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[P]
Proposal: How to get more teachers in the classroom.

By InigoMontoya in Op-Ed
Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 07:34:28 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

One of the biggest problems in American education today is that there simply aren't enough teachers to teach all our children, especially in the fields of math and science. The following is a proposal on how to get more people to pursue teaching, at least for the shorter term.


The Problem

American public-school children are getting what by the standards of the rest of the industrialized world would be called an inferior education, especially in the fields of math and science. Especially hard-hit by this inferior public education are students in the inner cities; while those in the much-richer suburbs have the money to attract better teachers, hire tutors, and purchase expensive media libraries for their children, those in the usually-poor inner cities, as well as in poverty-stricken rural areas, have none of this.

The main problem, though, is that there simply aren't enough good teachers, especially in poorer areas. The "best and brightest," who 40 years ago may have been attracted to public-school teaching by a competitive salary and good work benefits, are now going into other, more lucrative, fields, as the value of intellectual (as opposed to physical) capital continues to rise. Thus American schools have experienced a "talent vacuum" - the best just don't teach anymore. And if they do, it's usually in the upper-crust suburbs, who can afford to pay them at least something resembling what they would make outside teaching.

A Solution

On the surface, the solution to this problem would seem simple: Raise the salaries for teachers, and more people will come. Unfortunately, that isn't quite possible, at least not without substantial raises in taxes (tantamount to political suicide) or reordering of budgets (a gargantuan task, considering the nature of bureaucracy.) Poor school districts simply don't have the cash to pay teachers competitively.

But what if we could offer people something - perhaps, a free college education - in return for teaching? What if we were to establish a teacher's GI Bill? (For those who aren't from the USA or who are and just don't understand, the GI Bill was instituted during the WWII era. Under this bill, those who served terms as soldiers were entitled to substantial scholarships for college, in return for their service to the country. This contributed greatly to the college booms of the 40's and 50's.)

This bill would be ratified state-by-state - since education is (presumably) still within states' jurisdiction - and would provide a completely free college education at a state university to any person, provided that he or she sign a contract pledging to pass all their classes, to pursue a field of study applicable to K-12 education, to take a certain amount of extra coursework in education, and, after graduating, to teach in a public school of the state's choice for four years, at the standard rate of pay, after which his or her obligation to the state would have been fulfilled and he or she would be free to pursue anything.

This plan has many advantages, and creates a situation in which everyone wins - the government, the teachers, and the people.

States would, under this plan, be able to funnel badly-needed teachers to the districts which need them most, instead of watching helplessly as the rich school districts siphon all the talent from the pool, leaving the poor with only the truly dedicated and the second-hand. In coming out in support of this bill, a politician could say that he or she is actually doing something for inner-city schools rather than just paying lip-service, and win votes.

The teachers would win - especially those who came from lower-class backgrounds and who could not otherwise afford a college education. They gain four years' education and guaranteed placement in a job right out of college, which in today's job market is a valuable thing. After four years of teaching, they would be free to pursue other interests, and you can be darn sure that four years' teaching experience is going to look good on a resume. The influx of teachers into underserved communities would also make all the teachers' loads a little lighter, leaving them free to concentrate on troubled students and give all students a better education, and lessen the tendency towards burnout that is so common to teachers in underserved schools.

Most importantly, the people would win - especially those in underserved areas of the country. Access to teachers who have a college education in the field they are teaching, who know how to teach, and who have smaller classes, can only be beneficial to students. Also, GI-Bill teachers, because many would come from lower-class backgrounds, would serve as role models - success stories - for children in underserved communities, showing them that they can make it and that they don't have to have bags of money to go to college.

There are a few potential pitfalls to this plan, and this certainly is no panacea for all of America's public school problems, but above all a Teachers' GI Bill would be a good thing for all involved. It would give politicians a chance to do some actual good, students a way to go to college for free and get some valuable work experience, and people in underserved communities a chance at a better education and a better future.

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Poll
What do you think is the biggest problem plaguing American public education today?
o Teacher shortages 1%
o Parent / student apathy 19%
o Budget shortages 11%
o Teachers' unions 16%
o Bureaucracy 11%
o Special interests and "lifestyle education" instead of the Three R's 14%
o Not enough indoctrination or mandatory patriotism 5%
o The Republican Party 18%

Votes: 121
Results | Other Polls

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o Also by InigoMontoya


Display: Sort:
Proposal: How to get more teachers in the classroom. | 184 comments (174 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
Not a half bad idea (3.25 / 4) (#1)
by wrinkledshirt on Wed Aug 07, 2002 at 06:55:21 PM EST

If I were American, I'd vote for it, although I'm starting to think that the lack of good teachers is going to be something that works itself out as corporations continue to merge and the number of viable career options continues to decrease.

No incentive like a good, strong recession (4.00 / 1) (#72)
by thebrix on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 08:54:46 AM EST

Something like this is already happening in the United Kingdom and, doubtless, other countries.

A 69 per cent increase year-on-year in people applying to train to be ICT teachers is no surprise; I suggest the BBC article gets the reasons the wrong way round (the presence of a recession in certain industry sectors being more important than cash bonuses).

[ Parent ]

An important fact to consider (2.50 / 2) (#3)
by medham on Wed Aug 07, 2002 at 07:01:31 PM EST

Much is made of the fact that teachers are not well qualified because the salaries will not support people with skills to make more money. Thus, according to conventional wisdom, you have a few dedicated ethicists and a bunch of mediocrities.

CW is wrong. Just listen to George Straight.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.

This Already Exists (4.62 / 8) (#4)
by EraseMe on Wed Aug 07, 2002 at 07:06:20 PM EST

It's called Teach For America. Click on 'How It Works', then scroll down to 'Financial Arrangements'. It's not as generous as what you're proposing, but the basic idea is the same.

How to get more teachers in the classroom (2.20 / 5) (#6)
by Pac on Wed Aug 07, 2002 at 07:15:22 PM EST

After so many years of formal and informal education, I tend to think that one teacher per classroom is more than enough if not too many already.

Those students who have become one with the universe will be allowed to go on and become two with the universe


Why do teachers quit? (4.60 / 15) (#10)
by godix on Wed Aug 07, 2002 at 07:47:07 PM EST

Two of my friends are teachers, one of my friends is halfway through college to become a special ed teacher, and my wife is starting college this fall to become a teacher. Out of these four cases not a single one is that concerned about pay. Sure, they'd like more, but teacher pay in my area averages around 30K a year. That's enough to live off of, and if you add a spouses income to it the household is doing above average.

Listening to these people I've learned the biggest problem in teaching, the problem that makes people quit after decades of teaching, is that they aren't allowed to teach. Here's a few examples of how why they can't:
- It's very hard to get rid of disruptive children, so much of the teachers job is babysitting a few kids instead of teaching the class.
- Instead of educating children about math teachers often have to do government mandated racial equality training, sex ed, eqaulity of the sexes, or whatever other pet project some politician managed to get put into place of educational basics.
- One student doesn't understand a lesson, but the rest of the class does? Too bad, you have to spend the next 3 or 4 classes trying to get through to that one student before you can recommend him to a more private study.
- Need to prepare the next days lesson plan? Tough, todays your turn to monitor the afterschool 'at least they aren't on the streets' basketball babysitting service.
- If you fail a child who didn't learn something it's entirely possible that the parents will go to the principal/school board and get you overruled.
- One of my high school teachers was the Illinois teacher of the year and almost became the nationwide teacher of the year when I was a senior. The year after I graduateed he quit teaching and moved into administration. The reason? The school board forced him into it. Now no students are being educated by a man who was excellent at educationg students.
- Another teacher at my HS was fired about 10 years before I start HS because he was head of the teachers union and threatened a strike during negotiations. He sued the school district to get his job back, won, got his back, and also got millions in damages (paid by the public education budget). Now ask yourself, how many good teachers fired for blatently illegal reasons have filed lawsuits to be allowed to teach and how many just gave up?

If you want better education, forget about amount per pupil spent and start focusing on what that amount is spent for. If you want better quality teachers, let them teach. If you want more teachers then instead of yet another government program we need to get the government out of teaching altogether. The government can't educate children any better than it can run the DMV, bring peace to the middle east, or buy a hammer for less than $800. Isn't about time we quit letting them try?

Good list of problems, wrong solution (4.50 / 4) (#32)
by pyramid termite on Wed Aug 07, 2002 at 11:55:04 PM EST

If you want more teachers then instead of yet another government program we need to get the government out of teaching altogether.

Which would leave churches or private businesses to do it. And even churches would have to make a certain amount of money to be able to continue doing it. One can easily make a case that a school could cover its budget in a rich neighborhood. One can make a case that it would be possible to do in middle and working class neighborhoods.

How are you going to do it in poor neighborhoods? Isn't the government going to pick up the tab? If no one picks up the tab, do we really want to deal with the ignorant masses that would result - (we've already got enough of that anyway)?

I'm not arguing against charter schools, private schools, parochial schools or a voucher program that would cover them - but the public school system or something a lot like it is going to have to exist, too. And although it has many flaws, some of which you pointed out in your article, it also has educated most of the people in our country.

Look around - has it really done THAT bad a job?

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
That bad (3.66 / 3) (#42)
by godix on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 01:44:39 AM EST

I'm not sure if it's done this way nationwide, but in my state most educational funding is from property taxes of the region. I overstated my desires earlier, I don't want to get rid of all government involvement in education. I just want to get rid of state/federal control over something that's locally funded.

"Look around - has it really done THAT bad a job?"

I graduateed high school in a class of 600 with a 1.9 GPA. I was still in the top half of the class. When over 50% of the students graduate with a D average then yes, I'd say it really has done that bad a job.

[ Parent ]

Perhaps redefining local .. (3.00 / 1) (#45)
by pyramid termite on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 02:24:32 AM EST

I just want to get rid of state/federal control over something that's locally funded.

The problem with that is poor districts often can't come up with the money that richer districts can. (Not to mention that certain localities would teach creationism and such nonsense ...) I think school districts, and for that matter cities, should encompass an entire metro area when practical instead being divided into artificially small enclaves as they are now.

In Michigan, Proposal A changed the old property tax system to a system where sales taxes pay for a good deal of it and the money is given out per student by the state. Localities are limited as to how much property taxes they can levy, even with a vote. School districts are now fairly equal as far as funding goes. Quality is another matter altogether.

I'm not sure it's really worked all that well.

When over 50% of the students graduate with a D average then yes, I'd say it really has done that bad a job.

Obviously your school's never heard of grade inflation. :-)


On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Local control (4.00 / 1) (#47)
by godix on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 03:45:37 AM EST

Heh. I almost included a rant about inequities of property tax financing in my previous posts but didn't because I wasn't sure if that is how the entire nation does it or only IL.

Despite those inequities, I like local control. Once you get into state control or higher the parents tend to get left out while with local control the parents actually have some influence on their school board. I do agree that we have entirely too small of groups though. The ideal IMNSHO would be to have school districts controlled, and funded, on a county wide basis. Counties are generally large enough this would help equal out urban rich vs urban poor vs rural funding, but small enough PTAs could still have some influence.

"Not to mention that certain localities would teach creationism and such nonsense"

We could either accept this as a drawback to local control, or we could allow MINIMAL state/federal guidelines on subjects. I don't have that much a problem with either method (college would tend to repair the damages if we just accepted it), but either is better than the current system.

"Obviously your school's never heard of grade inflation."

I think my school was just happy they managed to get 600 children graduating at all. This was the HS that two of the three projects fed into. Math may be optional, but gun safety classes should have been mandatory.

[ Parent ]

Local control and local taxation (5.00 / 1) (#57)
by TON on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 05:46:59 AM EST

I'd like local control as well, if there was very much of it.

Local school boards have to meet state or federal mandates in areas such as the physical plant, school year, hiring practices, and curriculum. That doesn' leave a whole lot of local control, especially when when you consider that physical plant is a massive expense, and hiring is one of the key tools to create the kind of school that a locality might want. The costs to meet outside mandates eat up most of the available budget.

The local financing of schools is completely wrong headed and at the root of the problem. Trying to entice people to enter teaching, and stay, in an "underserved" school district may make a few gains. However, make the schools and their districts good places to learn and work, and people will line up for jobs there. As an added bonus, the kids will get a better education.

If we look at what schools provide and who benefits from them, there is very little direct connection between property values and the value that is provided by education. Children get the most direct benefit, but obviously are not a good source of tax revenue. The children's parents? Perhaps, but businesses and industry are actually the next in line as far as benefit from schools. They can be taxed, and not on the basis of property owned, but on income. That income is largely derived from the skill of their employees. Much of that skill comes from education.

People are used to financing projects or risks across large groups. Nobody would tolerate local funding of medical care or defense. People pool insurance risks without too much question. Why is education different? Some of the benefit is local, but it moves around as the population goes. Local control is a red herring to distract from the real issue of broader-based funding.

Ted
---
"I could say it stronger
But it's too much trouble"


[ Parent ]

The system's unreformable. (3.00 / 4) (#62)
by Shren on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 07:03:32 AM EST

And good. Just read my sig.

[ Parent ]
Respect for teachers.... (4.50 / 2) (#137)
by bayankaran on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 06:46:45 PM EST

...is the most critical factor. And sometimes that happens with more aggressive teaching methods...like caning.

We had teachers who spanked/caned. I probably hated them then, but now they are still very high in my good teachers lists. I remember the headmaster of the school coming to my class to cane an irrate classmate of mine...this is a rare occurance, usually that is done by class teachers itself. But he was so bad, and in this particular incident he made a very bad comment about one of the girls in the class....the visit got our class some notoriety in the school...Class FIVE B was visited by the Headmaster.

This student was really a trouble maker and if it was in US, he would have been expelled from the class/school or extended visits to psychiatrists or commitees. But here the spanking and the other punishments made sure he finished school...much better than being a drop out.

Forget about teachers, even parents cant do that...neighbors may complain, kids may complain to the police and you are behind bars for spanking/caning your kid.

Who started this nonsense of kids being your friends...Benjamin Spock I presume. Some kids need to be controlled...it is not by drugging them or sending them to a team of child psychologists as in US.

Simple caning/spanking may do the trick. I would not have finished school if it was not for the caning I got for all the stupid things I did. And this did not leave any emotional scar. I am infact grateful.

[ Parent ]
Raising vs. Educating (5.00 / 1) (#156)
by tekue on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 05:39:34 AM EST

Spanking/caning is a tool of raising a child, not of educating it, and raising should be left to the parents. Also, let's not teach our children that problems have physical solution, because they don't.

If a student doesn't allow the teachers to work, he should be expelled. Maybe this way we'd raise some responsible people, who know that if they do wrong, they are punished.
--
Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature. --Tom Robbins
[ Parent ]

Hardly a unique situation. (4.33 / 6) (#12)
by vastor on Wed Aug 07, 2002 at 08:19:17 PM EST

Many countries seem to be going through similar problems. Here one of the solutions has been to offer scholarships to cover the university fees (HECS) and also an annual cash payment (of $1000 or $1500 I think), for those going in to the desired teaching fields (physics, english, design and technology, maths).

I'm not sure how well it is working, because there is already enough stigma attached with the employment here of having to spend your first few years in the middle of nowhere (here being NSW, Australia, and nowhere tending to be hours drive from the nearest city as newly graduated teaches tend to be placed out in rural areas until they can accrue sufficient transfer credit to get somewhere nice - though if you're going to teach the desired fields you can get around that somewhat because openings can exist in nice locations just because of the extent of the shortages).

From what I gather, here, enough teachers going through and graduate based on numbers, however many quit teaching after just a few years and that is where the shortage comes in (plus now, the figures are somewhat warped as people do a one year diploma of education after graduating so that they can have something to fall back on in tough times, however the state education system keeps saying they're going to stop taking them since they're not as well educated to be teachers).

Since I plan on going to teach in the UK a few years, I did some searching about on the internet and they seem to have a shortage there too. Curiously, I came across a report that went by EU nation by nation comparing how they were dealing with it, and many seemed to be employing paraprofessionals. So non-teachers are employed at a lower wage to help with some tasks, freeing teachers up to do more of their job.

One scheme also being tried here is a professional recruitment scheme where people who want to get out of employment as professionals get rushed through the university in a 12 or 18 month training course and then go out and teach in a similar field to what they spent most of their life working as, however according to some of the teachers at the school I recently did some practice teaching, they tended not to be able to cope too well since modern schools aren't as teacher-friendly (respect from students etc) as was the case for these mature age people (and is probably one of the reason so many teachers leave teaching after a few years).

I know one physics graduate that became a teacher without doing any teaching training at all, though that was for a private school, however it does support the idea that some places are going for the non-teacher specialist option to fill vacancies (and it was in probably a pretty desirable location to work too). Another problem is that wages are determined across the state here, so where cost of living is much lower you can live quite nicely on a teachers wage, but if you were to be offered a job in Sydney it'd be somewhat prohibative (in my quick internet search, they have a similar yet even more exaggerated problem in London, UK, and offer something like a 5,000 UK pound wage bonus a year to those working in inner london to get around that).

Teaching however is pretty well accepted to be a calling rather than just a job. Anyone can sit around and do data entry, increasing wages doesn't mean that those who ought to become teachers are going to do so. The last thing we need is more unsuited teachers out there in the school (and they do slip through - a casual teacher that caused some mayhem at the school I was prac teaching at apparently initially failed her last prac teaching placement yet still managed to graduate and become qualified as a teacher because for whatever reason it was changed to a pass).

I think the media could help portray teaching as a more rewarding occupation. Certainly in the USA the schools have a bad repuation for violence, my sister graduated as a primary school teacher but was unwilling to teach in the USA because of weapons in schools (though she ended up a swim coach at a university, which suits her well since it was a swimming scholarship that took her there in the first place).

A rise in red tape has made things worse for teachers too. In many schools you can't send students out of the classroom if they play up because if they injure themselves while unsupervised you have duty of care liabilities. This means that a tense situation tends to be kept within the classroom in some cases since there is a bit of a stigma to sending students to see a head teacher/deputy principal too often. Likewise there are tons of policies for everything ranging from disabled access to literacy for english as a second language. At the school I was at, they seemed to have assigned one policy to almost every other teacher so that atleast one person would have a good understanding of each policy, but there was no way anyone could keep up to date on everything the department of education desired of them.

Aging teachers is also another problem, since not only are they what is causing the vacancies in the first place (here and in the EU it seems), but as they age and get nearer retirement they care less about maintaning a good learning environment. Another local school is supposed to be steadily going downhill because teachers there just can't be bothered making an effort to enforce school rules. That makes it a less effective learning environment for serious students there and is also leading to the more enthusiastic teachers trying to transfer out of the sinking ship as their attempts to work hard face an extremely uphill battle.

For me, the most rewarding thing I saw while I was placed at the school for two weeks, was seeing this guy with learning difficulties (in the bottom of eight classes) discovering an article he liked and struggling to read his way through it where he'd otherwise be pretty zoned out throughout the class. That class was pretty manageable because it was down to about 15 students and because of their various learning difficulties they had an almost full time teachers aid assigned to move through the school with them. It was the 6 and 7 bottom classes that caused all the stress for the teachers there, I doubt I'd stick to teaching if I came out of classes as wound up and frustrated as the teacher of one of those classes did (but that is another problem with teaching - it is a lot easier to get into than to make the transition out of - this guy was just going through a divorce, having to buy his wife's half of the house off her, was no way he could retire from teaching without facing major financial hardship).

Working with the hard hit schools in the USA might be one solution. What they're doing for indigenous medicine here is giving scholarships to those from the rural indigenous population to go and become doctors in the expectation that they'll go back to  their homelands to work there and improve things. Maybe what they really need, is to look at the brighter of those that do go through those US inner schools and see about getting them scholarships to become teachers and see if they'll return to their local schools to work there (it'd make for an interesting experiment if nothing else).

Maybe they just need a transfer credit system there like they have here. Every year spent in a least desirable school gives you the same credit to transfer as if you spent 3 years at a nice school. For really hard to fill places here, they're also trialing $5k bonuses as an incentive to get people out there. So the tough inner city schools get the fresh-out-of-uni enthusiastic teachers for two or three years until they have sufficient transfer credit to move in to a nice middle class school (though, this is one of the disincentives to becoming a teacher we experience here, the need to spend a few years where you don't want to be, before you can go somewhere you'd like to be - it does however ensure that teachers go where they are initially most needed).


a suggestion and a problem (3.80 / 5) (#13)
by gbroiles on Wed Aug 07, 2002 at 08:22:42 PM EST

the suggestion: instead of (or in addition to) offering paid education to people who agree to be teachers in the future, extend the college-tuition-paid benefit to the immediate families of current teachers, so that a teacher who makes $30K a year can be confident that if they stick with it for 20 years, their kids will be able to go to college without worrying about tuition.

the problem: all of this "paying for college" stuff just shifts costs onto the colleges, who are now expected to provide this education without being paid for it - it'll either look like a reduction of current income, or the addition of students who don't pay their tuition. so this doesn't really solve a "how do we fund education?" problem, just shifts the costs away from primary/secondary education onto public universities.
(unless, of course, the regular tuition amounts are paid to the universities by some external actor, like state or federal governments - but, still, it's just shifting costs, not eliminating them. though it does make them harder to see and fight about.)

Good idea, but still problematic (4.00 / 1) (#116)
by fathomghost on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 02:23:07 PM EST

This idea is really good, and I'm sure that it would give the teachers some incentive to keep teaching, but it's not without its problems.

1. If I were to work 20 years in a high paying field, my kids would also not need to worry about having to pay for college

2. Do we want to create a caste of teacher-types who go from generation to generation with free access to the halls of academia? I don't know that it is a good idea to give certain children a free ride as a birthright. One of the nice things about our society is that most people have to work their asses off to get ahead. As a result, our society, by and large, works its ass off. Something about the notion of a hereditary well educated elite doesn't sit well with me.

As far as shifting costs goes, that's the nature of capitalism.  Everything good comes at a cost. The behemoth that is our country might be hard to steer, but that doesn't mean we should just let go of the wheel.


------------------
"May the source be with you." --The JBoss Group
[ Parent ]

A caste of teachers? (4.00 / 1) (#138)
by TON on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 07:12:27 PM EST

Do we want to create a caste of teacher-types who go from generation to generation with free access to the halls of academia?

Not unlike open source, there are two kinds of "free" here. The children of teachers would still have to gain admission to a given school: no free access. Kids would not be able to knock on the doors or Harvard and say, "Lemme in! My 'rents are teachers!" (That caste already exists in a different form: "Yale! lemme in! My Daddy went here, and he's REAL important now!")

The proposed system would be a grant of tuition: free courses of study. Students would still have to work hard to gain admission to the school of their choice. I also suspect that states would limit the tuition grant to state schools, reducing cost. You would still have to work damn hard if you wanted to go to Julliard instead.

Finally, many of the children of teachers might choose not to become teachers after witnessing the travails of their parents firsthand.

Ted
---
"I could say it stronger
But it's too much trouble"


[ Parent ]

Good points, all around (none / 0) (#177)
by fathomghost on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 01:07:58 PM EST

I know I was reaching when I suggested the caste of teachers, but I see we both agree on the importance of hard work. Although I rail on americans, I do think we are hard workers. People who work hard for what they have generally appreciate it more. I'm not a big advocate of hereditary transfers of wealth, affluence, property, you name it. Of course I recieved none of these things from my parents, so I've got a chip on my shoulder.

------------------
"May the source be with you." --The JBoss Group
[ Parent ]
wha?? (2.83 / 6) (#16)
by VoxLobster on Wed Aug 07, 2002 at 09:02:27 PM EST

But what if we could offer people something - perhaps, a free college education - in return for teaching?

Whaaa?? I hope you mean offer them another college education, because I would hope that teachers (in the US by the sounds of it) have a college education. Here in Canada you need a lot more than that to teach. You need a University Degree (different than a diploma here) and a degree in teaching from a university as well.

VoxLobster
I was raised by a cup of coffee! -- Homsar

to clarify (4.00 / 1) (#18)
by scatbubba on Wed Aug 07, 2002 at 09:34:03 PM EST

I believe in the US, College is the equivilent of University in canada. Ever hear of Ivy League College? They aren't talking about beauty school there. On the topic of teacher education requirements in canada, a single degree in Education is all that's required. If you ever go to university, you will quickly find yourself underwhelmed with the acedemic requirements placed on would be teachers, which explains a lot if you think back (or forward depending on how old you are ;) about how smart your teachers were aside from what was in their answer books. I don't mean to offend teachers, and yes there are some very gifted teachers too, but by and large....

[ Parent ]
clarify something for me (4.00 / 1) (#20)
by VoxLobster on Wed Aug 07, 2002 at 10:00:36 PM EST

in the US, are university and college considered generally the same thing? If not, what's the difference? You are right about only needing one degree for teaching in Canada (I just verified it with my sister, who is a teacher), but many end up going the route of doing a degree, and then attending "teacher's college", which is where they get their teaching education. That's where I made my mistake. What are the requirements to teach in the states?

VoxLobster
I was raised by a cup of coffee! -- Homsar
[ Parent ]

some answers (3.00 / 1) (#25)
by scatbubba on Wed Aug 07, 2002 at 10:21:22 PM EST

I never hear of people in the US using the term University. I think they use the term College instead of Univeristy to describe the same thing. As far as requirements in the US to be a teacher, i don't know, being Canadian and all. Someone from the US please fill us in. What does it take to be a teacher, and what do you call the schools you go to after high school where you get 2 year diplomas? In canada, these places are called College.

[ Parent ]
Terminology... (3.00 / 1) (#30)
by AngelKnight on Wed Aug 07, 2002 at 11:20:39 PM EST

2-year college -> "junior college"


[ Parent ]
US education (4.00 / 1) (#26)
by Lord of the Wasteland on Wed Aug 07, 2002 at 10:22:52 PM EST

For most purposes, colleges and universities are interchangeable in the US. Universities are often bigger and contain special-purpose colleges within them. The requirements to be a teacher vary from state to state, but generally you get a bachelors degree from a college/university and then start taking graduate courses in education as you start teaching.

BTW, in reference to your topmost post, the idea is to offer a college education in return for future teaching.

[ Parent ]

Yea. (4.00 / 1) (#43)
by X3nocide on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 01:49:16 AM EST

The term 'Univeristy' and 'College' is mostly interchangable in American english conversations. Although, technically a University is a collection of Colleges according to the dictionaries. Like Kansas State University. I say I go to college at KSU, but when talking with people at KSU I'm also under the College of Engineering. The only thing you need to enter into a 4 year degree program is a high school dimploma and some test scores really. Of course there are things that would approximate what a Canadian/European college is. We call them "junior colleges" and are mostly community service colleges where the most you can get is a general "associates degree."

As far as teaching requirements in the USA, thats a state to state thing (hurray states rights!). In Kansas I believe you can get away with a special 2 year degree in elementary education or the like from a lesser institution (an exception to the rule) and pass a certification program.

pwnguin.net
[ Parent ]

I think the idea is (4.50 / 2) (#28)
by aphrael on Wed Aug 07, 2002 at 11:13:25 PM EST

that if someone has taken out student loans in order to pay for their university education, the state would forgive their loans in exchange for a number of years of teaching. The thing is, that program already exists; it's called the Perkins Loan and it phases loan forgiveness in over five years.

[ Parent ]
Perkins doesn't cover everything. (5.00 / 1) (#58)
by TON on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 05:55:21 AM EST

A 5,000 USD a year limit for graduate students, and you may get less than that, means that you may need other loans or work. Perkins loans, helped, but did not cover my MA in ESL Education at a state school. Work while studying is an option, but trying to make ends meet in Boston, for example, is no mean feat while also studying hard.

Ted
---
"I could say it stronger
But it's too much trouble"


[ Parent ]

The problem *is* Public Education (3.80 / 10) (#17)
by duncan bayne on Wed Aug 07, 2002 at 09:14:36 PM EST

What's wrong with the Public Education System? The fact that we have a Public Education System at all.

The current system forces parents to pay for a substandard system, removes their control over the education of their children, and in a neat twist teaches the children to expect the state to educate them, rather than their parents or institutions of their parents choosing.

An Educational Game is an excellent satirical observation on the state of Public Education, by Joseph Rowlands. I strongly recommend you read it - it's entertaining as well as insightful. Two of my favourite quotes from the article are:

"Children [are] very curious, and given the chance, they'll try to learn on their own. To prevent this, the first thing we'd need to do is lock up all of the children."
"The first part to permanently prevent education is to destroy the children's ability to learn. This can be done in a myriad of ways. Teach an un-integrated view of history. Have them spend their time memorizing useless trivia. Encourage them to accept ideas from authority figures on faith. Give them contradictions and claim that they're true, in order to prevent logical consistency. After years of this torture, it'd be extremely difficult for them to recover."


To whom it may concern: (3.00 / 1) (#21)
by JChen on Wed Aug 07, 2002 at 10:00:52 PM EST

this man has provided a pretty damn viable rebuttal against the system, and just because you disagree with his point of view does not give you justification to vote his response down.

Let us do as we say.
[ Parent ]
I didn't vote him down (3.00 / 1) (#24)
by duncan bayne on Wed Aug 07, 2002 at 10:14:39 PM EST

IIRC, I voted him up - if I didn't, blame the UI travesty that is the combo box :-). I believe this topic needs discussion, and his article was well-written and likely to provoke such debate.



[ Parent ]
To each man (2.00 / 1) (#27)
by JChen on Wed Aug 07, 2002 at 11:00:34 PM EST

his own view, but I wasn't talking about you.

Let us do as we say.
[ Parent ]
SprintF (3.00 / 1) (#61)
by Shren on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 07:00:05 AM EST

Is just bitter about his buffer overruns anyway.

[ Parent ]
Parents choice... (4.50 / 2) (#31)
by AngelKnight on Wed Aug 07, 2002 at 11:26:45 PM EST

Travel America a little.  Try to meet the people (who seem receptive enough to meeting you back) you pass by.

Then work out how much focus, discipline and energy to discipline their young they will have.  Then think about whether or not the (extra and hypothetical) burden of being completely responsible for the child's education would really be met.

Just my opinion, I guess.  But from my outlook, there will be many, many parents who will not ensure the education of their children.

off-topic: Personally, a parenting license would be nice.  Only problem is, no one would trust the licensors.

[ Parent ]

I agree with you (4.00 / 1) (#33)
by duncan bayne on Wed Aug 07, 2002 at 11:55:51 PM EST

Just my opinion, I guess. But from my outlook, there will be many, many parents who will not ensure the education of their children.

I agree - the majority of parents nowadays probably wouldn't make the effort to educate their children properly (either at home, or through private education). However, I don't see how that makes it right to force everyone else to subsidise and use a state education system.



[ Parent ]
Why is it right? (5.00 / 2) (#34)
by pyramid termite on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 12:08:17 AM EST

However, I don't see how that makes it right to force everyone else to subsidise and use a state education system.

It's right because the cost of having ignorant, untrained, illiterate and unadaptable people (more than we have already) is too high. You seem to be arguing from a Libertarian perspective - has it ever occured to you that a less educated, or non-educated populace is much more likely to be led into extreme statist solutions? That they're more likely to do stupid things that endanger you or tear at the fabric of society?

I'm not going to say that the public school system as we know it is the best solution - it's not. But we have to have something in place.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Interesting claims (3.00 / 1) (#37)
by duncan bayne on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 12:44:41 AM EST

It's right because the cost of having ignorant, untrained, illiterate and unadaptable people (more than we have already) is too high.

Do you have any evidence to back up your claims? If parents are provided with tax cuts so that single-income families become viable (e.g. one parent stays at home to raise and educate children), why do you assume standards of education would slip from where they're at now? Do you honestly believe they could slip further?

Also, consider that your argument applies equally to Eugenics. Where do you personally draw the line at violating individual rights for the supposed (but unprovable) benefit of the community?

You seem to be arguing from a Libertarian perspective - has it ever occured to you that a less educated, or non-educated populace is much more likely to be led into extreme statist solutions?

You may be right - but I don't see how one could rationally advocate statism to prevent statism. That seems somewhat self-defeating.

At any rate, you haven't addressed the key issue, which is the moral validity of forcing people to subsidise and use a state system. Your argument so far is analagous to arguing in favour of theft being considered moral if there are two theives and one victim.



[ Parent ]
It's a question of what you choose (5.00 / 4) (#44)
by pyramid termite on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 02:06:48 AM EST

Do you have any evidence to back up your claims?

My claim that ignorant people are dangerous? Well, hmmm. Let me ask you a question - when you take a plane do you take one with a licensed pilot or someone who's never flown before? When you have a medical problem do you see a doctor who's graduated from medical school or some guy down the street selling miracle pills? Or, to stick to the discussion, when you are busy advocating your libertarian philosophies to your fellow voters are they more likely to understand you if they're educated, or if they gave up at the point where Spot ran after Dick and Jane?

Do you really believe that ignorance is costless to society as a whole? Stupidity kills - and not just the stupid. And you can't possibly be so obtuse as to want evidence for something so blindingly obvious. You might as well say that we should abandon civilization and agriculture and hunt each other for food until there's a small enough number of us to live on the land.

If parents are provided with tax cuts so that single-income families become viable (e.g. one parent stays at home to raise and educate children), why do you assume standards of education would slip from where they're at now?

Because many parents aren't sufficiently educated or motivated enough.

Do you honestly believe they could slip further?

Of course they could.

You may be right - but I don't see how one could rationally advocate statism to prevent statism. That seems somewhat self-defeating.

*Extreme* statism. Such as the Soviet Union, China or Cambodia ...

At any rate, you haven't addressed the key issue, which is the moral validity of forcing people to subsidise and use a state system.

As a member of the civilized world, you are dependent on other people; shouldn't they depend on you for a few things, too? And yes, I know, I know, you should have the freedom to determine what useful things you can do in exchange for what services you can get from them without the statists decreeing what you and those others should trade. But there's a problem with that - ANY group of people (and let's face it, people get most of their work done in groups) is going to require things from you that you may not necessarily think should have anything to do with the things you are trying to exchange with them. I don't think, for example, that getting my urine tested for a job where I'm ringing up a cash register has a damn thing to do with how well I'm going to perform that work - obviously, if I'm so stoned I screw up, then I'm not doing the job and should get canned. As long as I'm performing the task, what's the problem? But, none the less, if I want that job, I'm going to be pissing in a cup. In short, I make a compromise.

You criticize the statists, but ANY group of people is going to assume state-like functions, whether it be a government, a corporation, a Objectivist Discussion Club, or a poker game. They are going to force you to subsidise and use their system - and no, don't tell me there's no competitor for government. There are people living in the US who don't have ID, who don't pay taxes and don't send their kids to school. A few do all three. And the more intelligent of them get away with it. But they're still subject to the good will of their neighbors and the willingness of people to employ them under the table, and often, the demands a neighborhood can make, or a company can make can be the same a government would make. In short, you can choose whose rules you're going to follow and under what circumstances you're going to follow them under, but inevitably, you're going to be making quite a few compromises.

OK. I've visited your web site. I see you seem to live a fairly comfortable existence; a fairly typical American one. In exchange for this, one of the compromises you've made is having the state take some of your money for the educational system. Now, if there was no state to pay for that, but your company and thousands of others like it, still needed educated people to work for them what would they do? They'd get together and pay teachers to do so and your wages would be probably have to be reduced somewhat to pay for it. In short, you've traded a government, electorial state for a corporate, cooperative state. And you're still making compromises.

Getting back to your lifestyle. You have a choice. You can buy some fertile land in an area with minimal taxes, grow most of your own food and subsist on under the table jobs - as a programer, maybe you wouldn't even need to have the land and farm. You can drop out and be subjected to a minimal amount of force by the government. There are millions of people doing this - I'm not one of them. But my point is, whether we live in a government state or a cooperative/competitive corporate state, you're still going to be paying for things you don't need and compromising - or dropping out. You can argue that you have the right to be free as you can make yourself - but you don't have the right to be comfortable as you do it. As for myself - I'm more concerned with how useful I am and how I fulfill the responsibilities I have freely taken upon myself, than my personal rights. I've traded some of those rights for responsibilities, and I think it's a bargain.

I will point out one more thing - at least with government, you can vote for who you want to run it.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
I think the problem is (4.00 / 1) (#91)
by dasunt on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 11:19:42 AM EST

That a single parent can't be an expert in biology, history, physics, calculus, economics, literature, grammer, statistics, and logic.

I would assume that a home schooled child would have an inferior education compared to an 'ideal' school. Hell, in the US, something like 20% of the people believe that humans and dinosaurs lived side-by-side. I'm sorry, but when comparing the average parent to the average teacher, I'm willing to bet money on the teacher knowing the particular field better.

Just my $.02



[ Parent ]
Flaw in Assumptions (4.00 / 1) (#108)
by virg on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 01:40:51 PM EST

You've got a major flaw in your assumption. That flaw is to assume that when one homeschools a child, the parent(s) is/are the only teacher/mentor a child ever meets. Why would this be the case? When a parent who homeschools doesn't know fact X or Y, what makes you think that they wouldn't look it up, present a teacher/mentor that knows more, call in a tutor for advanced subjects, or any of a hundred other options that don't fit the "guess or ignore" idea that you seem to assume? If I seem a little irritable about this, please don't take it personally, it's just that I've been presented with this idea all too often, and it really doesn't hold much merit.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
Wait a minute! (3.50 / 2) (#110)
by Icehouseman on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 01:49:48 PM EST

A single parent can't be an expert in biology, history, physics, calculus, economics, literature, grammer, statistics, and logic.

If the parent doesn't know these subjects, then the public schools must not have done a very good job at educating the parents. Besides that any parent who would home school their kids are 100 times more logical than the parents who send their kids to school to be indoctrinated in to being good little citizens and how wonderful the government is.
----------------
Bush's $3 trillion state is allegedly a mark of "anti-government bias" on the right. -- Anthony Gregory
[ Parent ]

Things change... (none / 0) (#167)
by dasunt on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 12:16:04 PM EST

Icehouseman writes: If the parent doesn't know these subjects, then the public schools must not have done a very good job at educating the parents.

Things change. 20 years ago, concepts that weren't discussed/taught are being taught now. A good example of this is the 'Punctuated Equillibrium' model of evolution. Or how about the advances in biology? Did your parents learn about gene therapy in school? Advanced physics have had a few new theories proposed, while in astronomy, the existance of planets outside this solar system have been proved in the last 10 years.

As far as school goes for indoctrinating children, I'm more worried about that noisy little picture box most people have in their living rooms and (it seems) can't manage to turn it off.

Just my $.02



[ Parent ]
Wait another minute and stuff. (none / 0) (#174)
by Icehouseman on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:03:03 PM EST

Things change. 20 years ago, concepts that weren't discussed/taught are being taught now. A good example of this is the 'Punctuated Equillibrium' model of evolution. Or how about the advances in biology? Did your parents learn about gene therapy in school? Advanced physics have had a few new theories proposed, while in astronomy, the existance of planets outside this solar system have been proved in the last 10 years.

Wait another minute; I graduated from high school 4 years ago and I didn't learn about any of this, except about other planets beyond our solar system. Who says kids are learning any of this now in school? I guess my point is that, no matter what you think they're teaching in school; doesn't mean they are teaching it and just because teachers are certified to teach kids, doesn't mean that a parents can't do a good or as a good job.

Also if you're more worried about television (which has an off button) than a government school (which doesn't, at least when it comes to giving crappy; half-assed education that sucks up more money than neccesary); you're pretty clueless.
----------------
Bush's $3 trillion state is allegedly a mark of "anti-government bias" on the right. -- Anthony Gregory
[ Parent ]

Odd (3.00 / 1) (#176)
by dasunt on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 10:31:56 AM EST

Both Punctuated Equillibrium and Gene Therapy were mentioned in school. I graduated in 1996, which was 6 years ago.

Guess I had a spiffier local education system.

Although, the true reason is probably that most teachers don't make a big effort to keep up in their field. So, assuming that a teacher 'teaches' for about 30 years, the average teacher is teaching what was current 15 years ago.



[ Parent ]
Don't have to use (3.50 / 2) (#99)
by m3000 on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 12:46:36 PM EST

I don't see how that makes it right to force everyone else to subsidise and use a state education system.

You don't have to use the state system. You could choose private schools, or do what thousands of other parents do: home school. Granted you would still have to pay for public schooling, but most states I believe allow you to home school your children if you want. But given that home schooling is still fairly rare, I think that's evidence at how few people really would want to be in total control of their childs education. They don't ahve the time, energy, motivation, or knowledge to teach their children as well as they could in public school.

[ Parent ]
Sounds like Gatto (none / 0) (#64)
by 8ctavIan on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 07:26:16 AM EST

Sounds a lot like what John Taylor Gatto has to say. American public education is pretty much 'fubar' and should be scrapped.

Gatto has a good website and an online book.


Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what stings is justice. -- H.L. Mencken
[ Parent ]

Why we need public education: the selfish argument (4.50 / 2) (#151)
by wiml on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 01:16:38 AM EST

You can't have a viable democracy without an educated populace. A big chunk of the people with kids simply don't have the money to pay for a good education for their children out of their own pocket. Another big chunk probably aren't willing to pay. If we want our neighbors and fellow decision-makers twenty years from now to have any sense, we're going to have to pay for their education now.

Or, to look at the same argument from another perspective: why should someone lose the benefit of an education, not through any fault of their own, but just because their parents can't or won't pay? In particular: why should we be denied the potential fruits of their minds? If you look at the backgrounds of geniuses, innovators, or even simple hard workers who have produced great things, you'll notice they don't all come from rich families. Many come from poor families. If we decide not to educate a segment of our populace, we lose a lot of what they might do, and we are all poorer as a result.

[ Parent ]

I am optimistic. (3.60 / 10) (#19)
by Uncle Noam Chomsky on Wed Aug 07, 2002 at 09:36:35 PM EST

Which says a lot coming from someone no one understands and everyone misrepresents.

The role of education has always been ideological and practical indoctrination in the ways and means to preserve the material bases for society. Since American society needs more consumers and technicians than mathematicians, American schools will churn out kurobots and slashdroids instead of thoughtful, intelligent people. For eerily similar reasons, the distinctly American phenomenon of the libertarian is hardly a coincidence; a libertarian is nothing more spectacular than a technician with disposable income to squander on Heinlein.

Let me give you another example.

"The system tried to kill me when its minions uncovered my plans to attend graduate studies in Eco-Communism."

You will object to this startling fact, and in the cognitive dissonance of your academic and Humanist's pedigree (the Age of Reason, always "reason," never irreducible material reality) try to marginalize its truth by citing the fallacy of anecdotal evidence or Okra's razor. However, neither the "fallacy" nor the "razor" has any philosophical justification! Heinlein's anecdotes about sleeping with Sri Lankan pre-pubescent children are not refuted by Okra's razor, even if the latter pleads for our disbelief in the former. Why, then, do you wear out these bromides with their uncritical repetition?

Good question, a question that penetrates past the heart of the matter and into very dialectic consistency of society. We may as well ask fish why they think water is a liberal myth. ;-)

However, we must not confine ourselves to this incontrovertible but too theoretical fact of indoctrination. The next time our school boards revise their quarterly budgets we must take matter up in a practical way, as well. In the first place, of course, we shall have to cut down the expenditure of government departments other than the People's Department of Homeland Education, and the sums thus released should be assigned for the latter's needs. In a year like the present, when we are under relentless attack from abroad, we must not spare an increase in the bread and pork ration for schoolteachers.

In the longer run, we should not restrict the reformation of public education to the unsociable fields of math and science. A lot is being done to incite teachers out of their rut, to attract them to the new problems of global hegemony, to arouse their interest in the new Propaganda Model of Education, and to address the lamentable and distinct lack of religion in the curriculum.

But we are not doing the main thing! If we take the Homeland Vocational Board, for example, we shall find far too much that is superfluous and inflated by the departmental influence of leftivist faculty. Many adjustments will have to be made in order to satisfy the requirements of a rational public education. First, we must purge the vocational ranks of suspected Open Source leaders and followers. The Department of Homeland Defense has devised a series of purity tests for that very purpose. Second, considering the state of innumeracy among enlisted men as revealed by our latest statistics, we must make every effort to economize and stop throwing good money after bad. To that end, Fine Arts programs, which are playthings of semi-aristocratic European types, will be closed.

We must bear in mind the Oriental ignorance from which we have not yet extricated ourselves, and from which we cannot extricate ourselves without strenuous effort and sacrifice. The American people know this. Nowhere are the masses of the people so interested in real culture as they are in our country. Nowhere are the problems of culture tackled so thoroughly and consistently as they are in our military. In no other country is state power in the hands of the working-class which in its market wisdom is fully aware that Johnny cant read too good.

But, and here is the reason for my optimism, no other people are actually making the strenuous sacrifices to improve Johhny's position that Americans are.

I write too much.

---
I am not the Noam Chomsky your big sister studied in college. I am the Noam Chomsky who fucked her in the faculty lounge.

No, you are a pedantic idiot. (5.00 / 3) (#101)
by fathomghost on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 12:58:17 PM EST

I write too much.

No, you don't write too much. You read too little, and could probably stand to listen to talk radio every once in a while, or maybe have a conversation with someone outside of the professoriat.

Before you post again, please do yourself a favor and read "In Our Time" by Ernest Hemingway, and perhaps "The Elements of Style". Then come back here and write until your heart's content.

Until that time, I'll do what I can for the rest of you to translate this guy's post.

Enjoy:
======================
Which says a lot coming from someone no one understands and everyone misrepresents.

I believe I am Chomsky. I will use large words to make up for the small size of my penis now.

The role of education has always been ideological and practical indoctrination in the ways and means to preserve the material bases for society. Since American society needs more consumers and technicians than mathematicians, American schools will churn out kurobots and slashdroids instead of thoughtful, intelligent people. For eerily similar reasons, the distinctly American phenomenon of the libertarian is hardly a coincidence; a libertarian is nothing more spectacular than a technician with disposable income to squander on Heinlein.

Countries need teachers so that children won't be stupid. The U.S. prefers to keep its citizens stupid. U.S. schools don't need to do a good job educating children. This is also why there are many libertarians. Libertarians are stupid. Heinlein is also stupid.

Let me give you another example.

"The system tried to kill me when its minions uncovered my plans to attend graduate studies in Eco-Communism."

I am either a raving lunatic, or I am quoting an anonymous reference. This is a grand gesture, and I think it will impress people. I am also a rebel, because I am a communist.

You will object to this startling fact, and in the cognitive dissonance of your academic and Humanist's pedigree (the Age of Reason, always "reason," never irreducible material reality) try to marginalize its truth by citing the fallacy of anecdotal evidence or Okra's razor. However, neither the "fallacy" nor the "razor" has any philosophical justification! Heinlein's anecdotes about sleeping with Sri Lankan pre-pubescent children are not refuted by Okra's razor, even if the latter pleads for our disbelief in the former. Why, then, do you wear out these bromides with their uncritical repetition?

At this time you may have noticed that I am a lunatic. I have a large vocabulary, however, so you should be impressed and assume whatever I say is true. I also know quite a bit about every one of you. Since you are not me, you must either be stupid, a libertarian, or a humanist who never read any philosophy beyond Kant. Because I am a raving loony, you might be tempted to ignore me. I know you will try to marginalize me, either by proving me wrong or using Ockham's razor. However, neither reason nor logic have anything to do with my argument. Heinlein was gay, and nobody could reason him out of it, even though they wanted to. Why do people always argue with me?

Good question, a question that penetrates past the heart of the matter and into very dialectic consistency of society. We may as well ask fish why they think water is a liberal myth. ;-)

That is the secret to my madness, you see? I understand the secrets of the human mind! I sometimes talk to fish, but they don't listen to me, either.

However, we must not confine ourselves to this incontrovertible but too theoretical fact of indoctrination. The next time our school boards revise their quarterly budgets we must take matter up in a practical way, as well. In the first place, of course, we shall have to cut down the expenditure of government departments other than the People's Department of Homeland Education, and the sums thus released should be assigned for the latter's needs. In a year like the present, when we are under relentless attack from abroad, we must not spare an increase in the bread and pork ration for school teachers.

We can't let schools get away with teaching our kids. We must overthrow the school boards--it is the practical thing to do. We must reduce the size of the government. Please forget what I said about Libertarians being stupid. Brainwashing our children should be our country's primary concern. Long live regimentation. Now, when we spend more money on our military than the EU and Russia combined, we must refuse to reward the people who raise our children for us.

In the longer run, we should not restrict the reformation of public education to the unsociable fields of math and science. A lot is being done to incite teachers out of their rut, to attract them to the new problems of global hegemony, to arouse their interest in the new Propaganda Model of Education, and to address the lamentable and distinct lack of religion in the curriculum.

I believe that math and science should be stricken from the curriculum and that our schools should teach more sociable things, like how much like God the U.S. is when we firebomb cities. Children need to fear God and the Gov't.

But we are not doing the main thing! If we take the Homeland Vocational Board, for example, we shall find far too much that is superfluous and inflated by the departmental influence of leftivist faculty. Many adjustments will have to be made in order to satisfy the requirements of a rational public education. First, we must purge the vocational ranks of suspected Open Source leaders and followers. The Department of Homeland Defense has devised a series of purity tests for that very purpose. Second, considering the state of innumeracy among enlisted men as revealed by our latest statistics, we must make every effort to economize and stop throwing good money after bad. To that end, Fine Arts programs, which are playthings of semi-aristocratic European types, will be closed.

I believe the U.S. should abandon math and science in favor of a "rational" public education, grounded in the undeniable material existence of God, who hates democrats and libertarians. Open source software developers have taken over our school districts and teach our children to think. We must drive off anyone suspected of having any involvement with Open Source software groups. This includes reading the source code of HTML pages in your web browser. Only God-fearing republicans will remain and then we can all procreate with impunity. Because the soldiers in our military can't add, we must stop spending money on bad things. Fine arts programs should be eliminated, because they make people happy like they are over in Europe.

We must bear in mind the Oriental ignorance from which we have not yet extricated ourselves, and from which we cannot extricate ourselves without strenuous effort and sacrifice. The American people know this. Nowhere are the masses of the people so interested in real culture as they are in our country. Nowhere are the problems of culture tackled so thoroughly and consistently as they are in our military. In no other country is state power in the hands of the working-class which in its market wisdom is fully aware that Johnny cant read too good.

Never forget your fiber supplement if you are going to eat a lot of oriental food. I strained until the toilet was full of blood this morning. Gives a new meaning to the Rose Bowl. American people know a lot about hemhorroids. We also like the Rose Bowl very much. American people love bathroom jokes more than any other people in the world, because we are funnier than they are. Our soldiers tell better better bathroom jokes than the rest of us combined. No country other than America actually lets the illiterate impoverished people have any control over their lives. I hope you don't think about European countries when I say this, because then you could argue with me and remind me how much of an idiot I am.

But, and here is the reason for my optimism, no other people are actually making the strenuous sacrifices to improve Johhny's position that Americans are.

I am happy with the world just like it is. I never want anything to change, and I certainly do not want to contribute to its progress.

I write too much.

I am proud of my use of large words and sweeping illogical rhetoric. I am going to masturbate now.

======================

; )

--fathomghost


---
Windows is a 64 bit rewrite for a 32 bit extension to a 16 bit GUI on an 8 bit OS written for a 4 bit architecture by a 2 bit company who can't stand 1 bit of competition.

------------------
"May the source be with you." --The JBoss Group
[ Parent ]
fathomghost, with all due respect ... (none / 0) (#104)
by pyramid termite on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 01:30:54 PM EST

... that was a troll. And an unusually amusing one.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
You are correct. (none / 0) (#124)
by fathomghost on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 03:57:00 PM EST

It was very much a troll.  I just hate it when people try to flex their brains and wax discursive in order to cow their opponents. It reminds me of this movie I once saw:

======================

CLARK
           Hey, I'm the last guy to want to talk
           about school at the bar. But as long
           as you're here I want to "seize" the
           opportunity to ask you a question.

Billy shifts his beer into his left hand. Will and Morgan see
this. Morgan rolls his eyes as if to say "not again..."

                        CLARK (cont'd)
           Oh, I'm sure you covered it in your
           history class.

Clark looks to see if the girls are impressed. They are not.
When Clark looks back to Chuckie, Skylar turns to Lydia and
rolls her [own] eyes. They laugh. Will sees this and smiles.

                        CHUCKIE
           To tell you the truth, I wasn't there
           much. The class was rather elementary.

                        CLARK
           Elementary? Oh, I don't doubt that it
           was. I remember the class, it was
           just between recess and lunch.

Will and Billy come forward, stand behind Chuckie.

                        CHUCKIE
           All right, are we gonna have a problem?

                        CLARK
           There's no problem. I was just hoping
           you could give me some insight into
           the evolution of the market economy in
           the early colonies. My contention is
           that prior to the Revolutionary War
           the economic modalities especially of
           the southern colonies could most aptly
           be characterized as agrarian pre-
           capitalist and...

Will, who at this point has migrated to Chuckie's side and is
completely fed-up, includes himself in the conversation.

                        WILL
           Of course that's your contention.
           You're a first year grad student.
           You just finished some Marxian
           historian, Pete Garrison prob'ly, and
           so naturally that's what you believe
           until next month when you get to James
           Lemon and get convinced that Virginia
           and Pennsylvania were strongly
           entrepreneurial and capitalist back in
           1740. That'll last until sometime in
           your second year, then you'll be in
           here regurgitating Gordon Wood about
           the Pre-revolutionary utopia and the
           capital-forming effects of military
           mobilization.

                        CLARK
                 (taken aback)
           Well, as a matter of fact, I won't,
           because Wood drastically underestimates
           the impact of--

                        WILL
           --"Wood drastically underestimates the
           impact of social distinctions predicated
           upon wealth, especially inherited
           wealth..." You got that from "Work in
           Essex County," Page 421, right? Do
           you have any thoughts of your own on
           the subject or were you just gonna
           plagerize the whole book for me?

Clark is stunned.

                        WILL(cont'd)
           Look, don't try to pass yourself off
           as some kind of an intellect at the
           expense of my friend just to impress
           these girls.

Clark is lost now, searching for a graceful exit, any exit.

                        WILL (cont'd)
           The sad thing is, in about 50 years
           you might start doin' some thinkin' on
           your own and by then you'll realize
           there are only two certainties in life.

                        CLARK
           Yeah? What're those?

                        WILL
           One, don't do that. Two-- you dropped
           a hundred and fifty grand on an
           education you coulda' picked up for a
           dollar fifty in late charges at the
           Public Library.

------------------
"May the source be with you." --The JBoss Group
[ Parent ]

Your translation is woefully inadequate. (1.00 / 2) (#114)
by Uncle Noam Chomsky on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 02:02:32 PM EST

Oh, I do not mean to imply your distortion of meaning was not accomplished with an economy of syllable. I do not mean to imply your language was simple. What I mean is, you are simple. Thus, while you successfully managed to convey ideas to the American soldiers in your audience, they were not my ideas; predictably, they were a repetition of the fully formed ideas already present in your audience. If you wish to escape from the wafer-thin "consensus" that masquerades for popular dialogue, I strongly recommend you read Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. Part of your inoculation against propaganda is to become aware of it in the first place. Contrary to the Bolshevik cabal in Charlotte's Web, "open" boards like the bourgeois Kuro5hin rely on less overt and obvious (but even more insidious) Kurobotswanans to exercise censure and keep unwanted ideas out of the popular consciousness. These Kurobotswanans are primarily acolytes of their charismatic rulers. Oh, I do not mean to imply your slovenly abuse of the translation process is the fault of little words. I mean your translation is ugly and inaccurate because your thoughts are foolish, because you have not read widely outside the perimeter of your liberalist ideology, and because your slovenly abuse of the English language makes it easier for you to have foolish thoughts.

---
Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the American media.
[ Parent ]

Dammit, there is no K5 Cabal!!! (5.00 / 1) (#123)
by fathomghost on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 03:36:50 PM EST

Writing good comments, dear sir, has less to do with the size of your words than it does with the logical flow of your argument. A good writer should either to back up whatever claims s/he makes with factual evidence or admit that it is his/her opinion.

Taking both sides of an argument into consideration before you post is also very useful, because it respects the opinions of those who might not agree with you. Furthermore, it shows that you accept the possibility you might be wrong, which is an admirable trait in any writer. A good critic will focus his/her commentary on the writing and the ideas expressed therein, and spend less energy on self-gratifying manipulation of the prose.

What I mean is, you are simple.

You see, you have provided no textual evidence to back up this assertion. I, on the other hand have a great deal of evidence in support of my original thesis, which is that you are an extremely pedantic idiot who not only has no idea how to write a compelling comment, but also cannot seem to construct the simplest of logical arguments.

And now, because I actually am well instructed in this art, I shall show you my evidence, and the flaws in your above argument.

Part of your inoculation against propaganda is to become aware of it in the first place.

It is interesting that you should mention this, because my previous post was to point out the comic book good vs. evil nature of your original argument. You, sir are as guilty of propagandist rhetoric in your commentary as was Leni Reifenstahl, though fortunately for the civilised world you are not nearly as skilled. Take, for example, your use of the Libertarian strawdog. Anyone who poses an intelligent argument against your impressionistic ravings can simply be called a Libertarian, with all its 'dreadful' implications. You may discover, however, that we K5ians are not children to be distracted by mere pyrotechnics. Your discursive prose style is strained, ineffectual, uncommunicative, and about as interesting to the average reader as are card tricks in the dark.

Oh, I do not mean to imply your slovenly abuse of the translation process is the fault of little words. I mean your translation is ugly and inaccurate because your thoughts are foolish, because you have not read widely outside the perimeter of your liberalist ideology, and because your slovenly abuse of the English language makes it easier for you to have foolish thoughts.

You are also mistaken here. Your argument is incapable of appraising the quality of my thoughts. Only that of my writing. However, you have declined to do so. If my understanding of your previous post is inaccurate, perhaps you should have written it better, or perhaps you should clarify the argument. Your above comments are equally incapable of proving the extent of my education. It is a matter best left to speculation, or (more intelligently) never mentioned. You've only hamstrung yourself and further proven my point.

In return, I assert that your own slovenly abuse of the English language makes it easier for you to have foolish thoughts. How else can you explain your droning, forsoothly monologues? I'm sorry, sir, but you are no Derrida, no Levi-Strauss, no Raymond Williams, and despite the grand gestures, no Chomsky.

By the way, thanks for the link. When I'm through with it I just might return to your first post and finish the vivisection.

Cheers : )

fathomghost

------------------
"May the source be with you." --The JBoss Group
[ Parent ]
Ask not what my writing says... (1.00 / 2) (#131)
by Uncle Noam Chomsky on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 04:48:16 PM EST

Ask what it does.

Thank you for the windy point-by-point indulgence in your anal-retentive and literalist faculties. I notice you decided to torture a few metaphors in your callow attempt to imitate the intelligence of your superiors. Sadly, I write much better than you ever will, and in more styles than you will ever comprehend.

Your "close reading" of my comments in the superficial detail of "words on a page" disregards anything outside the words themselves, including my biography, the context in which my writing appears, structure, tone, irony, and how critics and readers will respond to the message. In my writing, form and content are fused together with the reader in his or her environment, and each becomes integral part of the literary experience. It may surprise you to learn that you have become an integral part of my narrative!

A good writer should [...]

publish.

---
Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the American media.
[ Parent ]

I had a dog that did what your writing does ... (none / 0) (#144)
by pyramid termite on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 11:47:54 PM EST

... and no matter how I tried, I just couldn't get him to stop doing it.

Sadly, I write much better than you ever will, and in more styles than you will ever comprehend.

Have you considered treatment for your depression?

In my writing, form and content are fused together with the reader in his or her environment, and each becomes integral part of the literary experience.

Have you considered publishing on paper instead of nuclear bombs?

It may surprise you to learn that you have become an integral part of my narrative!

Which is, of course, merely a entertaining part of MY narrative.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Your dog ate your homework? (none / 0) (#147)
by Uncle Noam Chomsky on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 12:21:36 AM EST

My Border Collie will do your algebra in exchange for bacon treats. That way you can stay up school nights and taunt us with your rapier wit.

---
I am not the Noam Chomsky your big sister studied in college. I am the Noam Chomsky who fucked her in the faculty lounge.
[ Parent ]

Hypocrite!! (none / 0) (#152)
by pyramid termite on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 01:36:26 AM EST

My Border Collie will do your algebra in exchange for bacon treats.

I don't know why I should be a party to your economic exploitation of the lower class ... Oh, say it ain't so, Noam, say it ain't so!

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
What Would Chomsky Do? (none / 0) (#179)
by fathomghost on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 01:31:33 PM EST

torture a few metaphors in your callow attempt to imitate the intelligence of your superiors.

Need I remind you of your reference to "Okra's Razor"? Correct me if I'm mistaken, but you're the one parading around like he's Noam Chomsky. I'm just your shadow, the more reasonable side of your subconscious. If you were Noam Chomsky you wouldn't be wasting your time defending a wounded ego, and you'd probably have a larger and more attentive audience here at K5.

Sadly, I write much better than you ever will, and in more styles than you will ever comprehend.

As your ratings clearly illustrate. I see no reason to continue this thread. Have a nice weekend, Mr. Chomsky.



------------------
"May the source be with you." --The JBoss Group
[ Parent ]
Ha ha! You don't know Okra's raisins. (2.50 / 2) (#180)
by Uncle Noam Chomsky on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 03:20:19 PM EST

Correct me if I'm mistaken

Shoor, shoor, here you go: you're thick.

---
Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the American media.
[ Parent ]

Why would anyone write this? (none / 0) (#173)
by RyoCokey on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 04:39:48 PM EST

It just boggles the mind.



The troops returning home are worried. "We've lost the peace," men tell you. "We can't make it stick." - John Dos Passos
[ Parent ]
teaching, student loans, and retro (3.60 / 5) (#22)
by dTaylorSingletary on Wed Aug 07, 2002 at 10:09:45 PM EST

As a person who is loaning my entire education through federal and private loans, I would like to see a program like this come into place, and pay my loans off once I became a teacher. I'm working to be a high school teacher through a fast-track graduate program after I finish my undergrad, and will have both a master's and teaching credential within three quarters of getting my BA. Our legislators and general public don't give a shit about education, or else they'd be willing to have their taxes raised. School's continue to not get enough money to run optimally. The school year keeps getting shorter, the number of students keeps rising, and the financial incentive (though not the primary incentive that should exist for teacher-aspirants) to become a teacher is almost pathetic. But hey, maybe legistlators want to dumb down the country some anyway.
--
d. Taylor Singletary, reality technician
music: http://techra.elephantus.com
we don't need more taxes... (3.50 / 2) (#35)
by Burning Straw Man on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 12:12:35 AM EST

we need better direction for our tax money.

a simple "opt-in" system would be excellent. here is the plan:

step 1: flat tax of 20%

step 2: everyone gets a list of areas towards which their tax dollars will go. items such as "roads", "education", "police", "military", "space program" etc are on the list. everyone has 4 marks they can put on the list, and all 4 can be put on the same item.

step 3: those choices are for the next 5 years.

step 4: the next year, they receive the list, and vote again. this will be for five years from then.

step 5: repeat step 4.

so if people was better education and no military, their tax money goes to education and not military.

if people want massive military and no roads, they choose that.

bottom line, everyone's money is going where they want it to go.

problem: what would NASA do with 1 trillion dollars?
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]

How about this plan: (4.00 / 3) (#71)
by Jacques Chester on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 08:54:20 AM EST

Step 1: Set the tax rate to 0%

Step 2: People pay for whatever the hell they want, and nobody forces them to pay for stuff they don't want.

And I bet my plan costs less than yours to implement.

--
In a world where an Idea can get you killed, Thinking is the most dangerous act of all.
[ Parent ]

Hrmm (3.00 / 1) (#74)
by Wah on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 09:18:47 AM EST

And I bet my plan costs less than yours to implement.

No roads, no schools, no healthcare, no defense.  Actually, your plan seems rather expensive.
--
Where'd you get your information from, huh?
[ Parent ]

Pithiness always dies an awful death. (4.00 / 2) (#79)
by Jacques Chester on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 09:35:04 AM EST

Apart from defense and police, I don't see any reason why the things you list shouldn't be privately paid for.

--
Well now. We seem to be temporarily out of sigs here at the sig factory. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
[ Parent ]
Right (3.00 / 1) (#86)
by Wah on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 10:21:55 AM EST

Why should I pay for roads?  That rich person in the SUV uses them more for me, and they have more money.

Why should I pay for schools?  I don't need no education, and I ain't got no kids.

See, Tragedy: Commons.

Or do you plan on nickel and diming everyone to death?  Pay a toll on the road to the grocery store, perhaps?
--
Where'd you get your information from, huh?
[ Parent ]

Don't pay. (none / 0) (#159)
by tekue on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 10:24:51 AM EST

Why should I pay for roads?  That rich person in the SUV uses them more for me, and they have more money.
The roads would be built by those, who have something to gain in the process. The storeowner could build a road to his shop, a community could build a road to another community (maybe sharing the cost). Those who build a school could build a road to the communities they want to serve.

The point is: if a road or a school is very needed, it will be built. This will require cooperation, but if it's necessary, people will cooperate. You underestimate the human spirit.

Why should I pay for schools?  I don't need no education, and I ain't got no kids.
Indeed you should not pay for schools if you don't intend to use them. If you want to be educated (or want to educate your children), pay the company that runs the school of your choice.

Too many people want me to care about them and their children, while I could care less about everyone and their progeniture. I want my child to be educated, I want my car to be safe (to me, and to other drivers, because I could be sued), and I want myself to be secure when I get old.

I'm selfish and lazy, like every other living creature on this planet. Unlike much of human population, I don't pretend to be otherwise.
--
Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature. --Tom Robbins
[ Parent ]

Who Pays? (none / 0) (#172)
by Wah on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 03:03:21 PM EST

The storeowner could build a road to his shop, a community could build a road to another community (maybe sharing the cost).

The store owner then passes this cost on to you, the consumer.  The community does the same thing through property taxes.  

The point is: if a road or a school is very needed, it will be built. This will require cooperation, but if it's necessary, people will cooperate. You underestimate the human spirit.

Far from it, my friend.

I'm selfish and lazy, like every other living creature on this planet.

That's pretty close to what I believe, although I think there's more to it.  Regardless, selfish and lazy people don't do things out of necessity until it's almost too late.  When this process is applied to public infrastructure, by the time anyone notices there is a problem, it will already be too late to fix it.  Thus increasing the cost vs. a system where these problems are addressed before they become a "necessity" enough that a lazy, selfish person would fix them.

If you want to be educated (or want to educate your children), pay the company that runs the school of your choice.

Too many people want me to care about them and their children, while I could care less about everyone and their progeniture.

Yes, it's unfortunate that you don't see how this harms you, personally.  Objectivism is great and all, but doesn't address other arguments.

I want my child to be educated, I want my car to be safe (to me, and to other drivers, because I could be sued), and I want myself to be secure when I get old.

Yes, and all these things are much more likely to happen if you take a moment and make sure others are doing the same thing.  If someone doesn't want to educate themselves, but wants to buy things, they could just steal your car (or your pension) thus following your mandates (takes care of myself first, last, and only), yet leading to a rather degerate society.  I am not arguing the opposite of your position, just a more middle ground.

Unlike much of human population, I don't pretend to be otherwise.

This is very funny.  It's not pretending if you act on it.  Strange as it may seem to you, some of us actually want to improve the quality of life on this planet.  We also realize improving only my own lot, without a thought for anyone else's, is a rather poor way to get to the goal.  By taking a moment and realizing how the various aspects of society interact and react to each other, a different course of action becomes apparent.  And more efficient avenues reveal themselves.
--
Where'd you get your information from, huh?
[ Parent ]

Freedom of choice. (none / 0) (#181)
by tekue on Mon Aug 12, 2002 at 06:17:15 AM EST

The store owner then passes this cost on to you, the consumer.  The community does the same thing through property taxes.
Well then, if it's the same thing, I do prefere to pay for the roads I actually use.
That's pretty close to what I believe, although I think there's more to it.  Regardless, selfish and lazy people don't do things out of necessity until it's almost too late.  When this process is applied to public infrastructure, by the time anyone notices there is a problem, it will already be too late to fix it.  Thus increasing the cost vs. a system where these problems are addressed before they become a "necessity" enough that a lazy, selfish person would fix them.
I think you've kinda missed the point: everyone is lazy and selfish, and it could be easily argued that every_thing_ is lazy and selfish, as this applies to all living creatures. I also strongly disagree with the notion, that lazy and selfish people are also necessarily stupid.

More so, the problem of fixing things before it's too late is more probable in a system, where everything is privately owned, so it's a direct and obvious financial loss for the owner not to fix those things. In a system where something is owned by a sufficently large group of persons, it will not be fixed as swiftly, as noone directly and obviously looses anything.

Yes, it's unfortunate that you don't see how this harms you, personally.  Objectivism is great and all, but doesn't address other arguments.
It's greatly unfortunate that you didn't care to include those arguments in your comment, as it would enable me to either change my stance, or argue your position. On the other hand, in this situation you don't have to provide any arguments, which must be nice considering you probably don't have any.
Yes, and all these things are much more likely to happen if you take a moment and make sure others are doing the same thing.  If someone doesn't want to educate themselves, but wants to buy things, they could just steal your car (or your pension) thus following your mandates (takes care of myself first, last, and only), yet leading to a rather degerate society.  I am not arguing the opposite of your position, just a more middle ground.
Could you try to prepare your examples in a form that isn't so grossly unlogical and hard to read? Someone wants to buy things, so they steals them from me? Are you under impression, that I encourage theft? Or are you suggesting, that I my proposition — of not forcing your "good ideas" onto other people — means that you can hurt other people and their properity in the process?

What I suggest is simply that people should stay the hell away from me, until I ask them to do otherwise.

This is very funny.  It's not pretending if you act on it.  Strange as it may seem to you, some of us actually want to improve the quality of life on this planet.  We also realize improving only my own lot, without a thought for anyone else's, is a rather poor way to get to the goal.  By taking a moment and realizing how the various aspects of society interact and react to each other, a different course of action becomes apparent.  And more efficient avenues reveal themselves.
Again, I'm not against the notion of thinking about communal improvement, et al, but I'm against the notion that — in short — you are smarter than me. You can think up any and all ideas you want, as long as you don't impose them on me, or anyone else for that matter. If your ideas are so great, they will catch up either way.
--
Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature. --Tom Robbins
[ Parent ]
Anyway (none / 0) (#182)
by Wah on Mon Aug 12, 2002 at 07:46:31 PM EST

not sure if we're in agreement on the roads thing, but it seems like it, So I'll drop that one.

: everyone is lazy and selfish, and it could be easily argued that every_thing_ is lazy and selfish, as this applies to all living creatures.

Well, now you've stepped it up a bit, denoting a "natural state of living matter", so I'll have to argue.  I think that given the right circumstances, what you have said is true.  But when forced to compete strongly for resources (or under the influence of some "higher" modes of thought), it does not hold well.  This could be the "Don't feed the bears" argument (since if you do they'll become selfish and lazy), or something similar.

More so, the problem of fixing things before it's too late is more probable in a system, where everything is privately owned, so it's a direct and obvious financial loss for the owner not to fix those things.

Yes, but like the road analogy, if it's a public resource then responsibility becomes a hazy subject.  Which shop owner has to pay, and how much, for each square foot in a parking lot, or the curbs on that lot?  And the streets leading into and out of it?  If I have more street in front of my house than my neighbor, do I pay more? I think things start to get so complex that any advantage you seem to think would be gained from private ownership gets lost in legal rangling and monetary friction.  And it must be defnied legally since in addition to being lazy and selfish, many people are also liars.  Especially when large amounts of money get involved.

In a system where something is owned by a sufficently large group of persons, it will not be fixed as swiftly, as noone directly and obviously looses anything.

I dunno about that.  In our recent mayoral election (Dallas, TX) one of the major issues was the poor state of repair of public streets.  When you have someone specifically responsible for a particular aspect of society, and a social mandate to resolve the problem, I feel it acts as a powerful stimulus.

Could you try to prepare your examples in a form that isn't so grossly unlogical and hard to read?

Yes, but that would take more time. :-)

Are you under impression, that I encourage theft?

No, I am merely demonstrating that if you take as a proposition that the utmost good is the good one does to oneself1, then at some point one reaches a tipping point where other people's rights fade away in the need to satisfy one's own desires.

What I suggest is simply that people should stay the hell away from me, until I ask them to do otherwise.

Gotcha, no hugging.

Again, I'm not against the notion of thinking about communal improvement, et al, but I'm against the notion that -- in short -- you are smarter than me.

Aaah, that's what makes k5 so fun.

You can think up any and all ideas you want, as long as you don't impose them on me, or anyone else for that matter.

I agree.  Any benefit that comes from "superior" ideas is generally lost when they become mandated.  Without the spirit present, the letter of the law holds little water.

1(from this collection of statements where my was continually emphasized.."Too many people want me to care about them and their children, while I could care less about everyone and their progeniture. I want my child to be educated, I want my car to be safe (to me, and to other drivers, because I could be sued), and I want myself to be secure when I get old.")
--
Where'd you get your information from, huh?
[ Parent ]

Clarification. (none / 0) (#184)
by tekue on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 09:22:11 AM EST

I think that given the right circumstances, what you have said is true.  But when forced to compete strongly for resources (or under the influence of some "higher" modes of thought), it does not hold well.  This could be the "Don't feed the bears" argument (since if you do they'll become selfish and lazy), or something similar.
I don't think we understand each other correctly. Selfish means someone (or something) trying to keep as much of owned resources to himself (itself). Lazy means someone (or something) trying to use as little of owned resources to achieve a certain goal. Every creature and every plant works by those rules. They work by many other rules too — like "Trying to sustain the species' population" — but selfishness and laziness are the most crucial ones, as they are directly linked to, respectively, survival and evolution.

This can also be used as a prove, that capitalism is the optimal economic system for humans — it is based on laziness and selfishness, just as we are.
--
Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature. --Tom Robbins
[ Parent ]

interesting idea... (none / 0) (#166)
by Burning Straw Man on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 11:59:21 AM EST

carrying it to fruition, your idea would successully infest the country with malnutrition, disease, and ignorance, paving the way for your eventual takeover. enjoy your time on your high horse, riding double-shotguns, until the starving, unclean masses raze your house and eat you.

but seriously, in a perfect world naturally things would work the way you describe. this isn't a perfect world, nor is it a libertarian paradise. it is a (representative) democracy, and so if enough disadvantaged people want to vote your money into their hands, that is exactly what will happen, as long as the disadvantaged have a vote, and the supreme court is afraid of being carried off on pitchforks to be tarred, feathered, and burned alive if they stick to the constitution.
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]

teaching unions (4.57 / 7) (#23)
by adiffer on Wed Aug 07, 2002 at 10:11:13 PM EST

I understand the motivation the teachers have for unionizing.  In our public education system, they are consistently screwed with low wages, micromanagement from the administration and parent groups, and with budget and content controls from legislatures that must bow to political pressures.

Having said that, I will not teach in a school, no matter what level, if the teachers are unionized.  Such environments tend to be driven strictly by seniority for hiring and advancement and I have kissed enough butts proving my worth.  Meritocracies and the tenure/union environment tend to clash strongly and I prefer to see merit rewarded.

I loved teaching and still do.  I would take a pay cut (moderate) in order to teach again.  Until then, though, I will chase jobs that reward merit with money/promotions and channel my urge to teach elsewhere.

-Dream Big.
--Grow Up.

Unions (3.00 / 1) (#60)
by Shren on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 06:57:01 AM EST

Unions have such potential to be a balancing factor in a modern economy - then they go and demand those kinds of harsh senority rules that would make any sane man hate them. That's the problem with the actual compared to the potential.

[ Parent ]

growing up in our school system (none / 0) (#115)
by adiffer on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 02:09:17 PM EST

I associate socialism with seniority systems.  I don't mind funding education through a socialist mechanism, but I'm not a fan of running it that way.  It is very fortunate for US citizens that schools can be operated by local governments and variations can be tried as experiments.

I grew up and learned what I know entirely through public education.  The system can and does support excellent teachers and administrators.  Not all of them are obedience schools.  My experience is that obedience is the fall-back position when all else fails because school attendance is required by law.  Some teachers manage to do well in the current system and my hat is off to them.  I know from experience that it won't quite work for me due to the rigidity of the system, and that is too bad.

-Dream Big.
--Grow Up.
[ Parent ]

socialsism (none / 0) (#125)
by Shren on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 03:57:09 PM EST

I'm not sure I quite following you. Are you equating labour unions with socialism? If so, you are aware that "Guilds", the predecesor to labour unions, were around for ages before the word socialism was even coined? Labour unions are, or at least can be, apolitical gatherings of workers in the same trade.

[ Parent ]
true enough (none / 0) (#133)
by adiffer on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 05:48:46 PM EST

The association is in my mind more than fixed in reality.  I understand there are variations, so I try not to be too rigid about it.  8)

Each Union should be treated fairly based upon its own details.  I admit to a bit of a bias, but I can be convinced to support some of them.

-Dream Big.
--Grow Up.
[ Parent ]

Unions (2.00 / 3) (#78)
by mozmozmoz on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 09:33:26 AM EST

I understand the motivation the teachers have for unionizing.... Having said that, I will not teach in a school ... if the teachers are unionized. Such environments tend to be driven strictly by seniority for hiring and advancement

It's a really hard call for many teachers. My parents both work in schools in NZ, where the teachers have been striking on and off for about a year. They both dislike the militant side fo the union (my mother has refused to strike in the past), but recognise that the situation is ridiculous. Not only are the salaries low, but the overall school budget is being reduced while extra work is introduced.

What I don't like is your assumption that silly promotion practices are only union-driven. Having been in both types of workplaces (and work), that's not my experience. If anything it's the other way round - in salary positions it seems nigh on impossible to fire anyone who can afford a lawyer, and people too often get "promoted out of harms way" (ie, into manglement where they can trash people instead of projects). What trashing unions has acheived here is "globally competitive conditions", which is manager-speak for a race to the bottom - reduced wages and free overtime (unpaid, in other words).

There's lots of comedy on TV too. Does that make children funnier?
[ Parent ]

promotion practices (4.00 / 2) (#113)
by adiffer on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 01:59:50 PM EST

I've seen some silly practices in the business world too.  They almost always imply weak management.  If Management isn't strong, the company is in trouble anyway.  The difference for me is that I'm willing to tolerate this kind of idiocy from a business because the enivironment is usually more competitive.

I'm strongly opposed to people being promoted to management when they don't have the skills.  As you pointed out, the careers of the people under them can get trashed not to mention the financial health of the employer.  I've seen it happen and I'll quit before I work for such a manager.  I actually had an opportunity to prove that in 1995 and stuck to my guns.

-Dream Big.
--Grow Up.
[ Parent ]

You just gave two reasons why teachers need unions (5.00 / 1) (#140)
by TON on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 07:52:02 PM EST

The difference for me is that I'm willing to tolerate this kind of idiocy from a business because the enivironment is usually more competitive.

Primary and secondary education tend toward natural monopolies. Education is an industry, but not just like any other. It is extremely anti-competitive. Even if all the voucher and charter programs you could imagine were implemented, there would still be a very limited number of employers. There would be huge pressures not to let schools "go bust". There would be very little scope for variation in the products offered by the schools; at the very least the would be expected to remain schools. Businesses in other industries can: go broke and close up shop, start up with a few people and a relatively small amount of cash, change their business, take risks. These things will generally not be tolerated in schools.

I'm strongly opposed to people being promoted to management when they don't have the skills. <snip> I've seen it happen and I'll quit before I work for such a manager. I actually had an opportunity to prove that in 1995 and stuck to my guns.

The labor market in education is not a well-functioning market. Terms of employment tend to be in units of one year. There is one narrow window of opportunity each year to change your employer. I'm glad you "stuck to your guns", but that is far easier to do in business than in education. Teachers who "stick to their guns" and quit tend to find themselves out of a job for an extended period of time.

There aren't enough buyers in the market. In the widget industry, there may be many widget shops. However, in education there are typically very few employers in a given area. In a city, schools are grouped in districts; they are branch offices or subsidiaries of one corporation. In the country, the customer base (children) will only support one business (a single school, or district).

Teachers selling their services in such markets have one, or at best a few, buyers. This situation strongly benefits the buyers. Teachers have very high barriers to enter different markets. Either they must move, commute ridiculous distances, or change their certification.

Teachers need unions (or as Shren pointed out "guilds") to protect their interests in an extremely anti-competitive market. And, we haven't even gotten to government regulation which further distorts the market. Unfortunately, many teachers just don't need the unions they currently have. The same natural monopoly effect seems to have entrenched a certain type of thinking in many unions. Unions themselves could improve the lot of teachers, if that were the primary goal, rather than CYA.

Ted
---
"I could say it stronger
But it's too much trouble"


[ Parent ]

good points (none / 0) (#183)
by adiffer on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:49:38 AM EST

After thinking about this some more then, I've come to the conclusion that I am staying out of the 'industry' because I don't like most of its aspects.  I love teaching kids and adults, but I don't like the industry as it is configured today.

The original article to which the thread is attached discussed a way to bring teachers back to the industry by offering more motivation.  I guess this would not go far enough for me.  I could probably be coaxed with a lot of money, but there are people who would jump at a smaller pile of cash than I would.  I would probably hold out for privatization and commercialization.

-Dream Big.
--Grow Up.
[ Parent ]

Doesn't that just shift the spending burden... (3.00 / 3) (#29)
by ariux on Wed Aug 07, 2002 at 11:17:33 PM EST

...from teacher salaries to university facilities?

Dumb. Sorry. (2.66 / 3) (#38)
by Rainy on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 01:14:29 AM EST

Who'll pay the colleges? Pushkin?

The solution is to get people to think that education is important. Right now everybody says that it is, but talk is cheap, how much are you willing to pay teachers? About as much as janitors, so it's really about as important as mopping the floor, in reality.

I'm not sure the system can be improved, or that it should - perhaps the only medicine at this point is to tear it down and start from the beginning.
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day

Informed? (3.33 / 6) (#39)
by thelizman on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 01:28:36 AM EST

I know this is Op-Ed, but even if it's just your opinion you may want to back your opinions up with facts.

The first problem is many (if not most) states are right-to-work states where you cannot force someone to stay in a given profession. The best you could do is have them bonded.

The second problem is that there already exists substantial scholarships for people in or attempting to join the teaching profession.

The problem is not that there isn't enough money in educatin. Not everyone lives for the almighty buck, and we already spend more per-capita than most other countries. The problem is the lack of focus in schools on - wait wait wait - fucking education! Yeah, we have a our "arts" programs, but in spite of what they whiney hollywood elite might say very few of my friends gave a shit about wrapping their lips around a pipe that didn't have some weed attached to the opposite end. And when I wanted access to a computer so I could learn about Windows, DOS, and programming? "I'm sorry, but you have to be in the AG program for that". Will some idiot explain why I had to pass Algebra II before they'd teach me geometry? When I finally got around to it, I realized that any idiot with pre-algebra experience can handle it.

The education system in America is fucked up, but it's not for lack of money.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
Yes and no (4.33 / 3) (#98)
by aphrael on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 12:46:00 PM EST

Granted this is a local problem, but ... a starting schoolteacher in San Francisco earns $60K/year. After taxes, that's roughly $40K. Rent is somewhere between $24K and $30K.

A beginning schoolteacher cannot afford to *live* in San Francisco. So nobody applies for those jobs.

Throughout California, there is a critical teacher shortage; the state and the feds are actually in a fight over the definition of 'highly qualified' because of this --- if the state abides by the federal definition, it won't be able to fill its classrooms.

[ Parent ]

Okay... (3.00 / 3) (#40)
by X3nocide on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 01:36:35 AM EST

So you want to improve public education by paying for teacher's educations? Where does the money come from if not taxes?

I live in one of the richer counties of Kansas, in a metropolitian area with no real private education competitors. Very few people feel the need for vouchers because the area schools function well. The only people who really want vouchers are parochial school supporters; and around here nobody wants to pay for Johnny's class in Catholic Dogma. Anyways, with the recent downturn in state tax revenue, education funding has been taken down a notch across the board. Just yesterday a bill was passed by popular vote to increase sales taxes by like .25 cents or something, to combat the lost funding. In response, certain Wyandotte County school districts (a neighboring county of a more urban nature) has filed a suit against the bill, because its unfair.

Now, on one hand, I can see how they are upset, but on the other hand, this wouldn't have been a problem if it could have been resolved well at the state level. I'm too lazy to research just who was upset about the education funding portion of the budget, but I seriously doubt it was either of the two counties in question. Don't get me wrong here, I'm not saying that we should be privelaged to a better lifestyle because we have more money, but the redistrobution of money to schools throughout the state has failed.

The source of all this seems to be a growing divide between a few greater metropolitian areas and a large group of farmers who vote against farming subsidies, research and education. Okay thats probably a little biased; but I can't really think of many reasons that so many western Kansans voted for bush over gore. But thats a rant for another day. The point is that the two factions really didn't come to terms over one of the three core issues of state government. I don't think that your plan would work terribly well. First off the money would come from state coffers. Second off the money has to come from somewhere. Thirdly, someone has the job of appointing teachers hired in this manner. It also isn't obvious that you'll actually attract more people to teaching by offering monetary rewards. It might be a greater incentive to work with students who are dedicated to learning or to allow teachers a greater leeway with ciriculumn design. Finally, the money doesn't come from trees; unless I missed the part where teachers become unpaid laborers for those first 4 years someone's still footing the tuition bill.

Honestly, I think the best way to improve education is to get less teachers in the classroom. Lecture is only 1 method of learning that usually doesn't help terribly well. There's a paper written by an old teacher who's name I've forgotten that wrote about how the current system simply rewards uncaring about learning with the bells and the grades. This is an idea that will not happen overnight, or even over the course of a legislature session. It will take perhaps a quarter of a century before any such new system even becomes accreddited, let alone become worthy in the eye of the public.

I knew I could pull this back on topic at the end. ;)

pwnguin.net

My Suspicion (4.66 / 3) (#95)
by virg on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 12:25:55 PM EST

I'm guessing that the essay to which you refer is the The Six Lesson Schoolteacher by John Taylor Gatto. If it isn't, then never mind me.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
In the UK... (4.25 / 4) (#46)
by mdabaningay on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 03:16:34 AM EST

We have something similar, the government is paying fees and 6000GBP (about 9000USD) living expenses to graduates who do the 1 year conversion course to teaching. It has raised numbers of teachers entering the profession, but low pay in the profession means teachers are still leaving in droves.

Also, it does seem that of the people I know who have gone into teaching some are highly motivated by the 'vocation' and very talented, but others simply did not do well enough in their degree to get another job.

umwhat? (2.00 / 2) (#48)
by boxed on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 03:50:13 AM EST

I heard this exact proposal on an episode of West Wing I saw like a month ago, and I'm pretty sure Sweden is at least six months delayed with this series.

You are correct. (3.00 / 1) (#49)
by Herring on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 04:12:35 AM EST

Doesn't mean it's not a good idea though.



Say lol what again motherfucker, say lol what again, I dare you, no I double dare you
[ Parent ]
very true, I think it's a great idea. (3.00 / 1) (#51)
by boxed on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 04:39:02 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Yay - vote Bartlett [n/t] (2.00 / 1) (#54)
by Herring on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 04:59:31 AM EST



Say lol what again motherfucker, say lol what again, I dare you, no I double dare you
[ Parent ]
Wait a minute (1.33 / 3) (#50)
by skim123 on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 04:24:46 AM EST

On the surface, the solution to this problem would seem simple: Raise the salaries for teachers, and more people will come. Unfortunately, that isn't quite possible, at least not without substantial raises in taxes (tantamount to political suicide) or reordering of budgets (a gargantuan task, considering the nature of bureaucracy.) ... But what if we could offer people something - perhaps, a free college education - in return for teaching?

How in the world do you expect to provide a free college education? Gotta get the money somehow, which brings us back to raising taxes or reordering of budgets.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


how is that a problem? (4.00 / 1) (#52)
by boxed on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 04:45:19 AM EST

Education in Sweden is free up to and including university. You actually get money for studying so you can afford books and such. In addition to this money there is a special system of loans you can get from the government with very low interest rate so you can pay rent and buy food too (not very luxuriously of course). This is Sweden, a country with a lower GNP/capita than the US. To get the scale of these things correctly, let me give you this example: the amount of money spent on sending the first people to the moon (total) is roughly equal to the amount of money Sweden (yea, that's right, small 9 million people Sweden) spend in a single year on the military. We have a very small military I might add.

[ Parent ]
The problem there is... (4.00 / 1) (#53)
by Jel on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 04:53:07 AM EST

The problem with that is that Sweden is known for having the highest taxes in the developed world.

Of course, some may argue that providing education to everyone who might make use of it is a primary concern of the free world, and is worth raising taxes to accomplish.

Still worrying, though :)

...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
[ Parent ]

Another problem is that... (4.00 / 1) (#55)
by boxed on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 05:04:01 AM EST

...it's mostly a lie, or at any rate a distortion of the facts. True, that tax is high, but if you include medical insurance, road fees, judicial protection fees on products and such to the US tax you will actually wind up with a number that is pretty much the same as the Swedish tax. The US has a long tradition of hiding what in reality is taxes by renaming it or just have the private sector handle it. One of the consequences of this is that the US has the most expensive medical system in the world (per capita of course), while at the same time having the worst medical system in the industrialized world.

[ Parent ]
Interesting... (3.00 / 1) (#63)
by Jel on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 07:05:22 AM EST

while at the same time having the worst medical system in the industrialized world.

Hmm... you might find that things have changed, and that the UK's medical system is really crap right now, comparatively speaking.  Of course, it all depends on your measure of "worst".

Apart from that, you may be right about hidden taxes.  That would certainly make the question of paying teachers adequately a lot more interesting :)
...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
[ Parent ]

Huh? (2.00 / 1) (#134)
by skim123 on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 06:12:12 PM EST

One of the consequences of this is that the US has the most expensive medical system in the world (per capita of course), while at the same time having the worst medical system in the industrialized world.

The worst medical system in the industrialized world? How do you figure? Don't people from other countries routinely come here for cutting edge medical procedures? Isn't the number of foriegn medical students per capita higher here than anywhere else? (I have no stats to back up either of these claims, just my assumptions.)

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
advanced yes, total crap yes (none / 0) (#154)
by boxed on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 03:41:01 AM EST

The US has some of the most advanced clinics, this is true. US clinics excel at the expensive and complicated and just purely luxuriously surgery. This doesn't change the fact that it's extremely expensive and it is even more ineffective. Because only the well off can afford medical care large parts of the US populace goes untreated. This is the exact same situation as we see in for example Zaire, Zimbabwe, etc. One terrifying example of this is the amount of vaccinations in the US vs in Europe and Japan. It is profitable for companies dealing with diseases to only treating the symtoms, never the disease. US companies are aware of this and act on it.

[ Parent ]
Not quite such a large problem... (none / 0) (#73)
by blurp on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 08:57:58 AM EST

How in the world do you expect to provide a free college education? Gotta get the money somehow, which brings us back to raising taxes or reordering of budgets.

This is the state we're talking about. It would be easy enough, and likely fairly inexpensive (for the state budget) to give free rides to state schools. This might not be much of an incentive in some states, but most states have a very good state school system for higher education.

blurp

[ Parent ]

Ehh, where does the army get it? (4.00 / 1) (#89)
by Perianwyr on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 10:56:01 AM EST

Same place. Same idea.

[ Parent ]
Alternative approach (3.60 / 5) (#56)
by Jel on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 05:13:19 AM EST

Personally, I don't see much of a relationship between earnings and being a good teacher.  Pay enough money, and you can probably get current bank managers to sweep streets.

The questions of whether an ex-bank manager would be happy sweeping streets, would do a good job, or would stick at it after getting his extra pay are entirely different, however.

Personally, I would love to teach.  At the minute, I've no formal qualifications, and so have no access.  I have plenty of industry experience, and was way ahead of my teachers last time I was in a class.  Since then, I've learned a lot more.  But, most importantly, I would love to teach.  I would do it for minimum wage.  Under a few conditions.

The major problem with education system, as I see it, is that kids aren't taught to respect their teachers, or, crucially, learning itself.  I watched a teacher run out of our class in school, crying a river, never to return.  Although it's mostly an issue with the childrens' attitudes, I also blame teachers a little for teaching the curriculum rather than teaching the joyous art of learning itself, which always seems to be more interesting than a predetermined subject.

Anyway, I think people naturally want to pass on their skills, especially to children.  Of all the possible jobs in this world, molding the minds of the next generation, and thereby almost certainly having a greater affect than that of any direct work, is probably the greatest.  I think the major problem is that people know kids don't want to learn, and that they'll end up fighting with brats rather than molding them.  I think that money is entirely the wrong emphasis, and that the rewards should be:

  • the inherent rewards of the job
  • the chance for pursuit of research and personal academic learning.  This is important, in order to keep the joy of learning infused in the teacher.
  • just enough cash to get by on while you pursue those rewards.

...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
Renumeration (1.00 / 1) (#65)
by craigtubby on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 07:47:02 AM EST

> Pay enough money, and you can probably get
> current bank managers to sweep streets.

Pay Peanuts - you get Monkeys.

Of Course

Pay More Peanuts - Get Fatter Monkeys.

try to make ends meet, you're a slave to money, then you die.

* Webpage *
[ Parent ]

Not necessarily. (none / 0) (#67)
by Jel on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 08:31:19 AM EST

Pay Peanuts - you get Monkeys.

Perhaps, sometimes.  At other times, though, as I stated, you will get people who know their stuff and do it for reasons other than money.  Education is known to be a low paying field in many countries, with educated,capable people in those positions.  so that should be enough to prove the concept well enough.

...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
[ Parent ]

Don't blame the teachers (4.00 / 4) (#70)
by edremy on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 08:50:15 AM EST

I also blame teachers a little for teaching the curriculum rather than teaching the joyous art of learning itself, which always seems to be more interesting than a predetermined subject.

The teachers, at least here in Virginia and other high-stakes testing states, don't have the option to teach anything else. Everything, and I mean everything, is oriented towards passing the SOL tests. Don't pass the SOLs? Students don't graduate and schools lose accreditation. Teachers are graded on the percent of their students that pass.

The culture of learning takes a major hit. Schools think up all sorts of excuses to prevent marginal students from having to take the tests. (If you're learning disabled and your educational plan says you can't take them you don't have to.) There have even been cases of teachers cheating and feeding the answers to the students to get more of them to pass.

[ Parent ]

OOPs. Apologies. (4.00 / 1) (#136)
by Jel on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 06:39:42 PM EST

The teachers, at least here in Virginia and other high-stakes testing states, don't have the option to teach anything else.

Ahh, you're right, of course.  And I knew it.  I suppose I should have referred to the UK education boards and other equivalents.  It's not my usual sort of mistake, but I totally missed that one; sorry.

We have the same issues of accreditation here in the UK, too, actually.  Although it's a newly added "feature", apparently  :(

...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
[ Parent ]

Certification (4.87 / 8) (#59)
by TON on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 06:32:05 AM EST

States make certification rules. Local districts are required, or at least strongly encouraged, to hire certified teachers. There is nothing wrong with requiring hiring skilled teachers. However, the current certification system imposes a relatively high barrier to entry to a profession with low returns.

Certification is not portable. Some states will recognize certification from other states. Either make the certification truly local (i.e. Local boards decide who is a good teacher, and hire them, just like any other corporation), or make a nationwide portable certification.

Certification is alternately rigidly inflexible, or irrational. When I was studying part-time to get my MA in ESL Education, the State of Massachusetts was changing the rules for certification. I had no wish to decide my course of study based upon reading the wind direction in the state legislature. I completed my graduate degree from an accredited program. I have also taught for seven years. I am a skilled professional who is not recognized by any state.

Upon moving to California, I considered teaching, but as an uncertified teacher entering the school system after the start of the school year, I knew that my choices would be limited. California does not make it easy to determine how I can become certified. Their website was less than helpful. (LPI or Microsoft can make it clear how to become certified. Why can't California?) County education offices tried to be helpful, but simply directed me to apply to a teacher certification program at local colleges, even though I already have a graduate degree in education. Asking at the appropriate office of the local community college was also not helpful. The one clear piece of information I received was that California would not recognize my practicum or past work because it took place outside the US. At minimum, I would be required to complete an extended course of student teaching. This costs money and keeps my from earning an income, despite the fact that I have extensive teaching experience, and could even document experience as a teacher trainer.

Why go through all of this? In the end I would have to pay more money to pursue more studies to earn less in a poor work environment. Rigid bureaucracy is what kept me from teaching in the US, not salary. Would a higher salary have helped me to put up with all that crap, knowing full well that more was coming every year on the job? Perhaps, but until hiring and retention of teachers becomes a rational and professional process that respects potential teachers, people will stay away in droves.

Ted
---
"I could say it stronger
But it's too much trouble"


NEA (4.00 / 1) (#93)
by bofkentucky on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 11:56:22 AM EST

Yeah, I could see a state education dept approving "skilled" teachers for widespread consumption, considering they are ex-techers/admins who are/were card carrying members of the teachers union(s).  I understand the need for "education" majors to teach primary (K-3), but once you start shipping the kids to different subjects taught by different teachers, someone trained specifically for that field should be teaching, not some washed up english or music major who couldn't get a job in the real world.

[ Parent ]
Not sure where even to begin with this (none / 0) (#160)
by TON on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 10:40:50 AM EST

Teaching a skill or body of knowledge has little to do with one's own mastery of the subject. Having knowledge and being able to transmit it in an effective and interesting way are two totally different things.

"Washed up english or music majors"? They can make more money for less hassle in HR (for example) at any number of companies.

Education as a field of study has its problems, but training is a significant aid to experience for any teacher. I can tell you that my first year teaching was far less effective and far more frustrating than my second or third. What was the difference? I completed a really excellent degree in ESL Education. This was half linguistics and half practical. "(S)omeone trained specifically for that field" is a person who has mastered the concepts of the field, and then learned how to pass that knowledge on to others.

The "field" is not just math, physics, or French; it is imparting that knowledge to others. For a rather simple minded example, think of friends you ask for directions to a party. They all might have been to the house at one time or another, but one will surely get you lost, and one will get you there with time to spare. Having knowledge is not the same thing bringing it to others.

Ted
---
"I could say it stronger
But it's too much trouble"


[ Parent ]

I have a slightly different proposal (4.60 / 5) (#66)
by Spork on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 08:23:43 AM EST

I got the impression that you think people should teach first and then go to college (for free). This is how the GI plan worked (fight first, study later). Well, a hoard of teachers who have not yet gone to college seems like a bad idea. Furthermore, the majority of teachers who do this program will serve their minimum time in the classroom and then get an education that will land them a job with a corporation. What we need instead is a plan to recruit highly qualified teachers and then give them an incentive to stay.

I know somebody else suggested that teaching, or certain sorts of teaching, could be grounds for forgiving federal student loans, much like Americore would allow you to do. I would want to go one step beyond that:

The department of education would sponsor talented college enterants and pay for their education, though after the students graduate, they have to complete a minimum of X number of years of teaching at a public school. If you think this sounds to socialistic, chill out, because we do this already. It's called ROTC, and it involves the taxpayers paying for people's schooling in exhange for them serving with the armed forces for a certain period. Is our Army that much more important than our children? I would think they are at least on par.

Now, mind you, this is not my idea. Countries with more intelligent leadership already have programs like this in place. For example, my roommate has a 100% free ride at a prestigious Ph.D. program in computer science at a private (expensive) US university. It is all being paid by the government of Turkey, and what they get in return for their investment is that my roommate will go back and teach in Turkey for a few years. If he flunks out or doesn't do the teaching, he has to pay the government back everything they invested in him, but if he sticks with it, it seems like a "everybody wins" situation.

Now, if the US government would similarly sponsor talented people to get their MAs in pedagogy in exchange for subsequent service as teachers... wow, wouldn't that make sense! What many people fail to appreciate is just how much the social benefits of this program would outweigh the costs. I don't know of concrete research on this topic, but I am almost certain that for every extra teacher we put in the schools, at least one kid is prevented from landing in jail. Given that the government (i.e. taxpayers) pays almost $30,000 to incarcerate a person for a year, and a starting teacher's salary is less than this, this reason alone should make it obvious the plan is a good deal. But the benefits of having many qualified teachers in our schools go far, far beyond this.

Actually the same proposal... (4.00 / 1) (#69)
by blurp on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 08:48:40 AM EST

While the article makes the mistake of directly comparing its ideas to the GI bill rather than ROTC, they article makes it clear that the want-to-be teacher's education (including, presumably, teacher's certification) would occur prior to beginning teaching. Note especially the third paragraph in the section titled "A Soluction".

blurp

[ Parent ]

Yeah... (4.00 / 1) (#84)
by InigoMontoya on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 10:01:18 AM EST

It was somewhat of an inaccuracy comparing the proposal to the GI Bill, but it also evokes a very clear image in the head of the reader of an exchange of services with one's country. I'm not familiar with ROTC (four years at a small private non-ROTC college will do that) so the GI bill was the only frame of reference I had for this proposal. Taking a quick look, the proposal does more resemble an ROTC program, except that the college education is offered free to all participants, not just some. As it's already been posted to the Op-Ed page, however, there really isn't much I can do about it now except say "aw, shucks" and learn for the future.

Thanks for pointing it out, though. I wasn't aware of ROTC.

InigoMontoya
This signature is self-referential.
mistersite.net
[ Parent ]

Ethic. (3.00 / 2) (#68)
by Swashbuckler on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 08:44:25 AM EST

Jel, I gather, is saying two things:

1 - That its the children who are largely to blame.

2 - That money isn't the best incentive when teaching is concerned.

The first one doesn't hold water at all. Children haven't "changed". They have no "less respect for authority" then they used to (as you suggested). I think that the environment we let children grow up in is a lot less tolerant of genuine curiosity. This is related to the reason why I don't completely agree with your second conjecture.

While a money incentive may not create better teachers, this is not the heart of the problem. What the author of this story suggested was that we offer people education and not money as incentive to teach. One may argue that education leads to money, so really there are no difference between the two. The problem here, then, is not that money is a bad incentive, it's that money has become the only incentive. Think of all the best teachers you have had... they weren't good because they were paid more; they were good because they loved teaching. So, proposing to offer money incentives for teaching to increase the amount of teachers will really only increase the amount of bad teaching (teachers who don't really want to be there). Proposing to offer any incentive is not counter productive - shouldn't teachers truly love teaching?

I would say the problem isn't a lack of incentive to teach - it's that no one values passion as their principle guiding work ethic anymore. Teaching, above all, requires passion. With less and less people working because they "love it", there are less and less (good) teachers.

Of course we are all familiar with the hacker ethic because it is our incentive to work ;-)


*Note* - this comment contains no inside K5 humour because inside K5 humour is only for/by K5-wankers. Media does not = "community."

Teachers deserve more pay. (4.00 / 1) (#85)
by zakalwe on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 10:16:34 AM EST

So, proposing to offer money incentives for teaching to increase the amount of teachers will really only increase the amount of bad teaching.

No - The best teachers are those who are passionate about their subject.  People who are passionate about their subject will learn a lot about it, and often become highly qualified.  People who have good qualifications can command much higher pay in jobs other than teaching.  I've heard too many stories of genuinely good teachers who enjoy their work who end up leaving to a job with double their salary.  There are a lot of poor teachers, but you won't find enough people because anyone smart enought to be a good teacher is going to be reluctant to take a drastic paycut no matter how passionate they are.

[ Parent ]
True dat (none / 0) (#88)
by Swashbuckler on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 10:54:13 AM EST

I guess my point was that "the lack of teachers" problem is a symptom of a much larger issue. Capitalism makes it easy to forget that good work is an ends in itself. When you don't have any good practical solutions, take refuge in the high grounds of moral philosophy - that's what I always say.


*Note* - this comment contains no inside K5 humour because inside K5 humour is only for/by K5-wankers. Media does not = "community."
[ Parent ]
Good work gets you nothing (none / 0) (#118)
by bofkentucky on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 02:39:14 PM EST

Starting salary for a teacher in my area is <= $25K/yr, which is far from the living wage when you have 4+ years of debt circling over your head.  That being said, I tried the TEP at my university for partial loan removal.  It sucked, I had 3 really good classes, Jr's and Sr's, 4 kids who were going to premed, and a few biology or chem majors.  However I ended the day with two classes of the most rude and foul mouthed bastards to ever take freshman biology.  I was 20 years old at the time, I sure as hell didn't act like those little shits did when I was 14-16.  I busted 6 of them cheating on the exam and the instructor was like, "let them do it, it gets them out of my way". I withdrew from the course as soon as I got back to my dorm, I wasn't going to be a party to that horseshit.

[ Parent ]
Yah - all kids are assholes! Blame the internet! (none / 0) (#158)
by Swashbuckler on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 10:22:06 AM EST




*Note* - this comment contains no inside K5 humour because inside K5 humour is only for/by K5-wankers. Media does not = "community."
[ Parent ]
Ethic (none / 0) (#90)
by loudici on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 11:13:57 AM EST

I would agree with your comment if we were talking about upgrading teachers'salary from good to very good.

Sadly enough it is not where things stand now. Most people with skills to become math teachers can make more than twice more in the industry. Practically speaking, a teacher can not afford buying a house unless she lives in southern alabama or something.

L
gnothi seauton
[ Parent ]

Great idea, let's decrease pay! (none / 0) (#111)
by Khedak on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 01:50:19 PM EST

I would say the problem isn't a lack of incentive to teach - it's that no one values passion as their principle guiding work ethic anymore. Teaching, above all, requires passion. With less and less people working because they "love it", there are less and less (good) teachers.

By that rationale, we should have volunteer teachers only. That way, we can be sure they're really passionate. Obviously this wouldn't work, the fact is that you pay for teachers because you value what they provide. If you think your children's education is a job worth paying someone only $21,000 a year to do, compared with other jobs, you must not consider it very important. Moreover, teachers need to live, too. You can't tell people they need their passion to overcome their poverty. Rather, you should give them enough money to live well so that their passion can be fully expressed. Or is this some sort of take on the aesthetic of the suffering artist?

[ Parent ]
Chillax. Have some perspective. (none / 0) (#163)
by Swashbuckler on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 10:57:43 AM EST

I wasn't suggesting that teachers should be paid less. Nor was I suggesting that teachers are sufficiently paid. There certainly is a problem there. Hey, I work in the arts AND I'm a student who TA's for peanuts on the side. I am fully aware of the problem.

I was suggesting that there is a problem in the larger scheme of things. Have some perspective.

Can't you see a pattern here? I post a comment suggesting that the "teacher shortage" problem is not the result of insufficient incentives to work, but that the preoccupation with making quick bucks has superseded "passion" as an incentive to work and four people reply saying, "don't be stupid, money *is* important." Ya - no kidding! That's not what I said!

Can't you see how it is all related? Artists don't get paid very much because it is difficult to see how art can be profitable. Certainly, developing the next techno-patent will offer many bigger, faster rewards. It is, thus, much more important to invest big buck in the tech sector then the arts sector. Same thing goes for teaching. Blinded by profits, we actually fail to see the advantage (economic, cultural, societal) of investing in education.

My point is that if capitalism was geared towards "innovation" and not "industrial innovation" (innovation towards making more money), there would be sufficient money in teaching... and in the arts for that matter because both are NESSESARY to have innovation. And incidentally, they are, IMHO, two disciplines that require, above all, passion). Is that more reasonably articulated?




*Note* - this comment contains no inside K5 humour because inside K5 humour is only for/by K5-wankers. Media does not = "community."
[ Parent ]
Professionals Teach To Get Kids Thru College (4.50 / 2) (#75)
by jglazer on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 09:24:49 AM EST

Instead of putting people with almost no experience in the role of teaching, how about we appeal to the professionals (in math and science areas especiallly) to teach in a program to get their kids through college. You would need cooperation from corporations and maybe a tax incentive so that they would support the professionals efforts. Professionals with college age children could "volunteer" to teach in an area related to their profession at local public high schools and elementary schools a morning or two a week. In exchange for this, their children get a partial scholarship to attend college. No question that this type of program would cost money but at least it would get people who have real working experience back into the teach profession instead of people just getting out of college.

Being a professional in a subject... (none / 0) (#80)
by substrate on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 09:39:11 AM EST

doesn't necessarily make you a good teacher. Look at any engineering program. There are lots of experts in the field, but those that can actually teach are few and far between. Teaching is less about knowledge and more about entertainment.

Think of what you really learned in high school. It's only the tiniest fraction of what a professional in that field would know. In chemistry you learn to balance equations, calculate entropy and a few other simple concepts. In physics you learn a little about conservation of energy and momentum, possibly how to manipulate some equations in modern physics and a few other simple concepts.

The truth is that you don't need professional experience to understand a subject enough to teach children. You need experience as a teacher, enough empathy to help your students understand and it's really helpful if you haven't forgotten what it was like to be 15.

[ Parent ]

Getting pupils interested. (none / 0) (#83)
by zakalwe on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 09:54:59 AM EST

I was taught by several teachers who completed a full degree in their subject, and who had either no teaching qualifications, or had taken just short conversion courses several years after their degree.  Some of them weren't great at teaching, but compared to most of the others, they were amoung the best in the school.

The reason - they were genuinely interested in their subject, to such a degree that they obtained a good education in it.  It it impossible to interest a student in something if you're not interested in it yourself.  Its hard enough even when you are.

Experience as a teacher is vital, but I'm not sure that its something that can be taught - the only way to become a good teacher is to spend time teaching.  Just as important is to have genuine interest in your subject, and a good understanding of it - nothing loses you respect faster than showing you either don't care, or don't understand the subject.

[ Parent ]

Interest in teaching needed as well (none / 0) (#94)
by Gumpzilla on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 11:59:25 AM EST

You are entirely right that teachers who love their material are more effective than those who could care less about it. But, at the same time, those teachers need to be excited about teaching and teaching well. At the high school level this may not be so much of a problem, because right now the rewards for teaching at the high school level are paltry enough that, if you don't like teaching, there aren't really many reasons to take the job. It certainly seems to happen at the collegiate level, though.

Another thought: you don't always have to be a professional in a field to be interested in it or even love it. When I was tutoring freshman physics at college, I found that some of the most receptive students were those who were not majoring in physics. These people certainly seemed intrigued enough by the material to teach it to high schoolers.

[ Parent ]
Re: Professionals Teach To Get Kids Thru College (none / 0) (#81)
by jim.fr on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 09:46:19 AM EST

> Instead of putting people with almost no
> experience in the role of teaching, how about
> we appeal to the professionals

Because rare are the professionals who have mastery of a field and can pass their skill to others. Teaching ability is a specific skill that has to be taught. Bringing professional into schools is only beneficial to pupils who already possess the theoritical framework and need real life illustrations. This is why professionals only teach between the third an sixth year of higher education.

[ Parent ]

Numbers ? (3.66 / 3) (#76)
by chbm on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 09:24:56 AM EST

Unfortunately, that isn't quite possible, at least not without substantial raises in taxes
Do you have numbers to support this ? Offhand it seems to me teacher salaries are a small part of the govt budget so even doubling it wouldn't require a "substancial" raise in taxes.

-- if you don't agree reply don't moderate --
Re: Numbers ? (4.00 / 2) (#82)
by InigoMontoya on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 09:52:34 AM EST

Teacher salaries, if looked at as part of the state budgets, would be an awfully small part. But it's localities and municipalities that pay for teacher salaries, and there isn't as much money to be had there. This is especially true in poorer areas, where the school is funded by property taxes, in places with low land value and low home ownership. It may seem from state budgets like the money's there, but the money comes from school boards and not states - and to change that would require huge amounts of red tape, like I alluded to in the article.

Unfortunately, the only evidence I have for this is anecdotal, from years of listening to NPR and the news and reading newspapers every day. If there's anyone out there who's a part of a school board or city trustees' board and has evidence to contradict my claims, please let me know, so that I can be edified.

InigoMontoya
This signature is self-referential.
mistersite.net
[ Parent ]

Depends on the state (none / 0) (#97)
by aphrael on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 12:38:17 PM EST

In California, the voters passed a ballot initiative in the late 80s requiring something like 40% of the state's budget to be devoted to education; it is the *number one* expense of the state, by far.

[ Parent ]
Bernie Sanders Has Been Trying This Forever (3.60 / 5) (#77)
by democritus on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 09:33:11 AM EST

Bernie Sander (I-VT) has been proposing simmilar measures for a couple of years. Essentially he wants the Federal Government to cancel the education debts of people who enter public service: teaching, social work, child care, law enforcement.

Of course, as the only socialist in the US House, there's little chance of Bernie having much effect on anything.



Bull... (4.57 / 7) (#87)
by Sc00tz on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 10:23:04 AM EST

My wife just completed school. She wants to be a chemistry teacher really badly. She wants to do it because she loves it, not because of the pay.

So lets see, she spends 4 years in school, then has to pay for some stupid Praxis tests that are so easy it's an insult that anybody with a high school diploma let alone a college one wouldn't be able to pass it. Then she has to pay for her teaching cert. Now, she goes to apply for jobs. Every one she can find.. She still hasn't gotten a job. The worst part is that they give her some BS reason and we still see the posting in the paper for the same job.

One example, she applied for this job, met with a group of teachers in the school. My wife was the only one to bring sample lesson plans. That goes well, they ask her to come back. She meets with the principal. He seems hung up on her commute (45mins one way). Now, she was commuting further then this school when she was going to college, and I commute that far to my job, so it's not a real issue, but he seems all hung up on it. She then meets with the superintendent, that went well. We find out from the person that did her student teaching that the group that interviewed her said that they wanted her as the teacher. A few weeks go buy, and I (not her) get a call and they tell me she didn't get the job. This job is still listed in the Sunday paper.

She's been getting those "thanks for applying cards" like crazy. She's now going to be forced to use a placement company that's going to take 10% of her already low salary for the first year.

Why anybody would want to deal with that crap..


-- http://scootz.net/~travis

the commute may not seem like a big deal to you (4.00 / 2) (#96)
by aphrael on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 12:36:41 PM EST

but it does to the school, for a couple of reasons:

  • they're afraid that someone with a long commute will have a higher percentage of sick days.
  • they're afraid that someone with a long commute will be unhappy about staying for evening parent-teacher conferences
  • they're concerned that someone with a long commute will not want to help with extracurricular activities that will run late
  • they believe it is important for a teacher to be part of the community in which he/she teaches.

These are all reasonable concerns. I don't think they should be enough to prevent a hire, but I can certainly see why someone would *worry*.

[ Parent ]

Commute is none of their business (4.50 / 2) (#100)
by Sc00tz on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 12:55:56 PM EST

I think it was the american with disabilities act that made this a big deal.. Because people were not getting hired because the employer was thinking "how is this blind guy gonna get to work?". It was decided in some court case that they couldn't do that. If they hire the person and they're constantly late, or don't show up, or do their duties required by them, then they could fired. But to not hire somebody just because you thought that they can't make it to work for whatever reason was not valid.


-- http://scootz.net/~travis
[ Parent ]

Just wondering... (3.50 / 2) (#107)
by cr8dle2grave on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 01:36:39 PM EST

...where do you live? The availability of teaching jobs seems to vary widely from state to to state and even from county to county within states. In Colorado, where I live now, teacher shortages are enough of a problem in the urban school districts (Denver and Aurora) that a fast track certification program was instituted. This program allows people with a four year college degree to begin teaching on a temporary certification while completing the 12 additional educational (or 16 or whatever the requirement actually is) credits required for certification. I haven't really kept up with the issue outside of reading the papers, but the program seems to be doing a good job of bringing in older (26+) people looking for a career change. On the other hand, bordering Denver county are two school districts, Jefferson County and Cherry Creek, most teachers would give their right arms to be placed in. I'm not at all sure of where they stand now, but up until the early nineties Jefferson County and Cherry Creek had among the highest teacher salaries in the country.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
How do you expect (2.50 / 4) (#92)
by loudici on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 11:32:32 AM EST

How do you expect a country where the president's command of 8th grade grammar is dubious and the richest man is a college dropout to care about education? Who would want to be a teacher when kids spend the bulk of their out of school life watching TV, this endless propaganda for stupidity? L
gnothi seauton
Schools need to be a meritocracy (4.20 / 5) (#102)
by acronos on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 01:16:03 PM EST

If schools had to compete for students, it would solve most of the problems in the school system.  Our current education system is communistic.  Incentive is the problem with all communistic systems.  There is little incentive to do a good job and tons of incentive to cover your ass.  However, with competition, bad schools go out of business, and good schools get funded well.  There is strong incentive to be a good school.  This will affect every component of the education system.  A good example of what this is like is the way colleges are currently handled in America.

Second, education needs to be a privilege rather than a prison.  The first few years of education should be mandatory until students learn to read, write, and basic math.  After that, it should be handled the way that colleges are.  The best students get into the best schools.  Every student who wants one can find a slot in some school.  The students who don't want to go to school go into the job market and expect to work low paying jobs for the rest of their life.  Choice among schools does not necessitate a move away from families, although more than half of the students in my private high school were dorm students.  Usually there are several schools within driving distance.

I know many of you will accuse my solution of being unfair.  It is not unfair.  Students who don't want to learn don't learn.  Forcing such students to go to prison every day only drags the other students down; it does not benefit them.  The entire education system in America is brought down because the environment is a prison rather than a privilege.  That's just my two cents.


Making school more optional good idea, but (4.50 / 2) (#105)
by GGardner on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 01:33:02 PM EST

I like the idea of making school more optional.  If a "student" doesn't want to learn, s/he isn't going to learn, and is just going to slow the rest of the class down.  I'm shocked at the stories my friends who are high-school teachers tell me -- how much time they waste every day sending kids to detention.

Now, it seems pretty harsh to relegate someone to a life of minimum-wage work just because they weren't mature enough as a teenager to plan for the future.  In addition to making school more optional, there should be a plan for more continuing adult education, and idealy, less social stigma attached to that.

If someone drops out of school, at 16, works a couple of years in a dead end job, and matures to the point where the see the value of education, there needs to be a way for that person to restart their life.

[ Parent ]

I agree (4.00 / 2) (#128)
by acronos on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 04:28:52 PM EST

If someone drops out of school, at 16, works a couple of years in a dead end job, and matures to the point where the see the value of education, there needs to be a way for that person to restart their life.

This is very important to me too.

[ Parent ]

A few problems, and a few things I love (4.50 / 2) (#109)
by GhostfacedFiddlah on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 01:41:44 PM EST

Problem #1 is that education is considered a fundamental right for so many years.  This means that "Bad schools going out of business" isn't a good thing.  In poorer areas with few teachers in the area and none willing to move in - that's where education is needed *most*.  And you will *never* get a school good enough to rise out of a place like that.

This brings me to number two - the students you're talking about are young.  They're not yet ready to move out of their parents house, which might be the only viable way to get an education for some areas.  It would also force good students to choose between getting the best education they could in a place that's halfway across the country, and staying with their parents.  From what I read in your post, they'd have to make this choice at 10 or 12 rather than 18 as they do now.  I believe that this would harm the students more than help them at that age.

That said, your point about schools being "prisons" is well taken.  I'm in university, and just discovering the joy of learning - because it was a chore for so long.  Part of the solution could come from losing the mandatory schooling laws.  But another part of the problem is the teachers, who are often capable of making truly interesting subjects very, Very boring.  If we want our children to appreciate their education, we absolutly have to improve the experience for them.

[ Parent ]

The market for the poor (4.00 / 2) (#130)
by acronos on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 04:43:43 PM EST

Schools would compete within their geographical areas because of travel time.  Most parents would be unwilling to drive very far to take their children to a better school.  Not all schools in an area would go out of business.  They have a captive market - someone is going to serve that market.  The best schools in the area would get the students, and therefore the funding.

To change the subject slightly - I wish that every student in a state received the same funding no matter what area they live in.  I wish that schools were funded at the state level rather than the county level.  That way the poor would have the same chance at a good education as the rich.

[ Parent ]

no market (4.00 / 1) (#170)
by Burning Straw Man on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 01:03:02 PM EST

They have a captive market - someone is going to serve that market.  The best schools in the area would get the students, and therefore the funding.

no one is going to serve that market. there is no funding to get, half the kids would kill you as soon as learn from you.

To change the subject slightly - I wish that every student in a state received the same funding no matter what area they live in.  I wish that schools were funded at the state level rather than the county level.  That way the poor would have the same chance at a good education as the rich.

the rich will always have a better chance at a good education, because they will have access to $20K per year high school private education, private tutors, whatever.

I was extremely lucky in that my public school was very, very good. I had extremely good teachers, and supportive parents.

Even if every student in the state received the same funding, there would still be a problem with parents who don't have the time to give a damn, and teachers do not want to work in the areas where a lot of the troubled students live. The poor people (I grew up with food stamps and a trailer home, so I know a bit about which I speak) in general don't have time to deal with school, kids are working jobs to put food on the table.

The way to deal with poor inner city schooling is to take many large busloads of kids every morning from the inner city to a good school, and every afternoon take them back. Of course, many would prefer to stay at the school than go home, so you offer lots of after school activities for learning, and after that more big busses going back to the inner city.

You can't stress enough to the kids that they are on their own. Their parents probably aren't going to help them out, and so if they want something in their life, they had better get their heads out of their baggy jeans and work very, very damn hard.

Anyway, random ramblings at this point, talking about public education is one of my "hot buttons" as it probably saved my life. I know I was extremely lucky to have good teachers and a good public school. Millions of kids are NOT that lucky. They have to work three times as hard as I did, and I worked pretty hard.
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]

are we on the same page (none / 0) (#178)
by acronos on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 01:27:14 PM EST

<cite>no one is going to serve that market. there is no funding to get, half the kids would kill you as soon as learn from you.
</cite>

I think you think I am advocating private education.  I am not.  The funding would come from the state government.  There would be some kids who want to go to school.  Those kids would make a market.  

[ Parent ]

one problem with "good" (4.50 / 2) (#112)
by F a l c o n on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 01:51:57 PM EST

The main problem I see with your "good schools" is that it is difficult to evaluate education without a considerable history. I don't mean 100 years of High School of X - I mean some historic distance. Today, I see my school education in a very different light then I saw it back then (not necessarily better or worse). So who would say "good school/bad school" ? If it's the kids then you can bet your ass that the schools that require the least amount of work will be the "best". Likewise, way too many parents are more interested in good marks then in learning what is behind them, so the schools that hand out tons of good marks would "win". Similiar problems with most other forms of rating.
--
Back in Beta (too many new features added): BattleMaster
[ Parent ]
Think of colleges (4.00 / 1) (#129)
by acronos on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 04:32:56 PM EST

Students can select which college they want to go too.  Do they always choose the easiest?  I think that parents are surely as good as senators are at choosing a school with a good curriculum and difficulty level.  Schools that want to keep a good name are not going to give away very many free diplomas.

[ Parent ]
Problems (4.00 / 1) (#161)
by sien on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 10:52:02 AM EST

The mass of grade inflation, which is better described as grade compression, at American colleges tends to indicate that this is not the case. Although admittedly a few colleges are beginning to do something about this.

The problem you face with this is that in the long term it's not in the interest of anyone to give everyone A's, but in the short term it is in their interest. Somewhat like tax-cuts and deficit financing.

[ Parent ]

Meritocracy and private institutions (5.00 / 1) (#132)
by sien on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 05:42:40 PM EST

A system of education based on private institutions is more like a plutocracy than a meritocracy.

There are alternatives to the problem you describe. Most European school systems split into gymnasium or equivalent, which are aimed at preparation for University and various levels of technical education. This winds up teaching kids things that they find useful and interesting.

[ Parent ]

Not if the state pays for the education. (4.50 / 2) (#142)
by acronos on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 09:06:17 PM EST

I am not advocating private education.  I am advocated state funded competition between schools.  

Schools that accept government money would not be allowed to accept money from parents in my ideal scenario.


[ Parent ]

Money isn't really the problem. (4.50 / 6) (#103)
by kitten on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 01:28:30 PM EST

There are plenty of teachers who are hired who would be excellent and actually contribute something worthwhile to education, even though they aren't paid much - but they fail to do so.

Why?

First, consider that a teacher in a public school has very little say in what actually gets taught. There is a school-board mandated curriculum which decrees what will be taught. The teacher has a degree of leeway in what tests she administers regarding the topics, or what discussions to engage the class in, but not much.
The cirriculum is full of trite, useless, inane trivia that is little more than busy-work "filler time" to give off the appearance that kids are learning something, when in fact they are not.

Until such time that the all-knowing, all-holy Board Of Education wakes up, teachers will be forced to go through the motions and nothing will ever get done.

Many teachers realize this, and further realize that the students don't care about the nonsense forced into them any more than they do, and the teachers quickly become jaded.

But alas, why change careers? By the time the teacher is cynical enough to stop caring, s/he can ride the tenure train until the end of days. As long as they have tenure, they're in virtually no danger of being fired, and can be as apathetic in their job as they wish.

Public school teachers also have almost nobody to answer to. As long as a certain percentage of their students pass, nobody will question their abilities. Once in a while, an administrator will stop in the classroom for a few minutes and "observe", ostensibly to keep tabs on what's going on in there, but these visits are short, and more to the point, announced in advance, such that the teacher has time to prepare a lesson that looks good.

..not, of course, that the administrator would do anything about it if the teacher sucked.

Money is rarely the issue. Designing a system that would weed out the incompetant teachers would be a start. Removing tenure and having bi-annual reviews would be a start. Firing the idiots and raising salaries to attract better teachers would be good too - but that money is already available.

That's right. The money is already available in most schools. It's just squandered relentlessly on things that don't matter, but are highly visible, so the school can point and say "See, we're upgrading things around here!"

Instead of paying teachers more, we install Internet connections in each classroom. What possible use could this be to anybody? I ask in all seriousness.

Instead of paying teachers more, we install TV/VCR combos in every classroom. Why? Sure, once in a while a video is watched in class - does this justify the thousands of dollars it takes to outfit each and every classroom with these things? Or would it make more sense for the teacher to trot down to the library and get one of the TVs from there?

Instead of paying teachers more, we spend fortunes on the school football team. Instead of paying teachers more, we build new bleachers for the football field. Instead of paying teachers more, we build another football field, or a parking lot, or maybe both.

Ah, but paying teachers more wouldn't impress taxpayers. It's far more impressive to say "See, we put computers in every classroom!" and everyone nods and meanwhile, the computers gather dust while the same maddeningly pointless trivia is taught by jaded teachers to terminally bored students, who memorize lists of useless facts long enough to pass a test and then are permitted to erase the information from their brains forever.

The problem is multifold, and there is no one single solution.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
Capitol vs Operational Budgets (none / 0) (#119)
by zipporah on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 02:40:02 PM EST

In my state, donations made to schools can only go to the capitol budget, ie TVs/computers/bleachers/etc - hard goods that will last multiple years.  The only thing that a bond election or fundraising can do is increase this amount.

Teachers are paid out of the Operational budget, which covers salaries, consumables (paper, etc.), and other such expenses. The operational budget is fixed by the state, and can't be raised. This is so that poorer districts can't be "outbid" by richer districs for teachers.

Of course, there are ways around this - I remember a teacher buying a "wood storage cabinet" for the technical theatre set building class that was pre-stocked with consumable wood.

Just FYI,
Zipporah

[ Parent ]

yeah (none / 0) (#150)
by auraslip on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 01:05:01 AM EST

thats why I dropped out and got a ged. That was a year ago, now I'm in college.
124
[ Parent ]
getting better teachers into the classrooms (5.00 / 2) (#155)
by NFW on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 03:50:00 AM EST

Money is rarely the issue. Designing a system that would weed out the incompetant teachers would be a start. Removing tenure and having bi-annual reviews would be a start. Firing the idiots and raising salaries to attract better teachers would be good too - but that money is already available.

You're 99% correct. The only caveat is that there are two reasons incompetant teachers don't get fired. First, as you say, no mechanism to weed them out. Second, nobody to replace them. No money to attract them. If there's money there, it's not nearly enough. Especially when it comes to math and science teachers. Many (all?) schools in my area cross-train music and english and social studies teachers to take over math-teacher vacancies. My dad is a former math teacher who does such cross-training at the schools with the lowest math test scores. Sometimes cross-training works - good teachers are usually good teachers, period, no matter what the subject. But sometimes cross-training fails miserably (math-o-phobes and innumerates pretty much can't teach math, period).

I think the solution is - much as I detest more taxation - higher wages to attract new talent, followed by the ejection of dead weight. Schools can't eject bad teachers because they're already taking desperate measures to make do with what they have. That needs to change.

There are probably plenty of people in the private sector who would like to teach. But how many want it bad enough to pay $35,000/year for the privilege? When math/science thinkers have to choose between making $75,000 in the private sector, and making $40,000 as a teacher, that is the decision they're faced with. It's no surprise that so few choose education, is it?

Some say that a desire to teach is more important, than a desire to make money, but I say that's crap. No matter how bad a person wants to teach, if they suck at it, they suck at it. People who don't suck need to be brought in. Offering higher salaries would attract that talent. Attracting more talent is a necessary precondition for the termination of teachers that suck.

Some will say, "do you want your kid being taught by someone who is only in it for the money?" And I say, if someone "in it for the money" can do it better than the people who are "in it for the fun of it," then yes. Not just yes, but hell yes. I'm not interested in the teacher's motivation nearly as much as I am in the teacher's effectiveness. That option will only present itself if starting salaries go up and the dead weight can be ejected.

I have nothing against unions in general, but union policies that keep bad teachers on staff perpetually do need to change. That is another necessary condition for getting better teachers into the classrooms. That of course opens of the question of how to evaluate teachers - a hard problem for which I acknowledge I have no good answers. But I can't help but think that something would be better than nothing.


--
Got birds?


[ Parent ]

education failure: real versus stated goals (3.75 / 8) (#106)
by Quietti on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 01:34:25 PM EST

The very reason why schools fail is because of the serious gap between the real and stated goals of education:

Stated goal

To develop children into mature individuals who are capable of independant, critical thinking and with a good sense of personal initiative. Rhymes with the ancient Roman's moto "a pure mind in a healthy body". The usual subjects for reaching this goal are mathematics (learn logical thinking), history (learn about mistakes from the past, to avoid doing them again) and sciences (learn about what makes our surroundings and how to influence it).

Real goal

To turn undisciplined children into calm, obediant citizens who will gladly pay taxes and blindly agree to doing and saying anything the boss/government/militaries/multinationals/police will tell them to. This is done via a persistant transfer of biased, pre-digested values like patriotism, political correctness and the distant promise of an hypotheticaly fulfilling professional and social life.

The result:

Having repeatedly worked as a teacher, I can say that the very reason that makes me hesitant in ever working again as one, is precisely because of the constant bullshit one faces. On one hand, being asked by parents to do what's good for their children, on the other hand, being asked by the principal to just shut up, ignore the parents and run the pupils thru the pre-digested cursus imposed by the government.



--
The whole point of civilization is to reduce how much the average person has to think. - Stef Murky
My Ishmael (4.50 / 2) (#120)
by mandomania on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 02:42:41 PM EST

I just read this book (My Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn), and you're on the right track (according to Quinn) concerning the stated and real goals of our current educational system.  Quinn adds a bit to your real goal that might spark a bit of discussion, so here it goes:

Quinn claims that schools exist primarily to slow down the flow of potential employees into the workforce, and secondarily to keep additional dollars flowing into the economy via school-age spenders.  His argument is that it's a fairly recent (in cultural terms) trend for the average person to spend time in school.  I don't have to book in front of me, but in it he outlines the time table of legislation mandating required education.  If I recall correctly, it's all happened in about the last century or so.

The cultural argument is that in order for our children to become productive members of society, they must trudge through 13 years of pre-University schooling, followed by 4+ years of undergrad work at a University.  This is just to be average.  If you want to excel, you need to go and get your Masters.  If you really, REALLY want to succeed, well you'd better get a Doctorate degree.

Quinn's response to this is that all through history people have somehow managed WITHOUT mandated education.  Folks used to let their kids just run around town (or village), and they would be attracted to whatever tickled their fancy.  And they would learn by doing, rather than with their nose in a book.  Of course, this doesn't always work, as it's pretty hard to learn astrophysics and nuclear science and stuff like that in this manner.  But for the most part, this worked well for millenia.  And there were still universities and such, but they were for those who really wanted to go, not for the masses.

I hate to plagerise, but the best way to explain it is through his words (and I suppose it more paraphrasing, as I don't remember it exactly):

"Have you ever seen a little kid learn something?  They are totally engrossed, and are able to absorb insane amounts of information.  Not only that, but they remember EVERYTHING."

"Now, imagine if a child that loves to sing got to hang around a recording studio?  Or a kid that likes chemistry got to hang out in a laboratory?"

So, the point of this enormous comment is that maybe, just maybe, our educational goals are off.  We sit around preparing our children to be consumers and workers, rather than letting them prepare themselves.

--
Mando
The Code is Sound.
[ Parent ]

Breadth (none / 0) (#148)
by wiml on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 12:43:16 AM EST

That system worked for millennia, yes: and they were millennia of serfdom and poverty. We have higher expectations of the general populace now than were expected of any but the richest classes in the past.

[ Parent ]
That's the lie. (4.00 / 1) (#164)
by mandomania on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 11:06:55 AM EST

And it's so insidious, so pervasive that almost no one realizes it.  We (our current culture) assume that life was so bad before we came alone with our mandated educational system and our toasters and PS2's and nuclear weapons, and that we have it so good now in comparison.  The even deeper lie is that we have to give up all of our advances in order to return to our old system.

You say that we have higher expectations of the general populace now than at any other time in history.  This is true.  However, at the same time, we have higher crime rates.  We live in a world where our children are so hungry for our attention and love that they would rather die than live without it.  We live in a world where people NEED to work 10 hours a day just to make ends meet.  There's got to be a better way.

I agree that the last several millennia where replete with surfdom and poverty.  I'm asking you to look further back.  Maybe not even that far back.  Look to the tribal peoples of our time (Native Americans, Aboriginal peoples of Austrailia, etc.).  See how they lived.  They didn't have teen suicide problems.  They didn't have mass depression or people going 'postal'.  How is it that they where able to live properly for thousands upon thousands of years, while we can't?  What did they have that we (and again, by We, I mean our culture (and by Culture, I mean our global culture)) don't?

--
Mando
The Code is Sound.
[ Parent ]

Given the amount of incorrect crap I was taught, (3.50 / 2) (#117)
by mingofmongo on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 02:30:22 PM EST

less teachers is probably a good thing.

Ask any professor that teaches first year college students, and he'll tell you that you spend enormous amounts of your time correcting the incorrect information people are taught in earlier schooling.

A friend of mine who works in a college library, says the absolute dumbest people she sees, who are incapable of following simple instructions, are education majors.

We don't need more teachers exactly, we need better ones. Maybe this is a profession like cops and polititians, where the people who want to do it are the last ones who should.

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion

let's get started (5.00 / 1) (#139)
by bill_mcgonigle on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 07:34:30 PM EST

>Given the amount of incorrect crap I was taught...
>less teachers is probably a good thing.

"fewer teachers".  

'less' is used for degrees, fewer is used for enumerable items.

There was less snow this year than last.
There were ten fewer inches of snow this year than last.

[ Parent ]

A simpler solution. (4.50 / 2) (#121)
by Apuleius on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 02:45:45 PM EST

When the oil bubble burst, America was flooded with unemployed chemical engineers. Sensing the opportunity, school districts all around the country arranged examptions for ed-school requirements and hired them in droves. Now there are unemployed EEs, programmers, and sysadmins, many of whom (myself included) would consider going into teaching, but would not be willing to spend a year of their lives listening to ed-school bogosity. Waive those requirements and America's teacher shortage would be solved very quickly.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
West Wing Reference (none / 0) (#122)
by gauntlet on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 03:25:29 PM EST

Am I the only one that remembers the character Charlie on West Wing suggesting this exact idea?

The episode was called "The Portland Trip".

OK, I'm a total West Wing geek, I know.

Into Canadian Politics?

Money won't solve problems (4.00 / 2) (#126)
by karb on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 04:24:39 PM EST

One of my buddy's wife worked in a semi-inner city setting. The kids were horrible. One in particular had actually attacked her, among other things, but was not removed from the classroom. When she asked students to be quiet, she would occasionally get lectures about how she was a racist. (the kids were 4th graders, I think)

Now she's teaching at another school and ecstatic. The money is exactly the same ... it's the same county. But the kids aren't horrible and the administration doesn't take crap from the kids.

I've also been told there are studies that show that money alone doesn't improve the quality of inner-city schools.

Also, it is probably incorrect to assume U.S. schools are behind other civilized countries. The schooling of other countries is much more geared towards the possessing of knowledge that helps on tests, while U.S. education is more problem-solving oriented. And the U.S. actually is testing all of its students, whereas most other countries only end up testing the
--
Who is the geek who would risk his neck for his brother geek?

d'oh! (none / 0) (#127)
by karb on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 04:27:06 PM EST

"cream of the crop" :)
--
Who is the geek who would risk his neck for his brother geek?
[ Parent ]
Teacher recruitment and retention (4.66 / 3) (#135)
by languagenerd on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 06:12:20 PM EST

As a new, dedicated teacher in a nice suburban district (which I chose because of low pay and lack of parental involvement in city schools), I can attest to the reason why good schools succeed--they pay well, offer good retirement and health care plans, and parents are involved. None of this can be changed except through a cultural shift in priorities which currently doesn't exist. We need better funding for ALL schools (I will be teaching a class next year off of three copies of a textbook because there is no more money), higher pay for teachers (I have so many gifted friends who aren't teachers because of the long hours and lower pay), and more respect culturally for teaching. Good students come from homes with good values, and good teachers come from the same place. In Japan, teachers are highly paid and highly respected, and there aren't enough jobs for all of those interested. In the past, all that smart women could do was teaching or nursing. Today, we must increase salaries and incentives for teaching such as we find in the business world to make it worth anyone's while. Finally, about merit pay--teaching doesn't exist in a vacuum. No teacher is solely responsible for their students' achievements. And about unions--I've taught Catholic and public school, and I love my union because it's why I have excellent pay and retirement plan, a paid year off with my job kept if I or a family member is gravely ill or injured, and my healthcare premium paid at 100%. Breaking unions WILL break public education.

Modest proposal ;-) (1.50 / 2) (#149)
by wiml on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 12:49:06 AM EST

In the past, all that smart women could do was teaching or nursing
Obviously, the solution to our current problem is to return to that state of affairs. Not exactly the same state of affairs, of course; that would be sexist. Instead, let's just randomly choose half the populace and bar them from all but a few professions (teaching, nursing, and, um, city-level politics). Say, everyone with an even Social Security Number.

[ Parent ]
Let's do this in reverse (3.00 / 1) (#141)
by parliboy on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 08:57:49 PM EST

If you can't spring for the tax money to properly compensate a certain type of civil servant (teacher), how about you just absolve us of taxes. Seriously -- this was bounced around a bit in the past here in Louisiana. Have your state remove all responsbility for sales, income, and other state taxes and let us keep the money we're earning instead. Yes, I know the effect on the budget is supposedly the same, but really, it's not quite, since there's several steps of beauacracy that our money doesn't go through.

----------
Eat at the Dissonance Diner.

ever been in an antique store? (4.33 / 3) (#143)
by gregholmes on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 10:42:37 PM EST

Ever picked up an old school reader? Did you see what kids were reading, in the 1800s and even early in the 1900s? Their second or third year readers would put some of our high school students to shame.

This was usually in one room schoolhouses. They had squat, compared to what schools, even city schools, have today. Often one teacher taught every kid in town; all grades, all ages. They had none of the stuff that everyone, including you, says we need, yet they learned better than kids today.

We spend more on schools than we ever have, historically speaking. I don't think that money is the problem. I think that neglect of the three Rs, and an overemphasis on new age teaching theories and political nonsense is the problem.



i agree in general, but (4.00 / 3) (#145)
by mikpos on Thu Aug 08, 2002 at 11:49:09 PM EST

What about the kids who don't want to learn or have trouble learning? In the 1800s and 1900s, not everyone went to school, and those who did go to school often didn't see it all the way through. I'd wager that the US' total literacy rate is higher today than it was 100 or 200 years ago.

The point is that not everyone is cut out for education, or at least not in the rigid 3 Rs way of doing things. In 1852, what do you do if you're 14 years old and having terrible troubles learning to algebra? Drop out, probably. You'll still earn a decent living. Very few people have that luxury in 2002. So, you get stuck with a classroom full of students who don't want to be there, who aren't wanted there, and will probably not learn much of anything there. I don't think the 19th century solution is going to solve much.

The thing that I agree with is that curricula do seem to have dropped off in quality, more than they should have. Teachers seem to be teaching more towards what students are capable of, instead of what they should be capable of.

[ Parent ]

well ... (none / 0) (#157)
by gregholmes on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 06:25:05 AM EST

I ramble below, but in summary, I think that priorities, skewed incentives, teaching methodology, and discipline have a far greater impact on educational outcomes that mere money or number of teachers.

And as an aside, here's an interesting link showing one of those old primers. No argument or evidence here, I just found it interesting. Now back to my regularly scheduled arguing!

What about the kids who don't want to learn or have trouble learning?

Here goes my future political career ;), but, seriously, what about them? Do you think another dollar or another teacher in a public school is going to change anything? I don't.

In city schools, they hang around disrupting the learning experience for everyone else, until they do something sufficiently criminal to be locked up. In suburban schools, they either do the same (but it is more manageable since there are fewer bad apples) or are shunted off to special county schools for the difficult.

I don't see how any amount of extra money or teachers is going to change this. Public schools have backward incentives - everyone in town, and perhaps the state (funding methods vary) has to pay, so they don't have to satisfy customers. Instead, they have to respond to political imperatives. Parents of thugs are a concentrated political interest, and will do whatever it takes to prevent appropriate discipline policies being created and enforced.

I'd wager that the US' total literacy rate is higher today than it was 100 or 200 years ago.

Perhaps, though reading the Bible was quite popular, and that isn't exactly see spot run. But I'd really take that bet if you compared today's rate to, say, just before WWII. The US was still largely agricultural, but we hadn't gone down the road of trendy teaching theory like we have today.

In 1852, what do you do if you're 14 years old and having terrible troubles learning to algebra? Drop out, probably. You'll still earn a decent living. Very few people have that luxury in 2002.

Really? I need algebra to do a myriad of non-academic jobs; cleaning, fixing, serving, typing? I'm not saying it wouldn't be handy, but I need it?

Maybe some people aren't good at it and just aren't going to be. I agree that we should try to teach them, but "every child deserves a quality education" is a political slogan, not a reality.



[ Parent ]
algebra (none / 0) (#162)
by mikpos on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 10:52:27 AM EST

I don't know where you're from, but here you need to have finished (and passed) two algebra classes to get your high school diploma. With few exceptions, you need a high school diploma to do fixing and typing (and possibly cleaning and serving as well). I'm not sure why. I don't make the rules.

[ Parent ]
circular logic? ;) (none / 0) (#169)
by gregholmes on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 12:50:59 PM EST

With few exceptions, you need a high school diploma to do fixing and typing (and possibly cleaning and serving as well). I'm not sure why. I don't make the rules.

But this whole thought exercise is about making new rules! ;)

So, let me get this straight. We need lots of new spending, and more teachers, to ensure that we get some algebra into the heads of people who don't need it ;)

And just so it won't be missed - ;)



[ Parent ]
This is a bit of a red herring (none / 0) (#165)
by JetJaguar on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 11:43:23 AM EST

I didn't directly address this issue in my other post, so I'll do it here.

There is a whole lot of political grandstanding going on about the idea that turn of the century schools were much more rigorous. From my experience this isn't really the case, when you take into account how the world has changed since then. The fact is that the old curriculums were even less interested in teaching students how to think for themselves than the ones today. They were all based on the idea of learning by rote, and did absolutely nothing to help students build a conceptual understanding of what they were learning about. To me that lack of concept building makes that curriculum far less rigorous than it would appear.

Fast forward 100 years, things are better in some respects, there is less spoon feeding of facts that will be forgotten a few hours later, but the learning by rote is still used too much in my opinion. The biggest difference is that the curriculum has expanded considerably, there are just a lot more things that we want to teach our children, and an over emphasis on the "three R's" will be doing a bigger injustice to our kids today than it would have 100 years ago (which is not to say that the three R's couldn't be given more emphasis, just that overemphasizing the three R's is just as bad as not teaching them at all).

Finally, I still get a kick out of all the hoopla about "new age" teaching, etc. I've been an observer in a number of schools over the past six years, and I've seen far more outraged op-ed pieces in the newspaper about "feel good" teaching methods than I've actually seen in schools I've visited. In the one place where I did see it, it was the result of a group of idiot parents who never valued their own education and never taught their kids to value their education, but still wanted to make sure that their idiot offspring still had the opportunity to get a high school diploma just like everybody else. It was pretty disgusting, but it also was fairly isolated, 1 school out of about 150. I would also add that there are, in fact, new teaching methods out there that are backed up by hard research in cognitive science, that show that different methods from those used in the past work better. We've begun to learn how we learn, which allows us to develop teaching methods that address how the brain assimilates new information, the down side is that these proven methods continue to be met with resistance by established teachers and even parents.

[ Parent ]

rote (4.00 / 1) (#168)
by gregholmes on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 12:47:06 PM EST

The fact is that the old curriculums were even less interested in teaching students how to think for themselves than the ones today. They were all based on the idea of learning by rote, and did absolutely nothing to help students build a conceptual understanding of what they were learning about.

Well, that's what educational theorists and people who want to sound smart have been saying for decades. Why isn't it working?

The fact is, the use of language and mathematics is the basis of most learning (beyond, say, hand-taught craft work). And to learn the use of language, for example, you have to read actual books, and write actual papers. You have to learn rules of grammar (the generally accepted proper usages). You have to study the works of people who actually knew what they were doing. You have to learn by rote to lay a foundation for problem solving and creativity.

Ironically, attempting to skip this step doesn't tend to hurt the "privileged" who learned to read and write at home. It hurts those who need the school to lay this foundation.



[ Parent ]
It hasn't worked because... (none / 0) (#171)
by JetJaguar on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 02:00:29 PM EST

It hasn't been until fairly recently that we've learned enough about concept building to do it right (and there is quite a bit of research supporting this). There have also been those that have been so deep into concept building that they forgot about the content.

So I partially agree with you, however, I disagree with this statement:

You have to learn by rote to lay a foundation for problem solving and creativity.

Actually most people have very strong rudimentary problem solving skills, all you have to do is spend a little time with a three year old to see wonderful examples of creative problem solving. The key is to integrate that creativity and problem solving skill into lessons that also teach content. In fact, learning by rote is detrimental to this as it suppresses the creativity and problem solving skills that you want to enhance. There is a better way. Methods such as the learning cycle have already been shown to dramatically improve math and science scores over classes taught merely by lecture and repetition, and there is mounting evidence to suggest that the same methods can be adapted to teaching reading and writing skills as well.

[ Parent ]

my take. (2.00 / 4) (#146)
by /dev/trash on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 12:04:08 AM EST

Get the feel good stuff out of the classroom and start teaching.

---
Updated 02/20/2004
New Site
My experiences.... (4.75 / 4) (#153)
by JetJaguar on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 02:56:37 AM EST

I've been part of a preservice teacher education program for about 6 years now, and after that time I have come to several conclusions.

While there is room for improvement in schools, especially in poor school districts and inner city areas, the fact is that taken as a whole, there are many schools that are every bit as good as the bad ones are bad.

Solving the inequalities between the good schools and the bad schools is a huge problem. There is a lot of political grandstanding going on that makes it impossible to see what the real problems are in schools, so in the end the real problems in the poorer schools are never addressed. Instead we wind up with a whole bunch of "high stakes" exams that are poorly designed and everyone pats themselves on the back for having done something about education without having to look deep enough at what the real problems are. (Note: I am not necessarily against high stakes exams, it's just that the ones that I have seen are absolutely atrocious, ie, questions that have more than one correct answer, questions that ask students to interpret events that violate laws of physics... I could go on).

So just exactly what are the problems? From my own observations, many, if not most, of the problems are social:

  • Poor inner city parents usually do not have much of an education, so their children are never taught to value their education. The result: students don't work hard in school which ends in failure. However, this isn't necessarily a problem that only affects poor inner city schools, this kind of attitude is a lot more prevalent than it should be.

  • Teaching is not seen as a very prestigious job by much of the society we live in, so many of the best and brightest of us refuse to even consider a teaching position. I think the low salary is secondary to this. If more people felt that teaching is an important and worthwhile profession, more (and better) people would be drawn to it despite the lower salary. I should also add that there is the problem of potentially getting killed, mugged, or threatened by the students of inner city schools. Who the hell would want that job on top of having to deal with the other issues?

  • New and innovative teaching methods (that have strong backing by research in cognitive science) are looked at with great suspicion not only by the teaching establishment, but also by parents as well. Established teachers don't want to change how they teach, and feel threatened by the new methods. And parents think that their kids should be taught in exactly the same way they were taught, even if the old way is demonstrably wrong. This makes it extremely difficult for newly graduated teachers who are ready to use new (and better) methods of teaching to get the job done effectively. (And I am not talking about "feel good" methods here)

  • In addition, as others have pointed out, there is the problem of the general social structure in schools that tend to prevent students from excelling and exploring in an effort to make them comform and turn them into good little consumers, although I think this has more to do with the problem of attitude towards education that I mentioned above than any real conspiracy.

Finally there is the issue of money. It's fairly obvious that merely throwing money at the problem without addressing the social issues will not resolve anything, but *not* throwing in any money at all will be a serious impediment as well.

In the end, to solve the problems in our schools, all these issues have to be addressed in concert, as they all feed into one another. A GI Bill for teachers could very well be one piece of the puzzle, but it is not a complete solution, and it definitely will not solve the social stigma of teaching, nor will it improve the attitude of the students in inner city schools.

salaries are the only way (4.00 / 1) (#175)
by blisspix on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:32:14 PM EST

in Australia, education degrees are as close to free as you can get. They can not get enough people in because of salary. People don't care if their education is free, if they get tax credits, they want big, up front, realistic salaries.

Who cares if training to become a teacher is free when in 10 years time, your salary isn't big enough for you to ever buy a house, or go on a big overseas holiday?

My fiancee is a teacher, and at 31 he has reached the limit on how much he will be paid for the rest of his life. The compensation is miniscule compared to the three degrees he worked for to become a teacher.

It's also not enough when you consider the severe restrictions on when he can have travel (at christmas, which is expensive, or two weeks during the middle of the year, not long enough), his students' behavioural problems, the lack of respect for teachers in society, and the inability to get extra leave (he's had one sick day in nine years).

People are leaving the profession in droves. More money may make a few more stay, but not free education.

Proposal: How to get more teachers in the classroom. | 184 comments (174 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
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