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08 October 2013



Then there's the long term Federal Dept. of Education study released a decade ago that found the lower the SAT of an incoming college freshman, the higher the probability they are teaching K-12 ten years after receiving their baccalaureate.

I've come to the conclusion that the best reform of K-12 we could implement that costs virtually nothing would be for schools to make public the average SAT of both teachers and administrators. Imagine, districts actually caring if they their teachers and administrators graduated from high school ready to attend a decent college.

The dumbth rolls downhill from K-12. The so-called Common Core standards will just make it roll faster; as was the case 20 years ago with the essentially similar whole math and language debacle, K-12 'professionals' lacked the basic competency to even notice how poorly their charges were doing.


Then there's the long term Federal Dept. of Education study released a decade ago that found the lower the SAT of an incoming college freshman, the higher the probability they are teaching K-12 ten years after receiving their baccalaureate.

While still in college, I remember walking to the parking lot after a class and bumping into a guy I hadn't seen in three to four weeks. We had both been in an Organic Chemistry class together and since he had been absent for so long I just assumed he had dropped the class. No big deal a lot of people did...sometimes it takes a little extra time to wrap your head around a subject. I asked when he was going to make another attempt.....he informed me he wasn't going to.....switched his major to Elementary Education.


"[Reagan Ed. Sec'y William] Bennett always seemed about to say, "Anybody who doesn't know what's wrong with America's schools never screwed an el-ed major."
-"Parliament of Whores", PJ O'Rourke

fish, nice to hear a non-sexual confirmation of the problem. However, if he had the background to even enroll in Orgo, he probably would have been a boon to ElEd had he continued but I'd not bet on it. He probably ran off with a screaming case of the heebie-jeebies as the stultifying boredom of Ed school indoctrination sank in. Might have ended up in a business major.


Given how the biggest dumbthing down of school curriculums is over global warming, this campaign piece by Dr. Stopa, a physicist running for a congressional seat, is worth putting here:


I've no direct knowledge of his chances but based on the general area I'd not bet on him winning.

George Rebane

Gregory 447pm - Agreed. As I posted on this major piece of nationally impactive news, I mused with Jo Ann about which platoon of crickets our liberal readers would send to discuss this critical issue which they own in toto. This is one of several areas of public policy to which the progressives truly have nothing to contribute. Silence is golden.

Account Deleted

As the govt schools continue to sink and the left continues their mantra of "not enough money", our grandson has already started on the path that will lead him to the positive side of the great divide. Our daughter and son-in-law have enrolled him, at age 4, in a home study program that includes once a week group activities as well as special field trips. I have no doubt he will sprint ahead of his fellow kinder mired in govt run schools in both the breadth and depth of his knowledge of the world.
How much longer this sort of subversive education will be allowed remains to be seen.
As home schooling is growing in numbers in this nation, the reaction from the left to stamp it out will grow.


"Common Core" is avoiding the whole math/whole language testing minefield by creating its own test environment. The Grass Valley school district tried to do much the same thing with its own holistic 'custom standardized test' with a fuzzy five level rubric applied by the teacher conducting the individual test one-on-one.

The Union reported that, upon the completion of the creation of the test with the Oregon company contracted to help, those involved all held hands in a circle and sang "Kumbaya" to celebrate the milestone. The test did its job; iirc, virtually all the kids were above average on that test, while, on the evil SAT9 by ETS, half were in the bottom quartile when forced by the state to administer a real standardized test a couple years later.

The CC testing will not take a teacher an hour with every kid, just a computer tapped into the testing program administered by a Common Core partner set to make billion$ off the deal, and as of now, the California STAR testing (SAT9 and friends) is defunct so the coast is clear; there will be no early warning of an educational meltdown if the CC experiment is a flop. Expect all our kids to be above average, and the nation's colleges hitting the panic button again as the flotsam and jetsam washes onto the campuses expecting a BS/BA in a reasonable period of time.

Joe Koyote

"Then there's the long term Federal Dept. of Education study released a decade ago that found the lower the SAT of an incoming college freshman, the higher the probability they are teaching K-12 ten years after receiving their baccalaureate." Where can I find this study? I would like to read it because on the surface it sounds a bit suspicious.

If we are going to post SAT and/or IQ test scores for teachers, why not do the same for politicians (if we did that for president no Republican since Nixon would have been elected as the intellect of Reagan and the Bushes was marginal at best) police personnel, CEOs, and everyone else. Why single out teachers for such scrutiny? By the way, how many of you are teachers or have been teachers? What is your expertise on education that makes your assessments valid? Twenty years ago I read several articles discussing the future markets corporations wanted to dominate in the coming new century. The two most promising options for privatization were water and education. We all now see the results from the bottled water industry where we are sold the same tap water we get out of our home faucets at a gazillion percent mark-up in plastic bottles that consume three times more water to create than they hold. Hardly efficient but extremely profitable. The implementation of No Child and the corporate sponsored media attacks on teachers' and teacher unions are all part of the plan to discredit the public education system (that the founding fathers deemed so necessary for an informed electorate) and replace it with "Skools R Us." Free education and freedom go hand in hand. You attack the teachers because what is being taught doesn't fit your ideological framework. Perhaps it is your views that need modernization not the education system.


Why single out teachers for such scrutiny?

Because the topic was educational achievement levels and educators. If you want to single out politicians for their dimwittedness Joe I'm sure that you will find an entire internet happy to hash that out with you.

You attack the teachers because what is being taught doesn't fit your ideological framework.

Goodness but you are whiny today. Are you a teacher Joe?

Perhaps it is your views that need modernization not the education system.

Perhaps....but your reliably weak arguments aren't likely to change those any time soon.


My, JK, I have hit a nerve, haven't I?

Let's assume for a moment one has a child they love and want the best for, and they are in K-12. Would you want their teachers to generally be in the top third of their cohort of college bound high school grads, or the bottom third?

Would you want any child you know taught by someone who took three tries to pass the 8th grade level CBEST exam that is the only exam all California teachers must pass? Would you rather they test at least at the 12th grade level? Or maybe a wee bit above, given they also have 4 years (some more) to get a bachelor's and an extra year or two to get certificated?

Why single out teachers? Because they're supposed to be the ladder up and out of poverty for kids whose families don't have a ladder. They have a virtual job for life because they're supposed to be able to teach, and I agree with Will Rogers (from memory, don't quote me): You can't teach what you don't know any more than you can come back from where you ain't been.

My little sister was crippled from the whole language of her day, "see and guess". I was lucky to get the last of the phonics from our school district, not coincidentally my father's employer, and my dad, when I was fighting to get phonics and competent math instruction for my son, encouraged me to continue and expressed his deep regret he didn't fight his powers that were to get phonics for my sister and other kids; the pressure on him by the district's curriculum enforcers to get with the 1960's whole language version 0.1 program was more than he could bear.

The price I had to pay for incompetent local schools starting in the mid '90's was seven years of bills from Mount St. Mary's, the only choice at the time besides moving closer to the Pleasant Ridge district, and no, the religion was a bug that could barely be tolerated, not a feature.

Two years after we started paying for an MSM education despite having paid for taxes funding the GVSD, half the kids at Hennessey in my son's class were in the bottom quartile in both math and language by the STAR SAT9. I'm quite sure he'd not have had the opportunities he's enjoying had we left him to rot with his cohort, whose parents I tried to warn, and attended many a board meeting.

In short, Koyote, the "ideology" we were looking for was competent math, language and science instruction.


Oooh that was good Greg!

Ryan Mount

I don't believe whole language Language Arts instruction is appropriate for immature learners. There is an ethos that drives it's adoption that I do not agree with, especially with primary learners: it's something like "little children are delicate and somehow can get permanently 'programed'" by something like phonics (there are others out there). In my estimation, and from my studies of Vygotsky, James Moffett and others, I think this is an grave error of Whole Language supporters.

I got into a rather heated argument with Harvard's Courtney Cazden and Bill Honig back in 1993 (I believe) when the whole language research and results where not itbearing fruit like 's proponents had hoped for. They had called an emergency whole language conference at Asilomar. Of course I was labeled a hopeless Conservative and asked if I had William Bennett books in my back pocket. And my Master Professor, who sponsored me, said following the conference that Harvard probably wouldn't be the best place for me.

Anyhow, developmentally, young immature learners do not possess the the cognitive mechanisms(discipline, vocabulary, nor the executive function) to think abstractly and process ambiguity as Whole Language assumes. So I believe that things like phonics and other rote methods are completely appropriate until children can "think for themselves" to be colloquial about it.

(BTW, the wikipedia page on Whole Language full of a lot of crap. So tread lightly there. Chomsky had nothing to do with it. It was the British who really brought Whole Language to the USA which had it's genesis in the post WWII/1960s Labour Party. see 1975's: http://www.amazon.com/Development-Writing-Abilities-James-Britton/dp/0814111009) If they'd actually followed Chomsky's observations, instead of appropriating them for lazy hippie (there I said) holism, we'd be in a much different place now and having a very different conversation.

However, that said, whole language is indeed appropriate for advanced learners, say secondary students and can and should be introduced gradually. And by advanced, I specifically means mature learners who can properly synthesize content across disciplines and read (and write) in larger chunks of rhetoric.


Ryan, there's been some real cognitive research that has sealed the deal. The brain of a skilled adult reader lights the same areas of the brain triggered by listening to the spoken word, phoneme by phoneme. Phonics isn't a "rote method"; it helps the beginning reader to parse the written word in a way the reader can then use the speech centers of the brain, the ones in use for the entire human experience, to understand.

I have fairly vivid memories of learning to read... I knew the word (especially in classroom reading) was a word I already knew... I just needed to break the code. The more I sounded them out, the more I didn't need to sound them out.

The constructivists, whether for math or reading, believe one needs to focusing on higher level cognition in order to foster the learner's construction of meaning. The realists (for the lack of a better word) think that it's easier to get a more advanced meaning from a linguistic or or mathematical statement if you can read and do some arithmetic.

Wikipedia is at its worst when, like with education, there is a cadre of true believers keeping the wiki entry supporting their view. In short, much was done in Honig's name after he was forced out, and I've heard him speak about his chats with state Ed people when coming back over the whole math and language debacles and he'd hear them state "Bill Honig said..." and he'd be there to say, 'No I didn't'. The true believers worked towards a pure whole language and whole math implementation where Honig was expecting a blend.

As far as language is concerned, I think you'll find that actual vector into the US in general and California in particular was through Australia and New Zealand, where WL was said to have resulted in phenomenal literacy rate, but, unfortunately, this didn't hold up to close scrutiny. They also kept a strong program of "phonemic awareness", phonics lite, and the proponents of WL in California (and Nevada County) did their best to ignore that. I say Nevada County because I attended one presentation by an Aussie (or kiwi, I forget) WL expert whose staff instructional visit was hosted by McAteer's office, and I asked her point blank if phonemic awareness can be eliminated in her program and she answered, umm, no, while glancing towards McAteer, obviously hoping he didn't get pissed. You see, all phonics had been eliminated from the schools of the true believers, like Hennessey and Bell Hill. And the County office apparently had something to do with it.

For "advanced learners", I think whole language is usually called "literature". There's no real need to change the terminology.

George Rebane

I invite your attention to the 9oct13 update to 'Sustainability Quantified'.

Account Deleted

Joe, you are a true wonder of nature. "..all part of the plan to discredit the public education system".
Yes, Joe, it's all a Tea Party plot to publish test scores of our govt run schools.
The reason folks are turning to private ed, home schooling, etc, is that we have tried to reform the schools and have been slapped away by the lefties that run the show. The founding fathers wanted an educated populace, not a bunch of brain washed low scoring dolts. How the education was achieved was not an issue at the time. The left have turned the public ed system into a assembly line for left wing pablum.
And by the way, Joe - I don't recall anyone being forced to buy bottled water. It was called 'free choice'.

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