Why Johnny Can’t Compete with Sanjay

An article on Catholic Exchange…

catholicexchange.com/vm/index.asp?vm_id=2&art_id=31830

It does seem like the public school system here in America in the last couple of decades have been more geared towards gainly superficially high standardized test scores than actual learning. It’s a frustration that I get in interacting with my children on some basic knowledges in all fields of study that they sorely seem to be lacking! :frowning:

[quote=Tonks40]It does seem like the public school system here in America in the last couple of decades have been more geared towards gainly superficially high standardized test scores than actual learning. It’s a frustration that I get in interacting with my children on some basic knowledges in all fields of study that they sorely seem to be lacking! :frowning:
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From where I sit, the public school system in America has nearly been destroyed by liberal educational policies which shifted the focus away from learning subject matter, demanding excellence from students, demanding courtesy and respect for teachers and personal responsibility to self-esteem, social promotion and refusing to discipline those who disrupt the classroom in a way that teaches appropriate behavior.

Superb analysis in the article.

PLEASE, everybody read it.

[quote=Geldain]From where I sit, the public school system in America has nearly been destroyed by liberal educational policies which shifted the focus away from learning subject matter, demanding excellence from students, demanding courtesy and respect for teachers and personal responsibility to self-esteem, social promotion and refusing to discipline those who disrupt the classroom in a way that teaches appropriate behavior.
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You are right. When we lived in Canada, it was obvious to me that the schools were better. Don’t know if they have teacher’s unions or not, but I know their teachers (at least some of them) are paid better. They seem to put more value on education than we do.

We continue to throw money at schools, and they are not improving. Think it is time we try something else.

[quote=Geldain]From where I sit, the public school system in America has nearly been destroyed by liberal educational policies which shifted the focus away from learning subject matter, demanding excellence from students, demanding courtesy and respect for teachers and personal responsibility to self-esteem, social promotion and refusing to discipline those who disrupt the classroom in a way that teaches appropriate behavior.
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It looks like you are sitting in the right place. I have two daughters and a daughter in-law who teach. They feel that in the past decade our lack of teaching has about disappeared. Administrators and helpers outnumber the teachers and the liberal left leaning school boards have eliminated discipline completely.

One of my daughters was grabbed by the hair and thrown to the ground by a sixth grader. The immediate concern of the powers that be was if the student was injured and what did the teacher do to infiuriate the CHILD.

I was a student ( one room school and same teacher my mother had) back in the thirties and forties and you can believe me when I tell you that it would be impossible for anything of that nature to happen. #1 Us kids would never have thought of attacking a teacher. # If it would have happened other kids would have stopped it abruptly. # Our parents would have whipped us with a belt or shingle. Education might have been painful at times but the effects last for eons.

It is easy to blame society, single parents and financial problems for behavior but the fact remains----PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY & CARING. Without them the kids will do as they wish because school administrators are afraid. A few complaints by parents and their position is in jeopardy. Their attitude, “Got to cover my butt, right.”

[quote=halmac1930]One of my daughters was grabbed by the hair and thrown to the ground by a sixth grader. The immediate concern of the powers that be was if the student was injured and what did the teacher do to infiuriate the CHILD.
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This is one of the reasons I won’t teach in the public school system here in Houston (not that anyone can grab my hair and throw me to the ground since my hair is too short to grab).

HISD’s policy regarding student-on-student violence, for example, is for teachers to do nothing but verbally urge students to stop hurting each other. A few years ago, this policy facilitated a student’s death in a schoolyard brawl that included a screwdriver. I was absolutely sickened by the fact no one attempted to physically intervene.

I’ve had a student turn violent in class before. I put the student on the floor in an armlock. The situation very quickly defused at that point. If I’d done this in HISD, I’d’ve lost my job at a minimum, even though I was acting to protect the health of two students.

The blame for the poor situation in many public schools falls squarely on two sets of shoulders: the parents/guardians and the teacher’s unions. The former too often abrogate responsibility for their children’s moral development, and the latter is almost always nothing more than a fund-raising tool for the Democratic Party with little real concern for quality education.

Thank God for private schools, and my final thought is this: vouchers.

– Mark L. Chance.

Why Johnny can’t compete…

The answer :

In a name: John Dewey.

[quote=manualman]Superb analysis in the article.
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The article lacks information that I want. In the USA, we have stuff like the no child left behind deal. If we have to teach math to the nearly unteachable, AND we have to include their scores in the reporting mix, it is obvious why our scores are lower. Do other countries include those scores in the reporting or not? We may be outpacing them with these special students.

From experience I do conceede that they outpace us for the gifted mathematically. However, perhaps that has improved recently. Also, we have discipline issues that they might not have. Lack of discipline eats into learning like wildfire.

[quote=Pug]The article lacks information that I want. In the USA, we have stuff like the no child left behind deal. If we have to teach math to the nearly unteachable, AND we have to include their scores in the reporting mix, it is obvious why our scores are lower. Do other countries include those scores in the reporting or not? We may be outpacing them with these special students.
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In the US we have the 14th Amendment – which guarentees equal protection under the law. It is neither educationally sound nor Christian to write off students as “unteachable.”

We can teach math and science to every normal child – I have two graduate degrees in education and worked for many years in education and training in the military and in industry. We were able to take these “unteachable” kids and make radar repairmen, computer specialists and helicopter mechanics out of them.

The key is in the article:

[indent]At age 10, American students take an international test and score well above the international average. But by age 15, when students from 40 countries are tested, the Americans place 25th.

American schools don’t teach as well as schools in other countries because they are government monopolies, and monopolies don’t have much incentive to compete. In Belgium, by contrast, the money is attached to the kids — it’s a kind of voucher system. Government funds education — at many different kinds of schools — but if a school can’t attract students, it goes out of business.

[/indent]In industry, I had to produce results. If I didn’t, there were other companies just waiting for me to fail, so they could get the contract.

[quote=Pug]From experience I do conceede that they outpace us for the gifted mathematically. However, perhaps that has improved recently. Also, we have discipline issues that they might not have. Lack of discipline eats into learning like wildfire.
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They outpace us in many areas – ask your average high school graduate to show you Iraq on a map, or to tell you what happened in 1066.

Personal opinion…

Teachers prefer to make subjects more difficult than the subjects need to be… or maybe, it’s not the TEACHERS… but rather the “curriculum planners”.

When I went to high school, there was the usual mix of students. EVERYONE got three years of science (biology, physics and chemistry plus labs), math up through calculus, two languages, weekly book reports, and a ton of other stuff. Some struggled, some excelled, but the teachers didn’t appear to have any difficulty teaching the material. To keep the students out of mischief over the various holidays, they would give us extra point homeworks and we all did them. The only option as I recall was an extra year of Latin. Otherwise, everybody got taught the same stuff.

When my daughter was in high school, they made math optional based on being enrolled in a “math track” in seventh grade. The school had a “chairman of the math department”; and they were unable to explain sines and cosines to the kids. So I tutored it in 15 minutes to my daughter and during an intermission between classes, she tutored the rest of the class. Seems to me that instead of teaching math in base 10, they used or attempted to use base 2 or base 5; which is silly and pointless and a waste of energy… at the time computer programmers were using base 16 (hexadecimal).

Like a lot of stuff, there seems these days to be a phenomenal amount of dumbing down of subject matter.

[quote=Al Masetti]Like a lot of stuff, there seems these days to be a phenomenal amount of dumbing down of subject matter.
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About 20 years ago, Virginia was discussing upgrading the curriculum. My daughters came home with a letter put out by the music teachers, telling us to oppose the idea. If kids had to study more hard subjects they’d have less time for things like art and music.

I took the letter and went over it with a red pencil – underlining all the mis-spellings and bad grammar – and sent it to the school board, asking why my kids were being forced to act as couriers for this nonsense.

A few years ago, National Review magazine was doing an article about the New York City school system. At the time, there was one bureaucratic scandal after another.

Anyway, there were hundreds or maybe thousands of school system employees in the headquarters building… “Livingston Street”??

Hmmmm. To attempt some sort of comparison, one of the NR writers called the Catholic Archdiocese of New York, which runs a large school system… not nearly as large as the NYC school system… but large anyway.

When asked how many employees the Catholic school system had in the headquarters, the person who answered the phone didn’t know and was busy and got a little huffy. But after some discussion, said, “OK, look, hold on and I’ll go and count them.” And then came back and said there were 27.

Long ago, we developed a “throw money at the problem” approach. Schools understood that means no problem, no money. So they became committed to ever-larger bureaucracies, with ever-larger budgets, and no improvement.

Again, this is what happens when you have a government monopoly – in schools or any other area.

[quote=vern humphrey]We can teach math and science to every normal child
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Vern, I agree we ought to educate those whom we can. I merely wish to point out that we in fact do try to do that and that we test them all. We give tests to every last one of them. No one is weeded out years before and no longer included. Schools receive failing grades based on how they handle that situation. I have no idea if the results from foreign schools can be compared to that situation. My understanding is that many scores cannot be compared, and it depends. Imagine giving the ACT to special students with no extra time, no helpers, etc. Just what does anyone expect to happen? The ACT is rather like the SAT, in some ways, if you aren’t familiar with it. What if the student is an ESL student, doesn’t that affect their scores? Are students who are struggling to read the test due to language barrier given the tests in foreign countries? My knowlegde is insuffient in this area.

I am not talking about average students. I am talking about special needs students and other groups, whom I have no idea if foreign countries put in a category of unteachable and hence don’t teach them and hence don’t include them in the test scores. I agree education should be given to them. No argument. For example, the mildly autistic can be taught math. I’ve seen it. In a foreign country, they might never have been taught at all and just dumped in an institution. Yet here, they can make it to college, and they are included in all our test scores.

I apologize if it seemed that I thought they were actually unteachable. I condensed my thought and it came out oddly.

[quote=Pug]Vern, I agree we ought to educate those whom we can. I merely wish to point out that we in fact do try to do that and that we test them all. We give tests to every last one of them. No one is weeded out years before and no longer included.
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And no one should be weeded out! Any normal child can learn all the math and science needed for a first-class education. The only exceptions should be those with sub-normal IQs or brain damage.

My point is not comparison – although the comparisons are “fair.” You can talk to foreign students and they can give you answers to questions that would stump American students.

My point is criterion-referenced – our kids are not leaving high school with a good education. About 23% of adults in this country cannot read well enough to fill out an application for a job or a credit card without help.

In my own state (Arkansas) 58% of those who go on to college must take remedial courses.

That means most of the brightest and most ambitious students leave high school without achieving a high school standard of performance.

We don’t do that – if a student is special needs, they get help and are identified in test results.

[quote=Pug]The ACT is rather like the SAT, in some ways, if you aren’t familiar with it. What if the student is an ESL student, doesn’t that affect their scores? Are students who are struggling to read the test due to language barrier given the tests in foreign countries? My knowlegde is insuffient in this area.
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I am familiar with the ACT. We do, in fact, stratify the student population – we can identify the special needs and non-native speakers.

But the fact that an otherwise normal student is not a native English speaker shouldn’t be an excuse to pass that child on with a substandard education.

[quote=Pug]I am not talking about average students. I am talking about special needs students and other groups, whom I have no idea if foreign countries put in a category of unteachable and hence don’t teach them and hence don’t include them in the test scores.
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That doesn’t matter – because the real issue is not, “How are we doing compared to other nations,” but rather. “Are we meeting the high standards needed to have a productive and competitive nation in the future?”

[quote=Pug] I agree education should be given to them. No argument. For example, the mildly autistic can be taught math. I’ve seen it. In a foreign country, they might never have been taught at all and just dumped in an institution. Yet here, they can make it to college, and they are included in all our test scores.

I apologize if it seemed that I thought they were actually unteachable. I condensed my thought and it came out oddly.
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I apologize if I have mis-characterized your position.

[quote=vern humphrey]That means most of the brightest and most ambitious students leave high school without achieving a high school standard of performance
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That doesn’t matter – because the real issue is not, “How are we doing compared to other nations,” but rather. “Are we meeting the high standards needed to have a productive and competitive nation in the future?”
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I am an ex-victim of the public education system, so I must agree with you that not enough education is provided. I dropped out for lack of classes to take. I would have sat there my entire senior year twiddling my thumbs in shop, the only class left to take. I’d already wasted half a year in typing class. (Okay, not a waste…:D). (Just so something is clear, my school did not allow early graduation. I needed 4 years of gym).

In my state as well there is quite a need for remedial mathematics. Just glance at the class schedule for the local community college. If it were up to me I’d rip the entire system to shreds and rebuild it. On the plus side, at least the local community college does offer remedial instruction in mathematics.

I was concerned about foreign students in response to the article. I agree that it is important to ask how well we are preparing our students for the future. I don’t know. To me it seems we are not preparing them properly. If we continue failing to educate the gifted, I don’t see how that will help us. If the classrooms can be likened to stuffed zoo cages, I don’t see how that will help the average student. Is there some politician out there actually moving to reform the entire system?

Computers can be the answer for many of these troubles. I do recall the program you mentioned before. Locally I have seen the introduction of remedial algebra instruction via computer since we last spoke!

[quote=Pug]I am an ex-victim of the public education system, so I must agree with you that not enough education is provided. I dropped out for lack of classes to take. I would have sat there my entire senior year twiddling my thumbs in shop, the only class left to take. I’d already wasted half a year in typing class. (Okay, not a waste…:D). (Just so something is clear, my school did not allow early graduation. I needed 4 years of gym).

In my state as well there is quite a need for remedial mathematics. Just glance at the class schedule for the local community college. If it were up to me I’d rip the entire system to shreds and rebuild it. On the plus side, at least the local community college does offer remedial instruction in mathematics.

I was concerned about foreign students in response to the article. I agree that it is important to ask how well we are preparing our students for the future. I don’t know. To me it seems we are not preparing them properly. If we continue failing to educate the gifted, I don’t see how that will help us. If the classrooms can be likened to stuffed zoo cages, I don’t see how that will help the average student. Is there some politician out there actually moving to reform the entire system?

Computers can be the answer for many of these troubles. I do recall the program you mentioned before. Locally I have seen the introduction of remedial algebra instruction via computer since we last spoke!
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I personally favor free choice in school. Take the state education budget, divide it by the number of children and pay 90% of that to whatever school the parents choose – public or private. (The 10% held back is to sweeten the pot in cases where extra money is needed.) And let that be the only public money the schools receive. Let the good schools prosper and the bad ones die.

I think we should have a nation-wide system of internet-based computer-aided education. It should include diagnostic and remedial instruction for students that are slower, and free graduate courses for teachers.

DoDEA (the Department of Defense Education Activity) which runs all the public schools on military bases, world-wide, has such a system. We can build on that.

[quote=vern humphrey]It should include diagnostic and remedial instruction for students that are slower, and free graduate courses for teachers.
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Sounds nice.

Will schools be obliged to take certain students if they have space? How does this relate to busing?

[quote=Pug]Sounds nice.

Will schools be obliged to take certain students if they have space? How does this relate to busing?
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We’re talking about two different ideas – which work together synergistically.

The specific idea you’re replying to – a national system of internet-based computer-aided course would not be capacitated (anyone with access to a computer could take them), would not require space or buildings, and would not involve travel. The courses could be taken at home, or in school.

Free Choice has been discussed at length – I have posted a paper on it (The Three-Paper Solution.) Essentially you (the collective you – the democratic process) sets standards for schools, for student achievement, and decides what you will pay extra for (that’s the 10% held back.)

When you raise a problem, sit down and think of the standard you will apply to prevent the problem from happening.

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