'Throwing more money at them' won't solve anything - however, providing adequate funding to attract talented teachers who actually care about their students might actually do something.
That's kinda the point of throwing more money at them, because the vast majority of inner-city schools don't have anything remotely close to adequate funding.
And a school needs more than just talented teachers when we are talking about these kind of environments. It needs social programs to help students cope with their home situations and the money to spend on fostering an education-centric culture amongst the student-body.
That's the real problem behind performance-based funding reductions. The first things to go have to be these programs (because the school can't even exist without teachers). But without the programs, the school has absolutely no hope of boosting its scores. So it just enters a downward spiral where performance is concerned.
Plus, you'd be surprised how many teachers willingly work in these schools (despite lower pay) because they feel like their work makes the biggest difference there. Many of them are quite talented. The problem is that who you have at the front of the classroom is actually one of the most minor factors.
I'll add an example. My brother works in a charter school near Atlantic City, which is filled with students from rough, low-income neighborhoods. Many of them were actually expelled from public schools for behavioral problems. And I don't even mean violence, I mean the kind of thing that the public schools just don't have the resources to address.
For instance, some of these kids would just consistently disturb classes. In a middle-upper income district, they'd end up spending time in detention or with a counselor. Not so much in these schools. They get a few chances and then they are out. Why? Because the schools need to pay teachers to proctor detention, and they don't have enough money to hire the number of counselors they need. Kinda hard to pencil in time for the class clowns when 10% of the student body is getting abused at home.
Charter schools operate at 90% funding, which means the teachers only get 90% pay. But my brother's school largely has quality faculty, despite that, because they feel like they are doing something real there--like they have the chance to truly help change a students' life. Of course, the skillset needed for this type of school is vastly different than others, but they all know their subjects, know how to teach, and know how to control a classroom. Problem is that, despite a solid staff, the test scores aren't good enough to get them more funding. And the school has nothing in terms of extracurriculars.
My brother even started an intramural basketball club. The catch is that he doesn't get paid for it, like he would in a normal school. He does it just because he's trying to foster in these kids a sense of self-worth and an attachment to the school.
That would normally be the project of the administration, and invested in. The problem is that they have started with a group of kids guaranteed to under-perform. So despite their best efforts, their funding gets slashed. And without funding (and with all their time and resources tied up in disciplinary problems) it just won't happen.
But until these kids form a desire to learn, they won't. And they won't come to desire that unless given a real reason to.
If his school had the money to spend on hiring some more counselors and cultivating a school identity, the students would probably do far better. But they won't get that funding until the students DO do better. But the students won't do better until those programs are available.
I recognize you might be fully aware of this. I just thought it was important to note that the best teachers in the world can't do crap in this kind of environment if they have no resources. Edited, May 8th 2011 1:40am by idiggory