High spending, low performing

Camden, New Jersey schools spend $27,500 per student to run some of the worst schools in the state, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Twenty-three of the district’s 26 schools appear on the state’s list of the 70 lowest-performing schools, but the city will spend almost as much per pupil in the current school year as the state’s highest-spending districts, Avalon and Stone Harbor, spent in 2012-13. Camden made headlines earlier this year when the superintendent said only three high school students of the 882 who took the SAT in 2011-12 tested “college ready.”

The district graduates only 49 percent of students.

Camden is a high-poverty city. Special education costs are high.  “There’s no secret to how we got here,” said former school board member Sean Brown, who served from 2010 to 2013. “There definitely was leadership failure going on, high management turnover, and a lot of things we had to spend money on.”

 The district, which has lost 1,000 students over the last five years to charter or out-of-district schools, has gained administrators and staff, increasing spending 10 percent and creating a student-employee ratio of 4-1 and a student-teacher ratio of 9-1.

. . . Of 2,700 district jobs, only 46 percent are held by teachers. School-based non-teachers such as aides and maintenance employees account for 40 percent and the central office for 13 percent, according to district figures.

“In a first-grade general education classroom earlier this month, 11 pupils sat cross-legged on the floor around a teacher who read to them while a second teacher, also assigned to the classroom, sat in one of eight empty desks,” reports the Inquirer. Yet, at one of the high schools, “special-education staffing can be so tight, teachers not certified in special education say they have had to fill in.”

 Classrooms in Camden often come equipped with smartboards, iPads, and laptops. But in the same rooms teachers might lack access to a working printer, the tech support they need to use the smartboard, or a basic set of textbooks requested a year ago.

“We don’t have a lack of resources here. We have an improper allocation of those resources,” the district’s state-appointed superintendent, Paymon Rouhanifard, has said.

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  1. PhillipMarlowe says:

    Camden is an excellent example of the failure of liberal Democrats.

    • PhillipMarlowe says:

      Fortunately for KIPP, they have powerful friends in South Jersey: the new schools will be built under the aegis of Democratic boss George Norcross, who confiscated land next to his hospital that was supposed to be the home for a public school and made it the site for KIPP’s expansion. – See more at: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/search?q=camden#sthash.f4JXmuWN.dpuf

      • Roger Sweeny says:

        Last I checked, KIPP are public schools, supported by tax money and not charging tuition. Has something happened that I don’t know about?

        • No. Phillip still prefers innuendo and character assassination to the topic at hand. Like all defenders of the district system Phillip unyieldingly refuses to discuss outcomes because there’s no defense to be found for them and historically, isn’t necessary.

        • PhillipMarlowe says:

          A little history is in order here: in 2004, the Lanning Square Elementary School was a crumbling safety hazard. Students were displaced into two other schools while the state got ready to build a brand new school at the site. Over the next several years, the state spent $10 million to get the project “shovel ready.” For years, the people of the community waited and waited for the state to fulfill its promise and build their children a new school.

          Unfortunately for them, Lanning Square is a plot of land right next to the Cooper Medical School, part of the empire of South Jersey Democratic boss George Norcross. Norcross (like most wealthy Democrats these days, it seems) is an unabashed charter school cheerleader – and what Norcross wants, Norcross gets.

          So, thanks to machine politics and what appears to be deliberate dithering on the part of the state, KIPP will soon be firmly ensconced in Camden. Never mind that KIPP has already tried and failed there; never mind that the KIPP schools have a reputation for engaging in high rates of student attrition – particularly with black students.

          Thanks to a small group of powerful people, some of the children of Camden – those whose parents are willing to immerse them in a “no excuses” culture – will get a new school. The promises made by the state to the remaining families of Camden, however, are casually brushed in favor of the whims of the elite. And the children KIPP admits they simply won’t serve are left begging, with only a few local voices left to speak for them:
          Former Lanning Square principal Elsa Suarez called the long stall of the Lanning Square public school plan “a crime.”
          Board President Kathryn Blackshear said she was voting in favor of the KIPP proposal because “I know this school board will never have money to build a Lanning Square school.”
          Some in the audience then started shouting in protest.
          My word, how uncivilized. It’s as if these people in Camden actually want to have a say in how their community will educate its kids. They don’t really think they know better than the wealthy and powerful who don’t even live in their city, do they? – See more at: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2012/11/an-outrage-in-camden.html#sthash.zCppPgeZ.dpuf

          • Wow, that is a whole lot of nothing. But I suppose when you’re looking at a virtually uninterrupted strings of losses that’s the sort of poor second best you’re thrown onto.

            You know, every kid who goes to a KIPP school is there because the adult in their lives wanted them to go to that school and not the school that employs you. Must be tough learning to accept rejection if you come from a time when poor parents had no choice but the you’ll-take-whatever-we-give-you district school.

            I wonder, when we look back on this time, what the watershed event will be that signals the end of the public school era in the United States? Thinking about that question puts a smile on my face.

          • PhillipMarlowe says:

            “poor parents had no choice”
            Really, allen.
            Poor parents aren’t able to afford the current Catholic school tuition of $5,000, and need government hand outs?
            Many they should have kept their pants on before engaging in unplanned child creating.

          • Quite a few of those poor parents do pack their kids off to archdiocesan schools and take the financial hit of the tuition while paying for an education system they reject. The schools of the Archdiocese of Detroit are 80% non-Catholic.

            I know that for rich or middle class parents who send their kids to private schools the usual response of such is you is sniffing dismissal. As long as they’re still required to pay for what they don’t want, screw ’em.

            The problem for you, teacher boy, is that the same approach to poor people who also reject rotting district schools splits the traditional support of the left. Not so good for an organization dependent on the political system for its existence.

            I think right about now’s when you’ll bring up pornography as a way to emphasize your intellect and maturity.

          • PhillipMarlowe says:

            The state dithering about building a newer facility until KIPP wanted in on the action.
            The liberal/left Norcross gave them what they wanted.
            KIPP, a charter school that select the students who attend and push out those who can’t follow their academics, got the new building.
            If a child (poor or not) moved across the street from this new building, he would not be able to attend.
            Despite KIPP being a “public ” school.

          • PhillipMarlowe says:

            And as is usual, you bring up pornography, either obliquely (“smile on my face”) or directly.

            Still, you miss the point.
            If anyone, poor, rich, black, yellow, green , small, big skinny, fat, short-haired, long haired and so on and so on, wants to attend a private school, they can.
            No one prevents them.
            And repeating that ad nausea won’t make it true.

            To paraphrase Inspector Briggs (“A man got to know his limitations”), a man got to make choices.

          • Roger Sweeny says:

            If the child applied (or applied and won the KIPP lottery if there were more applications than openings), why wouldn’t the child be able to attend?

            BTW: It’s Inspector Harry Callahan (the Clint Eastwood character) who says at the end of Magnum Force, “Man’s gotta know his limitations.” Spoiler alert: he says it of the just blown up Lieutenant Neil Briggs (played by Hal Holbrook).