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« For the record: public service unions and national security leaks | Main | Stratfor’s Geopolitics of the United States »

12 June 2012

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Ryan Mount

Oh goodness George. Not the standardized testing meme.

Back when I was a doe-eyed post graduate, I had a mentor who had a different perspective on the pitfalls of standardized testing. Up in the Foothills above Mariposa, my aging mentor/author looked at me from across his redwood burl kitchen table while sipping some Lettuce/Carrot juice abomination and told me this:

"Ryan, the problem with academic standardized testing in a Democracy such as ours, is that the consumers of testing [he meant, parents and administrators, not the students] will work to lower standards when the kids start to do poorly."

At the time, I heard only parts of this because I was dreaming of a Pepperoni Pizza in his off-the-grid vegan sanctuary.

Anyhow IOW, the incentive for parents and administrators is to lower standards frankly to not look bad. Or as we say in the private sector, they'll move the goal posts closer mid-game to score.

His suggestion was to radically increase standards, if we must, or think outside the box with regards to assessment. He seemed to think the former was an impossibility.

George Rebane

Back in Reagan's day the dictum was 'Trust but verify'. Now the public's educators have shortened it to just 'Trust us.'

Ryan Mount

George, if our curriculum is indeed "Student-Centered," then the fault is with the students and by extension, the parents who are supposed to have oversight of their kids.

As a parent of school-aged children, I only trust myself. But I get that from my parents who were pain-in-the-ass advocates of school reform back in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. They opened what we would now call a "Back to Basics" charter school in Concord, CA and then another one in Pleasant Hill. They called it Academics Plus. And there were literally thousands of kids on the waiting list.

Great learning can happen if you have engaged parents pressing the faculty to get their act together. So we are in 100% agreement. Trust, but Verify. Sadly, I do not see this kind of parental activity in Mainstream education.

Teachers are only the block here because we allow them to be.

Gregory

Ryan,

In California, the old whole/fuzzy math balloon didn't burst until standardized testing showed conclusively that districts that followed constructivist dictums did wretchedly (I almost wrote 'badly' but that just wasn't strong enough) that it began to get rolled back. A problem is that the culture in the colleges of Education hasn't changed and so the inmates running the public K-12 asylum are still pointed in the wrong direction.

To radically increase K-12 you'll have to axe the bottom of the teaching barrel. Start by remediating the bottom 5% every year, and help them out the door if they don't improve. Requiring a minimum of a SAT 500M/500V for new teachers of academic subjects might also be a fine new standard. Passing the CBEST, which would make a decent high school entrance exam, just isn't good enough.

Todd Juvinall

Looking at the California turnout should cause everyone to shudder. I have said many times over the years that if the R's all voted we would own the state and federal seats. I looked at a couple of the Congressional votes down south and the turnout was something like 10% in a couple of them. There was also a couple of uncontested races where only one democrat was running. Hell, if our people would get off their asses and turnout in decent numbers California could be saved from the abyss. I just don't know how the voter suppression as practiced by the state's democrats works. If the left is against voter ID's they should be ecstatic here in the Goldenless State. R's are totally suppressed except in 19 Congressional districts.

Ryan Mount

Greg, first off in my somewhat educated opinion, the problems are structural. I look to the German model for solutions. Around the 8th grade, test (and I mean rigorously test) students for subject competency. Then evaluate.

Send the good test takers onto college preparation. (In Germany and other places, it's referred to as the Gymnasium.
Send the others to vocational training.

It is a pervasive myth in our country that all [kids] should be treated the same. We confuse "we are born" equally with the "we should all come out the same." In my mind we have this unstated provincial attitude about the trades. They're something you should escape from, not embrace. I have no doubt that this comes from our American experience over the past 200 years or so.

Secondly regarding constructivism, I agree with your criticisms especially with regards to certain subjects, notably math and science. Communities of learners do not "create" knowledge [constructivism] with those disciplines. However constructivism in these contexts is not mutually exclusive. The problem with applying constructivism wholesale in math and the sciences is that it requires a HIGHLY skilled teacher to facilitate learning. We have very few of those. So in the fundamental topics, old-fashioned rote and practice is the remedy. And then if there is time, constructivism can be applied to add context.

With regards to constructivism in the Liberal Arts, I think the results are mixed. I've always felt we have it ass-backwards with regards to Language Arts instruction. We tend to have a very constructivist curriculum in the younger ages (inventive spelling, talking narratives, etc) and a more conservative method past the 8th grades. I want to see rigorous fundamentals taught up to--ta dah!--the 8th Grade, followed by a more constructivist model for the high school years. I think the this might also be applied to the Social Sciences as well.

Gregory

In practice, constructivist classrooms are just the Socratic method, only without a Socrates moving the class along. As a result, constructivist models have been an utter failure in practice, only the Romantics in the colleges of education, and their spawn, think otherwise.

Your "treated the same" asides are straw men. While there is good in the gymnasium model, the old US comprehensive high school model, where both vocational and academic training is available, is in my mind better for a free, fluid class model. Testing elementary school kids to determine whether they become knowledge workers or manual labor/tradesmen is inappropriate and un-American.

Sorry, but in math and the sciences, the constructivist model has not worked in either secondary school or collegiate setting. Trust me. In real classrooms, Constructivist science ends up as science appreciation.

Douglas Keachie

"Great learning can happen if you have engaged parents pressing the faculty to get their act together. So we are in 100% agreement. Trust, but Verify. Sadly, I do not see this kind of parental activity in Mainstream education."

We golly gee, you do have part of it right. I was once at a high school for a parents night, and for 2,000 students with 2/3rd of the staff of over 100 present, 290 prents showed up, many of them not speaking English. Charter school and dedicated parents go together hand in hand, and by golyy they don't even need teachers from the top one hundred colleges with top 1 percentile scores on their SAT's to get good results.

The difference is the parents and the families they create. Those kids come to school primed to learn, and yet those of Greg's stripe want to punish anyone so naive as to try to start a teaching career in a school where the kids come from broken and dysfunctional families. Families where the parents were the previous generation's disadvantaged kids, going backwards forever, will occasionally have a strong willed independent kid who will self start him/herself out of ghettohood, and those kids need all the help from the best possible teachers, but Greg wants to line them up against the wall and career-wise, shoot them. It's amazing he can do math well, given how poor he is at human relations, but every gopher gets at least a few tasty roots.

Having a bottomless bottom in society, and making as many people as possible feel inadequate in order to sell goods, is probably not the best foundation for society. Back in the wild west it worked somewhat, as you could always go off into the wilderness and survive. These days it is all owned, and watched over by those owners, be they private or state or federal.

Douglas Keachie

Correction, that was 20 parents, total.

Ryan Mount

Maybe we need a more direct question: What is the purpose of Public Education?

> where both vocational and academic training is available, is in my mind better for a free, fluid class model

You're sounding like me a few days ago. Freaky Friday, I guess. You can be the Mom. Look, we can't go back to the privileged model 50s and the 60s. And the social experiments (you know, the whimsical curriculum(s) that pop up ever few years) in the classroom from the 70-now don't seem to be working. So we blame the teachers. Dumb. Blame the voters and the parents, and to some extent our lazy children.

Cries of un-American-ness are exactly what I mean by this provincial attitude. I would appreciate it however, if you (or someone) would go out on a limb and precisely define what you think "American" is relative to this conversation. I and certainly others would like the definitive answer so we can settle this once and for all. What makes us exceptional with regards to education?

Maybe Greg it's just a visceral reaction to anything European, which I understand and respect. Don't agree, but I respect it.

And there is no Strawman here. I was criticizing of our culture where everyone feels entitled to go to college. I would think that a more Libertarian-oriented perspective would appreciate that we're born equal, protected equally, but we don't all turn out the same for whatever reason. And why not have an education system that attends to that, based on what our society needs? I guess we should drag in Judge Smails from Caddyshack: the world needs ditch-diggers too.

I suspect the objection is around the assumption that if you get locked into a trade, that somehow you're exempt from college or even changing jobs/careers/whatever. That's the *classic* Liberal Arts argument. Less mobility. Less Liberty. It's a Libertarian fairy tale. Maybe that's the un-American part. I dunno. Hold me. But you're (Greg) not the first one to take me to task on this, so I'm used to it. Typically these conversations boil down to a few non-starter conclusions, none of which are satisfying to me:

1) The proto-Libertarian one: The market will sort this out eventually. Dumb and a High School Grad? Took out too many loans for your English Degree? Girls don't like you because your non-employable? Too bad. Not my concern.

2) The "screw it I'm gonna home school my kids" one. Don't vaccinate my child either. Suddenly I'm a Christian Scientist. My kid will be designing airplanes by 17, but will have never kissed a boy/girl. S/he will participate furiously in blog comments on the Internets.

3) The "let's keep everything thing the way it is, and pump more money into this monster" one. (this is what we currently have for the most part)

4) There are probably more, including my proposal.

And lastly I'm not saying constructivism will work for the math and sciences. Just to clear the air. I said exactly the opposite and I propose an aggressive rote and practice K-8 curriculum.

/my apologies for the length of this.

George Rebane

One of the prime reasons why every dummy from high school gets to college these days is because colleges game their costs to what the government will subsidize, and consequently they need warm bodies (aka students) to pack the classrooms so that the subsidies and loan amounts will keep rolling in.

All this is promoted and continued under the convenient guise that doing otherwise would somehow be un-American and violate the students' rights to an education, therefore nipping in the bud another promising career in rocket science.

Russ Steele

A good portion of our local high tech (applied tech) industry can be traced back to the arrival of Charles Litton Sr. He encouraged the high local schools and Sierra College to adopt course of study that leads to the development of technicians for local manufacturing firms. He actually developed a recommend course of study for Sierra College students wishing to be technicians.

His recommendations were based on his experience at Lick-Wilmerding High School which uses a head/hands approach to learning. Lectures supported by hands on practical/shop work to drive the theory home. Litton wrote to the head master at Lick-Wilmerding that he could trace his business success to his days at Lick-W, even though he was a Stanford engineering graduate. He recognized that Stanford contributed to his learning, but it wasLink-Wilberding education that provided the foundation for his business success.

Here is a quick look at the current course of study at Link-Wilmerding, a rigorous approach to learning:

BODY-MIND EDUCATION ( Physical Ed)
1 year BME 9th (credit)

ENGLISH   
4 years required

HISTORY & SOCIAL STUDIES   
3 years required

MATHEMATICS   
3 years required
(4 years recommended)   

SCIENCE   
2 years required:
9th (Biology)
10th (Chemistry)
(3 years lab science recommended)

TECHNICAL ARTS
2 years required:
1 year 9th Design & Technology
2 semesters 10th or 11th electives

VISUAL ARTS   
1 yearlong UC-approved course:
9th Contemporary Media & Art fulfills this requirement

WORLD LANGUAGES  
3 years of the same language
or 2 years each of 2 different languages
or completing the highest level offered (minimum of two years recommended) 

TOTAL CREDITS   
255 units
Plus successful completion of non-credit requirements:
ALL 9th THROUGH 11th GRADERS MUST SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETE JELLIS BLOCK EVERY YEAR IN ORDER TO GRADUATE.   [Jellis Block requires all L-W students engage in hands-on, community-based application of the skills they have learned. Internships with business and non-profit agencies.]

Reading Charles Litton’s letters about his experience at Lick -W and the impact it had on his business success is most interesting. It is clear this approach is highly successful. Parents are sill willing today to pay huge sums for their children to attend this private school. The question in my mind is, why this model cannot be extended to our public schools? Why does it only work in a dedicated private school.

My youngest daughter was was bored out of her mind in high school and took ROP Graphic and Web Design courses. She leveraged those skills at CalPoly and later in life as a graphic designer for a publisher. She had a Masters in writing and publishing, but the skills that got her a graphic designers job were based on the skills she developed in ROP. This is very similar to the Charles Litton Sr story, about his days of learning at Link-W and his business success.

Do we need a Nevad County version of Link-W?

billy T

Concerning Spain. Spain is not Greece. They are having a banking crisis directly linked to their housing bubble and ensuing big bang. Spain is more of a country of autonomous regions with a not so strong central government. That's why money is being dumped into the banks, not the public sector or trusted with the central government. I do not give or hear personal financial advice on RR. Just generalities when it comes to economic indicators and nothing on investment choices and sectors. Last weekend I was watching an interview with former Reagen Budget Director David Stockman on the tube. He came right out and said it point blank: Get your money out of the stock market. The topic was the usual Euroland/USA economy. His clear as day comment was refreshing. Then I remembered 3 years ago Uncle Ben and even Timmy G pulled their money out of the stock market. Also read about 6 months ago the financial holdings/investment choices of Congressman Dr. Ron Paul. He had zero stocks and moved his money to gold. Another hmmm. I ain't giving advice, just making a point about rough seas ahead, mate. Red sky at morning and all that stuff. Of course no one wants to miss out on the next bull market. Oh ya, disclaimer time: Past performance does not guarantee future results.

Gregory

Ryan, your last postis so far off baseas to be useless as a basis for discussion.

Russ, your description of an academic high school is about what my east of LA public high school offered, if you chose the UC/college prep option. Auto mechanics was another.

George Rebane

billyT 716pm - no intent to equate Greece and Spain. But the proposed bail out of Spanish banks directly impacts the public sector because it is to bring the banks back to (near) solvency after the Spanish government stiffs on the repayment of their sovereign loans. For all practical purposes, Spain's debt to their banks will be forgiven, and they get to continue borrowing until no one again will lend them affordable money.

Your investment advice is noted and appreciated ;-)

billy T

Dr Rebane. I meant in no way to say that Spain is not in the barrel going over the falls. Greece, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Portugal...Euroland...pick your poison. Years ago Alan Greenspan (not a big fan) ordered his department to study the weights of freight cars. He knew just by the reports that we were moving from a manufacturing industrial economy to a service economy. Last week the volume of cargo (shipping) from China to France fell dramatically. Same for China to Belgium shipments. Just saying...

George Rebane

billyT 757pm - good points well reprieved. And also take a look at the recent history of the Baltic Dry Index.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Baltic_Dry_Index.png

Russ Steele

When Ellen and I travel we take note of the number of cargo box rail cars sitting idle on sidings. On a recent trip to Seattle some where south of the Seattle/ Tacoma complex we passed maybe five miles of idle container box carriers just sitting on sidings. Three years ago it was hundreds of empty car carriers out side of Las Vegas just parked in the desert.

RECENT TRENDS from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics:

• In the first half of 2010, U.S. container ports handled a total of 110 million metric tons of containerized cargo, 17 percent higher than the 95 million metric tons handled in the same period in 2009, but down 8 percent from the 120 million metric tons handled in 2008.

• Both U.S. containerized exports and imports rose during the first half of 2010, as U.S. businesses replenished low inventories and production activities increased. Despite this upturn, maritime container exports for the first half of 2010 were down 6 percent from 2008 levels and container imports were down 9 percent.

• The growth in cargo activity at U.S. container ports during the beginning of 2010 followed a challenging year in 2009, when the tonnage of container cargo handled by the Nation’s ports fell by 10 percent when compared to 2008.

• The growth in container traffic in early 2010 affected various sectors of the freight transportation sector. During the first half of 2010, active containership capacity worldwide reached 13 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units—a measure for counting containers), up 15 percent from the previous 6 months, as the number of idled vessels fell and new vessels were delivered for service.

• The number of intermodal shipping containers and truck trailers transported nationwide on railcars by U.S. Class I railroads during January to June of 2010 was 5.2 million units, up 12 percent from 4.6 million moved by rail during the same period in 2009, but down 7 percent from 5.6 million in 2008

This was the best data I could find on the Internet published in Jan 2011.

Douglas Keachie

Why Lick works:

Do the following experiment:

Kick all the upper middle class kids out of Lick.

Take in the kids that go to Balboa.

Note the differences in resultant test scores and colleges admitted to, after four years. Probably better than the kids would have done if they had stayed at Bal, but nowhere near the usual results.

How dense can you all be? The quality of the student population determines the excellence of the school and its graduates more than anything else. If you have a society with quality parents, you get quality students. Of course this is a bit like Russ saying legitimate businesses never cheat their customers.

Russ Steele

Today the Courts ruled that student test scores have to be considered in CA teacher evaluations. The ruling applied to LA schools, but it should apply elsewhere as well. The teacher have been fighting this, they do not want to be held responsible for the students learning. The unfortunate side effect is we will now see more teaching of the test and not focusing on learning the critical tool sets for solving problems, rather more rote memory exercises to pass the standard tests.

We need to drive a stake through the heart of the system and start over.

Douglas Keachie

Russ at 10:54, now begins the exodus of any quality teachers from ghetto schools, as they will move to where their jobs are not threatened by forces over which they have no control. Indeed it is the Great Divide. BTW, Lick himself was quite a character, and I've always loved the fact that his body is under the Lick Telescope on Mt Hamilton.

"In the next three years, Lick spent his time determining how to dispense with his fortune. He originally wanted to build giant statues of himself and his parents, and erect a pyramid larger than the Great Pyramid of Giza in his own honor in downtown San Francisco. However, through the efforts of George Davidson, president of the California Academy of Sciences, Lick was persuaded to leave the greatest portion of his fortune to the establishment of a mountain top observatory, with the largest, most powerful telescope yet built by man.

In 1874 he placed $3,000,000 at the disposal of seven trustees, by whom the funds were to be applied to specific uses. The principal divisions of the funds were:[2]

$700,000 to the University of California for the construction of an observatory and the placing therein of a telescope to be more powerful than any other in existence
$150,000 for the building and maintenance of free public baths in San Francisco
$540,000 to found and endow an institution of San Francisco to be known as the California School of Mechanic Arts
$100,000 for the erection of three appropriate groups of bronze statuary to represent three periods in Californian history and to be placed before the city hall of San Francisco
$60,000 to erect in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, a memorial to Francis Scott Key, author of “The Star-Spangled Banner”

Lick had had an interest in astronomy since at least 1860, when he and George Madeira, the founder of the first observatory in California, spent several nights observing. They had also met again in 1873 and Lick said that Madeira's telescopes were the only ones he had ever used. In 1875, Thomas Fraser recommended a site at the summit of Mount Hamilton, near San Jose. Lick approved, on the condition that Santa Clara County build a "first class" road to the site. The county agreed and the hand built road was completed by the fall of 1876.

On October 1, 1876, Lick died in his room in Lick House, San Francisco. In 1887, his body was moved to its final resting place, under the future home of the Great Lick Refracting Telescope.
Lick's legacy
One of three monuments dedicated to the Lick family in Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania.

Lick's will stipulated that all of his fortune should be used for the public good, including $700,000 for the building of the observatory.
In 1888, Lick Observatory was completed and given to the University of California as the Lick Astronomical Department. The Observatory was the first permanently staffed mountain top observatory in the world and housed the largest refracting telescope in the world at that time.
The body of James Lick lies beneath the refractor telescope he funded, and his will stipulates that fresh flowers be on his grave — always.
In 1887 Lick's body was buried under the future site of the telescope, with a brass tablet bearing the inscription “Here lies the body of James Lick."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Lick

billy T

Wonder if Lick's wish for fresh flowers on his grave forever and ever, Amen, has been honored. Think bronze roses would have been more practical and in line with the bronze astronomical instruments you see in museums and universities. Well, now we know where the San Fransisco bathhouses originated from. Don't think we can afford to put fresh flowers daily on the grave sites of our public school system. 80's teachers and spandex ruined a lot of things. That is the thing about not dying. You stick around long enough and you too can say "I remember when cheap wrenches where made in Japan and when California schools were considered excellent."

billy T

The EU says 3 trillion in 3 years is all we got for bailouts. That does not leave much left for Italy's bite on the apple. The 115 billion loaned to Spain is not nearly enough to keep their banks doors open. Maybe it is time for the US taxpayer to step up to the plate via the IMF and help our olive skinned friends in Southern Europe. Its only fair and we must prove we are not racists. Maybe then some foreign countries might even like us. Being liked is of utmost priority to the libbies. Lets see. We can borrow money from China and sent it to Italy. Might make France jealous, but it is worth the risk. Or is it? Our liberal friends are obsessed with what the enlightened Pierre Q Public thinks. But I digress. Back to Spain: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-12/spain-s-record-yields-show-italy-bailout-risk-as-crisis-spreads.html

Douglas Keachie

I gather the banks are having problems because the manufacturers deprived the banks' clientele of ready cash, by shipping all the jobs to China. Maybe the Spanish banks and ours should open branches in China? You know, the old, "because that's where the money is."

Go ahead, dismantle every union out there, rob every pension you can, declare Social Security bankrupt, and never tax the money's made abroad by American 1 percenters, That's not going to change anything until the American workers accepts their fate: Third world wages and living conditions for the next 60 years, until it all balances out. That's the Capitalist Way, and the only thing Romney brings to the table.

George Rebane

DougK 745am - You are ever a gem. No, Spain's manufacturers did not deprive its banks of anything. Would that their economy were strong enough to support such business borrowing. What the lamestream you apparently depend on for news has not reported is that Spain's banks have lent their funds to the Spanish government (heard of sovereign debt?) which is not in a position to either pay them back or service their debt. Therefore, the banks are at brink of failure and would take their depositors down with them.

You might ask 'how did this come about?' The Spanish government has an advanced form of the socialist disease which going around the continent, and taking hold here. Spain's unions (public and private) demanded and got the usual lavish benefits for little performance from the worker. They then doubled down with green energy projects which killed 2.5 jobs for every one that was created. And then the world wide real estate bubble finished them off.

Douglas Keachie

Let's see, you've added another link to the chain. Who pays the government. The workers, via taxes. If he government suddenly has no workers paying taxes, that means the workers are out of work. If the work comes from tourists abroad only, then maybe their workers are also out of jobs. Who creates the jobs? The manufacturers. Where do they create them ? These days, for the most part, in the Far East. Go Job Creators! Rah Rah Rah!

Douglas Keachie

World wide real estate is all still in place, although being deliberately allowed to far into disrepair by the banks. The only think that pops a bubble in real estate is workers without jobs unable to afford real estate, and super fancy financial finageling that sets the workers up for failure, along with the banks themselves. The power to change any of this is in the hands of the powerful, and not the workers. If you provided inferior wages and make people feel insecure and second class, via tv and advertising and outright political arrogance, you get children who are not particularly teachable, and good luck with that.

Douglas Keachie

Make the blanking Edit buttom much bigger and move it away from the post button!

although Many Homes are being deliberately allowed to far into disrepair by the banks. The only thinG

billy T

Doug, this link perhaps should be posted under "What Recovery?" and I would change the title of the link to "What Every American DOES Know". You feel it, I feel it, we all feel and know it intellectually....everyone except a few that are far far left of you. This is something Klugman policy cannot fix despite how many times we go round and round the merry-g-round. Knew an old farmer decades ago that was longing for the days of FDR when his bushel of wheat dropped below the price to harvest it. He just knew if FDR was still around, none of this would have happened. There is plenty of fodder in this link for you to have a field day with. Rather old news, but I don't think SS will go bankrupt anytime soon. Maybe in 60 years. More like paying out 30-45 cents on the dollar in 45 years, but technically not bankrupt. Insolvent? Yes. Bankrupt? No. http://www.yolohub.com/economy/70-facts-president-obama-doesnt-want-you-to-know

Douglas Keachie

Leave it to George to provide us with directions for bitches and moaning.

If you want to bitch and moan about this one – and you should – then here is some contact info.

Office of the Governor (voice mail): (916) 445–2841
Assembly Member Bob Blumenfield, Chair, Assembly Budget Committee (916) 319–2040
Senator Mark Leno, Chair, Senate Budget and Fiscal Review (916) 651–4003

;)

Gregory

Apologies in advance for the length of this response to Ryan's 12 June 2012 at 05:40 PM.

First, from the end,

"I'm not saying constructivism will work for the math and sciences. Just to clear the air. I said exactly the opposite and I propose an aggressive rote and practice K-8 curriculum."


Ryan, you seem to have the Ed school model in your head that the alternative to a Constructivist curriculum is "aggressive rote and practice". Equating traditional, direct instruction practices to "aggressive rote" is what I discovered when the GVSD had adopted a Constructivist math curriculum circa '95, just in time for my son to get it in the 1st grade. "That's just 'drill and kill' is what I got from Ass't Supe Linda Brown who, with Supe Jon Byerrum (Mr. Holly Hermanson) destroyed the math and language program at the Grass Valley schools. If you're interested in what a solid 8th grade Algebra text might look like, dig out a copy of "Algebra, Structure and Method" by Dociani et al. In a well thought out sequence, section after section, theory is laid out, several examples are presented, with elegant descriptions, then a problem set presented. A good student can (I know this for a fact) teach themselves from such a book. It is the antithesis of "rote".

"> where both vocational and academic training is available, is in my mind better for a free, fluid class model

You're sounding like me a few days ago. Freaky Friday, I guess. You can be the Mom."

No, Ryan, I'm sounding like me, and I am the Dad.


"Look, we can't go back to the privileged model 50s and the 60s. And the social experiments (you know, the whimsical curriculum(s) that pop up ever few years) in the classroom from the 70-now don't seem to be working. So we blame the teachers. Dumb. Blame the voters and the parents, and to some extent our lazy children."

The folks who hired the lousy teachers and make it difficult for good teachers to stick around are perhaps the biggest problem. As one report documented, new teachers from top 100 colleges get better results, but are also more likely to leave within five years. Getting rid of bad teachers and bad curriculums is a fix, but the folks who have been hiring the bad teachers are probably not the ones we should rely on making the decisions moving forward.

"Cries of un-American-ness are exactly what I mean by this provincial attitude. I would appreciate it however, if you (or someone) would go out on a limb and precisely define what you think "American" is relative to this conversation."

Provincial? What an ass. I was born in East LA, went to the same high school as Edward James Olmos, and am friends with the late Jaime Escalante's favorite CSULA math professor. If you want a clue as to what a modern traditional but inner city American "common school" might be like, sit down and watch Olmos' portrayal of Escalante (a Bolivian immigrant engineer) in "Stand and Deliver". Unfortunately, the modern educators in his schools threw up roadblocks from the start, and once Escalante was out of there let the reforms die off.

"I and certainly others would like the definitive answer so we can settle this once and for all. What makes us exceptional with regards to education?"

The Common School model. Look it up. If you take the lazy wiki way, you'll find an excellent sentence summing it up: "The term 'common school' was coined by Horace Mann, and refers to the fact that they were meant to serve individuals of all social classes and religions."


"Maybe Greg it's just a visceral reaction to anything European, which I understand and respect. Don't agree, but I respect it."

Essen sie scheisse.

"And there is no Strawman here. I was criticizing of our culture where everyone feels entitled to go to college."

Your strawmen are everywhere. In fact, you followed with strawmen one after another:

"I would think that a more Libertarian-oriented perspective would appreciate that we're born equal, protected equally, but we don't all turn out the same for whatever reason. And why not have an education system that attends to that, based on what our society needs? I guess we should drag in Judge Smails from Caddyshack: the world needs ditch-diggers too."

We used to have an ed system that attended to that, but you were either too blind or too provincial to notice. Professional educators in the last few decades decided what the country needed were more folks like themselves, marginal college students turned into marginal teachers.


"I suspect the objection is around the assumption that if you get locked into a trade, that somehow you're exempt from college or even changing jobs/careers/whatever."

No, it's that kids all have different interests, motivations and work ethics. A good elementary common school and a comprehensive high school should enable, not hinder, kids from any background to graduate from high school and be a literate ditch digger able to balance their checkbook or a budding academic able to hit the ground of a top college running on their way to a degree in math, physics chemistry or engineering, no matter their social status when they first walk in the door as a scared little kindergartener.

That's the ideal. Is there perfection anywhere? No. But we used to do the best we could.

"That's the *classic* Liberal Arts argument. Less mobility. Less Liberty. It's a Libertarian fairy tale. Maybe that's the un-American part. I dunno."

Yes, you "dunno". Which is why you keep spinning strawman arguments.

"Hold me. But you're (Greg) not the first one to take me to task on this, so I'm used to it. Typically these conversations boil down to a few non-starter conclusions, none of which are satisfying to me:

1) The proto-Libertarian one: The market will sort this out eventually. Dumb and a High School Grad? Took out too many loans for your English Degree? Girls don't like you because your non-employable? Too bad. Not my concern."

There is no market, and as long as there is no choice, there won't be.And while you can lead a horse to water, you can't make them drink. In the end, the student and their family make the choices they make, and, if the schools are competent in their primary function, it is mostly the concern of the student and their family.


"2) The "screw it I'm gonna home school my kids" one. Don't vaccinate my child either. Suddenly I'm a Christian Scientist. My kid will be designing airplanes by 17, but will have never kissed a boy/girl. S/he will participate furiously in blog comments on the Internets."


Funny, since the home school movement didn't start until, due mostly to the Romantic movement by Colleges of Education led to incompetent instruction and curriculums, kids were not learning "The three Rs (reading, writing, and arithmetic), history, geography, and math", and instead got a heavy dose of Ed School cultural norms.

"3) The "let's keep everything thing the way it is, and pump more money into this monster" one. (this is what we currently have for the most part)"


Especially since collective bargaining for public schoolteachers became the norm.

"4) There are probably more, including my proposal."

Your proposal was to adopt the elitist German model. Bad idea, especially if it retains the same teacher population, which, by a federal DoE study, found the lower the SAT as a college freshman, the higher the probability they are a K-12 teacher ten years after graduation. And, from another document linked in a prior RR thread, the better the college the student graduates from, the higher the chance they've escaped the dysfunctional schools within the first five years and abandoned the teaching profession.

Sorry Ryan, but this philosophy of yours and your Education mentors is the problem, not the solution.

THEMIKEYMCD

Question: "Maybe we need a more direct question: What is the purpose of Public Education?"

Answer: Indoctrination

Gregory

"Those kids come to school primed to learn, and yet those of Greg's stripe want to punish anyone so naive as to try to start a teaching career in a school where the kids come from broken and dysfunctional families. Families where the parents were the previous generation's disadvantaged kids, going backwards forever, will occasionally have a strong willed independent kid who will self start him/herself out of ghettohood, and those kids need all the help from the best possible teachers, but Greg wants to line them up against the wall and career-wise, shoot them. It's amazing he can do math well, given how poor he is at human relations, but every gopher gets at least a few tasty roots."
-Douglas Keachie | 12 June 2012 at 05:11 PM

Keachie, the teacher from 'Frisco, once again spins defamations and tosses them into the fan. None of his caricatures are based on anything I've written, and I am not responsible for his delusions.

Douglas Keachie

Greg at his finest:

"Essen sie scheisse."

With all of the scheisse and straw, Greg can build himself a fine wattle school house. Eau du HobbsSnob

"Hobbes was caught in a series of conflicts from the time of publishing his De Corpore in 1655. In Leviathan he had assailed the system of the original universities. Because Hobbes was so evidently opposed to the existing academic arrangements, and because De Corpore contained not only tendentious views on mathematics, but an unacceptable proof of the squaring of the circle (which was apparently an afterthought), mathematicians took him to be a target for polemics. John Wallis was not the first such opponent, but he tenaciously pursued Hobbes. The resulting controversy continued well into the 1670s."


You need three million new teachers Greg, I don't think the top 100 schools can produce that in any hurry.


Just ordered a copy of: Algebra, Structure and Method" by Dociani, thanks for the tip. I always get as many texts as possible on any given subject, have found some work much better than others for me.

Douglas Keachie

Gre in his latest 11:31 actually doubles back on himself, and admits that indeed the teachers from the top 100 schools are the ones who get test proven results, funnier and funnier. Two weeks or so back I brought this up and he said I lied, typical. Of course if you don't quote Greg precisely precisely, he will totally deny everything. He can so essen sheisse himself.

Douglas Keachie

Greg sez: "To radically increase K-12 you'll have to axe the bottom of the teaching barrel. Start by remediating the bottom 5% every year, and help them out the door if they don't improve. "

I say: "Families where the parents were the previous generation's disadvantaged kids, going backwards forever, will occasionally have a strong willed independent kid who will self start him/herself out of ghettohood, and those kids need all the help from the best possible teachers, but Greg wants to line them up against the wall and career-wise, shoot them."

Greg sez: "None of his caricatures are based on anything I've written, "

Since Greg appears to be strongly in favor of using test scores as a prime factor in deciding who is a successful teacher, even in ghetto schools, I'll leave it up to you to decide what's based on what, and what is a caricature, and what is an accurate portrayal of the stance he takes on education.

Gregory

Trying to educate Keachie is like trying to put an octopus in a bucket. No time for it now other than to correct his memory: his claim was that the document in question claimed a top 100 education for a teacher was *required* for good results, while in fact it just made the statement it was associated with better result. Keach just can't keep the details straight.

A teacher who managed to gain entry into a top college is more likely to have mastered the secondary curriculum before they even started attending college classes.


Another thought for Ryan, who at least can rub two thoughts together to make a flame... his favored straw men above involve his caricatures for libertarians/Libertarians (two different things).

It should be noted that Horace Mann, the champion of the Common School, was a Whig senator, Abraham Lincoln was also a Whig (and led the Illinois Whigs) before abandoning the party as it self destructed. And one of the modern libertarian saints, Friedrich Hayek, referred to his political self as being "an old Whig". The common school *is* a libertarian ideal.

Douglas Keachie

In straining at gnats, Greg misses the elephants, as usual. BTW, a negative recommendation from Greg in re: my teacher/tutoring capabilities, turns out to be a positive in the circles I'm paid by. He's got an interesting rep.

Gregory

George, the innuendo is getting thick in here.

Gregory

'Greg at his finest:

"Essen sie scheisse." '

It was a good and elegant answer to Ryan's charge I had a "visceral reaction" to anything European. My German teacher in high school (the classes I took were equivalent to Gymnasium), when calling on me in turn for a recitation, used to say it was time for me to work on my German accent; she thought I was pretty good at it. I like European culture, but the USA was formed as a rejection of many of the core European social constructs, and education was one of those.


Gregory

There's an inner city middle school in the LA area, Bennett-Kew of the Inglewood district, that has nearly the Academic Performance Index of the highest Socioeconomic Status middle school in Auburn, and about 50 points higher than the near lilly white Lyman Gilmore school of the Grass Valley School District. Most of the kids are on free lunches, and virtually all are black or latino. What they have is a school culture that doesn't make excuses and a capable teacher corps that believes all those kids can learn as well as white kids. Imagine that. Thomas Sowell, in a related comment, has mentioned that when he was a kid, reading scores in Harlem were about as high as reading scores in white neighborhood schools.

Rather than a model for systemic improvement, Bennett-Kew has pretty much been ignored by the state as an anomaly. An embarrassment to the education status quo.

Douglas Keachie

So Greg, how do you replicate Bennett-Kew? Who are the parents of these kids, even though it is in the inner city. How many are in jail, or dead? Let's take a closer look at the Inglewood District, and this school, that thrives in the same conditions as the Gloria R. Davis Middle School in San Francisco's Hunters Point neighborhood. Back in a bit.

Douglas Keachie

For starters, it is not a Middle School, it is K - 5, but we'll forgive you for not knowing the difference. I guess Auburn is not the best school to compare things to around here. The folks in Inglewood seem to love the school.

Bennett/Kew Elementary School, located in Inglewood, California, serves grades K-5 in the Inglewood Unified School District. It has received a GreatSchools Rating of 5 out of 10, based on its performance on state standardized tests.

This school has an average Community Rating of 4 out of 5 stars, based on reviews from 25 school community members.

Douglas Keachie

Uh oh, Greg, you sure you want to use this? Tell me it isn't so!

"Inglewood has the highest percentage of registered Democrats of any city in California, with 75.6 percent of its 48,615 voters registered in May 2009 as Democrats. Seven percent were registered as Republicans, and 14.1 percent declined to state a preference.[31]

In 2005, the Bay Area Center for Voting Research, a nonpartisan organization in Berkeley, ranked Inglewood as the sixth-most-liberal city in the United States, after Oakland, California, and just ahead of Newark, New Jersey. Researchers examined voting patterns of 237 American cities with populations over 100,000 and ranked them on liberal and conservative scales.[32]

The city is within California's 35th congressional district, which in February 2008 had a Cook Partisan Voting Index of D +33, which meant that recent Democratic presidential candidates received 33 percentage points more votes than the national average.[33] It is represented by Democrat Maxine Waters.

In the California Legislature, Inglewood is in the 25th Senate District, represented by Democrat Rod Wright and in the 51st Assembly District, represented by Democrat Steve Bradford.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inglewood,_California

Douglas Keachie

These folks passed a bond for new constructiuon and reconstruction back in the late 1990's. The builkt a rather nice and not cheap school.

InglewoodSchoolinLA

Douglas Keachie

Compare that with Gloria R Davis Middle School in Hunters Point, CA, where all of that housing to the right and above the school in the image is still WWII temporary housing for the toxic shipyards 1/2 mile away.

GloriaRDavisSame height, 2300

Douglas Keachie

Funny, where are the tennis courts in the San Francisco image??? Some of the numbers may be the same, but the will of the people in Inglewood is obviously far different from those in SF. That location has one thing going for it if you are in the entertainment or sports industries. It's real close to LAX, but just to the north of the glide path. It's also convenient to the beaches, more so than 1141 West 47th street, where I spent a couple of years living with grandma. Google Earth showed me the house, and it still has the outline of the concrete fishpond in the backyard, and the street view shows where I used to play in the pillar structures holding up the front porch. I won't bore you with the image.

Douglas Keachie

The shoots are cropped by Typepad, will use smaller size next time.

Douglas Keachie

"Thomas Sowell, in a related comment, has mentioned that when he was a kid, reading scores in Harlem were about as high as reading scores in white neighborhood schools."

And that is why he high tailed it down to Stuyvesant High School, in the tonier part of town. It doesn't have tennis courts, but Peter Cooper Village next to it, does. Stuyvesant High School has since relocated, but that's where it was when he attended the school.

Douglas Keachie

Thomas Sowell also grew up in a very different Harlem than what we knew during the 50's to the early 1990's. There were indeed neighborhood white schools.

"In the 1920s and 1930s, the neighborhood was the focus of the "Harlem Renaissance", an outpouring of artistic and professional works without precedent in the American black community. However, with job losses in the time of the Great Depression and the deindustrialization of New York City after World War II, rates of crime and poverty increased significantly." wikipedia article on Harlem."

Hey where did Greg go? Haven't heard a peep since the identification of Inglewood as one of the most liberal cities in America. Easy come, easy go...

Gregory

"A related distraction technique, familiar to readers of A Storehouse of Knowledge, can involve swamping an opponent in long-winded screeds of text to artificially inflate the appearance of depth and quality of information presented - often enough, the actual content of several paragraphs can be summed in a sentence. "While the Gish Gallop floods an opponent with many, but relatively short points... to bury and obfuscate the core points that need to be discussed under a quantity of superfluous information. A user might well think that these techniques show that they know what they're talking about, but in the end they act simply as distractions... A variant of the Gish Gallop is employed by bloggers who post an endless series of dubious assertions - each of which can be countered, but to no effect, as it will be buried under the cascade of dubious posts."

Inglewood, aka Inglewatts, is inner city and mostly black. Very Democrat. Maxine Waters is their Rep. Lousy schools, except for Bennett-Kew.

Keach, there are effective treatments for Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and don't worry, I have it on good authority you don't have a chance for a full time job at any local school.

Douglas Keachie

Let me know the next time you hear of anyone age 67 or older who knocks down a FTE probabtionary slot up here. Ain't happening for anyone, and you are on such good terms with Holly? Here's the school that rocks your socks off, slightly below average elementary school, wow...

GregsSchool

Gregory

They like em young and stupid, which puts you at the 50th percentile. You can't read, Keach. Even your page shot shows them at an 814 API, ABOVE, not below, the state average of 807, and above the GVSD results.

This with poor brown kids, many of whom didn't speak English very well when they started. And they're doing much better than the kids in the GVSD, thanks to Jon Byerrum, Holly H's better half, whose picture was in The Union today over his apparent (by the Nevada County civil grand jury) illegal spiking of his end salary to boost his retirement benefits. He's getting a nice chunk of change for his role in trashing our local schools. Holly doesn't seem to be in the forefront in monitoring the situation, and The Union forgot to mention he was married to the County Superintendent.

B-K is in the top decile of their similar schools list. The GVSD schools are in the bottom two deciles of their similar schools list, and below Bennett-Kew's absolute API.

They're taking way below average kids and making above average students. The GVSD takes above average kids and makes below average students. That school works, ours don't.

Dixon Cruickshank

Greg: "A related distraction technique, familiar to readers of A Storehouse of Knowledge, can involve swamping an opponent in long-winded screeds of text to artificially inflate the appearance of depth and quality of information presented - often enough, the actual content of several paragraphs can be summed in a sentence."


Why I don't bother reading the drivel, saves me alot of time, reading the short rebuttel is quicker and more inforamtive usually.

Douglas Keachie

Hey silly, the kids came through the do way below average? This is a K-5 school, not a middle school, and they are responsible for the progress, which is average, based against the national norms. The API is just a California thing, to make everyone feel good. Why don't you make the comparison against the actual achievements here, as that is what you propose to hire and fire teachers by? Look at the right hand side of the image, not the left.

Douglas Keachie

Listening to Greg interpret Keachie is like listening to Izvestia interpret world affairs. Good luck, Cruickshank!

Gregory

DC, Keachie just can't let go of his baser instinct to ignore reality. Bennett-Kew is 39% black, 59% latino, 0% asian, 1% white, 92% free/subsidized lunch and 32% english learners.

Bennett-Kew API Growth:
for black kids, 829
for latino kids, 821
for ELL kids, 808

How does that compare with Frisco Unified's results?
for black kids, 615
for latino kids, 682
for ELL kids, 745 (more Asian than Latino)

Now, Hennessey in Grass Valley
for white kids, 775
for latino kids, 746
for ELL kids, 766

Wretched, isn't it? Why are brown kids getting free lunches at Bennett-Kew doing so much better than Hennessey's kids who are primarily white, english speaking and whose parents are much better educated? Think it might be the teachers and the curriculum? Any why does Keachie *now* seem to think poor kids and wealthy kids come to kindergarten equally ready to learn and supported by parents? In the past, he's made it clear it's the parents that determine how good the test scores will be.

Now, perhaps Keachie can explain away the differences. No, I've NEVER said pay/retain teachers on the raw test scores... but on the "value added" the test scores reveal. Teachers whose students gain more than a year's expected progress should be rewarded, those whose students consistently progress less than a year's expected progress, despite remediation, should be shown the door, regardless of seniority or tenure.

There's a reason B-K is in the top decile of its 100 most similar schools, and Hennessey *isn't*. It's the administrators with high standards, the teachers they hire and retain, and the curriculums they select.

PS all the info is from api.cde.ca.gov

Douglas Keachie

Lyman Gilmore kids have gone from 31% free lunches in 2003 to 59% free lunchers in 2010. The number of full time teachers is now only 24%, down from 32% in 2003. The API is a relative scoring system. The absolute scores are somewhat ahead of B-K, and the kids are older, when the scores tend to go down. I don't thing that Lyman Gilmore s the upper middle class white school that Greg seems to believe it is.

http://www.schooldigger.com/go/CA/schools/1578001997/school.aspx

B-K is currently not doing so hot, having entered stage 1 of Program Intervention. I think Greg should be more concerned about the doubling of free lunch kids in less than 8 years, than the current test scores.

Douglas Keachie

Note that B-K free lunch eligibility is just about 4% higher than Lyman Gilmore:

Free Lunch Program Eligible: 467 68.6% 445 61.5% 475 63.9%
Reduced-Price Lunch Program Eligible: 70 10.3% 91 12.6% 63 8.5%

Does the fact that the LM students are basically white supposed to mean that they are supposed to do better, Greg?

Gregory

Note Keach had to sneak in "upper middle class", which I never said. I've been to Inglewood, it ain't Grass Valley, and my wife attended what was then Kew-Bennett as a little girl, as her Yugoslavian immigrant/refugee parents moved there in the '50's.

Keach knows it isn't the whiteness, it's the overall socioeconomic status, that is correlated with performance. Why does his old employer in Frisco do such a bad job teaching brown kids? The Ed biz works overtime to cast doubt on any metric that points to the schools instead of parents.

Only one student at Lyman Gilmore was reported last year to have scored Advanced in Algebra, out of about 170. That's a cumulative K-8 failure.

Brad Croul

Regarding Meckler's claim, I found several references of news articles going back to mid-2011 that indicate otherwise (anyone with an AP or Reuters feed is the same to me, even Fox).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Gunrunner
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATF_gunwalking_scandal

billy T

Back briefly to Euroland, then our wonderful public school system. I really don't see how the house of cards will not tumble without US intervention. Germany might suck it up and be on the hook for 3 trillion thrown at the problem just for self interest, but not a long term solution. Scenario #1: The US through the FED or IMF (more likely Fed) will come to the rescue and do a Marshall Plan II just to kick the can down the road until sometime 2013 or 2014. Massive infusion of our dollars for "the greater good". Scenario #2, which I prefer. Germany (not Greece) bails out of the EU. The nation thrives as the Euro is deflated to under 50 cents on the dollar. Germany becomes the bad guy, saves her taxpayers trillions, and Britain is continues to muddle along as it always has. Just a thought. Now, about public schools and these informative discussions. I have a different take. Just imagine if one's life's work and belief system came under attack. Wouldn't that make you defensive if you did no introspection? Now imagine that evidence came out that your whole life's work was not only be dismissed and rudely ridiculed, but it was proven to actually be detrimental to society today and the future of our Nation? Going from hero to zero, from the Penthouse to the outhouse is a lot to digest. I take pity on those who grasp and deflect in a vain attempt to defend the way things are. "They way things were" was sung nicely by Barbara Streisand and perhaps more appropriate.

billy T

I will not change "They way things were" to "The way we were" just to make the defensive find relief in smugness.

billy T

Back home in California (an area abutting the Pacific Ocean in North America) the good news is we can still have our 32 oz Big Gulps and our movie popcorn is yet to be banned. Also, if you stay in your new home 30 years, you can recoup some of your construction costs. Like everybody stays in their home 30 years in today's world http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/06/14/california-new-energy-efficiency-standards-include-costly-initial-price-tag/ Meanwhile, I buried my heart at Altamont Pass as an Endangered Species gets slaughtered by our Great Green Father in Washington, just like he did at Wounded Knee. In unrelated news, oil exploration has been halted in the vast tract of land covering Eastern New Mexico through Western Texas because of a desert dune varmint not on the Endangered Spices List. Kill what is on the Endangered Spices List with impunity (not to mention the symbol of our nation) while halting oil production because of a rat not on the list. This green stuff is a bit confusing to a dumbbell such as I.http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204781804577267114294838328.html

George Rebane

billyT 821pm - those are some pretty heavy duty scenarios Mr Tozer. You are not giving much credence for the northern Europeans forming eurozoneNorth, and letting their southern brethren go back to printing their favorite faith-based paper. That would sure bring back cheap vacations on the Mediterranean. For the life of me, I can't see Marshall Plan Two, because that would mean instant hyper-inflation.

Your analysis of the teachers doing such a self-evaluation is too poignant; hard to see any human, let alone a cohort of them, doing such a mea culpa. A very big pill to swallow, and I hope we can change our public school system without having to ram it down their throats any more than is being done already.

billy T

Dr. Rebane, hyper-inflation is not in the cards. For hyper-inflation, there has to a huge inflation in income and salaries as the price of everything goes up, up, and away. Nah, Krugman's theories spare us from escalating income. Take Greece. Some hospitals have not been paid in a year and many TLC types as well. They still man their stations out of devotion. When the US drops some coins in their beggars cups, they will immediately pay the back wages. Then those that got their back wages will pay back all their friends and family they have been sponging off the past year or so. Then everyone one will back at square one and the beggar's cup remains empty waiting to be re-filled. No hyper-inflation and maybe they might get 3 or 4 new stoplights. Read an interesting article printed on a newspaper that went out of business a year ago. The former employees are broke and there ain't any jobs out there for them anyway. So, being bored, they meet periodically to fire up the presses and inform outsiders like me and you what is going on in the streets of Athens. So, I will refrain from calling all the Greeks lazy and unproductive henceforth. What they have to say about public sector employees, though, is less than flattering and more critical than words I would use or imagine.

Douglas Keachie

You still are putting the blame on the teachers, and not the society as a whole. There are 11,000 attorneys in SF, and guess where they send their kids to school. Expecting public school teachers to make silk purses out of the bottom half of the demographic is simply not realistic. And using standardized tests to wipe out the bottom 5% of teachers every year just isn't going to make for improved morale, and a better education system is what won't be happening, when the ill prepared and unwilling to learn students arrive, as they always have, and the public says, "if they don't learn, you're fired."

Blaming teachers for the USA's current fiscal problems in the global marketplace is the act of desperate folks, unable to take responsibility for their own screwups, and tragic-comically unaware of cause and effect.

As for me personally, why on earth would I feel guilt? What is the number one need in the country right now, employee-wise? What did I spend the bulk of my career not only teaching, but also promoting, and physically installing, so that not only my kids but all kids could use and advance with?

Without me, or someone like me, computers would have gone unordered, the internet would not have been installed even before www, and so on, right on down the line. I started in 1964, and was more than ready for personal computers when they came on the scene. If I had followed the contract to the letter, an awful lot of stuff would have never have gotten done. Now of course, you will say, "that was all obvious." Back then, it sure as hell was not, to 99% of the population, including fellow teachers and administrators. I had one supervisor who was convinced that our role was to produce good typists, and who hated the internet. I put in the proverbial countless hours of work, unpaid, and,instead of hording my sickleave like the teacher in the paper the other day, I used it all, attending conferences and shows and learning all I could, because the District had "no money" for courses for me. BTW before you go ape-scheisse on this, I did so with the permissions of the various principals involved.

Next time you meet a software engineer under the age of 40, ask him if he has any friends who graduated from Lowell, assuming he/she is not here from abroad, and even then, who knows?

If you want to play psych games, maybe we should ask why Greg has such a fixation on casting the local schools in such a bad light? Other than regretting that he lost a new car by paying tuition at a local private school?

Gregory

"You still are putting the blame on the teachers, and not the society as a whole."

That pretty much sums up the lack of responsibility that the Ed Biz accepts for the quality of the service.

The Firesign Theater once scripted a parody of physics where they presented Fudd's Laws, the first one being, "If you push something hard enough, it will fall over". Keachie's corollary to Fudd's First Law is, "If you give the school districts enough money, the children will be educated".

I criticize the local schools that are severely underperforming. This includes the Grass Valley School District, the Pleasant Valley District, and some of the schools in the Auburn School District. The first thing that needs to happen is for people to wake up, smell the coffee and pay attention to the test scores and the data that is online and freely available.

Locally, the Nevada City and Union Hill schools have been pretty good, and the Pleasant Ridge District has been excellent.

That wasn't a "teacher" who was in the paper with the issue found by the Grand Jury of an ending salary spiked illegally before retiring in order to boost his pension. That was the retired Superintendent of the Grass Valley School District, Jon Byerrum, the very fellow who pushed Whole Language and Whole Math into Grass Valley Schools, and husband of the current County Superintendent of Schools, Holly H., who has not exactly been a model of propriety herself. A number of good teachers who saw the handwriting on the walls left as it was being pushed through by his Igor, Linda Brown, the Ass't Superintendent and Hennessey Principal. I went to multiple board meetings, did my best to alert them as to how bad "Mathland" was, to no avail.

And I attended the first board meeting after the first STAR exam results were published a couple years later, showing what would have been my son's class (but for the transfer to the St.Sensible) showing half the kids in the bottom quartile. All Byerrum could say, not wanting to look me in the eye, was to the effect that there were a few holes in the math program. Their language scores were just as bad.

You can't fix something until you accept it needs fixing. By the only objective measurements we have, the GVSD remains in sad shape.

The high school also has its problems, and some of them are due to the quality of the schools feeding them.

BTW give Keach a gold star on his forehead for working hard, self esteem is important.

Douglas Keachie

Greg again puts words in my mouth, but he is partially correct. If you go to http://farstars.blogspot.com/search?q=school and scroll down to "Build a better Ghetto School," you will find a very expensive solution to the inner city crisis, that basically involves giving students a second home in which they are safe and nurtured. It does not involve raising teacher's salaries, unless having some of them supervising on-site overnights counts.

I wonder, has Greg ever volunteered to teach either the students or teachers his way of learning Algebra? He'd get a Gold Star too.

Gregory

Keachie once again uses a slight to denigrate a very successful method. Dolciani's books are still being updated and sold a quarter century after she died:
http://math.hunter.cuny.edu/dolciani/about_mpd_exp01.html

Over 50 million sold. It isn't *my* way to teach math, it was the dominant math curriculum when the folks who developed much of today's technology were K-12 students.

***

In an "Et tu, Chronicle?" moment, Keachie might want to read The Chronicle main editorial today. Apparently a judge in LA decided the teacher evaluations showing 99+% exceeded expectations were not believable, and a 1972 law directing teacher evaluations to take standardized test results into account has been upheld, and The Chronicle agrees. Imagine that.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/06/15/EDH51P22D5.DTL

Douglas Keachie

And Greg strikes out again. It WAS a teacher I was referencing, the one who sucker punches coyotes before sunup with a 20 power scope on his rifle. http://www.theunion.com/article/20120613/OPINION/120619935&parentprofile=search

"Over 50 million sold. It isn't *my* way to teach math, it was the dominant math curriculum when the folks who developed much of today's technology were K-12 students."

Now 50,000,001 copies sold. I do not remember being too happy about the text I learned from back around 1958 - 1961. Maybe you do have a magic elixer.

Taking tests scores into account is not necessarily firing the bottom five percent every year. Even if they have to be there two years in a row, it still means firing and stresssing a lot of teachers. It also means any teacher with any common sense will do his/her damned to kick any kid permanently out of their classroom. Let it be tied into the extensive system I outlined here, and I will join you for tea.

http://farstars.blogspot.com/search?q=teacher+evaluation

Douglas Keachie

"I wonder, has Greg ever volunteered to teach either the students or teachers his way of learning Algebra? He'd get a Gold Star too."

please explain how this is a "slight."

Is it a bad thing to a way of teaching math associated with Greg Goodknight? News to me.

Douglas Keachie

I think it is time for Greg to get the chip off his shoulder, and instead put his shoulder to the wheel, when it comes to local education.

billy T

Watch out boys, the dam is busting. There are 3-4 critical proprieties that really need to be addressed. These critical priorities have been neglected for the past 30 years. Number 2 or #3 has to be public education. Neglected and in a total state of disrepair. Public education has produced people who can learn and people who have not learned. The latter in now the accepted norm, while those that have learned are the glaring exception. The gist of the Great Divide. We have long since passed the point of diminishing returns and face critical mass. Rather that bemoan the horrid state our public school system is in and rather that blame what 30 years of neglect has done to our nation and our children's bleak futures, we should be encouraged that we have faced down enemies before and have reached the other side victorious. We can defeat this corroding evil that threatens the very fabric of our once proud nation. If we can put a man on the moon, then surely we crush this dastardly enemy we face today and fix the f**ker.

Douglas Keachie

"We have met the f''ker and he is us."

Soon we will be having not even the bottom half of the college educated willing to teach, because of the attitude society has towards teachers. Great job of scapegoating folks, and not takinbg responsibility for your sins. Teachers can only do so much. If society hands unwilling and unprepared to learn children to schools in overwhelming numbers, what can a teacher do?

Douglas Keachie

A kid from the kind of family where the main worker(s) has a job that pays like the one below, just is not on a level playing field with those from the middle class.

The Hands That Feed Us, and the work being done on the ground by groups like ROC-U — which contributed to the report and helped create the Food Chain Workers Alliance in 2008 — may signal the beginning of a change.

Take that $2.13 figure, the federal minimum wage for tipped workers. Legally, tips should cover the difference between that and the federal minimum wage, now a whopping $7.25. If they don’t, employers are obligated to make up the difference. But that doesn’t always happen, leaving millions of servers — 70 percent of whom are women — taking home far less than the minimum wage.

Which brings us to the happily almost-forgotten Herman Cain. What’s called the “tipped minimum wage” — that $2.13 — once increased in proportion to the regular minimum wage. But in 1996, the year Cain took over as head of the National Restaurant Association (NRA), he struck a deal with President Bill Clinton and his fellow Democrats. In exchange for an increase in the regular minimum wage, the tipped minimum wage was de-coupled. The result: despite regular increases in the regular minimum wage, the tipped minimum wage hasn’t changed since 1991.

Other disheartening facts: Around one in eight jobs in the food industry provides a wage greater than 150 percent of the regional poverty level. More than three-quarters of the workers surveyed don’t receive health insurance from their employers. (Fifty-eight percent don’t have it at all; national health care, anyone?) More than half have worked while sick or suffered injuries or health problems on the job, and more than a third reported some form of wage theft in the previous week. Not year: week.

There are societal considerations as well as moral ones: Food workers use public assistance programs (including, ironically, SNAP or food stamps), at higher rates than the rest of the United States work force. And not surprisingly, more than a third of workers use the emergency room for primary care, and 80 percent don't pay."

How many workers in our local restaurant industry get this wonderful $2.13/hour? How come those student in our local schools, eligible for free lunch, shot up from 30% in 2003 to 60% now?

Gregory

billy T, it isn't neglect, it's a willful refusal of the educators to face the problems of their making.

Thanks to Keachie for teaching by example.

Keach should understand, but won't: teachers aren't scapegoats; those teachers who aren't doing a good job, the unions who insure that fact doesn't affect their lifetime job and the administrators who hire them and give them superlative performance ratings *ARE* the problem.

Thanks to The Chronicle for the mention of SF schools and the fact there's been a law on the books for FORTY YEARS directing schools to take student testing into account for teacher evaluations, and it's been ignored. Until now, thanks to a SoCal court.

Douglas Keachie

Greg, District have always had the ability to fire a teacher, it just that they've had to prove it, and that, by the California School Board's assertion back in the 1990's, costs about $180,000/teacher, in order to do it properly. The school boards, taxpayers, don't want to do this. For one, it does cost $180,000. More importantly, the odds of getting yet another person who can't boost the test scores, is quite high, for the silk purse reason I've already cited.

I've asked before, of the approximately 3,000,000 teachers nationwide, what percentage do you believe should be fired? It's a question you've never answered. What percentage do you think are doing a fine job, except for the fact that they do support their unions, and most often, willingly. And finally, what percentage do you think are doing a fine job, and hate their unions, and the companion question, what percentage are doing a crappy job and hate their unions?

You always talk in generalities, it's time you put on your grownup pants and state your case more precisely. BTW, how does it feel to be told your opinions are childish? You take such joy in doing it yourself.

Douglas Keachie

Society is currently making lots of families with high sulfur steel, and the children come unprepared to met the rigorous waters of basic education, and you already know the rest of the story.

Gregory

When someone like Keachie insults me, I have to consider the source.

Anyone who thinks $180K to fire a bad teacher is reasonable is living on another planet, and the US teaching profession's inability to accept high standards is its biggest obstacle to teachers being treated like professionals.

California's teachers are among the highest paid, and Californias students are among the lowest performers. There is a disconnect.

Douglas Keachie

California is among the most expensive states to live in, with a huge numbers of non-English speaking students, there is no disconnect.

Got a problem with $180,000? Take it up with the legal profession. The third floor of Fortress Franklin, HQ of SFUSD, was inhabited by the Superintendent, and 12 lawyers. The head of personnel was a lawyer. Get a clue!

Gregory

The problem isn't how much lawyers charge, the problem is needing a team of lawyers to get rid of one bad teacher.

Bennett-Kew has done a fine job of taking English language learners and educating them better than Hennessey School manages with kids who grew up speaking English, for the same cost. It isn't a lack of funds.


billy T

This is not solely about teachers. This is about a broken public education system. You walk 20 miles into the woods, you have to walk 20 miles out. The problem with government run schools is...well...they are run like the government. We can't just snap our fingers and fix the f**ker. We have to get the f**ker fixed, but 30 years of producing sub par teachers coming out of a very sub par government education system (that's being kind)and run by a sub par bureaucracy has got us exactly where we are today. Keep doing what you are doing and you will keep getting what you are getting. Its not even conservatives verses liberals by any stretch. It is concerned parents and concerned citizens verses those with a vested interest entrenched in keeping things 20 miles in the woods. Every conceivable measure as proven beyond any doubt that adding more money won't fix the f**ker. Here is what some concerned parents are doing....not for everybody, but thinking outside the "close enough for government work" box. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/06/16/african-americans-increasingly-turn-to-home-schooling/.

George Rebane

billyT 1227pm - you nailed that very succinctly.

Douglas Keachie

"Bennett-Kew has done a fine job of taking English language learners and educating them better than Hennessey School manages with kids who grew up speaking English, for the same cost. It isn't a lack of funds."

So Greg's magic elixer is found in Bennett-Kew? OK, so where did their teachers come from, and what are they doing that is so different from everyone else, or maybe more to the point, what sort of families are feeding this school?

Are they upwardly mobile, like the Chinese family that not only took there kids there ($10 admission, no windsurf launch fees, multiculty middle class), with new suits and water toys, but also had there kid dumpster diving for aluminum and the graciously accept our direct donation to them, smiles all around? Is this a typical no-can-do inner city, or something unusual enough to vote to tax themselves for a shiny new k-8 school with six tennis courts, and rammed through a planning commission a total blockage and elimination of a street?

I think it may be well more than "just the teachers doing their job." Transport those same teachers to a different school and see if it still works. Or maybe we should look at the test scores from a San Francisco School that does teach bilingually, with nothing more than a rooftop for a play area? Tune in tomorrow, my daughter wiped me out.

BTW, the USA had one very dominant culture during the 1950's, and a great many teachers from that era went through college on the GI bill, and would have retired by 1985 to 1990. And was it in the 1970's that corporal punishment became a no-no, and principals started to back up parents and students rather than their teachers? Lots of factors to consider.

Home school is great, if the parents are up to the task. And those are the very kids that teacher find teachable and ready to learn. The more kids go into home schooling and charter schools with no bus services, the more high sulfur content students flood the public school classrooms. Such a design is reminiscent of not having the bulkhead go all the way up, with resulting test scores going all the way down. What role did the creation of charter schools and the popularity of home schooling play in the demise of Lyman Gilmore's and Hennessy's test scores?

Douglas Keachie

"There" in the previous comment is Lake Natoma.

Gregory

"So Greg's magic elixer is found in Bennett-Kew? OK, so where did their teachers come from, and what are they doing that is so different from everyone else, or maybe more to the point, what sort of families are feeding this school?"

No magic elixer, and if Keachie had taken what I wrote here a year ago, he'd know some of the answers:

"For an alternate view of what is wrong in low performing schools, read this paper:
http://www.csun.edu/~vcmth00m/brookings.pdf
Google "Nancy Ichinaga" and Bennet-Kew for more information. Ms. Ichinaga's school was exactly the sort of school that we need but mostly don't get."

Nancy Ichinaga testified a number of times on what she did to turn around a school that, when she arrived, were performing at the 3rd percentile for the state, which, as we know, isn't all that high.

It isn't magic, just good management and good teaching of a good curriculum.

Douglas Keachie

Well Greg, upon reading through I've discovered several things. One school uses one set of books, and another, including Saxon which I thought was one you had put down a while back.. There is uniformity within a school for the books used. I am also wondering if there is uniformity in the student body? Compared to the average ghetto school, how many of these kids are retained year to year?

I also note high parent involvement, quite different from many of the ghetto schools I've seen. And I see teaching to the test, which I do not believe is a bad thing, but you show me the leadership that allows for that in many school districts. This is not something the individual teachers have much control over. I'll also note that the examined schools get full sets of matchy-poo texts running through multiple grade levels is also unusual. The money to hire someone to oversee the bookroom is long gone. Typically teachers are left to rummage around and see what they can find. We never even had a budget with which to buy textbooks for computer programming at Lowell, so we copied the manuals and used the internet when it came along.

From personal experience in two different all-German, German only spoken schools, that I attended in Darmstadt, Germany, the one subject that the teachers and I could communicate on was math. They would write out a new concept, and I would try to solve an example, and they would point out via corrections, what I wasn't getting. Math is an ideal subject for non English speakers to master.

More later, time to go mow.

Gregory

Keachie just can't get over his reactionary tendencies.

Douglas Keachie

And Greg just can get over how the mighty have fallen:

Bennnett_Kew2009

Gregory

Keach, you're grasping at straws. Tell the nice people how they are doing compared to their similar schools.

Gregory

Noticing Keachie had used a 2009 report, I wondered if he'd just cherrypicked an outlier year. Yep.

http://star.cde.ca.gov/star2011/ViewReport.aspx?ps=true&lstTestYear=2011&lstTestType=C&lstCounty=19&lstDistrict=64634-000&lstSchool=6014435&lstGroup=1&lstSubGroup=1

My guess would be school boundaries had been adjusted and kids below grade level in achievement had been added as a result.

The 2011 report again has the poor latino and black kids at B/K doing much better than GVSD schools, despite Principal Ichinaga's having retired 11 years ago.

Douglas Keachie

Actually Greg, I just picked the first one that would come up properly that what recent. For some reason the Dep of Ed website is not the most reliable, no big surprise. I think a more accurate guess of what happened is that a great many kids opted to attend the big shiny new school. BTW, is Saxon OK now?

Douglas Keachie

Of course you still haven't addressed the issue of this being in Maxine Waters District. Now that the little darlings are super bright and coming of voting age, do you suppose they'll throw her out?

"Tea Party hell: In remarks earlier this month in Inglewood, Calif., Waters went after the Tea Party, telling a group of her constituents (many wearing purple SEIU T-shirts): "I am not afraid of anybody. This is a tough game. You can't be intimidated. You can't be frightened. And as far as I'm concerned, the Tea Party can go straight to hell.”"

You know that Inglewood is over 100,000 people, of the 639,088 in her district, which is made up of:

10.4% White, 34.1% Black, 5.6% Asian, 47.4% Hispanic, 0.2% Native American, 0.2% other

Somehow I don't think so: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California%27s_35th_congressional_district

Gregory

Keach, I've never had a problem getting 2011 results from the CDE site, and just what are the odds you'd just happen to get the one year where they had a blip?

"Big shiny new school"?

I never said Saxon wasn't "ok"; it is complete and relies on instruction by book and teacher, not wild guesses by the kids trying to rediscover a millennium of mathematical advances of our past. It spoonfeeds the subject in a spiral model, which isn't optimal for good students who are going to be in the same school for the duration. I have written here that had the GVSD accepted the offer of a classroom worth of free books to do a pilot in '95, we'd probably never have taken our son out of the GVSD, which we left only because of the wretched Mathland that destroyed the academic futures of Grass Valley kids for well over a decade. As I've written here in the past (Keach has a short memory), the GVSD's choice of Saxon to remediate the Mathland/CPM debacle was probably the best they could have done.

Gregory

More Gish Gallops by Keachie.

"In responding to the Gish Gallop, where possible it is best to...narrow the debate down to a single topic--the age of the earth, or the fossil record--and then debate it through to its logical conclusion. This defeats the Gish Gallop, and also prevents the common creationist tactic of suddenly changing the subject whenever he or she gets uncomfortable"


I really don't care who those kids end up voting for. I do care that, unlike the kids in the Grass Valley and Pleasant Valley school districts, they have a school that manages to exceed expectations.

Douglas Keachie

HOw long has GVSD been using Saxon? Under which superintendent was the choice to switch made? And again, have the charter schools drained the area of the cream of the crop? Going from 30% free lunch eligible to 60% free lunch eligible in less than eight years seems to indicate an extreme shift in the popuolation served, or at least the home economic conditions.

Gregory

Keach, no more food for thought for you until you eat what's already been put on your plate. Stop banging your spoon against the high chair for your own amusement.

Douglas Keachie

Galloping Greg's Ghost refuses to eat his spinach and any questions pertinent to the topic at hand, and so forfeits the contest, uncannily.

billy T

Speaking of education and budgets, I am wary of the state wisely spending education funds. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/47920330/ns/us_news-life/#.T-Sin5HhcUo

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