PDA

View Full Version : bill maher: Leave No Child Behind means make 'em vanish


zimv20
Aug 12, 2003, 09:02 AM
http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/printstory.hts/editorial/outlook/2038779

Aug. 10, 2003, 8:20PM


Leave No Child Behind means make 'em vanish

By BILL MAHER

New_rule: Stop believing slogans, especially the ones that come out of the White House. Slogans are not policy, and they're not truth. Twinkies aren't wholesome goodness, and The Clear Skies Initiative isn't really going to bring clear skies. And, it turns out, the Leave No Child Behind law actually leaves lots of children behind.

So many, they even have a name now: pushouts, as in were pushing you out of school so that our cumulative test scores will be higher.

Yes, that's what this is all about. Our Leave No Child Behind law is written like this: As a state, you get federal money for your schools, but only when you make a few things happen, mainly get test scores to go up and dropout rates to go down. How best to achieve both of those goals? By making the dumber kids disappear!

The program President Bush brags about in Houston was all about raising test scores by making almost the entire bottom half of the class drop out, and then lowering the dropout rate by putting those dropouts in phony categories like transferred or enrolled in general equivalency diploma, or GED, classes. Sure, it was a little suspicious the way the testing system seemed to funnel so much money to old Bush friends McGraw Hill, but what can you do? You can't make an omelet without making a few people rich. What mattered was, it worked.

Except it didn't. We weren't really improving the system, but we were improving it where it matters: on paper. It's not for nothing that all Texans looked up to Enron. When Bush ran in 2000, Houston's dropout rate was given as 1.5 percent. It's been revised to 40 percent. Probably by the same guy who does the budget. Enron was gaming the energy futures; here it was the kids' futures.

Not that every kid should go to college; I've always believed every kid should not. But every kid should finish high school, and if you call your law No Child Left Behind, it does take a special kind of Texas-size nerve to then treat those children like cards in a gin rummy hand, where you get to ditch the two low ones, and where bodies just disappear like dissidents in Argentina, or that Julia Louise Dreyfuss sitcom.

No child means none, and I don't need a degree in fuzzy math to know that 40 percent is not none. Are inner-city schools tough, with high dropout rates? Yes, but again, when you say no child, the implication is that were going after the section of kids who are harder to reach.

And who can be reached, as we've learned from scores of movies about impossible high schools where one really dedicated actor, I mean teacher, makes a huge difference and gets the kids to dig Shakespeare. George W. Bush ran for office as the education guy, as the Sidney Poitier or Edward James Olmos or Michelle Pfeiffer character, I mean candidate, and his caring about leaving no child behind is what softened him into a compassionate conservative. So it does seem wrong when we find out that were doing, apparently, is just handling lots of kids a GED kit.

Our president has made speeches in which he chuckles at himself for being a C student at Yale University. Of course, given who his father was, he could afford to chuckle at it; falling behind would not really keep him behind. But the rest of us aren't so fortunate. And as no one could tell you better than George W. Bush, we don't all blossom early in life, so maybe writing off so many kids at 15 or 17 isn't such a wise policy. It might amuse the president to know that this is exactly what they do in his favorite country, France, but the French don't lie about it and sell it as leaving no child behind, and France has more of a social safety net than we do. We have one, but it's called prison.

People say education is the cornerstone of our democracy -- they're wrong, of course, it's campaign cash, and lots of it. But shouldn't it still count for something? As the president himself might say, we can do gooder.

mactastic
Aug 12, 2003, 10:20 AM
My biggest complaint about the whole "No Child Left Behind" thing is that it forces teachers to teach to the lowest common denominator in their class. Roughly translated, it means "slow it down so that the dumbest kid in class, who probably isn't going to college anyway, gets it and all the smart ones are begging for mind altering drugs to kill the boredom". On top of all the extra tests mandated by the feds, it has had the effect of dumbing down classes and to "teach to the test". Of course the teachers union's position of demanding tenure for even the suckiest of teachers doesn't help either. Nor does the mandated reduction in class size followed by the scratching of heads as to how they can find (and pay) enough teachers who are credentialed in the subject they are teaching to meet said mandated reductions.

Sayhey
Aug 12, 2003, 10:33 AM
Originally posted by mactastic
My biggest complaint about the whole "No Child Left Behind" thing is that it forces teachers to teach to the lowest common denominator in their class. Roughly translated, it means "slow it down so that the dumbest kid in class, who probably isn't going to college anyway, gets it and all the smart ones are begging for mind altering drugs to kill the boredom". On top of all the extra tests mandated by the feds, it has had the effect of dumbing down classes and to "teach to the test". Of course the teachers union's position of demanding tenure for even the suckiest of teachers doesn't help either. Nor does the mandated reduction in class size followed by the scratching of heads as to how they can find (and pay) enough teachers who are credentialed in the subject they are teaching to meet said mandated reductions.

I think Maher's point is exactly the opposite. The "dumbest" kids are being forced out of the system so that test scores can be artifically inflated. This results in slaps on the back all around when nothing has been accomplished.

I'm not sure what problem there is with class size reduction, as it seems to be the number one reform that can have an immediate impact on kids. If teachers have fewer kids, they can spend less time in discipline problems and more time in actual teaching. Unfortunately, to do that and to get more teachers, who have the proper credentials, means more money for education. All the cursing the teacher unions doesn't get around that.

mactastic
Aug 12, 2003, 10:47 AM
Originally posted by Sayhey
I think Maher's point is exactly the opposite. The "dumbest" kids are being forced out of the system so that test scores can be artifically inflated. This results in slaps on the back all around when nothing has been accomplished.

I'm not sure what problem there is with class size reduction, as it seems to be the number one reform that can have an immediate impact on kids. If teachers have fewer kids, they can spend less time in discipline problems and more time in actual teaching. Unfortunately, to do that and to get more teachers, who have the proper credentials, means more money for education. All the cursing the teacher unions doesn't get around that.

Oh Maher is correct, probably mostly in texas, where NCLB has had the most effect. I'm just pointing out other flaws in the idea. Even though the kids haven't been kicked out yet here, the teachers still have to try to teach kids who just aren't interested for whatever reason. Those are the goals given to the teachers before the really bad kids are booted. And as for class reduction, laws were passed (not sure if they are federal or state, will check with my wife when she gets home from teaching) that mandate a maximum class size (good idea) but very little additional funding was provided, and now that budgets are being cut there is even less money to go around. Some schools get partially around this by hiring "class reduction teachers" who must be credentialed teachers, but who are not salaried, and get no benefits whatsoever in addition to being paid less than regular teachers. Any class (4th through 10th grades i believe) with more than 24 students is required to have one of these underpaid types in the class with the regular teacher. Very few schools are following this rule at the moment, and it still skirts the intent of the law since classes still have 35+ students sometimes, and even with a class reduction teacher, the regular teacher still is responsible for around 180 students. In addition, smaller class sizes require more classrooms for students, yet little money has been forthcoming for expansion of facilities etc. Particularly in California, one big problem as well, is the rise in housing costs in established city cores. This tends to drive families with school age children to outlying areas, which has the effect of shifting the facility burden from one area to another constantly. Smaller outlying areas that become havens for people trying to make it financially here often have small school facilities to begin with and must expand, while existing schools in city cores get closed because enrollment is dropping off fast.

Sayhey
Aug 12, 2003, 11:11 AM
Originally posted by mactastic
... Some schools get partially around this by hiring "class reduction teachers" who must be credentialed teachers, but who are not salaried, and get no benefits whatsoever in addition to being paid less than regular teachers...

Only move for class size reduction that I know about is on the state level. That certainly doesn't mean one doesn't exist on the federal level but I haven't heard of it.

I'm amazed at what you discribe as hiring of "class reduction teachers." If they are fully qualified teachers why would anyone take such a job when throughout the state every district needs such teachers? Up here in SF what they do is hire non-credentialed teachers who are in the process of getting their credential. They are paid the same with the same benefits, but without tenure rights until they finish getting the credential. Only real way to get the qualified teachers who are needed is to pony up and pay them more. A proposition I'm sure your wife would not disagree with.

Sayhey
Aug 12, 2003, 11:12 AM
sorry - hit the wrong key.

Desertrat
Aug 12, 2003, 03:28 PM
Not trying to defend anything, but I have a question of sorts.

Maher said, "But every kid should finish high school..." and this bothers me for two groups: Those who just cannot complete the course material because of inherent difficulties, and those who either won't or can't because of cultural/social/whatever problems stemming from "the street" or a lack of parental push.

When these groups are held in mainstream schools, they drag down the overall average scores. It seems to me that in some areas of some cities, there is a higher percentage of these "problem kids" than in other areas or cities--and that's to a great extent a problem within a sub-culture. (I have read that in some ghetto areas of NYC that black kids who try to do well in school are harassed as "Uncle Toms", etc. Anyway, that's what I mean by "sub-culture". In Texas, we have problems with the language skills of the children of illegal immigrants, and that affects test scores.)

It's all well and good to talk about money, but I read within the last few days that D.C. has the highest per-kid expenditure but very low test scores. In a school district in north central Texas--a smallish community--is one of our highest SAT-scoring bunch of kids, year in and year out. Yet, it's one of the lowest in dollars per kid.

Damfino.

'Rat

pseudobrit
Aug 12, 2003, 04:55 PM
Originally posted by Desertrat
When these groups are held in mainstream schools, they drag down the overall average scores.

Mainstream schools should teach more than 60% of the kids. You can't say that those 40% were all retarded.

Desertrat
Aug 12, 2003, 05:42 PM
I didn't.

tazo
Aug 13, 2003, 01:05 AM
Heh I may be the only independent conservative who was entertained by that show the other day; the president can do gooder :p

I think effectively hiding the kids who do poorly is horrible and sort of defeats the purpose of the grants these schools in question are receiving.

Desertrat
Aug 13, 2003, 07:34 AM
Regardless of the type of program or the amount of money, how do you improve education for that bottom group when too many of the parents are uninterested? When there is no inherent group or neighborhood impetus or influence for the idea that "school is good" or "education is good"?

"No Child Left Behind" is a great sound-bite name, but it couldn't have the odds of a snowball in Hell, no matter what was attempted. Plus, in the ususal "Cherchez le $$$", it automatically leads to some sort of manipulation in order to get to the trough or maintain the flow. That's what school district administrators do.

There are probably plenty of records showing the locale of underachievers' families' neighborhoods. Does anybody know of any program efforts to bring the parents into the equation? To get the parents to push their kids to stay in school, to do well in school? Without the parents' involvement, there's little hope for the kids...

'Rat

zimv20
Aug 13, 2003, 08:44 AM
Originally posted by Desertrat
Regardless of the type of program or the amount of money, how do you improve education for that bottom group when too many of the parents are uninterested?

again, a tough question.

i wonder how much of it is cyclical. i.e. are these uninterested parents themselves dropouts? i suspect a lot are.

Desertrat
Aug 13, 2003, 02:17 PM
A lot of it's cyclical. Ask any street cop or school teacher.

I've sorta paid attention to the demographics of schools around Texas, since I grew up in the middle of a bunch of school teachers. I've noted the various changes since I graduated from high school in 1951, and my son graduated in 1981. Lord knows, there are enough "analytical" articles of varying degrees of objective thought, talking about the problems.

In a nutshell, we're trying unsuccessfully to cope with a large and growing underclass, who perceive little or no value to formal schooling. They see no hope for a better future, even if they do make very good grades. It's a nationwide problem, more prevalent in the inner portions of major metro areas.

However, it's not just blacks. Whites, and native Latins in some areas. Immigrant Latins are more prone to follow the tradition of pushing the kids to get an education and get ahead.

I don't have an answer, and so far, neither does anybody else. I've met quite a few teachers who seemed quite bright and quite competent, and almost all plan on retiring as early as possible.

'Rat

Zion Grail
Aug 14, 2003, 03:27 AM
If it wasn't for the horrid pay, I'd love to be a teacher. I know I'm damn good at it. I had kids coming to me all the time in high school to have me teach something because I was better than the teachers.

In fact, I'd definitely give teaching a go if they offered me $35K a year to start (Chicago cost of living level, increase as needed as per area).

Quite frankly, I think there is a LOT we can do to improve our schools. What Bush did and is trying to do is immoral and un-American. (HA! A liberal using that phrase against a conservative. Eat your heart out.) Having graduated recently (June '01), I've got a lot of inside experiences and I know many, many areas that can be improved.

zimv20
Aug 14, 2003, 10:36 AM
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/13/education/13EDUC.html?pagewanted=print&position=


ROBERT KIMBALL, an assistant principal at Sharpstown High School, sat smack in the middle of the "Texas miracle." His poor, mostly minority high school of 1,650 students had a freshman class of 1,000 that dwindled to fewer than 300 students by senior year. And yet and this is the miracle not one dropout to report!

Nor was zero an unusual dropout rate in this school district that both President Bush and Secretary of Education Rod Paige have held up as the national showcase for accountability and the model for the federal No Child Left Behind law. Westside High here had 2,308 students and no reported dropouts; Wheatley High 731 students, no dropouts. A dozen of the city's poorest schools reported dropout rates under 1 percent.
[...]
Elsewhere in the nation, urban high schools report dropout rates of 20 percent to 40 percent.


the local television station KHOU broke the news that Sharpstown High had falsified its dropout data. That led to a state audit of 16 Houston schools, which found that of 5,500 teenagers surveyed who had left school, 3,000 should have been counted as dropouts but were not. Last week, the state appointed a monitor to oversee the district's data collection and downgraded 14 audited schools to the state's lowest rating.


Pressure? Some compare it to working under the old Soviet system of five-year plans. In January, just before the scandal broke, Abelardo Saavedra, deputy superintendent, unveiled Houston's latest mandates for the new year. "The districtwide student attendance rate will increase from 94.6 percent to 95 percent," he wrote. "The districtwide annual dropout rate will decrease from 1.5 percent to 1.3 percent."


As for those who fail to make their numbers, it is termination time, one of many innovations championed by Dr. Paige as superintendent here from 1994 to 2001.

sturm375
Aug 14, 2003, 11:51 AM
If we base the amount of money we give a school district on it's "rated" preformance, people will find a way to "fudge" the rating. Thus is the nature of the beast. So we either find a way to give money to schools without "rating" them, or grow the government even further to include School watchdogs. I'll give you 3 guesses which way they will go with this, and the first two don't count.

IMHO this is how it should work:

All the education money flows first to the Federal Government. Then every student gets an equal amount of funds spent on them. i.e. Each student in a school district counts for $x, regardless of whether they are in "po-dunk" Kentucky, or North Shore Chicago. The feds are only there to divy out the money, all control belongs to the locals (those in the school district). This means that the locals control how the money is spent without any federal interferance. Every child that leaves, for whatever reason, reduces that school district's funds by the same $x.

That I believe is the only fair way to fund education.

Sayhey
Aug 14, 2003, 11:51 AM
Originally posted by zimv20
ROBERT KIMBALL, an assistant principal at Sharpstown High School, sat smack in the middle of the "Texas miracle." His poor, mostly minority high school of 1,650 students had a freshman class of 1,000 that dwindled to fewer than 300 students by senior year. And yet and this is the miracle not one dropout to report!

The options as I see it: 1 - they lied (the point of the article), 2 - maybe Texas school administrators can't do simple arithmetic, 3 - Someone stole 700 kids and the principal didn't think it was important enough to report it.

Seriously, this is the model the "education" President is pushing to save inner city kids?

zimv20
Aug 14, 2003, 12:40 PM
Originally posted by Sayhey

Seriously, this is the model the "education" President is pushing to save inner city kids?

looks like it.

and it seems part of an overall strategy:
1. pick an aspect of "compassionate conservatism" and give it a fancy name
2. sell the idea in the press and SOTU
3. underfund it
4. answer critics w/ the sales pitch again

as is painfully obvious from the houston school example, all one has to do is look at the details to know that the "solution" is only exasperating the problem. my great fear is that the idiot public stop at #2.

rueyeet
Aug 14, 2003, 01:13 PM
Here in Baltimore, there was an article not too long ago in the Sun about the effect of one of the other aspects of the No Child Left Behind mandates: restrictions on social promotion (the practice of letting failing students go onto the next grade anyway because of the percieved negative social effects of holding them back). Seems they've now got kids there who've been held back three or four years in a row. You're talking high school seniors old enough to be college graduates--high school juniors old enough to buy alcohol. And they keep failing, and the school system simply doesn't know what to do.

Desertrat is right; some of the problem in the system is the kids themselves, and their parents as well. There really are cultural predjudices against a proper education in some places. I have one friend from such an area who's been looked down on by his peers his whole life because he actually valued his education.

I think one of the fundamental problems here is we're looking at this as if it's not only the government's job to ensure that every child has fair and equal access to a good education, it's the government's job to make sure they accept that education as well. The personal responsibility of each and every child who has access to that education to take advantage of it, study, and LEARN no longer enters into the debate. Neither does the parental responsibility of the parents or guardians who are supposed to ensure that education is a priority for those children.

There comes a point where all the funds in the nation combined with the dedication of every school employee in the system is not enough to overcome the refusal of a student to be educated. And no one treats this as if the student, or their parents, have any responsibility in the matter.

And that's a real tragedy, because a good education would go far to break the cycle of low income despair and lack of opportunity that keep the children of each successive generation from breaking free....if they'd just make the effort. American history is fall about those who took what little they had, ran with it, and changed the world instead of complaining that it wasn't enough to even try.

Sayhey
Aug 14, 2003, 02:12 PM
If we are going to be real about making a difference in the lives of inner city kids then it can't be just around educational reforms. As important as the school system is it is only one component of the lives of kids. If we deal with crime, unemployment, lack of recreational facilities, breakdown of social support networks and a dozen other factors, maybe we can start to have an impact. First, it will take leadership based not on made-up facts to support a preexisting policy aim.

Sorry, zimv20, but what's SOTU? otherwise, I like the post.

zimv20
Aug 14, 2003, 03:50 PM
Originally posted by Sayhey
If we are going to be real about making a difference in the lives of inner city kids then it can't be just around educational reforms. As important as the school system is it is only one component of the lives of kids. If we deal with crime, unemployment, lack of recreational facilities, breakdown of social support networks and a dozen other factors, maybe we can start to have an impact.


totally agree. that's pretty much why i identify more w/ the democratic party than w/ the GOP.


Sorry, zimv20, but what's SOTU?

state of the union

Desertrat
Aug 14, 2003, 03:59 PM
The school district of Thomas County, Georgia, was sued for discrimination by the NAACP. This all started while I was away, so I don't know all the details, but apparently it involved the comparative quality of the education and the comparative SATs of blacks and whites. It's an integrated system, but some of the elementary schools are predominantly black--which actually reflects the black majority in the population here.

Anyway, the defense attorneys, going through all manner of records, discovered the superintendant and some principals had been manipulating test scores: Raising some black kids' scores and lowering some white kids' score so they would appear more equal.

As I said above, cherchez le $$$. Compassion don't do squatley. "More money!" doesn't do squatley. Shoveling out piles of tax dollars leads to some form of chicanery, as shown in Houston and even in little backwater Thomas County, Jawgia.

If you want educated kids, you must bring their parents into the deal or you're just peein' in the whiskey. You must have teacher authority in the classroom to control the behavior--and that's an absolute.

Now, it's purely opinion, but I think that getting rid of the US Dept of Edu would be a righteous step. Get rid of those associated administrative costs, and the local districts would have more money for teachers and not waste so much on testing and record-keeping.

Before integration, the biggest problem was the relative quality of teachers and the relative amount of money for school equipment, for blacks vs. whites. Now, the teachers are there and the equipment money is there (mostly; I realize some places have dramatically mis-spent facility-maintenance monies.) The US DoEdu has been pretty much in charge of all manner of school stuff.

And yet, in these last forty years, things have gone all to hell.

It damned sure ain't a need for "More money!"

'Rat

mactastic
Aug 14, 2003, 06:05 PM
Although it may not actually require more money (I suspect it might need some), like most aspects of government, the money needs to be reallocated to the places its needed instead of wasted by bureucratic noonsense. Stop the waste!

Sayhey
Aug 14, 2003, 07:09 PM
Originally posted by Desertrat
...If you want educated kids, you must bring their parents into the deal or you're just peein' in the whiskey. You must have teacher authority in the classroom to control the behavior--and that's an absolute.

Now, it's purely opinion, but I think that getting rid of the US Dept of Edu would be a righteous step. Get rid of those associated administrative costs, and the local districts would have more money for teachers and not waste so much on testing and record-keeping.

Before integration, the biggest problem was the relative quality of teachers and the relative amount of money for school equipment, for blacks vs. whites. Now, the teachers are there and the equipment money is there (mostly; I realize some places have dramatically mis-spent facility-maintenance monies.) The US DoEdu has been pretty much in charge of all manner of school stuff.

And yet, in these last forty years, things have gone all to hell.

It damned sure ain't a need for "More money!"

'Rat

Don't know about "peein' in the whiskey," but I agree getting parents involved is very important. As I said in my last post I think it will take a more comphrehensive approch to make a real impact. I don't think doing away with the Department of Education will help in any regard. Sure there is waste in any bureacracy, but you could also make the argument that a few less billion spent in Iraq that could be spent on education would be helpful. Most of the dollars for public education are still controlled at the local and state level, not the national, so if you're looking for waste in underfunded budgets that's the best place to start.

One thing that drives me crazy is the self fullfilling prophecies of right-wingers who want to get rid of public education and have over the last forty years have succeeded in making it among the lowest priorities and now deliver speech after speech lambasting the problems in public education. They are so busy crying crocodile tears over the waste in public education. That's not directed at you, 'Rat, but rather the folks who have been pushing the vouchers and other similar schemes for so long.

Desertrat
Aug 14, 2003, 08:04 PM
My first ten years were in public schools. My grandfather taught in both elementary and high schools from 1905 to 1955. My grandmother taught in elementary schools. My mother taught Psych at the University of Texas. I have no gripe at all with public schools except as how the curricula have been dumbed down and the efficacy of the teaching--overall--has declined.

Dumbed-down example: I learned the "times tables" in the Second Grade; through 12 x 12. In 1987 on the TV news for an elementary school in Las Vegas, NV, the Third Grade teacher was quite proud of her kids having learned the times table through 10 x 10.

Efficacy: How do high school students in Dallas, TX, NOT know the name of the country lying to the south of the U.S.? How do they graduate without the ability to make change? Enough, there're plenty more...

'Rat

zimv20
Aug 14, 2003, 08:18 PM
Originally posted by Desertrat
I learned the "times tables" in the Second Grade; through 12 x 12.

that's gross.

Sayhey
Aug 14, 2003, 08:22 PM
Originally posted by zimv20
that's gross.

That took me a second!:D

Frohickey
Aug 14, 2003, 08:23 PM
Slogans have always been a bad way to describe the real world anyway.

As others have already pointed out, the Leave No Child Behind, could mean that you end up dumbing down the curriculum for everyone else. How about Teach Every Child Who Wants To Be Taught?

Not as catchy, but its what will ensure success for everyone involved.

mactastic
Aug 15, 2003, 09:52 AM
Originally posted by Frohickey
Slogans have always been a bad way to describe the real world anyway.

As others have already pointed out, the Leave No Child Behind, could mean that you end up dumbing down the curriculum for everyone else. How about Teach Every Child Who Wants To Be Taught?

Not as catchy, but its what will ensure success for everyone involved.

That would be a great slogan. Not every kid is gonna go to college for whatever reason, and that's ok. We do need to also find a way to transition those who aren't going to college into some kind of trade. Parental involvement is key, but is not always going to happen, so we need other saftey nets for those whose parents won't help them. It's not the kids fault their parent(s) suck.

Desertrat
Aug 15, 2003, 11:17 AM
More BS from "back in the old daze". :)

In 9th Grade, 1947/1948, all the boys took some woodwork, sheetmetal work and drafting--whether or not we were expected to go to college.

After the 10th grade, the high school in (conjunction with the parents), put us into either a pre-college curriculum or a trade curriculum. The pre-college kids didn't (usually, except for electives) take shop courses; the trade kids didn't take advanced math or English Lit or foreign languages.

The decision was predicated on family income (ability to pay for college) AND a student's grades. For an exceptionally high-grade kid of a poor family, scholarship help was sought early on.

Kids graduating from the trade system came out of high school with their diploma and readily-usable skills for employment: Auto mechanics, welding, woodworking, agribusiness...

This sort of approach seems rather uncommon, nowadays.

There are many for whom shop courses are far more interesting than English Lit. Kids that are interested will learn.

My wife occasionally has high school kids come by her business, seeking employment. The only job prerequisite is be able to read fractions on a ruler. Oops...

'Rat

zimv20
Aug 15, 2003, 11:24 AM
sounds like a less formalized version of the german system, where at a certain point kids decide whether to learn a trade or continue w/ a "classical" education.

all other problems aside, i often wonder how wise it is to have a kid decide their future at such an early stage. i know so many people who, by their mid-20s, wish they'd taken another direction.

mactastic
Aug 15, 2003, 11:41 AM
Originally posted by Desertrat
More BS from "back in the old daze". :)

In 9th Grade, 1947/1948, all the boys took some woodwork, sheetmetal work and drafting--whether or not we were expected to go to college.

After the 10th grade, the high school in (conjunction with the parents), put us into either a pre-college curriculum or a trade curriculum. The pre-college kids didn't (usually, except for electives) take shop courses; the trade kids didn't take advanced math or English Lit or foreign languages.

The decision was predicated on family income (ability to pay for college) AND a student's grades. For an exceptionally high-grade kid of a poor family, scholarship help was sought early on.

Kids graduating from the trade system came out of high school with their diploma and readily-usable skills for employment: Auto mechanics, welding, woodworking, agribusiness...

This sort of approach seems rather uncommon, nowadays.

There are many for whom shop courses are far more interesting than English Lit. Kids that are interested will learn.

My wife occasionally has high school kids come by her business, seeking employment. The only job prerequisite is be able to read fractions on a ruler. Oops...

'Rat

I'm sure the women would appreciate the boys going to shop class while they go to homemaker classes whether they will become one or not. :D

Unfortunately, none of those occupations can be taught in HS anymore. Auto mechanics are highly skilled nowadays not only requiring many months of specifically mechanic oriented school, but continual re-certification. Welding is largely done by machine in industry, and what is done by hand is done by highly skilled craftspeople who have many years of experience and a good knowledge of metals and the procedures for pre and post heating of the weld. Agribusiness is a 4 year degree at a university. Woodworking is never going to be more than a hobby for most, unless they can compete with factory-produced products, or develop the skills and ability to charge upwards of $2000 for a dresser early on in life. High schools can start kids down these paths, but it will still require some kind of post-HS training. Fact is, a HS education just isn't what it used to be. It has been replaced with the college degree, or equivelent certification from a trade-type job. People who don't go this route end up stuck in the service sector in low-paying jobs.

Perhaps we need to re-evaluate the way we school kids. I've heard proposals that shorten the path to college/trade school. High school could be over by 16. After that, community colleges can start the college prep work for those on the way to university, and provide trade training to others. We've become entrenched in a summer-off system, but schools can go year round and be much more efficient. Summers off is a holdover from our agricultural roots that isn't necessary today. There seems to be a need for wholesale change in education, but it can't be driven by politicians, it has to come from the people who study education.

Anyways, I'm not directing this at you, I just got started from your quote and went nuts. Ramble ramble ramble.... ok thats enough.

Ambrose Chapel
Aug 15, 2003, 11:41 AM
Originally posted by Rat
In 9th Grade, 1947/1948, all the boys took some woodwork, sheetmetal work and drafting--whether or not we were expected to go to college.

hey in 8th grade i/all of us had to take shop - lots of woodwork and drafting but no metalwork that i can recall. and this was in forty years after you! ;)

Ambrose Chapel
Aug 15, 2003, 11:43 AM
Originally posted by mactastic
We've become entrenched in a summer-off system, but schools can go year round and be much more efficient. Summers off is a holdover from our agricultural roots that isn't necessary today.

but could they ever get this past the powerful summer camp lobby? ;)

Desertrat
Aug 15, 2003, 11:54 AM
mac, I can surely agree in part about the difference in many of today's jobs vs. yesterday's. However, automotive-computer training courses are not more than a few weeks. Brake jobs and U-joints and transmissions aren't particularly different. Or radiator repair.

Plumbers aren't poorly paid; their relative wage-scales have been joked about for years. "More pay and shorter hours than a poor darned engineer!" :) Electricians don't do all that horribly, for that matter. Phone company guys aren't paid all that shabbily.

Carpenters are shafted by all the illegals working for minimum wage...

Shops are begging for machinists of any skill level whatsoever. The average age of a skilled machinist in the U.S. is above fifty years of age. Minimum starting wage in Podunksville is toward $15/hr, and that's a lot better than flipping burgers.

Nobody was born an expert anything.

'Rat

mactastic
Aug 15, 2003, 12:38 PM
Originally posted by Desertrat
mac, I can surely agree in part about the difference in many of today's jobs vs. yesterday's. However, automotive-computer training courses are not more than a few weeks. Brake jobs and U-joints and transmissions aren't particularly different. Or radiator repair.

I have friends who are mechanics who would disagree with the few weeks part. But you are right, there are still little radiator repair and muffler repair places, and it doesn't take much training to do brakes etc. There is a guy a really like that does my muffler stuff, he has a little shop, it's just him, and he makes a decent living. But hiis shop's been paid off for a while now, and no kid out of high school could afford to do anything like that now. The only option is to work for $10 an hour for someone else and never be able to make enough to go out on your own. The guys that work on my cars charge $80/hour for the high degree of skill they possess.

Plumbers aren't poorly paid; their relative wage-scales have been joked about for years. "More pay and shorter hours than a poor darned engineer!" :) Electricians don't do all that horribly, for that matter. Phone company guys aren't paid all that shabbily.

Carpenters are shafted by all the illegals working for minimum wage...

Shops are begging for machinists of any skill level whatsoever. The average age of a skilled machinist in the U.S. is above fifty years of age. Minimum starting wage in Podunksville is toward $15/hr, and that's a lot better than flipping burgers.

You are right, there are many jobs that can be learned in a short time, days or weeks even. But these skill tend to be highly specialized and leave one unprepared for any kind of shift in the industry or the economy or whatever. And as far as machinists go, all you have to know is CAD/CAM kind of stuff, its all computer controlled now. Hand machining is a dying art sadly, there are only a few kinds of businesses that still machine by hand. Some of those people can make good money, but most don't. The skill level required to machine with a computer is low enough that it is easier to retrain than to pay enough to retain. And I gotta tell you, $15/hour needs to be the minimum wage around here. That's just barely getting by as a single person around here.




Nobody was born an expert anything.

'Rat

So true.

Sayhey
Aug 15, 2003, 12:48 PM
Originally posted by Ambrose Chapel
but could they ever get this past the powerful summer camp lobby? ;)

How could you get this past teachers? Good friend of mine, who is a teacher, wears a t-shirt that says, "three reasons I teach: June, July, and August." If I were a teacher, I wouldn't give up one of the few perks of the job.

mactastic
Aug 15, 2003, 12:53 PM
Originally posted by Sayhey
How could you get this past teachers? Good friend of mine, who is a teacher, wears a t-shirt that says, "three reasons I teach: June, July, and August." If I were a teacher, I wouldn't give up one of the few perks of the job.

:D That is soooo true. But I gotta say, the ones who are in it soley for the summers off are definetly in the group that needs to go. Plus the summer is only really 2 months now, and getting shorter all the time. My wife, father and mother who all work in the school system are already back at work, and they got out in mid to late june. Year rounders get the same amount of time off, it's just spread out more, and the school isn't vacant for 16% of the year.

Sayhey
Aug 15, 2003, 01:06 PM
Originally posted by mactastic
:D That is soooo true. But I gotta say, the ones who are in it soley for the summers off are definetly in the group that needs to go. Plus the summer is only really 2 months now, and getting shorter all the time. My wife, father and mother who all work in the school system are already back at work, and they got out in mid to late june. Year rounders get the same amount of time off, it's just spread out more, and the school isn't vacant for 16% of the year.

I haven't decided what I think of year round schools. I think it is more efficient, but there is something to be said for an extended period of time in which the pace of life slows.

mactastic
Aug 15, 2003, 01:11 PM
Originally posted by Sayhey
I haven't decided what I think of year round schools. I think it is more efficient, but there is something to be said for an extended period of time in which the pace of life slows.

Oh, I know. Summers were such a great time as a kid. But they might get used to 2 weeks off every 3 months. I have mixed feeling about year round as well, but sooner or later someone will figure out how much it costs to keep those school sittin there in the summer. And unless your whole family is in the school system (mine was) at least one person is working all the time, sometimes both are.

Sayhey
Aug 15, 2003, 01:35 PM
Originally posted by mactastic
Oh, I know. Summers were such a great time as a kid. But they might get used to 2 weeks off every 3 months. I have mixed feeling about year round as well, but sooner or later someone will figure out how much it costs to keep those school sittin there in the summer. And unless your whole family is in the school system (mine was) at least one person is working all the time, sometimes both are.

I've never tried the year round system, so it might be great. But like I said it is great, especially for kids, to have time to cool their jets. I'm also afraid that once we make such a move that those 2 weeks off every 3 months will quickly turn into one and so on. I guess I'm just envious of the Europeans who shut down their countries every August and go on vacation.

Ambrose Chapel
Aug 15, 2003, 01:48 PM
My father was a teacher and spent the summer fishing, then he got bumped up and only had 1 month off (sniff...). I agree with Sayhey - I would love for us as a society to take a breather and let everyone unwind for more than 2 weeks every year. There was an article in the papers this week or last about a strudy on work-related stress - people in the US are getting more and more *freaked out* from working longer and taking fewer holidays. Of course the slant of the study was how it is costing employers due to sick leave etc. I think everyone having August off would do nicely to help this.

mactastic
Aug 15, 2003, 01:54 PM
Well of course that is the other solution... give everyone the summer off! I'd vote for that one.:D

Frohickey
Aug 15, 2003, 02:09 PM
Sounds like a good idea to either familiarize the students into the trade crafts (woodworking, metalshop, autoshop) while in high school. Sure, with these 'skills' you are not going to be self-sufficient off the bat. Thats how it was when I went to high school as well. Took autoshop, woodshop and metalshop, as well as the advanced calculus, and chemistry. :D

As to shortening the curriculum, I'm for that as well. High school and college curriculum is so full of non-essential courses that are mandatory for graduation. First one that should be made optional are the art classes and foreign language classes, sex ed classes, physical ed classes etc. You can take these, and they add to your GPA, but they should not be required for graduation.

Steven1621
Aug 17, 2003, 09:07 AM
as a high school student, i have seen this all in action. what i see as a major flaw is that this act sets the standard too high for most schools. i am certainly a believer in quality standards, but much of what is being expected now is just not feasible for schools. it is one thing to require a certain program, but it is also another to be able to pay for it. this act requries school systems to have bilingual treachers in many languages, not just the common Spanish. While this would certainly be nice, I would say cash strapped schools just can't afford to add on a Polish teacher to their budget. higher standards are good, but they need to be actually attainable.

also, standardized test suck and are a total sham. they accomplish nothing but make wealthy and smart students look better then the poor ones.

Sayhey
Aug 17, 2003, 09:59 AM
Originally posted by Steven1621
...higher standards are good, but they need to be actually attainable.

also, standardized test suck and are a total sham. they accomplish nothing but make wealthy and smart students look better then the poor ones.

I agree that standardized test are a total sham. They show how well some students are taught to take these kinds of tests and not much more. While the tests are often culturally skewed toward students who make up the more well heeled strata, I wouldn't call them the "smart" ones.

Your point about standards actually being attainable is, IMO, a very good one. These standards are used as a stick to push teachers and students, but the resources to accomplish the goals outlined it the standards are seldom provided.

Desertrat
Aug 17, 2003, 10:32 AM
Back to the original subject: There was a lengthy article about the "No Child Left Behind" deal in the local paper.

Surficially, it doesn't look bad. Aside from a lot of testing in more and separate categories (!) there are a series of "stairsteps" concerning compliance. For each year of non-attainment, there is more and more oversight of a school or school district.

Non-attainment can come about from 15% of the students missing 15% of the days of school in a year; other non-attainment causes are low grades in any of several sectors (math, English, etc.) So, even if the overall record isn't so bad, a district can still be non-compliant because of only one area of assessment.

This is an incentive to cheat, as was done in Houston. You look at the demographics of a student body, prognosticate the probablilities of being in non-compliance, and start hiding bodies.

It's like a lot of school stuff that comes from the Dept of Edu to Congress and then to the state/district level: It looks good on paper, but it doesn't consider human nature. That is, if a district is in compliance, there's no particular individual reward. If it's not, there are problems and hassles for the administrators and the teachers. If an administrator knows there's no real hope of attaining compliance there are two choices: Quit or cheat.

'Rat

Sayhey
Aug 17, 2003, 11:52 AM
Originally posted by Desertrat
...It's like a lot of school stuff that comes from the Dept of Edu to Congress and then to the state/district level: It looks good on paper, but it doesn't consider human nature. That is, if a district is in compliance, there's no particular individual reward. If it's not, there are problems and hassles for the administrators and the teachers. If an administrator knows there's no real hope of attaining compliance there are two choices: Quit or cheat.

'Rat

'Rat, the origin of this stuff isn't some nameless bureaucrat in the Department of Education. The problem lies in each new administration on the national, state, or local level has to figure out some way to tell people they are doing something about education. Each comes up with some scheme that has nothing to do with the best methods of educating kids, but sounds good and promises the "holy grail" of raising test scores. It all has to do with politicians trying to design education instead of allowing teachers to do so. I'm all for federal or state progams that are designed to help teachers and kids, but trying to design cookie cutter approches to children just doesn't work.
Want to make a difference in education - then provide the resources to properly train and recruit teachers, provide sufficent and relevant materials, don't overload the class size, have proper support staff, have a decent place to learn in, and then get the ****** out of the way!

Frohickey
Aug 17, 2003, 12:25 PM
Originally posted by Steven1621
also, standardized test suck and are a total sham. they accomplish nothing but make wealthy and smart students look better then the poor ones.

Make the wealthy students look better than the poor ones?

Or make the smart students look better than the stupid ones?

Money can't fix the education problems, as much as the teachers unions keep harping about small class sizes, computers, etc.

What you need is a curriculum that emphasizes the basics, and not the feel-good fuzzy subjects that some 'teachers' would like to experiment with because that is what is interesting to them.

Can't seem to find this website comparing an old final test during the 30s, vs final exams of today. Some of those old test questions are hard.

Ambrose Chapel
Aug 17, 2003, 12:26 PM
Originally posted by Sayhey
Want to make a difference in education - then provide the resources to properly train and recruit teachers, provide sufficent and relevant materials, don't overload the class size, have proper support staff, have a decent place to learn in, and then get the ****** out of the way!

amen. and also try and foster involvement by parents. my dad would always have stories from open school night where the parents would have no clue what was really going on with their kid...whether it was the school's fault for not communicating better with the parents on an ongoing basis or the parents' for not taking the time to get involved, i don't know.

Sayhey
Aug 17, 2003, 01:06 PM
Originally posted by Ambrose Chapel
amen. and also try and foster involvement by parents. my dad would always have stories from open school night where the parents would have no clue what was really going on with their kid...whether it was the school's fault for not communicating better with the parents on an ongoing basis or the parents' for not taking the time to get involved, i don't know.

Sounds like a good thing to add to the list, Ambrose. Sorry I missed it.

Desertrat
Aug 17, 2003, 05:12 PM
Thought I'd harped on parental involvement. :)

"'Rat, the origin of this stuff isn't some nameless bureaucrat in the Department of Education."

No, but (at some level) they're ususally the ones who amalgamate all the various good ideas and write them up for the legislators or other appropriate authorities.

"The problem lies in each new administration on the national, state, or local level has to figure out some way to tell people they are doing something about education."

Since 1962, at least.

"...provide the resources to properly train and recruit teachers, provide sufficent and relevant materials, don't overload the class size, have proper support staff, have a decent place to learn in, and then get the ****** out of the way!"

Now, that reminds me of something I think I experienced, but it was over 50 years ago...

:), 'Rat

Sayhey
Aug 17, 2003, 05:55 PM
Originally posted by Desertrat
Thought I'd harped on parental involvement. :)

"'Rat, the origin of this stuff isn't some nameless bureaucrat in the Department of Education."

No, but (at some level) they're ususally the ones who amalgamate all the various good ideas and write them up for the legislators or other appropriate authorities.

"The problem lies in each new administration on the national, state, or local level has to figure out some way to tell people they are doing something about education."

Since 1962, at least.

"...provide the resources to properly train and recruit teachers, provide sufficent and relevant materials, don't overload the class size, have proper support staff, have a decent place to learn in, and then get the ****** out of the way!"

Now, that reminds me of something I think I experienced, but it was over 50 years ago...

:), 'Rat

'Rat you did and I shouldn't have left it out. I recall you raising it and I responded, "'Don't know about 'peein' in the whiskey,' but I agree getting parents involved is very important." We don't have a disagreement, just sometimes when I get on my "high horse" I'm not as thorough as I should be.

OK, I'll bite what happened over 50 years ago?

Desertrat
Aug 17, 2003, 07:18 PM
From 1940 into 1951, I was in public schools, mostly in Austin, Texas (Some bouncing around as a WW II army brat). The system, then, was much like what you described. :)

My junior year of high school was at American School, Inc., in Manila.--a giant step upward, academically ("Read Hamlet's soliloquy, tonight, and memorize it for class tomorrow." :)) A "B" average, there, meant automatic acceptance at Stanford.

My senior year was at Schreiner Institute (military school) where the curriculum was about like Austin but with smaller class size. (I was at Schreiner a few years before Panama's Noriega. :D)

Amazing how browsing unrelated boards (Time Bomb 2000) will provide links to such as:

http://www.kimberlyswygert.com/archives/000189.html This has comments on some school problems in New Orleans.

I hadn't a clue things could be this bad!

'Rat

Desertrat
Aug 17, 2003, 08:20 PM
Ah, serendipity!

Tomorrow's column by Fred Reed (once again) giving his views on the problems of society and of today's education.

http://www.fredoneverything.net/

:), 'Rat

mactastic
Aug 18, 2003, 09:45 AM
I found a nice cartoon summing up the general attitude of teachers toward the regimen of tests that students are forced to take and teachers are forced to teach to. Unfortunately it was in my Sunday paper so I'll have to describe it to y'all. Chalkboard behind the teacher says "No Child Left Behind". One of the kids in the class is asking the teacher "Is this the test to test us for the test to see if we are ready for the test yet?"

Lots of companies make money off standardized testing, and to answer Frohickey, yes smart kids do better than dumb kids, but rich kids with better schools also do better, as do kids whose heritage is anglo. Now we can either conclude that rich kids are smarter than poor ones and white kids are smarter than non-whites, or we can conclude that something is amiss with the standardized testing process. I vote for the second option.

Desertrat
Aug 18, 2003, 11:01 AM
:D On average, don't Asians do better than whites?

I won't bring "The Bell Curve" into this. I won't. I won't.

'Rat

mactastic
Aug 18, 2003, 11:05 AM
Originally posted by Desertrat
:D On average, don't Asians do better than whites?

I won't bring "The Bell Curve" into this. I won't. I won't.

'Rat

Yes they do. I was just comparing white to all non-white combined. The asian subgroup does do better than whites. Does that mean they are smarter though?

Desertrat
Aug 18, 2003, 06:50 PM
There is a body of IQ test data which indicates that on average, Asians are smarter than whites and then on down the pecking order.

I've also read that, worldwide, generation by generation, IQ test scores on average have risen since the first days of such tests.

The meaning of it all? I dunno.

Of course, a high IQ does not necessarily mean a person will learn, only that it's a measure of how well one is able to learn. Nor does it imply common sense or some ability to understand the world around you and successfully cope with it. There have been Mensans among the homeless...

'Rat

mactastic
Aug 18, 2003, 06:54 PM
On the other hand, it is possible to teach someone to do well on a standardized test. My HS AP Calculus teacher once told us that if we are doing math on the math section of the SAT, you are wasting time. You should be able to look at the answers and eliminate one or more right off the bat. A quick checking of the remaining answers will usually reveal the correct one if you know what you are looking for. In only a few instances will you actually work the problem. Now what good does it do to test people's ability to figure out the tricks of the test, which is what teachers teach, rather than a thorough understanding of the material? Sad.

Ambrose Chapel
Aug 18, 2003, 07:28 PM
Originally posted by mactastic
Now what good does it do to test people's ability to figure out the tricks of the test, which is what teachers teach, rather than a thorough understanding of the material? Sad.

the SAT isn't even the kind of test that you learn from...it's sole purpose seems to be to give college admissions officers an easy number to see. and so much attention is placed on that number that students don't want to learn anything, they just want to know how to get a good number.

colleges need to place less importance on it and the ACT or whatever...didn't the UC pres try and do that a few years ago?