Can todays schools be fixed?

Methods and means of supporting critical thinking in education
erwer
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Can todays schools be fixed?

Post by erwer » Thu Apr 13, 2006 5:25 pm

Many people believe the public school system in the United States is a complete failure. Our ranking in the world is plummeting in areas like math and science. I just watched an Oprah Winfrey show (my wife records the crap but I watched this episode). It had Bill Gates and his wife talking about it and what we could do.

As a teacher, I can also see problems. Most people just say the system sucks and the state needs to do something. Thats where we get ideas like merit pay for teachers, etc.

As someone on the inside, I have to say the problem is larger than just getting better teachers and shuffling schedules around, etc.

From what I see, the kids are definitley more difficult to teach. The bad ones are the same as always but now the majority of kids are just unmotivated. Now you can have wonderful kids but they will not put any effort into their work. We go to all sorts of training on how to deal with these problems but if they worked, it would have solved the issue. I teach 6 classes a day with about 25 in each class. I give one simple worksheet for homework to give them practice on a concept but only about 4 or 5 in each class will do it. I have employed all kind of strategies but no change. Now I have to stand at the door and not let kids pass to leave without handing me their in-class work. Otherwise they will just leave without turning it in. What they turn in is just junk. I am talking about the majority here. I have one class of pre-advanced placement kids (basically honors) that do what they are supposed to do and are wonderful and bright kids. But one class out of six just isn't good enough.

Are we doomed as a society as these kids move into the work force?
What drastic changes can be made?

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DJ
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Post by DJ » Fri Apr 14, 2006 1:38 am

I think we need to use violence and the threat of violence. Really, we have nothing else. Could we use God? No, for obvious reasons. Could we use the fear of failure? No, because we have a pretty benificent society. Lets beat the crap out of 'em. Lets motivate them by fear. It works for the military.

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Post by Tsukasa Buddha » Fri Apr 14, 2006 1:50 am

I am a Junior in Senior high school classes so...

From what I have experienced, I would say that teachers should stress doing homework and getting A's early. I remember (vaguely)what it was like in elementary school, the teacher would only grade three homework assignments for an entire quarter, the item worth the most points was participation, and we each graded our own assignments (yay for cheating!). But, it is also society and what people expect. Most are content with receiving a C and would be extremely happy with a B (I get depressed with a 99%...).
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Post by rjh01 » Fri Apr 14, 2006 2:48 am

What about parent involvement? They are a resource that needs to be used. But how much contact do teachers and parents have? In the world of the Internet it should be a lot. However the truth is far different.

Any fool can become a parent. No training required. But to get to be a good one needs a lot of skill and most people do not have it.

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Post by Tsukasa Buddha » Fri Apr 14, 2006 3:06 am

(hint, hint... parents suck. According to my Universal Law of Honor Students, an increase in parent involvement is directly related to a decrease in grades received.) :wink:
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Bunk
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Post by Bunk » Fri Apr 14, 2006 2:39 pm

I think the biggest problem in public education is the "No Child Left Behind" attitude. This attitude started long before the law.

Here's my meaning and I admit it's a little blunt and cruel . . . there are stupid children, there are violent children, there are children with mental problems; all of these children should immediately be removed from the mainstream schools and sent to a school where they can receive special help. The problem with education these days is that a teacher doesn't have time for teaching. A teacher has to spend much of their time raising people's unruly children who have no desire to learn a thing. The current laws require the public schools to put up with these children at the expense of the children who are there to learn. You want more parental involvement? Tell the parents that if their kid doesn't start acting right, they're going to ship them off to the other school. The parents will either get involved and make a difference, or they don't care and the kid will be removed from the kids and teachers that they are distracting. Suddenly there's time to teach science again.

It's time to start leaving a few children behind instead of leaving them all behind.

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Post by erwer » Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:22 am

I get a lot of "some have to be left behind", but we will just end up paying for them in the long run. We try hard with parent invovlement but it only works with a few kids. Parent's don't have the time, etc. Email is a great tool but the ones who need the help don't have it.

Another Oprah had retired Basketball star Kevin Johnson who started a new academy and is successful I think. But he says if the parent don't want to get involved, then this is not the school for them. If he is just left with the invovled ones who wouldn't be successful. The problem is he just left the normal public school with only the losers. A breading ground for future dependants of the state.

The beating idea would probably work but I wouldn't want to risk getting sued. A military base here in town makes kids pick up trash around the bases if they don't turn in homework. A freind who teaches there says he has no homework problem after the first couple weeks.

I tried Tsukasa's idea but we are also pressured to not fail x amount of students, so you end up doing things like her teachers did.

Idea to throw around, give me your opinion: Kick all of the illegal immagrants out. They say they are doing the jobs americans won't do? If a student fails, make them work the feilds and other crap jobs. First of all they will realize this sucks as a career and be motivated to get educated. Second, if they still fail, they will be prepared for their new career.

Thanks to everybody posting. this is a huge issue and so many people (politicians) are barking up the wrong tree.

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Post by flyer1 » Sat Apr 15, 2006 7:04 am

The whole self-esteem movement has really crippled school these days. Now teachers can't use red pens to correct papers, because all those red marks might "traumatize" the students. They have to use lavendar....

When I was in school, it was assumed kids could make mistakes. That was how you learned; by making errors and correcting them. Isn't that the scientific method?

We need to get feel-good theories out of schools, and go back to letting kids make mistakes. I don't have low self-esteem due to red marks on my papers.
"Have you seen my people, magician?" said the unicorn. "They are wild and sea-white, like me."
Schmendrick shook his head. "I have never seen anyone like you, not while I was awake."

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Post by Pedantica » Sat Apr 15, 2006 8:25 am

Firstly lets get the facts straight using the best evidence we can.

1) Improvement or Decline?

There is a popular opinion that children are 'getting worse' across a whole host of areas, discipline, behaviour and educational attainment. This view exists all over the world, it certainly exists in the UK despite the fact that we are towards the top of the international league table. It also appears to exist in almost all periods of history; you can pull out quotes about declining standards of education from ancient Greece and they sound contemporary.

I would suggest that one reason for this is that our perception with respect to the past is not very good. We tend to fictionalise the past as a Golden Age where the summers were hotter and longer and everything was lovely.

Secondly there is a lack of appreciation between teaching being different and being worse. For example I remember my Geography teacher at school telling me of a parent who complained to her that their child was not being taught good Geography at school. The father's evidence for this was that his child did not know the capital cities of countries around the world wheras he did having been taught them at school. The Geography teacher explained that this was not a part of the Geography syllabus and explained how now children were taught areas such as the effect on the landscape of geological factors like glaciation, and human geography like being able to identify the reasons why a town was located in a particular place on a map. The parent had not been taught either of these in Geography at school, but he knew most of the capital cities of the world; was his standard of Geography better?

The general perception of one generation with respect to the next is unreliable.

We need actual evidence. That appears to best come from areas such as literacy, mathematics and science which appear to be the most tested both within countries and internationally.

All the studies I have seen suggest that educational attainment is actually getting better around the world, including in the United States. Short term studies often show a static picture longer term studies almost always show improvement. That suggests that improvement in educational attainment is generally slow hard work with the most noticable effects only being seen in the long term.

The problem is that the speed of improvment is lower in the United States than in other countries. The United States is not declining in objective terms it is being overtaken.

Here is one study which provides evidence of holding ground or improvement in the US and other countries in standards of Mathematics and Science, it contains no evidence of decline: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/s ... 7/5709/481

2) International Comparisons

The United States scores fairly poorly on international comparisons of educational attainment in every area I have seen comparisons for; poorly in the case of Mathematics and Science, and somewhere between average and below average on Literacy.

Maybe it is best to get these basic things right first before spending time reading the bible.

For example in 2003 the US scored 24 out of 29 OECD countries included in the comparison on Mathematics Literacy. I couldn't find the full tables of countries for Reading and Science in 2003 but there is more information available for the 2000 study. There is another study being undertaken this year which looks like it will have the largest number of countries participating.

PISA 2000 Highlights
PISA 2003 Highlights

Now noting the evidence from point 1 above the countries above you in the table are in many cases countries which have overtaken the United States. There is not much in the way of international comparisons going back historically so it make be the case that some of them have always been ahead of the US.

3) So what is going wrong ... I mean ... what is going right but too slowly?

I think the question then can be turned around. It's not what is the United States doing wrong; its standards are improving albeit slowly. The question is what are these other countries doing right. Because you are being beaten pretty well exclusively by other relatively rich nations, but almost always poorer in strictly GDP terms, than the US. Also these are generally countries with well funded public education systems; and indeed well funded social welfare programmes across the board. The only country in the OECD with a lower rate of taxation as a percentage of GDP than the United States is Mexico. Public education can clearly be excellent.

Any theories about why educational improvement is slower in the United States need to not be based on things that are going on in all these other countries that are beating you as well. And many of them will be things that are going on in these other countries that are not being replicated in the United States.

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Post by Kiless » Sat Apr 15, 2006 1:01 pm

Bunk wrote:It's time to start leaving a few children behind instead of leaving them all behind.


No.

Exposure to good models is just as important as student-centred learning.

You want to create a ghetto? Because that's what that attitude will bring. There's no point in creating a small elite if you're going to have a majority of lost. :(

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Post by Kiless » Sat Apr 15, 2006 1:02 pm

erwer wrote:Idea to throw around, give me your opinion: Kick all of the illegal immagrants out. They say they are doing the jobs americans won't do? If a student fails, make them work the feilds and other crap jobs. First of all they will realize this sucks as a career and be motivated to get educated. Second, if they still fail, they will be prepared for their new career.
.


'Give me your poor, your huddled masses...'

You American?

Because I'm shocked at you.

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Post by Kiless » Sat Apr 15, 2006 1:28 pm

Pedantica wrote:Firstly lets get the facts straight using the best evidence we can.


Thank you for those stats. :) You've actually helped with supporting something I suspected. I will, however, look around some more. I think (but not totally convinced!) that some the despair I'm seeing from people about 'America is going down the toilet!!' is mostly because of a larger population and the natural problems that will come with it. Everything just seems bigger, because there's more people?

And the solution isn't 'get rid of people' or 'segregate children'. :(

Certainly the idea of getting parents more involved in students' education is important. Information sessions on what is being taught so they don't feel so alienated by what is going on in the classroom. Parent/teacher interviews (I find them exhausting, but it's better to have face to face contact than a voice on a phone) are crucial.

Projects that relate to their community and school, that are cross-curricular. I'm currently working with a Science teacher in my English classes and will be working with the Maths department in Term 3. The assignments they'll be doing will give them credit in both subjects as well as my own. This is tough to get started - it's taken me two years just to take it from idea to off the ground and a lot of that has to do with a national competition that they'll send the assignments in and get certificate recognition or maybe even a prize. A school should be encouraging this and promoting teacher training. Some time to get this organised would be nice... not always likely. But it doesn't take that long for teachers to find kin amongst other departments to support each other with ideas. Curriculum should be encouraged to be flexible, to help build skills across subjects. Really useful for non-English speaking students too.

We as teachers have to talk to each other more across departments that are not just core subjects. Talk to the special needs teachers about how we can better reach the quiet kid in the corner and the noisy kid desperate to get out of the room. How does the physical education teacher get students engaged? It's more than just kicking a ball around. And with students themselves, to read their books, view their films, talk about why they like what they like, so you can make suggestions with more educational merit that won't distain their preferences at the same time. Build upon what they know.

In the past, the teacher was part of the community. The 'school marm' was a member of a tiny town. She would have known the kids intimately when they helped their dad run the shop, when they served in the dairy, when she married their uncle or helped put out the bushfire.

Now we commute in. I've travelled on three trains and a subway to get to work for one job. I've had no idea of the additional pressures and activities of some children in the past and that is so vital to helping them and understanding them and building trust that you are going to be doing something to benefit them for the future.

We can sometimes find that we 'package away' work and leave it behind. But when it's the education of youth, it's not something you can put away that easily. And it shouldn't be. Although the notion of 'vocation' is so horrific at times, that's how it really should be. And it needs help from all sides - students, parents, community and the school itself.

.....I'd also like chocolate on demand and free kittens whenever I want to help me educate tomorrow's youth, thank you very much. :)

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Post by erwer » Sun Apr 16, 2006 1:32 am

Kiless, I didn't say that I believed in kicking the immigrants out. I was just starting a ball rolling. You made some good points and our school does a good job with communicating and trying to build a community of learning but it is a struggle with limited evidence of success. There needs to be larger changes than just school wide little tricks and gimmicks. What those changes are, who knows. We need true leadership to change what is taking place.

Pedantica,
I agree that overall we are still advancing. Some of the things in our 8th grade curriculum I didn't learn until college. The main problem that I see in school is student apathy. maybe we are overwhelming them and have overstretched our abilities for now, I don't know.

I want to know major changes that need to take place. I have been to tons of inservices and find them for the most part pretty useful but not useful enough.

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Post by Kiless » Sun Apr 16, 2006 3:30 am

erwer wrote:Kiless, I didn't say that I believed in kicking the immigrants out. I was just starting a ball rolling.


Might want to phrase such hypothetical statements in more couched language then! :) 'What of the opinion that...' or 'Some might say that...' or 'Here's a hypothetical situation - let's consider....' :)


The main problem that I see in school is student apathy. maybe we are overwhelming them and have overstretched our abilities for now, I don't know.


Overwhelming them with what?

I want to know major changes that need to take place. I have been to tons of inservices and find them for the most part pretty useful but not useful enough.


What sort of inservices?

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Post by erwer » Mon Apr 17, 2006 4:10 pm

Idea to throw around, give me your opinion:

I thought thats what I was doing, sorry.

When I say overwhelming, I mean putting too much info in too short of time. Our curriculum is really packed where if they don't get the concepts we still have to move on and none of them will come to tutoring to get caught up.

The inservices are things like differentiated learning, modifications, reviewing data to impliment change, etc. In my masters degree courses we talked extensively about parent invovlement strategies and school wide strategies.

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Post by flyer1 » Mon Apr 17, 2006 10:15 pm

National standardized testing is causing a great deal of trouble in schools today. Teachers are forced to "teach to the test", because schools get funding based in part on how their students do on these tests. This means that a lot of topics aren't getting taught; there are only so many hours in a school day.

In addition, kids are being given concepts way ahead of their mental development. In California, they are beginning to teach pre-algebra in FOURTH GRADE. Kids are just not ready to understand algebra at the age of 8. I have an IQ of 130, and I'm 42 years old, and I had trouble with algebra in school just this year. No wonder kids are apathetic and discouraged: They just don't understand what's being thrown at them, and they give up.

Also, the elimination of vocational ed in schools ensures that some kids who aren't scholastically bright have nothing to do when they do fail out of advanced algebra or english. So they drop out, where before (when I was in high school) they could have learned vocational skills like auto repair or metal working. The idea that all kids can go to college is wrong, and we need to address that.
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Schmendrick shook his head. "I have never seen anyone like you, not while I was awake."

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Post by erwer » Tue Apr 18, 2006 6:36 pm

"Teaching to the test" is really a misconception. Without the test we should be looking into what needs to be taught, how we are going to assess that they got it, and then develop lessons to achive it. The satndardized tests do the first two for us. Our state put out objectives (TEKS), then tests those objective with the TAKS test. It is our job to teach lessons that ensure they learn those objectives. If that's "teaching to the test," then what's wrong with it. We are definitley not teaching less concepts. Too many probably.

I think you are right on with not matching cognitive levels with curriculum. Texas still has quite a few vocational programs like automechanics, etc. in high school.

The kids I have can barely do rudementary math in the 8th grade. I mean really basic. For instance 4/8 equals 2. So does 8/4. They cna't even tell the difference when you give them both. Is this because we push them too hard or what?

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Post by flyer1 » Wed Apr 19, 2006 4:12 am

When I said "teaching to the test", I wasn't criticizing using testing to find out what's needed in the curriculum. I was using the term as my mother (a teacher) uses it: Teachers focusing on giving kids the general answers to the test, rather than the myriad other things a teacher has to do. Many teachers are doing just that, giving kids the lessons in a vacuum and just telling them what they need to know to pass the test, rather than WHY they need to know it.

Of course, testing should be used to determine gaps in teaching lessons, things that are being missed and so on. But using the results of the test as the end-all of education is doing everyone a disservice.
"Have you seen my people, magician?" said the unicorn. "They are wild and sea-white, like me."
Schmendrick shook his head. "I have never seen anyone like you, not while I was awake."

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Post by Bunk » Wed Apr 19, 2006 3:03 pm

Kiless wrote:
Bunk wrote:It's time to start leaving a few children behind instead of leaving them all behind.


No.

Exposure to good models is just as important as student-centred learning.

You want to create a ghetto? Because that's what that attitude will bring. There's no point in creating a small elite if you're going to have a majority of lost. :(


My wife is a third grade teacher (that's why I'm an expert!). Almost every year she has 1 or 2 extremely disruptive students that are detrimental to the learning experience of the other 20 or so kids in her class. She'll spend 20% of her daily time just on discipline problems with these 1 or 2 children. That's 20% of her day and the children's day that's wasted.

I'm not suggesting that we abandon children like this, I'm just saying we need to get them out of the regular schools. I'm certainly not thinking of setting up some kind of minority elite. Disruptive children should be sent to another school where they can get specialized help for whatever it is that's making them disruptive, and where they can be in a class with 5 or 6 kids per teacher.

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Post by Kiless » Thu Apr 20, 2006 4:25 am

Bunk wrote:My wife is a third grade teacher (that's why I'm an expert!). Almost every year she has 1 or 2 extremely disruptive students that are detrimental to the learning experience of the other 20 or so kids in her class. She'll spend 20% of her daily time just on discipline problems with these 1 or 2 children. That's 20% of her day and the children's day that's wasted.

I'm not suggesting that we abandon children like this, I'm just saying we need to get them out of the regular schools. I'm certainly not thinking of setting up some kind of minority elite. Disruptive children should be sent to another school where they can get specialized help for whatever it is that's making them disruptive, and where they can be in a class with 5 or 6 kids per teacher.


Hasn't she got learning support?

Isn't there a specialist on staff, either a special needs trained teacher who can get assessment for these students to find out why they are this way?

Isn't there a counsellor for the school? Is there a referral centre so these children can be checked in regards to finding out why they behave this way?

You get these kids out of the 'regular school' when there may be just one or two factors - like diet, autism, ADHD, abusive homelife, deafness, bullying that your wife doesn't see, chemical imbalance... you name it - that can be addressed or have environmental and teaching strategies adjusted for...

then yes, it is creating a ghetto for these children. In the younger years especially, as they model on each other.

One or two kids? That's actually fortuitous.

I have one profoundly disabled 17 year old whose parents deny that she has a mobility problem let alone cultural exclusion from her fellow teens as a Chinese girl... who is now trying in two years to learn enough English to get university entrance.
I have two ADHD students whose behaviour at 8.30am is quite different from 2pm classes as the medication taken at breakfast takes time to kick in.
I have three ESL students, who have no language except English in common, which limits peer tutoring.
I have two students from country areas where their learning experiences have not set them up well for a high-pressure tertiary-prep aimed school, coupled with the loneliness that only boarding students far from home can know.
Finally, I have one student who has yet to be confirmed for borderline autism but she's currently undergoing tests. Her behaviour is interesting to say the least.

I have them all in the one class. Six times a week, seven hours in total.

I adore them all. Especially their uniqueness.

And I have support. From psychologists, school counsellors, boarding staff, fellow teachers who keep close note of any issues that arise, a head of year system, a deputy who liases with the core subject teachers once a month to flag any problems or concerns, an off-campus referal learning specialist who gives us PD and is available to remove students at learning risk for short term basis and assessment.

If your wife, no insult meant, is feeling overwhelmed, she should DEMAND that the school considers the right of that student to learn, let alone that of other students in the class. :evil:

Because if he's being disciplined rather than being taught, there's something wrong going on. And no one can deal with it on their own. We don't have the training to be miracle workers. But we do have the ability to insist that the overarching support that does exist out there is meant to serve everyone. The teacher, the child, the family and the school.

Don't tell me she's on her own in this. Take control of the situation and tell the school that unless they want a hellion in Grade 4, 5, 6 and 7 and presenting an educational risk to themselves and fellow students, and eventually a community - they should get their finger out of their arse and help her NOW. And it does not mean that it involves ditching the kid into a rubbish bin of 'too difficult to deal with, we'll favour the others instead and it can go to hell'. You can get a learning support teacher in to help, get PD, get a clinical assessment of their learning difficulties, get a counsellor to investigate their homelife, interview the kid, get annecdotal evidence and do some basic action research to find what did work when and how in the classroom.

Being proactive is a responsibility of a teacher - and proactive can just merely be putting up one's hand and saying 'I insist that the school help'. Not just removing to the 'too hard basket'. :( Anything less will result in future problems. Because we can't do this on our own and it's detrimental to pretend otherwise.

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Post by erwer » Thu Apr 20, 2006 5:02 pm

My wife is also in education and at her school the administration solves every discipline problem by throwing them into in-school suspension etc. Really drops the hammer on them. They just recently had to hire another person so they could have another in-school suspension room. Sounds like our prisons. These kids in ISS will never get taught if they are in there. Can't solve things that way overall.

Anybody agree that the biggest problem is the number of students each teacher must manage? Elementary is not reeally that way I guess but middle school sure is. Keeping up with late work, special needs, etc. is extremely difficult when you are above 120. Or above 80 for that matter.

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Post by Paul » Fri Apr 21, 2006 5:13 pm

This is one of the most difficult subjects to comment on, especially for me. I was a School Resource Officer for three years. Not a Dare Officer, Not the Juvenile Officer these are all separate positions. I was assigned full time duty in the High School. (Imp retired now) The administration. One principal, five assistant’s. Three of those principles are in charge of discipline. School law and its structure in the public schools is a big problem. I was very frustrated with the discipline procedure. Suspension, In house suspension, out of school suspension. What do you think the discipline is for fighting in school? A student can be suspended for up to ten days. they get THREE. If a teacher is hit FIVE. If a teacher is told to F-off, ONE day. Does this sound like a sound system? Those suspensions for a problem student are a vacation. The administration has to take a firm grip of serious crimes in school. They have to send strong message violence will not be tolerated. Learning to behave starts at home. Parents do not stress enough how important an education is. They send their children to school and assume they are being provided with an education. I can tell you from my experience when there is a parent teacher scheduled meeting, the parent or parents will enter the meeting, guns loaded and drawn. Whether the meeting is for academics or discipline. It’s the attitude, NOT MY child. Teachers today are well educated and have learned the new technique of teaching. It is a very difficult Job.Being a teacher. Should we think about home schooling? I don't think so for obvious reasons. Now this is just my opinion. How about private schools. Do they have the same problems? No, Why, because they will get booted. Private schools have different standards. Do you get a better education in private schools, maybe, does your child become a better person, do you get a more Sucessful person. I don't know.

As the resource officer I was well aware of my situation. In three years I made ONE arrest. The kid sucker punched me. Why the low arrest numbers? Because kids are kids and they are immature, they make mistakes. I looked at it this way. I was like the mayor of a small city and all my residents were immature. Maybe I was not strict enough.
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Post by d.e.hillshafer » Sat Apr 22, 2006 5:00 am

I think schools would be better off privatized.

First, let us examine the problem without considering the people who would be left behind.

1. If schools were free to set prices and people were free to choose, they would choose to take the classes that gave them the most of what they want out of life. Right now the curriculum is determined by what the administration wants people to get out of life. This change would solve all motivation problems immediately. People who didn't want to be in class, wouldn't be there. The people who did want to be there would be extra motivated, because they or their parents would be paying for it.

2. Teachers with a good reputation and strong results would be seen as an asset to the corporation and rewarded. Teachers with a bad reputation and weak results would be marginalized or fired. This would raise the quality of education. Right now, the system does very little to reward or punish good and bad teachers.

3. Since school corporations would compete, the minimum cost of education would go way down, the average cost of education would also go down, and the maximum cost would be astronomical (for those willing to pay). Also, schools would diversify into new, less competitive areas. This means that many more choices would exist for types of classes.

4. Teachers and administrators would probably get paid more. The current school system has been largely unaffected by the concepts of improved efficiency that has been so important in the rest of the private and public sectors.

Now, let us examine the problem of those left behind.

5. The group left behind would be smaller than many currently believe. Taxes could be significantly reduced. Also, the cost of educating a family will quickly become factored into the cost of living. Employers will lose employees that cannot pay for their children's education. Employees will demand raises or seek employment elsewhere.

6. It would be better for the government to give out some kind of educational assistance than direct education. As an example, the government already gives out assistance for food. No one is calling for government run grocery stores. Yet, eating is vastly more important to living than education. If the poorest people in this country are still able to get fat on private food supplies, then why couldn't their intellects become similarly fat? Also, if government control is really all that wonderful, then why do nations with authoritarian dictators have the most starvation? Take, for example, Stalinist USSR and N. Korea at any time.


All of my arguments can be boiled down into just one argument. Currently, taxpayers have little direct control over education. Under privatized education, the customer would be in control instead of a 5 to 10-person government elected by less than 10% of the local population.

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Post by d.e.hillshafer » Sat Apr 22, 2006 5:18 am

As a follow up, I would like to point out that people can currently choose which schools their children attend. The laws surrounding this vary, but one is constant. Parents can move to a home in a different school district. My mom did this for me and my younger brother, and it substantially improved our education. This move cost my family a lot of money. Clearly, people, like my mom, are willing to pay for their children's education.



In terms of discipline, my old school district changed its policy on school fights after I left. Now, if you get into a fight, they will call the cops, and you will be thrown in jail. Fights dropped to about zero a year.

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Post by rrichar911 » Thu Apr 27, 2006 4:15 am

Can our schools be fixed?

Yes, return them to the state of being INDIPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICTS.

Indipendent means that the federal government, nor the state government is the boss.

Schools began their decline in the mid 60's when the supreme Court took charge and control became the perogrative of government rather than the local people who paid for and sent their children to the schools.
What really intrest me is whether God had any choice in the creation of the universe ~ Albert Einstein

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Post by rrichar911 » Thu Apr 27, 2006 4:23 am

Anybody agree that the biggest problem is the number of students each teacher must manage?


No, I can't agree.

I went to school in the 50's. First and second grade were combined in the same room, a total population of 45 students.

I had no class even through graduating from high school which has less than 30 students. Most classes were close to 40 students per class. Some such as music had closer to 50.

Sat scores on average were ~ 200 points higher then than now, even though class sizes on average have declined.

We had no problem learning, all that was required was to pay attention.

To argue that smaller class sizes is the solution is to argue that kids today are incapable of doing what kids of the past did do.

PS, and there was no air conditioning.

The reomval of freedom, has unintended consequences. One of which is to implant in a childs belief system that they do not have to perform to be sucessful, because there is after all a safety net. Victoms recieve the attention, the moral claim, and the grease, just as does the squeeky wheel. We used to just call them lazy or bums.
What really intrest me is whether God had any choice in the creation of the universe ~ Albert Einstein

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Post by d.e.hillshafer » Thu Apr 27, 2006 5:44 am

rrichar911, I agree with your sentiments on class sizes to a point. I am not a school teacher, but I have taught at summer camp for 3 years in a row. My class sizes are around 50 to 60 students during the first 3 weeks (our busiest weeks). These children are 10 to 12 years old. Some of what I teach is hands on, some of it is just lecturing. When it comes to hands on, every child needs individual attention. When it comes to lecturing, all that is needed is dynamic enthusiasm and volume. If the inner-city kids come, then things are a little more difficult. In all cases, the teacher's ability to engage the audience is the most important criterion, which becomes more difficult as class sizes increase.

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Post by rrichar911 » Fri Apr 28, 2006 3:01 am

d.e.hillshafer

Then look at the statistics.

Tenn spent billions to reduce class sizes, with no appreciable result.

I taught business Calc at a local university, class size ~ 150.
What really intrest me is whether God had any choice in the creation of the universe ~ Albert Einstein

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Post by d.e.hillshafer » Fri Apr 28, 2006 9:19 pm

The statistics fall exactly within my statement. If I can teach 50 to 60 pre-teens, then class size is over-rated. However, it does put a strain on the teacher. Also, I had a lot of help with some of the activities. Some things, like learning knots, requires one-on-one attention for most people no matter how old they are.

Your example of university students is a little unfair to the people teaching much younger students, (especially under 6 or 7 year olds).

By the way, the largest class I ever had was Chemistry with 500 total students. It made the class significantly less enjoyable, but didn't make it any harder.

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Post by rrichar911 » Sun Apr 30, 2006 6:45 am

By the way, the largest class I ever had was Chemistry with 500 total students. It made the class significantly less enjoyable, but didn't make it any harder.


You jarred my memory. I took first semester chemestry in an auditorium with about 150 other students. It was very impersonal, hard to follow, and I didn't get much out of it. Never an opportuity to ask a question. Classes that size should be accompanied by a work shop, in which questions can be asked , and problems are worked.

But still if the general premis that smaller class sizes are better is true, then one can go all the way to one on one, which would have a draw back, in that your the only one in the class, and thus have no other students to study with, or relate to. That would seem also to make things a bit more booring.

I took a class in compex analysis, in which there were only two students. Also one in advanced realitivity where there were only two students. Neither of those were memorable. I am thus wondering if there is not a optimum number of students per class, which could depend on the subject matter.

I also especially in math classes, liked having other students to compete against. The extreem one on one does not allow for competition.

Most clases are divided into catagory of students. The ones who are going to flunk, the ones who will do ok, and the ones who will excell. There is something about having the opportunity to compare your performance to others that serves.
Thus if the class was to small, the degree of learning might decline.

I remember a class in projective geometry as a grad student, in which the students took turns teaching the class. The prof just sat back and listened, corrected mistakes, etc. One knew that when it came their turn to teach, they would be watched by the whole class, and thus had to keep up from lesson to lesson. We were graded not by any test that was given but rather by our presentation of the lesson when it came our turn. I found that to be very motivating.
What really intrest me is whether God had any choice in the creation of the universe ~ Albert Einstein

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Post by UseYourNoodle » Sun Apr 30, 2006 1:29 pm

When you have students that have little concern for their future and who show little effort to do well in school there is not much that can be done for that type. The parents of these irresponsible students are in denial so they blame the "poor schools" instead of their own failure as parents or their children's lack of effort as students.
It is morally as bad not to care whether a thing is true or not, so long as it makes you feel good, as it is not to care how you got your money so long as you have got it. EDWIN WAY TEALE

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Post by Tsukasa Buddha » Sun Apr 30, 2006 6:57 pm

Doctor X wrote:
Tsukasa Buddha wrote:I am a Junior in Senior high school classes so...


Scratches Tsukasa Buddha off of The List. . . .

--J.D.

P.S. Oh wait . . . do you live in Arkansas? Or is that one of the states where I have to be a relative?


Which list? And, no, I don't live in Arkansas... what do you mean by relative (hmmm... we don't have a suspicious/worried smiley)?

At my school we don't have many problems with class size... at least not yet. I gather that there is some law about the number of special education students that are required per class. Because of this, next year the science classes will be entirely reworked for Freshmen. Each science class will teach everything (Bio. Chem. and Physics) and will be between forty and fifty kids, and there will be no honors option. My Chemistry teacher, the head of the science department, complained about it for weeks :lol: .
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Post by Paulhoff » Sun Apr 30, 2006 8:40 pm

Arkansas, mmmmmmm.

No, nothing, something you most likely know, people in Kansas, (I was station there in 71-72), always called Arkansas, AR-Kansas.

Paul

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Post by MajorityofOne » Mon May 01, 2006 12:08 am

Doctor X wrote:
Tsukasa Buddha wrote:I am a Junior in Senior high school classes so...


Scratches Tsukasa Buddha off of The List. . . .

--J.D.

P.S. Oh wait . . . do you live in Arkansas? Or is that one of the states where I have to be a relative?


I live in Arkansas Doc. And, it depends on what your definition of relative is...and what the definition of is is.

Anything goes here, baby. We can define it however we want to. Edumacation is highly over rated anyway.
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Post by sparks » Mon May 01, 2006 2:56 am

Schools don't need fixing: The parents do. That's where it starts (or not...): At home. And if parents give the spawn the notion that education isn't important, then it's only natural that spawn won't apply itself in school. And that's exactly the situation we have. Export all those tech jobs and engineering jobs and leave us the hell alone with the stuff we like doing best: Slinging burgers and shoveling {!#%@}.

And MajorityofOne wrote:
Edumacation is highly over rated anyway.


Are you for real here, or is that supposed to be a joke, MofO? :shock:
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Post by erwer » Mon May 01, 2006 4:41 pm

Great post, thanks, but I wasn't really thinking of class size as much as total number the teacger is in charge of in all of their classes. For instance when I give a test that 90% fail and then asked who studied, 10% raised their hand. We can't just let 90% of the students fail so we have to provide tutoring, which requires calling home, follow up etc. We also have to deal with the special education student's required modifications as well as the English language learners, who have as many regulations mowadays. Then there are the discipline problem kids, poor kids with no resources, etc. These are problems we must manage.

Back in the 50's there were a lot more two parent families and better work ethic. Calling them bums is right but now the mojority would fit in that category (in some schools). So we just call them that and live with tons of bums in society. Times have changed and old strategies don't work anymore. I wish we could reverse that trend but how. This question is really what I was getting at. How do we change a society?

Lecturing to 500 kids is not the same as dealing with 150 kids in the manner stated above. If those students bomb out, they switch majors, mine wind up on drugs and in jail.

Private school idea would be great but not very practicle. Middle school kids don't know what they want to be, or at least don't know what they need to be. Public school deals with issues like the fact that Texas is not producing enough geologists. To fix that you don't just open a private school based on geology and hope competition will find a way to make it work. It has to be put into the curriculum somewhere, mandatory.

I truly beleive the problem comes from parents at home these days, but so what? How do you fix that one? Just saying it doesn't prepare for a strong work force to improve the economy.

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Post by d.e.hillshafer » Tue May 02, 2006 1:14 pm

rrichar911: You make an excellent point about optimum class size and student motivation. I'm glad you brought it to everyone's attention. For my part, if I didn't have study partners in every single class I've taken at the university, I would not be graduating in a few weeks.


erwer:
Private school idea would be great but not very practicle. Middle school kids don't know what they want to be, or at least don't know what they need to be. Public school deals with issues like the fact that Texas is not producing enough geologists. To fix that you don't just open a private school based on geology and hope competition will find a way to make it work. It has to be put into the curriculum somewhere, mandatory.


This is a weak argument against the practicality of private schools. The state has consistently proven itself inept at determining market trends and needs. Hence, the current situation exists. Small and large businesses tend to be much more in tune with market conditions. Even young kids are fairly in tune with what will be required of them to get a job. Furthermore, you failed to address a single point I made above. You seem like a reasonable guy, but your argument indicates that you've been emotionally programmed against privatized education.

I truly beleive the problem comes from parents at home these days, but so what? How do you fix that one? Just saying it doesn't prepare for a strong work force to improve the economy.


And why aren't the parents motivated? Maybe it's because they have to make zero, direct investment in their child's education. If parents had to pay even $20 per semester per child, they would take it more seriously than they currently do.

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Post by Pedantica » Tue May 02, 2006 3:26 pm

d.e.hillshafer wrote:This is a weak argument against the practicality of private schools. The state has consistently proven itself inept at determining market trends and needs. Hence, the current situation exists


The current situation is that the countries which are beating the US in the international league tables of educational standards are generally ones with well funded state systems.

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Post by erwer » Wed May 03, 2006 2:16 am

The countries that are beating us do not cater to all kids either in the same manner. Most countries have "trade school" like tracks for those who do not seem to be headed toward a more academic or professional feild. From what I hear, our score are competing with those tracked in the "academic" track. This is what I have heard in some of my graduate school debates but I don't have anything to back up that claim. Anybody know if this is true? If it is are they better for doing the same?

d.e.hillshafer: Public school are pushing and pushing to make school equitable for all children. This seems like the right idea. Can privitization promise to attempt that? If the state is not in tuned with the market demands then should we not work to better that problem in the public school instead of just throwing in the towel. If the better schools draw more kids, won't it just get full? What about the bad schools that are in conveneint locations? Don't we have to set some minimum standards? Isn't that just making the private school more like public? Most of the public schools in San Antonio are staffed with non-certified teachers and have very poor budgets. A freind of mine used to teach at one. He came over to public school and got $16,000 more a year in salary. He the kids were better because the parents were more involved. Even the students that were there on sholarship (for being economically disadvantaged) had more interested parents. Did you know in states where there is a voucher systems, most parents who are able to use the vouchers to move out of failing school do not choose to move the kids. Public schools fail mostly because of student apathy which is hard to tackle without parent involvement. Making schools private will not really make these parents all of a sudden become parents of the year.
List your points and I will try to address them if I can.

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Post by d.e.hillshafer » Wed May 03, 2006 3:11 am

Pedantica: First, the example you provided compares public schools to public schools. There is no direct correlation between increasing funding for the public educational system and moving to a private system. You are trying to imply that a private system would be even less funded than the current public system. Even if your unspoken assumption is correct, you also ignored the strong possibility that private business would be so much more efficient that it would completely offset the lowered budget.

Second, even if the US substantially increased public school funding, American schools would still have several major shortcommings. For example, there is a large disconnect between market realities and curricula. Also, student satisfaction is not even a serious consideration in schools. Instead, teachers have to focus on making underperforming students not feel bad. Finally, the Pisa study--the largest, periodic study of educational performance within and between countries--found that Finland has the best education (as of 2004), and attributed it to a large percentage of highly educated parents that take education very seriously. If Finland had private schools, they would still have the best educational system in the world because the parents would take schooling just as seriously, maybe more so.

Erwer, First, I did list my 6 points about 20 posts above.

Second, what exactly do you mean by equitable? Are honors courses and special ed more equitable? Perhaps you are referring to the equal lowering of standards.

Third, why, when everyone is different, does equality seem like a good idea? Wouldn't taylored education be a better idea? Would you purchase the same clothes and food as everyone else in the name of equality? You are different and have different needs, shouldn't your education reflect that, just like your other purchasing habits?

Third,
If the state is not in tuned with the market demands then should we not work to better that problem in the public school instead of just throwing in the towel.


Why should we spend time, effort, and money trying to improve an inferior solution? This seems self-defeating to me. On a side note, I know the state won't be privatizing education any time soon. So, I sincerely hope they find a way to make schools better reflect market demands.

Fourth,
If the better schools draw more kids, won't it just get full? What about the bad schools that are in conveneint locations?


If the better businesses draw more customers, won't they just get full? What about the bad businesses that are in convenient locations? I think restating your questions makes them sound silly. Successful businesses gain wealth and spread. Unsuccessful businesses in good locations get bought out and put under new management.

Fifth,
Don't we have to set some minimum standards? Isn't that just making the private school more like public?


The government sets standards on virtually every business. The question is, who should control the funding? I believe that the consumer, not the government, should control funding.

Sixth,
Most of the public schools in San Antonio are staffed with non-certified teachers and have very poor budgets.


I'm going to assume you meant to say "private schools", otherwise your comment doesn't make sense to me. Private schools currently suffer because they have to compete against free. At times when the government has handed out large amounts of food and other comodities, it dramatically affected those markets. You might think that this is good, however, low profit margins prevent reinvestment. Also, certification is a government quality control mechanism for government schools. As long as each private school has interal QC measures in place, government certification isn't necessary.

Seventh,
A freind of mine used to teach at one. He came over to public school and got $16,000 more a year in salary. He the kids were better because the parents were more involved. Even the students that were there on sholarship (for being economically disadvantaged) had more interested parents.


I really can't decipher what you are trying to say here. Please restate it in more clear language.

Eigth,
Did you know in states where there is a voucher systems, most parents who are able to use the vouchers to move out of failing school do not choose to move the kids.


I imagine this is due to several factors. First, better schools might not be readily available within the area. Second, vouchers don't encourage parental responsibility, rather, they allow parents who are already responsible to take greater control over their child's education.

Ninth,
Public schools fail mostly because of student apathy which is hard to tackle without parent involvement. Making schools private will not really make these parents all of a sudden become parents of the year.


The single greatest thing you can do for the children of parents who care is to allow them to go to different schools from the children of parents who don't care. The current system is both unjust and a waste of taxpayer dollars because it allows and even forces the apathetic students to poison the education of the engaged students.