state, there are some very high achieving students in District 95. Not to brag, but that was what my kids did, bring up the average by scoring highly. These kids are the ones that homie is referring to, the ones with the educated parents. But the parents who refuse to move out to the sprawl of Giant City. The parents who send their children to city schools, where they get a good education because of their family background.
My point was that you can send your children to city schools. They will hang with other high achieving kids and learn well.
The problem of disadvantaged kids cannot be solved by the schools. We need to educate people to be good parents, and that is a whole different problem.
Smart kids start with good prenatal nutrition, proper nutrition as babies and children, stimulation of growing brains with language and visual and sensory stimulation, parental reading, interactive parenting, and all the rest.
You can't send a malnourished, neglected 5 year old to school and expect the school to bring that child to the level of a child nurtured from birth.
 
That's like the third time I've asked you to provide statistics or facts to back up your argument, `homie'. Again I ask you...where's the beef?

Sure people say the schools are bad. But they never can explain why or how. And when you point out good things -- e.g., how excellent Parrish school is -- they simply ignore that evidence.

I'm reasonable. I'm open to hear what the problems are and, in fact, am in a position to do something about them (to some degree...). But *what* specifically does the school district do poorly? Where exactly is the evidence?

And you can't point to people moving away...that doesn't cut the mustard. People move for all kinds of reasons (and yes, racism is one of them sometimes).
 
Interesting point about the test scores, greener. I've looked at those closely and they do show that Carbondale lags behind. However, its difficult to know what they mean in any precise way. For instance, we know next to nothing about differences in the kids who enter Carbondale schools versus other schools in the state. Unless kids are all the same entering (on average), what does it mean that one group scores lower than another? Simply stated you can't know. Its one of the more frustrating things about NCLB...the idea of measuring is fine, but they measure in the most simplistic and misleading way and then provide the information to a mathematically illiterate population.
 
Ms Gadfly, I presume? The "statistics" that I posted were not from No Child Left Behind. Rather they are the state statistics called the Illinois Standards Achievement Test. Moreover, I pointed out the outdated system of achieving "diversity" that District 95 clings to. In addition, I mentioned the refusal to consider neighborhood schools or Charter Schools. At this point, since you don't or won't understand, it is too tedious to go on with this particular circular discussion. However, I do appreciate the opportunity presented by this blog to talk about issues like this. Normally one gets shouted down by the "progressives" if one criticizes the schools in Carbondale. Or if one mentions that the former six figure salaried administrator had a mail order PhD. Or if one points out that people with high education and good jobs can help their children recover from any adversity - and they can tottle over to Unity Point, Giant City or Carterville. Working class children and their families don't have those choices. But as long as the defenders of the failing Carbondale schools are "Politically Correct" petite bourgeois, who think a strings section helps a minority child from a dysfunctional family, or any working class kid for that matter, then we'll have a school system that continually goes downhill. The failing schools lead to a hollowed out town, childless neighborhoods, and urban sprawl. But, thank God, the PC can really feel good about themselves since they aren't "racist".

I am sure we all think its time to move on from this discussion. Many thanks for the opportunity.
 
You "won't" go into it? I've asked you like 10 times to go into. Hell, I'm begging for the details. You "won't" because you cannot

(Illinois state achievement tests are the very same tests used for NCLB, by the way.)

I'm ready to have an honest discussion about this. But you can't simply assert that the schools are failing and say that's that. How so? Again...where's the beef?
 
Here are a few points not mentioned about why people steer away from Carbondale public schools. If you have a first grader and third grader, they go to different buildings ~ a big hassle. Then, the next year at 2nd and 4th grade you get the same treatment. Also have you ever seen the inside of the middle school ~ basic prison design. No art on the walls, just lots of posters stating what rules will not be broken. Carbondale schools lack the warmth and camaraderie many parents expect from a school district. The public school system is number one problem facing Carbondale ~ somebody fix this mess---PLEASE!!!!
 
Thanks for your comments. The head in the sand liberals, exemplified by the losing campaign of Sheila Simon, have no interest in your observations. they're too busy being moral or PC or whatever suits their narcissism this week.
 
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