How to Measure Schools?

It is not an easy question to ask, and yet is a question that seems to be taking up a lot of time in policy and political circles. But so far, no one can define what a successful school, any school should be doing. If you ask 100 people, you are likely to get 300 hundred different answers.

The Washington Post's article over the weekend included a fair amount of discussion from various groups including science/engineering groups, the NAACP, the NEA, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund and on and on. (By the way, who assigned this hodgepodge article anyway--it doesn't really contain "news" so much as a litany of education platform planks of various groups.) Some of topics read like a line-up sheet for inside baseball, multiple measures, locally developed tests, more physical education, state tests, "gaming the system," etc. The problem with any debate about how to measure a successful school has skipped over the first step--define a successful school.

One approach to the critical definitional question is advocated by Eduflack, a national standard:

If we look at the hand-ringing in the Post piece and in public and private discussions these past few years about accountability and the measurement of student, teacher, and school achievement, there is rarely discussion of national standards. It's as if it is the third rail of education reform (or maybe the 3 1/3 rail, after teacher accountability). We're afraid to talk about national standards, not knowing what might be behind the curtain if we allow that show to truly take the stage.

But isn't national standards the rhetorical solution to all of these criticisms?

  • It offers a bold solution that demonstrates that we, as a nation, are committed to strengthening our schools and ensuring our students have the skills they need to succeed in the workplace and the community
  • It provides a strong fix to the notion that some states may be lowering their standards to appear proficient
  • It states that every child, regardless of their home town or economic standing, has the right to a strong, proven effective public education
  • It brings equality to our expectations and measurement of classroom teachers, whether they be in urban, suburban or rural settings
  • It may just be the only "fair" approach to measuring our schools - with one common yardstick
I am supportive of a set of stringent national standards. I also think that from a separation of powers viewpoint, a national standard with state based sanctionsfor failing schools would be a better model than the current NCLB model of state testing and national sanctions. However, even with a national standard, we will still not have addressed the real question--what is a successful school. Only then can we development measurements to see if a school is achieving that benchmark.

Without a doubt, a successful school must be able to provide strong teaching in the core subjects. I think there is unanimity on reading and math as core subjects. Certainly writing, science, and history would make the cut, with strong consensus if not unanimity. But then we start losing things, literature, art, music, physical education, languages, civics/government, world history, etc. These are just the big subjects, and it shouldn't take too much of an effort to see that discussions about what should be included in a literature curriculum or a music curriculum. Then we have questions about an appropriate age level or educational level to introduce subjects.

The debate in education reform circles right now is centered on the wrong question. Yes, measurement is an important function of any program. But we still don't know what we should be measuring against. Even more fundamentally, we have difficulty in answering the question of why we educate our young people. But how to define a successful school is a fundamental question that we need to answer before moving on to make sure we are measuring properly.

I would submit that a successful elementary school would achieve, at minimum, the following items for all students:

  1. All students capable of reading at a fifth grade level.
  2. All students capable of basic "pre-algebra" mathematics, to include functions, complex multiplication/division, "word problems" and the like.
  3. All students possessing knowledge of physical science and biological sciences fundamentals; versed in the scientific process of experimentation and observation.
  4. All students possessing knowledge of American history, including exposure to our primary documents (The Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights); exposure to key individuals in the development of our country; basic information about our system of government and the key differences between our system and the systems of other nations.
  5. All students capable of researching and writing a five page paper on any given subject
  6. All students exposed to one or more foreign languages
  7. All students knowledgeable about nutrition, exercise and general health maintenance.
  8. All students knowledgeable about the principles and basics of art, music and drama, including forms, methods, and performances.
  9. All students exposed to the various genres of literature and mythology.
Of course, this list may be too general and not exhaustive enough, but the idea is there. Of course, it remains to be developed what these principles would entail in detail, but the idea that we can begin to measure success of schools before we define, completely, what is a successful school is ludicrous. Similarly, this list doesn't even begin to approach how to define a successful middle school or high school, which generally come with attendent complications such as magnet schools, etc.

For all the hand wringing in education reform circles, why is is that we don't or won't answer the basic questions of why and what, before we answer the how? Of course, part of the problem with the "why and what" question is that we fear the political debate. But it is time to move past the fear of the debate and actually engage. While we as a nation will no doubt continue to limp along with our currently misaligned system, do we really want to "limp along?" Is what we have now acceptable from both a political and sociological standpoint?

Posted by Matt Johnston at December 18, 2007 2:50 PM
Comments
Comment #240968

Hey Matt, have you looked at a school curriculum?
Look at the NYS Core Curriculum, based on the National Science Standard. What is it lacking? Which standards, key ideas or performance indicators do you think are lacking? What you ask for already exist as far as a body of knowledge and pedagogy. The bigger question you might be asking as a Conservative is, why is the Federal gov. in the education business? I missed that part of the Constitution.

A related question that pops into my head from your article is; if we have no standard by which to determine if our schools are succeeding, how do we know they are not? Life in America seems pretty good to me.

Posted by: 037 at December 18, 2007 4:23 PM
Comment #240970

037 is right. Without any standards, no issues to worry about. QA process is such a waste of money and time… drop it all.

Problem solved!

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at December 18, 2007 4:27 PM
Comment #240986

Matt
I would add some degree of computer literacy to your list,somewhere about number 2. Right after reading.

Posted by: BillS at December 18, 2007 7:23 PM
Comment #240988

Matt, great topic and well treated. The question you ask, is a philosophical question, in addition to being an economic, political, and social question, as to what constitutes an acceptable education.

The classic answer serves as a starting point. The goal of education is to prepare the young with a common language, experience, and awareness of the society and its systems in which, the young will one day have to enter as adults with all the responsibilities to self, family, community, nation and world that adulthood entails.

It’s a tall order, and indeed requires more than 7 hours in a school system 5 days per week, 9 months each year, to accomplish. But, even if that was all that was necessary, the task is complicated by a diversity of social customs, religions, and parenting styles and modalities all working politically to dominate the school curriculum, via parental groups, social groups, political groups, and religious groups.

Finally, there is an intense struggle in America between dogmatic and creative paradigms for education.

The dogmatic groups insist that education should produce cookie cutter graduates who all look alike, think alike, and act alike on specific scales of measure dress and hair adornment, respect for authority of the parents and those the parents respect, and ideology such as country before self, but, self before others.

The creative groups insist that education should also geared to the individual student, their needs, their pace, their backgrounds, their talents, to at least attempt to allow each student to explore and develop all of the potential as individuals, as well as a social citizen. The creative groups advocate questioning authority, thinking outside the box, and innovating where something can be improved upon.

In other words, one of America’s greatest challenges in the future is whether or not a basic and common educational experience can survive all of the pulls and pushes to control it amongst the varying groups with a vested interest in their child’s upbringing which school is such a monumental part.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 18, 2007 7:38 PM
Comment #240992

The problem is that people are assuming that you can standardize education as a whole. This only lends itself to a system of rote learning, and the real world is built on more than that.

In subjects like English, Science, Social Studies, you can’t really do justice to everything, especially comprehension of concepts, though multiple choice tests.

Politicians in both party, unfortunately, have taken a great deal of the authority to decide how to teach out of the hands of teachers, forcing a system blindly focused on results that can be cleanly reduced to statistics on them, while neglecting the cold hard reality that much of what kids need to learn goes beyond discrete choices.

We can stuff our kids with a bunch of information, and they will forget much of it. Education’s most important role is in teaching the processing to go along with that information, and the kinds of tests that standardization supporters advocate minimize processing by their very nature.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 18, 2007 8:14 PM
Comment #240993

Great and thoughtful post, It is something I have tried to talk about before.

The problem in measuring a standard to a school or teacher assumes that the students are capable of the same levels of achievement. On the whole they are. Individually and in smaller groups they are not.

This is a basic misunderstanding of many who discuss this issue.

On the whole, I think the public school system has been a roaring success. We have increased literacy remarkably in the last 80 years.

However, as society becomes more complex, fewer people have the ability to rise to the level of literacy required to succeed. This is a common game in society historically used to create castes and dominance. Sadly, it is used by interest groups attacking public schools to gain financially(private schools) or to insert their political/religious views.

The public school system has worked as a public university system would. A national health care system that included birth control as a responsible approach to environmental issues would also be a likely great success at increasing our health a longevity, but watch the virulent reaction this engenders and keep it in mind when thinking about public policy and who has an axe to grind.

Some know that keeping the masses dumb and sick and impoverished is the easiest way to control them. It worked with Native Americans and the Africans. It’s working on the poorly educated.

Posted by: googlumpus at December 18, 2007 8:19 PM
Comment #240996

Matt,
While it is obvious you have spent a great time of time in constructing your ideas, I feel the need to ask, how much time have you actually spent in a average K-12 classroom? Or even several different ones? Across the country?

OR perhaps the better question is how much time have you actually spent working in a classroom, as either a teacher or volunteer? Heck I’d even settle for being a parent involved in a child’s education of a frequent basis.Better yet - several different K-12 classrooms, in several different areas of the country?

I have raised three daughters in our erratic school system, One is a lawyer,(graduated from Duke Law school) one works for Duke Hospitals, MS from UNC) and the last works for N.C.Carolina State (MS from NC State) in the Animal research labs. They are all three currently working on Doctorates in each of their chosen fields. In other words, they are extremely successful.

They are ALSO all products of the North Carolina Educational System - one of the worst school systems in the entire country. Why are they doing so well - partly because of the school, and partly because of the parenting they received.

Yes, our educational system needs improvement, however, more importantly, we need to figure out how to EDUCATE the PARENTS of our students. It is a proven fact that when parents are involved, students do better - regardless of of the school system.

One other thing I would like to mention, if we DO try to have some kind of

National Standard
I can almost guarantee FAILURE.

If for no other reason than that all sections of our country are different culturally, spiritually, economically, educationally, radically,learning abilities, and in many cases verbally, etc. Trying to educate all children exactly the same will not provide for the needs of theses individual areas.

This one only ONE of the reasons the NCLB idea is not feasible, and is such a failure. That and the simple fact that fortunately, none of our students are made from cookie-cutters.

I thank my Higher Power that all children are different. To require them to be same intellectually, is akin to turning them into robots. PC or not.

Posted by: Linda H. at December 18, 2007 9:02 PM
Comment #241001

Googlumpus

I agree that the public education system has generally been a success, but it has been a success at the lower and middle levels. What it fails to do is educate the higher end of the spectrum, where we need more complex skills. We need to teach reading, writing and arithmetic. But some students will need higher math or advanced writing skills. Not everyone can reach those levels. I know there are levels of math that are just beyond my abilities. Some people reach their limits sooner than others. Our public schools do a poor job of educating the excellent performers.

Re this idea that it is a plan to keep people dumb and sick. This just doesn’t make sense. As a lower level member of the American elite, I can tell you that I have never met a serious person in power who thought that was a good idea. Our problem is that we need smarter and healthier people to run our operations, provide markets for our goods and generally create progress.

There is such a thing as human capital. A poor, sick & dumb guy doesn’t have much. You cannot make much money on them. They cannot afford to buy much; they are not very productive workers & they such up a lot of money in the form of health costs.

If you look at productivity & taxes paid, the lower 20% of the population is a net cost. The second 20% is a break even. It is only when you get above that you start having gains. A modern society has little use for a lumpenproletariat. It just is not good for business.

There are challenges to pulling the poorest performers up. Some has to do with attitudes and basic capacities. Some has to do with dumb eductional ideas. A lot of it has to do with money. None of it has to do with a plan to keep the poor dumb and sick.

Posted by: Jack at December 19, 2007 2:17 AM
Comment #241006
There is such a thing as human capital. A poor, sick & dumb guy doesn’t have much. You cannot make much money on them.

Depends on how many ones you have.
See emerging economies. All rely on a massive number of poor uneducated workers, who flee their even more poor farming back-countries.

It’s the eternal debate between quantity and quality re cost. It works with human capital too.

They cannot afford to buy much; they are not very productive workers & they such up a lot of money in the form of health costs.

Health costs that are more and more offset on worker elbows in the most capitalist nations these days, so I bet it reduce the problem to low productivity. An issue easy to resolve, thanks to huge quantity of lower paid workers.

A modern society has little use for a lumpenproletariat. It just is not good for business.

It’s the Wall Mart business model, though.
It seems to be good enough for them.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at December 19, 2007 5:46 AM
Comment #241020

From my point of view, the real problem is that we take a point of view towards education, socially speaking, that is more appropriate for the past than the present. In the day in which manufacturing jobs were plentiful and protected, when manual labor and mechanical control systems dominated, you could get away with lacking a good education, and could even progress up the ranks.

Now, though, that system has been turned on its head. You can count on having a dead-end career at minimum pay if you go that route.

Yet our education system, and many of our attitudes about science and technology discourage people from such studies, from taking a serious personal interest in learning.

No system can do much to raise the real level of education unless the students themselves feel motivated. There will always be those who are undermotivated, and therefore no system can save everybody.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 19, 2007 11:10 AM
Comment #241034

Jack,

I am not saying there is a conspiracy. It is a mindset. It IS an elitist attitude to believe that because someone cannot learn complex social behavior or mathematics, they are “less evolved”.

Some people think that the Indians were subhuman because they did not understand European ideas of God or property. Some people, like Jefferson believed that Africans unless mixed with white blood could achieve more than menial labor. Slavery was based on keeping Africans uneducated and powerless. The real fear of Jefferson and his like were that they would one day rise up and realize they outnumbered the colonists.

Elites, even lower ones believe they are more highly evolved, educated and temperate than their lower class fellows, which is why they deserve to profit at the disadvantage of the lower classes. Wealth is not generated out of thin air as many economists seem to believe, but by the sweat of labor. We still live in a society based upon this slave labor mentality. It IS the American Dream, to rise into the elite class and have someone else do your labor, while you profit from their sweat. It’s a great life, if you can get it and hold onto it. However, when you educate the lower classes they have a tendency to tell you to get stuffed and do your own dirty work. So we set about importing Mexicans to be our new slave labor.

So we create ideas of liberty and boot straps to pull oneself up which really is simply restatement of the belief in our elitism and justification for profiting by paying the lower class wages we would no longer work for, due to our educated status. Leaving it for those low-lifes to figure out how to gain their own advantage while we help ourselves at their expense. It doesn’t matter if your a communist or capitalist. They are just different disguises for the same behavior.

It makes greed a virtue, as long as we pretend to be humble and pious about it.

I have yet to find anyone who cannot understand complex ideas, if explained properly. Some seem to learn them intuitively. My mother and father had disparate IQ’s. My father was intuitively fast at complex subjects and many thought my mother was dumb, but nice.

As I look back at my parents, though my father was able to earn much more money than my mother, I have found her to be the better and truly more intelligent person. As someone who once believed in conventional thought, I have come to see the true animal domination that is the reality of most of societal behavior. We’re not much different than a pack of dogs. Some of us believe we are better dogs, but it’s really quite funny to watch, if there wasn’t also such great sadness involved. Jane Goodall discusses these themes quite well in some of her works.

Posted by: googlumpugus at December 19, 2007 12:30 PM
Comment #241042

Comment #241020
Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 19, 2007 11:10 AM

Stephen,

You are on the right track with your post!!!!!!!
When I went to school in the Midwest, it can only be described as a (right wing military education system) with the attitude toward the students something like this, (Bear down on those S.O.B. if they are not catching on the way they should). It was more like getting water boarded than getting an inspirational education!!!! You can not force people through wing nut standards to learn and be able to use what they learn in the real world to be successful!!!!! They will only memorize the data that is forced on them with your wing nut standards so that the water boarding will stop!!!!!!

You must make it interesting and inspirational!!!!!!! The wing nut cloning process will not work!!!!!!! We should be self thinking individuals inspired to be individuals not clones!!!!!! The education system is a burden to children in its present form!!!!!!!

Posted by: Outraged at December 19, 2007 1:46 PM
Comment #241046

Would that be the same “right wing military education system” which caused my kids to miss a few days of school because they were “celebrating” kwanza?

How is the “wing nut” attitude of bearing down on them for not catching on, any different than the loons attitude of ignoring and passing them for not catching on?

“You must make it interesting and inspirational”

First and foremost, you must make it educational and you don’t do that by placing BS subjects ahead of the important ones.

“It is a proven fact that when parents are involved, students do better”

Braaaaa-vo!


Posted by: kctim at December 19, 2007 2:36 PM
Comment #241048

How is the “wing nut” attitude of bearing down on them for not catching on, any different than the loons attitude of ignoring and passing them for not catching on?
Posted by: kctim at December 19, 2007 02:36 PM

Kctim,

Read my post!!!!!! Not all those kid want to be wing nuts!!!!!! Some of them want to think for themselves so they pass them on like they did me!!!!!! Yes I had to spend the last 20 years in engineering thinking for myself but that is the choice I made!!!!

Some of us don’t want to be wing nut clones!!!!!!!!! The present education system is broken and the rest of the world is passing us by!!!!!!!!!

That is great that some parents can be involved with their kids education!!!!!! Most parents have to work two or three jobs so the kids are on their own!!!!!

The wing nut cloning process will not work for all the children!!!!!!! They can not be assimilated!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Outraged at December 19, 2007 3:08 PM
Comment #241051

I understood your post raged. But, not all kids wish to be like the loons either. I have spent the last 20 years getting the loons indoctrination out of my head too.

I agree that the present education system is broken, but I don’t see politics as the way to fix it really.

I work two jobs and my wife works too, but our kids are the most important things in our life, so we make time for them. Its hard, but well worth it.

I was glad to see your post though. The “everything is to blame on the wing nuts” conspiracy is always entertaining.

Posted by: kctim at December 19, 2007 3:37 PM
Comment #241053

kctim,

You are right politics will not get the kids inspired to do something interesting with their lives.

I am glad that you and your wife take the time to work with your kids!!!!! It is a tough world out there and they need you to inspire them and help them understand what to expect in the real world!!!

Good luck to you and yours!!!!!!!!
Happy Holidays!!!!!!

Posted by: Outraged at December 19, 2007 4:05 PM
Comment #241069

Googlumpus

Ever try to explain differntial equations to a below average student?

I do well on most tests and did well in college. As I learned more, I began to understand my limits. There are many things that I cannot understand, no matter how well they are explained or how much I work on it. On the other hand, I know some people who can master those same things I cannot. If you have not found things you cannot master, you have not done many things.

People have different abilities. Most people can learn more than they do, but eventually everybody comes up against his/her limits. If you have a simple task, most people can do it. As it gets more complex, more and more people cannot. Our society has become more complex. It requires a higher skill level.

My father was an intelligent man, but he only had a 10th grade education. In his work and in his times, he could get along with that. That was a common level of education for his generation and his job required no more. I have an MBA and sometimes that is not enough.

You do not need to bring in race, Indians etc. That is just not relevant.

It is a simple statistical fact that half of the population falls below the median level of … anything and they differentiate. Most people can probably do the work needed to graduate from the 10 grade. Maybe a half the population could complete the work to get an MBA. Probably a very small percentage could handle the math do get an advanced degree in physics (I could not). If your society only needs the skills of the 10 grade, you can be very inclusive. If you need advanced physics, you have to be very selective.

Re cheap labor, you can automate a lot of it and do w/o some. As a young man, I made my money by doing unskilled heavy work. As I learned more, I was able to make more money with my skills, so my physical ability was no longer needed. Today I am in the great postion of being paid for knowing what to do and making decisions. My physical skills are just not worth as much as the mental ones.

Everyone should develop their most valuable human captial. I do most of my own heavy work around the house or on our tree farm and/or make my sons do it. But that is because we like to do it and we want to make sure it is done right. It is not a good value. Sometimes I hire some guys to do the work. They are making money at my expense, not the other way around. I just paid $5200.oo to install some wildlife plots. The wildlife may profit at the expense of the workers, but I won’t.

It is very hard to exploit unproductive workers and impossible to exploit non-workers. That is why it makes no sense to rig the system to produce more of these. It is why the whole idea of the “elites” wanting to keep the poor dumb and sick is outdated.

Posted by: Jack at December 19, 2007 5:31 PM
Comment #241070
It is not an easy question to ask, and yet is a question that seems to be taking up a lot of time in policy and political circles. But so far, no one can define what a successful school, any school should be doing

Easy question. Schools should be giving youngins the tools they need to make a living in the real world. The need to be teaching the basic skills that are gonna make them more competitive in the job market. Things like Reading, you’d be surprised at the folks that can’t a job application - Spelling, again you’d be surprised at the folks that can’t spell their own names much less anything else - English, in a lot of jobs good English skill are very important- Math, there are a whole heap of jobs where math is important - and yes even Computers, just try to do a lot of jobs without knowing how to use one of these things.
Other thing they need to be teaching are History, folks need to know where they’ve been so they can plan where their going. Also they can look back on past mistakes and learn from them so they won’t make the same ones. - The Constitution of both the United States and they state they live in, If folks don’t know how their government is supposed to work, the limits of it’s power, and their rights under the constitution they can easily lose their rights and the government can better control them.

BTW, David,
When I got elected to the school board you told me to do right by the students, teachers and school staff.
Well I won my first victory on the board yesterday. I got the teachers and other school personnel a 2% a year pay raise for the next 3 years. It aint what I wanted but I’ll take it concidering that none of them has had a raise for the last 8 years.

Posted by: Ron Brown at December 19, 2007 5:33 PM
Comment #241078

Jack,

I made that point. Obviously, people have different capabilities. I was a Physics major.

It is my experience that there is a great degree of arrogance by people in engineering and technical fields. This is obviously a generalization, not specific. They tend to believe that they themselves are superior because they have superior abilities in a particular field.

My parents are gone. My father was a failure in many ways that he simply could not accept or perceive in himself. My mother was, in the end, a much happier and wiser person. In my opinion, she contributed more to the world than he did.

The concept of differential equations is not hard to understand, and yes, I think I could explain that to anyone. Anyone can understand the difference between acceleration and speed. Expecting them to become proficient in their solution or use is a different animal. I’ve played guitar for 30 years, I’ll never be Jimmy Paige.

You are missing the point, my friend, I wasn’t saying that everyone will achieve the same levels of knowledge or proficiency, and race has everything to do with this idea of superior humanity.

Whether you shovel feces from a barn stall or solve Field Equations, you contribute to society and life. Einstein buried in horse hockey wasn’t likely to think much about relativity, except his relative distance from a pile of crap.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t reward scientists, but society doesn’t elevate them to the level of arbitragers do they? Who really contributes more?

I strongly believe in education. I think we have transformed our society in the last eighty years by simply making education more widely available and less dependent on circumstance. But as a literature teacher taught me when we studied Greek tragedies, human behavior doesn’t change much.

Imagine making college and graduate study relatively cheap and accessible, as well as the results of those entities like health care available to the masses. We might actually improve our society rather than move in the opposite direction that privatization has moved us in the last 20 years. Why does the AMA limit medical students? Why is college tuition outstripping any inflation index? Why do men like Bush advocate taking money from public sources to fund private schools?

Public education hasn’t failed us, if we learn to ignore elitists who want to damage it.

You say you pay workers, but do you pay them fairly? Do you pay “market wages” in a fiat money system rigged to reward capitalists or do you pay equal work?
If you believe illegal aliens, like Mitt Romney paid, were being paid fairly, you are indeed foolish, and self deluded as to your own worth. Slavery isn’t outdated, it is the basis of capitalism, or mercantilism as Ron Paul describes some of our current fiat money system.

Playing word games doesn’t make injustice just.

Posted by: googlumpus at December 19, 2007 11:45 PM
Comment #241080

Googlumpus

You are evidently smarter than I am. I can understand the concept of differential equations, but after taking many courses and spending a lot of time studying, I still cannot use them. It is beyond my ability. Just as I cannot run a mile in 4 minutes, I cannot learn this kind of higher math.

I still do all right. I bet I make a lot more money than most physics majors. I agree that there are multiple talents that are useful. We should all develop our talents and it makes sense to develop those that are most useful. There is no injustice in this

You can give people lots of opportunities and should. Not everyone will be able to take them. That is the simple fact and not a word game - half the people will always fall below the median. We cannot be surprised or appalled to discover that.

Re paying workers - I pay them what we agree is the wage that the work is worth to them and me. In the case of my wildlife plots, I have three general options: I can hire workers. I can do it myself or with my sons. Or I can not do it at all.

The “fair” wage makes no difference. If the workers want too much money, I will go with the other options. If I want to pay them too little, they will not work for me. You are looking for injustice where none exists. I think that most lefties have trouble with the concepts of choice and freedom. We choose to make those deals.

BTW - I indeed pay them in fiat money. That seems to be what they want. I could offer to barter them some wood or rocks, but I don’t think they would go for it. I personally am happy to get fiat money. If you do not want yours, you can send it to me.

Posted by: Jack at December 20, 2007 12:19 AM
Comment #241084

Jack,

My fiat money has Ron Paul’s picture on it. I’ll print as much as you would like.:)

I don’t think we really disagree on education. My argument was with your acceptance of status quo.

I’m not very smart,IMO, and yes, differential equations are hard. I’m not a physicist, I’m an engineer with a physics major math. I don’t really use them day to day.

I don’t really think we need to attend to high achievers…they achieve usually by themselves. It isn’t easy to measure education results except over long terms and broad indices. These current discussions are false and pointed at destroying public education.

My brother in law and sister are both in public education. I wouldn’t mind seeing a lot of Education administration fired, as they are mostly useless. Teachers get the job done.

I have a woman friend who people often thought of as dumb because she spoke without filters and barely scraped by in high school. She remarried in her 40’s to an engineer and he sent her to college. She graduated cumma sum laude because she was motivated to overcome her feelings of inadequacy and wanted to feel some level of equality to her new husband. She isn’t an engineer.

A broadening of public education is what we need. Expanding to post highs school is needed. A focus on the sciences isn’t being advocated by Republicans like Bush and Huckabee. They are pandering to religious zealots for political favor. This IS collusion to subjugate people. Texas keeps trying to destroy their public school system.

In the 40’s, many thought completing high school wouldn’t help you plow a better furrow. Why should they pay property taxes to fund public education? Thank goodness they did. The fact that some still plow behind a mule isn’t an argument to not fund public schools or use false measures to destroy it.

I beat the guy running the 4 minute mile in my engineered car. Computers solve differentials much better than I can.

Posted by: googlumpus at December 20, 2007 1:21 AM
Comment #241086

Ron, that is a very important step in the right direction. Congratulations. The raise may actually prevent a couple of good teachers from leaving the profession.

The problem with locally controlled education though is the disparity in bidding advantage by school districts for the best teachers and teaching technologies and resources. As our society becomes ever more mobile in search of better compensation for our work, whole states and districts will be left without competitive advantage to bid for excellent teachers, leaving that state or district with average or below average preparation of their young, their future work force and citizens.

Mid-Western states have seen their children leave for other states for many decades now. Population is dropping, their economy and future is growing ever more dependent upon mechanized and automated corporate farmers. Their educational system failed to provide in some ways, the children with the skills, imagination, and creative ability to pursue a better future where they were born and raised. So, upon reaching work age, they migrated to other states in search of work and better pay for less effort than could be found in the rural areas of the Mid-Western states.

And it became a vicious cycle as young workers migrated away, the tax base shrunk as did development and investments. Which of course, left the schools with less tax revenues to compete for excellent teachers, teaching technology, and resources.

At the other end of the spectrum, is the Los Angeles greater area or New York city, where 10’s of millions of people cram into urban centers to compete for better jobs, wages, and lifestyle, and where the sheer numbers of students, despite huge tax revenues for schools, pose enormous educational problems at the administrative level. Crowded urban centers create crowded schools and classrooms where the student numbers themselves become the challenge to overcome in providing each student with quality accountable education.

The entire rest of the world is moving toward national education systems and parity of educational quality supported by national spending support. That system too is not without managerial problems, but, the fact that America’s education system has dropped from 1st to 24th over the last half century, says 23 other countries are managing better than we are with our antiquated agricultural based 19th century educational system.

12 month school years are now proven to be more effective for learning than 9 month. Broad curricula including the arts at the very beginning of education are proven to enhance learning ability later on. Small student to teach ratios are proven to maximize student’s potential. Yet, there is no national effort in America bring these benefits to all students in all school districts in the nation. Ours is becoming a class/caste educational system where place of birth and family wealth are becoming the determinants of whether students can access quality education, or not.

It does not bode well for our future, politically, socially, or economically. The greatest asset any nation has for its future is its children. Investing in them, is the best investment in the future a nation can make for its own preservation and longevity.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 20, 2007 1:58 AM
Comment #241090

Goolumpus

My main disagreement with you remains over the idea that there is some kind of goal to keep the poor dumb and sick. As a former poor person and now moderately rich one, my experience has been that society was usually willing to help and opportunities were provided with the stipulation that I cooperated in my own ascent. I had no connections and there was no reason for anybody to help me. There is great advantage to the society if people are living up to their potential and none that I can think of in keeping them poor, dumb or sick. You just cannot make money from people who are poor, dumb or sick because they do not produce very much.

I believe in the education. As a guy from a poor and disadvantaged family, I owe almost everything I have to the public education system. And as a believer in the free market, I never accept the status quo. I do, however, recognize that there are some sorts of change that are not among the options.

People are not equal in their talents, skills, motivation or anything else really. This is good. The diversity of our abilities makes it useful for us to interact and trade. It also allows for a variety of options.

The bottom line is that not everybody can do everything equally well. You will always have differentiation. Our society is in a constant state of change, with new ideas and different people succeeding or failing. This is the secret of our success.

Equality of outcomes is neither achievable nor desirable. We have to protect the freedom to choose and achieve. I want people to be as prosperous, happy and healthy as they can be. I recognize that will not mean that everyone is indeed equally prosperous, happy or healthy. Some of the programs designed to help them will in fact create disincentives. We saw that with welfare in the 1965-1995. Many of the programs made the lives of the poor more miserable. Welfare reform, championed by both President Clinton and conservative Republicans, helped mitigate that.

Re helping the strong achievers – I believe we fail the best students. It is true that the smart kids will probably do all right by themselves, but they will not be living up to their potentials and talents. If our school system manages to get the smart kid to use only 60% of his talents and pushes the average one to 95% of his, we may increase equality, but at both a moral and economic cost to our society. Progress is not driven by average individuals.

I have learned several languages in periods of intense and stressful study. It is important to be in a class with people of ability similar to your own. My ability is just a little above average. If I am in a class with high achievers, I cannot keep up. I pull them back. It is not “fair” to hold people back from achieving their potential, even if I cannot go there with them. They can sound like a native, whereas the best I can do is talk like Sergeant Shultz. On the other hand, if I am in with lower achievers, I languish and do not achieve what I could. Equality is just a dumb idea when you are dealing with unequal inputs.

Posted by: Jack at December 20, 2007 2:54 AM
Comment #241097

Jack,

It is very hard to exploit unproductive workers and impossible to exploit non-workers.

I disagree.
While unproductive means no production, low productive workers available in very large numbers are what made China what it is today possible.
And the threat to become a non-worker make easier to control workers wage evolution too.

I’m not saying that done on purpose by some elite. I’m saying they do exploit it too and, in some case, it’s even their business model basis, like Wallmart.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at December 20, 2007 5:23 AM
Comment #241098

Jack,

You just cannot make money from people who are poor, dumb or sick because they do not produce very much.

You seems to voluntary avoid other factors in the equation here: how many are they, and their average wage they’re paid.

When they’re so many and cost near nothing, you can make money. China did it since a couple of decades already, as many emerging economy start too today.

I agree on the long term it doesn’t work anymore for a single industry, but we all know that in today economic war nobody care about long term anymore, only the short term ROR. When it drop, investors switch to another place wherever on the globe, and that all.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at December 20, 2007 5:35 AM
Comment #241099

Jack,

It is the natural function of society to hammer the protruding nail. Being white you talk about equality as though it has existed for you. It has. If you were black in the 60’s in Texas, it did not.

As to the role of public education it is to elevate the entire population, IMO, not help high achievers attain lofty goals. High achievers are generally rewarded. I agree welfare can become a burden, but it can and mostly has been a life saver. Think Whoopie Goldberg. Throwing money at other social problems will not solve them.

My disagreement is that society is designed to advantage some to the disadvantage of others. Why? Because it is man’s nature to dominate. The dominant advantage themselves to the detriment of those they achieve advantage over. Alpha always is better off than Beta. You see it as natural selection, perhaps it is. Or perhaps Alpha justifies his advantage with this rationale. Is Alpha really better? Given the structure of society, yes. In another structure perhaps not.

The status quo I am challenging is your perception of better. Smarter and richer often means more aggressive. Top dog is not necessarily the dog I want. You are happy with that structure because you have achieved some degree of dominance with it. Therefore it must be right.

Abstract, perhaps, but a different view.

The reason I aver for broader education is the need to outrun the problems associated with overpopulation and diminishing resources which will attenuate this natural competition. The high achievers already grasp this, we need to bring along the masses.

Rewarding the happy Alpha’s tends towards conservation of the status quo, shifting the paradigm creates new relationships and alternatives.

Perhaps a new or broader Alpha class will bring about a shift in culture that moves us from this base behavior.

Posted by: googlumpus at December 20, 2007 5:44 AM
Comment #241100
If our school system manages to get the smart kid to use only 60% of his talents and pushes the average one to 95% of his, we may increase equality, but at both a moral and economic cost to our society.

A smart kid using only 60% of his talent is not smart but lazy. Most often, he’s lazy because the effort doesn’t worth it.

And this is the reality not only in scholarship but at working places too, more and more. How many people tried their best effort to discover that their jobs will be outsourced because their effort are too costly and that, after all, their added value are not that necessary to their business model?

Look at toys industry. 90% now comes from China. How goes their quality, up or down? Their safety level?

Meritocracy is more and more an utopia in the global economy.

Progress is not driven by average individuals.

Indeed. It’s driven by non-conformists:

All progress depends on the unreasonable man. The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. - Georges Bernard Shaw

Or the always great:

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. - Alfred Einstein

It is important to be in a class with people of ability similar to your own. My ability is just a little above average. If I am in a class with high achievers, I cannot keep up. I pull them back. It is not “fair” to hold people back from achieving their potential, even if I cannot go there with them.

True, but the issue here is not enough individualized education, not education itself.
Finnish education system compensate this flaw by free individualized teacher hours, during class and/or extra ones. And they do get very best education result these days.

Maybe we should start to learn from other better experience… Because there are better solutions. But we need the will to apply them in the first place.

You can give people lots of opportunities and should. Not everyone will be able to take them.

+

Equality is just a dumb idea when you are dealing with unequal inputs.

Agreed.

But the issue in education is not equality of result but equality of opportunity, aka equity or fairness.

Many people lost opportunities offered to them in education against their will and while they did have the learning capabilities to take them. That what a fair education system should avoid.

It’s no secret that in every nation the most well-educated students are most often from wealthy families. We waste a lot of talents from less wealthy genetic pool, and that’s a pity.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at December 20, 2007 6:34 AM
Comment #241106

Jack said: “You just cannot make money from people who are poor, dumb or sick because they do not produce very much.”

Not according to the Confederate States who saw the poor, dumb, and sick as their mainstay for their economy. Much like Democrats and illegal immigrants today. If they are poor, dumb, or sick, they will most likely vote Democrat. Bring ‘em on! Yeehahhh!

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 20, 2007 9:43 AM
Comment #241116

Let’s strip the extraneous philosophy away here, and get to the heart of the subject: education and learning are two sides of a human interaction, a social interaction.

Why do we teach different subjects? We teach English so people can pack more meaning into their writing and speaking, not to mention so they can access all the meaning others have packed into it. We teach math because math is a basic building block of economy, and also a fundamental key to measurement, to scientific and financial analysis. We teach science so that some may become the engineers and scientists that further broaden our understanding of the world, and our technological development.

Education and learning are necessary because we need a society that can better understand the world and each other. It gives us what scientists Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen call “privilege”.

When they’re talking about that term, they’re talking about the ability to survive and thrive at lower cost. Our intelligence as mammals, as primates, as a species, they say, gives us advantages that allow us to survive as a species while having fewer children, living longer, and requiring less in the way of other protective adaptations.

We can talk about elites and elitism, but such talk doesn’t really address the true issue: competition. Elitism is often about negating competition before it has a chance to challenge you. You set up a system that makes the system of the elite a closed loop, makes it harder to break through to the top, and enforces a certain sense of conformity.

Some look at public education and see futility. They believe that those who can truly do well, will do well anyways, and that all we’re doing is raising the chances of success of those who either don’t deserve it, or don’t have the requisite skills to be self-sufficient on their own account.

The problem is, human ability and potential is not so easy to define, and a person’s abilities are not always perfectly functional or well-balanced. Moreover, even with people who are motivated, who are excellent students in their own right, a good education can speed up and intensify their development, taking people who are good, and making them great.

Understanding individuals is more important than processing faceless masses. Each person has their own strengths and weaknesses, as far as education goes. National standards, far from strengthening education, weakens it, focusing on rote understanding that people pick up better by their own experience, rather than the more difficult issues of process and meaning, judgment and real-world utility.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 20, 2007 12:56 PM
Comment #241127

Philippe

You are often making less money on the less well paid workers. It depends on your productivity versus how much you are paying out.

Individuals, BTW, can exploit others who are poorer than they are. The society as a whole loses.

I made too broad a statement. You CAN make money off the poor, dumb and sick, but you can make a lot more from the rich, smart and healthy. A guy who produces about $25,000 in value each year cannot be exploited any more than that and it is not much left over. A person producing $250,000 of wealth is a lot more profitable.

Re smart kids – in modern countries like ours, the smart kids come from all over the wealth spectrum. It is true that we should not waste talent. Many smart kids ARE lazy because they are not challenged.

I was a poor student in HS. I did better in college because I figured out how to skip the 101 level course. I just signed up for the next level and nobody caught me in those less computerized days. I did even better in grad school. HS was just too darn boring. This is common problem.

David

Slavery was very inefficient by 1860. In the pre-industrial days, slavery was common because it was profitable. With the free market and industrialization, free labor became much more competitive. You can see what happened North v South. In 1776, the South held a lot of the wealth of America. By 1860 the North was clearly ahead. Slavery was the most significant difference.

The wonderful thing about modern wealth versus pre-modern varieties is that it is enhance by free choice. You can force people to do physical labor, but you really cannot force them to come up with new and innovative ideas. As the role of physical labor declined, slavery became less and less useful.

In the pre-modern world, most wealth was accumulated by piracy or war. The total wealth available in the world grew very slowly from the first cities of Sumer to around 1750, so the more effective way to get wealth was to take it from somebody else. After that, wealth was created at an accelerating pace and more and more of the wealth we create has very little physical dimension.

The problem we have today is that too many people have a pre-modern mind set. They do not understand the rapid creation of wealth. Take Bill Gates. He is the richest man in America. What did he create? What does he sell? Who did he take it from?

In the modern world we worry re distributing growing wealth. The rich are getting richer faster than the poor are getting richer. This is a real problem of prosperity.

Googlumpus

I just do not see it as you do. There were times and places where life was hard. There still are, but fewer all the time. Many people hold themselves down. I speak from experience here. When I wanted to compete for the job that made me a success, my father told me not to bother, since only rich kids could get those jobs. He was wrong. But had I believed him he would have been right.

Try to leave race out of it. If you cannot do that, at least accept that the 87% of the population that is not black has plenty of opportunities. Life just is not that tough unless you make it so.

I also disagree with the leveling philosophy of pulling up the bottom while neglecting the top. We spoke early about math. One big reason Americans do so poorly in math is that leveling philosophy. Our kids do okay in the early grades, but they fall behind later. My daughter learned math in Poland. In Poland they teach the old fashioned way and the schools are low budget. Yet they do a better job. They expect kids to keep up and the poor students just have to study harder.

Our American public schools are doing a very good job of teaching the below average students. They are failing in excellence. This short changes the POOR children. The rich kids have parents who understand and can compensate for what they do not get in school. The poor kids are more dependent on the schools. It is the smart poor kid who is most short changed.

Re advantages – some people start off with more than others. It is not fair. But my experience is that society rewards those who produce things other people want. The faster you can figure out what other people want and how to give it to them, the better off you are. Again, I do not want to provoke the race card, so I will say that for the 87% of population this is true.

Re dominance – I have achieved some degree of dominance (to use your term) because I can figure out how to give people what they want and deliver those results. I can scope out situations and make a decent guess about what will happen in the future and how to use the trend I can also be charming and friendly and make people want to give me what I want and I always figure out ways that they are also helped. This is the secret of success. It works almost every place in America and it seems to be useful worldwide. Life is not so hard.

Posted by: Jack at December 20, 2007 4:24 PM
Comment #241140

In a previous post I explained that dependence is a scourge on society.

The problem with our schools today is that parents use it as a baby sitting center and depend on schools to teach discipline and character.
My area had terrible schools, so we home schooled my boys. They turned out well. We put them in high school later so they could participate in sports.
My daughter in law is a teacher and is “licensed” to physically restrain unruly children. Too bad we need that.

If children were sent out by their family and expected home to interested parents there would be a vast improvement. This is the area that needs worked on first. You can change procedures around all you want.
The “uninterested parent” is a social problem the schools cannot fix. People prioritize careers and drama. The century’s old family with someone at home who really cares is vanishing. Parents wake up when it is too late and the kid rebels. Rebels and directionless kids are hard to teach. They also drain form others in the classroom.

Rich or poor, well behaved kids learn much better. The so called “poor” in America are usually that way because something in their family structure was broken. There are stats to back this up. The “poor” label is a distraction to the real problem



Posted by: Kruser at December 20, 2007 8:18 PM
Comment #241151

Kruger,

You have it exactly, IMO. It is a social problem as well as economic. The politics is to blame the public school system for societal problems.

Jack,

Well, at least you’ve come 180.

My point was that public schools in general are working and have worked. Measuring by these general standards is the only real measure. There are far too many variables for the NCLB and other supposed standards to have meaning, beyond their politically charged intent, the destruction of the public school system.

No where did I advocate a leveling. It is the economic poor for social and educational reasons that most need help. The bright students will succeed and get help through private means and they should and do. Public money should not be spent on that goal. The purpose of public education is help those that would not recieve help.

My links demostrated the false argument that schools and teachers are failing.

A small percentage will become proficient in Math and Science in a diverse culture. We could use cultural molding to elevate the status of science and math rather than attacking them through religious and entertainment values.

If you wish to broaden excellence, you must broaden access to post High School Education. You do not achieve this with tuition oustripping inflation.

I have raised no Race card. Just stated reality Jack.

Posted by: googlumpugus at December 20, 2007 11:51 PM
Comment #241166

googlumpugus said: “My links demostrated the false argument that schools and teachers are failing.”

First, whether our schools and teachers are failing depends upon the measures and definitions of failure. The fact that American education has dropped from near 1st to 24th place amongst modern industrialized nations K-12 in recent decades, DOES say America is losing competitive advantage with other nations on the education front.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 21, 2007 2:34 AM
Comment #241167

Jack, wrong, wrong, and wrong.

“You can see what happened North v South. In 1776, the South held a lot of the wealth of America. By 1860 the North was clearly ahead. Slavery was the most significant difference.”

Slavery was not the main difference. Supply and demand and competition especially in export markets were the difference. Slave owners were wealthier as a result of owning slaves rather than paying competitive wages. It was the widening disparity of profitability between raw resources and finished product goods (Southern economic base and Northern, respectively) that accounted for the shift of wealth from South to North. The profit margins on raw resource goods were smaller and shipped North, where profit margins on finished goods were higher and the compounding effect of specialization in the manufacturing industries created far more jobs and therefore consumers in the North than in the South.

Slavery was a moral and ethical issue. Not the economic issue Southerner’s thought it was. Fact is the South remained poor through the 1950’s precisely because they remained raw resource agriculturally based. In the 1970’s when the South broadened its industry base to tourism, retirement, finished goods production, the South began to catch up with the rest of the nation in economic terms. Had very little to do with slavery.

“You can force people to do physical labor, but you really cannot force them to come up with new and innovative ideas.”

You obviously haven’t read the history of prison breaks. You can indeed force people to come up with new and innovative ideas by simply repressing them and restricting their choices. This forces people into creative mode. The whole history of the underground transport system for slaves from the South to the North was absolutely brilliant in its creativity and provided the technology needed for the moonshine running era to follow just a few decades later.

“The rich are getting richer faster than the poor are getting richer.”

The rich are getting richer and the poor demographics are not improving, and threaten to become vastly greater in number as the entitlement crisis meets national debt limits. It is a classic economic problem for all societies, from the feudal and communist to the modern and capitalist.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 21, 2007 2:55 AM
Comment #241186

David,

Of course, you are right, but I’m not as concerned about our “ranking” whatever that really means.

There is a social issue with media and pandering to puritanical and religious interest that is hampering American attitudes toward science and math. The destruction of Public TV, use of FCC regulation to promote political agendas, and subverting science with religious zealotry have turned mass media and culture into drivel.

I don’t believe public education is the place to address this issue.

Posted by: googlumpus at December 21, 2007 10:08 AM
Comment #241190

kruser,

The “uninterested parent” is a social problem the schools cannot fix. People prioritize careers and drama.

Prioritize? How many of them don’t have any practical choice but to take two jobs to sustain their family?
How many parent both have to work these days, when just 2 generations ago one was enough?

I agreed on effects on kid and their education, but I don’t think root causes can be resumed to a majority of parents putting their career before their kids.

The root causes are deeper in economic and social policies than that.

googlumpus,

It is a social problem as well as economic. The politics is to blame the public school system for societal problems.

Agreed 100%.

There is a social issue with media and pandering to puritanical and religious interest that is hampering American attitudes toward science and math. The destruction of Public TV, use of FCC regulation to promote political agendas, and subverting science with religious zealotry have turned mass media and culture into drivel.

I don’t believe public education is the place to address this issue.

But ballot is one.

David,

The fact that American education has dropped from near 1st to 24th place amongst modern industrialized nations K-12 in recent decades, DOES say America is losing competitive advantage with other nations on the education front.

International education system ranking being only done recently, it’s hard even to know what rank US had 20 years ago…

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at December 21, 2007 11:05 AM
Comment #241193

Jack,

You sound like the only true measurement of education is how much money or potential money the student will be able to make over their lifetime.

When did the amount of money one earns become the deciding issue?

I totally disagree. Based on this idea, a stay at home mother’s need for education is minimal. The same for all lower paying jobs. Jobs, which, like it or not need to be filled. I just can’t see Chemistry Graduate climbing under a house to look and spray for termites.

I have achieved 5 college degrees, my Masters, and am working on in obtaining my doctorate. Most of it while raising my three girls, and working 2 - 3 jobs. I have already retired, and live on a relatively nice retirement, but only if I keep it simple.

I worked in the Social Services in the Youth Services area most of my career, and dabbled in the Suicide\Crisis\Domestic Violence areas as well. I obviously did not get rich - at least not monetarily.

I can not Spell,(worth a damn), I do not understand higher mathematics, and in general hate most of the sciences. I am totally a ‘Bachelor of the Liberal Arts’ type of person. I never made a fortune, probably never will, but I love learning new things, and do not understand those who do not seek to learn just for the sake of learning.

It is hard to exploit unproductive workers and impossible to exploit non-workers.

I would hope so, Jack. No one wants or likes to be exploited.

Our American public schools are doing a very good job of teaching the below average students. They are failing in excellence. This short changes the POOR children. The rich kids have parents who understand and can compensate for what they do not get in school. The poor kids are more dependent on the schools. It is the smart poor kid who is most short changed.

Unfortunately, I am afraid you are correct. It is the poor smart poor kid who gets short-changed. But they don’t have too.

Sometimes it is because of the school system, and sometimes it is because of the parents. I was not rich by any means (and frequently worked 3 jobs to support my girls) but I was still able to encourage their education. They saw me read; they knew I was involved in their education;supported their teachers;homework; we talked about current issues at dinner. They saw me studying I think importantly, I controlled the television, and radio, telephone calls, and bedtimes. Our “vacations” such as they were,usually frequently spent at museums, battlefields, touring various factories,(all often free). We discovered our own city when we visited our Mayor, police and fire departments.

Working 2 - 3 jobs DOES NOT mean that one can not be an influence on one’s child’s education. It simply means one needs to think and work harder.

As far as the “leveling process” goes - I think we are in agreement. Pulling down a ‘bright’ student by putting them with a ‘slower’ student does not generally succeed in raising the ‘lower’ student. Rather it tends to make the ‘Bright’ student lazier. Why should they do all the work, and yet both get the credit?

And as I stated before,

It is a proven fact that when parents are involved, students do better - regardless of of the school system.

One can argue and argue about the role of government in our school systems, but until we get major compliance within the parental community regarding the need for an excellent education, I’m afraid little will change.

I do believe and hope that my time on this earth has benefited others. To me that is the true test of anyone, and the more education one achieves, the more likely we are to make not only our lives, but those around us better.

Money is negligible in the long run - you can’t take it with you. But the influence one can make on a child’s life can truly lead to miracles.

Posted by: Linda H. at December 21, 2007 12:13 PM
Comment #241203

Perhaps I did not make it clear. I use money as a rough measurement of productivity, but what I am talking about are the skills that make you prosperous in all senses of the term.

At the risk of using another money analogy, life is like a portfolio. You want to have a balance of thing in it. A successful person will have enough money. That does not mean he is rich, but has enough for his needs. He will also have a strong intellectual life, good relationships, be a good person in the sense of helping others. I am sure we can think of many more. IF you have only one of these things in your portfolio, you are unbalanced. A vacuous rich person is one example of a failed life, but so is a person who does not have enough money to pursue some of the better things in life.

I believe in education for its own sake. I studies ancient languages and history. Believe me, there is no big money to be made there. I still eagerly read in all sorts of non-profitable fields. If you read enough of what I write, you will see many examples of my peculiar interests. However, I also got an MBA and a good job to pay for my interests.

I told my kids that they should go to four years of college and study whatever they thought was good. Seek truth and beauty, as long as they had a rigorous program that included higher math, sciences, languages and lots of writing. After that, they could get a specialty degree such as a JD/MBA.

Everything in moderation is the classic wisdom.

Re exploiting workers – I was writing directly to the idea that society can benefit when people are poor, dumb and sick and pointing out the even if you were just a bad person wanted to exploit others, you STILL would not want people to be dumb, poor and sick because it does you no good.

I believe parents should be involved in education. The problem is that poor parents often do not know how to do it.

Poverty consists of a cluster of characteristics. It is possible for a poor person just not to have money, but that is increasingly not the root cause of poverty, but only its symptom. If you work with the poor, you know that they have all sorts of habits that help keep them poor and they lack the skills – social and economic – to pull them out of poverty. They tend to pass these bad adaptations on to their kids. If you have parents who have both the will and the ability to help their kids in school, they just do not stay poor. My parents were both HS drop outs. They were poor by the standards of their time and very poor by the standard of ours. But they believed in education. As a result, neither my sister nor I are poor today. It is difficult to stay poor unless you cooperate with the descent.

My goal is probably similar to yours. I want to lessen or mitigate poverty. I just do not see the government giveaway programs as the way to do it. The welfare experiment was a failure. It not only did not alleviate poverty, but also deepened poverty’s pathologies. When I was growing up in Milwaukee, the poor neighborhoods were fairly safe & the working class areas were almost crime free. Something happened during the 1960s and 1970s that changed all that. The anti-poverty programs were not the only cause, but they were a big part. They encouraged illegitimacy and essentially subsidized petty criminal and deviant behavior. People with money and resources reacted by moving away to safer and better places. The poor stayed and sunk lower.

In school, lower standards hurt the less affluent, since their parents are less likely to set high standards at home. Again, they are poor because of the complex of issues. It is not mere lack of money.

I understand that what I am saying is very UnPC but we all know it is true. That is why we are fairly sure that the recent immigrant from Korea will out of the ghetto in less than a generation, while the third generation native ghetto resident will be there for a fourth and a fifth generation during that same period. Behaviors and attitude matter. Life is not a random walk.

Finally, the best definition I heard for success is that a person has a treasured place. Roughly what that means is that lots of people would miss you if you disappeared. It does not mean they like you or even know you, but they benefit from your having been on earth. It sounds like you did all right. Not everybody, rich or poor does.

I had an experience with a relative who died in his 30s. He was not a good man. We felt bad that he died, but everybody agreed that the world was better off w/o him. Whether a person like that is rich or poor, he is a failure.

Posted by: Jack at December 21, 2007 1:17 PM
Comment #241236

To David -

“If they are poor, dumb, or sick, they will most likely vote Democrat. Bring ‘em on! Yeehahhh!”

I’m so glad I’m not getting grouped into the poor, dumb, sick Democrats. Thank you David, for that good laugh this Christmas and the presentation of your thoughts.

According to David, most Republicans must therefore be “Rich, Smart and Healthy! Yeeeehaaahhh!”

God Bless comment #241106 - I will refer to it often.

Merry Crimmus

Posted by: Yukon Jake at December 21, 2007 8:45 PM
Comment #241244

We don’t need schools to succeed, we need students to succeed….instead of measuring averages in schools on tests, we need to measure how each individual student is doing longitudinally.

In far too many cities the population of a school can change 50% or more from year to year, even during a year, so what is measured is NOT how the same students are doing year to year…it thus becomes a false measurement.

Posted by: Rachel at December 22, 2007 8:32 AM
Comment #241272

http://www.watchblog.com/republicans/archives/005729.html#241167

I stopped reading here because the word “surperflous” came to mind.

I have a dictionary my teacher said I should always have with me, and I looked up “surperflous” and educated myself as to it’s proper spelling!

Superfluous:

I already knew what it meant.

Definition: more than enough; overabundant; extra Etymology: Latin super- + fluere ‘to flow’

I would submit that a successful elementary school would achieve, at minimum, the following items for all students:

All students capable of reading at a fifth grade level.
All students capable of basic “pre-algebra” mathematics, to include functions, complex multiplication/division, “word problems” and the like.
All students possessing knowledge of physical science and biological sciences fundamentals; versed in the scientific process of experimentation and observation.
All students possessing knowledge of American history, including exposure to our primary documents (The Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights); exposure to key individuals in the development of our country; basic information about our system of government and the key differences between our system and the systems of other nations.
All students capable of researching and writing a five page paper on any given subject
All students exposed to one or more foreign languages
All students knowledgeable about nutrition, exercise and general health maintenance.
All students knowledgeable about the principles and basics of art, music and drama, including forms, methods, and performances.
All students exposed to the various genres of literature and mythology.

Posted by Matt Johnston at December 18, 2007 02:50 PM


There are no references to fifth grade in this post.

Philippe, Jack, Stephen, David, et all!

Your energy expended on this post is
Superfluous.

None of you have embraced any part of the original post.

Richard Rhodes would have deleted every one of your posts due to superfluousity!


You have covered slavery to physics but did not address the fifth grade.

Posted by: Weary Willie at December 22, 2007 5:44 PM
Comment #241281

Weary,

I think the whole issue is superflous. Public Elementary schools are a resounding success.

My entire point was that this is false debate. That could explain why there are 300 different ideas on what success is. The agenda is truly a debate designed to give advantage to private education.

To increase excellence in America, as Jack suggests, would seemingly obviously be to repeat the success in increasing literacy that public schools have had by repeating the model in colleges and offering college to all who could do the work. I would not suggest mandatory college. This is where students can excel and develope learning as a lifelong habit. Many do not, because they cannot afford it now.

The opportunity is there. Some people do have the disadvantage of poor or non-exixtant parenting. This is a social issue not in the purview of public education, and expanding their role into this field is destructive.

Addressing this social issue may well help many children, but not through public schools.

Posted by: googlumpugus at December 22, 2007 10:06 PM
Comment #241282

Matt:

It’s not as hard to figure out what makes excellent schools. There is a great body of evidence backed by solid research in these areas. These do show up in different forms.

Research shows that schools with the following nine characteristics do very well:

1. A clear and shared focus.
2. High standards and expectations for all students.
3. Effective school leadership.
4. High levels of collaboration and communication.
5. Curriculum, instruction and assessments aligned with state standards.
6. Frequent monitoring of learning and teaching.
7. Focused professional development.
8. A supportive learning environment.
9. High levels of parent and community involvement.

There is extensive research to show that is these guidelines are achieved test scores are high, and students achievement is fantastic.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 22, 2007 10:22 PM
Comment #241301

Governer Mitch Daniels of Indiana has proposed consolidation of public school districts throughout Indiana in an effort to cut the costs of education.

This is truly a poor idea. Schools need to be smaller not bigger. My opinion is that the education of the neighborhood children should be done closer to the student’s home. The parent’s workplace should also take on the burden of educating the employee’s children.

With schools today needing locked class rooms and metal detectors and identification badges for visitors because they are just faces in the crowd, larger schools are not in the best interest of the student. Consolidation is counterproductive to a safe learning environment. A student would get a more fruitful education from a smaller localized school and wouldn’t need a two hour bus ride to and from. A business providing an education would give the parent the peace of mind their child is safe and would allow much greater interaction between the parent, student, and teacher.

My point to Indiana Governor, Mitch Daniels is, “Make schools smaller and more numerous. Don’t make schools bigger, more cumbersome and more dangerous.”

Posted by: Weary Willie at December 23, 2007 9:31 AM
Comment #241328

Weary, I would agree with that.

Posted by: googlumpus at December 23, 2007 8:33 PM
Comment #413366

Check and balance in every organization is very necessary to monitor the progress of this organization. In this article you wrote the a complete procedure to Measure the progress of Schools. Any how, I want to get custom essay but its my pleasure to come here to acknowledge that way. I must share this one with my friends because we all are teachers and want to contribute in creation a good education system.

Posted by: Peter at February 16, 2017 3:13 AM
Comment #417975

If the School is private, that is not owned by the government and thereby public to the market:

If the school gets enough parents to pay for the teachers and make a profit: The teachers are doing a good job. They are teaching something that their clients value more than what it cost to teach.

If the school is not able to teach properly, in accordance to what the parents expect from the investment they are making, they will leave to some other school with better quality.

In other words, in a free market the cost/effectiveness of a school is rated the same way as any other product/service. Notice that some parents will value some skills better than other skills, that schools would have the liberty to decide 100% of the curriculum, and some schools will be priced higher than others, so there wouldn’t be such a thing as “The best school” but rather “The best school for a particular set of skills at a particular price range”.

If the School is public:

I am afraid the incentives are not aligned for quality. Teachers will be evaluated by arbitrary scales such as: Student’s scores, attendance, diversity, proficiency of student in certain areas …. Do My Essay Uk

Posted by: Do My Essay Uk at July 11, 2017 8:02 AM
Comment #417976

If the School is private, that is not owned by the government and thereby public to the market:

If the school gets enough parents to pay for the teachers and make a profit: The teachers are doing a good job. They are teaching something that their clients value more than what it cost to teach.

If the school is not able to teach properly, in accordance to what the parents expect from the investment they are making, they will leave to some other school with better quality.

In other words, in a free market the cost/effectiveness of a school is rated the same way as any other product/service. Notice that some parents will value some skills better than other skills, that schools would have the liberty to decide 100% of the curriculum, and some schools will be priced higher than others, so there wouldn’t be such a thing as “The best school” but rather “The best school for a particular set of skills at a particular price range”.

If the School is public:

I am afraid the incentives are not aligned for quality. Teachers will be evaluated by arbitrary scales such as: Student’s scores, attendance, diversity, proficiency of student in certain areas …. Do My Essay Uk

Posted by: Do My Essay Uk at July 11, 2017 8:03 AM
Comment #417977

If the School is private, that is not owned by the government and thereby public to the market:

If the school gets enough parents to pay for the teachers and make a profit: The teachers are doing a good job. They are teaching something that their clients value more than what it cost to teach.

If the school is not able to teach properly, in accordance to what the parents expect from the investment they are making, they will leave to some other school with better quality.

In other words, in a free market the cost/effectiveness of a school is rated the same way as any other product/service. Notice that some parents will value some skills better than other skills, that schools would have the liberty to decide 100% of the curriculum, and some schools will be priced higher than others, so there wouldn’t be such a thing as “The best school” but rather “The best school for a particular set of skills at a particular price range”.

If the School is public:

I am afraid the incentives are not aligned for quality. Teachers will be evaluated by arbitrary scales such as: Student’s scores, attendance, diversity, proficiency of student in certain areas …. Do My Essay Uk

Posted by: Jennifer Judy at July 11, 2017 8:04 AM
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