Spellings promotes voucher program

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by zimv20, Jul 21, 2006.

  1. zimv20 macrumors 601


    Jul 18, 2002
    USA Today

    brilliant. the education secretary appeals for massive amounts of money before congress to push an agenda on which a report by her own department raises serious doubts. and she can't even bothered to read the report, which she didn't even know she had. absolute managerial ineptitude.

    not that reading the report would have changed her already-fixed notions of what's needed to fix "the problem".

    emphasis mine.
  2. thedude110 macrumors 68020


    Jun 13, 2005
    I read about the study a few days ago.

    It's absolutely infuriating -- urban public school teachers receive shoddy treatment from local media, from national media and from the kids they're busting their butts for. Then, when good news comes out about the quality of public (and public urban) education -- well, the head of the department of education can't be bothered to read that.

    It's all bogus, anyways. When I have 31 juniors in a room and a third to a half of them can't read beyond a third grade level because they've been mainstreamed from ESL prematurely ... well, you tell me how I'm supposed to get those kids to eleventh grade standard by testing time in March. Or maybe my district should just hire a private school teacher who could tell me how to do it.

    And if people really think a private school could solve that problem better than a public school (and private schools in this area are notorius for having beyond broken ESL programs) -- well, I hope I don't need to remind anyone that private school teachers rarely even go through any teacher preparation. Many have never even taken an education course in their academic preparation. But who needs to learn how to be a teacher, right? I mean, if you know history, you can just explain it to a 15 year old and they'll care about it and learn about it and learn how to learn about it, right? Teaching's easy -- everybody does it.

    I guess this is a disconnected rant, but so much of this story gets so deeply under my skin. The better teachers are in the public schools -- so are the greater instructional challenges.

    PS: In the school I just left, we failed to meet standard on testing and our funding was cut. Brilliant -- I couldn't get the kids from third to 11th grade standard in 7 months,, so now the ESL program gets even shorter! Which means the teacher who takes my place will probably be dealing with kids reading on a second grade level.

    You can see why I had to get out.
  3. zimv20 thread starter macrumors 601


    Jul 18, 2002
    it's clearly a system which is broken, and for the life of me i can't understand how the "fix" for such a system is to cut funding.

    my high school experience was that, even in the advanced track, one confused kid dictated the pace -- the lowest common denominator. a third to a half must approach being a complete waste of time. kudos to you if you could make it worthwhile even for some.
  4. iTwitch macrumors 6502a


    Mar 30, 2006
    East of the Mississippi
    How about a program that requires politicians to teach a year of public school for each two years in office. The schools would gain a great source of high quality educators and the politicians would gain a better understanding of the problem. :rolleyes:

    I use to hate it when you saw one of our fearless leaders sitting around with a group of hand picked students then read a story about how poorly the schools overall are doing.

    Oh well, they were dealing with these problems 25 years ago when I was in HS and it doesn't look like they've made much progress.
  5. stubeeef macrumors 68030


    Aug 10, 2004

    from the link
    (my mother is a retired school teacher, and my wife is an elementary teacher btw)

    It has little to do with the amount spent, and more to do with how it is spent.

    I had a few years of private education in HS, it was by far superior to the public schools I had access to. I struggled to make a B, in public HS good attendance got me straight A's. They had this thing in private school called expectations.
  6. mischief macrumors 68030


    Aug 1, 2001
    Santa Cruz Ca
    Yes, and No.

    I had a very good education in Canada through third grade. The education system in Palo Alto CA I was dropped into put me through two years of hell before my parents discovered a "progressive" (read: experimental) grade school in the same district. My GPA doubled. The difference was a tailoring of education by personality. Rather than a uniform meatgrinder there were several teachers per grade level that each had a specialty. It was more informal and personal.

    Then we moved to Santa Cruz county and it was back into the meatgrinder. I wound up in a bloated district dominated by it's union and such entities as MECHA.

    I was in a high school that had been forcibly integrated: bussing the poor latino students into the HS where the rich kids had been. The rich kids were bad enough off being latchkey kids with no supervision, lots of cash and easy access to any kind of substance you can imagine. Adding in all the nasties of a poor aggie community just made things worse. I had six years of hell. The 4.0 students were all on Crystal Meth and the student prez carried a handgun... fun times. Mercedes and Sordenos. Go Mariners.

    I was lower middle class living with the rich kids and came from a poor aggie part of Canada. Stuck in the middle with nowhere to go.

    The problem lies not in nationalization but in monopoly. Competition eventually devolves to monopoly in this country anyway without regular anti-trust actions.You have to keep stirring the pot.
  7. thedude110 macrumors 68020


    Jun 13, 2005
    Fantastic. So by that logic, we could graduate her after 432 hours of instruction in a subject. Multiply that across 5 core subjects and she should graduate from a Sylvan based High School sometime around the age of 7. A marked improvement!

    Look. Nobody's going to dispute that kids learn best from individual instruction. But there's no way you're going to be able to provide individualized instruction for every kid in the nation without a mammoth revamping of infrastructure and a mammoth redistribution of resources.

    I think that there's a lot of good stuff happening among cutting edge educators and in cutting edge schools, as in the charter school mentioned in the linked article. But a lot of that goes back to parental involvement (parents generally elect to apply to charter schools). When parents aren't involved -- and no amount of vouchers or "competition" is going to make a difference for a lot of parents -- you're going to have a lot of kids who work awfully hard to make the classroom a difficult learning environment.

    Only in part true. Certain districts -- often urban districts -- need more fundiing than other districts. To fund a suburban district at the same per-student cost as an urban district is often to overlook that the students in the suburban district have greater access to school supplies (an expense that can immediately be cropped from the budget). Urban districts have to pay more than suburban districts to attract quality teachers, and urban districts often have significantly more security costs. No wonder suburban districts have more leftover funds to build beautiful libraries, to add on to schools (or to build new schools) and to thus manage overcrowding (and the behavior problems that go with overcrowding).

    We have high expectations in public schools, and I agree that high expectations are essential.

    Keep in mind, though, that in a urban district, high expectations have to be balanced with giving each kid a chance to graduate. A suburban kid often has a safety net -- an urban kid who can't pull Ds too often doesn't have that same luxury.

    How many people in our prisons are suburban droputs, how many are suburban graduates, how many urban dropouts and how many are urban graduates? I don't know either, but I've seen the difference it can make in a kid's life when it occurs to them, sometime around 17, "You mean you think I could get into a Community College?"

    That's also the power of "high" expectations.

    PS: I should include rural schools in this argument. I've never taught in a rural school, but friends who do teach in the sticks only return to their jobs year after year because of a commitment to their ideals.
  8. solvs macrumors 603


    Jun 25, 2002
    LaLaLand, CA
    There are good and bad private schools just as there are good and bad public schools. Sure they need to learn how to spend money better, but cutting funding for public schools just to spend it on sending kids to private schools (which may or may not be good, and not all kids would qualify) while imposing more NCLB silliness doesn't seem like a good idea to me. My parents are both teachers. I was in school myself not too long ago. There are a lot of problems with the system, but I don't see how this fixes anything.
  9. mactastic macrumors 68040


    Apr 24, 2003
    Hmm... Sounds familiar.

    Yep, that's my alma-mater all right. Wasn't so bad when I was there (class of '90) but by the time my sisters got there (class of '92 and '95 respectively) it had gone downhill pretty bad. My youngest sis was there when the student body president had to resign because of his gang affiliations...

    There there... I was lower middle class at AHS too. Got a good math education from Mr. Smith, and a good English education from Mr. Jones though. Most of the rest of it was crap, but I was one of those extremely bored kids, even in the advanced classes. Crappy grades, but mostly 'cause I didn't do my homework.


    Generally regarding schools: I have a unique perspective because my wife is a HS English teacher, and I'm an architect who works largely with school projects. I realize the funding comes from separate sources, but I have to laugh/cry when I get sent to LA, get put up in a nice hotel, meals (and other reimbursables) paid for, in order to get state approval for the $25,000 it costs to pick up a relocatable classroom the district already owns and move it to another campus a few miles away and plop it back down, yet my wife can't get textbooks for her Reading Improvement class.

    I could get into all kinds of problems with the school system: tenure, administration BS, school boards, state funding and mandates, federal funding and mandates, the costs of closing schools as areas become too affluent to support them (because the residents are older/don't have kids), schools in poor areas not getting critical upgrades, facilities scaled back because of funding uncertainties, poor teachers given the same incentives as excellent teachers, teacher compensation, teacher respect levels, lack of rewards for higher education levels for teachers....

    It goes on and on and on. Way too far off topic for this thread.
  10. mischief macrumors 68030


    Aug 1, 2001
    Santa Cruz Ca

    Class of 95. Yeah, it was VERY bad. But it taught me about how incredibly stupid people can be to be "politically correct" and how worthless the current system is if you have no financial safety net and fall into that nasty crack of having too high a family income for financial aid, parents that didn't save a fricking dime and no ethnicity to speak of. I spent a long time too pissed off to care what my grades were; it wouldn't have mattered, it was well known that our GPA's were padded to hell and back if you towed the line.

    Though it nearly drove me insane (Columbine didn't suprise me a bit, I was entertaining the idea two years ahead of the headlines) I met my wife there and we pulled each other out of the pit. Luckily I've an insatiable curiosity so education was something I handled pretty well on my own anyway.

    Even the worst schools have something to teach. The trick is not being broken by your situation. I came damn close and learned a lot from it. I can tell you things about people based on how the walk, talk, enter a room or shift their eyes that anyone else I know would miss. I can smell Meth on a person's sweat. I can see opiates in their pupils. I can tell you what a drunk's brand is from his stink. I can track lies, evasion and plagiarism like a wire guided missile. I can play devil's advocate well enough to find the central self-deception behind damnear any misadventure.

    What did I have to unlearn? I had to re-learn compassion. I had to remove cynical rage from my basic motivations. I had to seek out a role. I had to stop leaning on THC to keep me half asleep and really look at what I had become.

    Only half the problem can ever be placed on the schools. To quote Eminem: "Where were the Parents at?" In my experience? Absent. Lost in their own petty intrigues. I knew a guy who'd come home from school to a note from his parents ("Gone to Aspen, back in 10 days love Mom. PS: Don't wreck the Jag") They'd left him with a pile of petty cash and no validation at all. Poor bastard could have gone to Juliard, could teach himself any instrument he picked up in a few weeks. By the end of Senior year he'd completely burned out on LSD, speed, opium and anything else he could find.

    So many of us were born into a secondary cast to our parent's dramas. We grew up too fast and not at all. Our parents watched their dreams get shot in the head on TV. We watched ours get spent on Aspen and QVC. Many of us decided F*** It and put the remains into bongs or needles or up our noses.

    But now we have to pick up the pieces and fight back. Our parents dreams were our grandparents' promise to us. They were stolen before we had a chance to even see them. Now we, the few who were too young to remember Reagan's first term but still remember how to play Vinyl must act. Those just a few years younger are untouched by the idealism, those but a little older too cynical. We are young yet and those who are strong are pissed.

    Dream On:

    "The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of
    human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears
    fought are still at issue around the globe -- the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity
    of the state, but from the hand of God.
    We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time
    and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans --
    born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient
    heritage, and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation
    has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

    Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet
    any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
    This much we pledge -- and more."

    JFK: January 20, 1961

    Never forget. Never lose heart.

    You can be as free as you want, love what you do and find the right person if you're willing to fight for it. I did, I am I will continue to, for as long as I can see anyone else doing the same.


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