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Average Daily Attendance (ADA) – The Engine Driving Failure and Fraud at LAUSD and Other Districts

EDUCATION POLITICS-If you sat down and tried to think of the worst possible system for funding public education, I don't think you could come up with anything worse or more problematic than Average Daily Attendance (ADA.) It’s a public school funding model exclusively based on how many warm butts there are in public school seats on any given day. So why is this system of public school funding so bad? Let me count some of the ways. 

For starters, ADA is based on the false assumption that the “old school” K-12 grade-level model of public schools is still a fair representation of the abilities of the students in these respective grades. But this is no longer the case and it hasn't been for generations. Why? The majority of whites with the social capital necessary to hold public school administration accountable have abandoned inner city public schools to its present inferior, de facto segregated status. What now has existed for a long time is a reality where predominantly minority students without grade-level mastery or competence are socially promoted with their age group grade after grade -- whether or not they have mastered prior grade-level standards, which most students have not. 

When a school's financial well-being is solely dependent on an ADA model of how many students are in class on any given day, it sets off a predictable sequence of events that could be avoided, if the school was not so dependent on ADA, but instead, funded in a manner designed to adequately address the subjective levels of its students and their documented deficits. Needless to say, such an academic reality-based system would stand a much better chance of addressing these student deficits, if they were vigorously confronted early on in their school careers. 

But because funding and the financial well-being of the school is based on ADA, school administration has become predisposed to doing as little as possible, especially when it comes to things like enforcing discipline, which has become predictably out of control. Because the very act of education has become humiliating to socially promoted students who lack the prior grade-level standards mastery necessary to be productively engaged by the teacher, what else could you expect? 

While students might already be profoundly behind grade-level academically, they are still smart enough to know that given this “ADA reality,” they can pretty much do what they want without fear of consequences from either teacher or administrator. This logically leads to behavioral chaos in our inner city schools. 

A student so "empowered" by school ADA dependence can be so disruptive that he or she is literally holding the rest of the class hostage, making it impossible for the teacher to teach the students who want to learn. And when the education process is so stymied, even these students predictably and unnecessarily fall behind grade-level. Of course, this only increases their chances of ultimate post-secondary education failure. 

A disruptive student being sent out of class only winds up being sent back to class again and again with no consequences -- suspension would cause a loss of ADA. I've actually had students in class say to me, "I'm not going to do any work...and I’m not going to let anybody else do work. What are you going to do about it?" The administrator's response to the teacher (not the student) is, "Can't you control your class?" By making it the teacher's problem the administrator doesn't have to do anything except keep collecting a very expensive ADA that in turn precludes any real teaching or learning. 

With ADA as the sole determinant of how public schools are funded, school dysfunction is nothing but the predictable consequence of a system in which subjective, actual student academic ability plays no part in the school funding model. One should not be surprised under these circumstances if these schools remain abysmal failures. Long ago, platitudes took the place of measurable and substantive academic gains, improvement, and independently verifiable achievement. School administrators have been lying to themselves about what is an easily verifiable and abysmal reality in our present day inner city, de facto segregated public schools that are failing. 

Not only should mere attendance not be the only thing determining how good or successful any one school or school district is, but rather, it’s also a pretty good indicator that everything will be done in these districts -- legal or not so legal -- to assure that the state and federal government will not turn off the money spigot. What other business entity is allowed to audit itself, trusting people whose livelihood depends on coming up with verifiable lies? 

Given the political power that an entity like LAUSD has, they are able to falsify things like a supposed graduation rate improvement last year that is completely contradicted by any independent monitoring of how these students do after a fraudulent graduation. How else would you account for a 70% failure rate of students taking the community college entrance examination based on the same academic skillset their high school diploma is supposed to prove they mastered? 

But of course, the business of public education goes on. Or should I say, those in charge of giving us the business at LAUSD and elsewhere around the country goes on. Only now in the face of diminishing enrollment and fewer teachers there has nonetheless been a 22% increase in administrators at LAUSD.  

If you or someone you know has been targeted and are in the process of being dismissed and need legal defense, get in touch:

 

(Leonard Isenberg is a Los Angeles observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He was a second generation teacher at LAUSD and blogs at perdaily.com. Leonard can be reached at [email protected]) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.