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Here are the Enemies of Your Children

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The Texas Legislature is back in session and that means lots of crazy schemes and outrages against public decency for me to talk about. Today the morally bankrupt leeches who spend our tax money to indoctrinate our children into a culture of complacent mediocrity are on the warpath.

It seems that the Texas Federation of Teachers is all stirred up and mobilizing the blue-hairs and public teat parasites to keep minorities oppressed and the poor in eternal servitude so they can make sure that their constituency can continue to fail again and again at communicating any kind of useful knowledge to our kids.

Representative Frank Corte of San Antonio has introduced a bill to allow parents of underperforming kids to have a voucher of about $6000 to let them leave the public school zombie mill and move on to a private school which might be able to address their needs more effectively, or at least give them a solid basic education. This is just what inner city activists like Reverend Sterling Lands have been begging for, some opportunity for underpriveleged kids to escape from the hopelessness of inner city public schools and get at least some chance at an education.

Here are some of the lies the TFT is spreading about school vouchers, as taken from the call to battle on their website:

    The public might assume that HB 12 would allow poor children to attend the same private schools that children of wealthier families attend. If so, they would be misled. Under HB 12, a participating private school could charge a transferring student only the amount that would have been received by the student’s public school. Moreover, top private schools have very selective admission procedures and would probably decline to participate in a program that requires them to admit students with a poor or mediocre academic record.


But of course the voucher value of about $6000 allocated in HB12 is more than many existing private schools charge and is more than sufficient to justify the founding of special private schools tailored to the needs of the kids who the public school system is failing.

    HB 12 would not apply the same accountability procedures for voucher-funded private schools that the legislature applies to public schools. Even though the Corte proposal would require voucher students to take the TAKS test, the private school would face no consequences from the state for low student performance. In addition, private schools receiving public funds under the bill would not face TEA audits to check that the funds are used appropriately or even legally. Nor does the bill require that teachers in the participating private schools be entitled to a minimum salary or health and retirement benefits.


What they don’t mention here is that most private schools in Texas provide equal or better pay for their teachers with less administrative harassment and far better working conditions that public schools in the same area, which is why the best teachers go to private schools instead of public schools. At the planned voucher value of $6000 and with the minimal administrative overhead of private schools (no bloated school district bureaucracy to support) teachers could be paid very well indeed.

    Representative Corte and other voucher advocates claim that students ought to be given the ability to escape “failing public schools.” However, his record indicates that he has voted against efforts to strengthen public schools. For example, in 1997, he voted against a constitutional provision to guarantee equitable education funding for all children statewide.


A horrific bill which would have taken away local school board autonomy, massively increased bureaucratic overhead and reduced the funding and quality of education in many school districts, creating equality by lowering overall standards.

    In 1995, he also opposed class-size limits in elementary schools and supported a proposal to hire uncertified and untrained teachers.

This bill actually passed and is about the best thing ever to come out of the Texas State Legislature. For the first time it allows people who actually have degrees in academic fields to teach those fields in public schools without requiring them to have extensive class time in completely useless education courses. Prior to the passage of this bill retired distinguished professors from major universities who wanted to teach advanced classes in high schools would have to take almost a year of ‘education’ courses to learn to write lesson plans and fill out paperwork just to get into a classroom. Prior to this bill a professor of pediatrics would not have been considered qualified to teach 7th graders health and hygeine classes and a Supreme Court Justice would have been unacceptable as a teacher of basic civics.

    Teachers, superintendents, and a wide range of organizations that support public schools remain steadfastly united in opposition to private-school vouchers. Public opposition to siphoning taxpayer dollars out of the public schools for private-school vouchers also remains strong.

By this they mean that vouchers are opposed by teachers unions, parasitic school district administrators and legislators they have bought off. The truth is that providing a $6000 voucher per student would actually increase the funding per student who remained in the public schools because the actual revenue from taxes and other sources which schools receive per student is more than $6000, so the leftover would stay with the school to be used for other students or perhaps to fatten up the high six-figure salaries of district superintendents.

The TFT puts such a big emphasis on fighting this bill, because this is where their stranglehold on education is most vulnerable and where they are losing control over their traditional constituency. Years of poor performance with complaints met by callous indifference and demands for ever more money from teachers, administrators and legislators have alienated urban parents from the public schools not just in austin but around the nation. Anyone can do the math, and it’s obvious that voucher based private alternative education is a genuinely viable alternative. Inner city parents have finally realized this, know that their kids deserve better than they are getting now, and are finally willing to fight for it. Let’s hope they crush greedy power-mongers like the TFT and the NEA in their rush for educational opportunity.

Dave

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About Dave Nalle

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com/ andy marsh

    Good post Dave! I agree 100% with school vouchers. The “progressives” should be here any minute now to shoot your idea in the foot though!

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    I think I heard someone call my name.

    Oh, where to begin….

    First, let me say that I agree with you that teacher’s unions are out of touch. In particular, I think they’re out of touch with the reality of today’s workplace. They ask for guarantees and contract provisions that the rest of the workforce has no chance of getting (for the most part). Those provisions, like tenure, have been put in place as incentives and compensation for low teacher pay. But now that teacher pay has risen in many states/towns, the unions need to give a little back. For example, why should a 25-year-old get tenure for the rest of his/her career after three years of work? Makes no sense. I think good teachers should be well paid. The way I look at it is that they have responsibility for my child for 6-7 hours/day, 10 months out of the year. If they take that responsibility seriously, then they should be paid well. But if they don’t, the school district should be able to fire them. I wrote more about it here.

    That said, a lot of what you’ve written is not only anti-teacher but plain old anti-education. It’s hard to take you seriously with all the sweeping generalizations and party-line talking points. For example, teachers are not morally bankrupt [although schools are, if you ask me, indoctrination camps for the middle class — everyone must learn the same thing at the same time … or else!]. As soon as you started with the morally bankrupt teacher thing, I realized that you have some sort of ax to grind.

    I think the TFT is correct in that private schools will not, en masse, accept children from these disadvantaged neighborhoods. If they did, the very nature of their schools would change — they are by design, selective. They discriminate in the application process. That’s why parents who can afford to send their kids there DO. That’s not to say that no kids would get in to private school, but private schools alone will not solve the public school problem.

    Plus, if the “we need standards and accountability” people in TX were truly interested in making sure tax dollars were being spent well in education, then they would indeed hold any private school that accepts public money up to the same standards they hold the public schools. It should be required that private schools demonstrate what kind of job they’re doing with taxpayer money. The fact that private schools would be able to take the money without having to be accountable AT ALL to the state for the progress of the children they accept is telling: it’s setting up public schools to be shut down. With all the conservative and libertarian talk about letting the market decide, I’m not surprised that they would write laws to stack the deck in favor of private schools. Why is it that public schools would be held to a different standard than private schools if not to give private schools an advantage? Funny how the dedication to standards and accountability goes out the window when private businesses are receiving public dollars, huh?

    And education classes are not useless. If you think that any and all content experts can walk into a fifth grade class and understand how to design effective instructional/assessment materials and lesson plans for ten-year-olds, then you’re sadly misguided. I’m not saying nobody could do it, I’m just saying that you’re underestimating the work that goes into building an effective classroom and the knowledge and skills required to do it.

    Look at it this way: if I were to send my kids to a private school, which is free to hire anyone it wants, I would check to make sure the teachers had degrees in their field and at least some schooling in education/child development.

    People who want to teach children should have at least a minimum understanding of pedagogy and child development. I don’t know what the laws are in TX, but MA and NJ have alternate route programs for people with education and experience in content areas but no teaching experience/education. Those people can get hired by a school district to teach. In their first year, they have a mentor at their school, and they take educational courses on the side to bring them up to speed on educational and developmental issues. That seems like a workable solution.

    As for vouchers themselves, I don’t think they’re the solution to the problem, but they might be part of the solution. I can’t see requiring children in socio-economically and educationally poor school districts to stay there while people try to tweak something that needs a huge overhaul. Why should another generation of kids languish? They deserve a good education right now. So I think that a voucher program in those communities would help, but it needs to be part of a broader effort to truly CHANGE the schools that are struggling. Making minor adjustments to something that’s very broken won’t work.

    That said, I don’t think vouchers should be able to be used at for-profit or religious private schools. There’s no way public money should be spent to teach someone’s religion to children.

  • http://www.livejournal.com/users/djradiohead DJRadiohead

    It is commonly believed the teachers’ unions across this country are pro-education and pro-kids. And sometimes they actually are. But first and foremost, these unions are pro-teacher. And they should be pro-teacher first and foremost because that is the job of a union.

    But there are MANY occasions when the interests and the interests of children are divergent. And it is in these situations the teachers’ unions show their true colours. It is time for state legislatures to get the courage to stand up to the teachers’ unions in these kinds of situations.
    Please understand, I am not blaming teachers as indivuduals. My mommy happens to be a special education teacher, and a cracking good one at that. My gripes are with the politically active unions who have, in certain instances, hijacked the education debate to the detriment of children.

    Good post.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    It’s not surprising that the ‘progressive’ response comes across as non-biased, saying that vouchers can be part of a solution, whereas the original blog has terms like ‘enemy of your children’, ‘parasite’, ‘keeping the poor oppressed’.

    I don’t know enough about the Texas school system to comment on the gist of their problems, but just by reading this article, I can’t see how anyone can take it seriously as it brings up implications of a group of educators in a smoky room, dim lit bulb overhead, plotting ways to attack ‘your’ children. It makes one wonder if this is actually just a transcript of a Michael Savage or Alan Keyes rant.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    more likely’d be savage. “public titty parasites” sits comfortably next to stuff like “turd world nations”.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    There could be some good info in the blog. Who would want to navigate past all the hatred to see it though?

  • http://www.livejournal.com/users/djradiohead DJRadiohead

    Hatred, vitriol, hyperbole and character assasination are too much a part of blogging these days. It’s sad.

  • Eric Olsen

    I’ll tell you what though, agree with the sentiment or not, this is one hell of a sentence:

    It seems that the Texas Federation of Teachers is all stirred up and mobilizing the blue-hairs and public teat parasites to keep minorities oppressed and the poor in eternal servitude so they can make sure that their constituency can continue to fail again and again at communicating any kind of useful knowledge to our kids.

    I’m still laughing

  • http://dirtgrain.com/weblog Dirtgrain

    School Vouchers Suck. Read it. Basically, the school voucher and charter school movement started by the rich is a selfish plan to stratify our society, better demarcate the gradations between the rich and the poor, and secure public funding for the private education of their children. By the way, the No Child Left Behind Act makes our schools more like schools that “indoctrinate our children into a culture of complacent mediocrity.” There are many things that should be done to improve education, but Bush’s agenda proposes none of them. As for Bush’s supposed success with Texas schools, he lied.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    Regarding comment 7. I agree and things like hatred and character assassination, etc. usually indicate bias as well. Should someone be uninformed about the situation of the Texas School System and come across this blog, I don’t see how they can think this is not a piece written with bias from the onset.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>But now that teacher pay has risen in many states/towns, the unions need to give a little back.< <

    I can see you have no familiarity with how unions work. 'Giving back' is not part of their working vocabulary.

    >>That said, a lot of what you’ve written is not only anti-teacher but plain old anti-education.< <

    I think you misread my anti-TFT comments as anti-teacher. I don't confuse the individual teacher with the impersonal organization. As for anti-education, I doubt that I spent 20 years as a teacher because I was anti-education.

    >> It’s hard to take you seriously with all the sweeping generalizations and party-line talking points.< <

    LOL, which party would that be? The activist I reference in the article - Rev. Sterling Lands - is a black Democrat and active in the local Democratic party. The education reform website I reference in the end of the article is non-partisan and certainly not Republican.

    >> For example, teachers are not morally bankrupt [although schools are, if you ask me, indoctrination camps for the middle class — everyone must learn the same thing at the same time … or else!]. As soon as you started with the morally bankrupt teacher thing, I realized that you have some sort of ax to grind.< <

    I never said teachers were morally bankrupt. That phrase clearly refers to the TFT not actual teachers. The TFT have long ago left behind any relationship with actual educatiion.

    >>I think the TFT is correct in that private schools will not, en masse, accept children from these disadvantaged neighborhoods. < <

    Which I didn't dispute. I pointed out that a large enough voucher would make it practical to start private schools specifically tailored to the needs of those kids.

    >>If they did, the very nature of their schools would change — they are by design, selective. They discriminate in the application process. That’s why parents who can afford to send their kids there DO. That’s not to say that no kids would get in to private school, but private schools alone will not solve the public school problem.< <

    I think that what parents here in Austin want is a solution to the problems their kids have to deal with. I think that getting rid of the school district administrative structure and essentially privatizing the public schools themselves is the real answer to a system wide problem.

    >>Plus, if the “we need standards and accountability” people in TX were truly interested in making sure tax dollars were being spent well in education, then they would indeed hold any private school that accepts public money up to the same standards they hold the public schools. It should be required that private schools demonstrate what kind of job they’re doing with taxpayer money. < <

    This is a common bit of misinformation which groups like the TFT drag out to deceive people. The truth is that accredited private schools go through a certification process and outcome monitoring which is more rigorous than anything applied to the public schools. Their privately set standards are already substantially higher than anything the state would impose.

    >>The fact that private schools would be able to take the money without having to be accountable AT ALL to the state < <

    No one has ever suggested that this would be the case. Right now the state delegates that to the various accreditation boards and there's no reason why that wouldn't continue.

    >>for the progress of the children they accept is telling: it’s setting up public schools to be shut down. < <

    We can always hope.

    >>With all the conservative and libertarian talk about letting the market decide, I’m not surprised that they would write laws to stack the deck in favor of private schools. Why is it that public schools would be held to a different standard than private schools if not to give private schools an advantage? Funny how the dedication to standards and accountability goes out the window when private businesses are receiving public dollars, huh?< <

    Public dollars? Where do you think that money came from? Here in Texas it comes from property taxes. The government doesn't generate money, it takes it from private citizens. There's no such thing as a public dollar.

    >>And education classes are not useless. If you think that any and all content experts can walk into a fifth grade class and understand how to design effective instructional/assessment materials and lesson plans for ten-year-olds, then you’re sadly misguided. I’m not saying nobody could do it, I’m just saying that you’re underestimating the work that goes into building an effective classroom and the knowledge and skills required to do it.< <

    Have you TAKEN education classes? I have. Every one I took in college was an absolute waste of time. They're filled with pseudopsychology, ritualistic mumbo jumbo and in-depth explorations of subjects so obvious that anyone bright enough to go to college fully understands the subject within the first minute of an hour long class of repitition and jargon regurgitation. No one who majors in education should be allowed near a classroom. They are by definition not qualified to teach any subject at all.

    I suppose I should have included biographical information with my post, but it's on my blog so I didn't put it in the article. I have taken both undergraduate and graduate courses in education in addition to doing Masters in English and History and a Doctorate in History in graduate school. I taught college history for 20 years, have taught classes in both elementary and high school and served several years on an elementary school Advisory Committee. So I know the system and its flaws intimately.

    <

    You think this is not the case in private schools? Most private school teachers have backgrounds teaching public schools, but left for private schools because of the crushing bureaucratic burden the public schools put on them.

    >>People who want to teach children should have at least a minimum understanding of pedagogy and child development. I don’t know what the laws are in TX, but MA and NJ have alternate route programs for people with education and experience in content areas but no teaching experience/education. Those people can get hired by a school district to teach. In their first year, they have a mentor at their school, and they take educational courses on the side to bring them up to speed on educational and developmental issues. That seems like a workable solution.< <

    That's more or less what we have in Texas now, but it was only implemented fairly recently.

    >>As for vouchers themselves, I don’t think they’re the solution to the problem, but they might be part of the solution. I can’t see requiring children in socio-economically and educationally poor school districts to stay there while people try to tweak something that needs a huge overhaul. Why should another generation of kids languish? They deserve a good education right now. So I think that a voucher program in those communities would help, but it needs to be part of a broader effort to truly CHANGE the schools that are struggling. Making minor adjustments to something that’s very broken won’t work.< <

    Can't argue with you there. I think that this is a good place to start with vouchers. The problem is that the way the education bureaucracy works the real reforms are never going to come to the public schools. The system is too entrenched and groups like the TFT and the NEA are too powerful.

    >>That said, I don’t think vouchers should be able to be used at for-profit or religious private schools. There’s no way public money should be spent to teach someone’s religion to children.< <

    Ridiculous. Again, it's not public money. There's no such thing. By putting that kind of restriction on a voucher system you would be limiting it to schools which are basically private clones of public schools.

    Ironically, one of the reasons I eventually took my kids out of public school was that I felt they were getting too much religious indoctrination. As an atheist I didn't approve of the covert ways that teachers and other students were sneaking religious content into the school every day. I'd rather have my kids in a good parochial school of my choosing where I know what kind of religious silliness they're going to be exposed to than in an uncontrolled environment where cults send their children to proselytize their unsuspecting classmates - and by cults I mainly mean fundamentalist christians.

    Oh, and for those who think my posting was full of 'hatred and vitriot', please accept my disdain. If people who want to abuse and neglect the minds of our children for their own benefit don't deserve hatred, who does?.

    Dave
    http://www.elitistpig.com

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle
  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    If people who want to abuse and neglect the minds of our children for their own benefit don’t deserve hatred, who does?.

    I don’t understand though, how you know that they WANT to abuse and neglect the minds of children. Perhaps it’s gotten too bureaucratic, perhaps it’s gotten too organizational and cumbersome with guidelines and agendas, but until someone shows me proof that a large part of people enter the educational system with the intent of abusing children, posts like this just read like rants.

  • Eric Olsen

    it may be a rant but it has yielded an excellent discussion

    Steve S, BHW, et al: what IS the answer to substandard public education, especially in low income areas, where education would seem to offer the the most impact of all?

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    Eric, my perception would be that public education needs an overhaul, but not an abandonment. People who live in the inner city and who are poor, might get a nice check to enroll their kids in a private school, but they don’t have a family SUV to pack the kids up and drive them across town to attend. My thought is that those who need to pull their kids out of the most failing schools will be the ones most unlikely/unable to do so.

    I’m against testing schools to see their performance (NCLB) and for testing kids to see their performance. Two 5th graders for example, take a test, but have different needs (one is disabled perhaps or is struggling to learn English having moved here a few years back) but get the same test. I don’t see that as a good way to determine school performance.

    Private schools acknowledge that students need individualization. NCLB and all the rants from the Right do not seek to apply this to public school systems, but their ‘solution’ is to make things more generic on a public school level. That makes things worse, but of course, that is their intent.

    Reports say each student can get up to 6k to attend a private school? That’s 10’s of millions of dollars, possibly more on a national level. Why not take that money and put it into the school system, (and that doesn’t have to mean just handing it over to teachers unions that the right so despises) to create a public school that is similiar to the so-highly praised private school?

    I believe education should be free. Should people leave public schools and go to private schools, then I see the end of free education, and ultimately a severe corrosion on democracy.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>I don’t understand though, how you know that they WANT to abuse and neglect the minds of children. Perhaps it’s gotten too bureaucratic, perhaps it’s gotten too organizational and cumbersome with guidelines and agendas, but until someone shows me proof that a large part of people enter the educational system with the intent of abusing children, posts like this just read like rants.< <

    Ok, change the word 'want' to 'are willing to'. I may have gone too far in suggesting actual evilness as their motivation. Let's call it a callous disregard for human decency instead.

    >>Eric, my perception would be that public education needs an overhaul, but not an abandonment. People who live in the inner city and who are poor, might get a nice check to enroll their kids in a private school, but they don’t have a family SUV to pack the kids up and drive them across town to attend. My thought is that those who need to pull their kids out of the most failing schools will be the ones most unlikely/unable to do so.< <

    Part of the point of this article was that inner city activists are the ones who are spearheading this. I don't think they would be doing so if they didn't think they could get the kids to the private schools. What I think is really most likely to happen is the establishment of new private schools targeting the inner city voucher market in some of the abandonned facilities of inner city school systems. I know that in Austin and San Antonio there are perfectly good schools sitting unused in urban locations, made obsolete and left vacant in the school districts endless quest to spend tax money on bigger, newer and better facilities.

    >>Reports say each student can get up to 6k to attend a private school? That’s 10’s of millions of dollars, possibly more on a national level. Why not take that money and put it into the school system, (and that doesn’t have to mean just handing it over to teachers unions that the right so despises) to create a public school that is similiar to the so-highly praised private school?< <

    That money is already IN the school system and it's not doing the job. By taking that money out you give a kid a chance at a better education now as opposed to years down the road when they finally figure out a solution for the problems these schools have. In addition, taking $6000 out of the system for each student who uses a voucher will leave behing about $2000-$2500 that would have been spent on that student if he'd stayed in the public school, so that additional money can be spent to improve the public school for those who stick with it and if that money can solve the problem then it will work out better for everyone.

    But the truth is that money will NEVER solve the problem. Most private schools provide a superior education on as little as 30% less per student than public schools spend. Radical restructuring of the entire public school system is the only solution and the entrenched interests of teachers unions and administrative bureaucracy will never allow that to happen.

    >>I believe education should be free. Should people leave public schools and go to private schools, then I see the end of free education, and ultimately a severe corrosion on democracy.< <

    Public education is NOT free. Not only do the parents of the kids in the system pay taxes for it, but so do two other people who don't have kids in the system for each child enrolled. I currently pay about $4500 a year in property taxes and because of where I live (the worst school dristrict in the State of Texas and also the one with the highest funding per student) I pay another $12000 a year to send my two kids to private school, plus the cost of driving them there every day. The majority of the people in this school district cannot afford to do what I do and I'd much rather see the tax money I pay which I don't get to benefit from instead help out my neighbor's kids by sending them to private school than by underwriting a school district which is clearly a disaster.

    Dave
    http://www.diablog.us

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    one thing that private institutions don’t have to deal with (because they can be selective) is the situations that inner city kids come from.

    screwed up parents (abusive, drug addiction, you name it), godawful living conditions, gang influence, hunger.

    there are many problems in public schools…some of the are external to the building.

  • Eric Olsen

    probably MOST of them are external to the building, but what is the answer to making low income schools work?

  • http://www.livejournal.com/users/djradiohead DJRadiohead

    I’m against testing schools to see their performance (NCLB) and for testing kids to see their performance. Two 5th graders for example, take a test, but have different needs (one is disabled perhaps or is struggling to learn English having moved here a few years back) but get the same test. I don’t see that as a good way to determine school performance.

    I think individuality is wonderful, but 2+2=4 no matter what your background is. And I don’t think it’s unreasonable to base a child’s promotion from one grade to the next on that child’s mastery of certain basic concepts.

    We should NOT lower our expectations of a child coming from unique or difficult circumstances. We should increase the resources and our efforts to raise that child up, not expect less from them.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S
  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    Regarding comment 19. I’m not talking about lowering expectations. I’m talking about individualization. For some reason, right wingers like the concept of individualization that private schools give, but expect a generic cross-platform analysis on public schools. If a public school were to individualize according to students, it’s ‘lowering expectations’. If a private school individualizes, it’s congratulated and touted as an exemplary model.

  • http://www.livejournal.com/users/djradiohead DJRadiohead

    I don’t care how they do it (short of random beatings) — I just want students of all backgrounds to reach (roughly) the same finish line at the end of each grade.

    I am all for innovation and creative approaches but I am concerned primarily with the results. It is not some insidious right-wing plot to homogenize all children if someone gives them a test requiring them to prove they know the alphabet by the time they have been promoted to the 5th grade.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    It is not some insidious right-wing plot to homogenize all children

    (scrolling back up)..yeah, it’s the teachers unions who have an insidious plot, according to Dave.

    if someone gives them a test requiring them to prove they know the alphabet by the time they have been promoted to the 5th grade.

    I don’t know what is on the NCLB tests. Does anybody have any sample questions for a specific grade level? One would think that a 5th grader should know the alphabet, but we would be going on the assumption that the kid has been in school all 5 of those years, right? What about kids who came to this country 6 months earlier? ooops. Same test. What about mentally challenged kids? ooops. Same test. Gotta keep up. So sad, too bad, the financing of ALL our kids will be determined on your test results, little one.

    Does anybody have any statistics on the educational level of kids today? Example, how many 5th graders don’t know the alphabet? I’ve heard the stories of pro football players who can’t read, but what are the actual statistics of failing?

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Eric, I would make public schools smaller, thereby creating a series of small schools within each district. Recent studies have shown that children do better in smaller schools, especially younger kids and middle school kids. For troubled schools in troubled communities, I’d make an extremely small teacher:student ratio [this would obviously cost a lot, but we’re already throwing good money after bad], and I’d even extend the school year to twelve months with breaks spaced throughout the year.

    BUT for all communities, I would also get rid of the idea of “one size fits all” for not only an entire state, but for individual districts, as well. Each district should, I think, create *different schools* that parents could choose from. I’d pick the one that has mixed-age classrooms, lets kids learn at their own pace and according to what they’re interests are, gives individual progress reports and portfolio reviews instead of grades, etc. Others could choose the one that’s more “traditional” in its philosophy or the one that specifically integrates arts into the entire curriculum, etc.

    I wrote up a better description, I think, on another thread a few weeks ago. I’ll see if I can find it later tonight.

  • Eric Olsen

    okay, thanks to you, Steve and Dave in particular

  • http://www.livejournal.com/users/djradiohead DJRadiohead

    The 5th grade/alphabet crack was meant with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

    Yes, there are always going to be exceptions and special circumstances. And we should have an education system that looks for those situations and be prepared to help those kids flourish. But this is a minority of students.

    To test the other children (the vast majortity of other children) — to objectively determine what they are learning and not learning — that seems pretty important to me.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    But this is a minority of students.

    Yes, but wouldn’t you say that within an inner city, there will be a higher percentage of these kids than in a rich suburban community? Disabled kids tend to be gravitated towards cities where there are medical communities that can cater to their needs medically. Immigrants tend to, though not exclusively, go to inner cities, creating subcultures like Chinatown, Little Havana, etc.

    So these inner cities, that are going to need help the most, have a higher percentage of these ‘exceptions’ than rich suburban communities, right? (I have no statistics on this, it’s a generalization supported by the knowledge of where you will find the most medical organizations like Centers for the Blind or those subcultures I mentioned earlier)

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>I think individuality is wonderful, but 2+2=4 no matter what your background is. <<

    I took our eldest child out of public school primarily because they were teaching her that :+:=:: rather than 2+2=4.

    Dave

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    I should also add, as someone earlier alluded to, that you’re going to have trouble educating kids from troubled homes/communities no matter what. The key will be to address their emotional needs first: when kids feel safe and valued, the learning will happen. It’s natural — they’re sponges by design. But if you’re just going to try to shove the memorization tables down the throats of kids without addressing their needs as people, and very young people at that, you’re going to have a longer haul, for sure.

  • http://www.livejournal.com/users/djradiohead DJRadiohead

    you’re going to have trouble educating kids from troubled homes/communities no matter what

    So let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good. We are always going to have some kids who will struggle. We should not gloss over that and ignore it nor should we stop educating and testing other students because some kids are struggling.

    And as to addressing their emotional needs: Schools are supposed to educate. Families are supposed to validate and provide emotional stability. Neither entity (families or schools) are doing a consistently good job at their respective responsibility. And now we are asking schools to wear both hats and we wonder why they are failing.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    I thought they were failing because of teachers unions. Now they are failing because we give them too much.

    My sister is a second grade teacher in Oklahoma. Her classroom is one of those trailers in the parking lot. She’s on the rougher side of town, a little off the representation of the average, most of her kids are ADD, disruptive or otherwise problematic, with most of their parents either in prison, on crack or just otherwise failing in their duties. She estimates she has to spend 50%+ of her day ‘babysitting’ which takes away from teaching.

    No, nobody expects the schools to meet the emotional needs of the child per se, nobody expects her to do what she has to do, but when the parent doesn’t do it, what else can you do?

    This is going in a slightly different, albeit related, direction than education in general though, right?

  • http://www.bigtimepatriot.com Big Time Patriot

    “I should also add, as someone earlier alluded to, that you’re going to have trouble educating kids from troubled homes/communities no matter what.”

    And don’t forget the “special needs kids”. If George Bush had help with his school problems earlier on, perhaps he would be able to take in and analyze data and make logical thoughtful decisions today. Talk about someone who was underserved by his schooling. (Not to mention the “social promotion” issue which likely played a part in his scholastic career all the way to college). There should be some standards, people who get c’s should just not get into Ivy League schools when deserving people are shut out by discriminatory patterns of admission. Who knows how many deserving poor or black kids might have been able to thrive in GW’s spot in college? This “liberal” pattern of warping our school sytem for special interest groups and allowing the lowering of standards in our school just has to stop.

  • http://dirtgrain.com/weblog Dirtgrain

    Response to Dave Nalle: I take it you didn’t teach logic, reasoning and research. The following quotes are full of gross generalizations, assumptions, absolutes, and faulty logic.

      The truth is that accredited private schools go through a certification process and outcome monitoring which is more rigorous than anything applied to the public schools. . . . [Assumption, unfounded, relative, prove it]

      They’re filled with pseudopsychology, ritualistic mumbo jumbo and in-depth explorations of subjects so obvious that anyone bright enough to go to college fully understands the subject within the first minute of an hour long class of repitition and jargon regurgitation. . . . [Your opinion, which is fine, but do you have any research to prove the ineffectiveness of these programs?]

      No one who majors in education should be allowed near a classroom. They are by definition not qualified to teach any subject at all. . . . [Illogical, absolute, unfounded]

      I have taken both undergraduate and graduate courses in education in addition to doing Masters in English and History and a Doctorate in History in graduate school. I taught college history for 20 years, have taught classes in both elementary and high school and served several years on an elementary school Advisory Committee. So I know the system and its flaws intimately. . . . [Not necessarily]

      Most private school teachers have backgrounds teaching public schools, but left for private schools because of the crushing bureaucratic burden the public schools put on them. . . . [Most? How many? Verify.]

      Ironically, one of the reasons I eventually took my kids out of public school was that I felt they were getting too much religious indoctrination. As an atheist I didn’t approve of the covert ways that teachers and other students were sneaking religious content into the school every day. I’d rather have my kids in a good parochial school of my choosing where I know what kind of religious silliness they’re going to be exposed to than in an uncontrolled environment where cults send their children to proselytize their unsuspecting classmates – and by cults I mainly mean fundamentalist christians. . . .[Generalizations and assumptions–show at least some examples to back this up]

      Did you not READ the article or look at the links? The voucher movement isn’t being pushed by the rich. They can already afford to send their kids to private school. It’s being promoted by poor inner city parents – mostly black and hispanic – who want to get their kids out of ghettoized, sub-standard education. . . . [George Bush isn’t rich? The founders of the Edison Project aren’t rich? That the people you mentioned want to get their kids out of their schools (and situations), does not mean that they are getting them into anything better.]

    My previous comment: “As for Bush’s supposed success with Texas schools, he lied.”

    Your retort: “Actually, it was Bush who signed the bill which finally broke the stranglehold of the schools of education on public schools in Texas and made it possible for people who majored in academic subjects to teach those subjects rather than limiting teaching almost exclusively to people with education degrees and little or no knowledge of the fields they were teaching.”

    My retort to your retort: How is that an “actually?” Your retort doesn’t address my comment directly (that Bush’s program wasn’t successful–that he just twisted figures and lied to make it look successful).

    Dave Nalle: “By taking that money out you give a kid a chance at a better education now as opposed to years down the road when they finally figure out a solution for the problems these schools have.”
    I don’t think you ever proved that it would be a better education. Why? They would be free from the bureaucratic tangles? Private schools won’t be regulated? But you said they will be. Then why will they be better? The only difference I see is that unions will be “busted”–salaries/benefits/working conditions will go down, and less qualified people will go into education. The private schools will try to make a profit. Do a quick study of the business world to see the lengths to which businesses will go to make a profit. Better yet, see Education, Globalization and the Big Business Model.

    Dave Nalle: “Most private schools provide a superior education on as little as 30% less per student than public schools spend.”
    Assumption, generalization, unfounded.

    Dave Nalle: “I took our eldest child out of public school primarily because they were teaching her that :+:=:: rather than 2+2=4.”
    What is your problem with that? Everyday Math, an elementary school math program emphasizes conceptual understanding of mathematical concepts in real-world contexts (Connected Math, out of Michigan State University, does the same). It attempts to connect math to the real world–as opposed to repetitive drill and kill. But it doesn’t completely ignore rote memorization (I’m thinking your eldest was getting 2 + 2 = 4 in addition to : + : = ::). To be sure, you offered a simple example, but conceptual understanding is a much deeper and longer lasting way to learn. I majored in math in college, and I graduated seven years ago. My first two calculus classes (Calc 1 (derivates and stuff) and Calc 2 (integrals and stuff)) were old school, deductive, apply-the-rule-a-hundred-times, rote memorization style classes. Seven years later, not having used advanced mathematics over that time, I barely remember any of the rules for derivatives and integrals. My third calculus class was “multi-variable calculus.” It was taught using a relatively new textbook from Harvard that emphasized conceptual understanding of mathematical concepts in real-world contexts–and inductive reasoning. I also don’t remember most of the rules, theorems and formulas that we used in that class; however, I do still understand the concepts. I’m fairly certain that if I spend some time with calculus, I could become functional quite quickly–because of this conceptual understanding. Some drill and kill stuff is done so much and called up again so many times over years and years that we don’t forget it (e.g., 2 +2 = 4). But that stuff that we get one semester or one year and then don’t touch for years after–it disappears. I can remember having taken a lot of multiple-choice, drill and kill tests in high school. So much of it was a waste of time–it disappeared within a couple of years. Education is not supposed to be merely the memorization of facts and rules. Anyway, did you take the time to study the math program and understand the concepts behind it? Did you consult the research behind it? You ought to have done that.

  • http://dirtgrain.com/weblog Dirtgrain

    Eric: One of the worst generalizations/assumptions on this thread is that public schools suck. They don’t all suck. In fact, public schools in rich areas kick ass (their kids score very well). Public schools in middle-class areas are pretty good or okay (decent scores). Public schools in poor neighborhoods aren’t doing so well (poor scores)–but even this is a generalization (see the work that Deborah Meier did with the Harlem Public Schools–they have done a lot to become successful. Hell, see Stand and Deliver or read about Jaime Escalante).

    For the inner-city schools that are in trouble, several things must be considered (I think I presented this in the comments section of “School Vouchers Suck”). First of all, one of the best predictors of a student’s success is the education level of his or her parents. We can’t magically fix that in the inner city, but we can try to make programs to get parents more educated. Let’s get more books into the homes of inner-city families and make reading a priority (this is a generalization–I’m sure there are many inner-city families who already do this, and I bet their kids do pretty well (in spite of their schools)). Nevertheless, I saw a shocking statistic at a presentation once: the amount of hours an upper-class kid gets read to prior to elementary school was in the thousands–for lower-class students the average was not even a tenth of that for upper-class children (sorry, I don’t remember the exact facts (but the concept. . .)). Studies show that reading to children at an early age has a huge impact on their success later on.

    Another issue is that in rich public schools, parents are a lot more active (especially at the elementary level). In Ann Arbor, especially at Burns Park Elementary and Angel Elementary, both schools that draw a lot of students from neighborhoods with U of M professors, I used to see all sorts of parents in building when I subbed–it was remarkable (I wondered why they didn’t have to work). If we could get inner-city parents more involved in their children’s schools (again, generalization that they aren’t–based on observation and assumption), then we might make some improvements. Obviously, many factors limit this.

    As for bureaucracy, where do we not see it? It is just as prevalent in corporations as it is in state-run institutions.

    On the firing of incompetent teachers: it can be done. There are ways to do in our current system. The main problem is that administrators don’t have the time and resources to go through the proper procedure to monitor a teacher, document the problems with his or her teaching, suggest and attempt to implement solutions and fixes, and ultimately fire them when all else fails. The solution would be to have more administrators, more resources and more money.

    Yes, money is an issue–for public schools in inner-city areas–which for some reason in Michigan are given much less money than public schools in rich areas. I’m not sure about the rest of the country, but when I go into schools in inner-city Detroit, I see old, dilapidated buildings and old, dilapidated books and computers. The facilities are way worse than those in the rich Detroit suburb, Bloomfield Hills.

    If we started with equal facilities and materials and equally qualified employees in both our rich-area and poor-area public schools, there would still be a big disparity. The problems that plague inner cities also plague their schools. At the school level, we can’t fix this. But we can implement programs to get parents more involved in the schools and in their children’s educations.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    And as to addressing their emotional needs: Schools are supposed to educate. Families are supposed to validate and provide emotional stability. Neither entity (families or schools) are doing a consistently good job at their respective responsibility. And now we are asking schools to wear both hats and we wonder why they are failing.

    Actually, I think a school is failing if it *doesn’t* wear both hats. You can’t separate “education” into pieces because kids can’t be separated into pieces.

    Children — even children from stable, happy homes — don’t check their emotions and insecurities at the schoolhouse door. It’s a package deal: they’re complete people and their complete persons need to be educated, not just the cerebral parts of them.

    Of course, families are supposed to be the backbone of children’s lives, providing the major source of emotional stabililty. Sadly, especially in socio-economically depressed communities, some families aren’t doing that. It happens in wealthier, more stable communities, too, but not in such large numbers/percentages.

    So, those kids come to school. They bring all their family and other baggage with them every day. They will not be ready to learn until their emotional health is addressed.

    One reason private schools succeed is that they admit and keep only those students who require the least support. They prefer kids who don’t bring a lot of baggage because those kids come to school better prepared to learn. They reject or kick out the kids who take up too many of their resources and who aren’t as prepared to learn, by no fault of their own. They kick these kids out even if their parents are able to pay tuition in full and up front.

    So the key, as I said earlier, is to support the emotional readiness of children in struggling communities. When you do that — and I’m not saying it’s necessarily easy when it’s a large percentage of the students — then you’ll find that learning comes more easily.

  • Shark

    Dear Elitistpig;

    man– and I thought I was the King of Ridiculous Hyperbole, but you just stole my crown with this:

    “Here are the Enemies of Your Children”.

    I automatically thought…

    *”Have you no decency? Have you no decency, sir?!”

    *education level test: reference, anyone?

    ===========

    Dirtgrain (A TEACHER, btw) speaks the truth:

    “[Voucher advocates want to] …secure public funding for the private education of their children…”

    (End of Debate: see entire Bush agenda for more)

    Key to issue:

    “…one of the best predictors of a student’s success is the education level of his or her parents.”

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

    Yes. It’s been shown time after time: Children whose parents participate in their education do better — regardless of the overall “quality” of their schools.

    Improving “lower income” schools and communities — one might want to look at the ‘lower income’ component?

  • Eric Olsen

    I am well aware public schools don’t suck across teh board. Both of my older children went to public school in smallish upper-middle class districts that value education, have involved parents, high test scores, newish facilities, etc. Like in everything else, success breeds success and the rich get richer …

    But I’m also within shouting distance of Cleveland that is ranked either the worst systme in the state or the nation (I can’t remember), either way it has every possible problem: ancient facilities, generally low-income student body, severe funding issues, vey low test scores, high drop-out rate. What can be done with this district? It seems to me part of the problem is property tax funding as this is obviously an area of great disparity between rich and poor districts, but what funding systme do you then go to? State? Federal? Voucher? And for those who complain about it – how DO you measure success or failure if not by some standardized testing?

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    And for those who complain about it – how DO you measure success or failure if not by some standardized testing?

    You can measure student achievement/progress against state standards in any number of ways. You don’t have to use standardized tests, which is a limited assessment for a variety of reasons. What standardized tests give people is a way to label and RANK schools against each other, to say that this one is better than that one, rather that to assess how good any one school actually is. If we really wanted to know how good a school was, we’d do more authentic assessments and we’d let those assessments speak for our kids and not worry about what the results say about other kids.

    But we like to rank schools and kids so much that we’ll eschew other, better types of assessments in favor of the one that lets us place our kids on a scale compared to our neighbors.

    One big problem with standardized tests is that they don’t indicate *why* some students/schools do or don’t do well on the test. Another, of course, is that when they’re the only form of measurement, teachers are forced by design to teach to the test: teach so that kids can answer certain types of multiple choice questions.

    The property tax funding is a big problem nation-wide. In NH, a few years ago the state supreme court ruled that it was unconstitutional to fund schools that way because it basically assured that poorer areas would have less money for schools than wealthier areas. They’ve tried to devise a method of calculating which school districts should pony up more money to send to the state for redistrubition to poorer communities, but it has run into some snags. They’re still tweaking it, but I think they have the right idea: children who grow up poor should have the same access to quality schools as children who grow up middle class or above.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com/ andy marsh

    When I lived in AZ they had a state law called children first. What that law did was take ALL the property taxes that were devoted to school funding and divide them up equally. That way, Snottdale schools didn’t get more money per student than say, Yuma schools. Every school was allocated a certain amount of funds per student. I’m not sure if it helped, because money is not always the issue here. It’s my personal belief that parents are the biggest influence on how well children do in school. I said biggest, not only. I also believe that the NEA is the biggest reason that many schools fail or are failing.

  • http://www.livejournal.com/users/djradiohead DJRadiohead

    Actually, I think a school is failing if it *doesn’t* wear both hats. You can’t separate “education” into pieces because kids can’t be separated into pieces.

    I expected someone would raise that issue when in response to my post. And of course, there is an element of truth to this. Things don’t happen in a vaccum and educating kids requires a certain amount of attention to other areas of their development.

    I still don’t think that means testing kids to measure their academic achievement is a bad idea. Schools’ primary reason for existing is still educating kids. Testing kids to find out if a school is fulfilling its primary purpose is valid.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    I don’t so much mind standardized tests as benchmarks to get a general idea of how schools/kids are doing across a district or state. But I think it’s wrong that one test — and one type of test only — is used to determine whether or not a school qualifies for certain aid or has to fulfill some underfunded federal mandate or whether or not a kid graduates from h.s.

    Once you make a single standardized test the only criterion for measuring success, the tail will wag the dog. And it is doing that now. Instruction is being dumbed down to teach only to the test, even in schools that weren’t struggling to begin with. Teachers are losing opportunities to work with students and classes in ways that fit them best personally and are having to teach all kids and classes the same way because the same exit standard applies: just make sure they can answer these types of questions about these subjects. That’s ALL education is becoming, honestly, that’s not very valuable to me as a parent or a member of our society.

    And to be fair, this high-stakes testing craziness started long before Bush’s NCLB. One addition now is that there is federal pressure along with state pressure to comply.

  • http://www.livejournal.com/users/djradiohead DJRadiohead

    Instruction is being dumbed down to teach only to the test, even in schools that weren’t struggling to begin with.

    My mom has seen evidence of that for years (as you correctly note going back to a prior administration). That is a real challenge for schools. That is an interesting question to consider beneath some of the bluster of earlier segments of this particular discussion.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Right on, DJ. It’s been growing at the state level for years. Mass. implemented the MCAS while Clinton was in office.

    It’s funny, but most people didn’t need a state test to know that the kids in Andover, MA were in good schools and the kids in Lawrence, right next door, were not. The test merely confirms what people already know. But it gives us that all-important quantifiable figure to use: we seem to need numbers to validate what we know and to officially rank kids and schools against each other.

    That said, the biggest problem is how to *quickly* help kids in poor schools. I think I’m one of the only liberals who supports vouchers for kids in these schools — get them someplace better fast, even if it’s just a few of them.

    But we *have to* simultaneously make very big changes to the public schools at the same time so that the kids who are literally left behind are given a better chance. That means, to me, not making small adjustments or asking students to do more of the same thing, but to really change the way we look at those schools.

    Make them much, much smaller and make the teacher:student ratios much, much smaller. If 10:1 is the standard for private schools — and it is in many — make it 7:1 for failing public schools, and put those kids in classrooms with no more than 14 kids total.

    Give teachers the state standards but let them design their own curricula and assessments. Let teachers work with the needs of the kids they have, rather than force them to teach all kids the same way at the same time.

    Stuff like that.

  • http://mike.shelikesit.net mrbenning

    “When I lived in AZ they had a state law called children first. What that law did was take ALL the property taxes that were devoted to school funding and divide them up equally. That way, Snottdale schools didn’t get more money per student than say, Yuma schools. Every school was allocated a certain amount of funds per student.”

    I’ve discussed this practice quite a bit and have found it faults in practice.

    Take an average school, say, 1,300 students. Give them an average of 500 dollars a student. That equals out to 650,000 dollars for the school year.

    Move out to a rural school where they have 120 kids total. They will be alloted 60,000 dollars for the entire school year. That’s miniscule in comparison.

    Finding an appropriate method to financing and improving education is a difficult situation. One thing I know, however, is that taking money away is only going to make problems.

    As a side note: Be careful careful with the presumption that private schools are better than public. Often times, as they are businesses as well as educational facilities, the tution funds can fail to end up in the instructors’ pockets and instead go to a board of directors. With a rotating door of fresh fish from the higher education pond as teachers, I was far less prepared for college than I should have been.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com/ andy marsh

    maybe so, but a school with 120 kids doesn’t need 650,000 to operate!

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    But a small school may have a higher cost-per-pupil because it can’t take advantage of economies of scale.

    But I think that’s an advantage — trying to economize by making bigger schools is not a good idea. The reason for making bigger schools should be for educational reasons first.

    I’m not saying big schools can’t be good schools. I’m just saying that the advantages to small schools outweigh those of big schools, particularly when the kids are coming in with all sorts of baggage from home.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Dirtgrain had some rather befuddled comments that almost merit a response:

    >>Response to Dave Nalle: I take it you didn’t teach logic, reasoning and research. The following quotes are full of gross generalizations, assumptions, absolutes, and faulty logic.< <

    Apparently you are incapable of recognizing research of comprehending logic or applying a little common sense to what you read to determine where they are needed and where they are not. But that's ok. You probably went to a state run school.

    >>The truth is that accredited private schools go through a certification process and outcome monitoring which is more rigorous than anything applied to the public schools. . . . [Assumption, unfounded, relative, prove it]< <

    What the hell do you mean, prove it? This is a known fact. Why don't you disprove it? You're falling back on the tired liberal game of claiming that anything someone says is unsupported by evidence if they don't include an entire book on the subject in the post, even when the statement is something which is obvious common knowledge. But here, I'll humor you. Go read up on these organizations: NPSAA, TEPSAC, or any of the dozens of other accrediting organizations. All private schools want and need to be accredited even when they are not required to be by state law. Without accreditation, which includes monitoring and assessment of their curriculum their students will not be able to get into most colleges. And the standards of most of these accrediting agencies are quite high.

    >>They’re filled with pseudopsychology, ritualistic mumbo jumbo and in-depth explorations of subjects so obvious that anyone bright enough to go to college fully understands the subject within the first minute of an hour long class of repitition and jargon regurgitation. . . . [Your opinion, which is fine, but do you have any research to prove the ineffectiveness of these programs?]< <

    Yes, I have personally researched them by taking the classes and working with people who majored in education. What more do I need to do?

    >>No one who majors in education should be allowed near a classroom. They are by definition not qualified to teach any subject at all. . . . [Illogical, absolute, unfounded]< <

    No, a logical opinion formed based on personal experience in an area in which you are clearly neither experienced nor at all knowledgable.

    >>I have taken both undergraduate and graduate courses in education in addition to doing Masters in English and History and a Doctorate in History in graduate school. I taught college history for 20 years, have taught classes in both elementary and high school and served several years on an elementary school Advisory Committee. So I know the system and its flaws intimately. . . . [Not necessarily]< <

    Ok, what additional qualifications would you like me to have beyond these? Don't be ridiculous. I'm better qualified to make judgements about the educational system than almost anyone you'll find. And while some may specialize in certain aspects of the educational system and have great knowledge in their field, my breadth of experience makes me much better suited to assessing overall problems.

    >>Most private school teachers have backgrounds teaching public schools, but left for private schools because of the crushing bureaucratic burden the public schools put on them. . . . [Most? How many? Verify.]< <

    Again, a laughable request. Prove that I'm not right instead. I know scores of teachers in both public and private school. The one thing they all agree on is that there's too much paperwork for public school teachers and that conditions are better in private schools. The other constant is that the public school teachers overwhelmingly (70% here in Austin) choose to send their own children to private schools. Here's a good article to take a look at on this subject - http://speakout.com/activism/opinions/5092-1.html

    >>Ironically, one of the reasons I eventually took my kids out of public school was that I felt they were getting too much religious indoctrination. As an atheist I didn’t approve of the covert ways that teachers and other students were sneaking religious content into the school every day. I’d rather have my kids in a good parochial school of my choosing where I know what kind of religious silliness they’re going to be exposed to than in an uncontrolled environment where cults send their children to proselytize their unsuspecting classmates – and by cults I mainly mean fundamentalist christians. . . .[Generalizations and assumptions–show at least some examples to back this up]< <

    How can you dispute a recounting of one of my personal experiences? Are you suggesting that my own observations are not sufficient evidence to support something which I saw? I'll give you the specifics if you like. In my eldest daughter's public elementary school there were regular performances of religious music at school assemblies and other functions, children were handing out religious literature to classmates, and there were active efforts to proselytize by inviting groups of children to come home with classmates for 'prayer sleepovers' and similar activities.

    >>Did you not READ the article or look at the links? The voucher movement isn’t being pushed by the rich. They can already afford to send their kids to private school. It’s being promoted by poor inner city parents – mostly black and hispanic – who want to get their kids out of ghettoized, sub-standard education. . . . [George Bush isn’t rich? The founders of the Edison Project aren’t rich? That the people you mentioned want to get their kids out of their schools (and situations), does not mean that they are getting them into anything better.]< <

    So you're suggesting that people who want to take their kids out of public school are doing it because they want to degrade the quality of the education the kids receive? Sorry, this just doesn't make any sense. As for George Bush and Edison, I don't see the relevance. The Texas bill which I reference in the original article ONLY applies to students from low income families in specific urban areas, so it cannot possibly even apply to wealthy families.

    >>My previous comment: “As for Bush’s supposed success with Texas schools, he lied.”

    Your retort: “Actually, it was Bush who signed the bill which finally broke the stranglehold of the schools of education on public schools in Texas and made it possible for people who majored in academic subjects to teach those subjects rather than limiting teaching almost exclusively to people with education degrees and little or no knowledge of the fields they were teaching.”

    My retort to your retort: How is that an “actually?” Your retort doesn’t address my comment directly (that Bush’s program wasn’t successful–that he just twisted figures and lied to make it look successful).< <

    Once again, you have no idea what you're talking about and I certainly don't since you don't identify a specific program or initiative that he lied about. I did identify a specific program. The bill Bush supported to open up hiring in public high schools to teachers who were educated in specific fields rather than just those trained in education itself.

    >>Dave Nalle: “By taking that money out you give a kid a chance at a better education now as opposed to years down the road when they finally figure out a solution for the problems these schools have.”
    I don’t think you ever proved that it would be a better education. Why? They would be free from the bureaucratic tangles? Private schools won’t be regulated? But you said they will be. Then why will they be better? The only difference I see is that unions will be “busted”–salaries/benefits/working conditions will go down, and less qualified people will go into education. < <

    I can't really discuss this with you if you choose to ignore what I post and feign a level of ignorance this great. The reason private school education is better is that money is not frittered away on a huge administrative bureaucracy and because private schools are historically more directly reponsible to parents and students. Businesses live and die by pleasing their customers. Government bureaucracies don't really have to.

    >>The private schools will try to make a profit.< <

    Actually, many private schools are non-profit corporations run by boards of parents.

    >> Do a quick study of the business world to see the lengths to which businesses will go to make a profit. Better yet, see Education, Globalization and the Big Business Model.< <

    Oh I see, business is evil and inherently exploitative even of its own customers. Certainly selling a better product at a lower price - the goal of almost all business - is bad for the customer.

    >>Dave Nalle: “Most private schools provide a superior education on as little as 30% less per student than public schools spend.”
    Assumption, generalization, unfounded.< <

    So anything that doesn't agree with your baseless assumptions is 'unfounded'? When picking a private school for our kids we shopped around a lot. We found that private schools which had good college placement were charging about 30% less than the state was spending per student because of their lower overhead and greater efficiency.

    >>Dave Nalle: “I took our eldest child out of public school primarily because they were teaching her that :+:=:: rather than 2+2=4.”
    What is your problem with that? < <

    Mainly that she could already count on her fingers and they were teacher her to do it all over again instead of teaching her actual math. In this specific case they changed textbooks when she moved from 1st grade to 2nd grade and the new 2nd grade textbook was using something called 'standard configuration' - basically using dice pips to teach addition and subtraction, and it was actually having the effect of degrading basic math skills she had already learned. When we eventually transferred her into a private school the result of the system they had used in 2nd grade in her public school was that she had to go into remedial math for a year to catch up with the other kids who were using the very successful Saxon system.

    >>and Everyday Math, an elementary school math program emphasizes conceptual understanding of mathematical concepts in real-world contexts (Connected Math, out of Michigan State University, does the same). It attempts to connect math to the real world–as opposed to repetitive drill and kill. <<

    These methods are widely preferred by public school teachers because they are easier to teach, but the consensus is that they lead to slower progress for children with any kind of aptitude when compared with a more traditional system like Saxon. They’re a classic example of one of the major problems in public schools, teaching the whole class down to the level of the weakest students – one of the biggest concerns a lot of parents have with the public school system.

    Dave

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Dave, you might want to note that some of the things you’re talking about apply specifically to TX. For example, up here where the Northeastern-liberal-elite reside, private school tuition costs more than schools spend on public school per-pupil expenditures. I know because I’ve looked. The *elementary* schools I’ve looked at — which are all good and competitive to get into, and some of which are non-profit and some for-profit — cost $9K and up per year, while my public school district spends about $7K/year per kid.

    You really can’t assume that private schools cost less just because you see a correlation between less bureaucracy and lower costs. There has to be a direct link. Other factors could be involved, like fewer extracurricular programs, no buses, etc.

    I don’t the bureaucracy either, but it doesn’t necessarily make public schools more expensive to run than private schools. And up here, removing bureaucracy certainly doesn’t cut costs by 30%. Costs go up.

  • Eric Olsen

    it’s clear to me now: teachers caused the earthquake

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    They’re a classic example of one of the major problems in public schools, teaching the whole class down to the level of the weakest students – one of the biggest concerns a lot of parents have with the public school system.

    We can avoid this problem in any school, public or private, by allowing students to progress at their own pace. We’d have to stop insisting that all kids learn the same stuff at the same time and end at the same place each year.

    Otherwise, the kids who move at a slower pace will either dictate everyone else’s pace or be left to fail, as the class keeps moving on to new content before they’re ready.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    it’s clear to me now: teachers caused the earthquake

    That’s because they’re enemies of children.

  • Eric Olsen

    and the earth they walk upon

  • http://www.kalyr.com/weblog Tim Hall

    If they didn’t teach all this evolutionist stuff about plate tectonics, the tsunami would never have happened!

    Won’t somebody please think of the children????

  • Eric Olsen

    we are the world

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Craig, you’re right. We should talk about how intelligently designed the Earth is, what with all its tectonic plate shifting and mass murdering tsunamis and what not.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    and remember, dinosaurs are now “jesus horses”.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>Dave, you might want to note that some of the things you’re talking about apply specifically to TX. < <

    Well yes, inevitably my specific examples of things I am or have done in the immediate past will apply to Texas since that's where I am.

    >>For example, up here where the Northeastern-liberal-elite reside, private school tuition costs more than schools spend on public school per-pupil expenditures. I know because I’ve looked. The *elementary* schools I’ve looked at — which are all good and competitive to get into, and some of which are non-profit and some for-profit — cost $9K and up per year, while my public school district spends about $7K/year per kid.< <

    $7/kid is extraordinarily low on a nationwide basis, you know. And even here in Texas there are private schools that cost as much as $30K a year, but there are also perfectly good ones which are well under $6000. In both public and private schools the quality of the school is not always a direct function of the dollars spent, but often more a result of the way the money is spent and the approach to education. The way public schools are run around here they could spend twice as much per student and it wouldn't significantly improve the quality of classroom performance.

    >>You really can’t assume that private schools cost less just because you see a correlation between less bureaucracy and lower costs. There has to be a direct link. Other factors could be involved, like fewer extracurricular programs, no buses, etc. < <

    Well, private schools also have the freedom to make cuts in areas that public schools can't get away with like buses, which is really a plus for them. Likely the big factor which makes it hard for private schools in your area to keep prices low is the cost of their facilities be it rent or capital maintenance or buying land.

    >>I don’t the bureaucracy either, but it doesn’t necessarily make public schools more expensive to run than private schools. And up here, removing bureaucracy certainly doesn’t cut costs by 30%. Costs go up.<<

    BTW, where are you located? As I do the math it should almost always be cheaper to run a streamlined private school if you run it with teacher-administrators and have no central administration to support. Just figure out the facilities cost per classroom and the salary per teacher and see if it adds up to more than $90,000 (15 students times $6000). Based on my own experience in private school (the one I went to is currently the best rated one in the US) the class size limit which the public schools are always obsessing over is semi-irrelevant. We regularly had classes of 25 or more students and it seemed to work fine in a college-like atmosphere. Anyway, if you lift that 15 student class limit private schools become much more competitive.

    Dave

  • JR

    Dave Nalle: How can you dispute a recounting of one of my personal experiences?

    This is the internet. You have no more credibility here than the “Queen of England”.

    Oh I see, business is evil and inherently exploitative even of its own customers.

    Sometimes, yes.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>Dave Nalle: How can you dispute a recounting of one of my personal experiences?

    This is the internet. You have no more credibility here than the “Queen of England”.< <

    Well at least I don't secretly run the international drug cartels.

    >>Oh I see, business is evil and inherently exploitative even of its own customers.

    Sometimes, yes<<

    I followed your link. That’s a xcam, not a business. There ARE businesses which are exploitative and are still businesses, but an operation which sells something that doesn’t exist is just a scam.

    Dave