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How LeBron James' new public school is the first of its kind (sbnation.com)
602 points by Tomte 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 454 comments



I am excited about this approach and I think LeBron's organization has put a lot of though and work with experts on this project.

- This school is a true public school and not a charter school. In Ohio a lot of charter schools can have some degree of selection in their students and kick out families which don't meet the requirements which leads to more at-risk students left to the public schools. This school is making a point of taking at-risk students.

- Longer school days, 3 meals, and a longer school year helps students stay focused. Unfortunately the home environment for a lot of kids makes it so hard for these kids to be able to focus at school. In my wife's elementary school classes some kids show up with just a hamburger bun for breakfast. Others fall asleep immediately at school since they live with 5+ siblings and there are literally no available beds at home. I am not trying to blame the parents in all the cases either, a lot of the time there are single parents just trying to get by and make ends meet and don't know what more they can do.

- Focussing on the teachers will also help. Teachers and unions have been vilified by Governor Kasich but they are not the main problem at all (it is the tragic home environments) with ridiculous review systems and standards, but then there is little support in challenging districts like in Akron/Cleveland. It is a lot easier to work in the suburbs where the kids would progress and learn even without teachers, so that is where everyone wants to go since a good rating is automatic. I think this problem occurs in just about every field where metrics dominate the review system (medicine, call centers, QA, etc). The turnover for teachers at local charter schools is terrible and only seems to attract early-career teachers who couldn't get a job at a public school.

- This doesn't seem to be a short term flashy project but has been years in the making. None of the features here are gimmicky, but just like many things in life it takes a lot of hard work!

- Adding the goal of college education shows a path forward which a lot of students don't think is possible.

I am super excited to be from Akron and I hope this model proves successful!


> Longer school days, 3 meals, and a longer school year helps students stay focused.

The middle one is absolutely true, the other two I really doubt e.g. in Finland or Germany, schoolday starts around 9AM and ends around 2PM, yielding 3h30 to 4h studies a day accounting for breaks, 5 days/week, with little homework (maybe 5h/week total). Afternoon is usually dedicated to clubs.


>The middle one is absolutely true, the other two I really doubt e.g. in Finland or Germany, schoolday starts around 9AM and ends around 2PM, yielding 3h30 to 4h studies a day accounting for breaks, 5 days/week, with little homework (maybe 5h/week total). Afternoon is usually dedicated to clubs.

In the context of at-risk kids, I think the idea is to maximize the amount of time the kids get to spend away from their toxic and stressful home environments.

I am a bit skeptical of the overall "minimize idle time" idea, though. They seem to be on board with giving the kids enough free time to do independent study and stuff, but whether that's any good will depend on how it's implemented.


If the problem is toxic home environments though, why aren't people suggesting that we cut out the middle man and focus on building a better foster / adoption system and encouraging people to use it?

It seems that everyone is recognizing this is the problem, but the solutions all revolve around school, when it really doesn't have anything to do with schools.

Edit: Or boarding schools.


>If the problem is toxic home environments though, why aren't people suggesting that we cut out the middle man and focus on building a better foster / adoption system and encouraging people to use it?

Because the prospect of forcibly separating kids from their parents based on the decisions of aloof and poorly managed bureaucrats is a political and ethical nightmare.

The solution revolves around schools because schools are considered a legitimate area of public concern while individuals' family-lives (barring some extreme circumstances) are not.

Also, this program provides job training and counseling services for the parents of the kids too.

Boarding schools don't work for poor communities because the kids are often relied upon to do work for the family. This can mean helping with the family enterprise or it can mean older kids taking care of younger kids, elderly family members, or just helping out around the house.


> Because the prospect of forcibly separating kids from their parents based on the decisions of aloof and poorly managed bureaucrats is a political and ethical nightmare.

That's not at all what was being suggested.


Well, yeah, it was mostly producing non-aloof and well-managed bureaucrats (and dealing with similar problems in the people to whom they hand off kids), but at that point you've created a solution that still involves forcible separation. You might as well try to address the problems motivating separation, since you you've posed a similarly difficult problem as a partial mitigation.


I would have loved to attend a boarding school growing up...but living in a toxic family environment isn't so simple for the family or the kid. My mother enabled my alcoholic father, my sisters and I tried to protect each other, it would have been tragic to pull us all apart. I was out of the house as much as possible with school clubs and extra curricular like the boy scouts. Leaving my extended family, friends, etc and the shame of being a "foster" kid is a huge charge for someone in a toxic environment. Also abusive families are not black and white, there are good moments. After school programs, sports, music etc are a lifesaver for students with problems at home.


There are a lot of people working extremely hard in that field. It's just not very flashy or politically salient since it's so personal so it's very hard to rally people around it to get some more funding to these programs. Taking kids away from their parents always goes through the courts and is not in any way as simple as you make it out to be. Giving away your kids, even if you've fucked your life up is not something most people want to do voluntarily.


Do you have children? The flippant way you say that we should take the children away from their families makes me think not.


Not all parents should be allowed to raise their children...


Are you sure you're not actually saying "poor parents shouldn't be allowed to raise their children"?


Ideas like this are always presented as a "common sense" solution like "let's reduce welfare fraud" and no one would disagree with that, and then in actual implementation it ends up being "let's target poor people, people of color, and immigrant families" even if that's not what was intended from the start.

I fail to see how fixing broken homes (which we don't have a ready-made solution for) is an easier solution than making school more helpful to kids (one solution to which is what this article is about), so I don't think the parent's argument is made in good faith.


Yeah, you rarely see proponents of this considering the toxic households in Orange County or Beverly Hills for interventions.


What are your criteria?


> ...and focus on building a better foster / adoption system and encouraging people to use it

who is going to fund that? wouldn't it be better to support the families as they are? help improve peoples lives instead of ripping families apart


For what it's worth, children from at-risk families achieve better education when the father ends up incarcerated. So we can absolutely make a case for "ripping families apart" and against supporting "families as they are".

> My findings suggest that on average, parents who are on the margin of incarceration are likely to reduce the amount of schooling their child attains if they instead remain in the household. This can be explained because the removal from the household of a violent parent or a negative role model can create a safer environment for a child (Johnson, 2008; Jaffee et al., 2003). Incarceration is also a mechanism that can limit the intergenerational transmission of violence, substance abuse, and crime to children. This result also relates to findings in other fields that conclude that See Kling (2006), Aizer and Doyle, 2013; Di Tella and Schargrodsky (2013), Mueller-Smith, 2015; and Bhuller et al., 2016, among others. For example, using data from Sweden, Hjalmarsson and Lindquist (2007) report significant father-son correlations in criminal activity that begin to appear between ages 7 and 12, and are 3 the positive effects of being raised by one’s parents depend on the quality of care they can provide (Jaffee et al., 2003).

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5664c583e4b0c0bb910ce...


You summarized the paper as, “children from at-risk families achieve better education when the father ends up incarcerated.”

The one study you’re citing here might suggest your summary statement if “parents on the margin of incarceration” was equivalent to “children from at-risk families”. But those are very different concepts.

You can have an at risk family just by being low-income. Certainly many low-income families are drawn into crime, but by no means all, or even a majority, of low-income families, have a parent who is at the margin of incarceration.

I think the only thing you can reasonably conclude from this study is that leniency in the judicial system towards parents just because they’re parents may be misguided.


> those are very different concepts

They are overlapping. Moreover, "parents on the margin of incarceration" are an extremely significant group of parents for whom the discussion of "supporting families as is" vs. "ripping apart" is meaningful at all. For most poor families it's irrelevant as there's no grounds for dissolution.

I believe you can't deny that it's much more common and publicly acceptable to claim that such a criminal parent should be shown leniency when possible, because having no parent at all is horrible. Yet we have evidence to the contrary.

I concede that this may be inapplicable for some other cases (or at least that we have no proof that it would be applicable yet). However, I personally think that those "at risk families" where parents create an atmosphere that's detrimental for stydying (by being aggressive, anti-intellectual etc.) may well be worse than outright criminal ones, and I believe it'd be proven in due time.


I think leniency for violent crimes or burglary is probably misguided in at risk communities.

For most non-violent crimes, this study was unconvincing (generally speaking I’d like to see incarceration alternatives for non-violent crime, why send people to crime school at tax-payer expense?).

I agree that for these groups, there’s an elevated chance that the parent is actively harming their family. I just don’t think it would be statistically justified to separate families that aren’t criminal.

And, of course, it would be deeply inhumane.


I am appalled that such an assertion can be made openly. It is, frankly, simply vile to suggest that children be taken away from struggling parents by society, rather than society being obligated to help those parents raise their children. To do so would be not only criminal, but profoundly immoral.


Facts matter. Evidence matters. We should not ignore evidence because it disagrees with our ideology. And we certainly should not attack someone for trying to bring in evidence to a discussion about something as important as raising our children.

The poster you are responding to didn't even suggest a course of action. He mearly provided evidence that the "obvious" course of action might not be so obviously correct. You are free to (as another poster did) question the relevence, interperatation, or quality of the evidence, or provide other evidence or arguments to disagree with what the poster was presenting. But you should not attack someone for trying to have an evidence based discussion.

Even if he turns out to be completely wrong, figuring out how he is wrong will likely be far more enlightening than simply asserting that he is wrong on moral grounds.


> we can absolutely make a case for "ripping families apart"

I don't see how that isn't a suggestion of a course of action -- one that that is a blatant misuse of a study (with small effects only measured over a small time period) toward ideological ends, i.e. supporting the seizure of children of disadvantaged parents.

Moreover, I refuse to have an evidence-based discussion about whether certain people deserve human rights. That shifts the Overton window to present such ideas as acceptable, when in a civilized society they should not be.


I am not going to enter a discussion on the merits of the underlying argument because you have already acknowledged that you have no interest in doing so.

Returning to the meta discussion. Let us trace the course of the conversation in question:

neuland: ...focus on building a better foster / adoption system and encouraging people to use it

house9-2: wouldn't it be better to support the families as they are? help improve peoples lives instead of ripping families apart

textor: For what it's worth, children from at-risk families achieve better education when the father ends up incarcerated. So we can absolutely make a case for "ripping families apart" and against supporting "families as they are".

The only proposal being made here is a voluntary foster/adoption system with encouragement. This is then framed as "ripping families apart". While this framing is arguably unfair, it is within the bounds of reason so, giving it the most charitable interpretation possible, textor responds to "ripping families apart" in the context in which it was introduced and provided evidence that keeping blood families together is not inherently the best course of action. To be clear, at this point the conversation is about how much we should be supporting voluntary adoption; and textor is arguing that the idea is not as inherantly bad as house9-2 seems to be assuming.

Stepping up a level of meta:

>I refuse to have an evidence-based discussion about whether certain people deserve human rights.

This is what political correctness looks like. Literally. You are interested in what is politically correct, evidence be dammed. Further, no one in this discussion has argued for denying people human rights. Even further, every society on the planet accepts that we can violate "human rights" in some sense for the greater good. Eg. prisons deny people their human right of freedom; taxes partially deny the right of personal property.

At risk of entering into the merits of the original discussion, leaving children in poor home environment arguably denies them their human rights, including their right to: education security of person, and food.

How do we balance these conflicting goals? With evidence to inform us what our options are and what effects they will have with regards to our goals.

Going meta again:

> one that that is a blatant misuse of a study ...

It is not a blatant misuse; it is extrapolating beyond the facts of the original study. The first step of evidence based inquiry is to work with the evidence you have. This informs the questions you can ask, so you can look for the evidence you want to have [0]. Once you've done that, you can move onto making the evidence you want to have [1]. Each step of this process provides a foundation to build the next step.

And yes, the process is not as simple as I lay out. You need theory crafting. And once your theory starts to develop holes, it may be time to revisit an earlier step until you have enough of a foundation to make the later steps worthwhile (either because your foundation is strong, is the lower tiers are short of relevant evidence)

> ... toward ideological ends,

Please take a moment to rethink who is arguing towards ideological ends. In my experience, it is generally the person arguing against the concept of evidence; not the one trying to ground themselves in evidence.

>That shifts the Overton window to present such ideas as acceptable

And what about the overton window you are moving towards. Where it is accatable to blatantly argue that evidence should be ignored. Where the very concept of introducing evidence is morally abhorant. Is that the window you want us to live in?

>when in a civilized society they should not be.

Are you arguing that the very concept of seperating children from their parents has no place in civilized society? Child Protective Services might disagree with you. They do place strong emphasis on keeping families together where possible; but they acknowledge that sometimes conditions are so bad that it is unacceptable to leave a child in that situation. Where is the line that determines what warrents CPS to remove children from their families? Again, evidence is the best approach to find it, unless you want to remove children unnecessarily while leaving others in bad situations that they would be far better off out of.

Going meta again:

The discussion is not simply two extremes. Even if we agreed that one (or both) extremes was morally untenable, by seriously exploring the benifits of it, we can look for ways to obtain those same benifits by other means: such as turning school into a 'second home', as this the content of the original article, or voluntary foster care with active involvment of the birth parents in a non-primary-guardian capacity.

[0] And by want to have, I mean the evidence that answers the questions you want to ask; not the evidence that supports the conclusion you want to reach

[1] Again, in the sense of the evidence that answers the questions you want answered.


While I appreciate your even-handed and careful defense of the point I was making, it's probably necessary to note that I didn't consider the merits of adoption at all. I have no idea what sort of policy to support on this issue. Indeed, the only thing I was objecting to was the idea of the company of biological parents being preferable by default. Given the evidence, I think that options rank like this: good parents > good foster parents > single parent > no parents > violent antisocial parent(s). Maybe it's wrong, but I don't immediately see how and believe we shouldn't assume that any position pro "ripping families apart", whatever the circumstances, is indefensible. If anything, the only policy I can responsibly advocate for, and not just voice general agreement with, is more rigorous and unbiased research into life outcomes.


Same people funding these insane school programs?


Who are you to say what charitable cause a private citizen spends their money on? Do you want to complain that Bill Gates spends money trying to cure malaria rather than remove trash from the ocean too?


no but i'll absolutely complain about the way the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation has changed the school system in the US.


I'm not familiar with their influence, but I'd love to learn about it! Please link me to more details.



they are entirely responsible for common core, and teachers pay based on standardized tests.


Lebron James has to fix all the ills in American society? Hmm I wonder why this country can't get anything productive done...


You have people pouring money into the school system, and the OP says it's in the wrong spot, and then the next poster asks, but who will fund that? clearly take money from one, put it in the other if that's the solution.


Why are they insane?


Common core and teachers wages dependent on standardized testing is nuts.


Do america's teacher wage depends on the child result to a standardized test?


No, they're exaggerating. Some school funds are dependent on testing results. The better a school performs, the more funding they get from federal programs (some, not all). To say that teachers' wages are dependent on the results of these tests is just disingenuous.


in most states now yes. all because of bill gates.


> If the problem is toxic home environments though, why aren't people suggesting that we cut out the middle man and focus on building a better foster / adoption system and encouraging people to use it?

Or we could just try to fix th social problems that produce the toxic home environments rather than ripping apart the families that society has already failed.

gt_ 6 months ago [flagged]

And we could stop using the word “toxic” to describe poor people.


This comment breaks the site guideline which asks:

"Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize."

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

Edit: it looks like you've been using HN primarily for political battle. That's not allowed here, and we ban accounts that do it, regardless of your politics; it's destructive of what this site exists for. Please stop doing that and use HN as intended, in the spirit of intellectual curiosity and thoughtful conversation. We'd appreciate it.


It's not poor people but their social environment that is described as toxic.

Also, all too often accurate of their physical environment, and the two aren't completely unrelated.


Because it is really hard to compete with the love a parent, even a really shitty one.


It's not even really that. Your home environment sets your barometer for what normal life looks like and for how strangers can be expected to behave. If your parents fight and assume ill intent in every mistake then you see that in every interaction. If they're constantly trying to get one over on each other then that's how you see human relationships. They don't have to love you or be particularly invested in you for you to learn some really screwed up lessons from them.


It is really even that. Just because it may not be logical or make sense, family bonds amd familial love are still a thing, even in families with lots of problems.


Because society is really bad at determining what is acceptable parenting. Look how popular the tiger mom bullshit is. Our foster system is also incredibly bad. It's easier to trust society in aggregate than it is to trust an individual.


Also helps the parents who need to be at work.


Exactly. Shorter days are difficult for working parents. I'd rather my child have a reasonable learning day and then structured extra-curricular activities (even if it's just semi-organised craft, science, etc play) than making concessions at work. Not all vocations can negotiate shorter hours or part-time work without risking their employment.


And research consistently shows that teenagers perform better if you start school later in the day than 7am. E.g., http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0192636502086633... "shifted the school start timefrom 7:15 a. m. to 8:40 a. m. This article examines that change, finding significant benefits such as improved attendance and enrollment rates, less sleeping in class, and less student-reported depression."

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1540200070126380... "Students at the late-starting school reported waking up over 1 hr later on school mornings and obtaining 50 min more sleep each night, less sleepiness, and fewer tardies than students at the early school."

https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/pol.3.3.62 "Results show that starting the school day 50 minutes later has a significant positive effect on student achievement, which is roughly equivalent to raising teacher quality by one standard deviation."


From the article linked in the article:

https://www.ohio.com/akron/news/education/i-promise-school-a...

>I Promise kids’ school days will start an hour later than their peers. They’ll also receive an additional hour after school every day called the “illumination period,” which will be a time for extra mentoring, studying or club activities.

Not only does the school day start an hour later, the extra time in the day comes from support of extracurricular activities.


I don’t imagine most working adults would be willing to work starting so early. Why do we force children who need even more sleep to do so?


So that the adults can get to work on time.


Mostly this ^. As a parent you want to get to work on time. So staggering when school starts is both good for traffic and parents’ sanity.


>Mostly this ^. As a parent you want to get to work on time. So staggering when school starts is both good for traffic and parents’ sanity.

Part of it is the assumption that kids can't get to school on their own. I was walking by myself to school when I was 6.

And in a lot of places the built environment is such that kids really can't get to school on their own. Schools are either far away, public transit isn't possible, or there just aren't sidewalks, crosswalks, or safe routes to walk.

Fortunately the densely built areas don't have most of those problems. As long as the neighborhood kids travel in groups they're fine. And the "I Promise" program gives them their own bicycles and free rides to and from school within 2 miles.


I walked to school as I was growing up in Nairobi but realize that it’s not possible for my daughter.

Nairobi would probably have questionable security compared to the US, but I’m guessing we are probably judged quite harsh here in US.

There was just this article other day where a woman faced jail time or massive fines because she left her “not-so-baby” baby in the car. My dad used to leave us in the car all the time with windows open.

I can’t do any of that. Mostly because I may end up in jail. That’s the reality of US.


So why don't we have kids start school at 9, adults start work at 10, kids get out of school at 5 instead of 3, adults get out of work at 6 instead of 5, problem solved???


More proof of how far down the list of priorities Americans place education.


School starts are staggered so the district can use fewer buses (at least they are around here). Middle school at 7:55, High school at 8:35, Elementary at 9:20.


Here it's the opposite. Elementary starts earlier than middle school. I actually prefer this because our middle school age kid is fine to get out to the bus on her own. The elementary school twins not as much. I can leave for my train earlier this way.


Follow the money. In this case, the money is in the bus system. You only need one set of buses and drivers if you stagger school starts. Overlapping school starts means overlapping demand for buses.


The high school I went to looked into shifting the start time later because of research like this. Unfortunately, they concluded that it wasn't feasible because of after school sports -- our teams play against other high schools in the area, and the timing of that is based on when all the schools start. So if one school wants to start later, its students wouldn't be done in time for sports games and such. Pretty lame.


I'm glad your school is prioritizing what's really important.


"The day they cut the football budget in this state, that will be the end of Western Civilization as we know it!"

-- Mr Holland's Opus


Longer school days help parents hold down full time jobs. A longer school year eliminates the need for babysitters or camps in the 10-12wk summer break, and also provides continuity of curriculum. Food is pretty easy and many schools are providing at least two meals already. A good number have things like backpack programs[1], also, to send food home (either in the evening or more commonly for the weekend).

[1] http://www.feedingamerica.org/our-work/hunger-relief-program...


A school that starts at 9am is unheard of in Germany. The standard time is 7:45am or 8:00am.

Also Ganztagsschulen (all-day schools) are getting very common (more than 60% and rising, see https://www.ganztagsschulen.org/de/19001.php). Kids stay there at until 4pm or so.

I don't know why you mention Germany in the first place, it's education system isn't top notch compared to Scandinavian schools.


For kids with unstable home environments, I think it's valuable to give them more time at school. Hopefully, the extra time includes ample opportunities for arts, sports, clubs, and other "non-academic" pursuits.


Absolutely. Most of this extra time ("wraparound time") is not necessarily structured class/tutoring time but unstructured time allowing kids to explore things like art or even play in a safe environment.


Sure but that's not how I interpret "longer school days" which sounds like more time butt-in-seat.


I don’t see why that would be presumed. It’s less expensive to give kids supervised free time than to teach lessons.


Ratios for structured play tend to be 1:8 adults to children (in UK), whilst classrooms are 1:30. Teachers are usually paid more, but not 3½ times more.

NSPCC recommend 1:6 ratio for 4-8 year olds doing activities.

I'd say max 1:3 if you want to give parent level care engaging with a child in activities the child is choosing in a meaningful way.


I believe it also depends on the environment around the school. In a third-world country, I'd probably prefer being safely indoors at school and in contact with friends, with free time if needed, than in a sketchy area without being able to see many friends. In a rich European country, there's enough public infrastructure (public transport, libraries, parks, etc.) that I'd probably prefer to be outside.


> In a third-world country, I'd probably prefer being safely indoors at school

That's a ridiculous generalization. Most developing countries have lower crime rates than some American inner cities. Heck, many developing countries are safer than some developed countries.


In general the whole "third-world" or "developing" country categorization is wrong.


You absolutely cannot compare Northern Europe with inner-city black America. Different worlds, different values, different histories, different attitudes, different challenges. No model fits all, especially in education, but these two realities are so dramatically different that they don’t really belong in the same sentence.


Agreed. Using Finland as an example is absurd. Finland has a very wealthy, very homogeneous population. Longer school days are designed, in this case, to keep many of these kids in a safe environment for as long as possible.


==Using Finland as an example is absurd. Finland has a very wealthy, very homogeneous population.==

Finland is 21% less wealthy than America on a per capita basis.

Finland GDP per capita - $35,964.77

US GDP per capita - $45,759.46

-http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/compare/Finland/Uni...


Finland has a drastically lower poverty rate, lower income inequality [1] and lower violent crime rate than the United States [2].

This fact, combined with Finland's well-known social safety nets leads to the obvious conclusion that you would be hard pressed to find living conditions like those in the slums of Akron/Cleveland in Finland.

[1]https://data.oecd.org/finland.htm#profile-government [2]http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/compare/Finland/Uni...


==This fact, combined with Finland's well-known social safety nets leads to the obvious conclusion that you would be hard pressed to find living conditions like those in the slums of Akron/Cleveland in Finland.==

Isn't it possible that Finland's well-known social safety net is at least partially responsible for the lower poverty, income inequality and violent crime rates?


It's absolutely the case, no question; but the problem here is that a school model that works in that scenario is unlikely to work in the current American scenario. It's like writing programs for high-level APIs (that will take care of memory, sorting and so on) versus writing programs against the POSIX interface (where you have to basically do everything yourself).


Yes, and I absolutely agree with the the other reply that such a model would be completely ineffective in the type of neighborhoods LeBron's school is targeting. I hope this model is successful because I think it could greatly benefit under-served communities.


> Finland has a ... very homogeneous population

I don't know this to be true or false, but is there any evidence of it? And is there any evidence that it has an effect on educational effectiveness? I wouldn't expect an effect; people learn to read, write and do math in K-12 all over the world.


They also have policies in place to support parents at the beginning of a child's life (i.e. the most important developmental phase of life). They also have a lower GDP per capita and somehow still afford all of these benefits that we are continually told would bankrupt our country. Truly a country of "family values".

- Maternity boxes - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maternity_package

- New child leave - Expecting mothers in Finland can start their maternity leave seven weeks before their estimated due date. After that the government covers 16 additional weeks of paid leave through a maternity grant, regardless of whether the mother is a student, unemployed, or self-employed. The country also offers eight weeks of paid paternity leave. - https://www.businessinsider.com/countries-with-best-parental...

- Partial Care Leave - After a child turns three, parents may take partial care leave, meaning, you can work fewer hours per day or week in order to spend more time with your child — and though you can’t take partial care leave at the same time, both the father and the mother can take the partial care leave at a different times. This innovative leave lasts until the end of the child’s second school year. - https://inhabitat.com/inhabitots/finlands-family-benefits-pr...

- Universal Healthcare - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Healthcare_in_Finland


Indeed, Finland is a model state in so many ways. That is why they can do with schools stuff that likely won't fit the immediate needs of inner-city US minorities: Finns can have short school times because parents have flexible working arrangements, generous subsidies, free healthcare and so on. Finnish kids go home to solid families that can make time for them without sacrificing their wealth; American kids go home to parents who are overworked, absent, or even addicted -- especially the poorer ones. In that situation, it's much better to keep them in school doing activities for as long as possible.

To be honest, you don't even have to go as far as the US, there are very similar issues in European banlieues and the likes. Long school hours used to be a typical postwar demand of progressive worker-rights movements, because it freed parents (especially women) to pursue career advancement and focused kids on academic achievement. I am a product of that sort of system, myself: from the age of 6 to the age of 12, I would be in school from 8:30am to 4:30pm, 5 days a week - plus an optional extra hour at both ends because my parents couldn't pick me up sooner. Unfortunately, after the social regression of the last 20 years, that kind of system is slowly disappearing in Europe too, and for all the bad reasons (cost-cutting).


> You absolutely cannot compare Northern Europe with inner-city black America.

Bad schools are throughout the United States, especially in poor areas, of which predominantly African-American regions make up only one part.

Also, while the parent's claim is a common excuse for inaction and lack of funding, I have yet to see any basis for it. While every case is different, we can all learn from others.


100%.


My working theory is, it is context dependent if longer school days, and terms are better or worse.

For example: With Children that have a rich home environment, plenty of interactions that stimulate them, keeping them at school longer may hamper development.

On the flip side you have an environment where this is not the case. Examples include socio-economic factors like parents/care givers working long hours.

I recently did research into this exact problem in South Africa. What are the factors that impact on education in communities that have socio-economic challenges?

The challenges are numerous and as this article says. The environment around the children just makes it extremely difficult for them to break out of the cycle of poverty.

These factors include:

being hungry,

crime,

lack of sanitation-this is a problem in South Africa they get sick more often then their counterparts in other areas.This results in them missing more school which puts them behind.,

Parents working long hours, travelling distances to get to work

Lack of resources in schools or support

There really is a multitude of problems each impacting the other creating a self perpetuating cycle of poverty.

Out of the research into the problems I developed a concept for a social enterprise that could solve some of these problems.

Trying to identify some funding sources as traditional vc will not be suitable. Maybe impact investors?

If the above sounds interesting, you are keen to explore leveraging education for social change or exploring alternative educational models mail me. Email is in profile


If the kids we're coming from stable, supportive home environments where learning can take place outside the classroom, you might be right. But those aren't the target students for the program; IMO the student's from rough home lives will almost assuredly benefit from this model.


> If the kids we're coming from stable, supportive home environments where learning can take place outside the classroom, you might be right.

The entire point of the finnish model is that this doesn't happen, there is no homework and there is no suggestion or expectations of parental teaching. There is extensive support for both kids and their parents (including good free meals and teacher-provided tutoring), but all teaching is done by the teacher.


How do you spend time with a child and not teach them?


For lower socioeconomic status kids a stable environment means not being at school at 6 am because Mom kicked you out to 'party' with her new boyfriend, or not coming to school high because Dad hotboxed on the drive over.


Sounds like a case for boarding schools. Does that technology not exist anymore in the US?


If people can't get their shit together enough to make sure their kid has a sandwich everyday they certainly aren't putting their kid into boarding school. Parents found unfit for parenting have their kids placed in the foster system, but that is a lengthy legal process.


> If people can't get their shit together enough to make sure their kid has a sandwich everyday they certainly aren't putting their kid into boarding school.

If that's the good public school of the area why wouldn't they?


Parents don't encourage kids to read, eat better, sleep at reasonable times, etc...


I think the point is that school is safer and provides better nourishment than the students own home, considering the low-poverty and crime-ridden areas some - or even many - of the students live at.


> Finland or Germany

Both those countries are also very prosperous and innovative. It seems the people or culture are what makes them do so well not the amount of school hours.

For all we know parents in those countries are far more supportive of their children. And may also be intelligent enough to assist their children with the homework. By intelligent I mean they are able to teach their children well I don't mean to be able to understand what a six year-old is learning (if not there is a far bigger problem!).


FYI parental involvement has no impact on educational attainment, a proxy for intelligence: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016028961...


The longer school day and it's structure are, per the article, designed to provide compensation for at-home support that is deficient in the target population; done right—e.g., so it doesn't just look like normal classroom time stretched longer—this may well be the best available mitigation for the social problem it is addressing.


I was one of the lucky kids who went to a very well funded school district because my parents managed to snag one of the, like, 15 housing units within it that didn't cost a million dollars a year to live in.

They had a really good after-school program for me and the other 30 or so kids whose parents had to work long hours with no flexibility. We were supervised by an adult to make sure we didn't kill each other but it was mostly about having free-time to do homework, read books, and play pick-up soccer or whatever.

Edit: To be honest, it's probably a better environment that we would have gotten at home, even with caring, attentive parents. We had access to the whole school library and our adult supervision actually knew our curricula so they could help us with the homework better than our parents could. Home computers weren't really a thing yet, so being able to use the shelf of encyclopedias was huge.


The difference is that in Finland etc. there are social services and childcare systems in place to support those kids outside of school hours.

Where does an inner city African American kid go after school if both parents (or single parent) are working? Who pays for that?

In countries with adequate social services, this is less of an issue.


There's really solid evidence that increasing classroom time increases learning.

Of course, people haven't yet gotten the idea that we should try to accomplish sufficient learning with minimum classroom time.


> There's really solid evidence that increasing classroom time increases learning.

There's really solid evidence that intellectual performance drops sharply long before 40h/week. Unless the "classroom time" you talk about includes a lot of off-time and non-butt-in-seat activities it seems you'll be deep into diminishing returns if not outright losing if you increase the length of the school day. My own memories of schools are that by late afternoon many students had stopped following altogether.


As long as you pay teachers overtime for all the extra hours they'll be working to put together curriculum for your longer school days, I'm in. It's not just students who have to be working during those hours, it's also teachers.


Read both sentences before getting ultra snarky please.


Longer school days might help kids with stressful home environment but it also poses risk to bonding b/w kids and parents especially for parents who are able to provide and are working towards holistic(moral, etc.) development of their kids. Longer school days should be optional with extra curricular activities to fill the later part of the day.


Well then send them to a different school


your example doesn't contradict the idea of having a longer school day or school year. as others have said, kids who lack a nurturing home environment can benefit from a nurturing environment at school (if that's what it truly is).

for example, school could open at 6am for parents who work early, but not start until 9am. the intermediary time could be nap time, unstuctured play, or guided exploration (gardening, science experiments, even animal husbandry in rural areas). between structured classroom time, they could have more breaks for more naps, play or exploration. school could end later so parents can pick them up after work, and have shorter and more frequent vacations so kids don't forget so much in-between.

you could even have morning or evening joint learning times, where parents join in to learn how to teach and encourage their kids (such programs seem to help break the cycle of poverty).


> a longer school year helps students stay focused

My kids (4th and 7th) attend a school with a year-round schedule, and we (kids and parents) love it:

* They are less stressed because there is more breaks throughout the year. Teachers seem less stressed, too, because they don't have to pack so much in.

* They retain more in the summer.

* Outside of academics: it's really nice to have the option to take longer vacations outside of spring break and summer break.

I'd love to see more schools move to it... 3 months off in summer seems very antiquated in hindsight.


>I'd love to see more schools move to it... 3 months off in summer seems very antiquated in hindsight.

But what about those of us who need the extra hands to help with the harvest!?


Robots will soon replace the forced child labor. Oh won't somebody think of the poor displaced children?


False alarm. Turns out we've already replaced them with underpaid immigrant labor instead.


Wait, is this like common in the US? I thought our 6 week summer break in German schools was on the long side :)


This is definitely the norm in the US. Maybe it's not quite 3 full months, closer to 2 1/2, but there's a long enough gap that time is wasted refreshing information from the previous year.


Growing up in Upstate NY, I always assumed part of it was also due to the fact that breaks during the winter basically translate to hours spent cooped-up inside, watching TV or playing on the computer.

I know that the 3-month summer break stems from historical harvest/planting schedules... but when there's 20 inches of snow outside and the wind chill is -10 F, I'll take 3 months of summer vacay over 6 weeks of summer and 6 weeks of winter breaks any day.


The summer break is also often when the weather is the hottest. Many schools don't have air conditioning, but would need it to provide a conducive learning environment in the heat of the summer. A schedule change combined with a few degrees of climate change turns a few rather hot days a school year into weeks of being too hot to learn.


I grew up north of Edmonton (regular -40f for several weeks), and would have loved a 6 week winter break. Outdoor hockey & cross country skiing, snowshoeing, downhill skiing. I know I would have been out on the rink every day.


Current system: 2 weeks in winter and 10 in summer.

I don't think the alternative is 6/6. I think it's more like 3 in winter, 3 in summer, 3 in spring, and 3 in fall. Or even more spread out.


In the UK I believe ours is six weeks in the summer, two weeks Christmas, two weeks Easter, then one week in the middle of each term (three per year).

I'd have to actually check though, been a while.


Winter break is to save money on heating. Which is why it doesn't exist in lower latitudes of the US.


Just occurred to me, as "heat waves" become the norm for longer periods of time, I'm sure there will be people arguing for the cost-savings of not having to cool the school buildings during the summer.


Winter break very much exists in the bottom half of the US.


The mid-February break GP was alluding to doesn't.


In contrast I'm very happy with long Summer holidays at present. It gives us chance to spend extended periods together as a family and to help our children to follow their own educational goals rather than those dictated by central government. We're planning electronics, modern language learning, weir building, insect hunting, camping, outdoor pursuits, ... none of which they do in school here.


One nice thing about 3 month summer is the ability to get a temporary job. When I was in high school I worked every summer as a landscaper/food service/lifeguard/etc. and gained lots of experience/money I otherwise wouldn't have gotten. With year round school that doesn't seem possible.


Definitely. I probably wouldn't have been able to have done internships over the summer with year-round school. And, at least in my case, the internship(s) led to a full-time job at the same place years later.


I don't think you're losing anything in low-skill jobs like that by not working a continuous 3 months instead of 3 weeks at a time.


places definitely don't want to expend resources hiring someone for three weeks just to have them leave, then come back, in a cycle. they want 3 months all in a row.


I mean, you could say that about co-op programs that mandate a single employer as well.


Others fall asleep immediately at school since they live with 5+ siblings and there are literally no available beds at home. I am not trying to blame the parents in all the cases either

At some point, though, personal responsibility has to come into play. Having 5+ children when you have no resources... this is the true elephant in the room. It seems talking about it gets labels thrown around. I guess it's a conversation we can't have right now, though.


I don't see how this is an elephant in the room or a conversation we can't have right now. Lets.

What, besides providing extra resources to underpriveleged children so they are not punished for their parents mistakes, can be done?

Are you suggesting we make their parents "pay" somehow? Or a program to prevent the parents from having 5+ kids when they don't have the resources?


I've thought about this a lot over the years, as someone coming from a poor background but grew up around very wealthy kids, I never understood why people who cannot afford to give their child a good life have children. That may sound cold, and it might be, but I wondered it myself growing up in a poor household.

There's a great scene from a Michael Winterbottom movie called Jude where --spoiler-- a child asks his parents why they had him if they could not afford him and his siblings. The child doesn't like the answer and ends up hanging himself and his siblings.

I don't know if there is a solution. People want to have kids, even if they can't - in my opinion - afford them. Some religions encourage having lots of children - it's a big thing in the catholic community, at least where I grew up.

Anecdote: My cousin is married to a catholic latina, he's already struggling to make ends meet taking care of the one kid they have. He lives with her grandparents and cousins in a tiny apartment in a low income neighborhood. There is no way I could talk him out of having another child, even though I know it's fiscally irresponsible in my opinion.

I think it's a conversation worth having but I just don't know how it can go anywhere, and I have struggled to come up with an answer that isn't just me being upset with the parents.


> Are you suggesting we make their parents "pay" somehow? Or a program to prevent the parents from having 5+ kids when they don't have the resources?

Due to the way government assistance is structured it encourages parents to 1) not get married, 2) have more kids, 3) not begin working if they don't already work.

If we changed government assistance to encourage parents getting married that would help reduce fatherlessness and all of the negatives that come with that.

If we changed government assistance to encourage parents to have less children they would be better able to take care of the ones they have.

If we changed government assistance to encourage parents to work it would reduce the number of people who grow up on government assistance and live on it their whole lives. This would have long term positive consequences.


"If we changed government assistance to encourage parents getting married that would help reduce fatherlessness and all of the negatives that come with that."

That's not really a good idea. I know my godson's parents, and if they getting assistance was reliant on getting married, they would end up killing each other.

"If we changed government assistance to encourage parents to have less children they would be better able to take care of the ones they have."

How, exactly would you do this? And do it without punishing the kids by leaving their parents with even fewer resources?


Currently as a single mother, you can qualify for more things than you can as a married mother. This puts a financial incentive to stay unmarried. This incentive should be removed.

I don't have as good of an answer for reducing children. It would probably be best to work on reducing the number of children by providing easier access to birth control.


"Currently as a single mother, you can qualify for more things than you can as a married mother. This puts a financial incentive to stay unmarried. This incentive should be removed."

You're completely and utterly ignoring the fact that raising children, especially multiple ones, is an extremely difficult task, even for two people. I know of very few people who would opt to do it themselves, even if the financial incentives to do so were worth it (they aren't even close).


You're completely and utterly ignoring the fact that raising children, especially multiple ones, is an extremely difficult task, even for two people. I know of very few people who would opt to do it themselves, even if the financial incentives to do so were worth it (they aren't even close).

I just want to point out there are a lot of poor women raising significant numbers of children. The woman next to my mom has 5-7 (it's hard to tell, and she just had a new one). They father (of some of them) is around a little, but mostly not around. And it looks like there are several fathers. Yes, raising children well is hard, but I would not describe what this woman does as difficult. Older kids are raising the younger ones, etc, etc.

So, I would definitely disagree with your assertion.


Raising children is very hard. I simply saying any benefits a person qualifies for while a single parent should not go away once married.


> Or a program to prevent the parents from having 5+ kids when they don't have the resources?

Out of curiosity, what have the sociologists concluded from China’s one-child policy?


better sex education, better access to contraceptives, better access to abortion.

You don't punish the problem away, you help people avoid it themselves.


I think this is a huge part of it. Even something as simple as free high-quality condoms or emergency contraception (morning-after) can make a huge difference when money is tight.

Even better would be free birth-control medication or IUD's, as these put the birth control in the hands of women, while condoms especially might not be used in the face of social pressure.


I like the assumption that the 5+ kids are all just due to irresponsible people popping children out and not, say, the results of generous people fostering family members who would be in even worse situations otherwise or a mother who is being raped by a partner.


This comment breaks the site guidelines, which ask: Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize.

Please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and follow the rules when posting here.


What, besides providing extra resources to underpriveleged children so they are not punished for their parents mistakes, can be done?

Unintended consequences. I believe it is generally accepted that the policies in the 70's led to the destruction (dismantling?) of the urban/poor family (yes, predominately African American).

Also, we've seen that this issue has significantly fueled the rise of people like our current POTUS.

It's a hard problem. I don't know what the solution is.


> I believe it is generally accepted that the policies in the 70's led to the destruction (dismantling?) of the urban/poor family (yes, predominately African American).

These problems existed long before then. For example, a famous and controversial report from 1965:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Negro_Family:_The_Case_For...

The problems are largely due to systematic oppression of African-American people for generations, denying them access to adequate housing, education, income, credit, access to legal protections, and exposing them to risks of violence by the state and by white people.


I agree, but both are contributing factors.


> both are contributing factors

Which policies of the 70s and 80s contributed and where is evidence of that? I ask because I try to be careful to distinguish between oft-repeated narratives and hypotheses with actual evidence.


Who's responsibility? Not the child's. This school is about helping the children who weren't given a say in the matter of their upbringing and existence.


Why not both? Treat the symptom, getting help for these at-risk kids and work on the cause: figure out how to not get into this situation with all these at-risk kids to begin with. For some reason you can only talk about seatbelts—mentioning safe driving will get you downvotes.


Helping at-risk kids succeed is helping treat the cause. If you don't help these kids, they're going to grow up and have their own "at-risk" kids. And the cycle continues. These are efforts to break the cycle. This is proactive investment in the future.


> Having 5+ children when you have no resources...

Isn't that surprising; globally, number of children goes down with both prosperity and, even controlling for prosperity, strength of social safety nets (a common explanation for the latter being that with no or weak public safety net, your children are your old-age social safety net.)

The US has been proudly dismantling it's social safety net since the 1990s, and it already was notoriously weak for the developed world. Simultaneously, access to birth control and abortion is also under perennial assault, and even where access is maintained, well-funded shame campaigns are directed against both.

Strangely, the people backing all of those efforts are also the ones that complain the most about poor people having too many kids. And do so under the banner of “personal responsibility”, without any hint of intentional irony.


Are you arguing for better access to birth control? Or that the children should be punished for the sins of their mother?


Well like it or not, children do pay for the sins of their parents. It's not something to be argued for its simply the truth


We're not arguing that it doesn't happen, we're arguing that it shouldn't.


So should we try to do more or less of it?


As Max Mosley may have said "you can chose your friends you cannot chose your parents - He is the son of Oswald mosley btw.

vxNsr 6 months ago [flagged]

Someone might argue that people shouldn't engage in activities that have a strong probability of creating responsibilities they can't handle, no matter how good those initial activities feel.

In other parts of society we'd say "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time."

I know this is a very unpopular opinion the world over right now, but: This applies loosely to sex as well (Don't have sex if you can't afford to have kids).


No, it sounds like you're arguing that the child should bear the burden of the parent's bad decisions. Ever hear the phrase "sins of the father?"

The fact is the child has no control over their home environment, and you're effectively damning them to a life of lower achievement based on the fact that their parents can't afford enough bedding. Is that really the kind of world you want to live in?


I'm arguing exactly the opposite!

A parents lack of self/impulse control shouldn't be the child's responsibility. And we should strive as much as possible to prevent people from doing something that might cause that to be the case. Obviously once a child is born we need to work on making sure they have a bright and fulfilling future, but why not stop it at the source?


Because government subsidized abortion is politically a non starter.


No. That's just a completely unworkable and unreasonable demand.


Wow. So asking someone for a bit of self control and being a responsible adult is now considered an unreasonable request. Because it’s so difficult to at least not have unprotected sex when you know you’re not in a position to support a child.

We are truly lost as a society.


Saying that someone should lose all support, as the person I was responding to suggested, just for doing one of the normal human acts is entirely unreasonable.


Depends if you're being pedantic and talking about sex-vs-no-sex rather than protected sex. There are loads of achievable and affordable options including freely available and/or subsidised contraception, practical sex education, down the spectrum towards abortion, etc.


Self control is unreasonable? You honestly sound like those creepy men who go around slapping random coworker's behinds because that's what comes naturally.


> I know this is a very unpopular opinion the world over right now, but: This applies loosely to sex as well (Don't have sex if you can't afford to have kids).

because it's a ridiculous opinion that ignores human nature and provides awful advice.


As I said, unpopular.

It doesn't ignore human nature, it asks that you embrace your humanity. Until recently people would have argued that "unwanted advances" were "human nature." NO! As an adult human you're better than that. Control yourself.

I'm not really understanding why it provides "awful advice"? Why should your children bear the responsibilities of your lack of self control?


Personal responsibility of the parent sure, but the child can't exactly ask to not be born.


Also, is it personal responsibility if the state has put the parent in a situation where they will be systematically stripped of resources?


>Also, is it personal responsibility if the state has put the parent in a situation where they will be systematically stripped of resources?

That is hardly the only problem. Society isn't at fault for all of the ills of low income areas.


This is such a strange sentiment to me. Surely as a society there are many situations for which we take responsibility without assuming guilt?


I do wish that this comment could serve as the banner comment for this post. It's such an immature response to assume that because you're taking responsibility to resolve or address something that it implies that you're to blame for it having occurred in the first place.

This mentality is pervasive in the elementary and middle schools that my kids attend and it's unfortunate that adults haven't grown out of it. Thank you for your comment.

True leadership says that we need to work toward fixing the problem, while selfish ambition says, "not my fault, not my problem."


> True leadership says that we need to work toward fixing the problem, while selfish ambition says, "not my fault, not my problem."

The sad reality is that in the other hand, thanks to the ever present tragedy of the commons, there are selfish people that take advantage of this thinking "someone will fix it, doesn't matter if I contribute to the problem for my own benefit".


I understand and appreciate your perspective on this. However, I'm not certain that those of us who are "haves" or who are privileged in some way can put the majority of the burden on those who are "have-nots" to simply stop what they're doing and wait for change. If the goal of our lives is to protect what we have, then I have a feeling that we're going to die with unfulfilled lives - we just may not know it until it's too late.

[edit]typo: "doing" -> "going"


I didn't mean to say people who aren't directly responsible should shrug their shoulders and move on. I have this discussion with my wife often. How the hell do you help kids who have little to no support structure at home?

Our federal and local governments often make it harder for these people, and I'm all for fixing that (with my notion of what a "fix" looks like of course.) That's not the entire story though; how do you make fathers stick around? How do you solve for poverty? You don't, at least, we have never been able to do so, and now you get into philosophical territory about whether or not that's even possible.

My issue is that I have no idea how to fix it. Pumping more money into low income schools is not a cure-all. Don't get me wrong, it can help, but we have many cases where it made little to no difference because teachers and iPads can't do it all.

Anyways, that's a lot of rambling. My point is that I don't think the sentiment of "these people are oppressed" (which is what I assume most mean when they say it's "society's fault") is correct. It's far more complicated than that.


Society is entirely responsible for that.


> At some point, though, personal responsibility has to come into play.

It actually doesn't. Everyone is a responsible as they're capable of being, given their genetics and their environment. If you're a very responsible person it's because you were fortunate to have your particular genetics and/or environment.

Some people are born into terrible environments but have the genetic luck to be highly responsible. Some people are born into great environments but have the genetic misfortune to be highly irresponsible.

No one chooses to be responsible or irresponsible.

The onus is on the genetically/environmentally lucky people to help the unlucky ones. There's absolutely no shame in being unlucky and no pride in being lucky. There isn't much the lucky people can do to improve genetics (yet) but there's a lot that can be done to improve environments.


> No one chooses to be responsible or irresponsible.

Really? Everyone's level of responsibility is purely based on a genetic lottery and have nothing to do with one's own willpower?

edit: I can understand environment having an effect


Not just genetics. Your willpower is entirely dependent on your genetics and your environment. There are no other factors possible. No one chooses how much willpower they have, just like no one chooses how intelligent they are.


By your argument if somebody is lucky, successful, and prideful, but feels no desire to help others, wouldn't that apathy also be a result of genetics and environment? And thus you couldn't blame them for it or expect them to act any differently.


Exactly. You can certainly pity someone for lacking empathy but blaming them makes no sense.

And behavior isn't necessarily a static thing. This same person might read a good book (which would become part environment) which might move them to be more empathetic.


Not in an environment where people are still trying to promote abstinence-only sex ed, no.


how do you see people not taking personal responsibility in this regard? at an individual, or a population level?

you seem to assume a lot about people "having 5+ children when you have no resources". even the idea of "no resources" has a number of in-built assumptions. what are they? do you work with populations of people like this? do you personally know people in this situation? are they truly hopeless?

certainly we can have an adult conversation, but don't beat around the bush. start the conversation with an earnest and reasoned argument, rather than an inscrutable lament.


Along with "out-of-wedlock" births people also get divorced and/or die. I know two families where death is what caused a parent to become single. Life changes quickly (I grew up with a single mom, she got divorced because my dad developed a severe mental illness). Judging families by personal responsibility should really only be done on a case-by-case basis.


Of course personal responsibility comes into play. But what do you want to do about it? The child already exists and we can't go back in time, so no preventing that. Do we give the child the best opportunity it can get, or somehow use it to punish the parents for their decision making?


You're getting downvoted, and maybe most of that is a sentiment of "we have to deal with the problem at hand", which is absolutely the only thing an outsider can do, but you're not wrong.

My wife works in a low income school, largest and poorest in the area (a relatively large city.) Pumping more money in does not help. More after school problems does not help much. As far as academic achievement is concerned, these kids are completely stuck because they have what we would consider terrible situations at home.

Sometimes the parents just don't care, sometimes they just don't have the time (multiple jobs). More often than not there is only one parent at home. There's only so much a teacher/school can do if the parent is picking up the ball when the kid gets home.


I come from one of those large, poor inner city schools. The money and after school programs absolutely help. I am a product of those after school programs. That additional money paid for musical instruments, sports, computers, and transportation.

I feel personally insulted when people say we shouldn't fund these afterschool programs because they don't feel they are working.


Oddly enough, it’s usually the people not actually involved who are the experts on why we need to take more away from them.


Pumping money in doesn't work.

Having a good plan and the resources to execute is what works.

I know it sounds like I'm talking about a minor difference, but I think it's a lot bigger than that. You can add more money to a lot of the broken systems in the US. It helps, but it doesn't fix core problems and the systems are still incredibly inefficient.


All great plans start with money as a major factor. The money isn't the only thing necessary but you can't do any of it without it.


Anecdotal experiences are near worthless when discussing policies, though. Feel insulted all you like; statistically speaking, these resources are wasted. Chances are you'd be equally well off without them.


Anecdotal experiences are near worthless, but sweeping statements with no cited sources are equally as bad.


Incorrect. They're worse.


Instead of disparaging anecdotes (which are worth something, actually), can you simply provide data that supersedes it?


And this is where you drop in the links to prove these programs aren't working.

BTW, one data point holds more value than zero.


There's no reason to assume that they work to begin with; pretty much nothing ever does in education. But you can examine the failure of Head Start and the general trends in education costs vs. results to see that the room for improvement is largely used up.


It's not all about personal responsibility. Something to also consider is that the psychology of poverty also drives bad decisions [1]. Turns out the financial pressures that drive people to make bad decisions are also some of the pressures the I promise school is trying to alleviate.

[1]: http://review.chicagobooth.edu/behavioral-science/2018/artic...


Of course, the parent could have also been very responsible. Maybe they were married with a nice income. Fast forward 10 years and their spouse has died or went to prison and they lost their nice job and now have to work multiple lower paying jobs. There are a multitude of circumstances that could put you in a position that you didn't foresee.


> Having 5+ children when you have no resources... this is the true elephant in the room.

What makes you say that's an actual problem that has a significant impact on American education?


"At some point, though, personal responsibility has to come into play."

Only if you're looking to blame something so you can feel smugly superior to them. If you're looking to actually provide services or improve conditions, that's not something worth talking about, because it doesn't change conditions now.

EDIT: And especially not when we're talking about Ohio, which is one of the states looking to outright ban abortion.


> I am not trying to blame the parents in all the cases either, a lot of the time there are single parents just trying to get by and make ends meet and don't know what more they can do.

If there is a household with one parent, 5+ children, and not enough beds for them, the problem has occurred long before. One cannot blame the parent for "that day", but certainly the adult bears some responsibility for creating such a household. Having 5 kids without planning for beds, or income, or stability, is a decision SOMEONE made. It doesn't just "happen" like weather. There is human responsibility here.

In my view, "I Promise" is making up for those mistakes. Its a good thing, but let's be clear about why it's valuable.


Why should we be clear about that? You know it is just turtles all the way down right? The goal here is to break a _cycle_ which this school is hopefully going to do by focusing constructively on what works to help these kids be better parents themselves one day. Beyond deepening our understanding of helping these kids I'd actually argue scrutinizing the parents has only negative utility and should be avoided at all costs (unless vilifying poor/uneducated parents feels useful to you as an end unto itself).


Life is full of much more complicated scenarios. A friend of mine recently passed away from cancer. Her 2 kids will now go live with someone else, who already have kids of their own, and are now taking on a very significant financial burden that they could not have planned for. How would you view this family that suddenly has more kids than they can afford?

Some things actually do just "happen", like weather.


The problem with pinning responsibility on that parent is, the original decision that led to this situation may predate the parent. Maybe they were raised by a single mom with many siblings and not enough resources too. Maybe they live somewhere deeply conservative where contraception isn't taught about. To act like the parent is wholly responsible is unrealistic and naive.


They are responsible though. Unless you want to take away decision making power from a person.

This realization does not have to incur any sort of "well you deserve this outcome and sucks to be you" sort of logic, however. It is the parent's fault for creating the situation, but society can choose to bail one out for poor decision making.


Are you trying to bury your head in the sand?

My situation is probably drastically determined by some stranger 200 years ago who decided hopping in a pile of potatoes on barge headed for the US was a good idea. Thank you distant relative, that was a genius idea!

The point isn't to act like people aren't responsible for their own actions, of course they are. The point is to be realistic about how much of our situations are attributable to our personal decision making. People don't exist in small vacuums where they control everything.


And that stranger 200 years ago made a decision somehow. Most african-american people in the context of this thread are descendants of enslaved individuals brought to this continent against their will.


I haven't seen anyone say anything about not being responsible. I have seen people say something about not being wholly responsible.


>a decision SOMEONE made

Ohio (where this school is) lacks quality sex education and access to abortion. Ohio law doesn't require teaching at all about contraception. Ohio law allows parents to block their kids from having an abortion. Ohio law doesn't require teaching students about consent.

So there is a huge swath of people in Ohio schools who are totally uneducated about sex. Certainly SOME of the blame should go to the decision of the Ohio legislature to withhold information about birth control from students.


> Its a good thing, but let's be clear about why it's valuable.

It's valuable because the American Right has been making a sustained and successful attack on the integrity, stability, and viability of poor families for at least three decades (and other powerful forces, whose modern incarnation is also part of the American Right, has been doing so to families of color, who are disproportionately poor, since America was colonized.)

It is true that addressing that cause is useful in thinking about more complete, comprehensive long-term solutions.


Isn't it possible that "income, or stability" experienced a sudden drastic change at some point after birthing the 5th kid? It is conceivable that the parent did not have full control over that change.


They made the choice to have the first, second, third, and fourth kid before the fifth one. Each child is a huge lifelong expense: everyone knows this fact. Condoms, birth control, abortions: these are all available tools to give people control over human reproduction.


> everyone knows this fac

And you can be completely fine and have plenty of resources for all 5 kids until your wife gets cancer and you drop 1 million dollars of medical expenses into that money pit and then she dies anyway. Now you have 5 kids, single income, and way less than no money.

Strangers on the internet say it’s your fault.

Enjoy

Well I guess it’s your fault for having kids in a country with scant social safety nets. So you’re kinda right


That sounds like an edge case to me. What proportion of single parent families are formed by death of a married parent vs. other options?


The other option still takes away 50% of your net worth and 1 salary so it’s not like that’s ideal either.


But birth control, condoms, and abortions are NOT given as a tool to most young people in America. Looking at Ohio specifically (where Jordan's school is),

Schools don't have to tell kids that birth control exists, let alone show them how to properly use a condom (which is a non-trivial skill: condoms are 98% effective when put on properly but 85% effective in real life)

Schools don't have to tell kids abortion exists. Even if kids did know, their parents can block them from getting an abortion. Also, getting an abortion requires traveling to a clinic, which often requires a car.


Just gonna drop this here, re: the availability of abortion services: https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/state-facts-about-abor...


The availability of abortions can be severely limited depending on which state you live in.


This is such a privileged view point... And I don't even like that word. But really, the idea that someone shouldn't have kids unless they have their entire life planned? Unless they have a stable (jobs | spouses | families | friends | environment | culture) that can be relied on? Not everyone has that opportunity. And it sounds very much like victim blaming to then tell them that they should be denied having kids because their life isn't perfectly stable. And let's be very, brutally honest: It's not like stable households don't also occasionally produce broken children. Incidence rate is dropped, but decidedly not zero.

I mean, hell, I have an extremely stable job at an extremely stable company. And I still fear losing my job, and the effect that would have on my family!


Ok let's be clear about that. Now what? There _is_ a household with one parent and 5+ children. Unless you have a time machine you can't undo that. What do you do about that household? Telling the parents that they made bad decisions actually doesn't do much to help the children. How do you help the children?


Right, and the best way to fix that problem is by taking away easy access to contraceptives and eliminating sexual education from schools. And while we're at it let's overturn Roe vs. Wade.

If we just pray a little harder, people will stop having kids! Teenagers will stop having sex! Condoms will stop breaking!


> If there is a household with one parent, 5+ children, and not enough beds for them, the problem has occurred long before.

Yes, perhaps the husband/wife that was the single/primary earner in the family happened to die and thus the family found itself in hard times.


From what I read it seems he's focusing on the pain points or barriers to learning from the perspective of the underprivileged from whence LeBron came. If you have someone that lived this giving him deep insight to the real issues AND he's a good person AND he has power to change, that is a fabulous formula for success. I hope this works out. Too many times you have people meaning well that have not actually experienced the life of the subjects being helped and you end up with wrong-fit solutions. We can all understand this as coders when we build something thinking this is how users will use it and then find out no, that's not the case.


I'm not convinced this 'diversity of thought' (aka direct domain expertise) is actually as useful as people love to claim these days. It's an extremely popular narrative that gets pushed with very little questioning or measuring of its utility.

a) is it really accurate that a smart person can't legitimately learn and be sensitive to life experiences from others or b) why can't they hire people to advise them while still managing the project themselves?

This sounds like a solvable problem by promoting being sympathetic and deferential, rather than replacing people outright from the process simply because they aren't 'from' that group. It's just as likely the people with the life experience don't have the other skills for managing or running a project as well.

Everyone is acting like this project is already a success when it has just launched...Id wait a couple years before calling LeBron a hero.


Bill Gates for example, does extensive research with many experts in the field trying to pinpoint actual barriers or issues that real people experience prior to coming up with problem and solution scenarios. My statement takes nothing away from that, rather, it is a good starting point to have this inside knowledge at the core to tackle real world issues effectively.


>>> Everyone is acting like this project is already a success when it has just launched...Id wait a couple years before calling LeBron a hero.

Although I agree with your general point, I don't see the problem with praising people that is trying hard at changing the lives of others for the better.


> a) is it really accurate that a smart person can't legitimately learn and be sensitive to life experiences from others

There's are a lot of subtleties that lived experience can reveal. Even the smartest person might miss some knock-on effect, etc.

> b) why can't they hire people to advise them while still managing the project themselves?

So, you're saying... diversity of thought might be useful?


Yes useful in advisory role, ie interviewing subjects throughout the process, particularly getting their feedback/input during research, product development, and design would be extremely valuable. Which is quite distinct from this idea that entrepreneurs, leaders, and employees internal must be 'diverse' themselves in odder for projects to succeed.

What should matter first is the team members skill/talent relevant to the project. While also hiring sympathic people who go out in the field to get feedback and interview subjects to determine the problems needing solving,+gýg environment factors, attitudes, etc.


look at zuck’s $100M to the new jersey school system. just lob money over the wall, hoping for results with absolutely no understanding of how to have sustainable impact.


Are you saying this failed do to a lack of diversity or his lack of involvement of relevant people directly familiar with the problem at hand... Or what exactly?

Throwing money at a project without strong, involved leadership can be ineffective and fail, or for a variety of other reasons, regardless of his or the members diversity.


why the skepticism and negativity around this arguably good deed? he is stepping in to help people. what’s the issue here? why the downplay of the initiative?


This "normal public school" line is bizarre to me. Yes, it's a part of the school district. But it accepts specific students and has its own expanded curriculum.

It's a magnet school.


Yes but it's a magnet of underprivileged and at risk students. Not your typical magnet. Props to LeBron for starting the school.


No doubt! I definitely don't mean to denigrate the project at all, it's an incredibly philanthropic move by LeBron and he deserves every ounce of the praise he's been getting.

I just see a lot of people using the "public school" line as a cudgel to bash charter schools, but charter schools are exactly the mechanism to accomplish something like this for people who aren't revered/rich enough to exercise the kind of influence over their hometown that LeBron did to get them to agree to incorporate novel facilities and practices directly into their district.


Charter schools are wonderful, if the state's laws are well written. I'm in Minnesota, and my kids went to charters for seven years, (six at a project-oriented school that targeted students with learning or social problems in mainstream schools). But it works here because the system is completely fair - any student can attend any school, and there are no good mechanisms for private charters, or for charters that exclude students by type. Many of the charters are actually sponsored by school districts - for example, Minneapolis has dedicated bilingual charters for the large Somali and Spanish-speaking populations.

Then I see the consequences of bad law in other states, and I just cringe.


What prevents non-charter/magnet schools from doing such things?


Regular public schools are limited to the curriculum prescribed by their school boards and generally can't deviate or experiment much. They're also, by definition, limited to students in a specific geographical area rather than any selection criteria. As others have noted, this goes both ways - charter/magnet schools can choose to serve the highest aptitude students (as most do), but they can also choose to serve at-risk or academically challenged students as this one does.


So why can’t school boards prescribe such things? The geo limit doesn’t matter much/at all.


No explicit reason, they just generally don't. When you're beholden to voters or a city council, your job is least threatened when you don't rock the boat. If you do rock it, you better make sure you're right or it's not likely to end well for you. Meanwhile, your 'subjects' are unwitting participants who thought they'd be getting a normal education, not early adopters explicitly willing to try something new. All of these factors discourage experimentation.


Non-charter/magnet publicly funded schools cannot select/reject children based on their demographics or aptitude. The most they can do is have a preference based on locality or the presence of a sibling in the school - which can and does introduce its own selection bias.

Ultimately, the public school system has to serve students who have been excluded from more selective schools, otherwise you end up as a society where the most basic education is a privilege instead of a right.


I don’t see how that prevents them from improving education.


If you can select students who come from more better environments (magnet/charter schools), you don't need to spend a considerable amount of resources to manage/treat the social issues that accompany students from worse environments. The latter is what public schools that serve poorer communities have to deal with.


No, charter schools are a way to fuck over the 99% and ignore it while praising the 1%.


Unless you're using an unorthodox definition of 1% (e.g. 1% of demonstrated academic ability), you're mistaken. Rich people can afford to send their kids to private schools or live in economically segregated areas with high-performing schools. Charter schools do not charge tuition, making them available to the masses.

However, they often do exclude those who don't have parents actively demanding more for their children, those who perform poorly on standardized tests due to adverse home factors rather than innate ability, or those with special needs such schools aren't equipped to support.


In my state the magnet schools work exactly the opposite. They put magnet programs in underperforming schools in the hopes that bringing in a bunch of high achievers will be a rising tide or something.

I have no idea what the effectiveness is in my state, whether success is contagious to underperforming students or not. Either way it will be interesting to see how this inverted philosophy of magnet schools performs in comparison.


Magnets were developed to alleviate segregation through social engineering. Underprivilege and at-risk tends to go hand in hand with these circumstances. In states where this was less of an issue they may have been adopted as a way to have an "elite" public school but that isn't their typical application.


wow, the linked related article about NYC school segregation was depressing: https://www.vox.com/2016/2/16/10980856/new-york-city-schools... especially the part about charters having two times during the year when low-performing students are forced out into the public school: one in October after per-student funding is allocated to the school, allowing them to grab the funding while pushing a now-unfunded student onto the public school, and again in Spring right before standardized testing, when they can weed out the ones who did poorly on prep tests. Seems like the city/state should step in and disallow this practice.


the lie perpetuated through the decades that segregation was a Southern thing may never really truly come to light as people really are shy on learning things they don't want to believe. the laws to stop it were written to block any attempts to desegregate Northern schools, or more to the point NYC

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/new-york-school-desegre...

https://www.vox.com/2016/2/16/10980856/new-york-city-schools...


But if they disallow this then their precious charter schools will have lower test scores and be revealed as the horrible practice they are.


It's nice to wake up and read a story about someone making a difference. Here is to a good day.


In related news, RAND just finished its study of the Gates Foundation's "Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching initiative".

RAND found that "With minor exceptions, by 2014–2015, student achievement, access to effective teaching, and dropout rates were not dramatically better than they were for similar sites that did not participate".

It's refreshing to see a holistic approach to helping at-risk students, instead of assuming that teachers are the most important component. Good nutrition, safe transport to school, and support for parents all seem like ideas that should be more experimented with.

https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR2242.html

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