Immigrants, Assimilation and Public Schools

American public schools are supposed to enhance and support an American national identity, mitigate differences of race, class, ethnicity and sectionalism, and give students the tools and habits they need to become productive and useful citizens. Local control provides diversity, but the test of success is fairly practical. If most graduates become successful and good citizens, the system works. If not, it didn’t.

Public schools were the engine for integrating and assimilating waves of immigrants. In the early 20th Century, around 14% of the American population was foreign born, compared with only about 10% today. Under-funded, crowded schools like those of immigrant magnet New York, as well as other cities around the country, did a good job of making Americans out of these huddled masses and produced generations of American writers, noble prize winning scientists and statesmen. In a short time after their arrival, Yiddish, Greek, Italian, Polish or Russian became "grandma’s" language. Immigrant kids went on thrive in the English of their new home in America. Aspects of their old culture enriched and became part of the common American heritage. Very often they married outside their ethnic enclave and the kids connection with the old country habits became eating a peculiar type of ethnic food and wearing a T-shirt saying, "Kiss me: I’m Italian/Jewish/Polish etc"

Why did it work so well? One thing had to do with the sheer diversity of immigrants. They came from such a variety of places that the only common identity on offer was American. They embraced it. But of equal or greater importance was the attitude of the native population and leaders as well as the immigrant themselves. They knew that the "American way of life," the habits, ideals, values, and attitudes that made America special, was something worth acquiring and/or demanding others acquire. They didn't offer bilingual education in those days and evidently that was good. American literature has been vastly enriched by hundreds of authors who wrote beautifully in English but whose parents' language was something else. I am sure glad they didn’t put Saul Bellow or Isaac Asimov into a native language maintenance courses.

These are the lessons for public schools and immigrants. The first lesson is that public schools are important BUT that they have to be doing the right things AND they do not require sky-high budgets to do them. Schools in 1920 did not emphasize self-esteem or ethnic pride. They understood that you earn self-esteem by accomplishing good things and pride in being an American is a key ingredient in making that possible. A less obvious lesson is that we need MORE diversity among immigrants, not less. More diversity among immigrants turns them quicker into Americans. Let me illustrate with a prosaic personal example that got me thinking about this in the first place.

At the McDonald's near my house, the best way to ensure accurate communications WAS to order in Spanish. Everyone working there seemed to be an immigrant. They still are. But now I have noticed a couple of Ethiopians and a woman from Belarus. Yesterday when a couple of the women were speaking Spanish, one of the Ethiopian women admonished them to speak in English . . . and they did . . . sort of. Nobody there seems to be a native English speaker, but the presence of a variety of immigrants has turned this particular establishment from a predominately Spanish to a predominantly English environment. It required no changes of rules or policies, just a couple of new employees who figured it was hard enough to learn English so they were unenthusiastic about piling on another layer of language confusion.

It is interesting that we lost our way on ethnic integration during the 1960s & 1970s, precisely when Americans were fighting so hard for racial and gender integration. These were the decades when the immigrant population in the U.S. was at its lowest levels. Maybe there is a causal relationship. With so few immigrants around, we forgot the practical lessons of the importance of integration. You cannot really build a "salad bowl" society. Eventually the parts need to fuse and develop common or at least mutually understandable dreams and aspirations. If I don’t reasonably assume that my grandson might marry your granddaughter, that you and I could become business partners under the right conditions or if our country went to war we would be on the same side, we are not members of the same society.

Immigrants believe they are better off in America than wherever it is they came from. Otherwise they would be stupid to have come here and even dumber to stay. They want to become Americans. Let's help and make sure our schools do too. Maybe liberals and conservatives can agree on that.

Posted by Jack at July 20, 2006 8:53 PM
Comments
Comment #169293

The lesson learned in California several years ago has been muted by the left. The Right needs to trumpet what happened.

Thousands of Mexican immigrant children continued to be taught in English. Thousands were taught in Spanish based on a new program that deemed learning in their own language would be better. They were wrong. The kids learning and speaking both English and Spanish progressed markedly better than those in the new program.

They were also better prepared for their future in the USA.

… a hush falls over the massive crowd … as if angels appeared …

Posted by: Ken Strong at July 20, 2006 9:44 PM
Comment #169297

As a “Liberal” (oh, that word) I am going to say something that may suprise you. I agree with your premise. I don’t insist that today’s immigrant forget where he/she comes from. The Irish didn’t, the Germans didn’t, the English didn’t, the various different types of oriental and other europeans didn’t. And without the input from the african population, we would be without Rock n Roll, Blues, much great food, amd many great artists. And our culture and been GREATLY enriched by the input from all of them. But in order to be inriched by the new immigrants cultures, they have to join the “melting pot”.

Posted by: RichardG at July 20, 2006 9:49 PM
Comment #169301

the republicans should be thankful for illegal immigrants…

illegal immigrants give the republican party another reason to hate…

the republican party hates everything…

the republican party is the party of hate.

Posted by: benjifromtheDNC at July 20, 2006 9:55 PM
Comment #169304

Jack, another factor for the success of our schools in the 1950’s and 1960’s was the middle class wages of great teachers from kinder through university.

Teachers from kinder to 12 in a majority of school systems in America today only make lower middle class wages, and security in our schools is a joke in far too many, from the beatings and intimidations on the buses to hall and bathroom hazing and threats, not just student to student, but student to teacher.

Now, the big cause of the latter problem is laws guaranteeing every child an education effectively eliminating the dreaded expulsion of the 1950’s and 1960’s. It is long past time to reinstate alternative education facilities in every school district in the nation for students who fail to observe rules of civility and exhibit behavior which permits learning to occur. In the 1950’s and 1960’s it was called “Reform School” where I came from. Reform schools are more costly per student, but it is investment America MUST make, if it is to maximize the educational experience and performance for the rest of the public school students.

Elevate teacher salaries - and reinstate reform schools which effectively and humanely reform students back to the regular educational system, if possible.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 20, 2006 10:02 PM
Comment #169303

Benji

Did you notice anything hateful (besides what you wrote)?

You evidently disagree with my point that we should welcome immigrants into the American family.

Posted by: Jack at July 20, 2006 10:02 PM
Comment #169305

David

Teacher’s salaries and the amt spent per pupil vary greatly across the U.S. Nobody has been able to find a coorelation between money spent and results achieved.

I believe it might be useful to pay teachers more when they are doing a good job and pay those less who are not. An overall pay hike would do nothing good and may be harmful.

There are lots of structural changes we need to make in our school systems. But what I am talking about here is an attitude change. In the middle 1960s we began to give up the idea of assimilation. I think we are getting it back, but we are paying for the dumbness of those times now.

Posted by: Jack at July 20, 2006 10:08 PM
Comment #169309

When Mazda moved to Flat Rock, Mi to work with Ford on new cars, they of course brought their own people to help start up the plant, and they brought their family. Well they thought they had so much power over the city and school board, they said that the school needed to teach japanese in the school. Well someone with some ba**s, told them you are in the US, learn english.
We seem to bend over for those moving into the US the we have forgotten that english is the primary language and that those that can’t speak should at least get a working knowledge of it.

Posted by: KT at July 20, 2006 10:19 PM
Comment #169316

The quality of public education is falling, while growing more expensive.
There used to be many more teachers per administrative person.
Now there are too many administrative persons, and not enough teachers.
And, there is more corruption.
You wouldn’t believe the level of corruption in the Dallas School Districts (and city government).
And, if you want to improve the education for legal immigrants, stop letting the the illegal aliens crowd out everyone else (by the millions per year).

But, like so many needed reforms, none are possible until voters make a fundamental change, first.

Posted by: d.a.n at July 20, 2006 10:48 PM
Comment #169326

Jack, C’mon, man, we live in the age of computers and we are drowning in data. You can’t tell me that we cannot calculate a median middle class income salary for every locale in the nation in just 24 hours from data sources already available and partially assembled. Will is all that is absent.

This is not rocket science.

Besides, I thought you believed in competitive market forces to bring forth the best and brightest on a sliding of scale of compensation.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 20, 2006 11:15 PM
Comment #169333

yeah,

blame it on the immigrants…

it’s all their fault.

Posted by: benjifromtheDNC at July 20, 2006 11:21 PM
Comment #169341

That’s not true, Benji. The gays played a big part, too.

Seriously, though, for what we expect of teachers they are severely underpaid. The old addage “You get what you pay for” is playing itself out in classrooms around the country. The fact is that average starting wage for teachers discourages many people from considering that as a career and hurts the pool of people public schools have to recruit from.

Posted by: David S at July 20, 2006 11:48 PM
Comment #169343

yes,

the republicans hate immigrants,

the republicans hate gays,

the republicans hate peace,

the republicans hate liberals,

the only thing the republicans love is war

hate is core value of republicans

Posted by: benjifromtheDNC at July 20, 2006 11:53 PM
Comment #169345

It’s because school administrators are forcing the teacher/student ratio ever smaller, while administrative positions grow in number and make more and more money.
It is quite similar to our problem with do-nothing, over-paid, selfish, bought-and-paid-for, pandering, lying, irresponsible incumbent politicians.
Greed is the problem.
We are in an era of selfishness, and the only thing that will probably get us out of it is the inevitable pain and misery that will result from it.

Posted by: d.a.n at July 20, 2006 11:59 PM
Comment #169346

there isn’t enough money for schools…

I wonder why?

Posted by: benjifromtheDNC at July 21, 2006 12:01 AM
Comment #169353

why don’t we have money for schools?

don’t we have a surplus…

oops

i forgot the surplus was squandered and now we have a deficit.

I guess the ones who squandered the surplus must not believe in education as a “core” value.

Posted by: benjifromtheDNC at July 21, 2006 12:22 AM
Comment #169355

Benji,

Do you ever have anything worthwhile or even intelligent to say?

Posted by: 1LT B at July 21, 2006 12:25 AM
Comment #169356

attacking the messenger and not the message?

better brush up on the Rules For Participation

Posted by: benjifromtheDNC at July 21, 2006 12:28 AM
Comment #169376

Benji- This comes from the “Rules of Participation”:

“…you may not criticize categories of people who visit and participate at WatchBlog (e.g. All Democrats are commies or, All Republicans are idiots).”

You say:

“the republicans hate immigrants,
the republicans hate gays,
the republicans hate peace,
the republicans hate liberals,
the only thing the republicans love is war
hate is core value of republicans”

People who live in glass houses…

Posted by: Kevin23 at July 21, 2006 1:38 AM
Comment #169380

In the spirit of fun and humor, I decided to break out one of my old posts. Enjoy!

HereⳠa crazy idea, letⳠreview some of what the liberal Democratic party does stand for and believe.

They believe that children should learn in Kindergarten how to use a condom but donⴠmind so much if they canⴠread when they ⧲aduate⠦rom high school.

They say they want to end poverty but continue to support a welfare system that has exacerbated poverty, fueled crime, gutted AmericaⳠinner cities, and left a legacy of failure and broken lives with nothing but a bill to show for it.

They say they support parents but donⴠthink you have a right to know if your 14 year old daughter (who probably wasnⴠpaying attention in condom class) is pregnant and wants an abortion.

They understand abstinence when it comes to cigarettes and alcohol (not so much with weed) but donⴠthink it applies to pre-marital sex.

They defend, to the point of treasonously revealing intelligence gathering operations, the right to privacy, which is written nowhere in the Constitution, but think ⴨e right of the people to keep and bear arms⠩s negotiable.

They claim to be the voice of the people, then ramrod their agenda through the court system, conveniently avoiding the legislature, the real voice of the people.

They say they support the troops, then base their political fortunes on the troops failing.

Theyⲥ pro-choice unless the choice youⲥ making is what school to send your child to.

They abhor when the President or law enforcement breaks the law in their eyes, yet have no problem with 12 million people being in this country illegally.

They say you shouldnⴠput your fortune in an offshore account and should pay your share if youⲥ wealthy unless your last name is Kennedy or Kerry.

They want the rich taxed to death but canⴠremember the last time a poor person gave them a job.

They support increasing the Army by 2 divisions, about a 4th of what they cut when Clinton was in office.

They have no problem with an entertainment industry that glorifies violence, drug abuse, misogyny, and every other form of deviant behavior but think its a faux pax to say the name of Jesus in public (unless its the name of one of the illegals who they think should have social services without paying taxes).

They say they believe in the freedom of speech, but only if its PC.

They say they are for tolerance but wonⴠtolerate those who donⴠgo lockstep with their radical socialist agenda.

They say it takes a village to raise a child while turning the village into a cesspool of vice and moral corruption you want to protect your kids from, not to interact with.

They donⴠthink rape should be a capital crime but have no problem with executing a child whose only crime was to be conceived.

They state that they are for the mentally and physically handicapped, then support abortions for parents who spot these conditions in their preborn children. After all, these children wonⴠhave a proper Ⱶality of life⠡nd will ⢥ a burden.⼯p>

They say they represent womenⳠrights, then support abortion based on sex selection, which almost always ends in the abortion of an unborn girl.

They say they are for energy independence but donⴠoffer any alternatives to BushⳠcomprehensive energy plan, which they then deadlock in the Senate. They then criticize the President for the nationⳠlack of an energy plan.

They criticize Bush for not taking out bin Laden in the 9 months he had in office prior to 9/11 but donⴠsay a thing about the 8 years Clinton had to do the same.

They think the fate of the United States is best protected in the United Nations in the hands of ⣯untries⠷ith less of an economy than Pittsburgh and an ⡲my⠴hat couldnⴠtake on the NYPD.

They abhor the national debt but forget that their program of Social Security will bankrupt the nation.

They cry foul over disenfranchisement for ⨡nging⠡nd ⤩mpled⠣hads in Florida, then try to get military overseas votes nullified because they had the wrong postmark.

They love to mock Columbus but glorify Che Guevera.

They think white people should be grateful to be told that they are the root of all evil.

Theyⲥ hearts bleed for those who earn less than the poverty level unless theyⲥ privates in the Army.

They say they abhor racial discrimination, then order reverse discrimination by government mandate.

They support the freedom of religious expression as long as the religion you choose to express isnⴠChristianity.

They seem to believe that well paid professional liars (hollywood celebrities) speaking to you from their air-conditioned 25,000 square foot homes are the best people to lecture you about how you use entirely to much resources keeping your house air-conditioned.

They cannot comprehend how crime rates go down the more people you put in jail.

They are against stereotypes, unless youⲥ talking about a slack-jawed, beer swilling, Bible-thumping, intolerant, bigoted, sexist, homophobe, redneck NASCAR fan. Or a jack-booted, neo-Nazi, gun-nut, anti-government, survivalist hunter.

They think burning your nationⳠflag is the penultimate act of patriotism.

They say they are against the frivolous use of military force yet have deployed the military more in the 8 years of ClintonⳠpresidency than in the 40 years preceding it.

They endorse the blatant coffin riding of an attention mongering mourning-profiteer like Cindy Sheehan.

They think the spoilt progeny of overindulgent white yuppie parents who shops at the gap, drives an escalade, and drinks triple mocha lattes is in an excellent position to denounce capitalism.

They think that achieving wealth, part of the American dream, should be punished with taxes.

They think a paper-pushing beurocrat in D.C. is a far better authority on how to spend 30% + of my income than I am.

They put a convicted (later pardoned by Carter) draft dodger in the White House while veterans were homeless.

They think responibilities have no rights if youⲥ a man with a child, pre-born or born.

Iⶥ personally witnessed 3 compare the Easter 2001 race riots in Cincinnati with the Salt March by Ghandi.

They think the best way to protest globalization is to burn down a locally owned McDonaldⳮ

Dahrell(?) Hannah thinks that squatterⳠrights trump property ownerⳠrights.

A group sued the Federal government for not putting water points along the border for people trying to illegally enter the country. In other words, they were suing the government for not helping people break the laws it made.


I⭠sure many of us here can think of a few more examples. Its not hard. Just look up hypocrisy in the dictionary and apply it to any line of the Democratic plank


Posted by: 1LT B at July 21, 2006 01:51 AM


“…you may not criticize categories of people who visit and participate at WatchBlog (e.g. All Democrats are commies or, All Republicans are idiots).”


It seems republicans can dish it out but they just can’t take it.

Posted by: benjifromtheDNC at July 21, 2006 2:08 AM
Comment #169381

Kevin23,

I wouldn’t even waste my time on this guy anymore. He just cuts and pastes from blog to blog, but I have yet to see any type of reasoned response to anything put up.

As far as the public schools go, the problem with them is that they’re more interested in indoctrinating students to the far left’s agenda then they are with actually teaching them to read, write, and do math. I suppose this makes sense. After all, if the next generation is well educated, it has a better chance of succeeding, then realizing they don’t like over 1/3rd of thier income stolen by the government to subisidize laziness and stupid behavior and vote Republican. If, on the other hand, they’re taught that hard work and actual accomplishment should not be prerequisites for a positive self-image and that they’re owed something from this nation rather than the other way around, they’re far more likely to be broke, live at home with their parents until they die, become government dependents, and vote democrat.

Posted by: 1LT B at July 21, 2006 2:09 AM
Comment #169383

Bad dog, Benji!
I’m going to have to swat ya!
(smack! SMACK!!!) yipe yipe yipe yipe……
Whew…I feel better, finnaly, the new york times serves a purpose.

Posted by: HardHatHarry at July 21, 2006 2:29 AM
Comment #169398

Jack, this is a silly article. Every major study has shown that Latino immigrants assimilate by the second generation — just like immigrants did a century ago. You should be talking to the children of your McDonald’s employees.

I was at the park with my boy the other day and the kids were running around playing in Spanish. A couple more Spanish-looking kids came along and the Spanish speakers asked if they wanted to jugar. The new kids said they didn’t speak Spanish, so they all spoke flawless English for the rest of the afternoon. No big deal.

Posted by: American Pundit at July 21, 2006 4:56 AM
Comment #169399

I agree with 1LT B and am both an immigrant, and a product of public schools in New York City in the late 1950’s. I think my generation may have been the last to receive a solid education through high school. By the mid-1960’s the curriculum began to be diluted with early-pc trivia, and standards were dropped for greater equality (I think that’s what it was called).

Today, I gather that public schools vary greatly. I don’t know how salaries stand for public school teachers, but the per capita expenditure on children is now above $10000 per year in just about all states, and in some itis above $13K. This means that a class of 20 students represents an expenditure of $200K. This should be enough to provide a decent salary for teachers. If this is not the case, something is wrong.

In any event, in most urban and many suburban areas, parents are more inclined to send their children to private or parochial schools, and will make considerable sacrifices to do so. This is another indication that something is wrong.

Schools did, could and should, (of course), play a major role in assimilating immigrants, but if this is not their politically approved function, then they can’t since they are publicly funded.

Charles Kovacs

Posted by: Charles Kovacs at July 21, 2006 5:02 AM
Comment #169418

1LT, seen that comment about Carter and draft dodger. If I remember right Ford pardon Nixon(a disgraced and impeached president), and wait a Air National Guard Officer, who’s daddy got him in ahead of a lot of other people,and who went AWOL, is now president.

Posted by: KT at July 21, 2006 7:30 AM
Comment #169420

What a bunch of crock. Since when do Republicans care about education?

Posted by: KTJ at July 21, 2006 7:35 AM
Comment #169421

KT,

I didn’t put that post of mine here, benji did. In any case, I was not comparing Clinton to Bush or Nixon, simply pointing out that Clinton did indeed have a felony conviction for draft-dodging that was pardoned by Carter. A few things about the rest of that, though. Nixon wasn’t impeached, he resigned. And speaking of people who left thier jobs disgraced, didn’t Dan Rather leave his job that way for circulating that story about Bush?

Posted by: 1LT B at July 21, 2006 7:44 AM
Comment #169427
The kids learning and speaking both English and Spanish progressed markedly better than those in the new program.

Wow, bilingual education works!

Posted by: Woody Mena at July 21, 2006 8:17 AM
Comment #169428
Clinton did indeed have a felony conviction for draft-dodging that was pardoned by Carter

HUH? That’s a new one.

Posted by: Woody Mena at July 21, 2006 8:19 AM
Comment #169430
I believe it might be useful to pay teachers more when they are doing a good job and pay those less who are not. An overall pay hike would do nothing good and may be harmful.

I agree about merit pay, but I don’t see how an overall pay raise could possibly be harmful. Teaching is a profession like any other. If you raise the salary, you’ll get stronger candidates. People who didn’t consider teaching before will give it a second look. This is just basic economics.

If funding isn’t correlated with quality, then affluent suburban communities shouldn’t spend so much on schools. They are just wasting their money, right?

Posted by: Woody Mena at July 21, 2006 8:26 AM
Comment #169431

Woody, Jack,

The reason the studies cannot correlate money and the quality of education is that teachers all make shit pay. There have been plenty of studies on executives. They do better work for more money, up to a point, and yet we still pay them more and more and more.

I just don’t get you Republicans. You want everything to be driven by the market, but refuse to believe there’s any correlation between how well teachers do their jobs and their pay? We’re developing an ultra-rich society that is in danger of breaking away from all the other classes. Believe me, those people won’t want to marry or go into business with you, and sure won’t send their kids to school with yours.

Posted by: Max at July 21, 2006 8:47 AM
Comment #169432

From “The Rise of the Super Rich” NYTimes

I. The Growing Divide

Anyone who has driven through the new neighborhoods filled with “McMansions” that have arisen near most cities, or seen the brisk business that luxury stores are doing, has an anecdotal sense that some Americans are making a lot of money right now.

But there is no need to rely on anecdotal evidence.

Thomas Piketty, of the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, and Emmanuel Saez of the University of California at Berkeley recently updated their groundbreaking study on income inequality(pdf), and their findings are striking.

The new figures show that from 2003 to 2004, the latest year for which there is data, the richest Americans pulled far ahead of everyone else. In the space of that one year, real average income for the top 1 percent of households — those making more than $315,000 in 2004 — grew by nearly 17 percent. For the remaining 99 percent, the average gain was less than 3 percent, and that probably makes things look better than they really are, since other data, most notably from the Census Bureau, indicate that the average is bolstered by large gains among the top 20 percent of households. In all, the top 1 percent of households enjoyed 36 percent of all income gains in 2004, on top of an already stunning 30 percent in 2003.

Some of the gains at the top reflect capitalism’s robust reward for the founders of companies like Microsoft, Google and Dell. But most of it is due to the unprecedented largesse being heaped on executives and professionals, in the form of salary, bonuses and stock options. A recent study done for the Business Roundtable(pdf), a lobbying group for chief executives, shows that median executive pay at 350 large public companies was $6.8 million in 2005. According to the Wall Street Journal, that’s 179 times the pay of the average American worker. The study is intended to rebut much higher estimates made by other researchers, but it does little to quell the sense that executive pay is out of whack. As the Journal’s Alan Murray pointed out recently, the study’s calculation of executive pay is widely criticized as an understatement because, as a measurement of the median, it is largely unaffected by the eight or nine-digit pay packages that have dominated the headlines of late.

Rich people are also being made richer, recent government data shows, by strong returns on investment income. In 2003, the latest year for which figures are available, the top 1 percent of households owned 57.5 percent of corporate wealth, generally dividends and capital gains, up from 53.4 percent a year earlier.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington think tank, compared the latest data from Mr. Piketty and Mr. Saez to comprehensive reports on income trends from the Congressional Budget Office. Every way it sliced the data, it found a striking share of total income concentrated at the top(pdf) of the income ladder as of 2004.

• The top 10 percent of households had 46 percent of the nation’s income, their biggest share in all but two of the last 70 years.

• The top 1 percent of households had 19.5 percent (see graph).

• The top one-tenth of 1 percent of households actually received nearly half of the increased share going to the top 1 percent.

These disparaties seem large, and they are. (Though the latest availabe data is from 2004, there are virtually no signs that the basic trend has changed since then.) The top 1 percent held a bigger share of total income than at any time since 1929, except for 1999 and 2000 during the tech stock bubble. But what makes today’s disparities particularly brutal is that unlike the last bull market of the late 1990’s — when a proverbial rising tide was lifting all boats — the rich have been the only winners lately. According to an analysis by Goldman Sachs, for most American households — the bottom 60 percent — average income grew by less than 20 percent from 1979 to 2004, with virtually all of those gains occurring from the mid- to late 1990’s. Before and since, real incomes for that group have basically flatlined.

Posted by: Max at July 21, 2006 8:51 AM
Comment #169440

1LT, I apologize, it has been lack of sleep and lack of coffee and one of those days already.
Yes rather did resign, but it was from the fradulent paperwork he had. Bush did end up being awol becasue he never showed up at a assigned duty station in colorado.
Yes Nixon resign, but if he wasn’t being impeached, why did Ford pardon him(for all acts that were impeachable), and even when his own(Nixon)party was for impeaching him(Senator Baker)doesn’t say much for Nixon.
Now I would like to see where Clinton was convicted of a felony for draft dodging, can you provide a reputable link. I know he is a convicted sex offender, but thought he was deferred for school.
AH the good old days of the sixties, sex,drugs, rock and roll.
These days remind me of them. I have even seen a “America Love it or Leave it” sign..

Posted by: KT at July 21, 2006 9:11 AM
Comment #169441

Republicans are still blaming everything on Clinton? What a joke.

Posted by: LL at July 21, 2006 9:15 AM
Comment #169444

KT,

No apology needed, I have a thick skin and wasn’t trying to be mean in the last one I sent, just brief. Anyways, what I’ve heard is that the paperwork Rather used for that story was obviously fraudulent, but that it did indeed reflect Bush’s commander’s opinions, so I guess we both get half credit for that one. Nixon was just paranoid, which is sad as he had no competition from McGovern at all. It probably helped that he made the man break down and cry on national television, but in any case, I believe that Nixon’s re-election was the second biggest landslide in American political history. If it hadn’t been for the fact that he tried to protect his subordinates from the Watergate scandal, he would probably have gone down as a great president.

Now the bad part. I don’t have a link for that Clinton thing, and I throw myself on the mercy of the blog. I’ll try and find one, though. My understanding was that Clinton entered Carter’s mass pardon program for men who objected to the war and refused the draft.

Posted by: 1LT B at July 21, 2006 9:23 AM
Comment #169445

Max,

Almost every single study out there shows American kids are behind thier peers worldwide in almost every category. What’s sad is that they are statistically ahead up until 4th grade and then go down the tubes from there. I would suggest that the reason for this is that 4th grade corresponds to when the brainwashing and mandatory self esteem for everyone starts. In any case, I think we all agree that when a CEO breaks his company he should be fired. What about these teachers who pass students who can’t read? How about the ones that teach to the standardized tests? When you complain about teachers being underpaid, remember that they’re only working 9 months out of the year. By monthly rate, they’re not doing too bad, unless they teach at Catholic or parochial schools, which spend a pittance per student compared to their public counterparts and turn out students who achieve far better on their tests.

Posted by: 1LT B at July 21, 2006 9:30 AM
Comment #169446


BLAME IT ON CLINTON AND THE LIBERALS

Posted by: LL at July 21, 2006 9:33 AM
Comment #169447

David

I could figure out the salaries. Of course, I would have to subtract ¼ for teachers, since they have the summer off. My point, however, is that we should not pay all teachers more, just the better ones. That is the point of paying more. If all get the same, there is no incentive. I would expect the staring teachers to make below the professional median and the better ones to make more.

Beji

Maybe you should read the post. I didn’t blame anything on immigrants. In fact I praised their contribution to America. You seem to be projecting your hatred onto others. I am sorry you have such feelings and you may benefit from introspection.

To make it clearer to you (as best I can):

Como dije antes, la inmigración es buena para Estados Unidos.

AP

I am not really worried about the assimilation in the longer run and I agree that Spanish will be assimilated like German before. But we are wasting a lot of time and effort on things like bilingual education, which slows the process.

Max

See above to David. If the market were allowed to work, we would be better off. We need to pay GOOD teachers more and bad ones less. In too many places, salaries are determined only by seniority or paper qualifications. We should also make it easier for non-education majors to get a teaching certificate.

BTW – I am not ultra rich, but I have noticed that the ultra rich have no trouble finding associates.

BTW 2 – inequality per se does not bother me.

Posted by: Jack at July 21, 2006 9:33 AM
Comment #169448


At fourth grade kid’s are brainwashed by the Republicans to worship oil, war and hate.

Posted by: LL at July 21, 2006 9:34 AM
Comment #169449

Jack said: “See above to David. If the market were allowed to work, we would be better off. We need to pay GOOD teachers more and bad ones less.”

See, Jack, I don’t accept idea that we should keep the bad ones and just pay them less. We should increase salaries so they are all good to great over time. And yes, the simple act of providing a median middle class white collar salary per area or state, to teachers as a baseline would have to increase productivity and outcomes in a relatively short amount of time, provided the school environments were also secured and made safe for both teachers and students.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 21, 2006 9:50 AM
Comment #169451

Let me see if I can guess. Good teachers are conservatives who vote Republican. Bad teachers are liberals who vote Democrat.

Posted by: LL at July 21, 2006 9:54 AM
Comment #169461

David and Jack,

There are three problems with the profession of being a public school teacher:

1) The pay is lousy to mediocre
2) Pay is based almost entirely on seniority
3) It is almost impossible to get fired, as long as you can resist the urge to physically assault a student

If you were trying to design a reward system that is attractive to the incompetent, this would be it. (A lot of competent people do become teachers, of course, despite the system.)

Another problem with the public school system, as someone else noted, is that they can’t “fire” students either, just move them to a different school. This is trickier, of course, because students have a right and legal obligation to attend school.

1LT and KT,

You guys are a kick. Clinton is a convicted sex offender? McGovern cried? (That was Muskie.)

Did you know that Bush is a convicted drug dealer? It’s the gospel truth.

Posted by: Woody Mena at July 21, 2006 10:35 AM
Comment #169464

Before returning to grad school for my Ph.D., I taught freshman biology in several community colleges in first South Carolina and, later, Ohio.

My students had a variety of abilities/skills, ranging from people who could not add or subtract without using a calculator (I wish I was making that up) to about five non-biology major students who would have ruined the curve in the majors course. From my perspective, the problem with K-12 education seems to be lack of motivation by many students combined with schools that neglect core courses—science, mathematics, grammer/spelling/literature, and history—and use social promotion rather than academic achievement to decide who gets into the next grade.

My proposal? Refocus on the core courses and end social promotion. Either they learn what each grade in school teaches or they don’t progress. Oh, yeah—and don’t allow calculators in math class until at least the second half of trigonometry or even pre-calculus.

I’m not sure if this would entirely solve the problem, but at least it may cut down on the number of barely readable, illogical papers I’ll grade in the future or the number of times I’ll see students pull out calculators to figure out that 18 protons - 17 electrons = 1 net charge.

My two cents.

J. R. Milks

Posted by: J. R. Milks at July 21, 2006 10:59 AM
Comment #169465

Part of the problem.

Posted by: d.a.n at July 21, 2006 11:05 AM
Comment #169473

Oh no, Woody mentioned “Gospel” Hell fire and Damnation on him! Seperation of Church and State!!


Can we all agree that teachers get crap pay?
Why? Because schools are underfunded?
Why? Because too much money is allocated to other things, like entitlement programs.

Don’t get me wrong, as a student i like entitlement programs, but there is an obvious flaw with out federal government. We spend much more money than we take in. State Governments like Texas are required to operate at a balanced budget, excepting Disaster relief money, which there is a special fund set aside for.
Why can the federal government not operate like this? Why can we not raise taxes a small amount, cut entitlement programs, and raise tariffs?
Or better yet, resort back to Mercantilism?
Jean Baptiste-Colbert figured it out under Louis XIV (dont get your panties in a wad, Louis XVI reigned before the Revolution).
When Colbert became (basically) Treasurer of France, France was bankrupt. Within a few years, france was in a perfect financial state.
What did he do?
Raised Customs taxes through two seperate customs taxes, made a tax on land, and a tax on salt. Sure, the salt tax sucked, but we can change that.

Conservatitves and Liberals alike need to stop spending at an uncontrolled rate. The last time the US spent without care about revenue, the Great Depression happened.

Those who don’t look to history are destined to repeat it.

Posted by: flodigary at July 21, 2006 11:27 AM
Comment #169476

Jack,

Overall, I agree with your first post.
But I think you miss to take into account the raise of individual values over common ones. We’re becoming more and more individualists and the common ground of a group of people today orbit more and more around communities (ethnic, political, culture, hobbies, whatever) than around a whole nation or state.

I’m not happy about individualism, but this side effect of unleashed consumerism in wealthiest world nations leads to a more stronger self identify affirmation (spel?) instead of assimiliation with the masses. Before, everyone want to be like other people. Now everyone want to be unique. While the truth is both are true since forever, the priority have changed.

And the raise of individualism also match with 1960-1970s. Coincidence?

PS: non native language used in classes is very effective: it force you to keep attention. I’m all for it. In Europe we’ve too few so-called “european classes” yet. Hope it will improve soon.
Is that such classes you call bilingual education or dit I miss something?

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at July 21, 2006 11:36 AM
Comment #169478

Convicted? Gospel truth??

Posted by: George in SC at July 21, 2006 11:44 AM
Comment #169486

LL,

Yes, you’re right. I remember very well when in 4th grade my teacher told the whole class to love oil even though we didn’t really know what it was or why. The same way she told us that war was the way and to hate everybody who didn’t look and think like she did. Get real! Apparently the “Benji Syndrome” of just throwing unitelligible garbage that has no bearing on the discussion is catching on. Why don’t you try reading a grade school history book and telling me its not liberally biased. As for good and bad teachers, why don’t you talk to the teachers’ unions which will keep anybody on, no matter how incompetent they are, so long as they follow the PC line?

Posted by: 1LT B at July 21, 2006 12:16 PM
Comment #169495

Ok woody he was not legally convicted, but why would a innocent man pay out $850,000 to the complaint, if not true? Also Clinton lie to Congress and the American people when he said he never had sex with Monica, maybe getting a bj to him is not sex, and he did smoke the cigar afterwards.
Oh and real men do cry.

Posted by: KT at July 21, 2006 12:31 PM
Comment #169501

David (and Woody the same goes for you)

We seem to disagree only in the way that I am phasing and not making myself clear.

In the course of any operation you will have some good, some bad and a lot of average performers. The pay differential would be among those who were not bad enough to get rid of (or maybe not good enough to be the best.) Half of every group is below average. If we get rid of them, half of the remaining group is still below average. It is a management situation, not a problem to be solved.

Of course, teachers’ unions make it nearly impossible to fire teachers, even bad ones. That also is a situation that must be managed and not currently a problem that can be solved.

Flod

We actually cannot agree that teachers are poorly paid overall. The best ones are underpaid; some of the others are overpaid. The average teacher salary is nearly $50,000. Remember that is for 9 months of work. I have also noticed that teachers don’t work long days (compared to the 10-14 hours many professional log in routinely) and there are lots of holidays in an academic calendar. The profession also carries little risk of job loss and requires no capital investment

By comparison, a police earns a median income of only $45,210, and that is for a whole year. Or check out civil service opportunities.

The problem with teacher pay is NOT that it is generally too low, but rather that it is undifferentiated. The good, the bad and the ugly all get the same money depending on how long they have been hanging around.

Philippe

Bilingual education in the U.S. PRACTICE is not what you are thinking about in Europe. It should be (as you say) to study in another language in order to understand and broaden your experience. In the U.S. bilingual education is used a crutch that helps (usually) Spanish speakers avoid English or actual a way to maintain Hispanic identity in the U.S. So it is retrograde in that respect. It is also heavily politicized. The best analogy I can think of is if Algerian groups demanded and you were to mandate that Algerians be taught in Arabic for much of the day and only get French “lessons” as its own subject. Fortunately, it looks like bilingual education is on the way out. It is being replaced by English transition. Unfortunately, it will take a long time to go.

Posted by: Jack at July 21, 2006 12:54 PM
Comment #169506

LL

By the 4th grade the liberal establishment has taught the kids that queers and steers are equal.

Posted by: tomh at July 21, 2006 1:21 PM
Comment #169518

“BLAME IT ON CLINTON AND THE LIBERALS

Posted by: LL at July 21, 2006 09:33 AM”

OR
Some people could just go ahead and blame Bush and the Republicans for the very same things they ignored, excused and defended with clinton.

But that would be playing fair now wouldn’t it.

Posted by: kctim at July 21, 2006 2:06 PM
Comment #169520

“BLAME IT ON CLINTON AND THE LIBERALS

Posted by: LL at July 21, 2006 09:33 AM”

OR
Some people could just go ahead and blame Bush and the Republicans for the very same things they ignored, excused and defended with clinton.

But that would require people to be honest and openminded now wouldn’t it and god knows we cant have that.
Party before country!

Posted by: kctim at July 21, 2006 2:08 PM
Comment #169521

Dang it. Sorry all.

Posted by: kctim at July 21, 2006 2:09 PM
Comment #169528

The schools in the good ol’ 60’ were better not because they taught English, but because the teachers could spank the kids who were not paying attention to the class. I was born in a poor family, and my parents did not give me much of an education; my primary school teacher used to spank me, and I’m grateful for that, because due to that I went to colledge, and even got an advanced degree after that.

The problem in schools is not underfunding - but total lack of discipline, which comes from absolute lack of authority on the teacher’s side. And that’s because they are not allowed to even touch a kid. I’m opposed to abuse, of course, but al little spanking never hurts anybody.

And yes, I blame the liberals with their stupid activism (totally gay) for this situation.

Posted by: South Park republican at July 21, 2006 2:36 PM
Comment #169541

Jack, I don’t know how prevalent bilingual education is in the public schools (not very, I suspect) but if it comes up in my school district, you can bet I’ll get involved against it.

BTW, if you Republicans are against bilingual education, why don’t you do something about it through your local school boards rather than waiting for the government to take care of all your problems?

This means that a class of 20 students represents an expenditure of $200K. This should be enough to provide a decent salary for teachers.

Now subtract money to cover after school programs, special education, administration, supplies, building maintenance, repairs, and services like garbage collection, water and electricity for the entire building — and a little more to cover the poorer schools in the district. Now is there enough to provide a professional salary?

Posted by: American Pundit at July 21, 2006 3:21 PM
Comment #169546

American Pundit-

Go to any border state. California has especially excelled in creating a comfortable environment for kids to never have to learn or socialize outside of their language barrier. You know how it works: slow down the curiculum so that they can catch up. And then, “they didn’t catch up? well give them priority for college then.”

Posted by: Kevin23 at July 21, 2006 3:36 PM
Comment #169551

Poor pay = poor performance.

How come Republicans justify paying corporate CEO’s millions even when the company is failing, yet somehow expect a good public schools when paying wages that a secretary can earn.

Teachers are the most overworked and underpaid professional in the USA.

Teachers have to compensate for a new society where both parents MUST work to support the family (assuming you have both parents). Also you have state, city, county bureaucrats that would rather spend money on football equipment than science labs.

I graduated from Atlanta Public schools in 1970. I was taught that “nigres” were inferior according to the bible. I was taught that Catholics were “not Christian”. I saw 3 girls (white, Baptist, middle class) get pregnant in 8th grade. I graduated without ever having a science lab, trig, calculus!

So you can imagine what southern public schools are like today. And the same conservative assholes who ran Georgia as “Democrats” back then are now running Georgia as “Republicans”.

Posted by: Acetracy at July 21, 2006 3:46 PM
Comment #169558

Acetracy-

Whereas I usually find myself at odds with your posts, and I think your style is course (even more so than mine), I have to admit that you hit on some things that I can’t help but elaborate on.

First, teachers need to be well compensated and held to high standards. The two go hand in hand.

Second, they need to teach the three R’s and forget all the rediculous EC crap they’ve been forced to do (not very well either). Their should be exit exams in every grade and no exceptions. I went to public school in Los Angeles, and I can say that there were many graduates that would be embarrassed by a slightly intelligent 12 year old kid from any third world country. Especially when it comes to American history.

And in the interests of time, finally, that education needs good national academic standards, but after that, needs no add’l federal oversight. It just makes things harder.

Posted by: Kevin23 at July 21, 2006 4:01 PM
Comment #169560

Acetray

These Democrats who ran Georgia during the Jim Crow (a while ago) time and are now running it as Republicans must eat and exercise right so that they can remain healthy and politically active for more than 50 years. We should study them. Maybe we should all eat grits, biscuits and gravy.

RE the old south in general - now that Strom Thurmond has taken the glory road, the only guy who had a strong adult connection (and was a KKK member) is Robert Byrd. When did he become a Republican.

Liberals have a wonderful way with terms. I particularly liked it during the 1990s, when former communists got to be called “conservatives” while those who fought against them (and for free markets) became “liberals”.

I understand the term is used to mean those for and opposing change. But it doesn’t work in the U.S. American “liberals” are often defending the status quo (unions, SS, regulation, Affirmative action etc) while the revolutionaries (like Newt Gingridge) are who are advocating change are called conservatives.

The bottom line here is that you really cannot give us all the guys you just don’t like. The power structure of Jim Crow was Democrat, although an earlier form. The south changed. Now the power structure is more Republican. I won’t blame you for the Democratic past (since conditions have changed) but I certainly won’t accept that you can blame me for what Democrats did.

Posted by: Jack at July 21, 2006 4:10 PM
Comment #169563

The main issue facing schools today is discipline. If you can get the kid to sit down and shutup, then you can teach them something. If one kid doesnt want to, then you are screwed.

i just graduated from High School in Southern Texas, and I can tell you we need no more tests, we need to stick to the principles of the tests.
Failing is “fixed” by promoting to the next grade level and “mandatory (subject failed on tests)”

For instance, an 8th grader fails the State Exam for Reading. Next August, he is in HS, a 9th grader, with whatever classes + Mandatory Reading Practice or some PC bs like that.

Or, you could go this route: pass with 70% on the State Test in all subjects, fail every single class including gym, and go to 9th grade.


we dont need a national test or oversight. We need people with balls in the government, everywhere.
Also- Just because one is a liberal, does not mean he doesn’t have balls. They just need to be able to make a decision, right or wrong, and act on it.

Posted by: flodigary at July 21, 2006 4:16 PM
Comment #169565

Why wait until something happens to get involved with your local school board. That is like doing something after 9/11 because we did’nt see it coming. Attend your local school board meetings and get vocal. If somebody on the board is a rubber stamp or out of kilter with what school board policy is then get active and remove the thorn. I did that 3 years ago. So far three of five board members have been replaced. I does the job properly. I more to go. The superintendant of the school district has also been replaced (fired). The budget review this year gave nice raises but more needs to be done in that area. We lost far too many teachers because of salaries. Some of those teachers needed to go anyway. The above posts show a great concern for money spend in and on education. There are far too many projects in education that are truly worthless. Public education should be preparing the student for immediate employment or higher level education. I really don’t care what the stats are. They are skewed to show bias. Just flat out teach those basic elements of reading, writing and arithmetic in all of its extentions. Also dumping AFT and NEA would go al loooooong way to achieving a credible education institution.

One area of involvement in the educational picture that is a sad joke is sex education. It is brought into the training programs far too early and is biased. Further more putting a condom on a cucumber is the laugh of the day. Those kids know how to put a condom on their penis. Why are they spending countless hours teaching “safe” sex. What is safe sex? Lots of answers for that one. Actually no activity of a sexual nature is the only safe sex. That seems to work for anybody that applies the method. New drug is out for safe sex; NOSEXATALL!

Lots of work to do in the educational arena.

Posted by: tomh at July 21, 2006 4:22 PM
Comment #169566

The problem is that until teachers are paid a salary that is competitive with other industries the best and brightest will not consider teaching as a career. Why would anyone doom themselves to the headaches and lifetime of low salary unless they had no other option? This is not the talent pool we want to be recruiting from.

As to the argument that tecahers only work 75% of the year, the best solution that is already being implemented in some areas is to require teachers who take the summer off to take continuing ed classes. That way they stay on top of changing curriculums (curriculi?) and tax payers don’t feel ripped off.

Posted by: David S at July 21, 2006 4:32 PM
Comment #169568

tomh-

Look here.

Posted by: David S at July 21, 2006 4:39 PM
Comment #169574

To the comment about border states, at this border state the classes are taught in English, with a little hey at the end. Being close to Canada, it is not uncommon, but with a large hispanic, muslim population everything is starting to go with the other languages.
In my opinion, Congress should pass English as the offical language. If you want to use another language at home or around family/friends fine but doing business English Only.
Oh have you ever seen Sesame Street in French, it’s a little harder to under stand then when it is in Spanish.

Posted by: KT at July 21, 2006 5:00 PM
Comment #169577

Jack- Before you make blanket statements about how underworked teachers are, I strongly suggest you get to know a few. I have been married to 2 high school teachers and they both are very dedicated teachers. Their workday goes from 8:00 a.m. until the last paper or test is graded, the last piece of reference material is located, the lesson plans for the next day’s classes are ready, and, maybe have time for supper around 10:30 or 11:00 p.m. The alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m. and it starts all over again.

This is in addition to monitor duty, extracurricular sponsor duty, etc, etc, etc. It takes someone special to be a real teacher. Unfortunately, there are many in classrooms who really don’t care about teaching. For them it is a means to retirement with as little effort as possible.

Then, there is the burnout factor of trying to control 15-30 monsters who have been brought up to believe they are the center of the universe and are not about to let some teacher tell them what to do. Discipline consists of sending them to the office where the principal says “don’t do it again” and sends them back to the classroom. Because, if you dare to truly discipline the little darlings, Mommy and Daddy will call their attorney and sue the school system. Or, they attitude is “you are the school, teach my kid and don’t bother me about his/her behavior…that’s your problem”.

Besides having been married to teachers(and still am to the second one) I have been a substitute teacher in two school systems over the past ten years and have first hand experience of what goes on.

I can tell you this: When I was in high school(late 50’s), there was none of the bs that goes on now. Most of our parents had the idea that they were part of the education process. Teachers sent notes home saying we needed help or were problems in class and had been disciplined at school. We were in trouble! Not today.

One way to solve the problems in schools today is to get back to the concept that schools are to educate, not provide social services, ego-bulding, or day care for unwed mothers. As an aside, in my high school in Arkansas, we had exactly one unwed mother in a school of 800 plus. Due to the attitude of society, she had to leave school until after the baby was born. In one of the schools I subbed in in Kentucky, in a high school of 600 students, there were more than 50 children in daycare, paid for by the school system.

Then, we try to attract the best and brightest to teaching by paying a decent starting salary, and treat teachers like the professionals they are.

It’s not going to happen as long as the NEA,AFT, and Federal Government controls education, but I can dream.

Posted by: John Back at July 21, 2006 5:21 PM
Comment #169580

Until recently (in historical terms), no country ever attempted to educate all of its people. When we see comparisons of U.S.-educated kids to kids educated elsewhere, sometimes what we are seeing is a comparison of the average American student with the elite of other countries. OF course this does not explain away everything; we do need to do a better job educating our kids.

As an occasional adjunct English teacher, I see many students who could do well fail to do so simply because they don’t care. They don’t see the relevance of education beyond the fact that a degree means a better job. So it’s the grade that matters, not the ideas they’ve encountered or the desire to communicate clearly and succinctly.

How do we change this? I wish to hell I knew. I have so little in common with most of them; I read voraciously from a young age simply for pleasure and would rather buy books than new furniture (maybe that explains the divorce).

But in every class there are a few who soak up the material and want more. I tell them, as I tell all my students, that they are responsible for their own educations — that they are not passive receptacles waiting to be filled by earnest teachers. The best a teacher can do is act as a catalyst, perhaps.

From my point of view, something is deeply wrong with our society. Why are students, in the main, so apathetic? Why do they not question? It’s ironic that so many are so uneducated, so uninformed, in an age when information is more readily available than ever before. It is all too easy to blame school systems or teachers, but I fear the cause is far deeper. We live in a profoundly anti-intellectual country, where intelligence is viewed with distrust.

This anti-intellectualism crosses political boundaries. I’ve had “leftist” students want to skip Huckleberry Finn and The Merchant of Venice because they are “racist.” I’ve had “right-wing” students spew utter nonsense about homosexuals because, I assume, of fear. But it is the rare student of any political persuasion who seeks to throughly understand an issue, which means to understand arguments coming from all sides.

Every now and then I’ll discuss Marxism in class, and the reactions are often just knee jerk. Understanding something doesn’t mean agreeing with it, though I do think that if you strip the utopian fantasy away there are powerful insights about the nature of economic exploitation.

I wish I knew an easy answer — more money, more tests, more basics, whatever. But, you know, half the voting population can’t bestir itself to cast a ballot in a presidential election. I often wonder if democracy is doomed to failure. When I say such things to my students, they look at me as if I’m an alien. With no historical perspective, with no understanding of how new and innovative American democracy is, they just assume that they way things are now is normal.

If it weren’t for the fact that such a policy would quickly lead to exploitation, I would support testing for minimum understanding of our system of government and our history before allowing anyone to vote.

Posted by: Trent at July 21, 2006 5:29 PM
Comment #169584

David S

But as I showed with the links, teachers are not particularly underpaid in relation to similarly educated professional in the civil service, police dept etc. They are “underpaid” in relation to MDs, lawyers, executives etc, but then so am I (and maybe you too). The average salary, however, is not the problem. The problem is lack of difference between the good performers and the bad ones.

John Back

Not everyone wants to be a teacher and teachers work hard, but so does everyone else. Most successful professionals put in long hours and spend time reading and studying to keep up.

Besides, do you really think MOST teachers are that bad? Obviously the wages on offer attract a reasonably competent group. An average wage of $50k is not bad. The problem is that there is little variation between the good and the bad. The teaching profession suffers form too much equality (like most union shops).

I do not think most teachers are bad. I think many of them are working in bad systems. I am a product of public education and my kids are (so far) too. I don’t have a big problem with my local schools. Parents who can afford to live where schools are good get a good deal. We just need vouchers to take care of the less fortunate and things may improve.

Posted by: Jack at July 21, 2006 5:41 PM
Comment #169596

Jack-

I agree with some of what you said. Howver, the average wage of 50k is somewhat misleading. This is an average of all salaries in all districts in the U.S. If you break down to starting, 5 year, 10 year, and so on, you will find that it is much lower. In my experience, a starting teacher with a Bachelor’s degree is paid quite a bit less than other professionals with similar education.

Also, the level of responsibility is much higher for a teacher. Very few people enter the workforce being responsible for as many people as the average teacher. Plus, a teacher is responsible for a generation of citizens every year!

If you have good schols in your area, great! Keep supporting them as much as you can. However, not all systems are good, or even mediocre. I have travelled enough and come in contact with enough products of our public education system to know that many school systems are lousy. I was News Director at the University where I recieved my degree. I had interns and workstudy folks every semester. So many of them could not write a simple declarative sentence! Nor could they grasp the concept of writing to inform. And most of these were honors graduates from schools all across the state.

I had one female honors graduate, who was in school on a Governor’s Scholar program(the best of the best) who had no knowledge of the Viet Nam war. She also had a big problem with plagiarism, couldn’t see the wrong in claiming someone else’s work as her own. “I used to do it all the time in high school and no one said anything”.

I could also tell you about the college student working in a store that could not check me out because the computer was down and he couldn’t figure the price. I told him to add up the three items I had and figure the sales tax. He didn’t know how!

I wish these were isolated examples but they are not. They are more typical than exceptions.

Discipline, qualified teachers adequately paid, parental support, these are the foundations of education. Unfortunately, in many school systems across the country, at least one if not all three are missing.

Posted by: John Back at July 21, 2006 7:11 PM
Comment #169605

I’ve been asking people for several years now the following question: “Why is an education based upon 180 days of classroom time?” If a child can learn the material in 150 days, can he go home? Wouldn’t it be quite an incentive to learn if the students didn’t have to stay 180 days if they could get it done faster? The last 20-30 days of the school year, the teacher could spend more time per student with the slower ones. Wouldn’t that benefit those slower students? Therefore, everybody wins.

We had a special needs child. He flunked Algebra I. We couldn’t get the school to put him back in Algebra I, they moved him to Algebra II. Stupidist thing they could have done. He dropped out of school because he just couldn’t keep up anymore.

Posted by: Don at July 21, 2006 8:48 PM
Comment #169651

Trent:
i couldn’t agree more. i graduated from high school and in my european history ap class (i will come back to ap’s in a little bit) we read a lot of philosophy that struck a cord with this exact argument. I can’t remember who we were reading, but I’m willing to bet it was Rousseau because of the thought lines: most of the early human history and of all of the animal kingdom up until then and now was based on survival. Survival was the main priority. pleasure was secondary or, since pleasure is really a creation of the human mind, nonexistent. as human civilization developed and evolved, we made survival easier and easier. therefore, we needed something to fill up the time left over and to make ourselves feel fulfilled and successful. here we find the origins of pleasure, leisure time, and many of the problems in the public education system and our society as a whole. people are living on average to 80/90 years of age, we’ve eliminated nearly every deadly illness, and survival in and of itself is not too much of an issue for much of our society (this applies to america, not the world as a whole). especially when you look at mainstream culture, survival is nothing; all that is left is pleasure. but what people are finding is that pleasure is not totally fulfilling and leaves them wanting more. those who are still actually struggling to feed themselves and their children are bombarded with the images, ideas, and demands of a mainstream culture that does not know want and focuses entirely on trite entertainment and materialistic pleasures (not that all are bad). our society is focused almost entirely upon ‘pop culture,’ movie stars, brand names, fast food, and success to the point of an opulent bliss that is truly unattainable by 90% of those who strive for it. that, i believe, is why you are finding that students just don’t care anymore. they’ve been taught all their lives that school doesn’t really matter; education is unimportant. all you need is a music deal, a hot woman on your arm, a posse of thugs, and lots of booze and drugs.
getting back to advanced placement classes, as much as i love them, there are many inherent flaws in them. at least at my school, i found that the majority of the truly exceptional teachers taught these classes. i’m talking about those amazing men and women who get their students to care about the subject material, enjoy learning, and to strive to succeed. wheras the lower, even simply honors, level classes are utter wastes of time. my last two years of english (both honors, i should have taken ap *smacks forehead*), last three years of spanish, and my chemistry and physics classes (both honors as well) were mind-numbingly boring. my physics teacher doled out equations and all we were expected to do was plug the numbers into the appropriate variables. when i would do distance to velocity to acceleration graphs in my head, which is far from difficult if one has the concepts explained to them, my teacher was flabbergasted and told me, and i quote: ‘even i couldn’t do that!’ my english teacher junior year had difficulty spelling and argued with me over the meaning of the word proletariat, and when i looked it up in the dictionary to prove her wrong she brushed it off and told me the dictionary was mistaken. of course, i have taken honors level classes that were absolutely amazing with teachers who were astounding, and i know of ap level courses that were horrible with teachers who failed at teaching; but when you look at the better honors level courses, they were all upper-level electives taught by teachers who were attempting to upgrade them to ap level status.
in my town, we have been having a major budget crisis basically since i’ve been in school. my high school is actually a different district from the grade and middle schools, and so has been able to dodge much of the flak, but has started to feel the strain as well. what i’ve seen are schools letting wonderful teachers go, those who were new to the job and trying to bring some new life to the system, while keeping on tenured educators who don’t care anymore, only going through the motions while dreaming of retirement in a few years. this past year, teachers at my high school were required to provide their own printer paper beyond the two packs given by the school, and were only given a small box of chalk for a whole semester. every ten or so teachers were given a bag of popcorn for teacher appreciation day. my sophomore year, we got extremely expensive scroll-trons that sit in front of the school and do essentially nothing. my senior year we had to cut a theatrical performance because we simply couldn’t afford it anymore. money is going, in many cases, to all the wrong places and the upper-level courses are the only ones getting any real attention.
on the topic of calculators, i completely agree. i took (and passed with straight b’s, thank you very much) multivariable calculus (calc II/III at most colleges i believe) and linear algebra this past year. not to boast, i’m trying to prove a point, but it is obvious that i at least have some ability with mathematics. but i found myself disturbingly dependent upon my calculator to do many of the most menial calculations. on my tests, most of my errors were utterly stupid arithmetic screw-ups. i still can’t do long division to save my life. and when i talked to many of the other students in that class and others in the next level down, many of them had similar problems. as soon as we learn the basic concept of anything, we automatically relegate it to our calculator and completely lose the ability to perform the thought ourselves. most college math courses do not allow calculators of any kind (though many use advanced computer programs to do complicated graphing that provides the visual aid needed for many, myself included, to fully grasp a concept) and i find this a good idea.
in conclusion: as a society we are bombarded with so much information that we begin to ignore it. it’s like pain tolerance: if somebody keeps hitting you for long enough you just learn to not care anymore. thinking has become too much effort to be worthwhile to the mainstream culture and society. i mean, like, it’s only nerds and, like, freaks who like to learn anyways, right?

Posted by: alefnought at July 21, 2006 11:22 PM
Comment #169654

ps. don:

the opposite is true as well. i have many friends who were held back because of irrelevant technicalities or a teacher who didn’t like them and were forced to repeat a course or be stuck in a lower level course which left them bored out of their minds.
this summer i’ve been working for one of my teachers building decks. this topic is actually one of the frequent discussions we have. he has seen the exact problem that many of you have brought up: there is no discipline anymore. a student fails a class because of too many absences, for which his parents will call him in because they don’t care either, and the administration will simply allow them to continue even though it is painfully obvious how much the students don’t care and are bringing the system down with them. a teacher fails a student and the administration overrides it because the student was ‘treated unfairly,’ ‘didn’t get the proper chance to succeed,’ or some other bs. yes, there are rare cases where a student is discriminated against or singled out by a teacher, but if a kid doesn’t show up for the first month of school, doesn’t do any work, and fails every class they need to be failed and taught they can’t just float through life without doing any work. we need more expulsionary ability and in some way provide some form of formidible punishment for smaller infractions. suspensions simply don’t work, they only make the student fall further behind and care even less.

Posted by: alefnought at July 21, 2006 11:29 PM
Comment #169689

One problem I see with the public schools is that ignorant parents often undermine the school’s ability to discipline. I recall the example of the mother who sued the school her daughter attended for suspending her daughter for performing oral sex in the back of a school bus as an example of this gone crazy. I went to Catholic school for grade school and public school for high school, and in both cases, I never feared the consequences I would get from school anywhere near as much as the consequences I would face at home when my parents found out. Too many parents would rather let the schools raise their kids then complain when that same school tries to discipline them.

Posted by: 1LT B at July 22, 2006 7:39 AM
Comment #169730

1LT B,
Bad parenting is a sign of the times.
Just another symptom of this era of selfishness, sense of entitlement, always blaming someone else, irresponsibility, and overall fiscal and moral bankruptcy …

Government is in charge of public education.
Government is irresponsible.
But, we keep re-electing them.
So many problems discussed on blogs across American, all related to irresponsible government, but an electorate that continually empowers the very same people to continue it.

Posted by: d.a.n at July 22, 2006 12:18 PM
Comment #169751


The ethnocentric comments originally posted are ignorant to the value of all cultures. Just because you transfer to another country, there is no reason to put aside your roots or culture. The word means adding new facts to conciousness using what you already know, not replacing. A person can hold two different cultures and be rich of knowledge and a productive citizen in any country. Replacing one culture for another is not necessary to become useful and productive citizens as he says. There are so many errors in your post it’s unbelievable…it’s sad to realize that there are people who are so closed minded. Travel a little…

Posted by: zb at July 22, 2006 1:30 PM
Comment #169752

Jack, what you described is acculturation, which is replacing and assimilation is incorporating.
These two words mean very diffent things.

Posted by: zb at July 22, 2006 1:33 PM
Comment #169764

Do kids today still have the nighmare of waking up on the day of the exam for a class that they had never been to?

I think all have made some good points about the failure of education, but I think the biggest failure is that as a society we have decided that a high-school diploma is no longer good enough. When you devalue the credentials, it’s easier to devalue the meaning. Now with high-school education not having the meaning that it once did, it is easier to focus the resources to other problems with more meaning. The resource diversions include not only monetary resources but also talent resources. Who wants to take a job as a high-school teacher when the students who receive the diploma are no longer accepted as ready for society. We have a society now that is more focused on paper credentials than ever before, yet we have devalued the one that should provide universal entry to a working society to the point that it no longer matters.

The transition to the new economy from the manufacturing sector has been one of the main reasons for this. However, social promotion, college remedial classes, and the astronomic rise in the number of associate degree courses being offered is a big part. We need to reshape the high school curriculum and experience so that it means something again.

Posted by: Rob at July 22, 2006 2:41 PM
Comment #169781

zb-

If I “transfer” to Italy, and I know I am going to be there for a short period of time(say a year or so), Should still try to learn at least a minimum of the language and customs of the country. Especially if I am trying to conduct business. So, yes, I would keep my roots and background and add the new information to it.

However, if I am moving to Italy with the purpose of becoming a citizen of that country, I’d bloody well learn as much Italian language and customs as I can because it’s going to be my home! Will I still have my American background? Of course, nothing can take that away. But if I am going to spend the rest of my life in a country, I should make every effort to become as much a part of that country as possible. If I am living in an area where the predominant language is Italian, I might speak English at home but I will speak Italian in public.

To do any less implies a total disrespect of the country that I want to become a part of. If I do not want to make the effort to learn, why am I there in the first place?

Posted by: John back at July 22, 2006 4:34 PM
Comment #169895

First, disrespecting this country would be disobeying the laws, taking advantage of the welfare system, disrespecting the flag, not speaking another language. Two plus languages are taught in public schools in other parts of the world.
I agree with what you said about learning about the new culture you are in, but my point is that it is possible to hold a blend of two cultures. The best of both worlds. One doesn’t have to be sacrificed for the other which is what was implied in the original blog.

Posted by: zb at July 23, 2006 3:38 AM
Comment #169897

zb,

I didn’t think that the intent of the blog was to disrespect immigrant culture but to point out that our school systems are failing to help integrate new arrivals. What floors me is the idea that we as a nation are bending over backwards to help huge numbers of people who came to this country illegally not assimilate into our culture. it is not disrespectful of people from other cultures to ask that they be able to speak English in an English-speaking nation. I tend to think that by putting up bi-lingual everything, from roadsigns to phone services to ATM displays that we are not giving any encouragement to Hispanic immigrants, whether legal or illegal, in America to learn English. It has been shown that teaching immigrants in their native language (which is only done in Spanish and seems to me discriminatory against any LEGAL immigrant who came here from a non-Spanish speaking country) doesn’t help them learn English and makes them vulnerable to exploitation. If we really care about people who come to this country seeking a better life, we should help them to be able to speak our language so they can interact with us anywhere, not leave them unable to communicate and consigned to barrios.

Posted by: 1LT B at July 23, 2006 4:07 AM
Comment #169945

This is a democracy. LET THE PEOPLE CHOOSE!!!

Posted by: stubborn conservative at July 23, 2006 1:27 PM
Comment #381257

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