We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Friday, January 21. 2011
I tend to believe that ordinary public education, with all of its flaws, shortcomings, and loony political agendas, generally does a pretty good job overall from K-12.
They did OK with me. I turned out literate and mathematically-literate (but I have to give my parents lots of credit for that too. My idea of a Dad was a tall guy with either a book, a chainsaw, a shovel, or a hammer in his hand. A cigarette, also.).
Well-motivated, bright, and well-disciplined kids can learn all they need there to get a good start, and if they are truly motivated and curious and in pursuit of mastery, they will take what is offered as far as they want on their own time. That's the whole point - to offer a foundation.
The challenge for school rankings (which is what school boards care a lot about) is the kids who are not in that category. They drag down the ranking, and thus property values. It's quite obvious that many if not most kids do not find academic learning to be of particular interest, even something as basic to life as algebra. Our schools aren't "failing;" our expectations are the problem.
Most kids are neither scholarly nor studious (girls are more inclined to sit than boys), and the latest stats that many or most kids learn little in college confirms that. College is whatever somebody makes of it, like everything in life.
When people talk about reforming schools, they generally are talking about trying to "meet the needs" of those who aren't very interested, talented, pushed, encouraged, or able - for whatever reasons. For them who wants it, basic eddication ain't expensive at all. For them who don't want it in youth, they can go to the internets or the library and learn all they want when they are older and more interested in things. For kids, the internets are a total time-waster and brain-killer, same as TV used to be. Well, if you have the Britannica online, maybe that might be an exception. I was raised to always review the Britannica before venturing into any new topic, for the overview and context.
So who thinks they are smart enough to change schools? Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools.
These people don't have a clue.
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I also feel I got a decent education in (relatively) poorly funded public schools.
However, this was 40 years ago.
I think, if you looked, especially at inner city schools, that you would find a different situation now.
School priorities represent the dominant culture. A number of years ago, the dominant culture espoused hard work, self discipline, and self improvement through education.
Today, the dominant culture pushes entitlement, underachievement and advancement using special interest politics.
Reform of public education may be possible but it would require almost complete replacement of all "educators" (including administrators).
Reform will probably come but not until the dominant culture changes. That will happen only after the (coming) collapse demonstrates how dysfunctional the current culture is and the bulk of people change their approach to life to survive.
Not cheerful, but accurate I fear.
You're a lot more positive on the K-12 than I am. When I talked to my daughter's fourth grade teacher before the school year began, I explained that I was hopeful that they would work on times tables since that was a weak point for her. Her teacher said that they don't do times tables any more and instead they teach the concept of multiplication. That's worked out well - see how well teenagers can make change now a days!
My daughter went what is supposed to be one of the better high schools in the area. In her senior year in her English class, my daughter's class watched the Disney animated movie "The Sword In the Stone" (during class time) and had to write a paper on it. They have much less emphasis on the classics - if they teach them at all - and they seem to teach fluff literature if they teach that at all.
She did have some good classes and I don't know if these were representative of all the rest, but the fact that that could happen at all is appalling to me. I keep thinking about Jay Leno's Jaywalking segments and that those people may not be the exception.
Thought provoking article. Much of it matches up well with my biases, and experience.
I part paths with her here: Certainly ideology—in this case, faith in the superiority of the private business model—drives them. But so does the blinding hubris that comes from power. You don’t have to listen or see because you know you are right.
There is nothing those foundations are doing that is a private business model. They are doing what the economists call Rent Seeking.
I do agree with her on the hubris of power. I believe it is a necessary condition to have before you can believe you are entitled to the rent being sought.
I continue to work on my model for private, and possibly for profit, education. Someday...
(Barrister, I know you understand rent seeking)
We are doing better than we think.
The OECD runs the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) every three years on 15 year-olds actually in school. If the American scores are disaggregated by race, American whites do as well or somewhat better than Europeans and likewise for African-Americans vs Africans in other countries and American Asians vs Asians in their home countries.
Dropouts and high school seniors are not tested, and it is likely our inner city schools are not sampled.
The bottom line is that our schools teach anyone who is willing to learn mostly up to their ability to learn. Furthermore, comparison with other countries that do as well or better than us indicates that school funding is more than adequate and most likely should be reduced
Ideological indoctrination is a different problem.
That all students are expected to pursue an academic program aimed at college admission rather than a vocational program is another problem.
Barrister both you and Mr. Sykes are terribly wrong.
Barrister you are talking about a system that existed fifty years ago.
As far as any "sampling" , or testing to determine how our school system is doing--just look at who/how the last election was managed. I believe you would agree with me that it was rigged by corruption, managed by the union thugs in any state, and that any sense of ethics with regard to managing the count was thrown out the window--so it is with our school system and the democratic flunkies who need to support their handlers.
Close the door-the barn is empty as should be the public schools.
Hm, this Dissent magazine you're referencing seems to be some kind of Progressive operation. They are complaining about charter schools, merit pay, and testing, for example. While they accurately document some of the abuses seen with big foundations, their solution appears to be "go away" (and leave it to the unions and the status quo); American schools are fine.
What is missing in all these treatise's on "edumacashion is the parent's responsibility.
I spent hours, as did the Mrs., with my kids working on math, science skills along with my penchant for history while the Mrs. took charge of the readin' and writin'. We didn't rely on the school system other than to do the basics. No "new" math either - rote learning of tables and I taught them algebra, geometry and trigonometry before they were Freshman in high school.
We supplemented their education - we didn't take over their education. And that's what missing in our system - parents taking some of the burden of teaching their children.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it. :>)
"literate and mathematically-literate"
ITYM "literate and numerate"
"When people talk about reforming schools, they generally are talking about trying to 'meet the needs' of those who aren't very interested, talented, pushed, encouraged, or able - for whatever reasons." -- That's exactly it. Progressives view the job of schools as curing a variety of social ills that afflict the disadvantaged, rather than to educate kids who are willing and able to learn. The more resources get sucked into the use of schools to cure social ills, the fewer are available to educate. That's before you even take into account silliness like teaching the "concept of multiplication" rather than how to multiply in such a way as to get an answer that corresponds to reality. (Any kid that can get a consistently correct answer to a multiplication problem has absorbed all he needs to absorb about the underlying "concept." It's not that subtle.)
Tom Francis is right, of course, about how essential it is for parents to step in when schools are too silly to do their jobs. Maybe it's time for kids to practice the "concept of public education" without actually being required to waste their time there. I'd also like to practice the "concept" of supporting ridiculous schools with my tax dollars, without having to fork the dollars over.