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.
The challenge to American education is to provide a useful education to the large number of Americans who are unlikely to benefit from a college education or from high school courses aimed at preparing students for college. The need is for a different curriculum and for a greater investment in these children’s preschool environment. We should recognize that we have different populations with different schooling needs and that curricula and teaching methods should be revised accordingly.
"Investment in the preschool environment"? What does that mean? It's been proven many times that Head Start accomplishes nothing other than to employ expensive babysitters on the taxpayers' dime.
I'm not sure whether I agree with all of the judge's thoughts, but definitely with some of them. It reminds me of those hospital ratings that came out a few years ago. NYC's Memorial Sloan-Kettering came out at the bottom. Too much morbidity and mortality. Of course, it is the world's pre-eminent cancer center for research and care.
Do they "care" at Sloan-Kettering? They sure do. Wonderful people, doing God's work. I know. They have world expert teams for every kind of cancer.
Judge Posner is good evidence that competence in [or even brilliance] in one area is not transferable to all areas. I've studied and taught about Headstart for over 15 years, and the results are always the same -- it doesn't do much that persists past the second grade.
As for merit pay, while it does sound nice to pay excellent teachers more than mediocre teachers, reliably distinguishing between the two is not nearly so simple.
How do you reliably tell whether the results are due to the teacher's qualities (either good or bad) or are the result of some administrative policy, or the family background of the students or the willingness of the students to simply do what the adult in the room has directed?
To tell the truth, you can't. There are simply too many variables that are beyond the teacher's control.
The good judge should consider his words "preschool" very carefully. Indeed, the child's pre - school environment is very important, particularly if we mean the child's environment before he sets foot in our public schools rather that what he likely means which is kindergarten. The child's environment before he attends school, that is, the child's environment at home is very important. However, it is the liberal's welfare/entitlement policies that have encouraged fatherless homes making many children's pre school environment one in real need of revision. It's easier and more politically correct for the judge to propose handing over money to the education Nazis than to make the necessary tough decisions that may interfere with his party's ability to get re-elected.
I'm not at all sure what Head Start is all about, but my youngest Grandson (age 2 3/4) and both Granddaughters (both 4) are in pre-school. The boy is doing very well, can tell right and left, count to 25 forwards/backwards, has some artistic talent - just a bunch of stuff I never would have thought an almost 3 year old could do. The girls - well, they speak Spanish very well, can do some simple arithmetic, have unbelievable language skills and can do some very simplistic writing and reading.
So it works for my Grandkids - I can't speak to Head Start.
A/(The?) problem is figuring out just which of the kids would benefit from college and which wouldn't. I suggest they should decide for themselves. No government body or quasi-gov body is smart enough or trustworthy enough to do it.
Discarding a tool merely because there are a few jobs it can't do is senseless. Granted that merit pay (at least in its obvious form, determined by standardized tests) can't work in Special Education classrooms (the "Sloan-Ketterings" of the school system, if you will), there's no reason it can't work everywhere else. The only reason the idea is even controversial is that the system is now effectively owned and operated by the teachers' unions, for their own benefit at the expense of the kids. Since the unions are also successfully blocking school choice (voucher) programs in most of the country, the homeschooling movement may be the only alternative for most people.
Judge Posner should stick to law and stop talking about economics, which he knows nothing about.
I'm agreeing with much of Posner here. He does retain a faith in preschool interventions which is unwarranted, but his points are strong, if not watertight, about merit pay.
The inability to measure excellence versus adequacy is not accidental. It is not a failure of technique, awaiting the proper tools. Different students thrive under different sorts of teachers, and are wasting their time under others. Do we define excellence as skill at a style that works well for 70% of the kids? Under that system, the other 30% could go through 12 years and never have even one one that fits their style. (Before you object, put the words "boy" and "girl" into that different styles equation. If it works for 70% of girls but only 30% of boys...see the point?)
Posner is wrong about the NE Asian 115, however. It's 105. The numbers for hispanics beyond the 2nd generation are well above 89, also. Still, the principle holds.
Assistant VIllage Idiot
Head start is a colossal waste of money. It is and always has been about employing union teachers and education is not their objective. The years between birth and the 1st grade are indeed important years for your children. The best setting for education in these years is at home. while I recognize that not every mom is a stay at home mom that does not automatically make headstart effective.