Reforming Education

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 02, 2009 5:05 AM GMT
    What should be done to reform education?

    Being a teacher, I see that it is in dire need of reforming. Kids in middle school can't tell time (I have a few students), others that do not know how to read, others that can't do fractions, and some that don't know their times tables.

  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Mar 02, 2009 10:59 AM GMT
    The state of public schooling in this country is one more piece of evidence of what has been done to us by the right wing in this country
    There has been a systematic and very effective
    campaign to first under fund the schools and then turn around and blame them for the VERY ills that they have caused
    it's a travesty and an abomination
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    Mar 02, 2009 1:07 PM GMT
    I don't just blame the right wing because of the education system, I also blame the liberals for introducing the sense of entitlement that prevails in the public school system.

    At my old school, the only way to get parents to come out to any PTA or Open House was to offer them food. Every Thanksgiving, we had several families that the schools sponsored. We gave the kids Christmas gifts. And some of the teachers even potty-trained some of the kids in the Pre-K program.
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Mar 02, 2009 2:59 PM GMT
    I don't understand .... entitlement?
    and the liberal philosophy is somehow responsible
    for kids not being potty trained?

    We got schools where the ceilings are literally falling down on
    the kids while they are supposed to be learning and this is what you come up with?
    Sorry, I'm not followin'
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    Mar 02, 2009 3:24 PM GMT
    I don't know who is to blame for the state of public education in the USA, but from all accounts it is in dire need of repair. My best friend's sister wants to leave the US and return to Canada once her son is old enough to attend school. All because the education system is so bad. In order to give her son a good education she would have to send him to private school which would more than eat up the extra money she is making by working at a high-level job in the US.

    Here are a few ideas I have:

    - pay teachers more. You get what you pay for in life, and if you do not compensate people well you will not attract talent.

    - bad teachers should be fired if they do not perform. This is a tough thing to implement in a unionized environment, but good performance should be rewarded and bad performance punished.

    - give parents some say in where they can send their children. One factor holding the poor back in the US is that they do not have any flexibility in getting their children out of bad schools. The ghetto seems to extend into the public education system.

    The US government (Federal and State) seems to have underfunded their education system for years. A modern and growing economy cannot reach its' potential if it does not educate its' populace properly. Education should be seen as an investment that all citizens should be concerned with, not just those with children.
  • Menergy_1

    Posts: 737

    Mar 02, 2009 3:42 PM GMT
    America's education system has been in trouble since the 50's (think the lag at the time behind Europe and the Soviet Union -- the "sputnik" era and the catch-up we had to try to do in sciences and math), the 60's with the liberal gutting of academics in high school requirements, much of college curricula and general requirements at university level being demolished in favor of "hippy" feel-good rebelling into "I'll-develop-my-own-education-and-scrap-traditional/classical-education-requirements" (the war protest years, for example), underfunding at the federal, state, and local levels everywhere for school construction, maintenance, repairs, etc. - really regardless of political party -- and really the societal lack of parent involvement in so many spheres of kids' development.

    "It takes a whole village to raise a child" -- well that has its merits, in my opinion, but also lets parents abdicate their responsibilities and invovlement in ensuring their kids are prepared in so many ways to move on, to be educated, to achieve more than depending on others to do things for them, to get out of the more current TV/video games/cell phone texting world the young grow up in, and respect the value of education and learning. Parental involvement in school achievement, in school meal quality and their own kids' nutrition for mental and physical health, in guiding their kids through adolescence to youth and young adulthood -- and the parents' lack of participation in the community/the schools/the local politics and support for schools at municipal/state/federal levels has been appalling.


    I know there are strong feelings against Republicans here -- and this whole situation did NOT arise nationwide only through some right-wing Republican Christian fundamentalists' plot -- You may argue correctly about insufficient government funding -- which argument does have its merits when we've diverted or cut funds from so many important areas, not just education, in this country for other uses. But that has happened under both Democratic and Republican leadership at all levels throughout the country for the past 50 years.

    I think this is a long-standing societal/cultural problem in the US - which has led to funding issues, intrusion in some cases by nut-jobs at all levels who want to burn books or insert absurd teachings into local schools, etc., and to a general public distrust and disdain for education (that's been a US trait for decades - I know, I've lived through it) and the "intelligentsia" - that has resulted in where we are now. Do you think teachers in this country have ever really been respected? Paid adequately for their efforts? Supported by parents of the kids they try to teach? Puhleeze.

    But some evil Republican plot against all schools?-- that's paranoia. Better look at history more and be fair.

    (Disclaimer: This is my own gross generalization, of course, to match others' gross generalizations and stereotypes. :winkicon_smile.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 02, 2009 3:59 PM GMT
    I am currently the guardian of a 16.5 year old junior in high school (mother was deployed and helping a friend out). Anyhow. This boy named Alex is flunking 3 classes. The other day he mad out a grocery list of things he wanted. He couldn't even spell "banana".

    Last week I met with his guidance counselor. He currently because of the number of classes he has flunked will not graduate high school without summer school. Even then he must pass ALL of his classes, something I highly doubt.

    As a freshman he took Algebra where his grades were and F first semester and a d- second. So they moved him into Geometry. In this class both semesters he got an F. However passed with a d- in summer school. They moved him up to Algebra II. First semester and F, and currently failing. The had him scheduled for pre college algebra. Since he didn’t need the math credit I stopped this nonsense. The school, because he needs X amount of math credits continues to pass him up to harder and harder work. Work he just doesn’t understand. It si all about getting the credits. Not making sure the student understand the work.

    Yes teachers passing kid on to get them out of their classes, and having to earn credits versus making sure a kid knows the subject is a failing part of there school. In this instance the school is Failing at their job.

    Yes his mother has also failed him, and I am trying to correct some of this problem. It is a combination of parents, teachers and school district that are failing all our kids. No one is innocent.

    How can we change this? One lets emphasize the student. Let’s not be afraid to hold them back if they truly don’t know the work. Stop passing them forward. Yes parents need to get involved. So as the student enrolls let’s make the parents sign a contract too. That they will attend X amount of conferences at the school. Last we do need to pay our teachers more, and treat them better. We need better ones.
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    Mar 02, 2009 4:16 PM GMT
    Teachers aren't underpaid? When people make this argument, they typically say so in relation to other vocations--also, $36k?! These children will be leading our future, why can't we place more value on teachers as a whole (tooting my own horn? No, just angsty).

    If we're going to reform education, we need to rethink our position on assessments. No longer are teachers able to produce their own lesson plans (overall), we're relegated by scripted [constrictive] lessons that were prefabricated by a very well-paid think tank...NOT from ground level...

    I refuse to teach to a test, but I'm left without many other options--thank you No Child Left Behind!
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    Mar 02, 2009 4:29 PM GMT

    I think you might find this interview interesting. There are a lot of good points brought forward. Charlie Rose is interviewing four teachers, each of whom has won the National Teacher of the Year award.


    http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/9167
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    Mar 02, 2009 4:37 PM GMT
    Well, at least there are exceptions to this gloom-and-doom, though I know the problems cited here are real.

    I've judged high school science fairs, and been astonished at how brilliant some students are. I had to verbally interview each student at his or her booth, to help ensure they really knew the material, the project not merely recycled from their big brother's entry from 2 years ago, or put together by Mom & Dad.

    And those kids were so smart, I had to disguise my astonishment when talking with them. In remote US rural areas, in 1984, they would explain to me how they were using computers to manage herds of cattle, and evaluate the soil for crops, determine water usage patterns and so forth. In 1984, ladies & gentleman, when most of you hadn't even touched a computer yet.

    The education system in our US cities is in shambles. But there are other areas, strangely the more rural ones, where the kids are so different from their big-city counterparts you wouldn't recognize them. I taught senior HS for a year in such a place, and 90% of those students went on to college. And no one dropped out, not a one.

    I agree US schools are in crisis, but at least know there are some exceptional pockets, where kids are as brilliant & dedicated as you could ever want. And oddly enough, my own students were very gay friendly in that Red State, vocally hostile to their few classmates who expressed Republican homophobic views. That also gives me great hope for the future.
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    Mar 02, 2009 5:02 PM GMT
    how simple to lay the blame for society's ills on our tax supported school system. we provide the students with a reasonable trough and we fill it with fresh, clean water. it is up to them to drink.

    In the US public education teachers are less paid than their peers in other Western countries. In Canada a high school teacher can make over $80,000 a year at the max. of their salary grid. Some of these teachers do not earn their salary, but overall Canada's public education system is in better shape than their Southern neighbour.

    When people are choosing a profession one of the factors that comes into play is compensation. If a prospective teacher can make more money going to work in private industry or government with fewer hassles, than why would they become a teacher?

    I personally think teaching kids today is a thankless job. At the best of times most kids do not want to be at school, so you have a very reluctant and captive audience (I hated school for all 19 years). Couple that with the threat of being disciplined for trying to discipline a kid that is acting out, and you have the potential for chaos.

    Paying teachers more won't solve the public education systems problems, but not making their salaries competitive is not conducive to attracting talent.
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    Mar 02, 2009 5:34 PM GMT
    Start of RANT

    I have to laugh when people who have probably never stepped foot into a classroom as a teacher say that teachers aren't underpaid. I taught in Florida, so I know what I am talking about. Teachers may be on-site fewer months, but I can guarantee you that they spend many off-hours during the school year grading and preparing for the next day. Grading alone is a Herculean task.

    Also, teachers are under enormous pressure to pass students clearly not qualified to progress to the next level. You're kidding yourself if you don't think the teachers themselves are aware of this.

    Teachers and the school system are expected to do everything and teach children everything...yet, at the same time are expected to do nothing and teach them nothing because it is supposed to happen at home. Sex education is a perfect example. Parents are like schizophrenic people when it comes to this subject. Gasp, don't teach them about sex...gasp why is my child so unprepared for adulthood relationships....gasp, the lord doesn't allow me to talk about sex with my children, you shouldn't be doing it either. It is no wonder that Jennifer is having sex as a teenager and has no clue about demanding condom use from her sexual partner (if male) because she doesn't learn how to demand it and learns about abstinence. Just say no! What is this? A Nancy Reagan special? That's not proper sex education!

    Additionally, imagine the number of times a phone call to a parent yields the attitude that the teacher is to blame for the little angel's inconceivable misbehavior because the angelic one couldn't possibly misbehave at all. Yeah right. I'd like to take the camera and point it on your child so that you can see how angelic he really is(n't).

    End of RANT

    With all that said though, I'll take an underprivileged urban kid over an overprivileged suburban kid any day of the week. Urban parents will intervene and back the teacher up while suburban parents...not so much.

    The real end of my RANT!

    icon_biggrin.gif
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Mar 02, 2009 6:27 PM GMT
    Although this has happened under both republican and democratic administrations
    It is part and parcel of the republican mantra
    The Grover Norquist school of strangle all entitlement programs until they cannot sustain themselves any longer
    Is it a "plot" ?
    No it's not a plot but a means to an end for republicans
    Schools are superfluous to the right
    They are expensive needless items that can be dispensed with
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    Mar 02, 2009 6:45 PM GMT
    Balljunkie saidWhat should be done to reform education?

    Being a teacher, I see that it is in dire need of reforming. Kids in middle school can't tell time (I have a few students), others that do not know how to read, others that can't do fractions, and some that don't know their times tables.



    Well, if you saw Black in America on CNN, you saw that over 80% of Black children are born to single parent households.

    So, for answer 1: Two parents. Social responsibility in having families to begin with.

    2. Less tolerance of bad behavior. E.g., there's absolutely NO EXCUSE for a 9 year old kid being 100 pounds overweight. That has to start AT HOME. My folks would have never put up with any of us kids being fat. PERIOD.

    3. Less acceptance of low standards. Nowadays, even failures are touted as passed / failed. No. Second place is FIRST LOSER. Bastardization of standards is why we are now spend close to $12000.00 per year, per student, and still have miserable failures in education.

    4. Corporal punishment. Again, this needs to start at home. Have you been to a supermarket lately? There's no excuse for the bad behavior that's tolerated.

    5. Less school integration. Integration is a failed experiment. While diversity is great, you cannot expect learning to occur in a classroom where some kids are fully fluent in the language of the land, and others are illiterate. Every kid SUFFERS in that environment where learning is DUMBED DOWN to the lowest common denominator.

    6. A single uniform language - American English. No other group than Spanish-speaking has been so specially accommodated by government, to their own detriment. First thing, everyone needs to get on the same communications channel.

    7. Break the gangs.

    8. Health report cards. You can't expect physically unhealthy kids to do well in school.

    9. Start the school later, when kids are more alert.

    10. Hold parents accountable for bad kids.

    11. Get rid of bad kids.

    12. Get back to the three R-s. It's inexcusable that an 18 year old kid can't spell four letter words, doesn't know the difference between your and you're, and can't balance a checkbook or count change.

    I'm about as liberal as liberals get in many areas, but, the whole everyone is a winner thing in schools is non-sense. Integrated schools have lowered educational standards beyond belief. Lack of parenting is the main issue, in my view, however. I have many friends who USED TO BE teachers; who threw their hands in the air, and said "ENOUGH."
  • EricLA

    Posts: 3461

    Mar 02, 2009 6:59 PM GMT
    One of many things I'd like to see is the mandatory teaching of a second language starting in elementary school. Kids can pick up language much more easily when they are younger. We need to be more competitive in the world marketplace.
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    Mar 03, 2009 3:06 AM GMT
    GQjock saidI don't understand .... entitlement?
    and the liberal philosophy is somehow responsible
    for kids not being potty trained?

    We got schools where the ceilings are literally falling down on
    the kids while they are supposed to be learning and this is what you come up with?
    Sorry, I'm not followin'


    I was getting at, that kids and parents expect things to be handed to them. Yes, the buildings do need to be rebuilt. But if the parents aren't demanding more, and settling for what is handed out, what is going to happen? Absolutely nothing.

    And the liberal philosophy that why should I work when something is going to be given to me. I don't really have to work for my grades because I know that the teacher can't fail me. I know that they will give me a 70 which will get me to the next level.
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    Mar 03, 2009 6:21 PM GMT
    EricLA saidOne of many things I'd like to see is the mandatory teaching of a second language starting in elementary school. Kids can pick up language much more easily when they are younger. We need to be more competitive in the world marketplace.


    I second this.

    Too often do "red blooded Americans" argue otherwise, harping on how ENGLISH is our native tongue and should be preserved to retain a sense of heritage.

    Wrong.

    Countless countries throughout the world practice a vast array of [challenging] multilingual education. In France and Japan, students complete secondary school knowing (fluent or conversational) more than two different languages.

    We're holding ourselves farther back if we remain reluctant to adapt to our world climate.

    While English is great, we can stand to educate our citizens for the world of the future--multinational, multilingual, and competitive.

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    Mar 03, 2009 6:42 PM GMT
    Nothing wrong with being multi-lingual / multi-talented, but, you can't expect learning to take place when you have to program to the least common denominator (illiterates). English needs to be the primary language that EVERYONE has a command of. Other languages are fine, but there needs to be one language that everyone speaks well. In the U.S., and Canada, that's English. (That's why international airports require it, and most countries learn it. E.g. Asians come here and learn it all the time, but, Spanish speakers often REFUSE to integrate and everyone suffers for it, them included.)

    Classroom integration is a huge disservice to the learning process.

    Since the rise of modern urban centers, a common language has become less necessary for the folks not knowing it. Here in Dallas / Fort Worth, it's hard to go through a fast food place and not have your order messed up because the employees are illiterate. That's a major shame.

    No group other than Spanish speakers has been so especially accommodated in the n'th degree, to their disservice, I believe. Folks that speak other languages learn English, and thrive in The United States, often doing better than the natives (e.g. Asian culture). Many Spanish speakers are militant in their refusal to integrate, and because they've been so especially accommodated for so long, and immigration law enforcement is a joke, they can exist (albeit at a lower level) in urban subcultures without becoming literate in the language.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 03, 2009 6:54 PM GMT
    BLAME THE GOVERNMENT...


    EDUCATION SPENDING/BUDGET

    image01.gif



    MILITARY SPENDING/BUDGET

    us-spending-2000-2010-budget-war.png


    $56 BILLION DOLLARS vs $600-$700 BILLION DOLLARS.... come on!

    GO FIGURE...
  • dannyboy1101

    Posts: 977

    Mar 03, 2009 7:20 PM GMT
    I think we need to make sure that we give every kid an excellent education, but I think that it also has to be very individualized and varied. European countries teach their students multiple languages and even focus on the arts and music, thereby creating a student body with a bit more appreciation for culture. If we don't put some focus on this, Americans are as good as robots. Our students learn culture from Miley Cyrus and Paris Hilton. Anyone else see a problem?

    A lot of schools are having problems right now and their solution is to cut all the "extras" and shove more math and science down the students' throats. I don't know about you, but when I studied for a test and was exhausted and slamming my head into a wall, I did something else to allow my mind to rest and would come back refreshed and able to continue. Arts and foreign language and even courses like home economics are essential to engage parts of mind.

    FYI, my school district says that in order to go to the next grade, one must not have failed any "core" class all four quarters. That means that in every math, science, lit, language, and social studies class you could get 3 F's and a D over the course of the year and you're ready to move on??? If I'm trying to drive my car out of Jiffy Lube with 3 flat tires and 1 with low air, I'm not going to be traveling down the highway at 70 mph anytime soon.

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    Mar 03, 2009 7:25 PM GMT
    I am of the belief that attitudes toward education begin with the parents. A child not taught to appreciate knowledge will never appreciate it no matter how high the educational standards of the school he is in.

    Schools here exist on the barest of government funds and we still manage to turn out highly competent professionals. And maniacal evil geniuses bent on global domination like a certain someone I will refrain from referring to directly. But his name starts with an S and ends with an E, and has 8 letters all in all.
  • imperator

    Posts: 626

    Mar 03, 2009 7:36 PM GMT
    Balljunkie saidWhat should be done to reform education?

    Being a teacher, I see that it is in dire need of reforming. Kids in middle school can't tell time (I have a few students), others that do not know how to read, others that can't do fractions, and some that don't know their times tables.



    Holy crap, where would a reformer even start? You know what I think the biggest obstacle to progress is? The parents.

    Want more money to repair or upgrade facilities and resources? The parents will be up in arms over the increase in taxes. Want to address the disciplinary problems in lazy, pampered, disrespectful f**king kids these days? You'll have parents in your face shrilling "stop going so hard on my kid, and don't you dare tell me how to raise them!" Want to raise the standards in the classroom? "Why are you sabotaging my kid's future with tests that are too hard?" Want to detoxify their minds from the nonsense that's filling their heads and blocking them from learning-- say-- science? "How dare you interfere with my right to raise my kid to share my beliefs!?" Want to teach effective, comprehensive sex-ed so that you're reckless, porn-addled, hypersexualized students don't knock each other up and drop out of high school to raise their kids? Good luck getting the parents to sign that consent form-- they believe their darling little angels are innocent.

    Virtually any attempt to fix public education is going to be challenged by bad parents who-- either because they were raised lax or they've been brainwashed with overly touchy-feeling parenting books or they've succumbed to the paranoia of living in a litigious culture-- have been lax with their own kids. So not only are the kids out-of-control, spoiled, undisciplined, mouthy, lazy brats raised by crass reality-TV miscreants and the xbox to have no patience or attention-spans, and to expect instant gratification and 'unlimited lives' to deal with their problems via violent outbursts; but you also have the parents, without the backbones to stand up to their kids or even say 'no' to them, stupefied with their own guilt for the shitty parenting job they've done but at the same time in denial of their own failures and so all too ready to displace the blame onto teachers whenever their children don't accomplish everything they "deserve." The sense of entitlement that kids feel is-- I'd contend-- second-hand; it's actually the parents who can't face the notion that they've failed, so they convince themselves that their 'perfect' kids should all be on the honour roll, and if they aren't then it must be the school's fault.

    Short of some ruthless Orwellian-style paradigm shift to the state confiscating all newborns at birth and having professional teacher/parent-surrogates raising them to legal adulthood, my suggestion for fixing schools would be to build a time machine, go back and take out the first person who ignorantly (on their lazy brat's say-so) told off a good teacher for not kissing their spawn's ass; or the first parent who said to their kid "don't you worry about how you do on that test today, I'm going to have a talk with your teacher if it's too hard"; or the bleeding heart who decided that doing away with corporeal punishment wasn't enough-- they didn't want their kid 'humiliated' with detention, either.

    I spent a long time wanting to become a teacher. Then I actually started to hear stories from people who loved teaching... right up until their first parent/teacher meeting, or their first spoiled, stupid whore or student who thought it was their "right" to txt in class instead of pay attention. That's why now I want to be a cop: lost hope in educating 'em, so might as well do society the next-best favour and arrest 'em. icon_confused.gif
  • imperator

    Posts: 626

    Mar 03, 2009 7:43 PM GMT
    animanimus saidi don't buy for a second that teachers are underpaid. even here in florida where they are among the country's lowest paid, they earn about what i made in the corporate world yet i worked 12 months and they work only 10 to get it. on top of that, they retire after 30 years with a pension of about $36k/year which equates to a nest egg of about $900,000. i actually had to save money out of my salary over 30 years to wind up with what is simply handed over to teachers when they retire. so i think they are more than fairly well compensated.[...]


    They'd be overpaid if they just had the one job; but they don't, anymore. Now they're all expected to be a teacher, a surrogate parent, a guidance counsellor, a fund-raiser, a hostage-negotiator and a parole officer all in one person (and expected to have the patience of Job, to boot). For all of that, I think teachers remain underpaid.
  • imperator

    Posts: 626

    Mar 03, 2009 7:52 PM GMT
    chuckystud said
    Balljunkie saidWhat should be done to reform education?

    Being a teacher, I see that it is in dire need of reforming. Kids in middle school can't tell time (I have a few students), others that do not know how to read, others that can't do fractions, and some that don't know their times tables.

    [...]
    11. Get rid of bad kids.
    [...]


    Um... I was on-board with a lot of what you were saying, but this jumped out as being a big vague... "get rid" of them how? Because my warped mind is producing images of lye-soaked 1000-child deep holes in the ground, or Soylent Green factories, or Apollo rockets in a short bus motif launching towards the sun. icon_eek.gif
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    Mar 03, 2009 8:02 PM GMT
    imperator said
    chuckystud said
    Balljunkie saidWhat should be done to reform education?

    Being a teacher, I see that it is in dire need of reforming. Kids in middle school can't tell time (I have a few students), others that do not know how to read, others that can't do fractions, and some that don't know their times tables.

    [...]
    11. Get rid of bad kids.
    [...]


    Um... I was on-board with a lot of what you were saying, but this jumped out as being a big vague... "get rid" of them how? Because my warped mind is producing images of lye-soaked 1000-child deep holes in the ground, or Soylent Green factories, or Apollo rockets in a short bus motif launching towards the sun. icon_eek.gif


    I agree with Imperator... that's why we "educate" to help people and not get rid of them simply because they're "bad"?!@?