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Friday, December 23, 2011

NYT: Coaching, Not ‘Moneyball,’ Will Improve Teaching

I love the part where Brother Constance gets socked in the jaw!

However, despite a bevy of superstars and data-driven prognostications for success, the 2011 Red Sox fell short of the playoffs for the second consecutive year. Sports pundits were quick to suggest that the team’s shortcomings came neither in talent nor ability, but in leadership, team chemistry and effective coaching.

This made me think about my workplace. So much of the conversation about school reform has focused on the themes of data and testing-based measures of teacher quality; competition among both teachers and schools; and the eradication of teacher tenure and guaranteed pay raises. These policies, the argument goes, would compel better teaching and thus lead to better schools.

But there is something missing from this equation, just as it was missing from this year’s Red Sox.

...Statistics tell a great story on paper. We can use all of the advanced metrics we want to assess an individual’s efficacy. We can adjust someone’s pay based upon past performance. And we can make it easier to replace those we no longer deem suitable for the job.

But it is harder to quantify a team of engaged practitioners, led in their collaborative efforts to excel by fellow practitioners who know the craft well.

I’m a Red Sox fan. Trust me: I know.

Repoz Posted: December 23, 2011 at 07:46 PM | 86 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, projections, red sox, sabermetrics

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   1. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: December 23, 2011 at 08:10 PM (#4022750)
I don’t need any more carrots to inspire me to constantly improve my practice. I’ve got 29 pretty darn good ones sitting in my classroom each weekday morning.

We need to cut this school's carrot budget.
   2. Tripon Posted: December 23, 2011 at 08:14 PM (#4022753)
29? Really? That seems quaint.
   3. tshipman Posted: December 23, 2011 at 08:26 PM (#4022759)
I guess the problem with standardized tests are that they have to be fill in the blank or multiple choice. If you really wanted to do a better job at education reform, the answer to me, seems to be to develop a better test rather than throw out the paradigm of testing completely.

I think that there's obvious merit in identifying who does a really good job at teaching children and adapting those techniques in a widespread way, but it seems like it's really difficult to identify who does a good job at teaching given current measurements.

To me, the problem where people are using poor measurements is the definition of a "Moneyball" problem.
   4. Tricky Dick Posted: December 23, 2011 at 08:27 PM (#4022760)
Hiring school teachers to evaluate major league organizations is the new market inefficiency.
   5. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: December 23, 2011 at 08:30 PM (#4022765)
However, despite a bevy of superstars and data-driven prognostications for success, the 2011 Red Sox fell short of the playoffs for the second consecutive year. Sports pundits were quick to suggest that the team’s shortcomings came neither in talent nor ability, but in leadership, team chemistry and effective coaching.

Yes, but why would you want to listen to those idiots? Just take their word for it, and don't bother looking for any other answers...

If you are looking for a reason why the Sox came up short in September, try counting the number of healthy SP's they had from their originally planed rotation. I trust our teachers can still count to zero. But maybe I am overlooking the healing effect of good leadership...
   6. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 23, 2011 at 08:36 PM (#4022770)
The thing that's really cool about baseball is the measurement of it. Almost no human endeavors are as susceptible to statistical analysis as baseball. It's a terribly fun thing about baseball, but it makes transfering ideas from baseball into other settings highly problematic. It's not given that simple metrics can be as useful at measuring quality and skill in another field as they are in baseball.
   7. Dale Sams Posted: December 23, 2011 at 09:05 PM (#4022777)
try counting the number of healthy SP's they had from their originally planed rotation


And the astronomical rise in errors? Mental and physical? Extra-inning OPS is a frigging disgrace compared to the rest of the league. 9th inning OPS compared to their other work is woeful, but I guess you can chalk it up to facing closers, but that extra-inning work is horrible.
   8. GregD Posted: December 23, 2011 at 09:26 PM (#4022788)
I think that there's obvious merit in identifying who does a really good job at teaching children and adapting those techniques in a widespread way, but it seems like it's really difficult to identify who does a good job at teaching given current measurements.
This is true. Figuring out what to do is hard, though. Many fierce advocates of testing--Bloomberg most obviously--will only pay for the cheapest possible tests, even though those tests are far less effective than more-expensive ones. I get it; finances are finite. But the abstract discussion of testing/no testing doesn't embrace the quality of particular tests. We end up with a grim situation where we increase our testing while reducing its quality, thus flushing classroom time down the toilet.

Some countries have invested a great deal more in testing, requiring long-form writing (which means paying qualified people to grade that writing appropriately.) I wish the discussion about tests were reconfigured in the way you raised but I don't see it happening.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: December 23, 2011 at 09:44 PM (#4022795)
Billy Beane never should have taught 3rd grade math.
   10. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 23, 2011 at 10:01 PM (#4022802)
However, despite a bevy of superstars and data-driven prognostications for success, the 2011 Red Sox fell short of the playoffs for the second consecutive year


Yea, the Red Sox will never win a championship under Theo Epstein and his nerd stats!
   11. McCoy Posted: December 23, 2011 at 10:30 PM (#4022805)
At this point it looks highly unlikely.
   12. cardsfanboy Posted: December 23, 2011 at 10:40 PM (#4022808)
However, despite a bevy of superstars and data- emotional-driven prognostications for success, the 2011 Red Sox Angels fell short of the playoffs for the second consecutive year


I mean why do these writers focus so squarely on just one or two stat based teams, when you have non-stat based teams like the Angels, who aren't making the post season either.
   13. Dale Sams Posted: December 23, 2011 at 10:43 PM (#4022809)
But the Angels manager carries a 43.6 NTPG. (Nose-touches per game). Everyone knows Sciocia is the best manager. How can they not be stat-based.
   14. Yclept Posted: December 23, 2011 at 10:48 PM (#4022811)
Same old same old. People don't understand probabilities. WAR and all the other advanced statistical measurements do not guarantee wins or losses, they simply give people information to make their own informed guesses.

There will always be teams who wildly outperform their pythagoreans just as there will always be horses that win at 150-1 odds. Perhaps the motivation of the jockey or the HGH (horse growth hormone) secretly injected into the horse have something to do with it; perhaps the mischievously pernicious god Loki mutters a fast-leg-spell into the horse's ear. Who knows? These things are not measurable, but some of them doubtless have an effect that is greater than zero.

The Mariners last year had a superb clubhouse atmosphere, they virtually always hustled, they had two exceptional on-field and off-field leaders in Olivo and King Felix, yet they sucked.

However, for Mr. Lee, this is just what the Red Sox need. Hence, he should be willing to trade the Red Sox team (and for that matter their budget) for the Mariner team.

As a lifelong baseball fan, and hence an expert like Mr. Lee, I propose this trade and have no doubt that, however reluctantly, Mr. Lee if he were Red Sox GM would consider this a done deal.
   15. Boxkutter Posted: December 24, 2011 at 02:53 AM (#4022888)
But the Angels manager carries a 43.6 NTPG. (Nose-touches per game)


Mitch from "Dazed and Confused" scoffs at such a low number.
   16. valuearbitrageur Posted: December 24, 2011 at 03:15 AM (#4022890)
Cliff Notes: Please don't measure teachers. You won't like what you find if you do.
   17. Downtown Bookie Posted: December 24, 2011 at 03:58 AM (#4022894)
Yclept Posted: December 23, 2011 at 04:48 PM (#4022811)
Same old same old. People don't understand probabilities.


The author's a math teacher and doesn't understand probabilities.

That could be a problem.

DB
   18. JE (Jason) Posted: December 24, 2011 at 03:59 AM (#4022895)
It's a terribly fun thing about baseball, but it makes transfering ideas from baseball into other settings highly problematic.

OTOH Moneyball principles (i.e., taking advantage of market inefficiencies) readily transfer to other settings.
   19. Downtown Bookie Posted: December 24, 2011 at 04:05 AM (#4022898)
Many fierce advocates of testing--Bloomberg most obviously--will only pay for the cheapest possible tests, even though those tests are far less effective than more-expensive ones.


Americans don't want the best.

They want the cheapest.

That's why government contracts always go to the lowest bidder.

Penny wise, and pound foolish.

DB
   20. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 24, 2011 at 04:28 AM (#4022899)
OTOH Moneyball principles (i.e., taking advantage of market inefficiencies) readily transfer to other settings.
I mean, yes, but "taking advantage of market inefficiencies" is mostly jargon that means "getting good deals".

Everyone is always trying to "identify market inefficiencies" in some form or another - Moneyball is about the use of a certain set of metrics to make those identifications, and the utility of those metrics for evaluating baseball performance. What makes baseball special is that we can identify market inefficiencies through the use of relatively simple metrics.
   21. Bhaakon Posted: December 24, 2011 at 04:33 AM (#4022901)
The author's a math teacher and doesn't understand probabilities.

That could be a problem.

DB


Most of my high school math teachers couldn't speak English. Given what a decent math-related degree is worth on the job market, schools are forced to take the dregs.
   22. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: December 24, 2011 at 05:03 AM (#4022905)
Whoa! I went to grad school with the writer of this piece. We used to talk #### about baseball since I'm a Yanks fan. Anyway, I wish he hadn't drawn the parallel with moneyball, but I'm not going to argue against a piece that says teaching quality shouldn't be measured by test scores.
   23. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: December 24, 2011 at 05:26 AM (#4022908)
I'm not going to argue against a piece that says teaching quality shouldn't be measured by test scores.

Test scores <=> Fld%

Discuss.
   24. valuearbitrageur Posted: December 24, 2011 at 09:41 AM (#4022945)
I think that there's obvious merit in identifying who does a really good job at teaching children and adapting those techniques in a widespread way, but it seems like it's really difficult to identify who does a good job at teaching given current measurements.

To me, the problem where people are using poor measurements is the definition of a "Moneyball" problem.


There is no "market' in education to be efficient. Public education simply can't be good, successful or efficient because it's "public". There is no market, no choice, to avoid completely pouring money down the rathole of public education we rely on tests as a mediocre proxy to "measure" "results", instead of letting the consumers (parents and kids) pick and choose where their money is best spent, and what measures best guide their decisions.

The union drones should just accept testing as a minor cost so they can be overpaid, under managed and under-worked while they wait to retire at early ages with lush pensions.
   25. Tippecanoe Posted: December 24, 2011 at 01:53 PM (#4022954)
Public education simply can't be good, successful or efficient


I think it could be efficient, but it isn't set up for excellence. It's designed to get the masses to a state of competency. If efficient, it does this, but if it misses that mark at all, you have mediocrity and worse.

On the other hand, the primary advantage of most private schools is pure demographics. It has little if anything to do with teacher quality, and everything to do with the family situation the kids are coming from.
   26. GregD Posted: December 24, 2011 at 03:59 PM (#4022971)
There is no "market' in education to be efficient. Public education simply can't be good, successful or efficient because it's "public". There is no market, no choice, to avoid completely pouring money down the rathole of public education we rely on tests as a mediocre proxy to "measure" "results", instead of letting the consumers (parents and kids) pick and choose where their money is best spent, and what measures best guide their decisions.
This is all true in old textbooks, but economists now devote most of their time to talking about the ways that markets fail to produce excellence or efficiency. Market isn't magic! And privatizing government services often leads to higher expenses and worse outcomes; it all depends on how, not whether, services are privatized. But the main question is definitional. Public schools are designed to serve the public. Do they? Well obviously not perfectly, but it is hard to say that public schools haven't played a big role in creating a literate society in which people in the broad middle are able to perform the types of jobs that are available, when those jobs are available. It's inconceivable that we could have transformed from an agrarian society to an industrial one to a post-industrial one without public schools.

In terms of overpaid, this is also puzzling, given that teachers make less than similarly educated people and routinely make less that uneducated people in civil service positions. And of course make far less here than they make in many other countries.

The interesting thing about public education is that it is always in crisis, and yet it is perilously difficult to find any scalable system that surpasses it. Some portion of small charters do, but many of them lose their advantage as soon as they scale upward. And on the whole charters underperform public schools, once you control for student body. Most private schools, even the famous ones, at best keep up with and often underperform public schools once you control for population. (There is though value in having your students in a completely selected environment, even if that value isn't to be found in educational achievement.) So sure public education stinks, but what are the alternatives? A more-expensive, less-regulated, lower-performing system of charters and fly-by-night invented-yesterday private schools that would spring up if the public schools were dismantled?
   27. KingKaufman Posted: December 24, 2011 at 10:59 PM (#4023146)
Test scores <=> Fld%


I would say this overstates the effectiveness of test scores.

They're measuring the wrong things. In the big city public school system my kids go to school in, it's like the place is run by flat earthers. They're all about test scores and nothing else. There's never any discussion about what those tests are measuring. It's hideous.
   28. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: December 24, 2011 at 11:12 PM (#4023149)
They're measuring the wrong things. Talking to traditionalists about fielding is like talking to flat earthers. They're all about Fld% and nothing else. There's never any discussion about what Fld% is measuring. It's hideous.


Yup, I think I nailed it.
   29. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 24, 2011 at 11:23 PM (#4023155)
In terms of overpaid, this is also puzzling, given that teachers make less than similarly educated people and routinely make less that uneducated people in civil service positions. And of course make far less here than they make in many other countries.

I think by "overpaid" the writer is arguing that educators who do not actually educate the students they're supposed to educate are not doing their jobs and would be overpaid if paid at all.

For example the CEOs of Bank of America and Citibank would be overpaid in my view since they operated their companies in a way that they would be bankrupt if not for a government bailout -- precisely the type of bailout that smaller banks and savings and loans did not get in the early 1990s. I really don't care how much they would make as salaried people if they were to look for a job on the open market.

You should get paid based on what value you add, not how much your classmates make.
   30. Dr. Vaux Posted: December 24, 2011 at 11:29 PM (#4023159)
Thank you very much, GregD.

I know lots of teachers, and anyone who calls them overpaid or under-worked (especially that one, if that's possible) has no idea what he's talking about. And they all hate standardized tests. That's something that has been forced on them by politicians, not something they came up with themselves.
   31. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 25, 2011 at 12:26 AM (#4023169)
I know lots of teachers, and anyone who calls them overpaid or under-worked (especially that one, if that's possible) has no idea what he's talking about. And they all hate standardized tests. That's something that has been forced on them by politicians, not something they came up with themselves.

I know lots of students in the St Louis public school that aren't being educated by their schools. Something like 9% of students in the district are reading at their grade level. This is the tragedy. I don't give a flying **** about whether their teachers think they're overpaid or underpaid, or whether or not they hate or don't hate standardized tests.
   32. GregD Posted: December 25, 2011 at 02:39 AM (#4023199)
I know lots of students in the St Louis public school that aren't being educated by their schools. Something like 9% of students in the district are reading at their grade level. This is the tragedy. I don't give a flying **** about whether their teachers think they're overpaid or underpaid, or whether or not they hate or don't hate standardized tests.
In the end, you have the right final goal--students should be educated. But your methodology seems akin to giving Art Howe the West Side Under-12s, sending them out to the National League, and then using their 0-162 record to damn his managing ability.

To talk about the quality of education, you have to start by separating out two factors: 1) the level of students as they come in and 2) the level of improvement while they are in the system. Many fine public and private schools coast by on #1--they have students who are high achievers when they come in and high achievers when they go out, based on whatever connection of family background (family income is the best predictor of kids' education achievement), family support, native talent, whatever. But many of those schools actually do quite poorly on #2--the kids are great but don't get relatively better. Maybe that's not their fault; maybe it's like Albert Pujols 3 years ago. How much better can a person get? But it's still generally so; many of the "best" schools do a poor job when measured by standard #2.

And quite a few "terrible" schools do quite well on #2. They get students who come in reading 4.2 levels below grade level and send them out reading at 2.1 levels below. That's a great success. But by your measure, they're a failure, and the school that did nothing with gifted kids is a success.

To address #1--the level at which students enter the system--we have to consider massive programs. It may not be possible to make the kind of dents we'd like even with massive programs. But that's about our society's role in preparing the next generation, not about schools.

The debate on education has to be focused on #2--what schools do with what society gives them, and things like what percent are reading at grade level tells you nothing about that, unless you pretend that everyone is a perfectly blank slate and starts at exactly the same place on the first day of kindergarten.
   33. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 25, 2011 at 03:40 AM (#4023207)
And quite a few "terrible" schools do quite well on #2. They get students who come in reading 4.2 levels below grade level and send them out reading at 2.1 levels below. That's a great success. But by your measure, they're a failure, and the school that did nothing with gifted kids is a success.

This may be true in other parts of the country, but I would be shocked if this were the case in the St Louis City School District. It's not that only a minority of students are reading at grade level, it's that almost no one is. And it's not because there's a massive influx of immigrants coming in at various grades speaking dozens of different languages. Hardly anyone moves to St Louis. Most kids in the district do start school in the district. It is also true that the school cannot control the level of support the student gets at home, and lots of kids in the St Louis City schools get very little support at home.

If I heard teachers make 1/100 the noise about how much the students are suffering as they do about how much they deserve to be paid and how they should be evaluated I might have a lot more sympathy for them. Might.
   34. GregD Posted: December 25, 2011 at 03:57 AM (#4023212)
This may be true in other parts of the country, but I would be shocked if this were the case in the St Louis City School District. It's not that only a minority of students are reading at grade level, it's that almost no one is. And it's not because there's a massive influx of immigrants coming in at various grades speaking dozens of different languages. Hardly anyone moves to St Louis. Most kids in the district do start school in the district. It is also true that the school cannot control the level of support the student gets at home, and lots of kids in the St Louis City schools get very little support at home.

You seem to be confirming what I wrote. You lay out several reasons for deplorable educational outcomes, none of which has anything to do with what goes on in classrooms. Going from that to blaming to teachers for the outcomes is like criticizing Art Howe for not winning the National League pennant with the West Side Under 12-s. Now, terrible teaching may be going on also--I don't doubt that. But your factors--language background, family support, family educational achievement, family economic levels--are all in category #1.

If I heard teachers make 1/100 the noise about how much the students are suffering as they do about how much they deserve to be paid and how they should be evaluated I might have a lot more sympathy for them. Might.
Surely all institutions are imperfect communicators, but I can't help but wonder where you get your sense of the noise teachers' unions make. Their own lobbying positions--easily accessible by Google--are mostly about broad economic issues affecting the country, and their organizations lobby hard for things like universal health care, expanded social programs, and progressive taxation, even though they won't benefit directly from these programs since they all have health care, are unqualified to work as social workers and--according to this thread--make so much money that surely they will be hurt by tax the rich schemes. Teachers' unions aren't perfect and can fall into narrow, self-interested fights like anybody, but their overall commitment to social programs for their students is at the very highest level, much stronger than almost any interest group. Of course no one would know that from one of the websites funded by the Gates Foundation.
   35. Dr. Vaux Posted: December 25, 2011 at 04:33 AM (#4023220)
As a teacher who knows many teachers, I agree with every word GregD has written in this thread.
   36. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: December 25, 2011 at 06:34 AM (#4023239)
As a teacher who knows many teachers, I agree with every word GregD has written in this thread.


Seconded. Thanks, Greg.
   37. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 25, 2011 at 05:47 PM (#4023262)
You seem to be confirming what I wrote. You lay out several reasons for deplorable educational outcomes, none of which has anything to do with what goes on in classrooms. Going from that to blaming to teachers for the outcomes is like criticizing Art Howe for not winning the National League pennant with the West Side Under 12-s. Now, terrible teaching may be going on also--I don't doubt that. But your factors--language background, family support, family educational achievement, family economic levels--are all in category #1.


It's not a question of blame, it's a question of accountability. I wouldn't think that Art Howe is a terrible manager because he didn't win the pennant with crappy players, but I wouldn't have a lot of sympathy for him if he demanded a raise either. I would think that whether or not he's terrible, the Under 12-s resources need to be allocated in a way that leads to better outcomes, whether or not it includes Art Howe. The team exists to try to win, not to pay Art Howe. Art Howe has to prove he's relevant to the ultimate objective, not just to prove that he's non-terrible at his narrow job.


Surely all institutions are imperfect communicators, but I can't help but wonder where you get your sense of the noise teachers' unions make. Their own lobbying positions--easily accessible by Google--are mostly about broad economic issues affecting the country, and their organizations lobby hard for things like universal health care, expanded social programs, and progressive taxation, even though they won't benefit directly from these programs since they all have health care, are unqualified to work as social workers and--according to this thread--make so much money that surely they will be hurt by tax the rich schemes. Teachers' unions aren't perfect and can fall into narrow, self-interested fights like anybody, but their overall commitment to social programs for their students is at the very highest level, much stronger than almost any interest group. Of course no one would know that from one of the websites funded by the Gates Foundation.


I've never heard of the Gates Foundation, and I'm not sure I've ever interacted with you before, but I now have a lot of respect for you. Merry Christmas!
   38. Something Other Posted: December 25, 2011 at 10:31 PM (#4023341)
Test scores <=> Fld%

I would say this overstates the effectiveness of test scores.

They're measuring the wrong things. In the big city public school system my kids go to school in, it's like the place is run by flat earthers. They're all about test scores and nothing else. There's never any discussion about what those tests are measuring. It's hideous.
It truly is that bad. I know several bright, caring people who got started through Teach for America, and within five years they all fled rather than spend their productive lives teaching to tests.
   39. Joe Kehoskie Posted: December 26, 2011 at 01:17 AM (#4023366)
Kids simply aren't in classrooms long enough to make up for a lack of education and support at home. It's the educational equivalent of a team that's 20 games out of first on Sept. 1 trading for an All-Star and then wondering why they didn't make the playoffs. Even hero teachers can't make up that much ground in such a short amount of time.

When it comes to education spending, the U.S. is way past the point of diminishing returns, at least within the context of the current educational system. Graphs like this prove as much.
   40. Every Inge Counts Posted: December 26, 2011 at 04:28 AM (#4023396)
Public school teaching can be a double-edge sword. The pay isn't enough to draw in the "best" compared to the hours, stress, etc. At the same time I am sure there are some teachers who are there to collect a decent paycheck (and it does not take a whole hell of a lot to become a certified teacher, and schools who have a hard time attracting teachers might even take less qualified teachers). I teach at a high performing public high school in Louisiana. I know my job is a little easier than others in the same district because my students have a huge head start over their peers. I agree completely with what GregD has said.
   41. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: December 26, 2011 at 04:36 AM (#4023398)
I don’t need any more carrots to inspire me to constantly improve my practice. I’ve got 29 pretty darn good ones sitting in my classroom each weekday morning.

We need to cut this school's carrot budget.
I don't know why there's 39 other posts in this thread, because no one is topping this.
   42. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: December 26, 2011 at 04:40 AM (#4023400)
I agree with GregD, Vaux, et al. Inner-city schools are a special case, not representative of other public schools. First of all, the districts have no money. This is an incredible inequality, and impossible to blame on teachers. Second of all, the people who live there are transient. Sure there may not be much inmigration to places like the general St. Louis municipality from other places, but reading a book like this open your eyes to how often people have to move from house to house, kids have to move from school to school, kids have to move from relative to relative, and so on. Third of all, the immediately available role models, people who haven't moved miles away, are not people who got where they are by getting straight A's. Fourth, and I may lose some people with this, but our society has no need for people who come from the inner city, our society has no need for manual labor anywhere other than farms, and people growing up there know there's almost no hope for them.
   43. caprules Posted: December 26, 2011 at 05:09 AM (#4023404)
Fourth, and I may lose some people with this, but our society has no need for people who come from the inner city, our society has no need for manual labor anywhere other than farms, and people growing up there know there's almost no hope for them.


Until we have personal services robots, we still need people to do janitorial, groundskeeping, pick up our trash, stock the shelves at the grocery store, etc. I'm not really sure what you mean there.

I worked for a facilities maintenance company a couple of years ago. The people that I worked with didn't suffer from lack of hope. They were happy to have a job, they had families they enjoyed.
   44. Joe Kehoskie Posted: December 26, 2011 at 05:36 AM (#4023410)
First of all, the districts have no money.

This might be true in some cases, but it's certainly not true nationwide. Some of the worst-performing public schools in America are at or near the top when it comes to per-pupil spending. I believe D.C. is one such example.
   45. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 26, 2011 at 06:12 AM (#4023423)
Fourth, and I may lose some people with this, but our society has no need for people who come from the inner city, our society has no need for manual labor anywhere other than farms, and people growing up there know there's almost no hope for them.

I volunteer at an inner city Catholic primary and middle school in St Louis where families pay whatever they can to send their kids anywhere but the local public school, whether they're Catholic or not. The school then places the better performing kids in good Catholic high schools in the area and HELPS PAY THEIR HIGH SCHOOL TUITION, so that they believe that their primary/middle school efforts are not in vain.

These families are making somewhere in the neighborhood of $20K-$30K per year in mostly irregular jobs. Many of them cannot afford the $3000 annual tuition per child. The school helps them get scholarships and offers the parents on-campus work to help however they can. None of them wants their kid to grow up to be a manual laborer. To assume that inner city kids have no option other than manual labor is incredibly offensive and totally inaccurate.
   46. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: December 26, 2011 at 06:43 AM (#4023426)
To assume that inner city kids have no option other than manual labor is incredibly offensive and totally inaccurate.
I think--and I'm speaking for someone else here so maybe I'm wrong--that's misstating the point CA was making. His point wasn't that people in the inner city have no aspiration beyond manual labor (which is obviously both offensive and inaccurate for a goodly portion) but that society--admittedly an imprecise term--has no use for them. That's a subtle difference, but a crucial one and one that, speaking for myself, I largely agree on.
   47. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 26, 2011 at 06:57 AM (#4023430)
society--admittedly an imprecise term--has no use for them


How are they different, and in particular less useful to society, than any other children if they have the same innate abilities and ambition as anyone else?
   48. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: December 26, 2011 at 07:04 AM (#4023431)
How are they different, and in particular less useful to society, than any other children if they have the same innate abilities and ambition as anyone else?
They aren't different, but because of factors involving, in many cases, their home environment, or the historical condition of their schools, it is easier to simply write them off than try to make use of their talents.

Mind you, I don't agree with that view--I disagree pretty strongly, in fact--but I also don't think it's unfair to say that is (often unstated) view of society on those kids.
   49. Joe Kehoskie Posted: December 26, 2011 at 07:17 AM (#4023436)
but that society--admittedly an imprecise term--has no use for them. That's a subtle difference, but a crucial one and one that, speaking for myself, I largely agree on.

If this was true, the top line on the graph I linked in #39 would be a lot flatter, the government wouldn't guarantee college loans for just about anyone (including, in places like California, non-citizens), etc.

There's no big mystery to the educational problems in the U.S. these days. More and more kids are growing up in single-parent homes, which means more and more kids are behind when they enter school. Some of the statistics are staggering, to the point that it's little more than a pipe dream to expect the government or some hero teachers to perform educational miracles.

One of the studies I've read said that the average kid from a two-parent professional household hears 48,000,000 words by age 4, while the average kid from an average household hears 30,000,000 words, and the average kid from a low-income (and typically single-parent) home hears just 13,000,000 words. That's a huge Day 1 educational deficit that can't be made up in kindergarten or first grade, and probably sticks with and hinders such kids throughout their educational careers.
   50. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 26, 2011 at 07:42 AM (#4023439)
Mind you, I don't agree with that view--I disagree pretty strongly, in fact--but I also don't think it's unfair to say that is (often unstated) view of society on those kids.


Then our society is not just unfair, it's unconscionable and stupid.

One of the studies I've read said that the average kid from a two-parent professional household hears 48,000,000 words by age 4, while the average kid from an average household hears 30,000,000 words, and the average kid from a low-income (and typically single-parent) home hears just 13,000,000 words. That's a huge Day 1 educational deficit that can't be made up in kindergarten or first grade, and probably sticks with and hinders such kids throughout their educational careers.


This indicates that well off children have an advantage, not that poor children have no hope or are of no use to society.

Some of the statistics are staggering, to the point that it's little more than a pipe dream to expect the government or some hero teachers to perform educational miracles.


And yet it is happening in some places, sometimes with government and sometimes without, and with no "hero teachers". It takes a combination of:

-- getting the kids to believe that they can amount to something
-- getting the parents to be interested and involved in the childrens' education
-- insisting on a high level of academic and ethical performance by all parties

Most of all it means making the kids the one and only priority for the school, not teachers, not administrators, not politicians, not the "community", and not parents. All those people are there to serve the kids. Period. I've seen it work with my own eyes.
   51. Joe Kehoskie Posted: December 26, 2011 at 07:59 AM (#4023442)
This indicates that well off children have an advantage, not that poor children have no hope or are of no use to society.

Right. I wasn't disagreeing with your earlier comments; I was disagreeing with #46.

Most of all it means making the kids the one and only priority for the school, not teachers, not administrators, not politicians, not the "community", and not parents. All those people are there to serve the kids. Period. I've seen it work with my own eyes.

Sure, but schools aren't much different than farm systems: The better the students coming in, the better the students coming out. I don't doubt the last parts of #50 are true, but outliers and high achievers aside, there's simply no making up for lost time when it comes to early education. It's like Michael Jordan trying to learn baseball at age 31.

In other words, when the best case is what 'GregD' said up in #32:

And quite a few "terrible" schools do quite well on #2. They get students who come in reading 4.2 levels below grade level and send them out reading at 2.1 levels below. That's a great success.

... then that's a rather dubious definition of "success." Combine that with the putrid ROI in the graph linked in #39, and the U.S. educational system is in big trouble.
   52. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 26, 2011 at 08:46 AM (#4023448)
Sure, but schools aren't much different than farm systems: The better the students coming in, the better the students coming out. I don't doubt the last parts of #50 are true, but outliers and high achievers aside, there's simply no making up for lost time when it comes to early education. It's like Michael Jordan trying to learn baseball at age 31.


This may well be true at more advanced grades, but my experience is mostly with primary school students so it's not as big of a problem if the other factors listed in #50 are there. Even if the kid comes in at 2nd or 3rd grade they tend to adapt pretty well within a couple of years. If you're talking about high school, it's probably a very different story. I'm not saying our school prepares its graduates for high school better than the private schools in wealthy areas, just that it's eons better than the local public school.

I'm totally with you on the dubious definition of success in #32, but I can see why a teacher would choose to define it that way. They can only control what they can control.
   53. Joe Kehoskie Posted: December 26, 2011 at 08:58 AM (#4023451)
I'm totally with you on the dubious definition of success in #32, but I can see why a teacher would choose to define it that way. They can only control what they can control.

Right. A lot of them are fighting a losing battle educationally, while also fighting a losing rear-action p.r. battle. Fun times, I'm sure.

Within the past month, I ran across a study out of California that said that if current educational and demographic trends continue there, the average California worker in 2030 will be less educated than the average worker of today. In a country offering fewer and fewer low-skill jobs that provide a living wage, that's a truly stunning projection.
   54. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 26, 2011 at 09:10 AM (#4023452)
Within the past month, I ran across a study out of California that said that if current educational and demographic trends continue there, the average California worker in 2030 will be less educated than the average worker of today. In a country offering fewer and fewer low-skill jobs that provide a living wage, that's a truly stunning projection.


The vocational schools and community colleges can pick up some of the slack, but this isn't a good sign for sure.
   55. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 26, 2011 at 11:54 AM (#4023456)
In terms of overpaid, this is also puzzling, given that teachers make less than similarly educated people and routinely make less that uneducated people in civil service positions.
No, they don't.

Surely all institutions are imperfect communicators, but I can't help but wonder where you get your sense of the noise teachers' unions make. Their own lobbying positions--easily accessible by Google--are mostly about
..there's no doubt that the national teachers' unions are generally the vanguard of the left wing of the Democratic party, lobbying-wise. But most of what teachers' unions do isn't at the national level, and isn't "lobbying," but negotiating their own employment benefits. And of course they somehow manage to lobby for more money for schools in between the time spent lobbying for more taxes and more government.
   56. Lassus Posted: December 26, 2011 at 03:03 PM (#4023464)
In terms of overpaid, this is also puzzling, given that teachers make less than similarly educated people and routinely make less that uneducated people in civil service positions.

No, they don't.


Dueling cites, please? Or any?

(BTW, David, I saw a poll on CNN that Paul was leading in Iowa. We're that much closer to your Libertarian utopia!)
   57. Swoboda is freedom Posted: December 26, 2011 at 03:15 PM (#4023468)
Combine that with the putrid ROI in the graph linked in #39,

I have a problem with the chart in 39.

1) It is federal spending. Federal spending is a relatively minor amount. Local taxes and state taxes are what really supports schools.
2) It is also not inflation adjusted.

I would love to see how much we are spending in total. It seems to me that the easiest thing we could do would be to lengthen the school day and the year. Give more week long breaks during the yeat but get rid of the summer break.
   58. Joe Kehoskie Posted: December 26, 2011 at 06:14 PM (#4023525)
1) It is federal spending. Federal spending is a relatively minor amount. Local taxes and state taxes are what really supports schools.

You're right that only about ~10 percent of education spending is via federal funding, but it's hard to believe (1) state spending has decreased or remained flat, or (2) that somehow federal dollars yield a drastically different ROI than state and/or local dollars.

2) It is also not inflation adjusted.

Shockingly, it is. (I couldn't believe it, either, the first time I saw it.) The first words on the graph in #39 are "inflation adjusted."

It seems to me that the easiest thing we could do would be to lengthen the school day and the year. Give more week long breaks during the yeat but get rid of the summer break.

Absolutely. The current educational system and calendar is based on an agrarian economy that hasn't existed in America in ~100 years.

We also need to take draconian steps to battle the dropout problem, perhaps up to and including "no HS or vocational diploma = ineligibility for welfare, unemployment, etc."
   59. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 26, 2011 at 06:28 PM (#4023535)
"no HS or vocational diploma = ineligibility for welfare, unemployment, etc."


You want to punish the children of erstwhile welfare mothers because their mom didn't finish school?
   60. Joe Kehoskie Posted: December 26, 2011 at 06:58 PM (#4023549)
You want to punish the children of erstwhile welfare mothers because their mom didn't finish school?

This is a perfect example of why nothing ever gets done in the U.S. Everyone understands the current situation is neither working nor trending in the right direction, but people jump straight to demagoguery and fear-mongering when ideas get tossed out.

No one wants to see kids starving in the streets and I didn't suggest otherwise in #58. But the status quo of essentially warehousing poor kids in crappy homes in crappy neighborhoods served by crappy schools isn't exactly a humanitarian or "progressive" utopia, either.

People respond to incentives. If some of these ugly cycles are ever to be broken, governments at all levels need to create more of the right incentives — and remove a lot of the wrong ones.
   61. Something Other Posted: December 26, 2011 at 07:03 PM (#4023554)
It seems to me that the easiest thing we could do would be to lengthen the school day and the year. Give more week long breaks during the yeat but get rid of the summer break.

Absolutely. The current educational system and calendar is based on an agrarian economy that hasn't existed in America in ~100 years.
I couldn't possibly agree less. They had me six hours a day, 180 days a year, for 13 years. They couldn't come close to educating me--by any reasonable definition of the word--in all that time. The vast majority of what I learned, and that I learned HOW to learn, had nothing to do with the time I spent in public school and in fact most of that time in public school was counterproductive. The idea that we ought to give the current, broken system MORE time to intrude on the valuable time not given over to pointless processing of students and "learning" in order to pass tests of extremely dubious importance, is nuts.

It's saying 'we can't come close to making good use of the vast amount of time of yours we already have. Give us more of it!' No. No. No.
   62. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 26, 2011 at 07:08 PM (#4023557)
You want to punish the children of erstwhile welfare mothers because their mom didn't finish school?


This is a perfect example of why nothing ever gets done in the U.S. Everyone understands the current situation is neither working nor trending in the right direction, but people jump straight to demagoguery and fear-mongering when ideas get tossed out.


My point was not to villify the person making the statement. It was to point out that welfare is ostensibly for the benefit of the children, not the mothers. If you want to give the mothers an incentive to go to school, then punish them for not going to school or reward them for going to school. Leave the kids out of it. If you want their children taken away because they cannot support them, then that's a different argument.
   63. Joe Kehoskie Posted: December 26, 2011 at 07:16 PM (#4023563)
I couldn't possibly agree less. They had me six hours a day, 180 days a year, for 13 years. They couldn't come close to educating me--by any reasonable definition of the word--in all that time. The vast majority of what I learned, and that I learned HOW to learn, had nothing to do with the time I spent in public school and in fact most of that time in public school was counterproductive.

Then where and from whom did you learn? No doubt, outliers and high achievers (and maybe even a lot of typical kids from supportive homes) might not benefit from more time in average schools, but the central problem being discussed in this thread is the kids who come from unsupportive homes and who are often years behind in terms of early education when they first step into a kindergarten classroom. If such kids aren't learning at home and don't get more classroom time in school, then what's the solution? Empirical evidence suggests there's no threat of autodidacticism overtaking TV or video games anytime soon as the main pastime of American youth.
   64. Joe Kehoskie Posted: December 26, 2011 at 07:23 PM (#4023570)
My point was not to villify the person making the statement.

I know. I didn't take your comment as a personal attack; more like a political tactic (and it might not even have been that).

It was to point out that welfare is ostensibly for the benefit of the children, not the mothers. If you want to give the mothers an incentive to go to school, then punish them for not going to school or reward them for going to school.

Obviously, government can't just flip a switch and say, "No HS? No more welfare for you." There would have to be a phase-in period over a long period of time such that people are warned and have ample time to respond to the different incentives and realities.

Again, I don't claim to know the answers. I just know the current system isn't working and the current trends are troubling.
   65. LionoftheSenate (Brewers v A's World Series) Posted: December 26, 2011 at 08:59 PM (#4023612)
There is no "market' in education to be efficient. Public education simply can't be good, successful or efficient because it's "public". There is no market, no choice, to avoid completely pouring money down the rathole of public education we rely on tests as a mediocre proxy to "measure" "results", instead of letting the consumers (parents and kids) pick and choose where their money is best spent, and what measures best guide their decisions.

The union drones should just accept testing as a minor cost so they can be overpaid, under managed and under-worked while they wait to retire at early ages with lush pensions.


Pretty much accurate on all counts.

Teachers unions are as anti-innovation, anti-change as any group we have in America.
   66. LionoftheSenate (Brewers v A's World Series) Posted: December 26, 2011 at 09:08 PM (#4023615)
Fourth, and I may lose some people with this, but our society has no need for people who come from the inner city, our society has no need for manual labor anywhere other than farms, and people growing up there know there's almost no hope for them.



Until we have personal services robots, we still need people to do janitorial, groundskeeping, pick up our trash, stock the shelves at the grocery store, etc. I'm not really sure what you mean there.

I worked for a facilities maintenance company a couple of years ago. The people that I worked with didn't suffer from lack of hope. They were happy to have a job, they had families they enjoyed.


I love the projecting going on here.

It will always be a problem if we have one segment in society speaking for another, claiming their lives should suck and you should have no hope. White liberal values might look down upon labor and the people that hold blue collar jobs, but perhaps allow individuals to speak for themselves.
   67. LionoftheSenate (Brewers v A's World Series) Posted: December 26, 2011 at 09:13 PM (#4023617)
"no HS or vocational diploma = ineligibility for welfare, unemployment, etc."



You want to punish the children of erstwhile welfare mothers because their mom didn't finish school?


Yes. It would be a powerful inventive to finish HS and perhaps delay having that 5th kid til after HS.

The segment that needs the most aggressive action is the troubled set. Or if you want to focus you love and attention on the white suburbs, by all means, continue to vote for pols that support the teachers unions. "Teacher's unions" is code for white liberals.
   68. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 26, 2011 at 09:37 PM (#4023633)
Yes. It would be a powerful inventive to finish HS and perhaps delay having that 5th kid til after HS.


OK but you're punishing an innocent child rather than the mother/transgressor. Why not focus the consequences/rewards on the mother?
   69. Joe Kehoskie Posted: December 26, 2011 at 10:15 PM (#4023644)
OK but you're punishing an innocent child rather than the mother/transgressor. Why not focus the consequences/rewards on the mother?

Such as by doing ...?
   70. base ball chick Posted: December 26, 2011 at 10:23 PM (#4023646)
something other - Bigot Hunter! Posted: December 26, 2011 at 01:03 PM (#4023554)

It seems to me that the easiest thing we could do would be to lengthen the school day and the year. Give more week long breaks during the yeat but get rid of the summer break.

Absolutely. The current educational system and calendar is based on an agrarian economy that hasn't existed in America in ~100 years.


I couldn't possibly agree less. They had me six hours a day, 180 days a year, for 13 years. They couldn't come close to educating me--by any reasonable definition of the word--in all that time. The vast majority of what I learned, and that I learned HOW to learn, had nothing to do with the time I spent in public school and in fact most of that time in public school was counterproductive.


- i could have written exactly that word for word, because that was my life


Joe Kehoskie Posted: December 26, 2011 at 01:16 PM (#4023563)

Then where and from whom did you learn?


- i learned to read from someone at the nursing home where i worked. i learned to think and to write from john brattain. i got extra writing lessons from an astros fan who is a retired college english professor. and, believe it or not, i have gotten and continue to get a great education from youse guys on this here site about all KINDS of things. including the real meaning of tolerance.


No doubt, outliers and high achievers (and maybe even a lot of typical kids from supportive homes) might not benefit from more time in average schools, but the central problem being discussed in this thread is the kids who come from unsupportive homes and who are often years behind in terms of early education when they first step into a kindergarten classroom. If such kids aren't learning at home and don't get more classroom time in school, then what's the solution?



- i know about the years behind thing. and in fact, i FIRST learned it from arbitjol dialer, who informed me that his 2 1/2 year old child was actually READING, not just repeating stuff from books. i had NO idea that someone that young could actually be taught to read - and my own kidz didn't even know letters. of course, that child's parents are both PHDs in science and my kidz parents didn't even go to college and that just MIGHT could make a difference. but it certainly did give me ideers. where my kidz are, the skools are happy if your kindergarten kid knows colors, can count to 10, knows a circle, square and rectangle and be able to write letters - well, actually point them out. and they want the males to be as close to 6 years old as possible before starting kindergarten regardless of their ability. lots of prejudice there.

- as for what is the solution, besides punishing females for being hos, and getting rid of teacher unions and either not sending poor kidz to skool at all or having them taught by i got NO idea who, i'm not real too clear.

- i asked some of my mama's White friends and co-workers if their parents taught them to read and write before they went to kindergarten and were involved in their schoolwork. i also asked them if there were lots of dropouts back then. i heard oh yes, except that the girls who left all got married. an the boys went to work. and some people got taught to read before skool and some didn't. LOTS of kidz did not finish skool. only they didn't consider that a problem.

- i'm not sure what is the point of keeping everyone in hs except to keep them offn the streets. not everyone is a school kind of person. trouble is that too many jobs for not a school kind of person are now either overseas or done by illegals.


The idea that we ought to give the current, broken system MORE time to intrude on the valuable time not given over to pointless processing of students and "learning" in order to pass tests of


- agree with the endless testing stuff. it is trying to baseball stat-ize teaching and learning and that is not helpful, really except to prove that teachers are/are not doing something with the test stuff. my kidz go to 2 different public skools in the HISD and i can tell you that the quality of students/teachers in the one vs the other is almost not believeable.

- i take one of my kidz to a magnet skool. the most important thing he has really learned there is the difference between having just enough $$$ to get by and having lots of luxuries. and that diversity means that the other people are just like you. i swear there is FAR more prejudice against fat kidz and homosexuals than there was when i was a kid. more bullying too - more trying to force everyone to be exactly alike as much as possible. mediocrity and conformity.


LionoftheSenate (needs to grow up!) Posted: December 26, 2011 at 03:13 PM (#4023617)

"no HS or vocational diploma = ineligibility for welfare, unemployment, etc."

You want to punish the children of erstwhile welfare mothers because their mom didn't finish school?


Yes. It would be a powerful inventive to finish HS and perhaps delay having that 5th kid til after HS.

The segment that needs the most aggressive action is the troubled set.



- speaking as one of those dropouts (who did not have kidz when i was inside) i am not getting what you think would do any good about keeping me in that jail for 3 or 4 more years instead of letting me go to work.
- and i am also not really getting the point of your complaint about kids. you can go to skool pregnant and there are daycares there too. what is the difference if you are a single mother at 16 or 19 on welfare? costs the same.

- it ain't just welfare that is the reason teenage girls get pregnant. something we have done for basically all of history. teenage grrrls in poor skools get pregnant to be important and get attention, for the idiotic idea that then their boy will love them, and for the worst reason - that then their baby will love them and SOMEbody will love them - and this didn't work any better for them than it did for they own mamas.

i don't know how you think that all this extra time in skool is gonna do anything for the life of people the minute they go out and to whatever is the home life they got.

so what kind of aggressive action were you thinking of - besides making people sit in seats in a building for 8 hours a day for 3 more years? and please explain how that would help anyone/anything.
   71. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 26, 2011 at 10:36 PM (#4023654)
i'm not sure what is the point of keeping everyone in hs except to keep them offn the streets. not everyone is a school kind of person. trouble is that too many jobs for not a school kind of person are now either overseas or done by illegals.


First of all, bbc is the most awesome person on the internet.

As for your actual point, there are many ways to train people for jobs that don't involve the last 2 years of high school, including vocational schools, apprenticeships, the military and sales. There are also ways to give kids jobs in the first 2 years of high school so that they can develop vocational goals. I could have used those. I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up. Lots of people do better in community college than they did in high school. Working and going to school from the age of 14-15 is right for a lot of people in both blue and white collar positions, and I wish I had been one of those.
   72. PerroX Posted: December 26, 2011 at 10:36 PM (#4023655)
I heartily agree with Lisa.

My mom's a teacher, and she didn't teach me reading or writing before first grade - though I took a few lessons to be prepped for the private school in which she ienrolled me. I hated that place
   73. Joe Kehoskie Posted: December 26, 2011 at 10:38 PM (#4023656)
Lisa — Very thoughtful response. I'll let the others speak for themselves, but in my case, I'm not interested in punitive measures so much as a system that reflects modern realities. The days of dropping out of HS at 16, getting a factory job, and supporting a wife and three kids are long over. Unless the U.S. wants a Euro-style society in which a huge underclass essentially never works, we need big changes educationally.
   74. PerroX Posted: December 26, 2011 at 11:12 PM (#4023665)
   75. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: December 26, 2011 at 11:30 PM (#4023670)
Concur with Lisa's awesomeness. Also agree that there are plenty of educational alternatives. I learned to read before kindergarten but I barely graduated high school; not because my grades were so horrible but because I cut so much class and was absent so much I had to appeal. The pre-requisites to graduate when I was in high school (class of 1996) were very minimal. English was the only class you were required to take all four years. Math and Science were just two years, which means by junior year you can take bullsiht classes and/or study hall. Senior year, I had study hall for the first three or four classes and therefore didn't bother showing up to school until lunchtime most days. And sometimes I didn't bother at all. Pre-requisites may have changed since my day, but the school system I was a part of had very low graduation standards, and easy ways to circumvent those standards.

I had enough of an intellectual curiosity to learn things on my own. I read Hunter S. Thompson and Jack Kerouac on my own, and rock-n-roll and hip-hop probably taught me a lot about the country we live in more than my high school history books did. Four years after graduating high school after two false starts in community college and a couple jobs, I ended up transferring to a fancy-schmancy liberal arts school with a very open approach to learning. I was lucky enough to meet intellectual peers that were interested in the same approach to learning as I was; just by doing and reading about whatever you're interested.

But my degree did not help much in the workforce; my generation was told that you need to go to college to get ahead but since almost everyone I know went to college, we just ended up with enormous debt and jobs that have nothing to do with our degrees. I work in digital publishing, and while I make a decent living in an expensive town, I make more than some lawyers I know (which hugely discouraged me from going to law school when I was unemployed last year). My friend in the suburbs was just telling me that as a nurse, he makes more than some of the doctors he works with, and without the crushing debt. My younger brother is a high school drop-out and learned a trade. Though he works pretty hard with a lot of overtime, he made about 65k this year. While everyone else was in college getting shtfaced (present company included), my brother was getting very useful, valid, on-the-job work experience that is serving him very well.

Lisa's right; not everyone is a school person. I can't say I have any answers for the present public school system, though, and now that I'm reading over my post, I'm not sure what I'm trying to say, other than to say that public education did not serve even my middle-class white upbringing very well, and it didn't do much for my peers, either.
   76. tshipman Posted: December 26, 2011 at 11:37 PM (#4023672)
Unless the U.S. wants a Euro-style society in which a huge underclass essentially never works, we need big changes educationally.


Meanwhile, in the real world, there is almost no difference in labor force participation rate between the US and the Euro Zone.

According to the NY Fed.

Most of the difference seems to be due to fewer women needing to work in the EU. In 1980 or 1990, there were far more unskilled workers in the US than in Europe. This is no longer really true. Your nightmare has already come to pass.

Edit: clearly, life isn't hard enough for the working and non-working poor in the US according to the right. They don't pay enough taxes, they have too generous benefits and they aren't being punished enough for their bad decisions.
   77. Joe Kehoskie Posted: December 26, 2011 at 11:43 PM (#4023673)
Lisa's right; not everyone is a school person. I can't say I have any answers for the present public school system, though, and now that I'm reading over my post, I'm not sure what I'm trying to say,

It seems like you said plenty — i.e., hit upon a lot of the problems. The whole "everyone needs to go to college" thing is a huge sham. And kids shouldn't need to drop out of HS to learn a trade; those skills should be taught *in* HS.

Unfortunately, I doubt I'm going out on a limb by saying you and Lisa are among the outliers discussed earlier. If huge numbers of people were dropping out of school but dedicating themselves to education and learning skills, we wouldn't even be having this discussion.

------

Meanwhile, in the real world, [...]

Edit: clearly, life isn't hard enough for the working and non-working poor in the US according to the right. They don't pay enough taxes, they have too generous benefits and they aren't being punished enough for their bad decisions.

I was just thinking how civil several of these threads have been today, and along comes this guy. It was nice while it lasted, I guess.
   78. a bebop a rebop Posted: December 27, 2011 at 12:00 AM (#4023681)
Just wanted to pipe in to say that Joe's graph in 39 is pretty misleading in a couple of ways.

1) graphically, it makes it look like education spending has skyrocketed, increasing by factors of hundreds, whereas really it's increased by 190%, meaning slightly less than tripling. Almost-tripling spending for a 0% increase on test scores isn't great, obviously, but then...

2) education isn't primarily funded at the federal level, but rather at the state and (mostly) local levels. This site (found via quick googling... don't hold me too responsible for it) suggests that only 10% of K-12 funding is federal.

Neither of these means that the underlying claim (to wit, that we're getting way less educational bang for our buck these days) is false, but this data provided doesn't really support it.

EDIT: I see these have been addressed elsewhere. Cokes...
   79. yb125 Posted: December 27, 2011 at 12:11 AM (#4023685)
I was just thinking how civil several of these threads have been today, and along comes this guy. It was nice while it lasted, I guess.


You just keep the discussion going.

And kids shouldn't need to drop out of HS to learn a trade; those skills should be taught *in* HS.


There are programs out there that do both. I used to work at a Job Corp in San Diego if you've never heard of Job Corps (which isn't uncommon even people in neighborhood's with Job Corps have never heard of them.)
It's funded by the Department of Labor, and there are over 120 nation wide run for profit by private contractors or if no one bid on the location run by the government. First thing I should say about Job Corps in that some of them are terrible, mean people should be locked up bad. But even the decent ones do great work. Providing housing, healthcare, physiological support, social skills training etc. while providing education and job training. If you don't have your H.S. diploma you end up in GED course or one of the contracted out high-school programs. You learn a trade of your choosing (as long as there is space in the trade) and if you do well can apply to stay and extra year and attend the local community college.

The center I worked for had it's problems, and some centers are run like jails. But some centers are run excellently. The best run centers of course the students have high employment rates then recent college grads but they tend to have lower ceilings on the income potential. For many of them that never liked school and just want to work it's a decent trade off.
   80. tshipman Posted: December 27, 2011 at 12:22 AM (#4023688)
I was just thinking how civil several of these threads have been today, and along comes this guy. It was nice while it lasted, I guess.


This is apparently your idea of civil:


Yes. It would be a powerful inventive to finish HS and perhaps delay having that 5th kid til after HS.


We also need to take draconian steps to battle the dropout problem, perhaps up to and including "no HS or vocational diploma = ineligibility for welfare, unemployment, etc."


Public education simply can't be good, successful or efficient


Oh, and of course, passing off lies as truth like you did here:

Unless the U.S. wants a Euro-style society in which a huge underclass essentially never works, we need big changes educationally.
   81. base ball chick Posted: December 27, 2011 at 01:24 AM (#4023708)
Joe Kehoskie Posted: December 26, 2011 at 05:43 PM (#4023673)

Lisa's right; not everyone is a school person. I can't say I have any answers for the present public school system, though, and now that I'm reading over my post, I'm not sure what I'm trying to say,

It seems like you said plenty — i.e., hit upon a lot of the problems. The whole "everyone needs to go to college" thing is a huge sham. And kids shouldn't need to drop out of HS to learn a trade; those skills should be taught *in* HS.


- i don't know why we have to wait until high school, neither. and yeah, we really SHOULD have training for jobs. too many people got this vision of everybody in college - don't ask me why. guess it is part of the kids should never grow up thing we got goin on with the helpcopter parents...


Unfortunately, I doubt I'm going out on a limb by saying you and Lisa are among the outliers discussed earlier. If huge numbers of people were dropping out of school but dedicating themselves to education and learning skills, we wouldn't even be having this discussion.


- i didn't exactly drop out of school to dedicate myself to education or learning skills. i dropped out because it was legally OK to get out of jail. i went to get a job and find a man, basically. but life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.
   82. Joe Kehoskie Posted: December 27, 2011 at 03:24 AM (#4023738)
There are programs out there that do both. I used to work at a Job Corp in San Diego if you've never heard of Job Corps (which isn't uncommon even people in neighborhood's with Job Corps have never heard of them.)

I had never heard of it. Sounds like an interesting program. Like Lisa just said in #81, it seems like there needs to be far more of these types of schools and programs.

I'm from a small city in CNY (pop. ~30,000), but it used to have two or three different high schools: one that was focused on business, one that was apparently vocational, and another that was "traditional" or college-track or whatever you want to call it. These days, other than in some very large cities, it seems like it's one-size-fits-all. The kids who don't want to attend college, can't afford to, etc., seem to get shuttled off into a black hole, if they even make it to the finish line at all. (Obviously, a large number don't.)
   83. yb125 Posted: December 27, 2011 at 04:03 AM (#4023749)
too many people got this vision of everybody in college - don't ask me why. guess it is part of the kids should never grow up thing we got goin on with the helicopter parents...


I don't think it's that, more there's been a idea (not untrue) that you're earning potential and options are statistically greater with a college degree. I think most ever parent wants their kids to do better then they did and they think college is a way to accomplish that. With the number of entry level low paying jobs wanting degrees and even in many manual labor jobs the people moving up the ladder tend to have degrees. I think there has been a shift away from simply promoting the best workers form within, with some many people getting degrees now a days companies are asking for them whether they are really needed or not. I simply although silly if you ask me is at my old job. You were way better off having a degree then being good at your job. Sure don't be terrible but having a degree put you in a pay bracket that would take being good at your job for several years get you. Some of the best working in my old department never went past H.S. but make much less then some slackers with a degree any degree. (Now some of the best workers also have degrees but they are really being paid based on their education not performance.)
   84. Every Inge Counts Posted: December 27, 2011 at 04:47 AM (#4023763)
I definitely think there should be more vocational type education being offered. In my school district there has been 15-16 year old kids in 6th or 7th grade. I think at a certain point a "traditional" education probably isn't their best option. As well, many of the middle schools celebrate an 8th grade graduation as a decent number of them will not make it to their high school graduation (I have never seen an 8th grade graduation before, so if I am wrong about it being somewhat odd I stand corrected, but I know the area magnet school does not have a graduation). The charter schools in my area have not done any better than when they were a failing public school, most of them are staffed with Teach for America kids so after two years there is just turnover in the teaching departments.
   85. base ball chick Posted: December 27, 2011 at 05:36 AM (#4023787)
yb125

yeah i know, the degree thing for lots of jobs is just silly. i know there won't be many jobs left they can do without having to have all that stupid meaningless paperwork done. not that these college degrees do real too much good a lot of the time. my friend dan benton runs an internet business called sports 101 wheere he hires people to blog about their teams - he was talking about applicants: "Love these applications. Under writing sample I get this: "I good at reading writing reporting taking orders" Boy oh boy, where do I begin?"

and yeah, there IS middle school graduation and yeah there are 15 year olds in 8th grade. part of that is also the very real prejudice for keeping short boys back at least a year and not wanting to let boys start kindergarten until they are at least 6. there are more than a few boys who turn 7 in the fall they start kindergarten. you would NOT believe how many mothers are shocked and horrified that i let my 5 year old start kindergarten because he turned 5 on sept 3. he's done great even though he's competing against kids who are pretty much all at least 6 months older than he is, and at least half of the boys are a year or more older than he is. fortunately he's very large for his age. (interesting i don't see that prejudice about grrrrls. and it's not just a Black thing neither. the White boys at my youngest's skool are all kept back too)

why people want to keep kids in hs until they are like 19 or 20 i do not get

husband and i are making very tough decisions about having to get the twins into a different skool. if we don't do it this coming year it will be too late and they will flunk and never catch up
   86. Something Other Posted: December 29, 2011 at 02:41 PM (#4024983)
Looks like this fascinating thread has expired, but, my two cents.

I couldn't possibly agree less. They had me six hours a day, 180 days a year, for 13 years. They couldn't come close to educating me--by any reasonable definition of the word--in all that time. The vast majority of what I learned, and that I learned HOW to learn, had nothing to do with the time I spent in public school and in fact most of that time in public school was counterproductive.

Then where and from whom did you learn? No doubt, outliers and high achievers (and maybe even a lot of typical kids from supportive homes) might not benefit from more time in average schools, but the central problem being discussed in this thread is the kids who come from unsupportive homes and who are often years behind in terms of early education when they first step into a kindergarten classroom. If such kids aren't learning at home and don't get more classroom time in school, then what's the solution? Empirical evidence suggests there's no threat of autodidacticism overtaking TV or video games anytime soon as the main pastime of American youth.
My parents were both educated. My dad was a high school english teacher with a masters from a good enough university. Neither had any idea how to function in the larger world, but they were both readers and passed that along to me. They were reading to me from before I was talking, and I had that memory common among little kids where after being read something a handful of times I had it memorized and could speak the text on a page just from visual cues, without actually reading. That was their cue to teach me to spell and to read. The present I remember from my second birthday was a magnetic alphabet board. So, the foundation was there, and early enough I was able to entertain myself, and to educate myself, even though school and parents weren't able to do much more for me past the age of five or six.

I'm far from the best person to give a comprehensive sense of what should be done. I know that public school in a fairly wealthy town (my folks were of modest means--we weren't poor, probably middle class, barely) was completely unsuitable for me. There was absolutely no flexibility to the system. They skipped me past first grade when it was clear I could do all the work, but second grade was just as bad, just as rigid, just as full of busy work and meaningless exercises. For years I sat in the back of classrooms, reading or writing about whatever interested me, participating just enough to keep people off my back, getting grades in the mid80s because that was easy enough to do. By the time I was in 8th grade I hated "learning" and it took me years to start enjoying it again. The system failed me, a kid who loved to read and to think, who wasn't a discipline problem, who liked adults who weren't unkind to me, utterly, and if a typical school of means can't do right by the kid that I was, it's beyond hope. If it were up to me I'd blow up the public school system and start entirely from scratch.


bbc--thanks for #70.


edit: I remember there was a vocational portion to my high school. It began in ninth grade. The consensus was that the kids who were enrolled in it (they spent mornings in the regular high school, afternoons being vocated) were complete morons, white trash unsuitable for anything, destined to be funneled into dirty lives under the hoods of cars or riding the backs of garbage trucks. Not my opinion at all, and I hope that's not the main view these days. Since school wasn't doing anything for me I probably would have been much better off learning a trade. Instead I continued to be funneled towards some vague idea of going to college after high school (and continued to sit through classes where Lord of the Flies was taught by the numbers and "good" students were the ones who asked polite, unchallenging questions that both proved they had been paying attention, and encouraged the teacher to expand on what they had just said). That was the typical path in my area/town/county/neighborhood.

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