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Author Topic: Fixable Frustrations
drewmie
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That's definitely a problem with private schools. If they get public funds, they should be required to take kids under the same criteria as public schools.

Secondly, while the "voucher" program might sound like a nice idea, the huge majority of those vouchers go to people who are already sending their kids to private schools (and can easily afford it), making it a waste of money. Any reasonable voucher program would have means testing. The idea is to provide choice for all, right? Well, subsidizing private schools for the rich certainly doesn't do that.

Regarding teacher unions, requiring open shop agreements (where teachers are not required to join) and banning union shop agreements (where they have to join) would go a long way. Banning tenure would also be a BIG step in the right direction. I've never even heard someone TRY to defend tenure in K-12. Is there anyone even arguing for it besides crappy teachers and unions?

And of course, teacher pay has GOT to be increased, and parents have GOT to start taking more responsibility for their childrens' education. We moved our 7 year-old to a different school this year to begin a 2nd-6th Spanish immersion program. However, learning Spanish was only a secondary reason we did it. Primarily, we were tired of a culture between teachers and parents where each wants the other to leave them alone and not ask questions. The parents are good, hard-working people. And the teachers are good, caring teachers. But there was a sense that expecting any REAL parental involvement was unreasonable. Pathetic.

We're much happier with her current program. I was very impressed when we had to sign an agreement that we would participate in her studies in very specific ways. And because we volunteer and are very involved, we actually get good and timely information on how she's progressing, and how we can help her.

I think K-12 should be split into "colleges" of sorts. Each program would differ in its style and emphasis, giving parents real options on how best to educate their children (e.g. Challenger college, Montessori college, Spanish-immersion college, leave-me-alone-and-babysit-my-kid-cuz-I'm-a-pathetic-parent college, etc).

There would be no difference in what parents have to pay, but there would be big differences in what is required of the parents. Any parent who wants to agree to put in a program's required time and effort can place their children in that program.

If they slack off, their kid gets moved to the I-have-slacker-parents class. Such a class would basically be boot camp, since the only alternative to parental involvement is seriously old-school discipline and hard work in class, since you can't really expect much to get done in terms of homework.

Such a change would lessen the split of kids by raw ability, and increase the split of kids by parental choices in their child's education. The autistic or ADHD kid who may need greater attention would be as eligible for any program as other kids, because as long as their parents are willing to participate, it doesn't drain the teachers time nearly as much.

On a final note, I'd also like to emphasize that a HUGE and glaring "fixable frustration" in education is the need to keep K-3 class sizes at or below 18 students. Smaller class sizes at those levels make tremendous, measureable differences in students' chances for success all the way through high school.

Smaller classes after 3rd grade are nice, but they don't make near as much difference as those first four years. Even if we increased some high school general education class sizes to auditorium classes to pay for the smaller K-3 classes, it would be well worth it. Bigger classes later would not hurt kids nearly as much as early small classes would help.

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drewmie
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Another fixable frustration: means testing for Social Security (assuming we don't do the right thing and change to mandatory private accounts). It's not a retirement investment, no matter what the pathetic AARP says. It's a safety net for the elderly, and should be treated as such. Grandpa doesn't need the government to subsidize his condo in Barbados.
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Richard Dey
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LR:

In fact, private schools often get boys, anyway, who have done poorly in public schools, have gotten into trouble with the law, or who have handicaps that the public schools don't have time for. And believe me! They do not exclude 'trouble makers'. I was one of them [Big Grin] !

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Richard Dey
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Drewmie:

Opportunity

Just how many in our country are "rich"? The big complain I hear around here is that 90% of the wealth or something is controlled by 1% of the population. Look at a private-schools list and see what % of the kids are on 'scholarship'.

In any event, you are judging the private schools on a standard set by the monopoly of public schools. It's fair since monopolies can raise their end of the playing field to any height they want, but it skews the potential in favor of public schools -- which isn't going to give an accurate picture.

Diversity

Actually, in accepting children from any and all foreign countries, private schools in New England have been internationally diverse to a degree unknown outside Miami and Los Angeles.

Handicaps

High Mowing is famous for its rehabilitation programs. Only in the last year is there a public high-school in NEng called Recovery High School -- while High Mowing has been around at least since WWII. The Perkins Institute for the Blind is a private school, for heaven's sake. Helen Keller went there.

The fact is that public schools didn't even have ramps into their buildings until they were obliged to do so by OSHA; kids with broken legs had to be carried in.

Public Schools can't take credit for any form of special education so far as I know.

Unions

The only way the public can fight unionization -- and unlimited tax ceilings -- is to keep the pay low, discouraging all but the most-dedicated (if not most-gifted) at their teachers' desks.

PTA

One doesn't have parental intervention and intrusion in private schooling; indeed, parents who aren't movie stars and globalists flying around the world, or who aren't in prisons or drunk in their bedrooms, are discouraged from barging in what is, in essence, the child's new life as an emerging, independent adult. Their involvement is more or less limited to Parents' Day, Commencement, and Fundraising. That's one of the reasons why private schools are better than public schools.

All too many parents of children belong back in school themselves and far too many are not keeping up!

Class Sizes

What K-3ers need is one-on-one education. Public schools have absolutely no private space to 1:1 anything -- and the PTA considers it unseemly these days.

Check the class sizes of private schools, per infra, and compare it to your own public schools!

Costs

My private boarding school, which wasn't a snooty one and didn't have a gothic chapel and managed even to get rid of Vespers, which didn't have Dutch chandeliers in its dining hall, and, when I was there, didn't even have an official court-sized gymnasium, was nonetheless a good school, far-more challenging academically than my public school, and the cost to send me away (yea!) was 1/3 less per pupil than Wellesley (a 'good' school system) was paying per pupil.

That's the bottom line. Private education is as expensive as one can afford -- and as cheap as one must make it. In Corpus there's a private school that has no money for labs; the big aluminum plant at Aransas Pass picks up the kids in a company bus, lets them use their labs -- and provides a free teacher and two free lab assistants! Alcoa has developed one of the best science programs for kids in the nation.

There's a private day school in Boston that meets in people's houses -- has Harvard and MIT to play in, a major (empty) church to graduate in, any number of corporate executives happy to send in to lecture, grad students who are happy to teach in for credit, and a rotational system with other private schools to use their sports facilities. It costs $3,300.00 a year whilst Boston is spending something close to $15,000 per student to be screwed in.

Not all private schools require homework study halls with a full symphony orchestra playing Poulenc, a cage for girls' field hockey only, and a chapel larger than a couple of English cathedrals. (Check out Groton!) As our last Chaplain (sent down for pederasty) once put it wisely: "We don't need a cathedral to worship God."

A private school can be run on a shoe-string; corporate America is sympathetic because private education is its own best interests; even the insurance, advertising, and building industries are sympathetic.

Who Loves Public School?

Women who remember their youth, broken-down athletes who remember their salad days, and public utilities. Not even teachers love public schools. The smart ones teach in private schools where they have far more freedom to teach what they know. Public-school teachers have to teach the book; that's all they're allowed to do. It's even hit 'art courses' and 'creative writing' [Mad] .

http://www.aisne.org/
http://www.highmowing.org/
http://www.groton.org/home/home.asp , and check out the chapel and its enormous tower door in relation thereto: http://www.groton.org/home/content.asp?id=3

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Loki
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So what is your advice. Privatize education entirely?

Why is America's public education system in the dumps so bad? And why hasn't it been improved? This is such an obnoxious subject for me, I dropped out of high school as a senior, and have been highly resentful towards public education. I went to a private school for k-6, and public for 7-12. I've definitely had good teachers in public school, but still I ended up ditching all the time, never doing work, and eventually dropping out and getting a GED, which I passed with flying colors.

I'm wondering, what educational alternative would have used my potential rather than squandering it. Will privatized education save American youth from being uneducated and globally non-competetive?

[edit: http://www.ed.gov/pubs/JapanCaseStudy/chapter1.html was also interesting]

[ September 26, 2006, 05:46 PM: Message edited by: Loki ]

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Jesse
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Yet, we've already seen the results of private only education. See Also: The Gilded Age.

Every nation that outperforms us academically does so with fewer children in private schools.

jm-I sympathize with your drymouthedness. [Smile]

Any mid-life career field change involves starting over near the bottom of the pay scale, and ussualy involves substantial retraining.

I don't mean that as callously as it sounds.

I'm sure you'd make a great teacher, and that you really would enjoy the work. However, these are problems pretty much endemic to our society.

An electrician who wants to become an HVAC tech has nearly a year of school to go through, at least in CA. Yes, it's silly. They are already overqualified.

It is, however, the way our workplace is currently structured. Ability don't mean squat without jumping through the hoops, and relevant experience often isn't considered, unless it was gained under the same job title.

This is nothing unique to Education.

I do think a secondary school teacher SHOULD be able to start in a higher pay grade due to relevant work experience by the way, but what should be more often than not just ain't.

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Richard Dey
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Loki:

I hope we are not trying to compare the Spartan Japanese way of life to our Corinthian way of life -- or, for that matter, the Athenian way of life in English boarding schools.

Most of the nations who outdo us in education are Spartan. Germany outdoes us. Germany doesn't have the fluid social dynamics that we do, and never has had.

I would respond to Jesse's observation that real-world success is actually penalized by unionization, departments of education, and public-school teachers generally out of spite. Public-school teachers today are typically inexperienced in the real world. They've gone through the hoops, as you put it, but have pull the hoops up when they're not playing.

It's not money, it's not a lack of things to learn, it's not the parents, it's not the students, it's not the facilities, it's the teachers who are the common denominator in our public-schools' inability to compete with other countries. And believe, as somebody in Europe quite a bit, we're not!

Expenditures

Just skim the US average cost-per-pupil figures, and you will see that the ~ costs have remained amazingly steady. http://www.publicpurpose.com/gf-edada.htm .

I'm not saying that money isn't need for education. Take TX. Per capita state and local government expenditures for elementary and secondary education in 1999 ($1,267); it ranked 47th in the US in SATs, Average Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT) scores in 2001 (992). Compare this to the national average of >%6K or the figures >$15K in our coastal suburbs.

¶ School Planning & Management Magazine.
¶ Council of Educational Facilities Planners International. A well known special-interest group.

On comparative costs per pupil, look at this comparison as an example of how complicated the rationales can be made by those making huge profits out of that complexity -- not to mention those bought off to justify these costs! http://www.minuteman.org/parents/cost.html

Education isn't just a costly failure; it's corrupt.

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Richard Dey
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Oh, so yes! Education should be privatized to introduce competition and to clean it up.

Meanwhile, there's the cheap alternative of webucation -- especially for nonworking welfare moms. States will soon be picking up these tabs.

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drewmie
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So, does that mean we all agree than K-12 teacher tenure should be thrown out? Does at least that part count as an obvious "fixable frustration"?

What about teacher "union shop" agreements where all teachers are required to join the union as a condition of being hired? Does anyone actually support that? Do we all agree that such government-mandated education should only have "open shop" agreements, where joining the union is optional? While underpaid, it's not as if teachers are coal miners or blue-collar waterfront workers (except maybe in Chicago [Wink] ).

[ October 01, 2006, 11:54 PM: Message edited by: drewmie ]

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Everard
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"What about teacher "union shop" agreements where all teachers are required to join the union as a condition of being hired? Does anyone actually support that? Do we all agree that such government-mandated education should only have "open shop" agreements, where joining the union is optional?"

Nope.

DOn't weaken unions. Period. They need to be strengtened, not weakened. Unions already have way less power then the people they are negotiating with. You won't get fair contracts unless the power of the sides negotiating are at least somewhat balanced.

Your "fixable frustrations," drewmie, seem to be focusing on the myth that "education would be better if teachers had no power over their work environment."

I'd suggest that this is exactly 180% from the truth.

[ October 02, 2006, 06:34 AM: Message edited by: Everard ]

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drewmie
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quote:
Everard wrote: Your "fixable frustrations," drewmie, seem to be focusing on the myth that "education would be better if teachers had no power over their work environment." I'd suggest that this is exactly 180% from the truth.
I don't believe that myth. I just happen to believe that teacher unions have done more bad than good, BUT that there is plenty of good they've done for teachers. Also, unions in other sectors (e.g. blue collar jobs) have done more good than bad (except in Detroit and Chicago).

My uncle, for example, was a teacher in California years ago. They wanted to get rid of him, and tried to build up a case to fire him rather than having to pay him retirement. It was only because of the union that he was able to fight and win against their dishonest plan.

On the other hand, union shop agreements have a long and terrible history of forcing teachers to do things they don't want to do. The whole "scab" mentality is indicative of this sickness that pervades many unions. There is little sense of individual freedom to negotiate one's own terms, and to decide one's own fate. It is a groupthink mentality that considers anyone an enemy who is not 100% with the union's position.

So naturally, there is a large spectrum depending on the particular teachers' union. Some are good, and some are horrible. But some school districts are union-free. And unlike in industrial sectors, these teachers are not measureably worse off than teachers in unionized districts. However, there is a difference in the quality of the teachers.

Unions can be good. But unless they are voluntary among teachers, they usually are more concerned with restricting good teachers and protecting bad ones. There's a good reason educated professionals are not usually unionized, even the ones that make as little as teachers.

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Richard Dey
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A teacher who is teaching a lesson plan that almost any parent or high-school graduate can teach by following the lesson plan should not be paid more than any high-school graduate without a teaching degree.

What exactly is it that these teaching colleges teach that's worth paying them as if they had real college degrees? Get that answer from Jay Leno's street interviews.

The unions are not there to improve teacher education, let alone student education; and, as with all unions in public service, they should to be allowed to strike, must be subject to public arbitration, and that may well mean less money rather than more.

Any American citizen, regardless of means, has the right to demand better teachers for his kids if there are any better teachers willing to teach. If the unions and state departments of education had their way, that right would be removed.

It isn't just the unions who are the problem, it's the unionized state bureaucracies. Does your local PTA have the power of the state bureaucracy?

I would say that the right to better teachers isn't restricted just to children and their parents but, in fact, the right of every taxpayer. And that means competition. Without competition, the least-common-denominator schools result -- and if Bill Gates is right and the Jay Leno Show is any indication at all, they are really, really bad.

Beyond that, we are sending far too many kids to college -- and not merely enough on to technical training. Politics has traded the teaching of skills for 'social training'; well, teachers shouldn't get paid 'decent salaries' for that, especially where they're not very good at it.

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Everard
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"What exactly is it that these teaching colleges teach that's worth paying them as if they had real college degrees? "

This statement by itself discredits you from talking about teachers as if you have knowledge... cause you clearly don't have a clue about any of it.

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sfallmann
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quote:
Originally posted by Everard:
"What exactly is it that these teaching colleges teach that's worth paying them as if they had real college degrees? "

This statement by itself discredits you from talking about teachers as if you have knowledge... cause you clearly don't have a clue about any of it.

I think he made a good point. And saying he doesn't have a clue without explanation does nothing to discredit him although it gives me the impression you have nothing of substance with which to refute his claims. Sore spot maybe? Too close to the truth? Let's see something more than attacking someone for having an opinion.
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Everard
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Secondary education teachers for the most part have a major in their field of expertise... not in education. I don't know of a single college that has a "Secondary education" major, although I'm sure some exist.

Its a ridiculous statement. Calling any degree a "fake" degree is just ludicrous to begin with, and the fact he thinks most teachers are coming away from college without a real degree demonstrates that he doesn't know what in the hell he's talking about.

I have a degree in physics. The other teachers in my departments all have degrees in either physics, chemistry, or one of the subsets of biology. The math department that shares our office is staffed by people with degrees in mathematics, and computer science.

I dare you to call any of those degrees "Fake."

The major teacher preperatory schools in massachusetts do not even offer a major that is "education." Its a certificate, or minor that you complete in addition to your course of study.

All this, of course, ignores the fact that in most colleges now around the country, the education departments are teaching research based education theory and practice, so its at least as much "real" coursework as political science, or history.

[ October 02, 2006, 02:56 PM: Message edited by: Everard ]

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