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Posted on Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

Price tag for Ann Arbor public schools 'achievement gap' consultant: $441,130

By Kyle Feldscher

Ann Arbor Public Schools have spent more than $441,000 since 2005 on consulting services with Pacific Educational Group, the consulting firm hired to target the district's achievement gap. reviewed invoices obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The documents showed the district has spent $441,130.06 on various services from Pacific Educational group since March 2005, the earliest documented purchases in the request.

The vast majority of charges are for consulting services and travel expenses for Glenn Singleton, chief executive officer of Pacific Educational Group, and various employees within his organization.

“In closing the achievement gap, that would be money well spent,” said Ann Arbor school board president Deb Mexicotte.

The Board of Education is scheduled to hold a work session on Wednesday to discuss the district's achievement gap, which has existed in the schools for decades despite many attempts to close it.

The work done with Pacific Educational Group is part of a decades-long attempt to close the achievement gap, the term commonly used to describe the difference between test scores, grades and overall school environment between white students and minority students.

For example, test scores show 71 percent of eighth-grade black students had proficient or advanced MEAP mathematics test scores in the 2009-10 school year, compared to 94 percent of white students. In 2005-06, 48 percent of eighth-grade black students were proficient or advanced in math, compared to 90 percent of white students.

According to AAPS documents, the Pacific Educational Group uses a number of strategies to work with school districts to close the achievement gap, including forming equity teams among administrators and in school buildings, having “courageous conversations about race,” including parent leaders to engage other parents, and conducting student focus groups to develop student leaders.

The earliest cost associated with Singleton and his firm is a one-day, in-service presentation in March 2005. The total cost of the presentation was $5,164.97, with $4,000 in charges for the presentation and the rest for travel expenses. Singleton works out of San Francisco and Pacific Educational Group has offices both there and in Minneapolis.

In July 2005, the district signed a 1-year contract to assist district administrators in developing an “equity framework,” which is when groups in the district look at race in various ways, and begin training administrators and building leaders to address the achievement gap. By the end of the first year, the district had spent more than $60,000 on Pacific Educational Group.

The district has since annually signed a 1-year agreement with Pacific Educational Group. In 2006-07, the district spent about $54,000, increasing to about $70,300 in 2007-08, about $93,300 in 2008-09, about $80,000 in 2009-10, and about $76,000 in 2010-11.

The highest single cost associated with Pacific Educational Group was a three-day trip Singleton made to the district in April 2010, which cost $16,870.32.

Singleton was traveling on Monday and could not be reached for comment.

It was unclear by the documents released by the district what assessment Pacific Educational Group has made of the district’s progress on closing the achievement gap. Singleton gave the district a harsh assessment at a meeting in April.

Trustee Christine Stead, a professional consultant, said Singleton and his consultants have done a nice job of raising awareness in the district regarding equity issues but she’s not entirely sure what impact they’ve made without data.

“They could do better providing good reports on progress they’ve made,” she said. “You should never have a board be completely surprised at your findings and should be able to demonstrate your findings in some way that’s measurable. We’re not getting that from them.”

Pacific Educational Group includes a number of seminars in its work with school districts to help "investigate the role that racism plays in institutionalized academic achievement disparities to eliminate the achievement gap," according to company materials. The consultants also hold workshops with school board members, district administrators and various equity teams to design and develop professional development opportunities for school employees.

While the relationship between trustees and the consultants may not have always been easy-going, Mexicotte said the suggestions and techniques brought forward by Pacific Educational Group have improved the district’s work on shrinking the gap.

Mexicotte said Pacific Educational Group is part of a long-term solution to the achievement gap and there’s not going to be a quick solution.

“There was going to be no quick fix. We’ve committed and recommitted to the work,” she said. “I’ve both been pleased with the changes we’ve seen in our student achievement data, as well as at times being challenged by how best to make our partnership work and work with the consultants.”

Stead said she’s hoping the district will soon take the lessons they’ve learned from Pacific Educational Group and incorporate them into the district’s culture.

“My hope is that we’re transitioning away from PEG and we can make that a part of our own work and our own culture,” she said, calling that the “ultimate mark of success.”

Kyle Feldscher covers K-12 education for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Fri, Jun 17, 2011 : 4:53 a.m.

The children who go through grades K-12 need proper mentoring and attention from the staff at the schools from day one. This is true regardless of race and rarely happens in most school districts. The problem is poor teaching and relationships from the start, where schools will focus on nurturing students who overachieve, and underachieving students repeatedly struggle through school up to graduation and college, if that. It's easy to put all the blame on the parents, but that is obviously a poor and slightly racist solution to the complex racially fronted issue of "achievement gaps". Many students of all races with poor parenting still achieve academic success in school, overcoming adversity, but they are a minority of course. And students with positive social lives can also fail in school, even with the right parenting. The "achievement gap" focuses on race too much, but ignores the socioeconomics underlying these individual students. Good parenting is obviously going to be key, but that is not the complete solution. It must be a team effort and students must understand the benefit of school from their home lives and scholastic lives.


Thu, Jun 16, 2011 : 2:02 a.m.

Everytime you donate even a dollar to the ann arbor public schools (was just hit up by the million reasons campaign) just remember where these hard earned dollars go. Sooner or later they all get turned around into various ridiculous endeavors like this PEG / Singleton fellow . What a waste.


Thu, Jun 16, 2011 : 1:18 a.m.

I'd like to hear from PEG and its defenders an explanation for why one minority group, Asian Americans, do as well as white students, if not better. Could it be something as simple as valuing education? That wouldn't cost $400,000.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 9:29 p.m.

The political correctness and lack of common sense never ceases to amaze me. Do we really need consultants at a price tag of over $400,000 to tell us why we have an achievement gap? As a society, are we ever going to learn that politics and a lack of responsibility is killing our country? The sad thing is that this is just lip service and nothing will change. Teachers can only do so much and there are far too many parents who refuse to take responsibility for their child's education. If they were really dying to spend more tax money we simply don't have they should have just hired a bunch of tutors. Who are we really trying to impress by spending this money? I'm so sick of this community pretending that it cares, but not putting it's money where it's mouth is. And please don't give me the uber liberal argument that the "underachieving" don't have the resources. Last I checked, it still cost nothing to CARE. It's called taking RESPONSIBILITY on BOTH ends - the parents of the underachieving need to support their kids more and the AAPS needs to be more responsible with our money.

Roger Roth

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 11:12 a.m.

Basic Bob says, "Maybe we could a black rocket scientist or brain surgeon to come to Michigan and talk to the kids. It would be worth the cost of the bus trip for young black children to see this kind of successful outcome from humble beginnings." Small potatoes, Basic Bob, when their ultimate role model now lives in the White House and leads the Free World.

Lac Court Orilles

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 10:40 a.m.

I am an Ann Arbor high school teacher who never came into contact with Mr. Singleton nor did any of his work ever assist, help, inform, or educate me how to better serve the black students in any of my classes. I wish someone would help me to understand just how this was money well spent?

Roger Roth

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 11:13 a.m.

Trickle down.

Victor Lacca

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 11:08 a.m.

It works by osmosis. Just wait in the next few years of paid consultation you will feel the suffuse rainbow of enlightenment come over you.

Cendra Lynn

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 5:08 a.m.

$1,165 for travel expenses for a one-day seminar? Limousine to airport from home with stop in office. Check. Porter to carry bags. Check. VIP Lounge at airport. Check. First class seating on plane with lots of drinks. Check. Most expensive suite in A2 hotel system. Check. Limousine from hotel to location of presentation (distance 2 blocks). Check. Post-presentation gourmet dinner, Check. etc. etc. etc. Gimme a break. Give me the money and I'll do I one-day interactive workshop which begins the building of in-school communities with direct links to other groups in other schools which integrate not only race but class and teacher/administrator divisions. Sheesh!


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 10:05 a.m.

My last less then 7 day advance airline ticket from Detroit to San Francisco and back was $1600 in coach. The expenses may just be a result of short notice on flights.

Basic Bob

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 2:10 a.m.

Send some of the Montgomery Burns Park kids to the underperforming schools. Their parents who own the school board and administration will take care of the rest. Problem solved.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 1:12 a.m.

Unfortunately, this is typical of the Ann Arbor Public Schools. Pour money not at a problem but at a way to deal with a problem, then inform the teachers that they need to do such and such. The teachers themselves are the best resource to tap, not the guru du jour, yet this pattern is seen time and time again. Think math programs over the decades as a bile-inducing example.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 11:03 p.m.

Intact families will close the achievement gap faster than anything. I don't see any mention of single parent white children and what we are doing to help them with their achievement gap. I consider Ann Arbor to be a fairly color blind area yet we neet to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to help black students? That practice alone smacks of racism only against non-minorities. If we ever want to become color blind then our policies need to not take race, gender, or sexuality into consideration. How many years will we as a nation continue to have devisive poilices and set asides in place? What set asides were there for Irish, Italians, Germans, japanese, and others who integrated themselves into our society? What policies will be in place for when hispanics beome the majority in this country? What language will be spoken then? Immigrants used to have to learn english, get a job, and struggle to integrate into mainstream society. Now wearing your pants down to your rear end and having your hat on cockeyed is somehow a cultural thing that needs to be accepted and tolerated. Not speaking english is accepted and society is expected to accomodate this language diversity. The "look" and style of dress is far more important than an education and the fallback is to get public paid housing, "bridge" cards, and free health care. What incentive is there to even want to close your own, personal achievement gap? There is a lot of money to be made defending people "who can't defend themselves". Jessse Jackson and Al sharpton need people in these situatuions to have power and money, as do the rappers, and "achievement" gap consultants. When are people going to take responsibility for their own lives? Why aren't we teaching them how to do so? Why don't we have expectations that they will do so? How long do we need to treat non-whites differently and not allow them to stand on their own two feet? How long do non-whites want to be treated t


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 10:03 p.m.

This frustrates me to no end, as a white woman who cannot get a teaching job (dispite my credentials and being a most recommended substitute) in Ann Arbor. I AM NOT THE REASON "MINORITY" STUDENTS ARE NOT ACHIEVING! I have been a victim of racism, being one of only four white students in a first grade Detroit classroom. Racism is not only a "white" person to "minority" problem, as Glenn Singleton and others would have you believe. If the school system is racist, and "white" traits and expectations are "racist", then why do we even care about the gap?


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 2:32 a.m.

Yes, I made a mistake. Forgive me. Too bad I wasn't still in school so I could blame that on my learning disability or lazy teachers.

Basic Bob

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 2:07 a.m.



Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 2 a.m.

Michele, perhaps your spelling is hurting your chances at a job in AA. I mean, what is "PES" You might have more luck in some of the surrounding districts . . .


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 10:28 p.m.

I forgot to include, that the money paid to PES would perhaps be better spent in direct services, like all day kindergarten or quality preK programs. The younger we reach out and educate our students, the more likely they are to compete and graduate. This is shown over and over again with research and long term studies.

Steve Hendel

Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 7:43 p.m.

"In closing the achievement gap, that would be money well spent," said Ann Arbor school board president Deb Mexicotte. Is this wishful thinking? I thought the 'gap' was still wide open, despite all the consultants who have prospered from trying to close it.

Victor Lacca

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 11:05 a.m.

Most high level school administrators are hoping to retire to a nice consulting position.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 6:15 p.m.

The world renowned and famous African American Brain Surgeon, Dr. Ben Carson, says &quot; go to school and work hard &quot;. End of Story. Dr Ben Carson from of John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore is the most famous African American brain surgeon in the world. He rose from poverty to become the most successful pediatric neurosurgeon specialising in separating conjoined twins and treating seizures. Read more: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 2:33 a.m.

@Bob, what does &quot;maybe we coulda a balck rocket scientist&quot; mean?

Basic Bob

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 2:04 a.m.

Maybe we could a black rocket scientist or brain surgeon to come to Michigan and talk to the kids. It would be worth the cost of the bus trip for young black children to see this kind of successful outcome from humble beginnings.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 6:05 p.m.

&quot;... decades-long attempt to close the achievement gap, the term commonly used to describe the difference between test scores, grades and overall school environment between white students and minority students&quot; This is NOT accurate. &quot;Achievement gap&quot; is the term commonly used to describe the difference between Blacks and Whites ONLY-politically corrected to sound like something else. There has been no work done with the gap between other minorities (Hispanic, Asian or Native American) and Caucasians The $441k is reparations' derived from our collective white guilt over slavery. As such, it has no impact on improving the plight of African Americans specifically or the poor or under served in general. The payment does exactly what it is intended to do - it eases our conscience. Jimminy Cricket would be proud.

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 6:01 p.m.

How about just teaching students, and not focusing on superficial criteria? That's a lot of taxpayer money to throw away on something far beyond the school's control.

Victor Lacca

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 11:04 a.m.

We live in Ann Arbor- social engineering capital of the USA. Now we'll have to chastise and shun the heratic.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 5:55 p.m.

Better option: We could pay a college or high school student $10/hour to individually tutor a student who fails within the target achievement gap. At $10/hour, we could get roughly 44,000 hours of individual tutor time for the money spent on this consulting agency. I find it hard to believe that we couldn't have achieved better results with such a simple method.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 5:05 p.m.

If we want to make this about race (ie, "courageous conversations about race," ) then why isn't anyone courageous enough to inquire why one minority population - Asians - fare better than the majority white and black races? the reason? Because the problem is not race-based, its 'cultural norms-based'. Asian parents value education, discipline, practice, and delayed self-gratification. Period.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 7:48 p.m.



Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 6:46 p.m.

don't forget about Asian Indians ;)

Snehal Shah

Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 5 p.m.

Pay me half and I will do a better job than they have done so far.

Victor Lacca

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 11:01 a.m.

Pay me half and I'll hire more teachers to teach.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 4:36 p.m.

We need to discuss failed communities instead of failing schools. This is a bit over-simplified: while children from some parts/communities of Ann Arbor are doing well, those from other parts/communities are not. Overall it may appear as a racial achievement gap; however, it is more of a socioeconomic/cultural difference.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 6:29 p.m.

Except that a larger percentage of blacks fall into the disadvantaged socioeconomic group here in Ann Arbor than do whites, as occurs in most of American society writ large, making it sort of a racial issue in addition to the &quot;class&quot; issue.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 4:32 p.m.

Ann Arbor educators and administrators alsways seem to encourage spending money on &quot;studies&quot;. Read the newspaper and take a look around you, you don't need studies, you need to pay attention, take a proactive approach and reach out to parents and kids both who are having trouble. Schools could have hired 6 outreach truant/consultant/social worker type people to make house calls, phone calls, and start a parental dialogue with parent, teachers, kids, adminsistrators, and social organizations designed to HELP, not judge or prosecute. Districts prefer hiding behind &quot;studies and theories&quot; to avoid actual interaction and intervention in a smokescreen of academia. Way too simple to just meet and talk to folks? Bureaucrats need to make it so complex so as not to be held accountable in any way, form, shape, or manner. Stupid is as stupid does. And you call yourselves &quot;educators&quot;?


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 3:17 a.m.

Sh1, If teachers don't want the studies then they need to start speaking out against them and using their &quot;union&quot; powers. Silence iscompliance. That's why I think teachers are all for the &quot;studies&quot; too.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 11:48 p.m.

What makes you think teachers want the money going into &quot;studies&quot;?


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 11:06 p.m.

We pay the administrators and elect a board to take care of these problems. If they had to fix the problems they would be accountable. Hiring consultants makes it all so neat and tidy and gives you someone to point the finger at.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 5:43 p.m.

I imagine $400+k could have paid for a whole slew of tutors too.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 4:30 p.m.

The issue of human identity and individuality is of great interest. I may describe my identity in terms of race, place of origin, economic status and etc., yet the human organism does not use any of those factors to establish my individuality. We need to always remember the human organism as an association of trillions of cells. I can make no distinction between black or white brain. There is no apparent difference in the cognitive functions of brain that makes human brains distinct on a racial basis. School District is wasting funds to chase an illusion. As others have suggested, if we have funds to spare, we need to invest to obtain more teaching assistants or teacher aides who may meet the students to provide a little more instructional time. If a Consultant recommends a Pizza Party to address the issue of improving academic performance, I would call it a gimmick and the purpose of learning is to seek the ability to think for oneself and refuse to get fooled by gimmicks.

Roger Roth

Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 4:12 p.m.

I want to perhaps introduce Mike Rose to those of you who might not know his work. Bookmark the link and check it out when you get the time. It's lengthy, but worth reading. Among many other things, he writes about redundancy in educational thinking and practice. In an earlier comment, I suggested that we already know why some kids don't achieve. Yet, we insist on dealing with symptoms rather than root causes. And symptoms have the added benefit of being distractions from the root causes. It's a lot easier to continue talking about Anthony Weiner's body parts on Facebook and about Paris Hilton than it is to bring an end to the Afghan war. I think many of the commenters here show insight. I might also add that, as suggested by others, it's going to be a long, long time, if ever, in America before we're finished paying the price for White European-Colonists having kidnapped Africans out of their homes and taken them across the Atlantic to imprison them in bondage for several hundred years. This is one &quot;root cause&quot; of what ails achievement and one that won't be fixed with a study or a band-aid. Sadly, I don't see it being addressed, never did, and can't hope that it will be. Instead, we get Weiner's body parts. We should boycott the Fourth Estate. The link: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 7:46 p.m.

Hmmmm Seems that another kool-aid stand has opened...


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 4:11 p.m.

Trustee Snead says that PEG has done a good job of raised awareness about equity issues. Is that what we have paid our hard to come by money for? We ALREADY know about the equity issue w/ black/white educational results on tests. Since we all know that the problem originates w/ the students families for the most part; I am curious what PEG suggests should be done on that main and crucial issue.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 7:52 p.m.

Hmmm... My son will be disappointed. But I'll just have to tell him to &quot;Man Up!&quot; it is his contribution to narrowing the achievement gap. ;^)


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 6:44 p.m.

LOL @ macabre sunset. always get a chuckle out of your comments.

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 6:03 p.m.

The only way to close the parenting gap is to insist that all parents refuse to read to their children, in solidarity.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 3:57 p.m.

Good quality preschool will solve this problem...the research is there. APS would do better to invest their money in early childhood programs, and teacher training for quality programs. Just Google Perry Study...we have the knowledge, will we habve the will?


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 12:57 a.m.

@eastsidemom, you are absolutely right! @alarictoo, we are not selling kool-aid. The research is there. No one is suggesting we replace a good stable homelife with preschool. However, long-term studies show that for every one dollar spent on quality preschool, communities save something like $7 on the cost of welfare, prisions, health care, etc. Check it our for yourself!


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 7:43 p.m.

@eastsidemom - Baloney! Preschool may help (will this become yet another unfunded mandate?), but it will not take the place of parenting and a stable, nurturing home life. Sell the kool-aid someplace else.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 3:32 p.m.

$441,130 Now this HAS to be part of the latest and greatest new technology for which they want to raise our taxes. I am sure this consulting is considered five years out of date and needs replacement.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 3:07 p.m.

Consulting - If you're not part of the solution there is good money to be made prolonging the problem...

Victor Lacca

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 11 a.m.

A consultant's job is to assure that intractable problems are identified- thereby making the rat wheel of cash flow turn as you investigate well into the future.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 3 p.m.

Part of this alleged achievement gap lessening program was an intimidating &quot;voluntary&quot; declaration by white teachers that they are racist, because they are white! What a bunch of nonsense. One can only cringe at the thought of this type of abusive behavior aimed at the black staff members. There is no good that can come from this sort of alienating &quot;workshop&quot;. Let's drop the racial bickering and realize that there must be &quot;color-blind&quot; education. The continued promotion of the &quot;victim mentality&quot; doesn't help any achievement gaps that may exist.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 4:21 p.m.

Absolutely! I don't know how teachers were able to sit through those and their 'Courageous Conversations' &quot;book clubs&quot;! I wonder if this figure included all of Singleton's books that needed to be purchased, or is that assigned to another column?


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 2:52 p.m.

So I wonder if these guys recommended the blacks only pizza party at Dicken? ...or was Madison out of line on that one? <a href=""></a>


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 12:42 a.m.

Well, then I guess THAT was money well spent....


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 11:54 p.m.

The PEG did indeed recommend exactly that kind of group be formed at every AAPS school building. For several years, it was among the tasks on which each school principal was rated on their &quot;equity&quot; efforts.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 2:24 p.m.

The cost quoted was just the amount paid to PEG. What about the costs for the substitute teachers while teachers throughout the district were at the workshops? What about the lunches that were served? What about rent for meeting rooms? Were all of those included in the price? The money would have been better spent for trained classroom assistants (teacher aides) who could work individually with students in the classroom.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 9:04 p.m.

Substitute teachers in A2 are paid $75/day, the same amount as in 1997. It's never changed since then and it's pathetic. This did not contribute in any big way to district costs.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 3:36 p.m.

Don't worry. They will just ask to replace a now out of date study to be redone with new technology - to raise our taxes, without including the extra costs involved!


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 2:58 p.m.

excellent questions! hopefully the FOIA'd information tells that (but i highly doubt it).


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 2:17 p.m.

The district has tried to close this gap for 30 years, hiring this person or that to spearhead the initiative and nothing big has happened until the last four or five years. It looks like this is money well spent. I hope the gap keeps narrowing in the future.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 2:16 p.m.

Parental involvement and socio-economic status. Period. Everything else is irrelevant. I guarantee the students (regardless of race) from middle-to-upper-class families are doing just fine. I went through Ann Arbor public schools, and it was the poor students with one parent, or living with grandparents, who were consistently behind in reading, math, were the greatest disciplinary problems, got in the most fights, bullied the most, and generally were menaces BECAUSE the parents did NOTHING to help, mentor, love, or correct their son or daughter. The teachers were either 1. scared of the kid/parent. 2. Tired/overworked with little time to deal with angry, sullen, spiteful, low-achieving kid.

Momma G

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 3:26 a.m.

I have to agree. Get the parents involved with their children's education and you will see major achievement from the student. When will AAPS quit spending $$ on so-called &quot;achievement consultants&quot; when all they need to do is get the parents to become more involved. Get rid of a few High-paid administrators who can't do their jobs and put it toward helping the parents before it's too late.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 7:55 p.m.

@eastsidemom - So do the parents. The teachers see those kids less than 40 hours a week. The other 128 hours are where real education is supposed to take place.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 4:09 p.m.

your statement is just a good example of institutional racism...yes it is more work to teach a disadvantaged child but teachers do habve to step up too.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 2:56 p.m.

i think also that if someone from a higher socio-economic standing is not doing well, the parents stay on top of things more with powerschool and can afford tutors to make up the difference. not sure i agree with you about bullying, lower socio-economic kids just aren't as crafty at hiding it (more overt) possibly.

Kevin S. Devine

Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 1:48 p.m.

Ruby Payne's work is worth a read. It might help re-frame the discussion to allow for addressing learning issues for all students. Race is certainly a factor to consider, however focusing on a characteristic one has no control over (skin color) while ignoring other factors, such as economic disparities and the unspoken &quot;rules&quot; (behaviors/expectations) of socioeconomic class, might be one reason we're not seeing the success our students deserve (but we are seeing the divisiveness we don't need). Here's a link to books by Payne at the library: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> And here's a link to her books on Border's and Amazon: <a href="" rel='nofollow'>;contrib=Ruby+K.+Payne</a> <a href="" rel='nofollow'>;sr=8-1</a>


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 11:45 p.m.

Kevin - The PEG approach is directly at odds with Ruby Payne's recommendations that students be directly taught about the behavior and expectations of the middle class. PEG and AAPS are demanding that the staff stop expecting minority students to behave or speak respectfully, complete assignments, and prioritize school activities over others because these behaviors and attitudes are foreign to the African American culture. If that isn't a recipe for creating long-term failure, I don't know what is.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 1:38 p.m.

Workshops, discussions, prof development, etc. How does this directly impact the test scores for students? The achievement gap cuts across race and has more to do with poverty, single parent households with multiple demands and multiple children, poor study skills, lack of support in home environments, and low motivation. These are not racial issues. The best teachers in the schools cannot help struggling students in overcrowded classrooms without additional support, direct support for the struggling students. That half million dollars would go a long way toward one-on-one academic support for the students who need it, rather than workshops and discussions for school board members and administrators. Teachers know the reasons for the &quot;achievement gap&quot; and are in the best position to address it, if they are directly given the resources.

Victor Lacca

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 11:12 a.m.

Consulting has a long tradition among the administrative elite. I'm sure that many of the A2 administrators involved are in line for fine consulting positions when they retire.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 10:01 p.m.

If the achievement gap was due to poverty, then students across the board would have done poorly during the recession. Also crime should have risen if we blame poverty. Neither was the case. Poverty is a result of genes and culture not a cause.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 1:07 p.m.

I feel like a broken record here. I don't know if AA has too many central administrators or not; it seems to me they do. Shouldn't ONE of them be able to do what these consultants are paid to do? Start with Ruby Payne, to really understand the problem, then collect the easily available research and get to work. Maybe the new superintendent will help focus the efforts - it needs to happen.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 5:36 p.m.

I agree. Identifying these issues is part of their job in my opinion. If they have to hire an outsider then they can't do their job and should be dismissed and replaced by someone who can.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 1:03 p.m.

The teachers have a better handle on why kids are failing. Anyone thought of compiling that information and then addressing the issue?


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 12:57 p.m.

Also, why do we need PEG when we have this: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 1:11 p.m.

more specifically from the School of Education (at least it could avoid some of the traveling costs?): The University of Michigan has a nationally recognized faculty prepared to fuel your curiosity, engage your intellect, and deepen your knowledge about key issues facing education, including equity and social justice in schooling; how students learn and what motivates them to learn;


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 12:56 p.m.

So AAPS has had 5-6 years experience with PEG at a hefty price tag. If they really felt like PEG had contributed valuable information about this cause, hopefully AAPS was paying close attention. If they were paying close attention, they should be able to enact similar strategies and programs from within their own system instead of continuing to pay out this money that is desperately needed here. At the risk of repeating myself from an earlier report about this, as dedicated as the teachers may be and as well-intended this program may be, it will have minimal success without supportive and involved home environments that follow through with student's homework and stay in contact with the schools about their performances and areas that need improvement. The value of volunteers at schools cannot be overstated as well. If you truly want to see improvement across the board (not just one race), ask your local school how you can help. It may be reading with a child, helping ESL students with their homework who may fall behind because of having trouble comprehending it, or many other opportunities. It is rewarding to see the growth from your efforts. By the way...we are at the end of the school year. If you have children in AAPS, have you asked about or been informed of any summer learning programs that are going on at your schools?


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 12:52 p.m.

I believe we need to start empowering our kids to realize that these years spent in school will either make or break THEIR future.Yes, it is indeed a family issue, primarily economic ( there are a number of poor white kids who are struggling too - let's not sweep them under the &quot;achievemrnt gap&quot; rug!) but I have personally known manyAfrican American 2 parent families whose kids were outstanding students, athletes and citizens. I feel the key was a strong 2 parent family with high expectations for their kids.When we keep using race as an excuse for underachievement we are empowering kids to fail! Raise the bar for EVERYONE, early on, and encourage kids to OWN THEIR EDUCATION! The only thing we can blame the public schools for is NOT doing THIS. Also, I have heard from my kids that teachers can hardly keep order in the classroom. Kids are talking while the teacher lectures, and distracting the class. This is an unacceptable display of a lack of respect for the teaching staff. Teachers should be able to say - you need to either be engaged and respectful of the classroom, or go home( or to principals office) Unless a child has a learning disability, by high school they should be able to sit quietly and learn for 50 min - seriously. If kids have no high expectations for their future, and no plan to get there, they will go nowhere. Teach ALL our kids to dream big, and then insist they be an equal partner in the final outcome - it is THEIR future!


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.

problem is teachers don't have the power to simply remove a kid from class for acting the fool. It might work once, but the behavior continues and nothing changes. My child is in a class with a similar situation, the teacher is doing the best she can, but the focus continues to be on the one or two kids that can't figure it out. Unfortunately, they are both minority students and I get a sense that Ann Arbor doesn't want to take a hard line in these cases because it might be looked at negatively.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 12:46 p.m.

PEG is involved in a few lawsuits by other school districts in the US. I would like to know if it was PEG's recommendation to start the infamous &quot;lunch bunch&quot;---some of the things they promote seem more divisive than anything. Also, why, when the achievement gap is ever mentioned, it is always black and white? Are there no other minorities in Ann Arbor? Lastly, as someone mentioned, close to 17 thousand for three days in Ann Arbor? Is there a break down for that? That can't possibly be for one person?


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 2:10 p.m.

@Dr. I. Emsaying: did PEG initiate the Rising Scholars Program? Or was someone locally able to come up with this?

Dr. I. Emsayin

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 2:48 a.m.

The Rising Scholars program began as an initiative for high achieving African American young men. It quickly added young women,and a few Muslim, Caucasian and Hispanic students of both genders. Now it is for high achieving under served students who begin the program the summer after 8th grade. The goal is to move them toward even higher achievement through educational programs that go beyond the regular academics. It is in its third year and this spring the students have a trip to Africa planned. Their preparations include a course about Africa co-taught by UM faculty and AAPS faculty. The hope is that these high achieving under served students will elect to take AP courses and eventually enter The University of Michigan. It would be encouraging if the under served low achieving students might have similar supports.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 11:39 p.m.

ViSHA - Yes, the PEG recommendations to the staff about improving &quot;equity&quot; at AAPS schools included such activities as the African American Lunch Bunch. These groups are and were flatly illegal in Michigan, as the board of Education admitted after the flap about the group at Dicken. Dicken was not the only elementary school that had such a group, only the one which got a huge amount of bad publicity.

Dr. I. Emsayin

Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 12:14 p.m.

One technique that seems useful in student achievement is having other adult or advanced student mentors in the classroom to help differentiate instruction. The University of Michigan had mentors working with underserved students in some high school math and science courses. Those mentors also worked with students after school. Sometimes the mentors were paid and sometimes they received college credit. In any event, they were less expensive and more ubiquitous than Mr. Singleton. Programs that target the lowest skilled students as well as programs like the Rising Scholars at the high schools which targets the highest achieving underserved students can make a positive difference in achievement. A program like the Rising Scholars for low achieving students across the district at all levels could potentially make a strong impact. Perhaps the program housed at Scarlett Middle School in concert with The University of Michigan will approach such an impact. The money is at the University and it is the resource that should be tapped by AAPS. Eastern Michigan also has excellent resources in the School of Education and probably could be used in a more directed manner besides the student teaching program that both EMU and UM offer to AAPS.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 12:51 p.m.

Agree with you about tapping into UM and EMU. Do you know how much assistance lower achieving kids get from Title 1, i'm sure it's not enough?

Barb's Mom

Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 12:09 p.m.

What I want to know is when did the district get rid of their &quot;Core Math&quot; and go back to traditional Math. Maybe that has something to do with the test scores going back up because they started teaching traditional Mathamatics again in the lower grades.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 10:08 p.m.

Barb's Mom - The didn't go back to traditional math at all. Everyday Math and Connected Math are still the only approved math curriculum in AAPS. What the folks in Balas finally did admit is that neither provides enough practice in computation for most kids to achieve &quot;fluency&quot;, and recommended that teachers start to supplement the curriculum with computation and problem-solving practice.

Stephen Landes

Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 2:44 p.m.

Excellent point: one cannot accurately assess the impact of PEG by looking at raw test score averages. One needs to consider other actions within the school system and how districts not using PEG did over the same time. Apparently all our PhD educators and administrators have forgotten basic research analytical techniques.

Roger Roth

Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 11:38 a.m.

School systems are continually under fire from taxpayers. It's understandable that officials would do all they could, including spending money in an effort to placate taxpayers into thinking schools are doing the job taxpayers believe they should. I suggest that much of the money spent is simply reinventing the wheel, that we already know, but forget, why some kids don't achieve. Best thing that could happen is that taxpayers support with earnest what their school employees are doing and politicians and school officials and teachers heed the advice of geniuses like Mike Rose and Sir Ken Robinson to keep the public education ship and kids on the right course. If you don't know who they are, google their names. If you understand them, you can't help but agree. If you don't understand, then this might be a situation best left to the experts you hire and pay for.

sandy schopbach

Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 11:26 a.m.

This is yet another instance of using money that should go to teaching and using it for studies about teaching. If that almost half-million dollars had been used to pay and/or train teachers or to buy new, more modern school equipment, it would have been money better spent. As for raising racial awareness, maybe just getting the parents together for social events or to discuss their children would do more to convince them that they have one very important thing in common: the future of their children. And that cuts across race and social class.

Nick Danger

Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 11:18 a.m.

As a former employee of the AAPS,I believe that the $441.00 did little to reduce the achievement gap.That money could have been better spent on direct interventions rather than consultants. The PEG often alienated the group it was suppose to influence and never achieved the buy in from staff they were looking for.Paying anyone almost $17,000 for a 3 day trip is insane. When will AAPS begin to recognize they have a talented staff to work with and draw from their experience instead of searching for a magic bullet from some outside super heros


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 5:32 p.m.

That is what I was thinking. And we do not know if this company is actually responsible for any solution. I found Ms. Stead's statement, "They could do better providing good reports on progress they've made," quite telling. I am fairly certain any teacher of an under achieving child could tell the school board what the issue is.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 11:14 a.m.

Real growth happens when you have parents making sure kids go to school and come home from school and do their homework. Parent involvement with many of our lower achieving students is part of the bigger issue that know one wants to talk about. I think it was years ago when Bill Cosby called out the black community and told them to get involved in their child's education. The same holds true today. Let's do an analyze of the black kids achieving and find out what the parents expect of them. I am guessing they value school, make their kids go to school, and make them do the school work when they get home. Then let's analyze those still struggling and I wonder what we would see. Folks, this isn't just a black and white thing, because the same set of standards would be true if we analyzed the scenario above using a white family. You don't need PEG and a 400,000 price tag to figure that out.

Mike K

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 1:15 a.m.

Great post local. Parents are key to student success. We all talk about per pupil spending, but spend as much as you want; if a family doesn't &quot;value&quot; education, it can be money not well spent. The real question is how to endoctrinate the value of education to the majority of families. I wish I had an answer. If the answer does cost $441,000 then it is money well spent, but that doesn't appear to be the case.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 2:51 p.m.

completely agree with you smiley. i believe, though, that at least one elementary school does this with their reading within the grades, maybe it's just hearsay.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 1:35 p.m.

I think people in general recognize that parenting is the number one factor that affects the performance of kids in school (but I don't think teachers can shift all blame to parents, just most). Perhaps my faith in people generally is lacking, but what can be done by the school system to affect parenting? This won't be popular, but I think categorizing students into tiered schools based on performance and classroom behavior would be an effective solution. Give the kids the ability to move up or down in the system, but many of the kids and their parents will learn quickly the value of fulfilling their duties. This is what's done at the college level and it's what happens in the real world. I understand they are young, but to give them the idea that performance somehow doesn't matter is a lie and instills a perception in them that sets them up for major disappointment later in life. We all want the world to be a utopia, but it isn't. If those in the school system want to place blame on the parents (which I think is correct), its only fair that the teachers actually implement viable solutions - remove the trouble makers and poor performers from the focus and give them the opportunity to earn their way back into the focus through performance.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 11:44 a.m.

Local. You make a very good point. Unfortunately, this is the proverbial elephant in the room. Almost every study I have reviewed on student achievement, parent involvement is a key variable, yet no one wants to tackle this important point. In private conversation, individuals will lament the fact that many of the parents of low achieving students are not substantially involved in their children education,, yet when it comes times to have this conversation publicly they are mute. Unless and until we tackle this issue, the achievement gap will continue to be problematic in the foreseeable future.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 11:11 a.m.

The elementary buildings see no benefit from this money, as they have no student focus groups or parent programs. The gap starts before kids even start school. I believe the money would be better spent on proven, systematic programs that help the students directly.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 10:57 a.m.

The money for PEG is likely not well spent,the real gains are made in the trenches,with people paying attention to the kids, asking more from them, consistently.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 11:38 a.m.

Nothing replaces hard work. Todd Roberts righted a lot of wrongs, and special education was improved with Larry Simpson, which was simply a endless vortex of low expectation that minorities got unfairly sucked into. I PEG is a guilt tripping business, out to make a buck. It's when people care, and commit to the work and effort to make kids successful, that's when you get you're results.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 11:25 a.m.

@ local I think the timing is too coincidental to NOT attribute it to PEG. The scores only started closing after PEG began it's work. At least according to the timeline given in the article.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 11:15 a.m.

DDOT1962 Do you know for sure that it is PEG, or could it be better math program with dedicated teachers?


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 11:07 a.m.

Look at the post above yours. MEAP scores are a hard data metric that tell us since PEG began its work 6 years ago, there's been a significant drop in the math achievement gap. I'd say it's money that's been WELL spent.

Will Warner

Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 10:48 a.m.

&quot;For example, test scores show 71 percent of eighth-grade black students had proficient or advanced MEAP mathematics test scores in the 2009-10 school year, compared to 94 percent of white students. In 2005-06, 48 percent of eighth-grade black students were proficient or advanced in math, compared to 90 percent of white students.&quot; That's a 55% reduction in the math gap in 5 years, and it came by raising the bottom not lowering the top. I would call that pretty good progress.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 10:04 p.m.

Will- Check out the differences in Michigan's scores an the National Assessment of Educational Proficiency (NAEP, also called the Nation's report Card&quot;) and the MEAPs. While the MEAPs show significant progress on &quot;proficiency&quot; levels, Michigan's NAEP scores over the last 5-7 years have fallen a little. The Michigan Dept of Ed finally brought out a rather shamefaced press release that explained that they had possibly dropped the &quot;cut scores&quot; on the MEAP too far. The same announcement said that we should all expect the progress to be less or even reverse in 2011 when they implement new cut scores, designed to mirror the NAEP. Also check scores on the (nationally normed) ACT/MME. The gap for 11th graders has closed much less than for the younger students, because the ACT was not made into a &quot;rubber ruler&quot; in order to get politically-correct results.

Will Warner

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 12:35 a.m.

AMOC &quot;So the progress that was made was achieved primarily by lowering the bar to the point that more students could pass&quot; I have no idea if this is true, but it is a more likely explanation of a 45% reduction in the gap in 5 years. Pretty hard to imagine how that much real progress is possible. But I was hoping....


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 11:50 p.m.

Will- The thing you need to know, before claiming that PEG, or anything else that AAPS did has reduced the achievement gap significantly is that the cut scores on all the MEAP tests were adjusted by the Michigan Department of Education to lower the level of knowledge required to be considered &quot;proficient&quot;. So the progress that was made was achieved primarily by lowering the bar to the point that more students could pass, NOT by raising the average scores of the groups who scored lowest.

Will Warner

Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 10:52 p.m.

mac joint &quot;Post hoc ergo propter hoc&quot; Ok. I'm not wedded to any conclusion. How to you account for a 45% reduction in the gap in 5 years?


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 7:43 p.m.

No. Pass-rates are a terrible measure for this -- It's very likely a mirage. If the test (or grading) gets easier (or even if the teaching/curriculum better aligns with the test), you will see this effect even if the gap is not shrinking. When you get to the point where 90-94 percent of white students are 'proficient or advanced' the test is no longer telling you much of anything about changes in achievement in that group -- there's almost no room for improvements in that group to be reflected in that measure, so it will appear that the other groups are catching up. What you really want to know is, for a given test, what is the mean score of white students, what is the mean of AA students, and how many standard deviations are they apart? Now, if THAT gap is closing, that's progress. Of course, school districts never ever EVER provide those kinds of statistics, because the 'pass rate' numbers often given them the appearance of progress even when there really isn't any.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 6:24 p.m.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 11:21 a.m.

I agree. I think the district is getting it's money's worth. I'm also pleased to read that PEG's strategy is to include efforts addressing the parent's role in closing the gap. In my opinion, the parents are the most important lynchpin in the education of children. If there's no value for education in the home, how would we expect the teachers, administrators, upend that lesson?

Will Warner

Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 11:18 a.m.

Actually, the math gap is 55% of what it was, not a 55% reduction. Still pretty good.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 10:40 a.m.

In the quest for utopian equality the money barrel never empties. What a waste of money!

Victor Lacca

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 11:14 a.m.

Waste of money?!- come on now you should see what some of the consultants have done in decorating their homes.

Basic Bob

Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 10:26 a.m.

&quot;Stead said she's hoping the district will... incorporate them into the district's culture.&quot; It would be nice, but I don't think there's much support for that.