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Author Topic: Success?
Rafi
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quote:
In the Detroit public school district, 96 percent of eighth graders are not proficient in mathematics and 93 percent are not proficient in reading.

That is according to the results of the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress tests published by the Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics.

Only 4 percent of Detroit public school eighth graders are proficient or better in math and only 7 percent in reading. This is despite the fact that in the 2011-2012 school year—the latest for which the Department of Education has reported the financial data—the Detroit public schools had “total expenditures” of $18,361 per student and “current expenditures” of $13,330 per student.

Over $18,000 per student and essentially illiterate, unable to to add and subtract. Is this considered a success or a failure?
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AI Wessex
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More questions? What do *you* think this means?
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cherrypoptart
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We need to spend more money?

Perhaps mostly because there is a lack of sufficient administration?

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AI Wessex
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More questions? How about answers?

I live near Detroit and can attest to the dismal state of the city. I don't understand where the cost/pupil numbers come from, as the state allocations are far lower. For 2012, they range across all of Michigan from around $6900 - $15300, with the highest numbers in outstate rural districts. The numbers for Detroit schools were very close to the low end (~$7100).

Looking at the state of the city, though, it's clear that the long-running crisis is still continuing. The white flight over the past 4 decades drew much of the population and skilled teachers and workers from the city into the surrounding suburbs. The city recently emerged from the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history and needs a lot more work to establish a new and healthy atmosphere for both growth and safety.

It's kind of getting old how people bash Detroit as if it's a poster child for civic mismanagement. There's a lot to criticize and learn from, but the city is beginning to recover. I've been there often recently and can attest to the attempts to make progress in the schools, streets and institutions. It will take another decade or longer before everything that can be accomplished will be in place, but it's a surprisingly hopeful start with good civic energy and a significant amount of private/corporate money behind it.

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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by Rafi:
quote:
In the Detroit public school district, 96 percent of eighth graders are not proficient in mathematics and 93 percent are not proficient in reading.

That is according to the results of the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress tests published by the Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics.

Only 4 percent of Detroit public school eighth graders are proficient or better in math and only 7 percent in reading. This is despite the fact that in the 2011-2012 school year—the latest for which the Department of Education has reported the financial data—the Detroit public schools had “total expenditures” of $18,361 per student and “current expenditures” of $13,330 per student.

Over $18,000 per student and essentially illiterate, unable to to add and subtract. Is this considered a success or a failure?
It depends on what the outcomes would have been like without that money.
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TomDavidson
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It'll be interesting to see if Republicans continue to bash Detroit after another couple of years of Republican control and "emergency management," I admit.
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kmbboots
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I was a school librarian in an inner city graded school for a while. The kids were mostly from "the projects" but as it was a parochial school it was a step up from the public schools. There were only about 100 kids and somebody cared enough to pay the modest tuition.

We were housed on the top floor of an old Catholic School that had been sold and converted to other purposes. It was dirty and cold. The library was a corner of the cafeteria blocked off with bookshelves half-filled with donated books. There were no computers. We had two sets of the 1971 World Book Encyclopedia. There were supposed to be hot lunches but often they were inedible - either moldy or past their expiration date - so someone would run to the 7-11 for some bread and peanut butter. There were no art classes, music classes, gym classes. The library was the first "extra curricular" they were able to afford.

The teachers, who were paid much less than public school teachers, each taught two grades. We generally bought most of the school supplies ourselves. They were dedicated and smart but the burn-out level was high. I was part-time as was the principal. There were no resources for kids with problems - in fact, disruptive students were usually sent to me. I was completely unqualified to help them beyond common sense and caring but there wasn't anyone else.

The kids were mostly well-behaved, bright, and eager to learn. They wore uniforms which generally got washed on the weekends. For the kids whose uniforms didn't get washed often enough, some of the teachers would take them home and launder them. I recall the trauma of the kids when they had friends or relatives murders - not uncommon. My first fall, I naively asked the kids about their favorite scary story for Halloween. They smiled at my innocence and told me that fiction wasn't nearly as scary as their real lives. When asked what their plans after high school, many of them - the boys especially - expressed doubt that they would live through high school. A lot of them were probably right.

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AI Wessex
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Nationwide, at the 8th grade level only about 1/3 of students performed at or above grade level in reading and math. Detroit was the worst, but those results are dismal everywhere.

I'm not sure exactly what to make of these findings, since I don't know the composition of the tests or how the curricula taught in the grades leading up to the tested grade prepare the students for the test.

OTOH, I *hate* teaching to tests as that has all sorts of negative implications for real learning. The test results also skew perceptions and give legislators excuses to tinker when they're not well-informed and likely not any better taught than the teachers and students they attack.

Recently, teachers and school administrators in Georgia were convicted to altering test results to increase the scores students achieved. The intent was obvious, but the damage to the students from that sort of corruption can be disabling.

[ October 29, 2015, 11:26 AM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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scifibum
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Are we still doing the thing where if a school is under-performing we take away resources?
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jasonr
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quote:
My first fall, I naively asked the kids about their favorite scary story for Halloween. They smiled at my innocence and told me that fiction wasn't nearly as scary as their real lives.
Seriously? [Smile]
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JoshCrow
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I teach at a private, liberal arts college in engineering. You would think at that level I'd be seeing the cream of the crop in terms of students the system is churning out - but honestly I'm mortified by the quality of some of these students. I remind myself that these students were somehow among "the best" of their high schools and I shudder inside.

The Onion said it best.

[ October 29, 2015, 02:25 PM: Message edited by: JoshCrow ]

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
quote:
My first fall, I naively asked the kids about their favorite scary story for Halloween. They smiled at my innocence and told me that fiction wasn't nearly as scary as their real lives.
Seriously? [Smile]
Seriously. "Aw, Miss B. I found my auntie stabbed on her floor last week. Ghosts ain't - I mean aren't* as scary as that." For example.

*I was a stickler. No "axing" questions in my library. They called it "library" too. Unless they were teasing me by calling it "Liberry".

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Rafi
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
Are we still doing the thing where if a school is under-performing we take away resources?

The average private school costs around $13,000 per student - - $5,000 less than Detroit. What makes you think it's a resources issue?

That being said, when more than 90% of your results are one thing, does that say something about the process? They're approaching a really perfect 100 in mathematical illiteracy. Would a few thousand dollars more improve that?

Is it an accident that Detroit public schools have an almost perfect failure rate or was that the goal?

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Rafi
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quote:
Originally posted by JoshCrow:
I teach at a private, liberal arts college in engineering. You would think at that level I'd be seeing the cream of the crop in terms of students the system is churning out - but honestly I'm mortified by the quality of some of these students. I remind myself that these students were somehow among "the best" of their high schools and I shudder inside.

The Onion said it best.

I suggest to you that you are, in fact, seeing the crew of the crop, the best these schools produced and the rate at which they achieve this level of quality further suggests it's not an accident.
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Fenring
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I would be the first to agree with the statement that schooling as it's currently conceived is garbage, and that significant monies are no doubt wasted in both standardizing this failure and in maintaining the sad system. That being said I don't see how looking at Detroit, specifically, is a fair sample of how the funds of schools across America are being used. A downtrodden district has so many problems that the schools there are only a tiny part of it.
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AI Wessex
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quote:
I would be the first to agree with the statement that schooling as it's currently conceived is garbage
Explain?
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
quote:
I would be the first to agree with the statement that schooling as it's currently conceived is garbage
Explain?
Basically I do not believe the current function in education is actually education. It looks like education and tries to be education but achieves roughly the opposite results; numb minds and passive obedience. And the more education is standardized to try to ensure that those students not doing as well receive the same benefits other students do, the less everyone will receive instead. It doesn't raise the bar, but rather removes considerable discretion from teachers who would do things differently. Rather than raising the bar for the lowest it lowers the bar equally for all. I could get into specifics but as a general statement this is the gist.
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AI Wessex
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That sounds like a set of complaints with the effectiveness of the education system, but not an argument against improving it.
quote:
I could get into specifics but as a general statement this is the gist.
Feel free...
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Fenring
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Of course I'd like to see it improved, who is arguing not to improve it? That's not the same thing, though, as saying we should throw more money at the existing system with the expectation of that alone changing things substantively. But we shouldn't confuse establishing basic functional conditions in terrible areas with the overall question of the manner in which education is performed. The latter, which is more interesting to me as a topic, isn't really on topic with OP.
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AI Wessex
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You're not saying you don't want to improve it, but I am interested in how you see that happening. Clearly, throwing money at a problem doesn't fix it, and can quite implicitly corrupt it. Education reform in recent years has focused on a few things that haven't helped, such as emphasizing testing as a measure of success. I don't like that approach because it narrows the scope of what students are taught and inhibits their natural impulses to indulge their curiosity about the world within a competent guidance framework. I think doing nothing more than de-emphasizing standardized testing may well improve the education system by broadening the scope of the daily curricula.

I also have a problem with charter schools, which tend to have a number of objectives that I think are clearly wrong. I will hold off raising them for the moment.

I still have a problem with the cost per student that Rafi/G# referenced. I'd like to see some fuller explanation behind the numbers he cited. Somehow I doubt he'll bother to show us his work and take yet another failing grade in his attempts to educate us. I suspect this partly is because the report his data comes from is based on legacy outlays by the federal government that reflect much higher enrollment figures than Detroit currently has. I also suspect he (and the numerous right-wing web sites excerpting these same numbers in isolation) are trying to take a back-handed swipe at the Common Core Curriculum and simply not owning up to their real intentions. Also, the $13330 "current expenditures" is only 7% above the national average for all public school elhi students.

Other factors influencing poor test results to consider should include the city's poverty rate, difficulty of maintaining basic services in the schools, school closures due to the city's bankruptcy, salary cuts for teachers, loss of Administrators and administrative personnel, and other things.

Cherry picking a number and claiming it explains the whole story is both Rafi/G#'s typical approach, and does not actually characterize an actual problem in a reasonable way.

If Rafi would explain how all of that matters to him to us I'd be grateful.

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JoshCrow
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It seems to me like the education system isn't the issue so much as home environment, poverty, and cultural factors are at the heart of it.
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by JoshCrow:
It seems to me like the education system isn't the issue so much as home environment, poverty, and cultural factors are at the heart of it.

If by "the problem" you're referring to Rafi's comment about not being able to add and subtract, then probably. My comments don't really pertain to simple mechanical skills like learning arithmetic, which any kind of stupid education system will still teach.
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scifibum
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I do wonder, though, if in the very most challenging circumstances, more money isn't part of the solution. Broken homes and crime and drugs and violence might be the reasons that the school system is failing to teach basic skills, but maybe they could if they had enough staff to compensate for the kids' greater needs and the greater tendency for burnout when the teachers and counselors have more kids than they can effectively help.

I am interested to see if Rafi would answer Al's question, though:

quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
More questions? How about answers?

I live near Detroit and can attest to the dismal state of the city. I don't understand where the cost/pupil numbers come from, as the state allocations are far lower. For 2012, they range across all of Michigan from around $6900 - $15300, with the highest numbers in outstate rural districts. The numbers for Detroit schools were very close to the low end (~$7100).

Looking at the state of the city, though, it's clear that the long-running crisis is still continuing. The white flight over the past 4 decades drew much of the population and skilled teachers and workers from the city into the surrounding suburbs. The city recently emerged from the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history and needs a lot more work to establish a new and healthy atmosphere for both growth and safety.

It's kind of getting old how people bash Detroit as if it's a poster child for civic mismanagement. There's a lot to criticize and learn from, but the city is beginning to recover. I've been there often recently and can attest to the attempts to make progress in the schools, streets and institutions. It will take another decade or longer before everything that can be accomplished will be in place, but it's a surprisingly hopeful start with good civic energy and a significant amount of private/corporate money behind it.


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Rafi
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quote:
Originally posted by JoshCrow:
It seems to me like the education system isn't the issue so much as home environment, poverty, and cultural factors are at the heart of it.

Those can be factors, sure. But what you're saying is that more than 90% of these kids are affected by these issues to the extent that they are essentially uneducatable. I don't think that's the case, not at that percentage.
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AI Wessex
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What do you think is going on?
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kmbboots
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What do you think the solution is? Those kids won't just disappear of we stop trying to educate them.
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Rafi
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quote:
Originally posted by Fenring:
That being said I don't see how looking at Detroit, specifically, is a fair sample of how the funds of schools across America are being used. A downtrodden district has so many problems that the schools there are only a tiny part of it.

Detroit s merely the example, lets looks larger.
quote:
A new study from the world’s largest nonprofit educational testing organization says that American millennials are super stupid. In results that the Educational Testing Service managed to call “cause for concern” rather than “disastrous to the entire concept of American progress,” American millennials managed to score at or near the bottom in literacy, numeracy and computeracy (Problem Solving in Technology-Rich Environments, or PS-TRE) when compared to 21 other countries. The overall results for the study called the low scores of American millennials “disappointing.”
Nationwide, the story is the same as Detroits. The degree may vary some but the results are largely the same.
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Rafi
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
What do you think the solution is? Those kids won't just disappear of we stop trying to educate them.

I think the first thing to do is identify the actual issue. There are thousands of prople spending millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of manhours of effort to get the results we're getting - at a rate that exceeds 90%. Do you assume that a result that occurs over 90% of the time is a random thing? Or, is it something else?

Mathematics is taught every year and, by the time they're in the 8th grade, not even 1 in 10 can do mathematics. Based on national studies, there is little improvement as they progress through the system. Is a system so consistent an accident or design?

[ November 01, 2015, 09:13 AM: Message edited by: Rafi ]

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JoshCrow
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Well, what IS the issue? Or perhaps issues, plural. I've yet to see people in this thread put their fingers on them.
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TomDavidson
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Given that the decline in scores seems to correlate to the increase in home schooling and privatization.... [Wink]
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Rafi
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Given that the decline in scores seems to correlate to the increase in home schooling and privatization.... [Wink]

Let's ask our political elite and wealthy one percenters where they send their kids. We all know, private schools. The best they can afford. They avoid these results because of status and wealth. The rest of us are stuck, it's either send your kids off for a 4 % chance of learning math or homeschool, maybe a charter if you have that opportunity.

So you've made the classical mistake of correlation and causation. The rise in home schooling and privatization is a result of educations failures as parents try to escape and give their kids a better chance. Those parents want the same education for their kids as the elites get.

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AI Wessex
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quote:
The rise in home schooling and privatization is a result of educations failures as parents try to escape and give their kids a better chance. Those parents want the same education for their kids as the elites get.
While that may explain private and charter school choices for some, I think a lot more people simply want greater control over what their children are exposed to in classrooms. That very often is to give them greater religious indoctrination and to control the social environment where they get their education. If rich people want their children to go to "elite" private schools it's to advance their future opportunities as adults; for people like Rafi describes, they want to withdraw their children with the result that they may unthinkingly limit their future opportunities.

It's also true that any school teaches a roomful of students with different learning abilities and has to accommodate them all.

In an ideal world some people would build for themselves they don't have to compromise or submit to the whims, constraints or limitations of anyone else who isn't exactly like them, and especially not to what the government says they have to do. That's not a recipe for building a good system that serves the needs of the greatest number of people, but a recipe to dumb down our society even more than it is already trending toward. IMO, the judgment about poor quality in the public education system is the worst possible reason to withdraw from participation. If it's broken we should fix it, not dismantle it.

As usual, based the reasons Rafi has articulated I think his concerns are self-serving and political, and he has no real interest in fixing the system. It would be nice if he would for once offer something along the lines of a constructive solution.

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TomDavidson
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I should point out that I was pretty clearly speaking tongue-in-cheek. Private schooling is decent for those kids who can afford it and aren't kicked out of it.
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Fenring
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I just read that around 3.4% of school-aged children are home schooled, so that's a non-starter for any attempt at an explanation for America's literacy level as a whole.
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Rafi
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quote:
Originally posted by JoshCrow:
Well, what IS the issue? Or perhaps issues, plural. I've yet to see people in this thread put their fingers on them.

The issue is public school itself. It's a failure. What is needed is a complete disassembly of the entire system. From the top down. It's so fundamentally broken that there is no fixing it.

We can blame whatever we want - poverty, cultural issues, etc but the reality is that when you have a system that has developed a track record of a failed outcome 19 out of 20 times we can be sure that's not random, it's no accident to have that kind of outcome so consistently. The public education system has clearly lost its goal of education and replaced it with something else.

If we want to educate kids, we gotta scrap it and turn to something else.

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NobleHunter
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How should we go about scrapping it?
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kmbboots
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What else? How would we find the what else? What would we do with the children while you are turning it into what else?
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TomDavidson
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Where did you go to high school, G#?
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JoshCrow
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quote:
Originally posted by Rafi:

If we want to educate kids, we gotta scrap it and turn to something else.

Is it your belief then that all education should be essentially privatized? So we'd have an education marketplace, with poorer people sending their kids to something like a big box "Walmart"-school with affordable prices? And I suppose the *really* poor would home-school, out of necessity.

I fail to see how this produces a better result. I'm assuming you think economic competition will drive quality up, right? I suspect the outcome would sort of look like Time Warner vs. AT&T in some neighborhoods - two choices, with "meh" quality but a captive market.

[ November 01, 2015, 05:01 PM: Message edited by: JoshCrow ]

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AI Wessex
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That's the problem. If you want to promote education for everyone it has to be coordinated. Some amount of standardized curriculum guidelines are needed both for basic competency and also so that students' potential can be meaningfully compared if/when they go onto college elsewhere in the country. But that doesn't have to dominate the curricula of schools. Local creativity and local history can enrich the school experience.

But if every child gets a unique ad hoc education from not necessarily qualified teachers, we'll end up with an educated elite tied to income levels and an uneducated worker class. One of the many unintended consequences is that the US professional needs will increasingly be filled by foreigners. It's happening now and it will only accelerate.

I can't imagine that conservatives really want that, but they have voted against their own interests so often in the past 20 years that I can't understand what they think they're actually accomplishing.

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