Blame this on Bush.....Not!

Let’s see people blame this one on Bush !

The Department of Education announced that not a single state passed muster by failing to have enough “highly qualified” teachers in core classes.

That’s zero for fifty.

Here is the root cause of the problem and it’s “high” time we address the issue dead on!

Since all fifty states flunked Department Of Education guidelines regarding not having "highly qualified" teachers in core classes, I am sure the president is to blame,right?

He screwed us and lied to us on No Child Left Behind,right?

Not.

Here is where we should point a finger at:

Our nation's colleges and universities...who are doing a terrible job of TRAINING prospective teachers!

If you have a spare $100,000 or so that's burning a hole in your pocket ,you can send your kid to a college or a university where,in 4 years,after they learn to "grow" up by attending Spring Break and chugging the local micro-brew, they will graduate with a degree.... but can't pass a teacher's exam testing minimum competence!

Then we can flood our nation's public schools with these "graduates" and they can further dumb-down our nation's young!

These colleges and universities should be required to give an EXIT EXAM to assure that their grads can at least speak and write the Queen's English for heaven's sake.

The problem,of course is that most university professorss....protected by tenure....long ago stopped giving a shit about teaching their subject and instead focus now on bashing the administration of everything from soup to nuts.

Not only that,but if you do give an exit exam,it's only a matter of time that someone will sue in discrimination saying that such an exam is not "fair" to them.

Sad.

Just yesterday I was reading about this non-tenured adjunct faculty member who resigned his position at Boston College as a protest over Condi Rice giving the commencement there.

Mysteriously,every wire service picked up the story and quoted this dolt English teacher.Evidently being a two bit adjunct qualifies one to also be an international geo-political expert.This dolt probably pontificated in class on everything except what he was hired to do...teach English.

Picture this happening on a lot of college campus in America and you now understand why some colleges are turning out dolts who not only can't read and write but are brainwashed too..

All in the name of academic freedom.

Before you blow a gasket, think about what I am saying:

While not all college and university profs are dolts,enough of them are to cause me to call for testing potential graduates nationally PRIOR to graduation.Plus as a pre-requisite to that test,these dolt-profs should be tested as well to see if THEY possess minimum competency standards themselves.

That's how you fix the problem...throwing money at it just won't do.

We need accountability from those charged with doing the task of educating at the college level,including being assured that they themselves are qualified to work with these young adults.

Posted by Sicilian Eagle at May 13, 2006 11:32 AM
Comments
Comment #147892

Se,

My brother and one of my friends were both teaching at the collage level. My brother teaching nursing and my friend teaching computer science.
My brother had risen to the rank of Comander in the Navy before retiring to teach.
My friend was a Novel engineer.
Strangely enough their experiences in teaching were exactly the same.

They both struggled to drag the “daddy paid for me to be here so you better give me a good grade” student along, and at the same time keep the intrested student interested.

Needless to say, both quit out of stress and disgust.

The problem isn’t the professors.

The problem is the attitude of the students, that think that because daddy paid for it they deserve a grade.

Posted by: Rocky at May 13, 2006 12:26 PM
Comment #147897

Rocky

Hey…you sick or something?I mean ..are you AGREEING with me? Yikes! :)

Seriously,kids are the way they are,I think because of their environment.

Tracing back another root cause,of course,is what kids learn at home…or don’t learn at home I should say.

Kids are going to elementary school ,for the most part,with very little instilled them about the import of an education.Parents warehouse the kids for 6 hrs a day…not all parents…but a significant percentage …enough to show up now in standardize test results.

But my post was about the lousy jobs the colleges are doing…those 501-C3 tax exempt colleges with bloated payrolls,over-paid presidents who care about their football,basketball or hockey team more than they do the excellence of academics.

Profs today are dumbed down…most lacking serious credential themselves….or at best having watered down creditentials…plus many “schools’ today require a heartbeat and a check as the pre-requisite for admissions,and as a result a B.A degree isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

Plus ,these places brainwash kids too…never presenting both side on an issue…isn’t “cool”…you know.

Posted by: sicilianeagle at May 13, 2006 12:40 PM
Comment #147900

SE:

Heh. You do know Bush never funded No Child Left Behind, right?

Also, if it’s you’re position that College Professors are graduating idiot students, may I ask if this includes you?

I also find it interesting that there is not a single link in your article that goes to the thousands of studies done on this problem.

All you have is an opinion without any basis on fact.

I expected better.

Posted by: Aldous at May 13, 2006 12:44 PM
Comment #147902

SE,

My basic point about education has always been about the woefull job the parents do in preparing their children to learn.

Yet we always blame the teachers.

Children that are eager to learn alsmost always have parents that are involved, not just in preparing their children to learn but in the school itself.

My mother was the school nurse. Now, while not every parent can do that, it might help if the parents paid more attention.

BTW, my mother being the school nurse also meant I didn’t get away with anything.

Posted by: Rocky at May 13, 2006 12:51 PM
Comment #147903

As opposed to thirty years ago, when dad helped with the cost of college,and you had to work almost full time. then if the grades slipped, dad would say!!!

Posted by: Rodney Brown at May 13, 2006 12:52 PM
Comment #147904

SE, I adamantly oppose the entire thrust of your article. Most college and university prof’s know their field of expertise. That’s not the problem. The problem with prof’s is they themselves DO NOT hold a teacher’s certificate. They are prof’s by virtue of having graduated in their field, but, most have never taken classes on education and teaching. Thus a great many professors see their role as imparting their expertise, let the students take it or leave it, and administratively find ways to pass them so the college or university can lay claim to advertising a high graduate rate.

Second, in K-12, those who are very good in their in fields and educating, can earn 3 to 4 times as much becoming corporate instructors. My wife had a bachelor’s in fine arts, and makes over 70 grand as an instructor for an insurance company. She is an excellent instructor and has 99% high rating from her corporate students. Try asking her to consider teaching in public schools at a starting salary of 28 to 38 thousand a year. Not going to happen. Money is important. Very important. You know that as a conservative buying into the supply/demand cost/reward equations of competition.

Finally, K-12 students today are being shortchanged by teachers of lower caliber and gratuitous amounts of school time training for tests whose scores will secure school district funding. That is priority 1 at most public schools, and the students lose as a result. In addition, we as a nation have become one in which both parents if there are two, work, and time which one parent used to spend helping their children with homework 4 years ago, no longer exists. This is an opportunity cost for driving down real wages over those 40 years.

My dad worked at Ford Motor as a welder, and was able to provide a two story home, car, and lower middle class quality of life for 7 kids and a wife who did was not employed. Thus Mom was there to 1) make sure homework was done after school, and 2) available as tutor when we had homework problems. Children love to impress their parents. All us kids looked forward to showing Mom how much we learned and knew. Today, neither Mom’s nor Dad’s have the time or energy to afford their children that kind of quality homework time today on average.

There are of course other systemic problems, but, these I see as the most fundamental. Nothing to do with ideology or blaming Bush. All about process, money, and priorities.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 13, 2006 12:52 PM
Comment #147907

“The Department of Education announced that not a single state passed muster by failing to have enough “highly qualified” teachers in core classes.”

“No Child Left Behind,right?”

Right. They recently changed the requirements for teachers with that legislation, but the teachers are expected to go back to school at their own expense, and won’t receive raises as a result. This is causing many teachers in many states to leave the profession. For instance, my sister is a special education teacher at the high school level in her state. To teach special ed she had to get her teaching degree with that specialized major. She’s been helping kids with all kinds of learning disabilities to stay in school and get their high school diplomas for over ten years. She has been highly successful in her job — often helping them to graduate at the complete the surprise of these childrens parents. Now, due to NCLB she has been told that she needs to go back to school and get her Masters degree (right now they have given her “extensions”, which means she can temporarily keep teaching without the MA). She can’t afford to go back to college because she’s raising a family and has a mortgage to pay, so now she is facing the fact that she will likely have to quit and get another job. Talk to some teachers, many will tell you similar stories.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 13, 2006 12:56 PM
Comment #147910

David,

“My dad worked at Ford Motor as a welder, and was able to provide a two story home, car, and lower middle class quality of life for 7 kids and a wife who did was not employed.”

How many Nintendos, color TVs, and VCRs, did you family have growing up?

Part of the problem has to be America’s conspicous consumerism.
We now have to purchase every wizz-bang, touchy feely, geegaw, that is out on the market, and God help the child that doesn’t have his/her own TV, AND a $200 pair of sneakers.

The problem is us.

Posted by: Rocky at May 13, 2006 1:05 PM
Comment #147911

We could start by attempting make teaching more of a respected profession and paying teachers like they are peformaing a valuable service.

I personally would not spend $100,000 for a college degree to get a job teaching where the chance for advancement and higher salary are not great, not to mention job stress.

Teacher’s unions are part of the problem as well.

I agree with you for once, this problem cannot totally blamed on Bush, unlike most others.

J. Guy

Posted by: JAGUY at May 13, 2006 1:07 PM
Comment #147915

Blame the colleges, right.

There aren’t enough “qualified” teachers because fewer and fewer people have the calling to join a very stressfull profession that pays a pittance.

22 states pay less to teachers now than they did 10 years ago, after adjusting for inflation. Between 1994 and 2004, the economy grew 16 percent on a real per-capita basis, but average teacher salaries over the same period went up just 2.2 percent. In 1994, offers made to non-education majors were 26 percent higher than average beginning teacher salaries. In 2004, they were 28 percent higher. (source). Given that, you’d have to be really dedicated to want to be a teacher.

Then there’s the stress. Thanks to the wrong wing, education in this country has become politicized, and is under greater and greater scrutiny. SE’s rant about colleges is a good example of this. More and more communities are pressuring science teachers to teach religion. And as more and more parents abgrogate their parental responsibilities to the schools, teachers are expected to take on that responsibility, too. “No Child” did, in fact, leave many children behind. So teachers are expected to teach to higher standards, but altogether too many students are in no position to learn. In my community, public education itself is under attack from a small group of wrong wing ideologues who are financed from out of state and who oppose any and all funding for public education.

This country no longer takes education seriously, at ANY level.

And SE blames the colleges, because they’re too liberal. Right.

Posted by: ElliottBay at May 13, 2006 1:22 PM
Comment #147919

Add, dvds, $3,000 computers,(when a $800 one would work)($30,000 import cars all tricked out with a cell phone in the other hand. designer clothes,a $ 2,000 wrist watch, a $3,000 gold and sapphire cross, excuse me platinum ! gold is for old people! a $2,500 a month condo to live in. a $ 4,000 custom sound and dvd systems in their cars so they can watch Jerry springer and girls gone wild, the best radar detectors.and of course a hand full of credit cards.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at May 13, 2006 1:30 PM
Comment #147923

Having spent most of the last three decades on university campuses, as student and administrative employee, including three years within a College of Education, I have observed that those majoring in education are possibly the least able of the university community. The brightest students are majoring in the sciences, engineering, and some of the humanities, with the education majors in large part having been drawn by their “love of children”. In the three years I walked the halls of the College of Education I did not encounter a single instance of students engaging in what we might term an intellectual conversation. From this I have concluded that as a cohort teachers lack the ability to transmit to students a love and enthusiasm for ideas for their own sake. The best public school students will be unchallenged and the average students will find their mediocrity reinforced. And of course all the while everybody will be immersed in the “I’m OK, you’re OK” philosophy that has cursed society ever since the ’60s generation assumed control. One has to think that government controlled education will be saved only by the much maligned business community, which is forced to step in if only to assure an adequate supply of reasonably educated and therefore trainable employees.

Posted by: Erebus at May 13, 2006 1:36 PM
Comment #147924

Bush funded no child left behind and Clinton funded head start. Bush means no child left behind south of the border and clinton meant “head start” probably training up interns.


money wasted both times. problem is in the home and after all no body is at fault as there is no right or wrong, black or white only gray!

Posted by: lm at May 13, 2006 1:36 PM
Comment #147926

well if W would just lower the standards, like his administration does on the environment and other issues, then this would not be a problem would it. Oh just kidding SE, just trying to find a way to get some blame, no matter how lame, into the conversation.

Posted by: j2t2 at May 13, 2006 1:38 PM
Comment #147929

Why would the business community be helpful to education? What are people to do and where are people to go. We need to earn money to live in this Country. The jobs for the rest of us are leaving the country at frightning rates. That leaves geting a college education and a high end job as the choice of the non entrepanurial types. Does it make a difference if your not qualified as long as you can get through college, on a personal level? No. You go for what you can to be able to support yourself and your family. So every one is forced to go for the high end jobs, or be poor and broke. This is the results of trying to make everything and all systems a free market, business style operation. I kinda doubt education fits that mold.

Posted by: j2t2 at May 13, 2006 1:48 PM
Comment #147934

All

Looks like I hit a nerve today…good…and some terrific responses too.Let me counter:

Aldous:

I have trained over 5,000 lawyers as a law school exam expert.That is enough of a focus group to make an opinion.PLUS while working my way thru law school,I labored for years as a high school social studies teacher,so I feel I am as qualified as any (and more qualified that most) frankly to call my shots.

I get sickened when I see potential JD’s getting ready for the bar exam have a hard time stringing two or three coherent sentences together.And these people have been in law school three to four years AFTER college.

I know many many dip shit professors…hundreds.For every one dedicated intellect,there are a significant number there who are there for reasons other than excellence in thought.

Partonage.

Ever hear of that?

The state public and university school system has been a politicial dumping ground for decades.Every hack state rep and cousin of a big shot ends up in the university system.It’s not what you know,Aldous…it’s who you know.

Plus try getting rid of a bad one too.The unions justify their existence by building stone walls around the incompetent.

If these brilliant intellects are so intellegent let them prove it.

Take a test in their field.

Lawyers and doctors do it,,so do accountants and nurses.

Why not those who sculpt minds at the college level?

Never happen?

Why?

The politicial fix is in,my friend.

David
The solution is that each one of these hot-shot profs be compelled to take methodology courses and learn how to teach.

I see it every day in the law schools.There,profs,immersed for years in theory,and couldn’t find the courthouse door in million years,yet protected by tenure,never were themselves taught HOW to teach.

It’s a failed system,all right,but it has nothing to do with the president.

The NCLB thing is a cheap diversionary stunt to shift blame away from where it belongs,I think.

Erbus.
I agree

Rocky
I agree

Posted by: sicilianeagle at May 13, 2006 2:05 PM
Comment #147940

ElliotBay

Thanks for stopping by today.I always respected your posts and hope that you and I can continue our always spirited discussions.

However,I don’t think my post is a rant.Nor frankly do I believe this is a politicial issue.

It’s a philosophicial issue,I think.

Back in the sixties,the old reading.writing and ‘rithmaic ways of teaching were scrapped by “enlightened” educators.All of a sudden it was cool to show film strips and videos in class.So what if the film strip had nothing to do with the lesson plan..it killed 45 minutes,didn’t it?

Homework?Forget it.Way to stressful for junior.

As a matter of fact,you can’t use a red correcting pen anymore because red is the color of failure…..didn’t you know?

None of this has anything to do with religion.The reason we have no science/math teachers is that those subjects required half a brain to teach,and private industry raid the closet until it was bare.

I know the money sucks for an educator…I worked three jobs trying to feed 3 kids prior to becoming an attorney..but competence was never rewarded.Old Henry Smith there,that tenured veteran got the honors class and the cream puff schedule,while Mr.Rookie gets the shit end of the stick…and gets laid off first too…senority,you know.Thus,the burnout got kicked upstairs,the new blood got shown the door.
Happens every day of the week…as we speak.

Posted by: sicialian eagle at May 13, 2006 2:23 PM
Comment #147942

Adrienne

Is that you…again…wow…

In the true spirit of compassionate conservatism…welcome again :)

You’re sister is getting the shaft because some beuracrat decided to put in extra requirements.

Had she been properly trained WHILE IN COLLEGE,she wouldn’t be having that problem.Which is the point….we graduate people prematurely.

Posted by: sicilianeagle at May 13, 2006 2:29 PM
Comment #147944

SE,

Before writing a post like this, you should make sure you know what you’re talking about. You seem to think that there is some objective measure as to whether or not teachers are good at their jobs and that all 50 states came up failing.

Unfortunately, there is no such measurement - we can’t even agree on what the definition of what a good teacher is, let alone come up with a way to quantify it.

In the legal sense, as directed by NCLB, highly qualified refers to the degree of education received and whether or not a teacher’s certification is related to the area in which he/she is teaching.


So if you are an excellent teacher who has not completed your master’s degree in the allotted time, or if your certification is in biology but you’ve been asked to teach physics because the district can’t find anyone else, then you are not “highly qualified.” If you are an incompetent teacher but are certified in the area you’re teaching and have your master’s degree, then your are highly qualified. That’s it. That’s all it means.

Now that you know that, it should be clear that nearly everything your wrote in your post is utter nonsense. If you still want to believe it that’s fine, but please come up with some objective evidence before you write a post that implies that the number of incompetent teachers is any greater than the number of incompetent doctors, lawyers, airline pilots, etc.

Posted by: adverbal at May 13, 2006 2:30 PM
Comment #147948

My main concern is that young people in many other nations, especially in Asia, consistantly outscore American students in science and mathematics.

The future will see a technology on a level we cannot even imagine, just as our parents could not have foreseen the hi-tech world we live in today.

If America wants to be a major player in this future world, we must regain our preeminence in science and math.

Our current education system is broken and incapable of responding to the challenge.

We need better-trained and higher-paid teachers at all levels, but especially at the elementary and secondary levels. Good teachers need to be rewarded and bad teachers need to be retrained or expelled.

We test students to determine their level of competence in a subject, but not their teachers. Something is inherently wrong with that thinking.

We need parents committed to instilling in their children a love for learning and a sense of repsonsiblility for achievement and becoming the very best they can be.

We need to return control of our schools to their local communities and we need fewer unfunded federal and state mandates.

My state board of education issues an annual report card on how well each school district is doing in teaching children.

Our local district has not scored well in certain areas over the past few years and the outcry from the local citizens for change has been deafening at times.

Our elementary teachers are some of the lowest paid in the state and, as a result, we do not attract the best and the brightest.

Yet, for the past seven years, the voters have refused to approve a property tax increase that would enable the school board to raise those salaries.

Bottom line, we are going to have to change hearts and minds and that is not going to be easy.


Posted by: vietnam_vet at May 13, 2006 2:41 PM
Comment #147949

adverbal

Reasonable people can agree to disagree and I disagree with you,that’s all.

Surely you have to agree that the sysyem in place is an abject failure.

And someone else other than the president it at fault.

This problem was here long before the president was elected,I think.

Plus,I view this as a nationial security issue too.

Why?

Because as each year passes,we fall behind the other industrialized nations of the world..both friend and foe.

The educationial system that we have in place is broke as a whole.

While I do think that there are pockets of excellence…dedicated professionials…that would do anything to mold a young mind,I don’t see that passion as a way of life in this profession as a whole.

Do you?

I look forward to getting up every morning..there’s lots to do.

I don’t feel that the above statemnet is the rule in the profession..it’s the exception.

Plus,our way of “educating” differs from most all the world…maybe we can actually learn something from the others.

Posted by: sicilianeagle at May 13, 2006 2:44 PM
Comment #147951

vietnam-vet

Bravo.Excellent post.I agree wholeheartedly.

Plus,if you are a vietnam vet,thank you from the bottom of my heart for your service to your country.You guys have always been my heros.

Posted by: sicilianeagle at May 13, 2006 2:47 PM
Comment #147954

SE,

My main point was that you are making an argument that is unrelated to the data you were using to support it. You cannot use the “highly qualified” teacher standard as evidence for or against the intelligence, dedication, or ability of teachers since it does not measure those things.

We can agree to disagree about whether teachers who have a true passion are in the majority or are the exception. But of course, my perspective that they are the majority comes from the inside - from looking at myself and my peers. From looking at the amount of time, effort, energy, and money that we spend insuring that we are doing the best we can do for our students.

I don’t agree that the system is an abject failure. When you look at how much is being asked of the educational system and compare it to the resources we are given to do it with I think we’re doing OK. If we want to do better (and I think we all would like to do better) we need to provide schools with the resources to do what we’re asking them to do.

Posted by: adverbal at May 13, 2006 3:20 PM
Comment #147957

SE:

No, it’s not Bush’s fault that “not a single state passed muster.” Nor does this fact have any true meaning with reference to the quality of teachers. The administration sets up artificial rules and when nobody passes “muster,” it claims something is wrong with the teachers.

Sure, there is something wrong with the teachers. However it will not be changed by all the requirements and testing mandated by No Child Left Behind.

If you want good teachers you must treat them with respect and pay them as you pay other professionals.

Instead of the stupid No Child Left Behind law the president should have a special event where he issues an award to the best teacher. This is but one example of what he could do. He also should do a lot more toward raising the pay of teachers. A president can do such things - without spending much money.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at May 13, 2006 3:55 PM
Comment #147964

Re salaries

The average salary for teachers in my county system is $57,958. They start right out of college at %40,000. Not bad for nine month’s work. If you put that average salary into all year terms, it is $77,277. I don’t know what you guys get paid, but that is not a bad salary.

I think SOME teachers should get paid more. We have to separate the good ones from the bad ones. Just raising everyone’s pay will do nothing except cost taxpayer money.

Posted by: Jack at May 13, 2006 4:42 PM
Comment #147966

It tells you how tough times are for you Republicans when you have to start a story about bad news by noting that it’s not Bush’s fault.

Posted by: bobo at May 13, 2006 4:58 PM
Comment #147967

Jack,

Please don’t tell our educators here in Tennessee what the starting salaries are in your area or we may lose these folks who begin work here for almost half that amount. Most also buy many of their own supplies, spend time at home on projects for class, and prepare lesson plans at home as well…on thier own time.

I’ve have several friends in this field of work and they are all very well educated and enthusiastic. Two of four of those friends have changed lines of work due to the time vs. pay.

I think both parents working and lack of parental involvement is the major problem.

As an engineer I can say I attended a public university and the vast majority of my profs were both enthusiastic and well trained. I, like probably most of you, also attended public high school. Most of my educators their were also trained and enthusiastic.

I think the teachers aren’t the problem here. I think the problem, as mentioned above, lies at home.

Posted by: Tom L at May 13, 2006 5:18 PM
Comment #147969

bobo
Good one.Score one point for humor,another for brevity.

Jack
Honestly,money is not the issue.If we were cranking out excellent students all the time,I would be screaming about rewarding excellence.But maybe you’re on to something.When I was teaching history back in the early 80’s,I couldn’t finish the book as it was.Now there must be a few more chapters since then.Maybe there should be a longer school year too.
Last week I was reading someplace that have of all high school kids couldn’t locate Iraq on the map.

Paul
Good point about honoring teachers.They should be honored if their exihit excellence.What about the bad ones though?Shouldn’t they be canned?

All
The point here is that with all the finger pointing (mine included)the problem is a huge one and it should be right up there at or near the top of the nationial agenda.While education should truly start at home,the succesful teachers I think, are those that view their work as a vocation…not a profession.

Posted by: sicilianeagle at May 13, 2006 5:27 PM
Comment #147972

Geez
Here I am talking education and I see 2 typos above
that should have read “half of all students” on my reply to Jack,and to Paul’s it’s “exihibit”
Damn talons are wet today…pouring here in New England….

Posted by: sicilianeagle at May 13, 2006 5:32 PM
Comment #147973

You can’t teach a kid that isn’t interested in learning just like you can’t make a democracy where folks don’t want it. It takes two willing parties…

Posted by: Tom l at May 13, 2006 5:42 PM
Comment #147975

In California a judge threw out senior testing qualifications for graduation. The tests were in math and english. The suit was brought forth by a hispanic student and a hispanic attorney. The test could be taken up to six times before graduation and all you had to do to pass is 50%. Many students have trouble passing the California tests. Most of the questions are multiple choice. So here are the potential problems.

1. Standards too low. No incentive. After all 50% to pass is over the top.

2. What are they being taught if they cannot achieve math and english levels which are really quite simple.

3. Can’t pass the tests after six tries, well just sue, some idiot judge will be on your side. One of those learned-unlearned people who make decisions that affect millions of people for some agenda the judge has.

There are other potential problems, like the parents, school boards, school administrations, teachers, educational unions and so on. BTW, several hundred employees at the top of NEA make over 100K a year. Not all persons in the above catagores are questionable, but there are enough of them to list them as potential problems. My solution would stir up a hornets nest and get so much vitriol that I even am cautious in mentioning it. That is to abolish public education. The tax monies collected for education would be used in a voucher type system so that the student could go to the school of their choice. After all, there would be a plethora of new schools opening to supply the need. The competition for the best curriculum and the best teachers as well as the best approach for each family would hopefully be achieved.

Posted by: tomh at May 13, 2006 6:06 PM
Comment #147980

David,

I totally agree with you. This is all the fault of the women’s rights activists. My mother was home for my four siblings and I. It made all the difference in the world.

In todays kill or be killed society it is an imperative that we have a double income, lest we lag behind our neighbors in the “he who dies with the most toys wins” game. And of course, let’s not forget that we MUST drive a car that we cannot possibly afford!

If it was de rigueur for mom to be at home, the whole playing field would revert to the 50’s and 60’s, and we could get our priorities back on track.

Posted by: Bruce at May 13, 2006 6:37 PM
Comment #147982

“While not all college and university profs are dolts,enough of them are… “

“Not all conservatives are stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.”

John S. Mill

Posted by: Tim Crow at May 13, 2006 7:34 PM
Comment #147997

Hey se….. ;)….go back and correct your correction to Paul

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at May 13, 2006 8:46 PM
Comment #147998

“Not all conservatives are stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.”


All other stupid people are members of John Crow family!

Posted by: lm at May 13, 2006 8:47 PM
Comment #148003

SE,

Schools are heavily funded locally. My kids schools are great, in the top 5 for MA. Yes we have money. No, not everyone has money. Yes, the people with less money have even less money now that BushII has been ignoring the constitution and fiscal common sense for the last 5 years. No, they are not getting more of my federal tax money to help with them making less money, also thanks to BushII.
Are the failing teachers the result of Bush? Not directly but as Adrienne pointed out, NCLB certainly was a typical “belief based conservative” screwup.
Face it. Your boss is not qualified to run my kids little league, much less this country. Vote Democrat and at least the peopl egetting screwed by gov’t a bit more will be able to afford it a bit more.

Posted by: Dave at May 13, 2006 8:57 PM
Comment #148004

Tim Crow

John Stuart Mill,the English philospoher who some consider the father of liberal thought,certaintly was an intellectual giant of his era…the Civil war era…,that’s for sure…but not a very good comparison in the education debate today…he was home schooled,for crying out loud.

However,if it makes you feel better to brand most stupid people as conservatives,be my guest.Whatever floats your boat,although it sounds like intellectual arrogance to me.

Bruce

I respectfully disagree.
While I agree that the more a child has mom at home during his or her formative years,the better it is for the child,the woman’s movement has made great strides in overall educationial opportunities for women in general.I disagree with that movement on other issues however.


ThomH
I was with you all the way until you floated the abolishing the public education system.

There are not enough nuns left. :)

However,here is Masachusetts we started “charter schools”…private schools actually subsidized by taxpayer dollars that are doing pretty good work.

I never bought into his theories..going back to my colege days.Sorry.

Posted by: sicilianeagle at May 13, 2006 8:58 PM
Comment #148005

1)America vastly underestimates its intelligence, both at the child’s level and the adults. Much of this stems from fairly unscientific IQ testing that was done at the start of the century, and the subsequent reaction to it. In short, we have more a crisis of confidence than one of smarts.

2)Teacher standards should be set less to degree and more to experience and capability. College degree, at least, good classroom manner, solid command of the material.

3)We have to acknowledge that science and technology have become much more sophisticated, which means the old ways of teaching things are not up to the job.

4)We don’t do any favors to kids by keeping the material light and fluffy. If we want it relevant to them, we should answer that absolutely asinine question, “When are we ever going to use this?” There is a whole world out there, that they likely have interest in, that is based upon these principles.

5)Raise the difficulty of homework, lower the amount of problems. The point of homework is not to monopolize the child’s after-school time, it’s to give them the experience of working the problems.

6)We should not teach to the test. The test will not be what these kids are doing for the rest of their lives. This might satisfy a bunch of pencil-necks in the bureaucracies in Washington, or in the states around the country, but in exchange for the pseudoscientific measures of a standardized test, we get an education system that is more devoted to the kind of rote learning kids will truly not get anything useful out of. The real world is messy, complicated, and it is it that our school should teach towards.

7)We will not save education by destroying public schools with “competitive” models. American became a major industrial power without the benefit of its schools being pit against private schools for their money. They were there, and your average American was motivated to learn what they could.

Ultimately, we will not get ahead with education, until the average person realizes that being comfortably ignorant is a contradiction in terms. If you think being fairly uneducated in this day and age is bad, wait until later, until Nanotechnology becomes the standard.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 13, 2006 9:01 PM
Comment #148008

Dave
You must be from Lexinton,Andover,Weston,Wellsley or a wealthy suburb because I am originally from Lawrence where the state subsidizes 90% of the education there.
This past summer 17 TEACHERS in Lawrence failed the English portion of the competency exam.The superintendent flunked twice.
Similar stories exist in New Bedford,Fall River,Dorchester,Mattapan and Roxbury.
As a rule,ecomomic background of the community very much influences test scores. (Although there are pockets of excellence in a lot of inner-city schools but that is due to that sub-set of terrific teachers who are the exception and not the rule).

Posted by: sicilianeagle at May 13, 2006 9:07 PM
Comment #148010

Stephen

An intelligent response from the left.Bravo.

Kids have much more hitting them every second than when I was a kid,that’s for sure.

However,a soggy old tenured prof who relies on a TA to lecture freshman in college just doesn’t do it.

College could fix a lot problems…but it doesn’t.Motivated people like you will always learn…however,….. you are the exception.If you were representative of America’s youth,this topic would be moot and unnecessary.

However,you ARE the future.It is incumbant upon you and your generation now to make these changes,and with technology at your fingertips,it can be done,I think.

Posted by: sicilianeagle at May 13, 2006 9:17 PM
Comment #148014

THE Sicilian Eagle IS 150% CORRECT!

Posted by: COF at May 13, 2006 9:53 PM
Comment #148016

Once again, comments and information from a) those who have little actual experience in the field but read plenty of biased reports by ‘experts’ who also don’t have experience in the field and b) recite anecdotal evidence which we all know can found anywhere to support all sorts of theories from flat earth to ‘real’ psychics and fortune tellers.

As a highly qualified teacher in a Tennessee fifth grade classroom, who came from a successful business career, and who was a graduate assistant and dealt with lots of college students seven years ago while getting my Master’s degree, let me say this:

1. The goal was high and the time frame a bit unrealistic, but the goal of all highly qualified teachers in elementary, middle, and high schools IS attainable.

2. The poor pay is a hindrance. The hours are good. I know. I owned a business. Teaching is stressful… but so are other jobs. Ever run a multimillion dollar manufacturing plant or own your own business? BUT the pay is not good… therefore the profession attracts social do-gooders and those who know that they would be challenged in the sciences and engineering. I have had three student teachers. Two were very bright. The third, perhaps the best TEACHER, was not so hot on subject matter… but she did her homework and learned the material prior to the next class. I HAVE seen horrible teachers as a grad student who had to observe many, many teachers in schools throughout our city. Some were functionally illiterate and are seriously encumbered with what we call ORAL LANGUAGE INTERFERENCE. (BTW, the do-gooder phenomenon is my top theory of why there may be a slight edge of liberals over conservatives in teaching… although, to be honest, my experience is the opposite… I have found that there are many more conservatives teaching in all but most urban of schools.)

3. Those who feel that the schools are limited by the social, academic, and physical inclinations of the students are DEAD ON!! This is a problem NCLB cannot fix. John Wayne/Ronald Reagan tough guy solutions aimed at teachers will not work. JImmy Carter/Michael Dukakis bleeding heart solutions aimed at students will not work.

4. What will work:
*Pay hard-working, smart-working professionals respectable money and you will attract the best and brightest. THEN you test them and follow up on their results regularly and in a competent way.
*Pay more money to those who work in lower performing schools or schools with discipline problems. As a rule, districts pay all teachers the same no matter where you work in the system, so the incentive for bright, communicative teachers who can perform in their environment is to work your way to better schools while the slow, ineffective, politically unsavvy, less desirable teachers end up in the most challenging situation where they, of course, fail miserably and resort to daily survival and giving up on the students who spend all day resisting efforts to assist them.
*Group students by performance, effort, and behavior. Good behavior, lower performing students should be in smaller class sizes. Disruptive students with poor effort should be put in rigid schools that emphasize work and regimented study times.
*Extend school hours (you’re paying teacher more, right?) and allow for 6 hours of regimented academic studies, 1-1/2 hours of project/research time, and 1-1/2 hours of phyical education/structured sports and game time.
*Check student’s police/juvenile court records and for gang activity. Seperate and ship offenders off to a military type academic/behavior disipline/work camp till they straighten up.
*Jail or sentence neglectful parents to work camps to pay for the care of their children.
*Have Gateway/Minimum Performance tests required for passing to each new grade. Give parents sample copies at registration. Test at the beginning, middle, and end of the year so the parents KNOW just what little Jane or Johnny must know and don’t leave pass/fail up to teachers.

Well, some kids won’t fit well into this system. Their parents will have to pay for private schools or tough luck. This is THE social issue of our times. We have piss-poor parents out there… in ALL income brackets.

From Someone Who Trade His $$$Job for a $job teaching and is IN THE TRENCHES NOW.

LibRick

Posted by: LibRick at May 13, 2006 10:09 PM
Comment #148026

Now, I actually come at this from a VERY conservative perspective, I hate the Department of Education and think it should be gone. Let states take care of their schools, its their tax money that funds them (Federal government only gives like 10% of education funding). Now, heres my take on the issue. We produce tons of qualified people every year who could teach in our schools. We have a number of jobs in those fields (Doctor, biochemist, accountant, etc) that pay VERY well, and simultaneously do not involve working with children (which to me is actually worse than being locked in one of those secret prisons and tortured by Dick Cheney himself…not that I don’t like kids, I just can’t stand more than like 5 of them at a time). Teachers make NO money, yet we expect them to be highly qualified? If they started forcing everyone at McDonalds to have a highschool diploma, the business wouldn’t be able to stay open. People say, oh, but if teachers are only teaching for the money, they won’t be good at it, teachers need to be motivated by something else. To a certain extent I understand this, but when it comes down to, take the job teaching and never pay off my college loans/support my new family, etc, vs the job crunching numbers for an ad firm that pays three times the money, you tend to take the job at the ad firm. The economics make it hard to attract the highest qualified people, and then keeping them qualified is even harder because they aren’t able to take sebaticles or really focus on learning and writting papers and getting published the way college professors do. This means they fall behind in their field.

Its a major problem, but I don’t think theres a silver bullet for it.

Posted by: iandanger at May 13, 2006 11:50 PM
Comment #148030

vietnam_vet

There is a MAJOR problem with looking at asian nations and how they score on tests, they tend not to educate nearly as much of their population as the United States. Many other countries statistics are skewed because they do not offer free universal education the way we do, which means only the most qualified or the wealthiest get to go. The most qualified get schoolarships, and the wealthy have tutors, this results in what seems to be an imbalance, really we just get to see part of their curve. I guarantee you test everybody, their average would be MUCH lower than ours.

Posted by: iandanger at May 14, 2006 12:01 AM
Comment #148031

SE,

I don’t really disagree with your statements at all. But the point I was making about the “women’s rights” movement is that it has changed the landscape of the workplace, the home, and of course family dynamics in general. A women that wants to have a career should by all means have a career. In fact, I am not against a man being “Mr. Mom”. My headache here is that too many kids are not being raised by their parent(s). Too many families are expecting school to do their job for them. It ain’t gonna happen! Our dysfunctional kids are a result of feminism! I know it sounds harsh (and perhaps a little over-the-top), but I believe it was the catalyst.

Posted by: Bruce at May 14, 2006 12:11 AM
Comment #148032

LibRick

I understand much of what you are saying, but I have one problem with your plan, extending school hours and including mandatory physical education.

Students already spend far too much time in school (which is mostly wasted time if you are at all intelligent, you wind up goofing off so much you piss your teachers off, believe me I know, I’m only a sophomore in college, I can remember), and including the time spent on homework, they are actually over stimulated by the academic process. This is more applicable to younger students, 6th grade and under, who need more time to develop other areas than academic ones. For highschool, more time is just more wasted time, get what I’m saying?

In my experience, the more time you have in class, the more pointless assignments, the more dull tests, etc. AP classes were the only ones I really enjoyed, everything else was just passing time to graduate.

As for mandatory physical education, I don’t its anyones business to tell students to play sports. Let me preface this, I was on the football and track teams and rowed for a semester in college. I think sports (as an institution) are generally a waste of time, encourage violent, compeditive behavior, and a neglect of academic work. All sports, soccer, football, lacrosse (God, don’t get me started on them), etc, they are all a distraction from academics, and the more you get into them, the worse it gets.

Kids will exercise if they want to, its the parents job to worry about that. This is NOT the business of the government.

Posted by: iandanger at May 14, 2006 12:13 AM
Comment #148033

SE
Here in AZ we have had charter schools for some time now. They too have been very successful. My wife is an administrator for a charter school, but that does not influence my thinking. I just think they are a good response to bureaucratic bungling with the educational system. One example of that bungling is in my community of less than 10k students in the school district. If today they began the process of building a new school building they could not get it approved for three years from their final application which interprets to five years. The only other way to speed it up is to have a bonding issue override which the public must approve. They normally do not approve them.

Posted by: tomh at May 14, 2006 12:14 AM
Comment #148039

Silcilian Eagle,

I don’t believe your premise. My brother in law is a principal, and my sister used to be a teacher.

The basic problem in education is that it is extremely difficult to evaluate the skill of teaching.

Public schools have a basic problem of having to teach a wide range of kids. Some are brilliant and need accelerated learning paths. Some are psycologicaly crippled due to family situations.

There are no easy answers here. If you want to teach everyone, you need many different forms of education, including some involving parental education.

I agree that public education is full of politics INCLUDING no child left behind. It does almost nothing for eucating our children. These testing incentives are simply burdening schools with a new political game to play. Every few years some politican comes up with the new “answer” to education that further tangles the politics of teaching.

There are no magic fixes

I think a privatised system could be an answer, but a multi-level system and parental involvment issues need to be addressed.

As colleges turning out bad teachers, I will only say that education does not attract the best and the brightest. That does not mean that I think college professors are poor or that most teachers are substandard. Our colleges are still the envy of the world.

Posted by: gergle at May 14, 2006 4:24 AM
Comment #148045

Hey, our kids great education is something we should credit Bush for right?

NOT!

You can’t say: Boy kids are stupid. Can’t blame Bush. That means he’s doing a great job.

It just means, as per usual, he’s doing a crap job to fix this.

Posted by: Max at May 14, 2006 6:19 AM
Comment #148050

All
I gotta hand it to you people…after re-reading this thread from top to bottom(again),my conclusion is that the above posts from all sides here are the best I have seen on Watchblog in a long,long time.

Just about every post is lucid and well thought out,and the best part is that all the vitrol was checked at the door.

I applaud you all.

Now,I gotta go back on my perch while this debate continues and re-read Mills some more…haven’t read the guy since my hippie days back in ‘72 in fourth year Philosophy class…..

Posted by: sicilianeagle at May 14, 2006 7:31 AM
Comment #148051

Having graduated from college near the height of the Viet Nam War, my college was fully liberal then. As a member of the Alumni Association, I can report: Nothing has changed, except it is more liberal and socialistic.

When “Educators: College, High School and Elementary”, get paid for Normal or Average, no wonder the world is catching America quickly. There are more Literature Majors than Science Majors. The reason is simple: Sciences required really hard work.

I have a friend David who teaches Chemistry at a local High School. He love teaching and it shows with the quality of students he turns out. They are Educated not baby sat.

By the way, my salute to All Educators who take the hard way: Making the student rise above normal and average. Rise to become a leader in their chosen field.

A Salute to Dave! He and the other really hard worked teachers deserve all the Atta Boys and Atta Girls they receive. Take note at every commencement address, a teacher is pointed out by a student for that teachers leadership and whip cracking.

God Bless and Reward the hard working Teacher. Teach, don’t indoctrinate….

Posted by: George Van Valkenburg at May 14, 2006 8:10 AM
Comment #148052

It seems that people believe that better salaries attact better people. So if we paid all the politicians larger salaries would that mean we would get better people? Ponder that thought for a moment. Everyone seems to be caught up in the fact that the Feds rated everyone as unqualified. This is an oxymoron if I have ever heard one. Maybe if we took education out of the hands of the Feds we would see significant changes. No politician in Washington wants to have people actually choose where their children receive an education. Teachers become secure with unions and tenure and loose their interest. They become interested in what many of us become interested in when we are in a career; security. They want their retirement and they want the stability of the job. For many of them they become complacent because they have no competition from other schools or more qualified teachers. Blaming Bush would be another opiate for America, but as we have witnessed over the years most people have been looking for blame instead of taking care of their own business.

Posted by: Mike Tozer at May 14, 2006 8:24 AM
Comment #148054

I think the problem is that “education” degrees do not require very many classes in the specialty area of study. Most “science” teachers take 4-5 SCIENCE classes and the rest on the principles of teaching methods, technology in the classroom etc. You really should know the subject you are teaching and many science teachers do not know SCIENCE as the testing is showing. The average grade at my alma mater for College of Education grads is an A, if that is the average, perhaps the ciriculum is not stringent enough. By the way, the College of Arts and Sciences keeps stats on science education majors average grades in core science classes and that average is a C-. These are the people teaching our kids, no wonder.

Posted by: Pingisi69 at May 14, 2006 8:51 AM
Comment #148057

Bruce, you may agree with me, but, your premises for doing so are not in agreement with mine even a little. You said: “This is all the fault of the women’s rights activists.”

WRONG! IMO. My mom finally did go to work after most of us had flown the nest, because she wanted to help herself and her children to a life better than her lower middle class standard previously. She also divorced my rudimentary Dad which necessitated her having to provide for herself.

The fault lies not in women seeking equal rights. Today, real wages purchasing power is only 50% of what it was 30 years ago. That would put my dad’s income, which was lower middle class as a welder then, into the poverty range today. Today, a welder seeking to own a home, have a car, and provide for 7 kids cannot do it without a wife’s second income. That is the reason 10’s of millions of women can’t afford to choose to stay home and raise their kids.

“My mother was home for my four siblings and I. It made all the difference in the world. “

It does indeed make a difference. But, one must also look to the model of marriage in the 1950’s vs. today. In the ‘50’s, women were in thinking though no longer law, still the property of men, and subject to the will and intents of the husband. A form of psychological slavery. In a nation that prided itself on liberty and individual freedom, that model for marriage was inevitably doomed to give way to a new model.

Our nation resisted intensely adopting a new model for marriage based on solid family and economic values which also included women’s ability to make their own choices about work, education, birth control and family planning, etc. Women who chose to stay home as single mom’s were relegated to welfare. Women who chose careers were hard pressed to make room for motherhood. And women who tried both, wish there had been more support for that choice by society.

“In todays kill or be killed society it is an imperative that we have a double income, lest we lag behind our neighbors in the “he who dies with the most toys wins” game.”

I disagree with this characterization entirely. Double income for high school graduates and Associate Degreed parents is a necessity to maintain middle class standards. Having lived borderline lower middle class, and now middle class, I can assure you, I would never want to return to lower middle class as a parent. Saying no to the items that will help your child grow and develop is a terrible burden.

The wife and I are able to provide our daughter with after school soccer, dance classes, music classes, tutoring, and a college savings fund. Not to mention the all important PC computer for homework and assimilation into her digital future. All things that will help her succeed in her life. All things we would not be able to afford on a lower middle class or poverty range wages.

I don’t like Hillary Clinton’s politics, but her promotion of the African concept that it takes a village to raise a child, has to be one of most forward looking and appropriate responses to the many difficult choices we find ourselves facing in child rearing today.

One hundred years ago, it took a neighborhood or farm community to raise a child where other adults watched over each other’s kid’s actions and behavior and reported back to their parents. Kids were supervised and held accountable in general even when away from home. Today, kids are invisible on our city streets, free to do and participate in any kinds of behaviors without fear of their parents ever knowing what they are getting away with.

The PTA is one of the greatest models to guide us back to policies and standards where society participates in raising our children, as extended families and neighbors used to 100 years ago. But, our politicians and leaders are failing to follow through for all the other priorities and complexities facing our nation.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 14, 2006 10:02 AM
Comment #148060

Eagle,

One of the things you should have been taught in law school, if not before that, was that a hypothesis requires FACTS to be proven. So I guess you’re the victim of a bad education yourself.

You began this thread with the premise that people are apparently blaming the president for the current state of public education. Yet you presented NO evidence, empirical or otherwise, to back that up.

Then you went on a long rant about the sorry state of university training for teachers. But again, you present no evidence to support that.

In the complete and utter absence of any evidence to back up your claims, am I correct in assuming that you’re blaming the poor performance of our (public) education system on … the poor performance of our (college) education system?

And since all those college students who became teachers went through the public education system as well as the college education system, please explain how you can single out their college educations as the deciding factor in their performance.

Posted by: ElliottBay at May 14, 2006 10:09 AM
Comment #148063

David,

I agree with most of what you say here, but want to add a caveat about comparing society today with 100 years ago.

We had much lower literacy rates 100 years ago than we do now. Society is much more complex in modern America. We are no longer a rural society.

I often hear wistful cries for yester year but, don’t think many turn of the century folk would fit into society today. Today’s child has to learn many more technical things to be functional. Many 19th century folk would likely land in jail. What is tolerated today is vastly different.

We can have respect for the values of 19th cenury life, but cannot expect it to fit in well with modern culture. Ask the Shakers.

Posted by: gergle at May 14, 2006 10:22 AM
Comment #148069

ElliotBay

Actually,Elliot,I disagree.

Law schools don’t teach that methodology….science does.

Lawyers take the “facts” that they gather through discovery and present them to the judge or jury…the ultimate fact finder.

If “fact” where presented by lawyers,then we wouldn’t need the jury system.

Instead they “advocate “for their client’s position,taking “facts” as you call them and creating a legal theory that butresses their position.

Sorry.

As far as blaming the president,please.

It’s raining today here in New England.I am sure the president’s position on global warming is the root cause,isn’t it?

Please don’t tell me that some members of your party don’t always make the quantum leap and blame Republicans for everything,because honestly I just don’t believe it.

Truth be told,”liberal”, teaching methodologies of the late 60’s and early 70’s have a lot to do with our current educationial affairs,and many of our nation’s superintendents and college presidents grew up duriong that era of non-stringent elightened -view educationial theory.

And by the way,my sub-set of experience gives me plenty of ammunition to make a case on my theory in any court of law.

A person who has worked with 5,000 anybodies sucesfully probably could pass as an expert in that field when presented correctly in Court.

I singled out colleges and universities for one reason….no one ever points the figure at the factories that turn out teachers.

When GM send out a car and later discovers something is wrong,they issue a recall.

Never once have I heard that colleges should bear at least some…not all…the blame here.

I noticed you artfully dodged my patronage accusation above.

Tell me honestly that state university systems aren’t dumping grounds for the politicially connected and politicial hacks.

Google William Bulger.Former Masasachusetts Senate President and recently retired President of UMASS Amherst….the brother of the infamous Whitey Bulger for a basic primer on a living example of politicial corruption in the state educationial system.

Fact.

Posted by: sicilianeagle at May 14, 2006 10:41 AM
Comment #148078

iandanger

I certainly wouldn’t argue your point, as you probably are correct.

But my point is, when was the last time you bought an AMERICAN-made (not just assembled, but MADE) television, or VCR, or DVD player, or just about any other piece of electronics.

I work for the world’s largest manufacturer of radio and television transmitters. Our transmitters can be found in use on every continent. Our facility is located in a small American midwestern city.

But look at the key components of the circuit boards and other critical technology that makes the whole thing work and you’ll find “Made in Japan” stamped on them.

All I’m saying is we need to put more emphasis on mathmatics and science if we expect to play any type of leadership role in the technology of tomorrow.

And that means better-trained and better-paid teachers, more highly motivated students and less government interference.

P.S. Your comment on the length of the school day was spot on. We tried adding an extra 40-minute period to the school day and it didn’t work. Both teachers and students protested so much that the school board dropped the extra period.

Posted by: vietnam_vet at May 14, 2006 11:51 AM
Comment #148082

vietnam_vet
You are dealing with old equipment. It is hard to find “MADE IN JAPAN” anymore. It is now “MADE IN CHINA”. Although they should be required to put on the label the caveat that it is made with slave labor.

Posted by: tomh at May 14, 2006 12:17 PM
Comment #148083

iandanger,

My proposals to fix the situation is based on a very socialist perspective, but one that I feel we must take as a nation. We have two choices: 1. let the decline of extended family negatively affect future generations, or 2. seize the moment and step in as surrogate parents and do the job that parents will not do.

I understand your perspective. You likely came from a family that supported your education, paid attention to your whereabouts, and in general, helped you to become a good citizen. There are millions of parents who do this well.

BUT… there are MILLIONS of parents who are abdicating their responsibilities of parenthood to work, play, drink, drug, pursue there own pleasure, relive their childhood, continue in their childhood having never grown up in the first place, sit in jail, … the list is endless, but results in the same thing… children running their own lives and making bad choice after bad choice.

Do you want to live in a society that stands idly by and sticks to the ideal that raising these children is not their responsibility? We WILL have to deal with these people sooner or later. They will not sit meekly at the curb while you parade your hard earned luxuries by them each day. Regardless that you have the right and I say even responsibility to pursue a good life with cars, electronics, security, good food, housing… those who don’t ‘get it’ because they were never clued in to how to go about EARNING their keep WILL find a way to get some of the wealth they crave.

Personally, I don’t want to live in double gated communities with private security guards who may or may not be paid enough to keep the wolves at bay.

I think we MUST take action when citizens are young enough to be taught what their parents will not teach.

LibRick

Posted by: LibRIck at May 14, 2006 12:31 PM
Comment #148089

The majority of the comments here are not worth the effort to read them. They are based upon ignorance and an unenlightened view of education.

If any really care, please consult Jerry Bracey’s reports that have appeared in PHI DELTA KAPPA magazine over the last decade. There you will get the real picture of education and its problems.

Almost anyone can form at least a layman’s guess as to what is wrong. Lack of money. Let’s try throwing money at education for a change as we do with defense spending.

NCLB legislation is joke because it is based upon the wrong premises. Educating children is NOT a business; do we really expect every child to attain the same reading proficiency at the same time? That would be as if we expected every child to grow physically at the same pace.

Nor does education need testing based solely on paper and pencil, multiple choice tests. Accountability, yes, behaviorism no. True and meaningful testing would be a developmental task involving a battery of tests to measure growth.

As to class size, we know that it makes a difference. That is why the wealthy hire tutors for their children; they know that a 1:1 student/teacher ratio is best. We cannot do that for every child, but we can and should keep class sizes very low in all grades.

Finally, there is no real statistical evidence that corroborates any connection between education and a nation’s productivity. There are some broad, common sense notions that of course apply, like literacy, but other than that, zero.

Finally, we know where the failing schools are. We don’t need tests to find that out. Just read Jonathan Kozol’s work and you’ll get the picture very quickly. Just look at the correlates among poverty, crime, health, infant mortality and life expectancy. They are deplorable—especially for a nation that says it values education and human freedom. Actually they are a crime and something to be ashamed about.

Peace, cml

Posted by: cml at May 14, 2006 1:09 PM
Comment #148097

College is no longer a vehicle for education. It is an indoctrination camp for the left. If you are 18 and want a real education…start your own business. Otherwise you will be thrown in with idiot kids raised by wealthy socialists (sounds strange doesn’t it, “wealthy socialists”…Only in America!), and taught by idiot teachers and professors who are there to formalize the socialist indoctrination, and keep you dumbed down about how life really works. The parties however, are a blast!

Posted by: David C. at May 14, 2006 1:55 PM
Comment #148103

SE:

Thought you would like this per our past conversation about the CIA appointment.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETacD6tAJ6Y

This guy just says the same thing over and over and over again doesn’t he?

Posted by: Max at May 14, 2006 2:20 PM
Comment #148105

I guess you would like teachers to work for nothing. when a graduate with a masters degree makes 50,000 as a teacher, how are you going to attract any but the most dedicated? and this does not include out of pocket expenses for copies or supplies.

and don’t claim teachers only work 9 months a year, because those 9 months they put double the amount of work than anybody else.

the disrespect that the conservatives show for the teachers does not help to attract more qualified people.

Posted by: Peggy Soumakis at May 14, 2006 2:30 PM
Comment #148107

Peggy Soumakis

Teacher’s….good teachers,that is…are vastly underpaid.Bad teachers are stealing their paychecks….same as bad employees in another professions.

cml

A little over the top for me,my friend.Plus castigating everyone’s opinions smacks of intellectual elitism,I think,and really accomplishes nothing worthwile in any discussion of the merits.

Not only that,intellectual elitism is exactly the strategy that proved fatal in the last election by alienating the common folk who,last I looked ,were entitled to cast a ballot too.

I don’t need statisticial evidence to coorborate education with a nation’s productivity.

It’s called common sense.

If you can’t realize that our nation schools are the very foundation of our existence,then maybe I too will read a Greek Fraternity magazine,but it will be TAPPA KEGA BEER,not the elitist nonsense you propose.

Finally I am not so sure about class size either.Every kid I grew up with who went to a Catholic elementary school has nuns with 35 kids in a class…nearly double today’s class…and they taught kids how to read,write and think.

Every inner city parochial school blows away the nearby public school in every type of testing.Same type of a student…profoundly different results.

Why?

I also see that you too artfully dodged the corruption issue.Care to address it?

Posted by: sicilianeagle at May 14, 2006 3:09 PM
Comment #148108

Max

CIA issue?What issue?Later in the week,I’ll write another piece about it and we can bat it around,ok?

I have enjoyed tremedously everyone’s comments and don’t want to get thrown off track!

Posted by: sicilianeagle at May 14, 2006 3:13 PM
Comment #148110

Eagle,

I learned about proving hypotheses in high school. You obviously either didn’t learn how or forgot how. Whichever - you haven’t proved anything here.

Please don’t tell me that some members of your party don’t always make the quantum leap and blame Republicans for everything,because honestly I just don’t believe it.
What party would that be? I’m not a member of either party. And even if I did blame Bush, how would that make me different from the countless wrong-wing ideologues who insist upon blaming liberals for everything? You’re a good example of it - you’re blaming liberals for the lack of qualified teachers. Pot, meet the kettle.
I noticed you artfully dodged my patronage accusation above.
You didn’t mention patronage. You said “partonage”, which I assumed was some sort of obscure legal term. Besides, I doubt very seriously that there is any more (or any less) patronage in the world of education than there is in the world of politics, the world of business, or any other world, for that matter.
Truth be told,”liberal”, teaching methodologies of the late 60’s and early 70’s have a lot to do with our current educationial affairs,and many of our nation’s superintendents and college presidents grew up duriong that era of non-stringent elightened -view educationial theory.
Interesting. If they were just growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, how could they have had the power to implement those policies in the 60’s and 70’s?

Posted by: ElliottBay at May 14, 2006 3:50 PM
Comment #148114

ElliottBay
I have the answer. Study John Dewey and you will find a lot of why we are where we are.

Posted by: tomh at May 14, 2006 4:17 PM
Comment #148116

Who is this guy? What elitism? What I pointed out is common knowledge for anyone to find. As to corruption, sure, in any walk of life there is corruption. The answer is to fight it—what else is there?

Now, as to issues not addressed, what about Jerry Bracey’s decade long statistical review of all the claims and counter claims about education? Have you bothered to read it? Sorry, if this is “elitism” it can’t be helped. One does have to read to get at what approximates truth.

Also, what about Jonathan Kozol’s work? Have you read his material? If so, what are your responses?

True, everyone has an opinion about education. Unfortunately some opinions are more warranted than others. Do your homework and please don’t give me testimonials as the best description of what is valid for education. Statistics are the much preferred course—unless you don’t want to engage in reasonable discourse.

Peace, cml

Posted by: cml at May 14, 2006 4:34 PM
Comment #148125

Good grief, I don’t even know where to start. This article is a rant. It is based on nothing but misunderstanding and misinterpretation…

Sicilian Eagle…you’re so wrong there is no point in trying to correct you. This is just a rediculous tirade. You kow nothing about the educational issues in this country. Nothing at all. There in lies the real problem.

You want a solution? PAY TEACHERS BETTER!

Posted by: RGF at May 14, 2006 5:18 PM
Comment #148128

Perhaps you don’t want to blame Bush for the sad state of public education today, but, conversely, he is not exactly the epitome of intellectual superiority. One has to wonder what Laura sees in him, being, purportedly, so gung-ho on educational effectiveness. Then we have his mother who, like Laura, supposedly excels at educational endeavors. Did Mama fail to see the linguistically-challenged, mentally-slow son? Or Laura the speech-defective poster child for squeaking through college on daddy’s influence? Were it not for the handlers behind Bush’s puppet strings (and the technology of speech feed through wires and monitors), Bush would have never risen to where he is today.

The look on his face when speaking screams lack of intelligence, not to mention the actual twists and turns of his misbegotten statements. I often find myself wondering how we, as a nation, can stand by and take the ridicule of the Department of Education for a failed program such as “No child left behind”? One need only observe George Bush to see that our children would wonder why they need to learn anything in college since it is possible to reach the rank of President with no outward sign of educational achievement, let alone intelligence. And if George isn’t proof enough of this, scrutinize his political appointees to agencies such as FEMA or the OMB, to find examples of further failure to search for intellect, but rather political pandering.

Children learn by example and this administration certainly lacks shining examples of either intelligence or integrity. I am very surprized you would choose to chastize on the subject of education in light of the obviously defective role models currently in the public eye. Furthermore, rather than dwell on the failures, look beyond that and you will find many, many truly astounding kids coming out of our high schools and colleges today. You will also see rampant plagiarizing and cheating on exams, which has become much easier via technology. Stealing the exam is an age-old problem, and will always be a fact of life in schools.

Our children are not the problem, but rather the victims of old men and women in political power who keep screwing with a system when they have little or no expertise in the area of education. When I went to college, it was no secret that the easiest course of studies was in the teaching arena. That was 30 years ago, and, apparently, it has changed little since then. So why now blame the colleges for graduating defective teachers? As long as the answer book was available, there has never been emphasis on a teacher’s independent knowledge.

There will always be good, dedicated teachers, and bad, only-there-because-I-have-nowhere-else- to-go teachers. There will be kids whom no amount of money and motivation will help, and kids who will rise to the top despite their obstacles in life and less-than-stellar teachers.

One major change which would help now is minimizing the fanatical emphasis on extracurricular activities. There are schools that have more coaches and assistant coaches than English or math teachers. Not everyone can be a sports star, but huge numbers of kids can benefit from English and math classes. Yet rather than whittle down the number of coaches from five to one or two, our “all-knowing” administrative types slash the arts and sciences programs.

Don’t worry about the quality of education or intelligence of our kids today. Most will rise above their environment and be just as smart and adaptive as you and I think we are.

Rather we should be extremely worried about the fiscal deficit and increasingly unsafe world our children will inherit. Energies would more rightly be focused here.

Posted by: KDTEXAS at May 14, 2006 5:48 PM
Comment #148130

YOU GOT TO LOVE THIS MESS BUT PLEASE NOTE THIS YOU NOW HAVE TEACHERS HAVING SEX WITH 13 YEAR OLD KIDS AND THIS IS NOT HEALTH TEACHERS TEACHING SEX EDUCATION ITS HISTORY AND ENGLISH TEACHERS HAVING SEX WITH THESE KIDS!!! WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT TODAYS TEACHERS.JUST WHAT ARE THEY TEACHING OUR KIDS! AND WHAT ABOUT AN HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR THAT CANT WALK ACROSS THE STAGE WITH HIS CLASS BECAUSE HE IS A MARINE AND WEARING THE UNIFORM OF OUR NATIONS DEFENDERS OH FREE SPEACH RIGHT AND WHAT ABOUT 1 YOUNG LADIE WHOM HAS DISTROYED THE LIVES OF NOT JUST 3 DUKE BOYS BUT 48 YOUNG MEN MOST HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ACTUAL CRIME IF INDEED A CRIME WAS TRULY COMITED! AT SOME LEVEL WE AS PARENTS AND VOTERS MUST TAKE SOME RESPOSABILITY JOIN THE PTA AND GO TO THOSE MEETING SPEAK OUT WE AS PARENTS MUST TEACH OUR KIDS TO BE WINNERS AND SET BETTER EXAMPLES FOR THEM TO FOLLOW! IF YOU WANT YOUR KIDS TO BE LEADERS THEN YOU!!!! SET A GOOD PATH FOR THEM TO FOLLOW TAKE A STAND ON THE ISSUES!

Posted by: allen stephens at May 14, 2006 6:01 PM
Comment #148133

TO THE PERSON WHOM LIKES TO MAKE SMART COMMENTARY ABOUT PRESIDENT BUSH APEARANTLY HE MUST BE SMART HES WORTH MILLIONS AND HES FIGHTIN A WAR OVERSEAS AND AGAINST BLEEDING HEART LIBERAL JERKS WHOM DO NOT CARE ABOUT ANY ONE OR THING BUT THEMSELVES OH AND JUST A NOTE CHECKING PHONE NUMBERS ONLY WELL JUST THINK ALKIEDA USES PHONES TO BLOW PEOPLE UP! CAN IT HAPPEN HERE YOU BET YOUR BUTT THEY CAN

Posted by: allen stephens at May 14, 2006 6:13 PM
Comment #148136

It’s a great big world out there full of people. We are a nation of over 260 million. While we have had a couple of VERY high profle cases of teachers taking advatage of their kids, the sensationalist media we all seem to be addicted to has made some believe we should react as though it is an epidemic. Unforuneately it is merely a percentage chance given the number of people, that a few of the bad apples, the emotionaly screwed up ones, would end up in the teaching profession. We to treat them accordingly but recognize that teachers work VERY HARD, for far more responsibility thatn they get paid for and get far too little respect and importance in our society. IT is time to VALUE education. That means better pay to attract those that are dedicated, but may otherwise be unable to be educators because the pay is so wretched. There is another issue: the politics of the job. I know a GREAT MANY teachers and they all say the primary difficulty they face is the presence of too many influential meddlers interefering with their ability to teach. School board officials forcing implemetation of their own initiatives and priorities in ways that distract and disrupt classroom dinamics, ministers pushing for religious education in public schools, District adminisrtators who prioritize immense amounts of money for giant wall sized digital screens for the band and football teams to watch their plays and formations but can’t seem to get it togethere to buy text-books, etc. etc. I have enough real stories from educators to write a book. Perhaps someday I will. In the meantime, this silly ‘baiting’ manuever of sicilian eagle’s articel above is only contributing the problem: education is being used like a poker chip in a political game. Sicilian Eagle is obviously desparately hoping some blogger will actually try and ‘blame bush’ so he can jump all over them. How poitless. How destructive. How much more can we go without addressing the issue that we, as a nation, have yet to realy, CULTURALLY, revere education?

…and to think there are still those who claim the dems don’t have ideas, HA. This article is not about ideas. It most assuredly is about picking a fight WITHOUT ideas.

I am disgusted with the tone of the article above, sicilian eagle. You are not looking for a solution or even a productive search for a solution. You are doing just as so many in your party have done before you…you are looking for a fight. Do our great country a favor, SE. STOP VOTING.

Posted by: RGF at May 14, 2006 6:25 PM
Comment #148138

cml
Sorry but Gerald Bracey would agree with me about testing college grads,I think.He isn’t a theorist either.On the other hand Death at an Early Age was required reading.
Kozol’s book is long on the tooth…it’s pre-technology.That book was written back in the mid-60’s and made comment on teaching methos long since abandoned.I don’t see the relevance,sorry.
You seem to treat this work as the Holy Grail of Education.It’s not.Sociologist said the same about Future Shock back then too.Both are dated.

peace to you too

Elliot Bay
Sorry about the typo.My comment was that educators who were schooled in the 60’s and 70’s are superintendents and college presidents today.Take it from that context.The superintendents and policy makers of the 60’s were who Kozol was railing about in his book.

Another thing:I am not out to “prove” anything….this isn’t science lab.The president has been dumped on by everyone and I think I “proved” that there’s plenty of blame to go around.
As I said,education should not be a politicial football.
Sorry I mis-characterized you as a liberal democrat.That’s almost a deportable offense,for heaven’s sake.My deepest apologies.

RGF
How about contributing to the discussion constructively?
I will be more than happy to parse out your concerns.
Don’t you agree that college grads should be tested,for instance,and if not why?

KDTeXAS
Not nice.Pick an issue and we can discuss it constructively.

Posted by: sicilianeagle at May 14, 2006 6:45 PM
Comment #148139

RFG

I’m not gonna jump on anybody.

My post essentially said three things: 1.You can’t blame Bush for the mess because it’s been here long before he got here,2.Test college grads 3.Test profs.

That’s baiting?

How about commenting on those three things?

By the way,I will vote…for either McCain or Guilliani in ‘08.Is that bad too?

Posted by: sicilianeagle at May 14, 2006 6:51 PM
Comment #148140

David,

Sorry for not responding in a more timely manner with my thoughts on your novelette (kidding), but we are having ANOTHER baby I was at the hospital.

Much of what you say makes sense, depending on your perspective or your strict description of the situation at hand.

The situation that your mother and your family were in is not applicable to the women’s rights movements to which I am discussing. Your situation was an exception - an exception that is sadly becoming (or has become) the norm.

“The fault lies not in women seeking equal rights.” I agree. If I stated that I felt that equal rights is an evil, I misspoke. EVERYONE should have equal RIGHTS. A women that NEEDS to work, should work. But in the traditional family, their is a breadwinner, and a child-raiser. That’s my traditional family. A double-income, no children family is also just fine. Call the financial over-achievers.

“Double income for high school graduates and Associate Degreed parents is a necessity to maintain middle class standards.”

I disagree. I would state that this is creating a NEW middle class standard. They are the over-achievers in my book. They are moving the lines.

Raising a family with a village is a wonderful catch-phrase. I say the village is my family and my extended family, not the government welfare line. There should be great limits on entitlements. If you want it, go out and earn it. If you physically cannot do that, then let us discuss it.

I am raising 5 kids on my income. I work hard and I educated myself without any assistance from anyone (other than living at home). It’s a lot of work, but it’s what I am doing to raise MY family and give them a good chance at a happy, healthy and successful life. It also provides a good model of success for them.

Back on track:

Bottom line here—-> Education is vital. If you can’t afford to get a good education (subjective term!), then you need to use the smarts that God gave you to develop your skills at work. School does not guarantee success, but lack of school does not guarantee failure, either.

You and I do not agree on a lot, but I truly value your views and positions. They are always well-thought and well-stated.

Posted by: Bruce at May 14, 2006 7:10 PM
Comment #148148

I believe the president has made a difficult situation worse. Just because he’s not to blame for everything doesn’t mean he can’t be blamed for something.

NCLB tries to quantify a complex property of the schools easily, letting bureaucrats and the states manage the complex process of education at arm’s length. That’s why they go that way. It also works if you’re trying to undermine a system by the numbers, and don’t want to take responsibility for it yourself.

Steven Jay Gould wrote an interesting book on standardized testing called The Mismeasure of Man, in which he essentially says that intelligence tests and their results are based on abstraction which have no counterpart in the real world. An entire kind of mathematics was founded in order to do the original tests around the last turn of the century.

The fact is, intelligence is multifactorial, only partly rational, and in many ways as much about what’s under the surface as what is on top. As such, there are a number of irreducibles that a testing regime reflects poorly.

SE, I have a particular issue with your laying the responsibility on bad college professors. Many of a person’s study habits and learning behaviors have been formed long before that point.

The truth is, we’ve got a culture, both in its conservative and liberal directions, that discourages scholarly activity, and labels those who make their mark at it elitists. The kids who didn’t like school, or strict rules or whatever have taken over, and having failed to create working schools that satisfy their ideals, have tried to bypass returning to more sophisticated material by assuming that kids are stupid and putting them through education that confuses tedium for seriousness, and test scores for real world results.

Requiring a masters degree or equivalent training for teachers without an comcomitant increase in salary is a fools dream. The market itself will not let that work. In the meantime, you reward rote learning as opposed to deeper, more context rich learning.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 14, 2006 7:56 PM
Comment #148150

To those who want to make this a republican/democrat issue, get real. This is not a political issue. It is personal because it affects all of us in a personal way. Either through taxes, or persons attending educational facilities. Higher education is so bancrupt from liberal indoctrinators who do not allow for a plausible argument to demanding a thesis on subjects that are literally offensive to mankind and have no bearing on education or the growth of man. Got a knock at the door, will be back later.

Posted by: tomh at May 14, 2006 8:12 PM
Comment #148154

TomH

Not old equipment, just incomplete information. I should have included “Made in China,” Made in Taiwan,” and “Made in Germany.”

But I think my points still valid. We continue to lose ground in terms of science and technology. And it’s embarassing, to me, at least, to have to bum a ride with the Russians to get to the International Space Station because we can’t trust our own equipment to get us there and back in one piece.

Oh, by the way, Sicilian Eagle, I am indeed a Vietnam veteran with two combat tours, both with the 7th Cavalry. I’m certainly no hero, but I served with a lot of them.

Both I and they appreciate your support.

Posted by: vietnam_vet at May 14, 2006 8:22 PM
Comment #148161

Stephen

I agree that learning habits are in place prior to college,but two things are inexcuseable:First graduating semi-literate students and second rampant grade inflation.

A few posts up I got ripped because I don’t follow in lock step fashion theories that Ph.ds espouse on education.Most of these guys grabbed their theories as part of their course requirenment for a doctorate.Virtually all of it is poppycock.We have seen theories about education from these “enightened” theorist fail time and again.Remember “modern math”? It ended up setting a generation of students behind,I think.

Today I was chatting via email with a friend of mine from St. Petersburg,Russia.
There,in elementary school,teachers stay with kids for 4 straight years teaching them all subjects.They get to know the kids…really know the kids.In many cases they get involved with their lives.The kids are self-contained in the class and given wholesome food.
In high school,kids there study chemistry,math,or physics for three years.They stay in the class too…the teachers come to them.No hallway bullshit.Plus they use immersion education as well.Elementary kids get blocks of learning….4 subjects a day.
Emphasis is placed on writing skills and problem solving.The result?When a Russian kid come to America and tested,he or she is often placed in grades one or two years ahead of where they were in Russia.
We should study what works in other cultures and perhaps think of intergrating the best ideas them here.

Posted by: sicilianeagle at May 14, 2006 8:49 PM
Comment #148174

SE
As long as public education is still around, their should be a choice between college prep and vocational. The vocational school would prepare a young person to go immediately into his chosen career after graduation. He would not have to go flip burgers and pay his own way to a specialized school to get the same training. This would be prosperous for society as well as the individual.
College prep could have courses designed to really prepare the student for degreed courses. Of course I am still in favor of firing a whole lot of higher level education profs on the grounds of failure to educate. They tend to propagate. For instance Ward Churchill. This discourse could go on and on and we would still be at square one because we do not have the power to throw out the AFT or NEA or their ilk who suck at the public trough.

Posted by: tomh at May 14, 2006 9:13 PM
Comment #148193

Bruce,
I don’t know where you live, but in SC it takes TWO incomes just to put food on the table. Unfortunately, with the high number migrant farmers, and business closings, when one job is lost, one had better have a second one to try to stay afloat.
That’s the economic truth.

All:

As everyone is no doubt aware, SC is next to the last in education, with Mississippi being the worse.

It is NOT because the children in SC are less intelligent, or stupid. For the most part it is because so little has changed in the state over many years. Grandparents dropped out of schools at 16, or younger,Parents followed suit, and their children follow these “role” models. SC is a farming community. That’s basically all the people around here know do. Our Republican Governor doesn’t seem to think that education is terribly important. He hasn’t even bothered to try to get any higher level businesses into the state.

In SC getting a college degree is just not that important. Most of the jobs available are for everyone, Wal-Mart, McDonalds’ Burger King, Hardees’ etc. Yes I just named the big service areas. Believe it or not, they actually tend to shy away from hiring college grads.

Until there is incentive to change, many states will find themselves following in the shoes of SC. We just got here second.

BTW, I challenge everyone here who is not a current High school TEACHER, to substitute just ONE (1) day in their local public High School.

Then you can make your observations.

I substitute regularly - enough that now the kids actually take me seriously when am there. They no longer literally climb out the windows, sing, (is rap still considered singing), yell across the room, leave the classroom and return when they feel like it, etc.

I blame the parents, but not only them. I blame the economy, the one where it now takes two parents to feed, shelter, and cloth their children, and please don’t forget about the single parent, who works 2 jobs just to stay afloat.

I can hear Jack now, reminding me just how easy it is to save money, invest it, and get rich.


Posted by: Linda H. at May 14, 2006 10:17 PM
Comment #148194

Ton H & Linda H.

Two terrific posts.

Posted by: sicilianeagle at May 14, 2006 10:28 PM
Comment #148195

Linda,

I don’t think it matters much where you live. There are always the haves and the have nots. I live in Phoenix. I am in the technology sector (which is WHY I am in Phoenix). If I needed to live somewhere else, I would. If I needed to find a different career, I would. I am a free man, and free to choose my life’s path.

And I am not entitled to anything.

Posted by: Bruce at May 14, 2006 10:46 PM
Comment #148239

“SicilianEagle” wrote:

The Department of Education announced that not a single state passed muster by failing to have enough “highly qualified” teachers in core classes.

That’s zero for fifty.

Here is the root cause of the problem -

- it was Ronald Reagan who first tried to literally dismantle the newly-formed Department Of Education. Failing that - due to public outcry - the Conservatives decided to do the Next Best Thing: simply let Federally Funded Public Education - including PBS and the NEA - wither on the vine for lack of proper funding. Since the Reagan era, Republican Conservatives have continued this agenda, through Unfunded or Underfunded mandates and by “packing” the boards of organisations with Shills and Stooges dedicated to this cause.

Why?

Simple: so that their plan for “School Vouchers” (read: “Taxpayer-Funded Religious Indoctrination”) could be adopted. By failing the children of America, they have created a pliable Consumer Mass of Ignorant, Apathetic, Circus-Goers (as in “wonderBread and Circuses”), who, being largely Ignorant, are more inclined to Jingoism, Xenophobia, Racism, Sectarianism, Fundamentalism, Paranoia, Fear - and hence: Conservatism.

So, Conservatives have intentionally and systematically Dumbed Down a generation or two of Americans for the express purpose of benefitting their Political and Ideological agenda, not to mention their pocketbooks.

Kudos, Conservatives: Mission Accomplished.

Posted by: Betty Burke at May 15, 2006 5:28 AM
Comment #148249

Bettye Burke

ummmm…..Did you forget that a Democratic president was in office for 8 years AFTER Regan?

whoops.

Posted by: sicilianeagle at May 15, 2006 6:39 AM
Comment #148261

Ummmmm - did you forget Bush-1, or the Congressional Elections of 1994? How about Newt Gingrich and the Contract On America?

Whooooops!

:oD

Posted by: Betty Burke at May 15, 2006 8:23 AM
Comment #148264

Betty

No,I didn’t forget but really this isn’t a partisian issue….it’s a nationial security issue..or will become one shortly.

I like Newt by the way.:)

Posted by: sicilianeagle at May 15, 2006 8:41 AM
Comment #148268

There’s a lot of good in this thread. A lor of our schools, of every level, are in a lot of trouble - that’s one thing pretty much every commenter agrees on.

And in a huge, diverse country, the troubles are large and diverse. My wife and I are both educators, and some of our experiences highlight some real problems.

My wife and I met in Columbia, MO, which is a mid-size (pop. 86,000) community in central MO. It’s pretty affluent, though socioeconomically diverse, and tremendously pro-education.

My wife taught middle school language arts there for 9 years in a national blue-ribbon school. She taught groups of about 150 students as part of a team of 6 educators. She has a master’s, and with that and 9 years experience, she made about $42,000 a year, enough to afford a reasonable middle class lifestyle on her own.

After we got married, she moved 225 miles away to be with me, in southeastern MO. This is a much poorer, more rural area, with much worse schools. With her experience and qualifications, she had a lot of interest and offers. The median offer was approximately this:

Teach 6 classes, coach cheerleading or a sport, make $26,000 per year with $100 per month contribution toward health insurance. Luckily, she got a great job doing professional development for teachers, and her job has given us a lot of insight into rural public education.

A lot of the teachers are awful, and the administrations even worse. A lot of teachers in these districts DO go into education for the summers off, or at least because teaching is one of the only professional employment opportunities in the bootheel area.

My perspective: I’m a political science professor at a 3rd-tier public university. And I am not “marginally qualified.” I hold a phd, have several publications, a book contract in the works, and have won several awards for both teaching and research.

I love my job, and it’s not easy. As a lower-tier institution, we serve a lot of marginal students. Many are first-generation college students, and our student body is split between southeastern MO/southern IL and urban St. Louis. Tuition is about $10,000 per year, and class size is capped at 30, so we are an excellent value for the money. Our median student is not at all prepared well for college, but our student body benefits so much from the college education that it makes the experience entirely worthwhile.

The teacher training process IS dreadful. This is not really a liberal/conservative thing - this is a conservative area, and much of the faculty is very conservative. The issue, as I see it, is that teacher training pedagogy is entirely trend-driven. There doesn’t seem to be any consistency, and there certainly isn’t much rigor.

As such, the education students I see (and I see a lot of them) are a bimodal group. There’s a chunk who is just great, and then there are some who are there because it’s an easy degree to get.

I see a lot of the latter, because most of them wind up in the social studies program, which requires them to take a distribution of classes - history, poli sci, psych, etc.

Most of the male SS teacher-wannabes want to be coaches and phys ed teachers, and many are pathetically stupid. I can tell you that less-capable students are disproportionately represented in the social studies program. In fact, my department has an upper-division class required of SS teachers, and we regularly fight over who has to teach it. The only thing worse than a leavening of medicore or worse education students in a class is a class full of them.

Sorry to ramble on so long; these are things I think a lot about.

One last thing, about the whole “liberal professors” thing - have you even been to a business school? How many liberal econ professors do you know? All but 1 of the math professors at my institution are active evangelical Christians.

I mean, you might see a lot of liberal english and philosophy professors, but really, get a broader view.

But then, in my stat classes, I only teach Marx’s proof of the central limit theorem - got to make sure those kids get lefty calculus, you know!

Posted by: Arr-squared at May 15, 2006 9:01 AM
Comment #148273

arr-squared

Bravo! Best post on this thread.

Thank you being a dedicated professionial.

Posted by: sicilianeagle at May 15, 2006 9:57 AM
Comment #148275

“Once again, comments and information from a) those who have little actual experience in the field but read plenty of biased reports by ‘experts’ who also don’t have experience in the field and b) recite anecdotal evidence which we all know can found anywhere to support all sorts of theories from flat earth to ‘real’ psychics and fortune tellers”

Kind of like listening to liberals talking about our soldiers, what they do and the war they are currently fighting.


Lets see, teach English? Math? Science?
No. Lets teach Cinco de Mayo, kwanzaa, cooking and political correctness instead.
The problem isnt as much of “who” is teaching as it is “what” they are teaching.

Posted by: kctim at May 15, 2006 10:11 AM
Comment #148320

Mr. Eagle, I don’t know if Mr. Bracey would agree with you or not, but it is a fact that teachers are already being tested.

Obviously you haven’t read about Kozol’s newest book.

As to teaching methods, are you sure you haven’t confused a technique with method? What is a method, my friend, anyway? Lesson number one in my ancient “methods” class many years ago. Presumably it (the method) would be based upon some theory of learning and philosophy of education. Yours sounds like B.F. Skinner and maybe Hobbes. Is that true? If so, you might ask their relevance for a democracy. Or are these issues unimportant to you? And please do not drag out that old non sequitur about mastering a discipline. That is taken as a necessity along with methodology. Some of the worst teachers I have seen were expert in their field—they just had no clue as to how best to teach.

No one doubts that teaching is important and maybe, maybe America is waking up to just how important it is (perhaps there we agree). However, don’t forget John Dewey and reflective thinking, for if we do we do so at our own peril.

Peace, cml

Posted by: cml at May 15, 2006 12:50 PM
Comment #148325

Wow, Excellent posting. So much information I don’t know where to start. I have a relative who is a teacher in an “urban” school, he was “called to the office” after sending a student there for non-participation in class. The principal reminded my relative that the student has a “right to fail”. This is where our problem starts.

I am not sure where people are getting there information on teaching degrees, at least for secondary teachers the courses are very intensive in the subject they plan to teach. My choice is Physics, I am following the same track as the engineering students. This means 9 physics classes with the beginning class at a 300 level. The supporting classes are are just as intensive, two classes uf 200 level chemistry, calculus 1, 2, 3, and differential equations, statistical analysis, labratory work for both physics and chemistry, and courses on how to teach in a lab setting.

These courses go on top of the standard liberal art garbage, such as classes under the heading of multicultural diversity in a pluralistic society.

On top of this and yes the easiest classes sadly are the education courses, after three years in the system I have yet to have a class on lesson planning or classroom management. The 6 classes so far have all delt with ensuring we properly deal with a diverse classroom. We must, as required by law, put the class on hold to ensure that any special needs student is cared for. This may seem hard hearted but a one size fits all classroom does not work. The “inclusive” classroom ensures that the class travels much like the old WWII convoys “as fast as the slowest ship”.

I am not advocating that any student be shuffled off to the side I believe all students need to be taught in the manner that gives them the best chance at success, if this means special education classrooms then so be it. If it means a more regimented style of classroom or boarding type school then so be it. We cannot afford to allow the students “the right to fail”. If the students are slower and high school takes them five or six years then that is what it should take them, but do not punish those willing and able to put forth the effort by lowering their expectations to conform with the slowest ship.

I have had many discussion with professors about this and the overriding concern is not with the quality of education the students receive it is with their self-esteem and their feeling of inclusion, this is mandated as a priority above the actual educational process. In other words we have to show preference for one student over another.

These areas are where we need to spend more money. Provide classes for handicapped, “slow learners”and other special needs students, this does not mean to teach them less just in a different manner. Special education teachers are uniquely trained and able to help these students raise their level of success for too long these classroom were treated as a dumping ground for the unwilling and unable, this is sad because with a high standard these students will perform as well or better than many traditional students.

I have practical experience teaching, I was an instructor in the military teaching electronics. I have had several college courses in lesson planning and class management.

There are many problems with our educational systems from K-12 into higher learning, but do not sell teachers short, in any other profession I would be considered as having dual degrees however my degree will only be in secondary education and sneered at by those of you who do not understand the level of comittment required to just get that degree.

I am doing this at and age, 45, in which many of you are sitting in your comfortably padded leather chairs behind a large lawerly desk charging people a day’s wage of their paycheck for an hour of your important time. Go back to school get a degree in secondary science or math education, add up the 10-15 hours of science homework, 10-15 hours of calculus homework, 10-15 hours of chemistry homework per week and then read 3-5 papers written by the likes of Mills, Jung, Noonan, Aristotle, Sumner, Kant, Williams, and then write and intelligent paper on them, after all this then come and tell me that a degree in education is the easiest to get.

If you are talking about phys.ed.teachers or S.S. teachers maybe I am not in that track but it appears easier, and if this is the case lets drop their salary and raise the science and math teachers, but then that would be un PC because it says one person is “better” than another and the teachers unions would be out of business, please. But then that would require that the public would be trusted to treat teachers fairly and from seeing some of these posts that also cannot be counted on.

Oh, by the way the pay for “only nine months of work” does not include the overtime spent in prep work, grading, or the summer classes taken to ensure that the ever changing world of science pass the teachers by. This also is at the teachers expense, how long would one of the labor unions stand for that.

Posted by: MikeH at May 15, 2006 1:06 PM
Comment #148337

cml

Yes of course both Skinner and Hobbs were required reading as well.However,philosopies of the 60’s are antiquated in my view.

When I taught high school,I was diligent about preparing a lesson plan and executing it.As a matter of fact,in those days we had to submit the lesson plan one week prior to teaching that week’s topic.Believe it or not,my plan book got graded weekly!
Not only that but weekly either the principal or the department head sat in and evaluated my teaching.
I wasn’t a rookie then either.All teacher’s had this done.
I empahasized writing skills in my class,and I enjoyed watching a student’s writing skills grow.
However,in the 1980s,teaching dramaticially changed.Your friend Kozol influenced many….but the philosophy went wayyyyy the other way.Permissivness became the rage in the classroom.Discipline and structure were “old school”.Role playing,auto-visual film and film strips,”discussion groups” were de rigeur;in short,education was turned upside down.
In the early 90’s I started teaching in law schools…something I do to this day.As I said above,I get aggrivated when third year law students can’t string three sentences togther….forget penmanship…that is a differnt tale completely…

peace

Posted by: sicilianeagle at May 15, 2006 1:46 PM
Comment #148366

What can be the difference between an education today vs 42 years ago? If I told you all that I could show you statistical data that shows education began a serious downhill slide in 1963 due to one factor would you believe it? What’s the key factor? Prayer was outlawed in public schools. Immediately after 1963 the following changes in education occurred:

After @ 10 years prior to 1963 staying between 965-980 for total scores, the numbers dipped every year for 17 years to @ 890 then upticking slightly to @ 905 over the next 6-7 years.

Math scores on the SAT after 1963 went from @490-505 down every year for 18 years to a total of @ 465.

After 1963 Verbal SAT scores went from @ 475 down every year for 14 years to @ 425 before a slight uptick to @ 430 for the next 10 years.

I’m sure there is a loud howling going on as I write but the information is available from the data compiled by the College Entrance Exam Board, and in a great book (out of print) by David Barton titled “America: To pray or not to pray”. It speaks not only to educational but social ills that have burdened the US since this sad decision in 1963. For what it’s worth!

Posted by: JR at May 15, 2006 4:47 PM
Comment #148382

vietnam_vet

You are correct about appliances, which are mostly made overseas, but this is because of cheap labor costs and government investment in infrastructure. We are still quite compeditive in technology fields, its the longevity of our technology sector everyone is concerned about.

librick

I think we are going to have to agree to disagree, because if anyone had told me how i should spend my free time while i was in highschool, I probably would have done something vulgar or violent. I had a bad attitude about authority, hell, I still do. A lot of kids are like me, you’ll find they don’t want people interfering in their lives, its not anyone else’s business.

allen stephens,

Everyone who attends duke is a rapist, no exceptions. Period.

and if any of you guys are dukies…sorry, GO TERPS!

Posted by: iandanger at May 15, 2006 5:52 PM
Comment #148385

Betty

PBS and the NEA have as much to do with education as Jimmy Carter or This Old House. NEA does nothing to teach the kids, they just protect bad teachers and bad textbooks. PBS enjoys taxpayer funding, why? If a program can’t get it’s support locally from it’s patrons or from commercial revenues then find another way, don’t ask me to support all PBS if I only watch 1-2 programs. These institutions should “wither on the vine”, if they make no tangible, measurable contribution to education, so be it. None of the typical liberal name-calling you do is attributable to conservatives, it reminds me of a local talk show host who has a theory. His theory? “Liberalism always generates the exact opposite of it’s stated intent” By dumbing down the teachers, the textbooks and the testing, by investing in higher teacher salaries and eliminating teacher accountability and by taking a poor inner city student and not giving him/her the option of “vouchering” into a better educational environment, who are the real racist? If you have a problem with religious or faithbased schooling, by all means don’t send your children, but don’t demand that your bigotry be inforced on my wishes for my own children. Conservatism is not the savior of America, but keeping people in bad schools because of some ideal of public education is flat wrong.

Posted by: JR at May 15, 2006 6:01 PM
Comment #148391

JR,

“If I told you all that I could show you statistical data that shows education began a serious downhill slide in 1963 due to one factor would you believe it?”

No, because correlation does not equal causation. You should take my undergrad reseach methods class.

Posted by: Arr-squared at May 15, 2006 6:23 PM
Comment #148403

SE,

Though I am quite liberal, I agree somewhat with your conclusions about American education, though not necessarily with your causes.

I live in an affluent Houston suburb with nationally recognized schools. Our HS is in the top 3% of all schools in the US and our elemntary schools also receive national awards.

My oldest is in kindergarten and I am amazed at the amount of homework she gets ever day (yes, homework in K). The entire curriculum from K-3 is designed to maximize test scores in third grade. In case you didn’t know, teacher bonuses in Texas are dependent on student success in these tests, so preparation begins early.

Here’s a brief example of how testing impacts the curriculum: K students wrote in journals on a daily basis for the second half of the school year. That they as yet do not know how to read does not matter. Studies indicate that children who write early, even if it is gobbledygook, have higher scores on the third grade test.

Oh yes, one more way testing affects the curriculum - math education does not begin until second grade.

Those of you from TX already know the punchline - the third grade test does not test math knowledge so math is de-emphasized in early education.

And as a reminder, this “teaching to the test” is happening in what is considered one of the top public school systems in the nation.

Makes me shudder - what about you?

My suggested solution is less complicated. My wife was raised in affluent SoCal and 30 years ago they still “taught to the test”.

Let’s not attempt to change the culture - this is a near impossible task without mass disruption to millions of childrens’ educations. Let’s accept the culture and HAVE TESTS THAT MEASURE WHAT’S IMPORTANT.

If we need more math capable children, then test math. Make the tests painfully hard. I know how motivated these teachers are to get their bonuses - they will prepare the students.

Better teachers? It feels the same as a generation ago over here - some good, some bad, some cruel, some kind.

Better teacher preparation? Again, it feels the same as a generation ago. I don’t have the experience that teachers are less prepared than they were thirty years ago.

So what’s the difference in the world today? Why is America struggling to keep up?

I think the game has changed and we’ve been caught with our pants down. India, Russia and China - 25% of the world’s population that was not in economic competition with the US in 1970 or 1980. But we approach education as if it’s still a generation ago and we just need to improve somewhat.

The game has changed. And sheer numbers have the odds stacked against us.

With almost ten times our population, these three countries need only be 10% as effective as we are in providing quality technical educations to produce as many leading minds.

If our national goal is to compete technologically, then we must commit as a nation.

And we must do it soon.

The clock is ticking - no time for partisan battles.

Pick a system, ANY SYSTEM, and make it work.

SE,

I don’t think we can do it. In an environment where national resources are dedicated to fighting for Intelligent Design, we cannot move ahead - not with the games we play.

SE,

we are Americans first. We must find a way through without partisan feuds, without blaming the teachers’ unions (which I detest, by the way) or NCLB or the Dept of Ed or Bush or Clinton. I don’t like Bush but I can’t wait for a president I like.


I am compelled to challenge you on your post - your post is partisan blame for the problem, not a solution.

Boring.

Your solution is to eliminate liberal influence on education.

Yawn.

Bring something new to the table. Take responsibility for solving this problem. Challenge people here to offer solutions that work with the resources we have RIGHT NOW.

I want more money for education too. It’s not going to happen any time soon.

It take ZERO creativity to propose unfunded or unworkable, partisan mandates. Real creativity begins with solutions that don’t require us to ‘recreate the wheel’ or to be Deomcrats/Republicans.

So SE…

What are you going to do about education today?

Posted by: CPAdams at May 15, 2006 6:51 PM
Comment #148425

CPAdams

I have always admired your posts…not that I always agree…but you present your views well.

I presented an idea for discussion…test the grads and profs..the ones who are in the trenches…there isn’t an agenda here.

I think we all agree (most of us anyway) that this issue isn’t about politics…yet it always ends up in the politicial arenea,doesn’t it?

Again,living in Europe for long stretches at a time makes me think that we should examine the systems of other countries (above I mentioned Russia for example) and stop being so provincial about teaching kids how to learn.

My view anyway.

Posted by: sicilianeagle at May 15, 2006 7:45 PM
Comment #148436

SE,

I was schooled in a Catholic grade school and a Catholic Collage prep school.

I can only that their standards are the same now, as they were in the ’50s and ’60s.

My parents paid both their property taxes, and tuition at both schools for myself and my 3 siblings. In order to do so both my parents worked.
We, my brother and sisters and I performed because we were expected to. My parents attended every PTA meeting, maybe not together every time, but at least one parent always went.

Why do we not expect the same standards from all of our children, and their parents?

Posted by: Rocky at May 15, 2006 8:18 PM
Comment #148439

Sorry,

That should read;

I can only assume that their standards are the same now, as they were in the ’50s and ’60s.

Posted by: Rocky at May 15, 2006 8:21 PM
Comment #148488
Lets teach Cinco de Mayo, kwanzaa, cooking and political correctness instead.

I know, Tim: let’s teach that the Earth is 6,000 years old, that Dinosaurs romed it with Cavemen, that there were no Cavemen, that Stem Cell research is eViL, and that the Sun revolves around the Earth on Giant Crystal Spheres…


NEA does nothing to teach the kids, they just protect bad teachers and bad textbooks.

The National Endowment for the Arts “protects bad teachers and bad textbooks” - ?!?!?

Please get your Facts straight and learn something before you go spewing nonsense about it.

Posted by: Betty Burke at May 15, 2006 9:58 PM
Comment #148489

Mr. Eagle. Good, maybe we are getting somewhere. BTW I was a classroom teacher and HS Principal and Superintendent for over 30yrs combined. I probably evaluated hundreds of teachers and made that many or more classroom visits, so if I can claim some expertise in the matter I perhaps do not need to be termed elitist.

I get very upset when persons talk about testing and lack of parental involvement in schools as the reasons for problems faced by educators. Of course parental involvement is important. Yes, tests are important. But to what end?

What is the purpose of public education in a democracy? This grand and noble ideal that we can and should educate all children is in jeopardy. We are on a test mania kick that assumes some test will bring accountability and cause teachers to improve. Thus we will erase all the problems. Teachers are not treated as professional artists if they must submit lesson plans and have them “graded” by a principal. That approach is based upon the factory model of schools and is completely inappropriate for the art of teaching in democratic societies.

We are a large and very diverse country. It is commendable that we even try to knit this diversity and form a common union, but it means that in addition to the very great differences in all children we have to add different cultural, religious, ethnic and language backgrounds as well to the mix when we consider education. Does that sound overwhelming? Is there another country on this old planet with as much or more of a challenge for its schools? And yet every day millions of teachers and students show up for education. For the most part that endeavor is achieved. (BTW, when do schools ever get the credit perhaps due them? I note that productivity figures for workers in this country have increased, again; when will the public schools get any credit for that, I ask tongue in cheek?)

Yes, there are failures. Do you really need a test to tell you where they are? We know, as I have suggested, by tracing where the pockets of poverty, and all that goes with it, may be found. This is the emphasis of Kozol’s work. Nowhere does anyone suggest that we give up and turn our backs on students (the occasional principal’s comments aside) who are having difficulty. The goal of educating all students must be paramount. The question of how to do it is what counts.

I have no quarrel with those who feel that subject matter must be taught to students. Yes, they should be able to read, write and have necessary math skills. How do we best accomplish those goals within a democracy? THAT is the $64 question. Everything else should be hitched to that vision, in my opinion.

What passes for education often has no relevance to students nor for democracy. Yes, these are difficult and contentious issues, but what else would we expect in our society? What so often passes for method in the classroom is predicated on behaviorism and faculty psychology and is adverse to the very meaning of an open society. To me that is the real issue, and it has been for many years.

Soo, you may propound all the solutions you wish but if those solutions have no grounding in democratic philosophy (that’s why I still like Dewey) and method all will come to naught I fear. Let us put the horse before the cart and not the other way around.

Peace, cml

Posted by: cml at May 15, 2006 10:00 PM
Comment #148512

cml

Eloquent post.My respects to you.

Let me give you a quick story:

My daughter just graduated from a prestigious art college.She invited me to her art show recently…only the best students were asked to display theiur works…along with the instructors at the school who showed theirs as well.

My lady-friend that I brought with me is Russian..an artist trained at the University of St. Petersburg Musuem School.

After spending a lot of time examining the artwork that night,on the way home she told me that if we had been at St.Petersburg’s art school,the profs at by daughter’s school would never have been hired in the first place.

Why? I asked her.

She explained that all artists must first be technicially trained..in other words trained in the art of painting.By looking at the layout of my daughter’s teachers works,it was apparent that none of them had been technicially trained,and as a result,while “teaching” the students various techniques ect.,what they learned really wouldn’t pass muster in the art world.

That’s my point.If an educator is an “artist”,then he or she must first be taught the art of teaching…and before that the teacher must have mastered the underlying subject matter.

A newly minted teacher hasn’t mastered the art of teaching yet…it must be nurtured and learned…creative self-direction only goes so far.

Look:I studied Latin for years.The only way I found to learn Latin was to translate paragraph by paragraph Ceasar,Cicero,St. Augustine and Virgil.Only through hard work did I master the subject.The old fashioned Jesuit way.

Please think over what I say too.We both have spent decades in the classroom and we both have philosophies that worked for us and our charges.

peace

(I never ended a piece with that word,by the way,but I respect you)

Posted by: sicilianeagle at May 15, 2006 10:48 PM
Comment #148516

NEA=National Education Association, a left wing union protecting bad teachers while being top heavy in salaries in their own administration.

Posted by: tomh at May 15, 2006 10:58 PM
Comment #148618

Mr. Eagle. Thank you. And I respect you. There is too much of this talking past each other now, and I do not want to add to that condition if I am able not to do so.

Your point is well taken. There are many routes to education; Jesuits are a learned and highly competent group of people. I have great respect for them and their history.

However, I do not think the Jesuit model is the most appropriate for a democracy. Do you? Of course you learned Latin the old fashioned way, by hard work. Neither I nor Dewey would have said education was easy and required no effort. He, by the way, was characterized as the originator of the “progressive movement” in education when in fact he had little to do with it and,
I believe, objected to some of its more famous, or infamous if you prefer, outcomes.

Dewey (and another BTW, if you have not read THE METAPHYSICAL CLUB by Lewis Menand I urge you to do so. Menand and Richard Rorty have resurrected Dewey and pragmatism) felt that what we do in classrooms must reflect democratic values and efforts. Basically, what he advocated was teaching by reflective thinking—his little book, HOW WE THINK, is instructive. All classrooms can be reflective; as a practicing administrator I was heartened at the number of times I witnessed these opportunities in the classrooms I visited. The only problem was there were not enough times when they occurred. Sometimes people have referred to “the teachable moment”; all teachers have no doubt experienced such moments. What I think happens is a flash of insight on the part of both teachers and students. From this insight, or the “ahhhhah” feeling (kind of artsy I now) comes true learning. I do not know how to describe it better than that. Have you not experienced what I describe? It is wonderful and keeps one coming back for more!

It is exactly this situation, I believe, that Dewey advocated be the prime concern of education. We should do all we could to encourage and enrich such moments and to plan our teaching so that they do occur. This situation, when the student develops insight into a problem or task (like memorizing Latin verb conjugations) lies at the heart of teaching. I agree, only well grounded teachers with appropriate philosophy and methods training, can bring about these conditions. So we agree on the necessity of highly trained teachers—absolutely essential.

I note that Dewey’s approach is anchored in democracy. He believed that we reconstruct knowledge each time we “learn” when we have insight. This method of learning is democratic because it relies on the individual learner to do the reconstructing thus implicitly fostering individualism and the worth of the person—foundational principles of democracy.

How does this apply to seemingly regimented tasks like memorizing or practicing a skill to be learned by rote? Well, I have always been a little pressed to explain reflective thinking for these tasks, but it seems to me to work as follows. When we develop an insight into the requirements of the task then it becomes much easier to do the practice necessary to master it—whether Latin verb conjugation or creating a work of art. Of course drawing skills are important to an artist; the teaching task is how do you help children “see” the need for the mastery of the skill. So your Russian friend certainly had a point. Now we can go ahead and tell children you must learn this, period. Or we can engage them in some reflective process whereby they acquire the insight into the necessity of practicing and mastering the skill. The latter approach takes more time and a great deal of teacher ingenuity (thus teaching as an art form) but the results, I maintain, are far better understanding on the part of the learner, and we are abetting and strengthening democratic values and attitudes in the process.

It is at this point that I object so strongly to such plans as NCLB. The efforts to test and test children force teachers to prepare for tests, not teach for insight. The appropriateness of testing and testing some more seems more suited to an autocracy based upon behaviorism rather than the logic of democracy. Yes, what I am proposing would take more time, more commitment and undoubtedly more money. I just happen to believe, rather strongly, that such effort is worth it.

I know this is a long winded explanation, but you did ask me what I thought. Well, this is what I think. You have forced me to think as well—great. I hope this missive adds to our discourse, and I would be open to further conversation.

Respectfully, Peace, cml

Posted by: cml at May 16, 2006 11:54 AM
Comment #148627

cml

I discussed the concept of democratic learning with my friend Olga (The Russian artist)

Her thoughts are that technicial training are a pre-requsite for expression.

For example:Before one paints a still life,one learns color,light,texture,contrast and a host of other art concepts.

Once the “technicial” components are mastered,THEN individual insight comes into play.

Genius is enhanced in such a manner.

Another example:I lecture quite a bit at the University of Catania in Sicily.There,we have extensive discussions over democracy..but my debaters are either socialists or communists…who have a keen grasp of the philosophy they espouse.

They were taught dogma during their formative years,yet can get up there and in a brilliant manner discuss philosopht with the best of them.

None were trained according to our American methods.

Thus there are other ways to skin the cat intellectually,I think.

How familiar are you with comparative European educationial principles?

Italy and Holland are the two I am most familiar with..I’d like to hear your comments.

peace

Posted by: sicilianeagle at May 16, 2006 12:21 PM
Comment #148657

Thanks for your quick response! Olga and you are correct. There are several ways to skin the cat. I know little about comparative methods of education in Europe, but I’m always interested in this stuff.

My basic point is this: In a democracy what is the most appropriate way(s) to educate our children? Dewey seems to qualify. Are there others? Yes, there are. Some, like B.F. Skinner, are not appropriate for our society, I contend. There is a “new” movement in the states called “constructivist” psychology (actually it is not new, been around for a decade or so). They seem to have inherited Dewey’s ideas.

Now, as to what comes first, the technical aspects or the insight—I don’t know. I think one could make a pretty good case for either point of view, but I won’t do so now.

Finally, your Italian students probably were “indoctrinated” into Marxist thought. They need to read some Perry Anderson, editor of the New Left Review. He would challenge their assumptions and perhaps make them feel uncomfortable. If so, that is a sure sign that reflection is going on. The person feels a problem and reflects on ways to solve it. For instance, I want to paint something, but don’t know how to begin. Where do I start? Someone might suggest learning certain skills, first? Is this possible?

BTW, if you would like to e-mail me directly with more questions, thoughts, etc. please do. This stuff is fun. E-mail: cmlecrone@charter.net.

Peace, cml

Posted by: cml at May 16, 2006 2:31 PM
Comment #149221

If there is a problem, then fix it. Holding schools accountable for student performance without providing the tools to improve the quality of education is a waste of time and money.

As you pointed out, there are not enough good teachers. Why? First, the cost of becoming a teacher is high, the financial rewards are low. In fact they are low enough that paying back loans may be difficult. The solution is for the government to subsidize teacher education. But then, the money spent on the war is more important than our children’s future.

Posted by: M.L. Schneider at May 18, 2006 12:49 PM
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