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[P]
Performance-based Teacher Compensation

By AxelBoldt in Op-Ed
Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 09:58:17 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

The teaching profession has one fundamental problem: good performance is not rewarded. If we want to change this, the crucial point is how to measure the quality of teachers. I will propose a scheme for doing so below.


Teaching is one of the few professions where good performance is not financially rewarded. As a teacher, if you want to make more money, you have to leave teaching and become a school administrator. The only reason to be a good teacher rather than a mediocre one is idealism. All over the world, people complain about the quality of their schools and teachers; lack of proper rewards may be the real underlying reason.

So, after having identified the problem, what's the solution? Clearly, we somehow have to measure teacher performance, and then distribute funds accordingly.

Student grades are useless for our purposes, since they are determined by the teachers themselves. One could institute recurring evaluations of teachers by teacher collegues, who attend random lessons without prior announcement. But it seems likely that likes, dislikes and politics would be more important than teacher performance in the outcome of these evaluations.

I propose to use objective measures of teacher performance instead. These will be different for the different school levels.

A highschool biology teacher does a good job if they produce college graduates majoring in biology. The following system rewards teachers accordingly: whenever a student graduates from college with a biology degree, a set amount of money is distributed among that student's highschool biology teachers; the amount a given teacher receives is determined by the length of time they taught biology to the student. Likewise for all other fields. The rewards for graduates in fields which are not taught at highschool, like engineering, would be distributed among the teachers of related subjects, such as mathematics and physics in our example.

Clearly, some subject teachers will fare much better than others, simply because some college majors are more popular than others. This can be easily compensated for by adjusting the amount that a graduate of the different fields is "worth". Clearly, a music teacher should receive more money for producing a graduate of a music academy than a business teacher for a management graduate. The per-graduate awards are computed so that, on average, teachers of every subject will receive the same amount per year; good teachers will receive more, and bad teachers will receive less.

Some problem schools rarely produce college graduates, while in some suburbian schools, almost everyone goes on to college. Again, this can be compensated for by the amounts that college graduates are "worth". Teaching at a problem school can then be just as financially rewarding as at other schools.

Rewarding college graduations is not feasable for primary or middle school students, because the time interval is too long and too many other factors play a role. But a different scheme can be used here: the outcomes of standardized tests.

Most jurisdictions nowadays require some sort of standardized test to measure school quality and student performance. These can be used for teacher evaluation as well, as long as the grading of those tests is not done by the teacher. Good test results of students mean more money for the teacher, as simple as that.

Again, adjustments for poorly performing schools would be made, so that teachers would have no incentive to leave those schools.

Some of these standardized tests, such as the international PISA comparison, do not have any impact on a student's grades. There's an obvious problem here: students have no incentive to perform well on these tests, other than a desire to reward their teacher. This needs to be changed: for these tests, students should be rewarded with money for good results. Again, these rewards would depend on past performance of the school, so that students at good schools don't receive free money.

One would have to think about the administration and financing of all these programs, but bureaucrats can do that better than I.

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Poll
Should teacher pay be based on performance?
o No. 37%
o Yes, but with a different scheme than the one proposed here. 58%
o Yes, with the scheme proposed here. 3%

Votes: 78
Results | Other Polls

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o Also by AxelBoldt


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Performance-based Teacher Compensation | 185 comments (167 topical, 18 editorial, 0 hidden)
Definitely not (2.83 / 6) (#3)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Sat Jul 03, 2004 at 12:26:58 PM EST

The bosses of schools would then have an incentive to hire bad teachers.

Tim
"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."

One major flaw in your reward scheme (3.00 / 14) (#4)
by Hellkitten on Sat Jul 03, 2004 at 01:02:21 PM EST

Your reward isn't based on beeing a good teacher

If I was a greedy little bastard without morals (perhaps I am but not in this particular way) I would ignore the struggling students and consentrate all my energy on the good students. And I would spend more energy on convinsing them to choose the field that will give me the payoff than on teaching, even if that field already has sufficient manpower and they'd graduate to unemployment.

The basic ide is ok. Reward good teachers (and raise the average salary too) to encourage the best people to become teachers, but I don't think your way will work. Sadly I'm unable to come up with any good alternative.



Factor that in (none / 1) (#29)
by J'raxis on Sun Jul 04, 2004 at 01:01:52 AM EST

You’d have to factor in how many failing students they allowed to get through. Something like dividing the number of good results by the number of bad results sounds a little to simplistic, but something along those lines would be the right idea.

— J’raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]
[ Parent ]

But, how is it their fault (none / 2) (#43)
by livus on Sun Jul 04, 2004 at 05:44:09 PM EST

if you dropped acid after high school and failed university.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
Schools (none / 3) (#63)
by ShiftyStoner on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 04:44:44 AM EST

 "Sadly I'm unable to come up with any good alternative."

 No one can, other than completly starting from scratch, creating a new system.
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
[ Parent ]

fundamental problems of public schools (2.25 / 4) (#5)
by krkrbt on Sat Jul 03, 2004 at 01:04:26 PM EST

Public Schooling's fundamental problems have nothing to do with lousy teachers.  I talk to a lot of highschool aged persons, and they almost univerally hate school.  Children don't hate school because of their teachers, they hate school because they resent being forced to spend a significant portion of their day in cell-like classrooms listening to someone else prattle on about something they could care less about.  

What it comes down to is:  you can't make a child care about all their subjects.  (In fact, the structure of public schooling actively prevents children from learning to care about anything.  One kid might be getting into their painting, or poem, or chemistry problem, but then the 55 minute bell rings, and they have to put away that subject and move on to one they'll never care about).

Government schools will always be substandard so long as they have a virtual forced monopoly.  If every kid had, say, $5k that they could spend at any school they wanted, with no restrictions whatsoever on "required subjects" - public schools would either become effective real quick, or fade away into the dustbins of history.

(Thank You, John Taylor Gatto - I only hated school for a very long time, now I know why.)

Did you post that link here a few weeks back? (none / 0) (#11)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Sat Jul 03, 2004 at 03:23:23 PM EST

I only know I stumbled across it on k5... can't remember who to thank. Half imagined it was a sneaky goatse or something, at the time.

All in all, I'm minimally satisfied with the consolation prize of having it explained to me. I usually figure things out myself, but would never have understood public education on my own... too much going on there.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

jtg link (none / 0) (#28)
by krkrbt on Sat Jul 03, 2004 at 11:56:25 PM EST

I usually post the link whenever I post a comment on the topic of "education", but I wasn't the first k5'er to do so (do a google search on K5 for "john taylor gatto" - there are some older stories which mention his name).  Some people need to hear from an "authority" in a field before they'll accept the possibility of an idea being valid, and Mr. Gatto's website is as good a source as any.

[ Parent ]
Instead of some costly compensation scheme (2.71 / 7) (#7)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Sat Jul 03, 2004 at 01:39:37 PM EST

Why not just let parents choose which school to send their children to?

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
It seems to me (none / 1) (#120)
by Arkaein on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 01:53:05 PM EST

that the basic problem with complete choice in schools is that the already good schools will become overcrowded, and the bad schools will lose students. Implemented using a voucher system, the worst schools will receive even less money than before.

School choice may also be impractical in rural communities or areas where all nearby schools are poor quality.

Moving students around won't fix bad schools, and these schools will still be needed unless the size of the student population were to somehow shrink.

----
The ultimate plays for Madden 2004
[ Parent ]

schools close, new schools open (none / 1) (#153)
by speek on Wed Jul 07, 2004 at 09:30:26 PM EST

New management takes over. Popular schools expand, buy the bad schools, etc, etc, etc. Why would you assume a static situation? Will it be perfect? Never. Rural communities will always have lesser quality schools, orchestras, libraries, roads... That is the way of rural communities - it's not something that needs to be fixed.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

This article is not well researched. (2.90 / 11) (#9)
by waxmop on Sat Jul 03, 2004 at 02:59:46 PM EST

This reminds me of Iron Chef for teachers.

Rewarding teachers based on student performance is a really old debate in education reform. You need to acknowledge the reasonable arguments against it, otherwise this is just propaganda.

If you implement this system poorly, school districts will cherrypick bright students, ignore or drop students that score poorly, or even find a way to expel them, and teachers will feel pressured to cheat. Programs like art, music, theatre, and sports will wither up because they don't benefit the test-taking effort.
--
The threat of losing all of your shiny possessions is what keeps us slaves to the machine. --

uh (3.00 / 7) (#13)
by reklaw on Sat Jul 03, 2004 at 04:02:52 PM EST

We have this in England. It sucks. Seriously. Performance-related pay comes from the same mindset as those infernal 'league tables' -- it just means that students get taught only how to pass the tests, and absolutely nothing else. It also tends to create cycles of decline, where supposedly 'poorly' performing teachers who are being paid less may become demoralised, or where schools at the bottom of the league tables can't attract any good students or teachers any more.
-
Not quite (none / 3) (#19)
by GenerationY on Sat Jul 03, 2004 at 09:05:50 PM EST

IIRC there were discretionary bonuses for teachers who 'excelled'. Apparently they were handed out in nearly all cases; how could a civil servant turn to a teacher and say they hadn't excelled?

League tables are just a disaster. The same is true of the University equivalents; the TQA and (particularly) the RAE which between them have pretty much destroyed the social fabric of British academia. That the RAE (research assessment exercise) is far more important financially than the TQA (teaching quality assessment) has predictable consquences for undergraduates I'm afraid to say. I've seen superb lecturers forced out because they could only muster 2.9 publications (instead of the mandatory 3) per year.

[ Parent ]

What's a 'league table'? (nt) (none / 1) (#20)
by The Solitaire on Sat Jul 03, 2004 at 09:07:47 PM EST



I need a new sig.
[ Parent ]
well (none / 2) (#21)
by reklaw on Sat Jul 03, 2004 at 09:31:47 PM EST

basically, it's a list of schools printed in several newspapers yearly [?] listing them in order of exam results. It leads to all sorts of trouble with heads trying to do anything to appear in a better position, and silly parents doing absolutely insane things to try to get their kids in at whichever schools come top.
-
[ Parent ]
Ahhh... (none / 1) (#22)
by The Solitaire on Sat Jul 03, 2004 at 09:33:55 PM EST

Yeah we have that here too. Didn't know there was a name for it, though. And I don't think parents go apeshit over it, but I could be wrong.

I need a new sig.
[ Parent ]

people get up to all sorts here (none / 1) (#23)
by reklaw on Sat Jul 03, 2004 at 09:35:04 PM EST

They'll petition the council, move house, whatever they have to do to make sure their little darlings get into the 'best' school. It's really quite sad.
-
[ Parent ]
They do this over here too (none / 1) (#44)
by livus on Sun Jul 04, 2004 at 05:53:11 PM EST

(nz) they even buy houses they wont live in and pretend to live in them. I went to one of these schools, and the focus was definately on doing well in exams so that you could be in the top whatever percent - in fact we all got a yearly lecture on how at least one of us had to be top in the country. Besides which, the traffic jam outside from SUVs picking up their precious darlings after school was shocking and probably bad for the lungs.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
Sad? (none / 1) (#91)
by SvnLyrBrto on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 09:38:15 PM EST

The criteria for what constitutes "the best" may be a bit off; but, otherwise, how is it sad for parents to "the best" (schools, or otherwise) for their children.  I thought it was a basic tenet of parenting, that you try your damnedest to do "the best" for your children, and AT LEAST to see to it that they have it better off than you.

Personally, I don't plan on having kids.  But if I change my mind, you can bet that I'll fight tooth and nail to have them in "the best" schools, and to have "the best" opportunities for them, as well.

cya,
john

Imagine all the people...
[ Parent ]

not the point (none / 2) (#98)
by reklaw on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 11:33:34 PM EST

The league tables give the wrong impression of which school is best -- generally, different schools will be better for different children. League tables attempt to measure which schools are best using a number and then put them in rank order, and then idiots like you insist that their children just HAVE to get into the #1 ranked school. It seems to be some weird fucked-up part of the parental mind: as soon as someone tells you that one [whatever] is the best [whatever] for their kids, parents will go nuts trying to get it, even if it isn't really the best at all.

Incidentally, Kristian Wilson never said the thing in your sig. It was some comedian. To be honest, I'm just thinking you're a bit of an idiot at this point.
-
[ Parent ]

Well, that's something (none / 2) (#55)
by Wateshay on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 01:55:15 AM EST

At least if the students just get taught what they need to pass the test, they at least get taught what they need to pass the test. Sadly, that's a lot more than students are learning in a lot of schools over here.

"If English was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for everyone else."


[ Parent ]
Bad idea, IMO (none / 3) (#14)
by vadim on Sat Jul 03, 2004 at 04:59:12 PM EST

First, tests measure only test performance, and sometimes are braindead themselves. I've seen a test where one of the questions was in which DOS version subdirectories were introduced. I doubt most computer geeks can answer this question, except the ones who used all the versions of DOS. And who cares, anyway? DOS 2.0 is impossible to find these days, and if I had to work with it, it wouldn't take long to experimentally determine what features are there and which are not. This same teacher believes CDs are read with a blue laser.

It's much easier to find a good teacher by asking the students and paying attention to the relevant answers. Yes, most students will of course favor whoever gives them good grades for little work, but many students are concerned about really useful things that are worth finding out. Example:

Attendance: When there is lots of things to do or study, many students will skip whatever they find less relevant.

Interest: The teacher above is a bad case. This guy would come to class with his notes, probably written several years ago and dictate them. No, he wouldn't hand out photocopies. All the year consisted of copying and doing tests.

Willingless to deviate from the man subject a bit, and discuss things: With this same teacher it was almost impossible to try to discuss anything.

Understanding: Good teachers realize that learning their subject isn't the only purpose of your life, and will once in a while help a bit, by say, explaining something from another subject.

Flexibility: Scores are good and all that, but IMHO failing a student with a 4.9 (scale 0 to 10, 5 minimum) is ridiculous. I can't believe that a teacher can determine the score that precisely, unless it's a test with no written answers. Good teachers would say that they will let that pass as long as you do an assignment well, or something similar.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.

A somewhat better take on a stupid idea (2.93 / 15) (#15)
by godix on Sat Jul 03, 2004 at 05:59:12 PM EST

Basing teacher pay on student performance has always been a dumb idea. Being a slightly better version of this dumb idea still means you're promoting a dumb idea.

IMHO Schools can be improved by raising teachers salary so that taking an administrative position is not financially rewarding for teachers. The good teachers who enjoy what they're doing can continue teaching without limiting their income, the petty dictators who like power trips can become an administrator and power trip all day long without being rewarded for it. Let that sift through for a few years and I think you'd find that on average the teachers that care still teach and the teachers that have burnt out have moved to the 'easier' job of paper shuffling.

Make rules for teachers to be fired by the parents. Make it difficult, IE 75% of the parents must vote to fire, but make it possible. There are plenty of teachers that parents know suck but there's little other than complaining to the school board the parents can do and school boards are notorious for ignoring the community (at least in my area).

Make and enforce school discipline. Teachers shouldn't have to spend the majority of class time dealing with troublemakers. Shove them in their own class or something. This may cause problems down the road for those troublemakers, but lets face it, it's not like chances are they'll become model citizens under the current system anyway and getting them out of normal classrooms would help those who aren't troublemakers.

Ditch the social experimenters. There's a group of people in this country that think schools should teacher tolerance towards homosexuality, family values, abstinence, and other social brainwashing. Fuck that, that's a parents job. Educate children don't brainwash them. If they happen to run into these issues in studies (ie social sciences or literature) then fine but that shouldn't be the goal here, just a side effect.

Expand the advanced studies. Even in current advanced studies there are plenty of students who aren't challenged. This can cause problems later when they run into something that is challenging, they've never learned study habits or how to push themselves.

Change funding. Funding through property taxes leads towards large differences in what programs/resources a school can afford. There's no reason an urban school should have problems buying a small computer lab while a suburban school is passing out notebooks to each student.

Finally, and most importantly, impliment and push programs to involve the parents. Education works better when the parents are involved and it's time to get them involved. Sometimes this can be as simple as removing the red tape bullshit that makes getting involved currently difficult.

They are possibly the dumbest people on the planet...
- Michael Moore describing Americans, wonder why people thinks he hates America?

Yes, great stuff (none / 3) (#16)
by GenerationY on Sat Jul 03, 2004 at 08:48:10 PM EST

With regard to the firing of teachers by parents, this is effectively the case in the UK where the governors (parents + teachers + selected members of the community) can do this. It appears to work, although I'm not aware of research in the area.

If I could change one thing it would the role of teachers in society. School is a place of learning, not a glorified babysitter/social work centre/social engineering machine. Let teachers teach and leave the bullshit behind.

[ Parent ]

Agree and Disagree (2.71 / 7) (#18)
by The Solitaire on Sat Jul 03, 2004 at 09:05:05 PM EST

I agree with most of what you said, but I do have some issues with the following two points:

Make rules for teachers to be fired by the parents. Make it difficult, IE 75% of the parents must vote to fire, but make it possible. There are plenty of teachers that parents know suck but there's little other than complaining to the school board the parents can do and school boards are notorious for ignoring the community (at least in my area).

I worry that such a power might get abused. For example, imagine a gay teacher in a school in the bible belt. Purely because of orientation the parents may choose to fire them. This is true even if there is no "social experimentation" as you put it. Furthermore, I know that many parents really only care about a child's grades, and essentially nothing else. Obviously not everyone is like that, but it might contribute to "grade inflation", purely to impress the parents, especially if the teacher is not that good to begin with. That being said, I do think that the board should at least listen to parental complaints.

Ditch the social experimenters. There's a group of people in this country that think schools should teacher tolerance towards homosexuality, family values, abstinence, and other social brainwashing. Fuck that, that's a parents job. Educate children don't brainwash them. If they happen to run into these issues in studies (ie social sciences or literature) then fine but that shouldn't be the goal here, just a side effect.

I agree with you in spirit, but I'm skeptical of anyone's ability to teach utterly without bias. Plus, not everyone's ideas of "social brainwashing" are going to be the same. If I'm a biology teacher, and I teach the theory of evolution (probably the most central tenet of modern biology) am I engaging in brainwashing? This problem might come up for any number of topics.

Furthermore, even if nobody says "Gays are {good|bad}, mmmkay?" that doesn't mean that such issues are not impacting what and how they teach. People can't just compartmentalize their beliefs and ignore them while teaching. They seep into everything we do. It's sometimes better to acknowledge the bias, and be clear that it is a bias, rather than try to hide it.

I need a new sig.
[ Parent ]

Good points (2.71 / 7) (#30)
by godix on Sun Jul 04, 2004 at 01:58:54 AM EST

I worry that such a power might get abused.

Which is why I suggest an absurdly high bar for removal. Lets face it, if 75% or more parents think the teacher should be fired and the teacher isn't then that's going to cause an adversarial situation between parents and schools. For education to work well schools and parents need to work together instead of fight. I don't really care what the bar is, my 75% was just an off the hand example, I just think the ability to fire teachers is important, it gives a parent a sense that there's something they can do more than just bitching.

I'm skeptical of anyone's ability to teach utterly without bias.

I didn't mean teach without bias, that's pretty much impossible as you point out (especially in soft sciences or lit classes). What I meant was teach without the biases being the point behind the lesson. For example, I think MLK's "I have a dream" speech is a fine example of public speaking and should be studied in speech class. It's also an important aspect of recent US history and should be in history classes. Just because I believe schools that require everyone make a poster for MLK day are brainwashing students doesn't mean I don't believe MLK shouldn't be taught in school. The motive and lesson taught are what I see as the distinction between education and brainwashing.

To take your evolution example, the point behind evolution is to present the most logical scientific explanation of life to students. My biology teacher also used the subject to launch into how the scientific method works and how scientific theories are different from religious teachings. It wasn't an attack on religon but rather teaching how science and belief are different, an important lesson in a country where many believe astrology is a science. The end result may have been a creationist embracing evolution but that wasn't the goal.

They are possibly the dumbest people on the planet...
- Michael Moore describing Americans, wonder why people thinks he hates America?
[ Parent ]

But, (none / 0) (#183)
by Sesquipundalian on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 01:42:25 PM EST

how the scientific methos works and how scientific theories are different from religious teachings

Is precisely how we scientific types are systematically dismantling the fuck-head religions that have been used to control the plebes for millenia. Religion is based on controlling people with shitty, mind distorting lies. Teaching the scientific method is exactly an attack on religion.


Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
[ Parent ]
we sort of have this (none / 2) (#45)
by livus on Sun Jul 04, 2004 at 05:58:13 PM EST

thing about parents firing teachers. The parents vote some of themselves to be on a special board and it weilds a huge power.

It's great, you get teachers being fired for being gay or annoying some local body politician, and bad teachers who are everyone's golf buddy get to stay. In some areas it works, but in others it's a nightmare.  

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

"social expermenters" (none / 2) (#57)
by mlc on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 03:28:12 AM EST

Ditch the social experimenters. There's a group of people in this country that think schools should teacher tolerance towards homosexuality, family values, abstinence, and other social brainwashing. Fuck that, that's a parents job. Educate children don't brainwash them. If they happen to run into these issues in studies (ie social sciences or literature) then fine but that shouldn't be the goal here, just a side effect.
Failure to deal with these issues when they come up is just as much of a moral judgment as actively responding. When one student calls another a "fag," the teacher has the choice either to respond or, by failing to respond, to give eir implicit approval to the comment. Similarly for other issues.

--
So the Berne Convention is the ultimate arbiter of truth and morality. Is this like Catholicism? -- Eight Star
[ Parent ]

dealing with issues (2.50 / 6) (#80)
by adimovk5 on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 04:02:27 PM EST

Failure to deal with these issues when they come up is just as much of a moral judgment as actively responding. When one student calls another a "fag," the teacher has the choice either to respond or, by failing to respond, to give eir implicit approval to the comment. Similarly for other issues.
Teachers could deal with theses issues by chastising the individuals causing the trouble. The conflict can be settled by being neutral. School is for learning the subject matter. It's not for social programming. Neutrality is not implicit approval. When a referee makes a judgement on a football field he is not implicitly approving or disapproving anything. He is enforcing rules.

[ Parent ]
Good idea in theory.. (none / 1) (#123)
by awgsilyari on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 03:55:40 PM EST

Change funding. Funding through property taxes leads towards large differences in what programs/resources a school can afford. There's no reason an urban school should have problems buying a small computer lab while a suburban school is passing out notebooks to each student.

Sounds good, but don't do it how it was done in Oregon. See here for a (relatively) unbiased explanation of what "Measure 5" entailed. Then, see this link (scroll down to the section called "The Ballot Measure That Ate Oregon") for a somewhat more biased opinion of the damage it did to the Oregon school system.

The measure passed when I was in the fourth grade.  I remember that over the next few years, the school district I was in had less and less money, and at one point, the teachers were handing out homework assignments on "hot pink" construction paper because that was the only paper they had left, and they couldn't afford to buy plain white paper for the copy machines.

Measure 5 may have helped some school districts, particularly in southern Oregon, but it had devastating impacts on other parts of the state, and I felt this directly. Oregon schools pretty much suck, although the teachers try hard to do their best within the limits of the system.

--------
Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
[ Parent ]

After reading the links (none / 1) (#151)
by godix on Wed Jul 07, 2004 at 08:35:12 PM EST

The problem doesn't seem to be that the state trying to equalize spending but rather that measure 5 limited, and in urban areas lowered, property taxes which meant less money for schools than before. The lesson in Oregon appears to be 'don't lower taxes and expect the same level of service' instead of 'don't equalize school funding'. Of course I'm not in the state and haven't read anymore than the two links you provided so correct me if I got the wrong idea.

They are possibly the dumbest people on the planet...
- Michael Moore describing Americans
[ Parent ]
Important part (none / 1) (#155)
by awgsilyari on Wed Jul 07, 2004 at 11:43:11 PM EST

I think the important part is summarized in the first link, in the second paragraph under "The 1990's":

The State began a process of "equity" for school funding by phasing in a formula that generated a "per weighted average daily membership" amount per district. This process continued through the 90's with minor adjustments to the formula. Components of this funding formula included the number of special education and English as a Second Language (ESL) students, a small school adjustment, a pregnant and parenting adjustment, and a poverty adjustment. In addition, busing became a mandatory service of school districts, and the State began funding student transportation at 70% of costs incurred.

The state capped the percentage of county property tax that could be collected for education purposes and "promised" to proportionately increase the flow of state tax money into the local education districts. It was widely understood to mean "equalization" of the amount of money that would go to each district, in some kind of fair way, so that the taxes collected from richer districts would spread evenly across the state.

Of course, the state couldn't deliver the promised money. This impacted the richer school districts a lot, and the poorer ones hardly at all. At least in my district, this led to ridiculous things like teachers handing out assignments on strange, surplus paper, whole wings of classrooms built and then abandoned because of lack of funds for teachers, etc. It was completely bungled.

The state of Oregon has a real hard time collecting tax money. I just read in the paper this morning that 25% of residents of Multnomah County still hadn't paid the educational levy tax for this year. These same people passed a measure to enact the levy and now they will not pay the tax. The county has come up short $28 million from what they projected from the levy.

--------
Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
[ Parent ]

Terrible Idea (3.00 / 7) (#17)
by The Solitaire on Sat Jul 03, 2004 at 08:50:02 PM EST

Why, exactly, is it the mark of a good teacher that students do a college degree in their field? In fact, why is getting a college degree superior in any way whatsoever? Going to college is in no way a reflection on how much you learned in high-school. I've met dozens of people that are very intelligent, quite well educated (both from highschool and self-education) and have never gone to college.

What your suggesting won't make better teachers. Instead it would provide incentive to teachers to become evangalists. I teach at the college level, and never do I evangelize my field to my students, nor do I think it is a good idea. I have enthusiasm for my subject, and I hope that comes through to my students, but I don't expect that will make them want to change majors (and it doesn't). I love the fact that people that are never going on to do more work in my field have still learned from me, since that means there will be greater academic cross-fertilization.

I think the hardest people (but often most rewarding!) to teach are those that aren't that interested in the course material, and are unlikely to ever continue in the field. However, the goal is never to "convert" them, but to help them learn and enjoy the subject enough to do well. Such a system would give teachers an incentive to discourage less-interested students from enrolling in their class in the first place, thereby increasing their "conversion percentage".

Here is another problem: what if I were a math teacher, and I helped encourage some of my students to go into physics? There is certainly a close connection between the two, and if encouraging students is the goal, it would certainly be accomplished... yet no compensation. Same goes for any two subjects (what if a chemistry teacher helped encourage someone to go into music?)

To wrap up, any such formula to try and encourage teachers based on the performance of their students is doomed to be inadequate. In fact, it may be that there is no acceptable objective performance measure for teaching (regardless of whether it is based on student performance). Teaching is a very complex task, and trying to reduce it to a couple of numbers is total folly.

I need a new sig.

I agree, and furthermore (2.75 / 4) (#46)
by livus on Sun Jul 04, 2004 at 06:01:25 PM EST

society couldn't run if every member of it was pushed into professional fields. Imagine it, ten million lawyers and no postmen.

Besides which, not everyone wants to, or has the aptitude. And there are masses of other industries, occupations etc which are just as rewarding and just as valuable which don't require a college degree.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

fucking horrible (2.80 / 5) (#24)
by CAIMLAS on Sat Jul 03, 2004 at 09:44:02 PM EST

Sure, I like the idea of evaluating teachers, and having those evaluations be the basis for their pay,  BUT:

I don't think it's possible. If the goal is some static mark that teachers have to meet, they will simply train students to meet those marks: standardized testing is a very good example of this bad practice. We've got illiterate folks that can get 25+ on their ACTs and whatever passes for good (1600?) on their SATs. Sure, they can use a calculator like nobody's business, or they can find who did what in a given paragraph without reading the paragraph in no time flat, but they can't write well, and can't do basic math. I've seen it happen. I've also seen the inverse, where the person was a wonderful writer and a good mathematician, and got horrible ACT scores (20ish).

Evaluation by peers won't work, as they'll all have vested interests.

Evaluation by students wouldn't work, as there'd be just as many problems, if not more, than standardized testing.

The only thing I can think of is combined grades/performance and student opinion of the teacher, as assessed by student reviews and the analysis of the school board. Good teachers are well liked even by those that don't take their courses, more time than not. They're the ones that care about, or express concern for, the students' lives, not just the students' grades.

 I had a teaher fresman year that was everyone's favorite - he taught the freshman debate class, which was required. The class was also amazingly difficult for a required public school course, and required a lot of time investment to get an A or B.

I suspect that a large part of the problem is that in most schools (all but the 1000+ student schools, I'd suspect) the majority of teachers serve some sort of dual role. Most of them are coaches of some kind, usually of the athletic variety. This doesn't bode well for the quality of education, quality of intellectualism amongst teachers, or the positive instructional methods of said teachers. Unless you're a jock, that is. Then you get an A.

Another problem, I suspect, is the rules governing who can and can not become a teacher. Many states now require a masters degree in education. All (as far as I know) require at least a bachelor's in education. I believe some will also accept a doctorate of a specific topic to teach something that directly pertains to their field, but I could be mistaken. Private schools are different, and aren't governed by these rules, so they can hire whomever they want. The public school method results in people who want to be teachers (and would likely be very passionate teachers as a result) but do not have the paper qualifications, while those that only have an education degree are allowed to instruct specialized course topics - which they're obviously not qualified for (Mrs. Buddenhagen, Algebra 2/calculus, please step forward). I see no reason why a person that has illustrated the ability to instruct a given topic they are knowledgeable should not be allowed to teach after a brief (several week) certification course. I believe I heard Georgia is doing this to a limitted degree, as they're severely understaffed.

Unfortunately, unless people have vision to be good teachers, it's one of those chicken/egg problems. Do we increase salaries, do we have proposed salary increases for those that have better performance (so as to encourage more folks to get into education), and then increase the pay? Or do we start with the current base of students and weed out the under-performers, while simultaneously hiring new, qualified people into the opening positions?
--

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.

Think about it though (3.00 / 4) (#26)
by GenerationY on Sat Jul 03, 2004 at 11:37:30 PM EST

Performance related pay. You know, that many people have anything like the rigidity of performance/pay being reported here. Really only salesmen. And they often get a retainer.

Problem is, education doesn't work that way. Like most jobs to be honest. If I was a teacher being assessed I'd immediately fail any and all children who couldn't get superb grades out of my class. Let some other mug take a decrement in pay. Those that wouldn't go quietly, I'd try to strong-arm in a diagnosis of a learning difficulty. I would then look at who was left and ignore those I felt had the furthest to go to get to the next grade up (make the best use of my time basically). Finally anything else associated with school (from clubs to, for example, wasting time phoning the police because I suspect a pupil is being abused. Sigh. The paperwork that would entail!) would similarly not happen any more.

Far fetched? Already happening in my native UKia to some extent, and its not even pay that performance is related to, just the extent of government funding.

[ Parent ]

*tap tap* is this thing on? (none / 1) (#35)
by CAIMLAS on Sun Jul 04, 2004 at 10:31:45 AM EST

Did you even read anything that I wrote there?

Everything you mention doesn't take into account what I said if you did.

"But the disestablishmentarianism of existentialism is paramount for the comprehension of the quintisential tenents of the faith!"
"I do say, would you like some cheese?"

Something along those lines. I distinctly said the method you mentioned wouldn't work for piss.
--

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.
[ Parent ]

How would you reward a shop teacher? (2.80 / 5) (#25)
by MichaelCrawford on Sat Jul 03, 2004 at 10:46:59 PM EST

I would say a shop teacher is successful if his student becomes a mechanic or carpenter. But neither of these require college.

Not every student is suitable for, or has interest in going to college. But a good shop teacher can inspire such a student to be successful at a trade.

How would you allow for such students and teachers?


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


Seems strange... (none / 3) (#27)
by Shajenko on Sat Jul 03, 2004 at 11:48:16 PM EST

It's just assumed that a student only takes a class if that is going to be the sole purpose of that student's life later on. Maybe somebody wants to take a Biology course because they're interested in how living things work, but aren't necessarily interested in dedicating their entire life to this pursuit.

[ Parent ]
The Hell You Say (none / 2) (#33)
by thelizman on Sun Jul 04, 2004 at 09:51:16 AM EST

I would say a shop teacher is successful if his student becomes a mechanic or carpenter. But neither of these require college.
Quality mechanics (not just greasemonkey hacks) undergo three to five years of post secondary education. Much of this education is either provided by Community College systems, or by specialized private technical schools (WyoTech, DeVry, ITT, etc). Carpentry, likewise, requires 2 to 6 years, depending on whether you're interested in a cabinet maker, framer, or master carpenter. If you've been to a furniture store lately, you'll note that the furniture of the last 20 years has been far less elaborate because we no longer have the skilled carpentry masters we used do. CNC milling may revive the intricately beautiful victorian styles that are still in demand, but no machine will ever replace a skilled set of hands when it comes to carving.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Not necessarily (none / 1) (#42)
by MichaelCrawford on Sun Jul 04, 2004 at 05:10:01 PM EST

I know a master carpenter who dropped out of high school after his first year.

He got a job as a laborer on a construction site, and worked his way up to becoming a carpenter. Now he is on the high end of the pay scales that carpenters make in his area, and is in constant demand by employers.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

Mmmkay.... (none / 1) (#50)
by thelizman on Sun Jul 04, 2004 at 11:06:47 PM EST

...a "Master Carpenter" is to "skilled professional" as "kid with a glider" is to a "fighter pilot". Your buddy is basically a foremon who manages laborers in building houses. And no disrespect to his potential, but a fucking monkey can cut wood. A truly skilled wood worker won't be found on a construction site, he'll be found in a shop replete with all sorts of odd hand tools (like a mortising table, or a planar jig). And he'll command mad money for his wares, but probably won't see as much profit as your buddy.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Great, that's all we need (none / 2) (#96)
by livus on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 10:05:25 PM EST

a society where all the builders sit inside all day  fondling their special tools with true skill - and no one builds my house

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
Greasemonkey hacks need love too n/t (none / 0) (#47)
by livus on Sun Jul 04, 2004 at 06:03:29 PM EST



---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
Everyone says "no," but consider this: (2.50 / 6) (#31)
by epepke on Sun Jul 04, 2004 at 02:53:21 AM EST

A direct quote from an English teacher back the first time Florida instituted some tests for teachers: "I ain't know why they be givin' us this test. I done been teachin' English fifteen years.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


money and ideas (none / 1) (#32)
by ant0n on Sun Jul 04, 2004 at 06:27:17 AM EST

One would have to think about the administration and financing of all these programs, but bureaucrats can do that better than I.

There are a lot of ideas how the school system can be improved. Most of them require financial funding. I don't think that anyone will be interested in you idea unless you can provide the funding or know where the funding should come from.
If the 'bureaucrats' find a way to get their hands on any source of money they can invest in the school system, why should they spend it to implement your idea? They will of course carry out their own ideas.
Ideas are a dime a dozen. If you want to change something, be it the educational system or what ever, the hard part is not having a good idea. The hard part is to find a way to make it real.


-- Does the shortest thing the tallest pyramid's support supports support anything green?
Patrick H. Winston, Artificial Intelligence
Great Idea, But How (2.60 / 5) (#34)
by thelizman on Sun Jul 04, 2004 at 10:25:49 AM EST

I've always thought teachers should be compensated based on how well they taught, but the problem is when you ask "how". If you go by grades (which I consdider to be a somewhat inadequate metric of learning), then you only measure the ability of a student to regurgitate material. If you use standardized testing, the teachers begin to teach the test and test-taking strategies.

It should also be noted that the students perception of a teacher should factor in. Not to say it should be a popularity contest, but good teachers motivate and inspire students to learn. Poor teachers denigrate, patronize, and insult their students (quite blatently in my experience), and wind up turning the students off to learning.

Lastly, we need to accept that "school" is not for everyone. Not every kid will become a rocket scientist, and it's a waste of resources to try to make them one.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
College is not for everyone, agreed, but: (none / 1) (#66)
by tetsuwan on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 06:30:50 AM EST

Next step is obviously - voting is not for everyone!

As the behemoth any modern nation have become, you need to know quite a bit about it (amd it's neighbors, if it's small) in order to understand what is going on. If you remove education, the only thing people will have in common if they're the slightest socioeconomically separated is the top 500 brand names.

Your comment left me wondering where "school is not for everyone" should start.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Lets Face It - It's Not. (none / 2) (#100)
by thelizman on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 11:55:50 PM EST

Public education is a priviledge, not a right. Even today when kids are forcibly incarcerated in schools, there's no guarantee that they'll come out the other end any better prepared for life. In fact, the public school system does a fair job of screwing up their potential. If we spend $13,000 per student (and we do, roughly), then getting rid of the malcontents and the irreconcilable will increase the funding for other students, as well as lower the student-teacher ration.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
The misfits? (none / 1) (#104)
by tetsuwan on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 03:35:57 AM EST

So, you don't think this will only increase the crime rate of the unpriviledged? Maybe we should have working prisons for underaged? Cheap carpets made in America, the land of the free!

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Todays misfits (none / 1) (#130)
by Ward57 on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 07:28:19 PM EST

are tomorrows leaders.

[ Parent ]
Most of the modern world disagrees (none / 1) (#121)
by Arkaein on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 02:27:03 PM EST

Public education is a priviledge, not a right

The nations of the UN would seem to disagree with this, see Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

----
The ultimate plays for Madden 2004
[ Parent ]

Oh lord... (none / 1) (#138)
by thelizman on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 11:18:47 PM EST

...I know you didn't just invoke a UN 'declaration' as some kind of potent evidence of public education being a universal right. Once again the welfare-state mentality overrides common sense.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Correction (none / 1) (#144)
by CENGEL3 on Wed Jul 07, 2004 at 02:18:35 PM EST

Most of the dictators, tyrants, oligarchs and divine right monarchs of the modern world disagree.

You do reliaze that the vast majority of the world has absolutely no representation in that joke we call the U.N.? Oh, thier leaders do... but they have little to no say in choosing thier leaders.... and by extension little to no say in choosing who will represent them in the U.N.

[ Parent ]

It may or may not be (none / 1) (#146)
by NoBeardPete on Wed Jul 07, 2004 at 03:48:21 PM EST

But it's a damned good idea to have in a democracy. I have to put up with the politicians the rest of the country is voting for. It's very much in my (and your) interest that everyone gets a good education, so that they are able to make informed choices in elections.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]
-1 all grading is subjective. (none / 3) (#36)
by lukme on Sun Jul 04, 2004 at 12:22:33 PM EST

Even in the sciences, grading is still subjective. For example, who chooses the exam questions.

Looking at the final result is a nice idea, however, not everyone would go in to the same profession that their best teacher teaches in. I know a very good history professor and a music instructor who say if you can do anything else, besides (history and music respectively) then do it. It is with this in mind, that looking at the final result would be meaningless.

You seem to view education as an industry just producing a product.


-----------------------------------
It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
Bad teachers produce bad students. (none / 0) (#38)
by WorkingEmail on Sun Jul 04, 2004 at 02:46:54 PM EST

We should not punish the good students because they had a higher probability of becoming a good student. You can't change the past.


I think the objection most people (2.85 / 7) (#39)
by Sesquipundalian on Sun Jul 04, 2004 at 03:21:41 PM EST

will have with this is that you're proposing an criteria for evaluating performance of, what exactly?

I like objective measures a lot. They really simplify the tough problems in life. I think that when you can get everyone to agree on what it is, precisely, that teachers are supposed to be doing, you will know what it is, exactly, that you are trying to measure. I've been thinking about this issue myself lately and the thing is; its not enough to just say "They're supposed to be teaching, duh!".

By contract, teachers are hired to teach a curriculum and follow a set of teaching guides. By teaching the subjects and material listed in the curriculum, using the methods explained in the teaching guides, a teacher is expected to make the students absorb information on a schedule. Its actually a fairly workable system despite the conflicting agendas, but its the agendas that will get you every time. This is what I mean;

Every year, pretty much everywhere in North America, the teaching curriculum is completely overhauled. Evolution gets swapped for Creationism gets swapped for Co-Ed Phys-Ed, for the American Revolution, for World War II etc. Ad-Nauseum. You can tell that the curriculum is sort of, key to the whole issue here, because people are just too lazy to fight this much over apathetic things. Anyone remember the scene with the physics teacher from the movie Donnie Darko?

Education, pretty much by definition, involves our children. Our strongest instinctive drives also happen to be, related to our children. These drives are so strong that they have been known to actually induce suicidal altruism in some circumstances. By transitive affliction, its pretty much impossible to be sane, have an IQ above 80, have a child in school, and not have an very very strong adgenda pertaining to the education system.

And the government that administrates this yearly curriculum re-vamp just can't resist getting it's grubs in. The poor kids have to remember that chiropracters are good this year and bad the next, that the millitary is whatever_the_teacher_thinks_it_is this year and then good_because_we're_in_a_war the next.

Teachers all have their own adgenda as well, (they're in it for something, and it's not the money, the money is terrible). If you don't believe me, just ask any teacher you like; "Why did you get in to teaching for a living?". I guarantee that the answer will A) have nothing to do with money, and B) be pretty much a low grade political agenda of some type or other.

Don't get me started on Channel One.


So this titanic struggle is fought every year over the content of the education curriculum, in pretty much every municipality, all over North America. Because the agendas are really strong on all sides, there is pressure to "win at all costs".

When people won't even admit what their particular agenda is, compromise and agreement is at best, a remote possibillity. Instead every year, thanks to a curriculum-battle-royal; teachers and administrators lose jobs, parents lose faith, and children lose out.

Perhaps, if you can address the fact that; the government wants to brain wash 'em, the teachers want to civilize 'em (whatever that means), and the parents want to civilize and educate 'em (different, usually conflicting whatevers), then you could build a stable curriculum that was only updated for factual content (new science, math, archeology discoveries etc..). You still wouldn't be teaching children how to maximize they're own potential, because the curriculum would still include various forms of "civillizing castration", but at least you could benchmark it.

Perhaps you could get them to all come out of the closet and just 'fess uf to what they each want, right? Just sort of agree to share control of the resulting plan fair and square? I can't see how you'd do it without strong AI supervision a-la Iaan Banks, but whatever.

If you could somehow arrive at a stable, explicitly stated curriculum and a consistent (again, explicitly stated) set of teaching guidelines, and it was revised every decade (except for new discoveries) instead of every year; benchmarking the performance of teachers teaching said, would be a "last coat of paint" problem, by comparison.


Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
Pointless (2.60 / 5) (#40)
by Peahippo on Sun Jul 04, 2004 at 04:18:06 PM EST

Like many of modern problems, the teaching profession would be better governed if the methods of governance followed the current rules instead of just blatantly ignoring them. This applies also quite well to things like law enforcement; there have been enough laws for some time, they simply aren't enforced to the point that they can be said to be fairly, equally and sensibly applied.

Just yesterday a police friend told me the details of the police handling of sons and daughters of politicians and cops in our city, that being quite different than that of the general public that stand accused, caught and arrested. This is not surprising, but it was dismaying to understand the full extent of how strong and pervasive is that unwritten set of rules. If you want to advance in the police hierarchy, you have to let these connected or privileged people go, even in egregious circumstances like multiple auto accidents, domestic violence, and various conditions of illegal possession of drugs and weapons. The law isn't being fairly applied, and everyone has at least some inkling about it.

Since ignorance and cronyism are the causes of the modern failure of teacher governance, I will state directly that your proposal must fail. What's the point of having a body of even more rules if they aren't applied fairly and aren't obeyed in many situations? The entire culture behind our failings must change. And it's likely that an upheaval will be required to get that accomplished.

Good luck. At the very least, a re-org like that will be used to slip another mini-generation (~7 years) of incompetent teachers into their ill-earned retirements without substantial oversight of their shortcomings.


Underground History of American Education? (none / 2) (#41)
by Polverone on Sun Jul 04, 2004 at 04:40:26 PM EST

A number of comments have mentioned John Taylor Gatto's history of US public education. I'm about halfway through reading this book. I think I first saw a link on K5 a while back. It's a fascinating and disturbing book. What I'd really like to find, though, is any article or site that challenges its author. I haven't found any flaws with his work yet, but he does rely on a lot of history with little footnoting. I have found nothing but praise for his work, no matter how I've phrased my search engine queries.

I feel more sure in a source after having seen some criticism of it from a different perspective, but criticism of his work seems impossible to find. The people/institutions I'd expect might criticize it -- public school administrators, teachers' unions, government agencies charged with education -- seem to be unaware of it or deliberately ignoring it. "Underground history" site:.gov gives 3 hits, none of which are Taylor's book. "Underground history" site:nea.org gives a single outsider's comment that received no responses.

Where can I find defenders of the public education system who will actually confront this most powerful criticism of it?
--
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.

I had the same concern when I read it. (none / 1) (#54)
by Kasreyn on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 12:59:20 AM EST

When I finally gave up on finding a rebuttal to it, I did NOT conclude it must be right.

Instead, I concluded he must be an obvious and total crackpot that everyone is carefully ignoring, and I just haven't gotten the memo yet. :P

After all, right or not, he's saying some very inflammatory remarks. If he was right, he'd have been attacked by now. :P


-Kasreyn

P.S. Well, ok, not obvious and total. But the lack of debate smells fishy to me.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Well, he's not exactly ignored... (none / 1) (#58)
by Polverone on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 03:42:05 AM EST

He seems known well enough if you type his name or his book's name into a search engine. So I don't think he's too obscure to escape notice. And I've seen his work praised both online and in person by people who I don't think of as crackpots.

Usenet cranks get copious criticism. The timecube guy gets imitated and laughed at, if not formally rebutted. But nobody seems to be openly challenging Gatto or even mocking him, and that's amazing for a document as inflammatory and well-circulated as what he's written.

I've had a personal look at a few of the books and essays he mentions or uses as sources, and I haven't yet found misrepresentation of the source material. Perhaps I can make a project of locating, scanning, and making available on the web the old books and documents he makes reference to.
--
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.
[ Parent ]

addendum (none / 1) (#59)
by Polverone on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 03:59:27 AM EST

I forgot that I actually did find a few instances of people challenging portions of his work, in one instance saying that his figures for literacy among blacks over time were wrong and in another instance saying that he quoted Dewey as saying things that cannot be found in his writings.

I would need either a compelling, coherent criticism of the entire work, or a lot of verified nitpicking like these two instances I found, before I wrote off his work. But he says so many things that resonate with my personal observations of the school system, I don't know if I will ever find such criticisms. I suppose it's a blessing of sorts, that his work makes me turn a critical eye toward the school system as well as toward his or others' attacks on it.
--
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.
[ Parent ]

Gatto on China (none / 1) (#148)
by edg176 on Wed Jul 07, 2004 at 04:43:47 PM EST

Gatto had a section where he discussed the influence of John Dewey on China. Yes, Dewey taught at Yanjing Univ (now Beijing Univ), and yes, Hu Shih was one of his disciples. However, I think Gatto overemphaizes Dewey's role in the development of the PRC's educational system. First off, most of the liberal intelligentsia that met Dewey were not the major players in the Communist leadership. Rather, the major players were the men who had made the Long March with Mao. Second, the Chinese obsession with standardized testing is more likely an outcome of the older Confucian system. Although I thoroughly enjoyed Gatto's book and liked his emphasis on individual freedom vs the crushing machine of mass education, I had problems with his work. I do not know much about Revolutionary American schooling. But, I have more than a passing interest in the Chinese Revolution, and, as I've mentioned above, Gatto seriously misrepresents crucial facts. That makes me suspect that other parts of Gatto's analysis may also be misinformed. China is a complicated and often misunderstood subject, so Gatto's errors may be somewhat forgiveable. However, it still makes me question his work.

[ Parent ]
-1, mentions The World ignorantly (none / 3) (#48)
by livus on Sun Jul 04, 2004 at 06:12:07 PM EST

"All over the world, people complain about the quality of their schools and teachers; lack of proper rewards may be the real underlying reason."

I'm sure ours isn't the only country which already tried sending education professionals to inspect teachers and grade them (their pay rate being proportional to their grade). Did it for years.

After which it implemented a system where each school was allocated X amount of money, based on a range of things, and left to decide for itself how much $ to pay each teacher.

I find it strange that your objection to the inspection system is that it involves "likes, dislikes and politics" and yet your proposed system is extremely classist, both in terms of socio-economic group and valuing professions which require college degrees over everything else.

Besides which, my degrees are not in a subject I was even taught at school. It doesn't make sense even without these class problems.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

Separation of School and State (none / 3) (#49)
by michaelmalak on Sun Jul 04, 2004 at 09:31:04 PM EST

That is the title of the 1994 flagship book by the Future of Freedom Foundation. Since then, the meme has caught on.

Don't create a bureaucracy to judge teachers, let the parents do it. Every household in the county where I live pays $200 per month to support a public school system where per-pupil costs are nearly $11,000. With confiscation of income like that, there's no real choice for parents.

--
BergamoAcademy.com  Authentic Montessori in Denver

There are choices (none / 3) (#73)
by cestmoi on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 12:44:14 PM EST

It's a little known fact, but in California, you have some choice in where your child goes to school. Reason is that almost all schools in California receive their day to day funding from the state, not local taxes. Some of my neighbors send their children to high school in the next town over because the parents work there. Some parents commute past our local k-8 district and enroll their children here - space permitting. It riles the local neighbors because they think they're paying for those kids but local taxes hereabouts just pay for capital expenses such as buildings and whiteboards.

Pacific Collegiate School is an outstanding public school in Aptos California that will accept applicants from anywhere in California as long as you're willing to drive your child there. I routinely tell my clients about the school but only a few have the necessary drive to make the 40 minute commute.

For 6 years, my brother's family life revolved around getting his children to and from a high school that was 35 miles away. His kids were routinely up late into the night doing homework and were back at it at 7 the next morning. It was grueling but his children are all well educated. They've learned a more important lesson as well - you have to work hard for things that are worth having.

[ Parent ]

Correction: $403/month per household (none / 1) (#75)
by michaelmalak on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 01:37:10 PM EST

In my original post, I was counting just the county's contribution to the school budget (ignoring the state and federal contributions), and within the county budget I was counting only the revenues from the real estate property tax (ignoring county business tax, plus personal and business state and federal taxes).

A simple division of the full $1.8 billion budget by the 372,000 households gives $403.23 per household per month.

--
BergamoAcademy.com  Authentic Montessori in Denver
[ Parent ]

Devil's Advocacy {tm} (none / 3) (#84)
by Peahippo on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 04:56:48 PM EST

As Bill Cosby had recently (paraphrasingly) said, he didn't understand why the kids talked the way they did, until he heard the parents. No wonder they call each other "nigger".

From that, transforming schools into parent-governance only will create many of the same problems. The nigger class will continue the process of making their kids even more ignorant than themselves. But that works both ways. The elites foster ineptitude in their own kids (GWB being a famous example). By the time the elite's kids hit their private universities, they are expected to receive "A" grades for their "C" work, and instructors who don't cooperate are thrown out of this privileged system very quickly.

But I'm all for it. Let's quit hiding the problems and make them obvious. As long as we let people vote with their feet and vouchers (which must be mandatory in such an environment), then the pathetic schools will stand out like canker sores. Yes, this will make the schools in poor areas more susceptible to poor performance, but it's not like that's all that different than what's happening now. Enforced equality isn't working.


[ Parent ]
Reparations (none / 2) (#87)
by michaelmalak on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 05:53:40 PM EST

Bill Cosby can blame the parents all he wants, but it's still not helping the children. This is where slavery reparations come in -- there is a legacy of lack of education in African-Americans. Obviously, this is not a sure-fire condemnation, as gentleman such as Bill Cosby, Clarence Thomas, Thurgood Marshall, Booker T. Washington, and countless others have proven otherwise. But it is undoubtedly a depressent upon the education of African-Americans -- and not just one of economics. The depressent is due in part to slavery in the U.S., and reparations are in order.

With the surge over the past couple of decades of fresh immigrants from West Africa, and with the near elimination of overt racism (especially in metropolitan areas), it's time once and for all to put an end to race-based affirmative action, and replace it with reparations-based affirmative action. Why should a fresh West African immigrant get extra consideration over a white U.S. citizen? Yes, an African-American who can trace a legacy to slavery should, but not a fresh immigrant.

Therefore, to address the problem that Bill Cosby so poignantly highlights but does not propose a solution for (outside of insults), I propose that in a tax credit scheme (*) to provide school choice that African-Americans who can trace a legacy to slavery be given extra tax credits. The extra money might enable the family, for example, to move to a better neighborhood, to allow the mother to stay at home, or to send the child to a boarding school -- something to allow the child to break the cycle of illiteracy that propagates from generation to generation.

(*) Vouchers would give the government too much control over curriculum -- and in church schools, over the religion itself. This is why, for example, Bush's faith-based initiatives must be resisted vociferously. An alternative to vouchers is a tax credit -- where the government has less control. Another alternative -- but this is even a further stretch -- would be a constitutional amendment that simultaneously asserts the right to an education and the right of the parent to determine that education.

--
BergamoAcademy.com  Authentic Montessori in Denver
[ Parent ]

No Entitlements! (2.80 / 5) (#95)
by Peahippo on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 10:03:21 PM EST

Your reply was cogent, which I always appreciate, but the entire idea of reparations is simply laughable. After generations of separation from the slavery era, there's nothing that a Black child from a lower-middle-class neighborhood could merit over myself, a White child from the same neighborhood. Like millions of White kids, I grew up in a broken home with no father, a drunken mother, and experienced abuse that still makes me twitch. How have I wallowed in advantage over the nearby Blacks?

Any argument of entitlement after such a long time can be applied to many population sectors, including my own (poor whites from Ohio/Pennsylvania). The Appalachians have as poor a sector as any inner city area. (I propose they are doing just fine without without our meddling, but I digress.)

I reject the entitlement idea since by definition it requires nothing in return.

Anything that needs "adjustment" has to happen from a regional economic standpoint. The Rust Belt is busily making the next generation's pack of violent criminals, and many of those are White. Crime, broken families, drug usage, early births ... all these things are fallout from lack of economic investment in entire societies.

Your entire argument revolves around something similar, that being economic equality or sensibility. But I doubt tax credits will do the trick, being that they are the tools for the monied middle class. The EITC is more of an effective way of subsidizing the poor. Tax credits are not the way.

I must argue that vouchers ARE the way. Of course, we need to keep dogma out of the voucher picture, and that's quite a fight to get resolved considering the pack of religious nuts that are currently in power -- as you so well pointed out.


[ Parent ]
Dogma is the school choice issue (none / 1) (#97)
by michaelmalak on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 11:20:11 PM EST

Of course, we need to keep dogma out of the voucher picture
Dogma is always in the picture, and with vouchers, it'll be the government dictating dogma rather than the parents.

Aside from that, I was confused by a couple of your points, and so I have two questions:

  1. You say you are against entitlements, but are in favor of regional economic adjustments. Does that mean you think poor local governments should get entitlements rather than poor individuals?
  2. You say you are opposed to tax credits but say EITC are effective. I fail to see the distinction.


--
BergamoAcademy.com  Authentic Montessori in Denver
[ Parent ]
[witty quote rhyming with "dogma"] (none / 2) (#135)
by Peahippo on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 10:57:39 PM EST

If dogma is always in the picture, then we're freakin' doomed. I believe that we can get the goddamned fundies out of the schools and behind the wall that must separate Church and State. (Since I think that state-sponsored education should revolve around reading, writing and arithmetic, then there's little-to-no justification for including dogmatic studies.) In the current scheme where most State constitutions mandate that government provide education, there's no need to involve dogma. It can well be a secular affair; you have to send your kid to school, and here's this little slip of paper allowing you to send the "money behind the child" to the non-religious school of your choice. Where the hell is dogma required in that basic transaction?

(Yeah, yeah, I know why: the world ain't fair. Waah!)

You say you are against entitlements, but are in favor of regional economic adjustments. Does that mean you think poor local governments should get entitlements rather than poor individuals?

In Ohio, Taft and all his Republican cronies (the worst type of Republican, alas) pushed for "Issue 1" recently on a ballot. We who were going to be fleeced for the cooresponding bond issue knew well that the benefits would have flowed to Ohio's "3 Cs": Columbus (the capital), Cleveland and finally that most outrageous of Republican strongholds, Cincinnati. It's not the money flowing to "poor local governments" that concerns me as much as this still-rising culture of paying the rich. My own city of Toledo is lousy with this corporate welfare.

... Not that I'm bitter, of course. Har! But when we put a stop to all of this fleecing of the poorer areas, we can then take the next step in sensible Socialism. (Oh, yeah, I used the "s" word. But the Federal gas tax is a Socialist mechanism, and I don't hear people bleating about that. Wouldn't you know, too, that Ohio got 90c back on every dollar of gas tax it sent to Washington, while, say, Massachusetts got about $1.10. More paying the rich.)

Besides that broad answer, things like crop subsidies can make a positive difference in regional adjustment, since by definition, growing food is a Good Thing {tm}. I don't like the farm subsidies as they are now since they are a political morass, but they could be as fine a thing as our civilization can produce.

And as far as I'm concerned, the concentration of wealth in the cities, along with the wide perception that they are economic engines, only dictates that the burden of taxation should fall disproportionately upon their shoulders. Or would you rather that a bank taking up 40 acres across the Boston area, be taxed on the same basis as a 40-acre farm outside the circle of 495? Either (1) you kill the farm or (2) the banker laughs ... all the way to work, I guess.

And then there's the more fundamental issue of entitlements ... which I despise for the widespread abuse of what a real entitlement is. If a man works for 40 years, his retirement is an entitlement, and rightfully so. If a man gets a hand chopped off in an industrial accident, then he is futher entitled. Such things are the minimum our so-called "advanced civilization" can do. But too much of welfare is the bad sort of "entitlement". In many of those cases, the Nation State should transform such entitlements into "investments", from which a return is demanded. In Toledo OH, I am seeing that the food stamp program now requires some sort of public service (like picking up trash along roads, etc.). I laud this type of thing, and it needs to trend more towards the investment mentality of welfare assistance. Society should get something back, whatever it is. The same thing should apply to things like tax abatements for businesses. If the business really wants the abatement, then it should be willing to give up some ownership, deeds or titles for the duration of the abatement. In that way, at least society gets collateral coverage, if not outright investment return.

Right-sizing entitlements is a long topic. We can continue discussing it if you like, but I'm going to stop here at this point.

You say you are opposed to tax credits but say EITC are effective. I fail to see the distinction.

Firstly, it's wise of you to be skeptical of things like this.

Secondly -- and hopefully I've buttered you up enough -- my reasoning for this was well outlined in the prior posting, in which I said that tax credits are primarily a tool used by those who have enough income to matter, and the EITC is for those who fall below that line. Literally, the middle class man who misses a tax credit really isn't in danger of missing a meal, whereas the EITCers are.

You are right in the strong sense that money derived from a generic tax credit can be matched dollar for dollar with money derived from the EITC ("Earned income Tax Credit" -- hey, it's right there in the name). That's undeniable. It's also undeniable that the EITC functions similarly to McGovern's idea of sending each American taxpaying household a yearly check for $1000. The EITC simply is a method of ensuring minimum income for those with children. (More dogma?)

Hence, I think the EITC is simply more effective at fulfilling its goals over any tax credit applied as such to the households that the EITC affects. Of course, this depends on how the new tax credit is written.

I'm more Socialist than Capitalist -- if even the two can be put into opposition -- but all this tax shit is a pile of festering pimple-squeezings. I just finished reading David Cay Johnston's "Perfectly Legal", and although I knew many generalities of the topic, the book showed me that the tax system in America is essentially broken. I'm tired of all this corporate welfare and wealth concentration, while our roadways and social structure crumble. Although it would be harsh, I would like to have a tax system of simple scope and unavoidable nature. If based upon income, then there should be a low percentage but without exception ... no tax breaks, no EITC, no tax credits, no marriage credit, no itemizing, etc. If you had $1000 income last year, then the government gets $100. The same would apply if you made $1 million -- you'd owe the government $100000. Both poor and rich yous would squawk, but it's certainly fair.

Of course, the tax picture is heavily political (as well as having the 3 targets of income, expense, and savings/wealth). Talk about dogma: tax credits (as a lower tax rate) for married couples? That's Christian crapola right there. Deductions for mortgage interest? If you can't figure out the advantages of owning your own home, then you're a dumb bunny ... but, ahh, yes, the MI deduction does very well at encouraging people to take on mortgage debt, doesn't it?

Now that I'm writing about it, the tax system really IS a pile of dead dog's spit. We need to tear it down in stages (to give people a chance to adapt and recover from tax-motivated investment decisions) and build anew. People talk about goddamned Constitutional amendments for heterosexual marriage and against flag burning, yet we really need one for fiscal sensibility in government income and expenditure.


[ Parent ]
Where dogma hides (none / 3) (#139)
by michaelmalak on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 11:56:24 PM EST

First, allow me to dispense with the issue of what ideally should be taught in schools before proceeding to show where dogma lies hidden.

The "reading, writing, and arithmetic" comprise but the first third (first four years) of what is known as classical education. The second third is on analytical and critical thinking. The final third (high school) is on rhetoric and oratory. Public schools were designed to teach only the first third, so that students would not be able to think for themselves (and thereby soak in the implicit dogma) and as adults would not be able to express themselves.

The implicit dogma in public schools is a combination of explicit teachings and omissions. Public schools:

  • Don't usually teach the history of U.S. imperialism.
  • Don't teach that most U.S. Presidents are direct descendents of British Royalty.
  • Cooperate with the media in perpetuating the myth of liberal vs. conservative, when in fact what we have is class warfare.
  • Portray homosexuality as OK, when it was properly classified as a disorder until the 1960's.
  • Extend the noble more of non-racism to the absurd notion that there is no such thing as right and wrong because it's our fault if anyone does something "different".
  • Physically isolate children from their parents' philosophy or religion, making it difficult to impossible for parents to pass it along to their children.
  • Hide the history and functioning of money -- gold standard, Federal Reserve, FDR's gold confiscation, fractional reserve, money creation, etc.
  • Cover up WWII Allied atrocities.
  • Trumpet the Holocaust but ignore all the other genocides around the world throughout history.
  • With "zero tolerance" create a fear of guns rather than instructing in their proper use.
  • By age segregating, deny the opportunity for students to look to elders as role models and to gain practice in being role models.
  • I could go on and on
On the gas tax, I consider it more capitalistic than anything else. I'm anti-car, and my opinion is that cars create a lot of negative externalities that need to be taxed -- pollution, danger to pedestrians and bicyclists, obesity, etc. A lot of behaviors have negative externalities that could be taxed. A tax makes the market fair, and provides a graduated scale of justice as opposed to an arbitrarily-set threshold above which one is sent to jail. My opinion on taxes is that income, property, wealth, and inheritance taxes should be eliminated and replaced with pollution/negative externality taxes and import duties.

But, if we have to live with the 1040, a tax credit seems to me to be the easiest way to provide school choice without government influencing curriculum.

--
BergamoAcademy.com  Authentic Montessori in Denver
[ Parent ]

Help me, (none / 0) (#181)
by Sesquipundalian on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 12:42:24 PM EST

I can't figure out the advantages of owning my own home. I live in a major City in Canada.

Seriously, how does home ownership give you any advantage over renting from some sucker who has to obey Byzantine anti-slum-lord laws (rent control etc.)?


Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
[ Parent ]
We can tell. (none / 1) (#129)
by Kax on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 07:01:11 PM EST

I grew up in a broken home with no father, a drunken mother, and experienced abuse that still makes me twitch.

[ Parent ]
Actually, (none / 0) (#180)
by Sesquipundalian on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 12:33:14 PM EST

we can all tell that you've been abused in ways that you are ashamed to admit.


Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
[ Parent ]
I still can't believe this is getting more +1s (1.75 / 4) (#52)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 12:10:58 AM EST

Not only is the article complete tripe, it can't generate any decent discussion. It hasn't. That isn't likely to change.

Anyone that thinks that some novelty reimbursement plan can improve the quality of education has severe mental deficiencies. Is america's glaring problem the lack of biology BSs? Has the Dept of Homeland Security put out an emergency bulletin that if we don't have more biologists, we'll lose the war against Osama?

What I want for everyone (excluding a few of the assholes) is for everyone to be able to have a happy life where they can make a living. School can never make anyone happy, and it has an even smaller chance of getting anyone any kind of decent job. How many CompSci BS's wait tables now?

Schools can't fix this. Genetically engineered uberteachers can't fix this. It's amazing this article has gotten even this far.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.

i dont quite understand (none / 1) (#154)
by ProfessorBooty on Wed Jul 07, 2004 at 09:53:04 PM EST

I was quite happy in school, i met a lot of friends, learned a lot of interesting things, and it enabled me to make a lot of money.

School like everyting else, is all about what you make of it, and how much effort you put into it.

Most schools offer clubs, sports, arts activties and the like, so there should be something for everyone.

If you have a college education, you generally study a subject you find interesting. If you are lamenting CS majors, its their own fault, they should have gotten an engineering degree to insulate themselves a bit, or they should have double majored or minored in another subject.

[ Parent ]

Problem isn't teachers, it's schools (3.00 / 8) (#53)
by duffbeer703 on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 12:40:48 AM EST

US Public schools fail not because of lack of effort or funding, but because they are designed to fail.

The modern school system is designed to stamp out hordes of students well aware of their "place" in society. Students are "promoted" from grade to grade, and older students often look at younger students with disdain. Even within classes, most secondary schools are "tracked", from the "gifted" students to the "special".

Compare this in many private schools, or in US public schools until 20th Century. Teachers are more like moderators than authoritarian figures, and students are expected to mentor each other and the younger students.

Have you ever read the biographies of 18th and 19th Century figures? Ever notice that 15 and 16 year olds were regularly studying rhetoric and engineering at universities in that era? George Washington studied trigonometry, greek philosophy and geometry when he was 10.

I live in a city where the local school district spends approximately $14,000/yr on each pupil, while the tuition at an elite local private school ranges by grade between $6,000-$16,000/yr. In the public school, 20% of fifth graders can add, subtract and multiply. In the private school, regardless of economic background (1/5 of the class are inner-city scholarship students) 95% of fifth graders are achieving high marks in introductory algebra and geometry.

The difference between public and private schools (2.75 / 4) (#83)
by it certainly is on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 04:56:02 PM EST

Conditional acceptance and exclusion. A public school's hands are tied -- they have to accept children, they can't expel them without a court order. I've seen a number of private schools that are hawkish in admission, hawkish in progression through the school and hawkish in exams. If you don't reach the 90% bar, the school kicks you out. Therefore, private schools can attain 90% of pupils with top grades.

Even if a public school and a private school had the same funding, building and teachers, the private school would have better stats, because they're allowed to cheat.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

Irrelevant in Urban districts (none / 3) (#86)
by duffbeer703 on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 05:47:40 PM EST

Troublesome students in medium and large districts simply get farmed off to the dumping ground for troublesome students.

Kids are people. They act out when faced with an environment that provides no other means of self-expression. Ever wonder why millions of children "need" to be drugged in order to function in school?

I used to know some people who ran an alternative high school for troubled kids in a public housing project in the Bronx. They turned a group of kids who had been abandoned by the schools, society and their families into well read and well spoken adults.

The school was shutdown after five years when someone wrote an article about it in a newspaper and the teacher's union found out that non-unionized teachers dared teach children in a publically funded institution.

[ Parent ]

Not talking about the obvious troublemakers (none / 1) (#101)
by it certainly is on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 12:45:04 AM EST

although they have an uncanny ability to disrupt and destroy the education of all those around them. I'm talking about average Joes, you and me. No below-average Joes at private schools, and very few average ones. Thus the superb stats. Not being a Yank, I don't know why "millions" need drugs, because they're not drugged over here.

How wonderful you've managed to drag petty local politics into this discussion. Unions are evil because one union closed a friend of a friend's good school for a petty reason, by extension all unions would do the same, the world over, and by extension, all "socialist" politics are bunk. Close all public schools, otherwise the unions will get power. Thank you for spelling it out for me.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

Teacher's Unions (none / 2) (#102)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 02:11:36 AM EST

Teacher's unions seem to be pretty fucked up in general. At my school they basically forced a strike that most teachers did not want, basically half-wrecking that academic year. It also seems that the head of the union was this shady asshole who was boning a barely legal student of his or something along those lines.

Tim
"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
[ Parent ]

human nature (none / 1) (#171)
by foog on Sat Jul 10, 2004 at 09:16:06 PM EST

At my school they basically forced a strike that most teachers did not want...

You're headed for some interesting lessons in human nature if you don't realize the case was probably that most of your teachers would not admit to being in favor of the strike.

[ Parent ]

Keep smoking (none / 2) (#116)
by duffbeer703 on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 12:01:23 PM EST

There are plenty of average Joes at private schools.  Plenty of middle class people sacrifice alot to send their kids to private schools.

My example was an illustrative one. The conclusion to draw from anecdotes like that are that public schools are not accountable to the consumers that they service. Educating children is not in the school system's interest... getting more funds, more teachers, more political power is.

It wasn't intended to be a anti-union rant. I'm a union member myself, and while I question the real value of my particular union, I don't see it as an "evil" force.

I don't know where you're from, but I'm sure the schools are better there.

[ Parent ]

at private schools teachers are held accountable (none / 1) (#145)
by ProfessorBooty on Wed Jul 07, 2004 at 02:20:06 PM EST

If a teacher is poor performing, or has unacceptible behaviour, they can be easily replaced.

In my experence, parents at private schools are more involved in their children's schools to begin with, because they are MORE concerned with their children's education.

[ Parent ]

American Teachers' Unions Suck (none / 1) (#141)
by epepke on Wed Jul 07, 2004 at 04:38:41 AM EST

No, really, they do. I've seen plenty, and enough of them suck to make the default assumption that they all suck.

Now, I can see someone, especially from the UK, with an attitude that Unions are Good™, and the only reason to say that they suck is some opposition to unions, or some sort of ultraconservative notion, or whatever.

But seriously. They suck. I was even a member of one for a while. They sucked then, too.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
that doesn't mesh with my experience (none / 2) (#143)
by ProfessorBooty on Wed Jul 07, 2004 at 02:16:45 PM EST

I went to private schools my entire life. We had dumb kids, we had smart kids, we had rich kids, we had poor kids (usually who had scholarships). We had troublemakers as well. There was a large drug problem, there was violence from time to time and despite high tutition (yet oddly enough only 1-2k more than the local school district spent per student), the teachers were paid less than their public school counterparts (in NJ, due to strong unions, teachers make good money). We were placed in tracked classes around 2nd grade or so for math, around 7th grade for language, and high school, all classes except gym and arts classes were tracked. I had homework in kindergarden. From 5thgrade on, i had classes 8-4pm. Students preformed well, because the classes were rigorious, there was an expectation for everyone that you were to do well, as both of the schools I attended were prepatory schools (the first one for k-8 was primarily for rather famous boarding schools, the second was historically a prep school for harvard, and had some rather famous graduates). On average, the subjects we studied were at a minimumn of 18 months ahead of my public school counterparts, even in elementry school. Hell, in japan, students spend half an hour a day cleaning the school, EVERY school day. That would never happen here, but it forces the kids to take responisbility for their own behaviour. Money doesn't solve the problems schools face, however creating an environment were success is expected, extra help is offered, and extracurricular opportunities abound will enable students to succeed. Look at that guy who used to teach calculus to inner city highschool students in LA.

[ Parent ]
Its in part the parents responsibility to educate (none / 2) (#109)
by lukme on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 09:06:33 AM EST

Most of my friends seem to push the responsibility of education onto the schools. Unfortunately, public schools tend not to have programs designed for individual students, and hence, students with interests outside the norm are not educated within those areas at school.

Quite frankly, I read plato when I was 16 and I read through a brief history of philosophy from one of my mother's old textbooks. Additionally, I spent a summer working though some mathmatics books that my grandfather had given me. And, I also had private music lessons. Was any of this covered in my public school cirriculum - not to the level of detail that I worked on it.

What direction a student takes is determined by the student and influenced greatly by his parents and educators. Viewing the student as a product only diminishes the value of the individual.


-----------------------------------
It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
[ Parent ]
Absolutely (none / 1) (#117)
by duffbeer703 on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 12:07:15 PM EST

You are correct. But many parents are intimidated by the system, which often discourages learning.

Many schools get annoyed if you teach your child to read before Kindergarten.

[ Parent ]

an excellent idea. (none / 2) (#56)
by rmg on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 02:06:59 AM EST

it'll keep those damned retards out of our public schools. teachers will finally give up on the lost causes they are and have them committed like they should be. at least they won't waste taxpayer dollars that way.

you've killed a social problem and a fiscal one with one stone. you should be president.

_____

stalinism

dave dean

Teachers (1.58 / 12) (#62)
by ShiftyStoner on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 04:33:04 AM EST

 Maybe the problem isnt that teachers arn't rewarded fo doing good. Maybe the entire fucking system needs destroyed and rebuilt.

 The problem is that the teachers job is to create mindles robots. That is their duty weather they know it or not. It's not about getting students to succeed. It's not about giving the students a good time. It's not about getting students to survive the real world.

 It's about teaching them to deal with boredom. It's about teaching them how to be mindless robots. It's about creating people who can sit at a woreless dead end job doing the same exact boring tedios thing every day without blowing their fucking brains out. They want people who aside from knowing their soul perpose in life is to make somone else rich also want nothing more than to relieve there bordom outside of work.

 Like obsesing over the right cloths, the right hair style the right music the right car and blowing there money on anything that wil relieve their boredom. Getting people rich but also being completly blind to the issues going on in the world around them. Therefore government can do whatever the fuck they want and people will pay for the daily ass rapings and not even know or if they do not care. And if they care, well they can just look for something to take their minds off the problem.

 Isn't it odd that they train kids to watch tv when they're suposed to be getting educated. Train them to watch the news/brainwashing everymorning. No it isn't odd, unless they are trying to create free spirited inteligante people who can think for themselves and can succeed in the real world, channel one obviously has nothing to do with any of those things.

 I think the schools are doing a prety good job at what there suposed to be doing.

 The reason parents don't like the way shool works is because there kids are fucking retards and school makes them miserable. It doesn't take knowledge or inteligance to pass in school, it takes excepting brainwashing. It takes doing exactly what you are told when you are told and taking in everything some jackass with athority tells you as truth.

 Of course I'm not talking about colledge.

 You may wonder, is horrible spelling worth not being brainwashed and spending years and years of your life miserable as hell. The answer may shock you. Yes. GASP! I know, how on earth could I get a job, I couldn't possibley fill out an application. I'm not a robot nor slave ill leve the aplications to you. I hope you think all those years were worth being able to, not impress an employer, uh, not make him want to hire you, uh, not make him not want to hire you.
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler

Just so you know (none / 1) (#99)
by WorkingEmail on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 11:46:06 PM EST

A sense of self-worth does not translate into real worth. FYI and all that.


[ Parent ]
I don't follow. (none / 0) (#106)
by ShiftyStoner on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 06:51:26 AM EST

 Whats your point?
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
[ Parent ]
These people are laughing at you (none / 0) (#179)
by Sesquipundalian on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 12:22:24 PM EST

because you think that your life is for you. These people think that you are naive and that if you really knew the score, you'd just accept the fact that your whole life is a product of our assembly line culture, and in fact, was produced for someone else's consumption.

Your life is not just for you to use as you see fit. You are owned by the incorporated country that made you.


Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
[ Parent ]
Hey man, increase the dose of your drugs (none / 2) (#108)
by lukme on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 08:04:46 AM EST

they are not quite working.


-----------------------------------
It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
[ Parent ]
wtf (none / 1) (#110)
by ShiftyStoner on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 09:37:17 AM EST

 Why exactly is this getting hidden?
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
[ Parent ]
Agreed (none / 2) (#128)
by Golden Hawk on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 07:00:53 PM EST

Western schools (high schools) are very poor at nurturing people's ability to think critically and effectively.  Instead, they focus on perpetuating existing opinions, methods, and knowledge.  In effect, they do the opposite of nurturing people's ability to think critically and effectively, by indoctrinating them with the opinion that there is an absolute and unquestionable "right answer" or "right method".

Someone who prefers to think in unconventional ways will not only find that their efforts are discouraged, but they're actually PUNISHED for the attempts.  For example, if you write a paper, and the teacher disagrees with your opinions, they're free to mark you down, despite the lack of a genuine mistake.  Also, staff are free to deny you use of school equipment for independant study, unless your project falls within the predefined curriculum.

Another serious problem is the "intellectual bubble" in which teachers reside.  Because they have never left the school system their entire lives (in most cases), a teacher will often consider their experiences of life to be common to all humanity.  Even though this is NOT the case.  As a result, a teacher will present students with a skewed view of reality.  For example, they will teach us that education level is equivalent to intelligence, that hierarchical systems are the only way in which an organization can function, that genuine skill and effort is second to obedience.

In severe cases, the intellectual bubble will actually skew the contents of the curriculum.  Producing subjects of study which are of absolutely no use in the civilized world, but which teachers will swear by.  (Such as long division, and even spelling to some extent.)

It's my conclusion that both of these problems are a result of the flaws of previous generations being perpetuated onto the next via the school system, and in turn the next generation becomes the teachers.. and the vicious cycle continues.  The only solution is to rethink how we teach our youth, and what our goals are.  To destroy the current system and create a replacement which focuses on making a better society, rather than maintaining the status quo.
-- Daniel Benoy
[ Parent ]

heh (none / 1) (#132)
by WorkingEmail on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 09:14:39 PM EST

Someone who prefers to think in unconventional ways will not only find that their efforts are discouraged, but they're actually PUNISHED for the attempts. For example, if you write a paper, and the teacher disagrees with your opinions, they're free to mark you down, despite the lack of a genuine mistake.
Wow, almost just like the real world! :)


[ Parent ]
Seems that way (none / 0) (#177)
by Golden Hawk on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 05:05:31 AM EST

Like I said at the end of my post, it's my theory that school is both the cause, and the victim of this type of thinking.

The real world punishes free spirits because that's what was taught to them in school.  And in turn, the next generation of teachers will be even more offset from (un)common sense, damaging society further.

And the next generation after that, and after that, and so on.
-- Daniel Benoy
[ Parent ]

Interesting topic, (none / 1) (#64)
by tetsuwan on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 05:12:16 AM EST

but flawed ideas. People mostly make their own mind on what to do, the teachers do not affect that decision so much. Once in a while, some teachers like to have their protegés, but that should be an exception.

I have majored in Physics and proceeded to ph D candidate in Physics, despite having lousy teachers in science for twelve years. The only teacher that had an influence on my choice of path was an evil chemistry teacher who convinced me that chemistry wasn't for me.

The long term measuring idea has merit, though. Maybe you could get an idea if you tested all the students two years after graduation and compared their knowledge to their former grades. The problem is of course that this would probably be very costly and it would be hard to get everybody to answer. OTOH, you could just compare the average result with the average grades of the people who actually answered.

The sad thing about teaching is that teachers that get recognition is those that support the latest crackpotty ideas. I had a lousy political science teacher who went about telling everybody about his stupid ways of teaching.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance

How schools should be. (1.33 / 9) (#65)
by ShiftyStoner on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 05:34:16 AM EST

 School should be in 3 months out one, in 3 out 1 all year every year.

 School should start at 9:30 in the morning end at 4:00. Or 10 at night till 4:30 in the morning. Not going to school shouldn't matter at age 12 and up as long as you can pass/take tests. To decide weather a student passes a semester or not there should be a test that determins 50% of there grade at the end of the year. 50% should be spread in 6 tests for the semester, 2 a month. If they don't go a day of school and pass the test, they should pass. If they fail the test but do very well in school they should pass. If they dont pass, rather than being behind an entire year their behind three months.

 Studints should be encouraged to do better than everyone else. Students should not be rewarded in any way shape or form unless they have fucking acomplished something.

 Studints whould be taught knowledge they will use and need in real life. Anything else should be there decision weather they want to do it or not.

 Students should be taught how they will have to use it in real life, and why they should learn it. They need to be show exactly what there working for.

 Like if you do this profesion, it has these downsides but if you do you can buy yourself a farari YAY.

 Student should be put into classes. A B & C classes. C being the teachers job is to strugle to get the kids to the point were they can pass the tests or even turn them into B class. A & B class getting student to exorb as much knowledge as they can as fast as they can. A class obvioulsy exorbing more knowledge at a faste pace than B. A class being at beggining coledge level at the age kids normaly start going to highschool. I hope no one thinks this is not possible.

 For A class kids, skiping high school and heading to colledge should be highly encouraged, the goal of A class realy.

 During the month off the school should encourage, even help kids get a job. No even better, have school run paying jobs for students. Such as student news paper, student telivision network. Student organization that does lawncare and comunity service type work.

 This would give kids experiance and money, and probably a desire to have a career.

 As for teachers. They just need payed more and all have personal assistance. In fact being a teacher asistant should be a requirment to become a teacher, or is it.

 Student should also be able to file a greivance or something. Get bad teachers fired, and they should be told how to do this and know they can. Of course knowing that they will imediatly recieve a new teacher so they don't abuse it.

 Teachers who abuse students should be imediatly fired, unless the student deserves it but really it wouldnt get noticed unless it hapend often anyway just like now. Like if the student attcked the teacher or another student, then rreasonable force would need aplied. Of course I don't think fighting when not in class should be discouraged, as long as it's fighting and not bullying.

 There should be absolutly no homework at all. Unless the student choses to do so, to get into b or a class or something.

 Were is all the money gana come from to pay fo this. Well I'm not gana get into it but I'm sure a little out of the trillions could be spared. Anything that is bot with tax money should not be bot at retail prices i mean that's just silly. If it's all bot in bulk it should be much cheaper, than you or i would pay for it, same goes for the fucking army.

( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler

You are trying too hard (2.25 / 4) (#74)
by hatshepsut on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 01:04:34 PM EST

You couldn't have written a more frightening post if you had tried. Next time, leave some of the post alone, or spell at least some of the words correctly (or misspell them consistently). This looks like you typed it up, then went through and added the errors later!

[ Parent ]
Trying to hard... (none / 0) (#131)
by ShiftyStoner on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 08:04:42 PM EST

 To what make a lot of errors? Exactly the oposit is going on.

 I could do far better than this if I tried of course, I think I have. The thing is, Im not trying to show off my writing skills at all. Not trying to show off how awful they are or how great they are.

 This is what happens when I try to write something fast without giving a fuck about errors.

 If you ment I'm trying to hard with my point, hardly trying at all. There are many things I didn't get into and I didn't really get into any detail about my ideas for the school system I did make. There are obviouse things such as what kids should be getting taught, how they should be getting taught and how they should be punished. Suspension and expelsion are clearly stubid ideas.

 If i tried... Is that a chalenge? At least you can clearly understand what I'm trying to say 99% of the time. I could leave you feeling disoriented.
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
[ Parent ]

You don't understand (none / 0) (#167)
by cdguru on Fri Jul 09, 2004 at 12:54:46 AM EST

or even have the beginning of a glimmer of what education is about. Public education below the college/university level is "for" two things: ensure a population that can function in a productive manner and to keep kids out of the labor market. Period. Nothing else.

You seem to want "relevent" education. This seems to come around periodically and it is a silly idea for many reasons. Probably the most glaring is that it doesn't meet the two stated objectives of public education. Relevent education - meaning to cut out teaching things like Latin and replace it with Spanglish so they can talk with Hispanic store employees - is really a disservice to students and the country at large. Think about "those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it" and consider what eliminating teaching about ancient Greece does - of course, it isn't relevent to today's society. Unless you think about it for more than about 30 seconds. It is pretty simple to see how a broad span of learning in general is important when you put a little thought into it. It isn't obvious to the 12-year-old why it is important, which is why this kind of idea of relevent education keeps coming up.

If you push 12-year-olds out of school (or allow them to leave), you are going to have 12-year-olds looking for work. There are many jobs that such 12-year-olds can do, and some better than older adults. However, most Western countries decided it is in everyone's best interest to prevent this.

Your idea of A, B and C classes is pretty much implemented today, whenever possible. There are such different tracks, but I am not at all sure this is a good idea. If you judge a student as belonging to track C (the lowest expectations, worst performing, etc.), you have created a self-fulfulling prophesy. The student will work to that level and know that nothing more is expected. Worse, if you let the student decide you are going to get plenty of students electing to take the easy route in the lowest level. So, I don't see anyone that is fit to judge where students should be placed - the student shouldn't and the administrators shouldn't either. This kind of tracking approach generates low expectations and plenty of students that are willing to go along with what they believe is expected of them. As little as that is.

Similarly, the idea of paying students real wages for work while off school is simultaneously a distraction and a diversion of the labor pool. Even the lawn mowing and community service jobs are indeed taking jobs away from other adults that would otherwise be supporting a family, or at least helping to do so. Giving the job to a student is something that Western society has pretty much decided is a bad idea. Child labor was outlawed for both the benefit of the student and the adult who would otherwise have the job. As for it being a distraction, there are plenty of students that would greatly prefer cutting grass, picking up trash or working on a newspaper to any sort of school. By offering this kind of diversion you are doing nothing but encouraging this.

Your idea that fights (excluding bullying) is the typical strong dominating the weak. Or, simply weeding out the weaker members through intimidation. This leads to students either withdrawing (from society, from school, whatever) or bringing a gun to school. The latter may be exclusive to the inner-city USA, but it cannot be ignored. If fighting is discouraged among adults, it should be discouraged forcibly among students. Otherwise you are going to get folks that think fighting is acceptable throughout school and society at large.

Finally, the idea of "skipping high school" and going directly to college is a monumentally silly idea. College students have enough difficulties with separation from where they have lived all their lives, significantly different study patterns and other factors distrupting their lives. Pushing this on someone 4 years earlier - regardless of their learning - is inappropriate. Many examples of students going to college one or two years early show how bad this is because they are socially isolated and cannot handle the environment and stresses. Remember, as I mentioned in the beginning, the objectives of the educational system are not simply to turn out a finished product (educated student). There are far more complex issues at stake here and dumping emotionally and physically unprepared children into college does not gain anyone anything.

While there are problems with the construction of the educational system in the Western world today, I do not believe any of the suggestions you made have any merit whatsoever.

[ Parent ]

The matrix (none / 1) (#67)
by Highlander on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 07:14:13 AM EST

You would need a fucking big matrix to store all those investments by teachers.

And how do you figure out in your scheme that the mathematics teacher did contribute to the biology student ? After all, a biology student can be required to do all sorts of math.

Well, you could turn everyone into an incorporation where teachers get shares for teaching, but this leaves the problem of figuring out how many shares the teacher gets initially.
The feedback takes long to work, about 16 years. So not individual teachers, but institutions would take part.

So in your scheme, there would be schools that specialize in producing biologists. This is interesting, but it kind of contradicts the idea of public schools. I think you would get some good scientists and lots of salesmen, but nothing in between. A system of guilds, not public schools.

Moderation in moderation is a good thing.

there's more to teaching (none / 0) (#68)
by dimaq on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 07:17:28 AM EST

IMHO there's more to teaching than the matriculation/sat/etc results of her students - the important result is not good command of a particular subject, but rather a good command of studying itself, the capacity and desire to learn more.

If someone has a good idea how to measure that - please post

I am a physicist. (none / 0) (#70)
by Ranieri on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 10:33:55 AM EST

In high school I had two lousy physics teachers and one truly horrible one. I also two really good chemistry teachers, a pretty good, although extremely odd, math teacher and an excellent latin teacher.
If I were allowed to distribute points, they would not go to any of my former physics teachers.

The extreme latency involved is also an issue. A few of my former highschool teachers retired or changed line of work before I graduated. One of them, admittedly with a particularly poor state of health, even died.

I'm ready to bet Euro's to peanuts that this system would not affect the education system in any positive fashion.
--
Taste cold steel, feeble cannon restraint rope!

While I think the article is ill-advised (none / 3) (#71)
by killmepleez on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 11:22:34 AM EST

If such a system were implemented, then it might be best to incorporate the feature alluded to by Ranieri -- namely, that the college graduates themselves be given complete discretion over how the "reward" monies are distributed. After all, wouldn't the graduate, more than any Overseer, Governing Board, or Computational Matrix, have the best viewpoint from which to judge the relative influence of his/her former teachers? It's quite common for disinterested or strong-willed K-12 students to dislike a "hardass" teacher, only to gain a wiser appreciation for that same teacher later in the educational system. Maybe one or two hardass teachers in one subject area helped the student gain the essential skills and motivation which were later applied in the pursuit of graduation in a completely different field.

__
"I instantly realized that everything in my life that I thought was unfixable was totally fixable - except for having just jumped."
--from "J
[ Parent ]
graduate assessments. (none / 1) (#78)
by adimovk5 on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 02:39:23 PM EST

I agree with your assessment but not the article. The students (consumers) are the best judges of the performance of their teachers. Post-graduation, the teacher's students could be asked to evaluate the teacher's performance each year for the next five years. I suggest annually and for five years so that it's possible to to view the changing perspective of the gradaute. The graduate could also be asked for input on changes to the curriculum.

[ Parent ]
Half agree... (none / 1) (#93)
by SvnLyrBrto on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 09:56:48 PM EST

> It's quite common for disinterested or strong-willed K-12
> students to dislike a "hardass" teacher, only to gain a wiser
> appreciation for that same teacher later in the educational
> system.

True enough.  There are some teachers, whose guts I hated when I graduated HS, whom I had developed a lot of respect for by the time I graduated college.  I came to realize that their being hard on me served to motivate me to better, made me a better student in college, and interested me in subjects I never would have thought to even acknowledge before.  I've, even, sometimes entertained the idea of tracking down these teachers, and thanking them.

OTOH, there are some teachers, whose guts I hated when I graduated HS, who I believe to this day were hard on me out of sheer bloody-mindedness.  They treated their own choice of coursework like it was the holy writ; and like I was some sort of philistine for not being absolutely enthralled by it.  The only thing they motivated me to do was get the hell out of there.  I've, even, sometimes entertained the idea of tracking down these teachers, and beating them with a lead pipe.

Four years of college did, though, give me the detachment to separate the first group from the second.  So, perhaps a student evaluation, only after said student graduates college, *IS* the way to evaluate a teachers performance, and to determine promotions, raises, and even terminations.

cya,
john

Imagine all the people...
[ Parent ]

Agree with you... (none / 0) (#172)
by QillerPenguin on Sun Jul 11, 2004 at 07:06:07 PM EST

I attended a liberal arts high school, where we didn't even have a science teacher of *any* science, except for a single (useless) semester of 10th grade general science. I spent the three years of my high school playing basson and sax, and participated in some of the other arts. Just before graduating, though, I came to the conclusion I had no interest in being a musician, so I attended my university as an English major, studying linguistics.

It's weird to say, but it was my second year Latin teacher that got me interested in changing my major to what I graduated in: Biophysics! He ran on a lot about changes in language (Latin to French, but where did Latin come from?), which got me interested in language evolution, which got me interested in evolution in general, to biological evolution, to early biological evolution, to biochemical evolution. That depends on a lot of good biophysics, which I loved. When I graduated, I went back to his office and thank him for sparking that interest. He shrugged his shoulders and told me that's how a good education should work.

Since I moved to a place that doesn't have much for a trained biophysicist, I've since done training and have worked as a medical lab tech. Eh, it's a job...

My scient graduate points would have gone to none of my high school teachers, but my Latin professor!
"All your Unix are belong to us" - SCO, 2003.
[ Parent ]

Too fair? (none / 0) (#77)
by chuhwi on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 01:44:51 PM EST

I see one problem with this: if the mediocre teachers quit, there may not be enough teachers. Surely, a student having a mediocre teacher in some subject is better than having none at all?

Ka-ZAAAM! (none / 3) (#82)
by Peahippo on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 04:40:12 PM EST

This would make sense in the context of a meal, where some nourishment -- even junk food -- is better than none at all. The context is different for education, however, and that's where your proposal fails. Schools are not the only place where education takes place, and from my experience I'd have to say that education takes place in spite of them.

Students and their parents are free to pursue education on their own, automatically seeking alternative nourishment. Ever hear of books? Libraries? How about the Internet?

As far as Human effort goes overall, mediocrity should never be tolerated.


[ Parent ]
yes, well (none / 1) (#92)
by livus on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 09:51:32 PM EST

I'd love to see you as a teen try to study practical chemistry in a one room house with a crack whore mother, a bad library, and no chemicals or equipment.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
Someone must succed (none / 1) (#114)
by Cro Magnon on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 11:27:37 AM EST

Judging by the number of meth labs around.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
That's what I was thinking, I wonder (none / 0) (#127)
by livus on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 06:38:49 PM EST

if any of those are run by frustrated chemists.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
Well, Indeed ... (none / 1) (#133)
by Peahippo on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 09:43:40 PM EST

... two things spring right out. One, the population of students that performs anything more than book-learning at home in response to official classwork is very small. Two, my commentary revolved around book-learning in the first place, that leading to the core elements of successful education: reading, writing and arithmetic ... as well as their meta-element of critical thinking.

I can't deny the disruptive effect of "bad home life". But in my experience, well echoed by the culture at large, TV is by far the largest cause of home disruption leading to bad study habits (i.e. anti-intellectualism). Bad home life is oftentimes an unconscious choice ... meaning people choose it without thinking about it, in an environment where many options are available to choose from.

I sympathize with the children of those "crack whores". I may as well have been one, growing up with no father and a drunk mother. But I persevered in studies despite all that, and have cultivated a life-long attitude towards such. If I can do it as the "average disenfranchised", then the other ADs can do it too.

Give them the opportunity to rise and they eventually shall. But we don't need quotas and preferential (read: condescending) treatment.


[ Parent ]
well, me too, but my point is (none / 0) (#134)
by livus on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 10:01:34 PM EST

that "no teacher at all" is not necessarily better than a bad teacher, and where possible it's better to at least give students the choice of being taught some "official classwork" if they want it.

Sounds like my home life and yours were pretty similar, only I found the bad teachers better than having none at all.

As they say, 'you don't know what you don't know' and without some semblance of school curriculum I wouldn't have even heard of most of the stuff I wound up studying. I'm not talking about quotas or preferrential treatment - FWIW I get all my funding on merit.

I'm just saying, I think for some of us, any mother is better than no mother, any food is better than no food, and any glimmer of outside education is better than none. Not everyone feels like that but why take the choice away from those of us who do?

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

Future Imperfect (Retrospectacle) (none / 0) (#137)
by Peahippo on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 11:05:23 PM EST

The problem with living in the future is that you never notice when it arrived. The Internet gives me such faith in private studies that I am now very set against the public school system in the USA. Before the Internet, I may have had a different opinion. But I don't want to make a situation where you are bereft of choice, since choice is the clear preference of my philosophy of education.


[ Parent ]
I don't know about the USA per se (none / 0) (#150)
by livus on Wed Jul 07, 2004 at 07:27:14 PM EST

but I get the feeling that the internet is the new opiate of the middleclass conscience - I see it everyday that people expect everyone enjoys whatever levels of access and literacy they themselves enjoy. I don't mean BBS spelling snobbery, I mean the common first world middleclass perception that there is a "wealth of information free for everyone".

That aside, yeah we basically agree.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

I agree with you (none / 1) (#140)
by epepke on Wed Jul 07, 2004 at 01:41:56 AM EST

Market forces aside, there is such a thing as being poisoned by bad education. A quote attributed to Einstein goes, "It is almost a miracle that the education system has not completely destroyed the holy spark of curiosity, for what that delicate little plant needs, even more than guidance, is freedom." And that was back when the education system is remembered as having been good, whether or not it really was. I graduated High School in 1978, and I think I got out just in time. From my experience with later versions of the same school system, through my ex-stepson, I think that ten years later I would have been completely poisoned.

Fortunately, it only requires two or three good teachers in one's life to make up for a passel of bad ones. Every adult who is somewhat successful, I think, remembers a few stories about good teachers, but the stories are usually about events that were only five minutes long. However, good teaching usually happens despite, not because of, education. These brief moments are becoming rarer and rarer, and the number of students who never experience them is increading.

A lot of the time I think this is by design; part of the Consumer Society™.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Market forces (none / 0) (#115)
by smithmc on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 11:28:44 AM EST

If a shortage of teachers arises, salaries will have to rise in order to attract more teachers.

[ Parent ]
Wrong problem (none / 1) (#85)
by mcgrew on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 04:57:59 PM EST

Testing is easy. Getting the union to cooperate is hard- it'll cost you. That's what unions do, is bargain.

United we bargain, divided webeg.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie

Wrong problem (1.12 / 8) (#88)
by Hide Teh Hamster on Mon Jul 05, 2004 at 06:25:33 PM EST

Testing is easy. Getting the union to cooperate is hard- it'll cost you. That's what unions do, is bargain.

United we bargain, divided webeg.


This revitalised kuro5hin thing, it reminds me very much of the new German Weimar Republic. Please don't let the dark cloud of National Socialism descend upon it again.
Specifics??? (none / 1) (#103)
by limekiller on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 02:30:26 AM EST

It's interesting that the author has recognized all the problems and suggested corrections and adjustments for them.  It's interesting because the idea is so flawed that after you've adjusted for everything, you no longer have a viable framework from whence to judge performance.  

If this was actually put into practice you would wind up with one of two situations; either pay would not actually mirror performance and everyone would cry foul because the system could not POSSIBLY account for everything out of the teacher's control or that everyone would be getting paid the same, statistically, regardless of teacher merit.

Further, the corrections are simply called "corrections" without explaining, precisely, how you'd manage that in a fair and meaninful way.

Rather than giving a simple stated goal with little to know information on how, exactly, you'd implement it -- and then making a dozen corrections (Would you also correct for gentrification?  How would you measure it?  Yeesh!) -- how about showing us exactly how you'd run such a system?

Specifics, please, not boilerplate.

this is insane (none / 0) (#105)
by the77x42 on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 04:27:50 AM EST

Why be a good teacher? Respect among colleagues, respect among students, parents, administrators, etc. Money isn't everything. Some teachers actually think they are doing something good for the community.

The only way for a teacher to make more money is to leave? No, get a masters degree and you will be at the top of your pay scale. (~$65,000 CAN).

Objective evaluations? Grades are already gone over by the administration. Falculty associates supervise student teachers all the time. Student teachers are given reviews by the teachers they volunteer for. There are staff meetings, there are parent-teacher interviews, there is feedback from the students, there are reputations, why do you want to resort to tests?

Everyone thinks they are a good teacher. This makes it one of the most underappreciated jobs in the world. It's a hard job, it takes dedication and devotion. Not every one is going to be an Aristotle, but that's part of the learning experience too. Even the worst teacher is going to be a lot better than someone who doesn't care about the kids and whose only concern in their job. Get real.


"We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
"You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

$65K Canadian for a Master's? (none / 0) (#111)
by smithmc on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 10:26:50 AM EST


The only way for a teacher to make more money is to leave? No, get a masters degree and you will be at the top of your pay scale. (~$65,000 CAN).

$50K (approx. in USD) is top of scale? And there's any doubt why we can't get good teachers? Yeesh. And, BTW, I suppose it's different in Canada, but here in New York, a Master's degree isn't an "advancement opportunity" for teachers - it's mandatory for certification.

[ Parent ]

Masters gets you... (none / 0) (#122)
by doubletwist on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 02:58:12 PM EST

My wife is a teacher. You only need a Bachelors to be a teacher in California and Texas. The yearly stipend for having/getting a Masters degree is approx $1500, and you get another $1500 if you get a PhD.

It's really pretty pathetic. But it IS very difficult to objectively rate a teacher's performace, although I DO feel that it should be done. Believe it or not, there are still a ton of teachers out there that keep teaching even though they just don't care. Why anyone would stay in a job that they hate and that pays crap is beyond me. The only upside to being a teacher these days is that you have to do something tremendously stupid in order to get fired.

So I think a combination of rating performance based on:
1. Standarized test scores: But not the absolute scores, since you may just get a really stupid class :) Do this based on the improvement of their scores.
2. Anonymous Student/Parent rating of the teacher for various aspects of teaching.
3. Other teacher/administrative rating of the teacher

As the article said, student grades would not be a good measure, since the teacher does give them. But I think by doing a combination approach, it is more fair, and less likely to be strongly affected by politics.

DT
This .sig is under construction...
[ Parent ]

Open Competition - Let the market decide (none / 1) (#107)
by cod on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 07:54:07 AM EST

This scheme puts some kind of supernatural importance on college. As others have already pointed out - success in college may have nothing to do with the quality of your high school teachers. it also assumes going to college is the best result of high school - again a very questionable conclusion. The only way for public education to work to is totally open it up to free and open competition. If parents can send their kids to whatever shcool they want, the good schools and good teachers will be recognized by market dynamics, and (ignoring union rules which distort the free market) those good teachers will be able to command more money in the market.

Almost (none / 0) (#113)
by Coryoth on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 11:26:02 AM EST

This is a far better idea than the arbitrary "objective" measure provided in the article, but...

If parents can send their kids to whatever shcool they want...

When has that been true exactly?  The fact is geography puts pretty serious constraints on what schools you have to choose from, and certainly for elementary and junior high, when the kids are young, the ability for the child to get safely to and from school with a minimum of hassle weighs very heavily on decisions of which school.  You don't really have a free market there.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

That's true in any situation, though (none / 0) (#136)
by kurtmweber on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 11:04:53 PM EST

By your logic, I don't have the choice of:
  • The grocery store at which I will shop
  • Where I will eat lunch
  • Who I will call when the pipes in my house leak
  • The doctor I will see when I get sick
The list goes on. Do you see my point?

Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
[ Parent ]
Choice (none / 0) (#149)
by Coryoth on Wed Jul 07, 2004 at 06:43:00 PM EST

I apologise.  I was not very clear in my first post.

It's not that you have no choice just a limited one - and that certainly is true.  Your choice of plumbers is limited to those willing to service your area.  Try calling a plumber in Germany (or, if you live in Germany, Australia) and see if he'll come.  If he will, see if your willing to pay the price he'll demand for you to do so.

After that it's just a numbers game.  The number of plumbers who work in your area is...?  The number of schools at the appropriate level for your child in your area is...?

As long as we expect schools to provide computer labs, gym facilities, science lab equipment etc. the number of schools of the right level in a given area is going to be fairly low (I'd guess 3 or 4 at most usually) due to the high costs of setting up such a school environment: it's a tough market to try and bootstrap your way into given the very high infrastructure costs.

Is that clearer?

Jedidiah

[ Parent ]

Objective measures? (none / 1) (#112)
by Coryoth on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 11:22:03 AM EST

I propose to use objective measures of teacher performance instead. These will be different for the different school levels.

Right, well your problem starts right there.  If you believe that there is any objective measure of teacher performance you are in trouble.

How well a teacher "performs" is dependent on many factors.  You can start breaking it down into the material they are trying to teach, the methods they select for how to teach it, and students they are trying to teach the material to.  Each of those contain, in turn, a myriad of factors.  A teacher who teaches junior high school math well may be poor at teaching high school senior math.  A teacher who was a "brilliant" teacher 50 years ago would probably be viewed as useless by children today.  What material the teacher has been assigned to teach, and the students that happen to be in his class that year (and each and every student is unique, and learns in a slightly different way) has as large an impact on how well a teacher "performs" as anything the teacher has real control over.

And then we move on to the question of "performance".  What exactly do you mean by that?  You pull an "objective" measure out simply by defining "teacher performance" to be "number of college graduates in subject of choice".  But really, that's rarely what people mean when they talk about "quality" in teaching.  Ask 10 different people what they think "quality" teaching will result in, and you'll probably get 10 different answers.

"Students who understand the subject matter deeply"
"Students who can pass a test on the material covered"
"Students who have a passion and enthusiasm for the subject"
"Students who have broadened their understanding of how the learning process works"
"Teachers who captivate the students"

And several of those senses of "quality" (which I just thought up on the spot) are very hard to measure.  How exactly do you measure student enthusiasm?

Here's another way to put it:  What do you think "quality" elementary school instruction is all about?  Now, what do you think "quality" college instruction is all about?  Is there a smooth no gradient between the two through high school?  No, not really.

If you want to reward teacher performance, admit it is completely subjective and depends as much on things beyond the teachers control as things within their control, draw some arbitrary subjective lines in the sand, and be happy with them.

Jedidiah

Even more trouble ... (none / 2) (#119)
by suquux on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 01:19:47 PM EST

If you believe that there is any objective measure of teacher performance you are in trouble.

Well, if one believes that there is any objective measure one is in trouble.

CC.
All that we C or Scheme ...
[ Parent ]
Paranoid speculation: (none / 0) (#118)
by awgsilyari on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 01:18:02 PM EST

Might this lead to some type of collusion between high school and college-level educators?

College professors will fix grades and graduate a certain number of students in each major in return for kickbacks taken from the government payouts given to the high school teachers.

Example: Mrs. Bonner, high school chem teacher, calls up Prof. Schwinn at the local accredited "el cheapo" college. She offers Schwinn a 35% kickback out of the $500 bonus she receives for each student that Schwinn graduates with a chem degree. Supposing Schwinn fixes grades to graduate 15 students a year, Schwinn gets a $2625 "bonus" and Bonner pulls down $4875.

Especially in some podunk, backwater town, I can easily imagine high school and college-level educators collaborating to bilk the taxpayers in this manner.

Can you propose a method to prevent this kind of thing from occurring?

--------
Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com

not in my universe (none / 0) (#125)
by vqp on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 05:18:02 PM EST

The numbers showed in your example are too big , In my universe, college classrooms are composed of student of several high schools, it is unlikely to know each professor and make dirty arrangements with unknown people is too risky. Anyway, the pay-for-graduate approach sucks, I prefer universal test for all the levels.

happiness = d(Reality - Expectations) / dt

[ Parent ]
I thought those numbers were pretty good. (none / 0) (#126)
by awgsilyari on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 05:30:24 PM EST

Anything less than $500 a kid doesn't seem like much of a motivator, to me. You bust your ass and don't get any dividends for another four years. With that sort of latent payout I'd sure as hell want at least $500 a kid.

Otherwise, it's just another reason why this plan couldn't work.

--------
Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
[ Parent ]

Flaws (none / 1) (#124)
by tgibbs on Tue Jul 06, 2004 at 05:04:26 PM EST

A highschool biology teacher does a good job if they produce college graduates majoring in biology. The following system rewards teachers accordingly: whenever a student graduates from college with a biology degree, a set amount of money is distributed among that student's highschool biology teachers; the amount a given teacher receives is determined by the length of time they taught biology to the student.

I see some critical flaws with this proposal. First, I think that it is the wrong measure. A high school biology teacher does a good job if they produce graduates with a strong understanding of biology. Majoring in biology should not be the goal. Only a minority of students are going to have the aptitude or inclination to major in biology. Such a measure would encourage teachers to ignore students who clearly are not likely to major in the subject, and to focus on persuading those who are persuadable to do so (whether or not that is the right choice for the student). It is also badly confounded by ethnic career biases. Who would want to be a biology teacher in a district with a racial/ethnic composition such that few students major in biology?

I think the idea of a performance-based measure has merit, but I'd rather see it based on standardized tests (despite their well-known flaws) than on career or major choice. There is a lot that standardized tests don't measure, but a student who does well on a well-designed standardized test clearly knows something. Importantly, bonuses should not be dependent upon the absolute score (which would penalize teachers with students from poorer backgrounds), but rather on the improvement in the score (which also helps to normalize out unavoidable ethnic biases in the tests themselves). So there needs to be a pre-test and a post-test.

Even with standardized tests, there are confounds, the major one being how to deal with students who drop out or drop a class. You don't want teachers encouraging unpromising students to quit school or transfer in order to boost their bonuses. Perhaps one way would be to base the bonus on the number of students who show improvement, rather than the percentage. This would favor teachers with large classes, but then again, a teacher with a large class who manages to do well probably deserves a bonus. There might probably also have to be some sort of adjustment to deal with extremely high-performing students who "peg" the standardized test, and thus show little improvement, although that could potentially be dealt with in test design. Administrators could also be paid on a similar bonus system, derived from the performance of the teachers that they support.

'confound' is not a noun. (none / 0) (#142)
by Fon2d2 on Wed Jul 07, 2004 at 11:49:32 AM EST

/grammar nazi

[ Parent ]
One problem (none / 0) (#152)
by godix on Wed Jul 07, 2004 at 08:57:58 PM EST

You assume there's unlimited room for improvement in your idea and that's just not so. If a teacher has a straight A 100% on all tests does homework every day type student there is no improvement possible. Should the teacher really be financially hurt if they get students who were good to begin with?

Besides, not all improvement is the same. If a student goes from fail to pass by improving form F to D that's a different level of achievement that someone who goes from C to B.

They are possibly the dumbest people on the planet...
- Michael Moore describing Americans
[ Parent ]

He addressed that. (none / 0) (#158)
by vectro on Thu Jul 08, 2004 at 03:02:31 AM EST

tgibbs pointed out exactly this problem. He answered it with the possibility of "test design", which I agree with -- essentially, design the test in such a way that no student is likely to get a perfect score.

There are already tests such as this, most notable being widespread ETS tests such as the SAT, GRE, or TOEFL. No-one is expected to get a perfect score on the TOEFL; if they did, it would indicate better English than most native speakers.

Of course, it's impossible to design a test so that no one can get a perfect score; if so, how would the test designers create the questions? But if the bar is set high enough, then we can simply assume a student that aces the test need not take the class in question -- a reasonable assumption under the circumstances.

Using a computer-based testing system (CBT) would facilitate this process even further; only students at risk of receiving a perfect score would be faced with highly difficult questions, whereas everyone else would receive questions at their own levels.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]

That doesn't address it (none / 0) (#159)
by godix on Thu Jul 08, 2004 at 04:08:19 AM EST

If you intentionally make a test so that no one can ace it how can you turn around and financially punish a teacher because he couldn't get a 99% student to ace it? Even if the theoretical limit isn't reached you're talking about putting a practical limit in the test and a student already at that limit really has no room to improve. Besides, even if you could improve a 99% student to 100% that still doesn't mean nearly as much as improving a 60% to 70%. Basing bonuses on performance provides an unfair bias towards teachers with poor students. While it's certainly different than biasing against teacher with bad students like the original idea it's still a biased system.

They are possibly the dumbest people on the planet...
- Michael Moore describing Americans
[ Parent ]
Disagree. (none / 0) (#160)
by vectro on Thu Jul 08, 2004 at 09:15:45 AM EST

The whole point of making a test exceptionally difficult is that it allows you to distinguish between the 99th percentile and the 99.5th percentile. That's why ETS makes its most important difficult tests that way; they want to be able to distinguish between the best and the best-of-the-best. Making the test hard (actually, providing questions of varying difficulty) isn't an exercise; it's done to provide greater precision.

As for the practical matters in the classroom -- that's a different matter. I would suggest that this issue can be resolved in the same way as other differences between classroom -- namely, adjust for initial differences. If a teacher starts with more-talented students, you can lower the bar (or increase the incentive).

Finally, even if you didn't make any such adjustment, the result might still be good -- if incentives go to the students who are able to show the most improvement, then perhaps teachers would be attracted to teach at schools with such students. In effect, not adjusting for initial ability, and going solely based on improvement, would bring more money to the schools capable of showing such improvement.

On the other hand, not adjusting would encourage teachers to teach "introductory" classes -- a student is far more likely to enter an introductory high-school economics class with no knowledge whosever, as compared to, say, a class on western history.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]

Still don't think that solves it (none / 0) (#161)
by godix on Thu Jul 08, 2004 at 10:16:13 AM EST

if incentives go to the students who are able to show the most improvement, then perhaps teachers would be attracted to teach at schools with such students.

The original plan this article proposed is a bad idea because it would cause teachers to focus on the best students and ignore the low end of the scale. The idea of basing it all on test improvement is no better because it would encourage teachers to focus on the low end students and ignore the high end. What can fix the schools isn't a program that encourages teachers to ignore anyone. So far none of the reward ideas are able to encourage teachers to teach EVERY student thus I don't think any of the reward ideas are good.

They are possibly the dumbest people on the planet...
- Michael Moore describing Americans
[ Parent ]
high-performing students (none / 0) (#162)
by tgibbs on Thu Jul 08, 2004 at 11:36:57 AM EST

If you intentionally make a test so that no one can ace it how can you turn around and financially punish a teacher because he couldn't get a 99% student to ace it?

First, if the teacher is rewarded for the number of students who improve, then failure to get a bonus for rare unusually high-performing students (who by definition are rare) will have only a small impact on the teacher's income.

Presumably, even a brilliant student will show improvement on a test with some very hard questions. If that is not the case, then perhaps the student has not benefited from the class at all. In which case, why award the teacher a bonus?

Besides, even if you could improve a 99% student to 100% that still doesn't mean nearly as much as improving a 60% to 70%.

It might mean as much to that student, because it would mean that he is being challenged in the course, and is less likely to become bored and loose interest in the subject. The problem of a small increase in the percentage correct at the high end can be dealt with by probit scaling, in which the final score is based upon the number of standard deviations above a baseline (which is already used for most standardized tests, anyway)

[ Parent ]

"confound" as noun (none / 1) (#147)
by tgibbs on Wed Jul 07, 2004 at 03:56:54 PM EST

"Confound" used as a noun has become fairly standard usage (pdf) in scientific writing. I expect its usage to expand, because there is no other single noun that really conveys the same meaning.

One data point (none / 0) (#156)
by bigdavex on Thu Jul 08, 2004 at 12:45:26 AM EST

Maybe I'm not in the intended audience, but I had no idea what the hell you were saying in that sentence.

[ Parent ]
Confounding... (none / 0) (#157)
by vectro on Thu Jul 08, 2004 at 02:56:06 AM EST

... is a statistics term. It refers to the phenomenon where two variables are both affected by some third variable, which can create the apperance of a connection, when really they are both connected to some unrelated variable.

However, I think the comment you replied to was meant to be a reply to this comment.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]

"Confounding" is OK (none / 0) (#163)
by epepke on Thu Jul 08, 2004 at 11:51:37 AM EST

You can make a verb into a gerund noun. Please use a possessive with it, though.

The one "verb-nouning" that always gets me is "chiropractic." Surely it should be "chiropraxis." A "noun-verbing" that gets me is "fission." "Fizz" is much better.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Look (none / 0) (#164)
by trhurler on Thu Jul 08, 2004 at 03:12:31 PM EST

First of all, don't tell rms. Hehe.

Second, the real reason teaching is such a mediocre field at large does involve money, but it is more complex than you suggest. It also involves the facts that most people who have the talent to be good teachers don't want to teach kids, most people who love kids aren't really good teachers, and most people who have both qualities, being rare, can get top paying jobs as private tutors or teachers in very expensive schools. Given that banning private tutoring and expensive schools is downright wrong, evil, and that the people who suggest it should be boiled in oil until the meat falls from their bones, it is clear that your average school is always going to hurt for good teachers.

Despite that fact, some schools do well. Some public schools, even. By "well" I do not mean every student graduates a genius, or even with a good GPA. Frankly, some people are not good students, whether this be capability or willingness or whatever. But, these schools do a good job of educating those who can and will be educated, which is the best you can really hope for. What is the difference?

Well, first of all, the students. They can be of any background in ethnic terms, but despite all the heroic movie stories, 99% of good students will be middle class with at least one parent who actually cares about them. If they work at a job, they do it because they want spending money; students struggling to help pay the family's bills or their own generally don't do well unless they're older. But most of all, and this one can overcome any or all of the above, they have to want to do well. If they don't, nothing but a change of attitude can save them.

For instance, the school I went to keeps getting a bit worse every year in terms of its teaching staff, its policies, and so on. Yet, it really isn't turning out appreciably worse classes. Why? Because your average student is a middle class individual whose parent(s) actually give a damn, who either doesn't have a job or has one to earn some spending money, and who realizes the benefits of not being an illiterate, uneducated bum. Students NOT meeting this profile do horribly on average, and did even when the school was a national award winner back in the early 90s. Good teaching cannot fix this. Great teaching cannot fix this. The fact is, a student who doesn't want to learn will not learn.

I realize the above facts are very unpopular, because people don't want young people to have to be responsible for their own success. Nevertheless, they are, they must be, and that is that.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

What if (as a student) you don't want your head (none / 0) (#168)
by Sesquipundalian on Fri Jul 09, 2004 at 04:19:56 PM EST

filled with useless political crap, like say, creationism which is presented (and then examined for, last month right here in North America) as fact. What if (as a student). you happen to be someone who just can't pay attention to anything that you can spot as being deliberate propaganda.

You seem to be assuming either A) that learning in school is predicated entirely on abillity, or B) that the government(and/or possibly local cults) have the right to brainwash us however they damn well please.

If they don't, nothing but a change of attitude can save them.

Are you one of those Christians that thinks everyone has to "submit" in some totalitarian sense? Haven't you ever heard the expression "social contract"? Public education could be done on a purely participatory basis.

Why can't schools just teach people whatever they want to learn and leave it at that? In a lot of the cases you mention, the student who happens to be doing poorly in some subject probably wouldnt have even been trying to learn that material if they had been given a choice.

What if everyone got "education credits" each year to spend taking any course work, at any institution they liked. What if you could have all the correctly certified, private schools you wanted, but they had to accept public "education credits" for any of the material that they taught?

I wonder if it would mean giving up high school football? Because you see, then you could put teachers on a very simple incentive program; if nobody wants to take their courses, they recieve no paycheque at all.


Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
[ Parent ]
Totally OT (none / 0) (#170)
by basj on Sat Jul 10, 2004 at 02:48:05 PM EST

> Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?

Reminds me of asking for `crystals against superstition' in holistic-healing shops.

--
Complete the Three Year Plan in five years!
[ Parent ]

If you look closely (none / 0) (#173)
by Sesquipundalian on Mon Jul 12, 2004 at 02:32:40 PM EST

at the second "l" in gullible, you'll notice 17 small notches carved in the side. That's a single notch for every dumbass that falls for my sig.

Bawhahahahahahahahahahah!


Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
[ Parent ]
Two things (none / 0) (#175)
by trhurler on Mon Jul 12, 2004 at 03:52:12 PM EST

First of all, I don't know where you get off on this tangent about compulsory education. I'm not a fan of compulsory education. My whole point, in fact, is that it doesn't work - that you cannot teach those who will not learn. So, please quit preaching; the choir has died of boredom.

As for forcing private institutions to accept the "credits" of others, I wonder: do you understand the meaning of the word "totalititarian?" You seem to be one of those people who thinks that freedom means freedom of individuals, but as soon as they get two people together for a common cause, they lose their rights.

Finally, remember something: your suggestion would do NOTHING for the quality of teachers. Why? Because then teaching would become a sales job. Where are all the really good salesmen? They sell really expensive products and services to a very few people and mostly to businesses so they can make insane amounts of money. Essentially(not quite absolutely) zero of them are selling anything to ordinary people.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Interesting.. (none / 0) (#178)
by Sesquipundalian on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 11:31:47 AM EST

You seem to be one of those people who thinks that freedom means freedom of individuals, but as soon as they get two people together for a common cause, they lose their rights.

Exactly! When we tally the votes after an election, the number of acknowledged votes should be equal to or less than the number running candidates, because for any two people that vote for the same candidate, they are obviously colluding and their multiple votes should be counted as representing a single point of view.

So seriously, I do not think that public education can be fixed. There is no way to eliminate the strong conflicting agendas that people adopt with respect to educating children. You can't just expect people (fallible humans) to play fair with an issue like this. Especially not when the stakes are so high.

Right now in Canada, you need to get two University degrees and have several years of part time experience (substitute teaching) to even merit a return phone call denying you a job interview. The result of this situation is that the only people who want to become teachers these days are idealogues, agent provocateurs and "sleeper" terrorists. It isn't worth all of the hoohaw it takes to get a teaching job, if you're just some schmoe who likes kids and wants a two month vacation every year.

For the politically motivated on the other hand, the payoff of becomming a teacher (and getting to brainwash a whole generation of children), is just too tempting to resist.

Maybe we could change things, if we all didn't have to work full time to support our children, and we all had 400+ IQ's and hundreds of thousands of dollars in disposable cash to lobby with. But right now, the people who fight this ongoing battle to control the minds of the next generation are too entrenched, have too much technology, and work 70 hour weeks to promote their cause.

It seems that the best thing you can do is to spend as much time as you can with your kids, and try to undo some of the damage later on. Even this small effort can be futile, if teaching your child to think independently just means teaching them to be isolated and constantly bullied.

I would reccomend breaking public education, except that we lack the resources and motivated people that it would take to replace it with something that was safe and useful.


Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
[ Parent ]
Private schools pay less money (none / 0) (#169)
by DominantParadigm on Sat Jul 10, 2004 at 12:31:00 AM EST

Not more. A LOT less. Why do you insist on making things up, Trhurler? Do facts scare you?

Of those schools or districts using a salary schedule, public charter schools offered the highest base salary for teachers with a bachelor's degree and no experience. The average starting salary for teachers with no experience in public charter schools that used a salary schedule was $26,977, compared with $25,888 for public school districts. Private schools offered the lowest base salary, with teachers with a bachelor's degree and no experience earning $20,302 annually.



Caller:So you're advocating bombing innocent children? Howard Stern:Yes, of course!


[ Parent ]
Look (none / 1) (#174)
by trhurler on Mon Jul 12, 2004 at 03:28:57 PM EST

We both know those statistics are averages. The average for private schools is pretty much determined by Catholic schools, since there are so many of them, and they don't pay well. That said, there are private schools that pay much higher rates than any public school in the nation, and while some of them have a bunch of assclown teachers and all of them probably have at least one or two, the reason wealthy people send their kids there is not to keep them "with their own kind," contrary to the class warfare dreams of those without such means.

Now, do you have a real argument, or are you going to try to fool someone again with a statistic that obviously does not mean what you say it does?

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
bzzt (none / 0) (#165)
by Shren on Thu Jul 08, 2004 at 07:21:49 PM EST

A highschool biology teacher does a good job if they produce college graduates majoring in biology. The following system rewards teachers accordingly: whenever a student graduates from college with a biology degree, a set amount of money is distributed among that student's highschool biology teachers; the amount a given teacher receives is determined by the length of time they taught biology to the student.
"This kid is never going to get to college with grades like these. I might as well ignore his very existance."

That raises an interesting question. (none / 0) (#182)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 01:23:23 PM EST

You use the made up quote as a reductio, but I wonder. What would be so terrible about an educational system which trys to identify subjects which, after introducing the student to the existance of the area, further imparting of education to the child will meet with extreme child frustration and/or only the shortest time-frame in which the child can remember anything about the subject. Isn't it something of a waste of time/energy for both the student, teacher, and parents (if they are involved) to push every kid to learn every subject to the same degree?

Mighten it be nice to have an educational system that tries to help each child be the best they can be in the ways that the child can most benifit from, instead of frustrating the child with stuff they won't really learn anyway?



[ Parent ]

Agree to a point... (none / 0) (#185)
by wynlyndd on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 05:26:51 PM EST

You ever meet people with a knack for math? It's like their brain is just wired for it and for those people whose brains aren't wired that way, it borders on mystical.
Personally, I feel like that when I am around people with the aptitude for languages. My brain just isn't wired that way. Non-english words and phrases just tend to go in one ear and out the other (and I try). Yet I feel like a better, more rounded person for taking those French classes in high school and college even after the frustration.
Just because a person doesn't like history or is frustrated by it should they be allowed to not have history taught to them (lest they be doomed to repeat it)? Most colleges and universities have a program of core or basic classes that every takes regardless of major. The cynics among might say it's a way of increasing their revenue, but I also think it makes us well-rounded. Far too many engineers wouldn't bother to take any kind of non-math, non-engineering course if they could get away with it.
"Droplets of Yes and No in an Ocean of Maybe" -- Faith No More
[ Parent ]
Bad idea - promotes the wrong things (none / 2) (#166)
by wnight on Thu Jul 08, 2004 at 08:26:25 PM EST

In general, I think incentive pay is a bad idea. Joel Spolsky wrote a good essay on it that I mostly agree with:
<a href="http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000070.html">Incentive Pay Considered Harmful</a>.

Further, is this what we want teachers pushing? Not everyone is cut out for post-secondary education, not just in an IQ sense but also a motivational sense. I didn't go to university and I'm better off for it. I dislike the authoritarian feel of school for the young - I'm having much more fun ten years later when I'm on a more equal footing, and now that I'm able to say that I'm paying for their time and demand a certain level of service.

Also, had I gone to school I'd be yet another CS grad without any real-world experience and $60k+ in debt. As is I've got a solid work history and I can afford to go to school without going into debt.

Then there's the issue of promoting less than useful degrees. If a music teacher stands to make a fair bit of money for a music grad they're going to counsel students to enter a field that may not be practical, leaving the student with debt and a degree of little worth.

Finally, I don't think that the knowledge you need to succeed in the world is the knowledge you need to succeed at university. If we reward teachers for university graduation they'll do nothing but teach university prep skills. For example, doing your own taxes versus calculus. Most people don't need calculus and forget it in a year, unless they need to take it again in university before finally being able to forget it. They'd be better off with practical courses in reading contracts, tax prep, basic car repairs, and so on.

I'm not suggesting that kids should go to vocational school and off to McDonalds for work. I simply don't think that a prep course for post-secondary education is going to do your average person as much good as general life/work skills. While an MBA does help in some industries there isn't enough demand for them to justify everyone having one.

There's a large cost to school, and a large opportunity cost to the missed work and experience.

college degrees take too long (none / 0) (#176)
by m a r c on Tue Jul 13, 2004 at 01:09:09 AM EST

to be used as a performance based measure. And besides there are so many other factors that it makes the whole process a bit silly. If someone likes a subject then they are going to try hard in spite of how good the teacher is... the really good teacher can inspire students in subjects that they are not so interested in.

In terms of implementing performance based teaching, i see no other way than having yearly tests for each student for each subject. Somehow we would need a base line for each student compared to other students in the school/state. If the base line for all (or a significant number) the students for a particular teacher you could conclude that they had been a 'better' teacher than their peers. Whether or not this can be implemented due to the cost of constant testing is another matter.
I got a dog and named him "Stay". Now, I go "Come here, Stay!". After a while, the dog went insane and wouldn't move at all.

what about lucky bad teachers? (none / 0) (#184)
by mistic on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 02:24:58 PM EST

I'm talking more specifically to my informatics teacher in High-school, she "taught" me informatics for about 2 years and some of my friends too... Now I live in a rather rural little town where there isn't mutch too do if you don't own a PC... So a lot of us are pretty good at using a PC. And every year at least 10 out of 200 graduates goes of to a university for informatics and like 20 go off to College for the same thing. But she doesn't know the first thing about PC's, she doesn't even know what flashing a BIOS means or what a register is in windows. She's never even heard about Linux... Allthough she is the worst informatics-teacher EVER, she would get good points and rewards just because she is lucky enough to have a job in a town that just has good informatics-people... Now I'm pretty sure there are other cases just like this one so how would you compensate that? You can't even find out about it 'cause it wouldn't be logical at all. my 2 cents mistic

Performance-based Teacher Compensation | 185 comments (167 topical, 18 editorial, 0 hidden)
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