Losing the Brains Race

America is spending more money on education while producing worse outcomes.

In November the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released its Program for International Student Assessment scores, measuring educational achievement in 65 countries. The results are depressingly familiar: While students in many developed nations have been learning more and more over time, American 15-year-olds are stuck in the middle of the pack in many fundamental areas, including reading and math. Yet the United States is near the top in education spending.

Using the OECD data, Figure 1 compares K–12 education expenditures per pupil in each of the world’s major industrial powers. As you can see, with the exception of Switzerland, the U.S. spends the most in the world on education, an average of $91,700 per student in the nine years between the ages of 6 and 15. But the results do not correlate: For instance, we spend one-third more per student than Finland, which consistently ranks near the top in science, reading, and math.

Naturally, the OECD’s report has sparked calls for more spending. Speaking at Forsyth Technical Community College in North Carolina at the beginning of December, President Barack Obama said the federal government should spend more on improving achievement in math and science, much as Washington did in response to the Soviet Union’s Sputnik launch a half-century ago.

But throwing more money at poorly performing schools has not moved the needle on performance. During the last 40 years, the federal government has spent $1.8 trillion on education, and spending per pupil in the U.S. has tripled in real terms. Government at all levels spent an average of $149,000 on the 13-year education of a high school senior who graduated in 2009, compared to $50,000 (in 2009 dollars) for a 1970 graduate.

Despite the dramatic increase in spending, there has been no notable change in student outcomes. Using data provided by Andrew Coulson, an education policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute, Figure 2 shows National Assessment of Educational Progress scores in reading, math, and science, along with per pupil spending. The only trend line with a pulse is the amount of spending.

More spending usually means more teachers. Last year Obama not only used stimulus funds to preserve education jobs but called for “10,000 new teachers.” Yet as Figure 3 shows, the number of students per teacher in U.S. public schools fell from 17.4 in 1990 to 15.7 in 2007.

We have tried spending more money and putting more teachers in classrooms for more than a generation, with no observable improvements to anything except the schools’ bottom lines. Why? Because of the lack of competition in the K–12 education system. Schooling in the United States is still based largely on residency; students remain tied to the neighborhood school regardless of how bad its performance may be. Federal spending on education (which amounted to 8.3 percent of total public education spending in 2007) is funneled to students through the institutions to which they are tied, largely regardless of student performance. With no need to convince students and parents to stay, schools in most districts lack the incentive to serve student needs or differentiate their product. To make matters worse, this lack of competition continues at the school level, where teacher hiring and firing decisions are stubbornly divorced from student performance, tied instead to funding levels and tenure.

If reform is to be defined by something other than the amount of money flushed down the toilet, it is time to reverse the flow of power from the top (administrators, school districts, teachers unions, governments) to the bottom (students, their parents, and taxpayers who want their money spent wisely). A first step in that direction is to change our teacher labor market practices in terms of both hiring and firing. On the hiring end, there are too many restrictions on who can become a teacher. On the firing end, we need to restore the relationship between job retention and job performance. Lisa Snell, director of education at the Reason Foundation (the nonprofit organization that publishes this magazine and does public policy research), points out in an email one recent example of how bad a school’s labor practices can be: “L.A. Unified School District laid off hundreds of its top teachers and replaced them with lower-performing teachers with seniority.”

In long-suffering California, a bipartisan coalition is supporting a new response to such irrational practices: the “parent trigger,” which allows fed-up parents whose children are in a consistently underperforming school to quickly change the school’s leadership. By signing a petition, parents can force reorganization of a school’s management or conversion into a charter school. In December parents of students at Compton Unified School District’s McKinley Elementary School did just that.

A parent trigger is not a panacea, but it introduces an element of choice (and hence competition) into a monopoly that has been shortchanging its customers and benefactors for decades. Wealthy people already exercise school choice, either by sending their kids to private schools or by choosing where to live based on school districts. The parent trigger gives less fortunate parents a similar and much less expensive tool. Along with the growth of online education and the charter school movement, these lurches in the direction of consumer choice are heartening and long overdue. 

Contributing Editor Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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  • ||

    It truly is amazing that Americans spend so much money on education and get it so completely wrong.

    I agree with the author about more competition improving matters, but I do wonder sometimes if there is something more involved here, every country has its lazy people, perhaps America just has more (for whatever reason) and they just don't want to learn.

  • Slap the Enlightened!||

    Oh, we aren't getting it wrong. It just depends on who's getting the education.

    Why does it not surprise me this doesn't get discussed in the article?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Why does it not surprise me this doesn't get discussed in the article?

    Well Slappy, because the vast majority of us here on Hit and Run realize that your Pioneer Fund "scientific racism" is bullshit.

    Now go back to masturbating to the Turner Dairies.

  • Realist||

    Your stupid comments do not change the fact that blacks, on average, have low IQ's!

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    You are not qualified to debate psychometrics with me, troll.

  • Realist||

    Ooohhh, sure I am, but what's to debate? The fact is blacks have, on average a much lower IQ than European white's.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Go pollute somewhere else you piece of shit.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Well, Fabulist, if you are so qualified, then can you explain to me what IQ actually is, and how it can be quantified and measured?

  • Contrarian P||

    It's the ability to understand that adding an apostrophe to a word does not make it plural. Sadly, the poster doesn't seem to exhibit the IQ about which he is so concerned.

  • Realist||

    Great job of avoiding the subject!

  • Realist||

    "It's the ability to understand that adding an apostrophe to a word does not make it plural."
    But it can be possessive.

  • jacob||

    the ability to understand that adding an apostrophe to a word does not make it plural

    +100

  • roystgnr||

    Do you mean the linked data is bullshit, or just the interpretation?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Do you mean the linked data is bullshit, or just the interpretation?

    I mean the data itself, as I don't believe that "intelligence tests," as they exist today, can accurately measure g. I have serious doubts that a single g-factor even exists.

    The Flynn effect should have been the final shovel of dirt that buried the modern-day phrenology called "IQ tests"; however, as Slappy and his lover, Realist, have shown us that pseudoscience is hard to kill when it supports one's world-view.

  • Obvious||

    These aren't intelligence tests. They are tests of informational knowledge - i.e science, math, reading.

    It's simply a fact that in the U.S. (and world wide), Asians score the highest on these tests, then whites, then hispanics, then blacks. It's not a racial theory - it's just a factual observation.

    What he's showing is that American Asians score higher than Asian Asians, American blacks higher than African blacks, American Hispanics higher than Mexican Hispanics, and so forth. Which is to say, simply put, that comparing an extremely diverse nation (such as the U.S) to an extremely homogenous nation (such as Japan, Korea, or Finalnd) is like comparing mixed fruit to oranges, and then claiming the organges are more orange. No shit.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    These aren't intelligence tests. They are tests of informational knowledge - i.e science, math, reading.

    That's my point about IQ tests, such as the Stanford-Binet. They measure cultural knowledge and meta-cognition, not g.

    Mental chronometry, on the other hand, seems to be more of a neutral and more scientific model for intelligence testing.

  • roystgnr||

    Okay, since you're talking about IQ tests for some reason, it's clear that you haven't even glanced at the (Program for International Student Assessment) data in question. You also answered my "do you think the data is wrong" question with [yes, here's what's wrong with the theory] - are you actually reading anything you respond to, or just skimming for keywords?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Okay, since you're talking about IQ tests for some reason, it's clear that you haven't even glanced at the (Program for International Student Assessment) data in question. You also answered my "do you think the data is wrong" question with [yes, here's what's wrong with the theory] - are you actually reading anything you respond to, or just skimming for keywords?

    Perhaps I typed out my response a little too quickly before (I was at work).

    As stated in the related discussion a mere one thread, Slappy and the Realist (and you?) are using the data from the PISA test and are arguing that there is a correlation between the scores on the PISA and IQ.

    (e.g.: Realist|2.22.11 @ 10:17AM|#
    Your stupid comments do not change the fact that blacks, on average, have low IQ's!)

    As I mentioned before, I don't believe a test of knowledge is a good instrument to measure g. So, yes, if you are using the PISA data to derive average g-factor for different racial and ethnic groups, then yes the data is bullshit, because that's not what the PISA is measuring.

    However, if you are using the PISA to argue that different different ethnic groups possess different average levels of core cultural literacy, as E.D. Hirsch defines it and science knowledge, then the data is clear on that. However, I would argue that is due to cultural factors than genetics. For example, Jewish culture, East Asian cultures, Indian cultures value education and knowledge acquisition highly.

  • Realist||

    That is more liberal bullshit to evade the obvious.

  • k2000k||

    I can personally attest that IQ scores will also vary greatly during a persons life time, far more than you would expect from simple brain development maturation. Besides I've known some individuals in my day with very high IQ scores that would be considered idiots in the truest sense of the word.

  • ||

    HM,
    I clicked on the link thinking there might be some useful and enlightening information that wasn't being discussed. I regret that I didn't read your comment before wasting my time. I have learned a lesson here....read all comments before clicking on a link.

  • Jen||

    Interesting analysis. I would have liked to see the author posting the 2006 science and 2003 math breakdowns - outdated data is better than no data, no?

  • ||

    A good point of view "American students did reasonably well compared to the countries from which their ancestors came."

    But even better would be comparing how our students do with the students perceived value of education. The safety net for failure is so great in the US, that people don't need ANY education to survive. Our various forms of "welfare" advertise and go to great lengths to seek out those in "need" and even teach people how to become needy (qualify).

  • Jeff||

    I don't think you can say welfare is the cause of poor education when you're comparing our education to a country like Finland.

  • Realist||

    One needs to get the cart and horse in the right position.

  • k2000k||

    Perhapes you could say that educating their students sufficently is more of a necessity in Finland, a small nation bordering a large European power, than it is in the US. A nation so wealthy and powerful that highly skilled individuals would sell their left nut to get into our country. I think the margin for failure is a lot greater for the US than it is for many other nations.

  • ||

    race or ethnicity is obviously represented in the results. It must be either cause or effect. Prehaps black students get bad teachers, bad parents, bad enviornments or something else in combination, but the results are incontrovertable. The explanation for Blacks in prison is often ascribed to racism among other things, but any study of prisoners can't ignore the fact that blacks are incarcerated in greater percentages than whites. Why ignore factual data?

  • hurrdurr||

    derp

  • Realist||

    Stop looking for excuses...think genetics!

  • Michael Ejercito||

    The explanation for Blacks in prison is often ascribed to racism among other things, but any study of prisoners can't ignore the fact that blacks are incarcerated in greater percentages than whites.


    Compare the prevalence of rape.

  • ||

    Poor people are also overrepresented in the prison population for obvious reasons, and when you correct for this the difference between blacks and whites becomes much smaller; the remaining difference is probably caused by the WoD being almost exclusively fought in black neighborhoods.

    The problem therefore is really black poverty plus the WoD.

  • Realist||

    "Poor people are also overrepresented in the prison population for obvious reasons..."
    Yeah, what obvious reasons? I am guessing you are a liberal and your "obvious reason" is bullshit!

  • k2000k||

    The drug war does have something to do with this since individuals at the economic margins are more likely to seek black market activites to survive. This is especially true considering that many jobs lower income individuals would do, taxi drivers, salon, cleaning, small independent stuff like that, often have dozens of regualtions making it effectively impossible for them to do so.

  • JohnD||

    I have several friends and family that are educators, including my wife and daughter.

    They work long hours (much longer than people think) and really care about the kids. They both work in counties in Georgia that are financially depressed. My daughter bought calculators for all her students (out of her pocket) and my wife has bough coats for children that didn't have winter coats and has bought lunches for them when they didn't have lunch money.

    The big problem is the attitude of the parents. They seem to have little interest in their childrens education. Many will not come to teacher conferences or PTA meetings. But you should hear them scream if their child is punished for bad behavior.

    There is also a major problem with the instructional material. A lot of it is not relevant to the grade level. I won't even go into the problem of social promotion.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    [Teachers] work long hours (much longer than people think) and really care about the kids. They both work in counties in Georgia that are financially depressed. My daughter bought calculators for all her students (out of her pocket) and my wife has bough coats for children that didn't have winter coats and has bought lunches for them when they didn't have lunch money.

    Don't tell that to Old Mexican, who would have us believe that all educators want nothing more than to drink the blood of unbaptized children.

  • ||

    really caring != educating

  • ||

    The big problem is the attitude of the parents.

    Bears repeating.

  • DNS||

    The big problem is the attitude of the parents.

    The biggest problem is the attitude of the students

    Bears even more repetition.

  • Bears! (repeating)||

    The big problem is the attitude of the parents.

  • Concerned Citizen||

    My wife nearly went mad working in a state program that administered disability benefits. The pieces of crap single mothers wanted every check they could get for they chilren, but couldn't name the child's teacher.

  • Ray Ray||

    And? I don't know the name of most people who provide services for me. Stop trying to demand some respect when you haven't earned any. There may be a problem with parents who are completely unconcerned with their children's education, but they don't have to know the name of someone who refuses to be paid based on merit.

  • ||

    You provide an anecdote of a caring teacher and I can provide one of a teacher that just played movies everyday. There are people that do and do not care about their jobs. But when the incentive is just to skate by, you shouldn't be surprised when alot of teachers do.

  • tijjer||

    I think his point is not that all teachers are great, but that even with a caring teacher poor parental attitudes go a very long way toward contributing toward their kids' bad performance in school.

  • WTF||

    True - parental involvement is one of the best predictors of academic achievement.

  • Concerned Citizen||

    Well, we can't have the children going around acting white, can we?

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Well, we can't have the children going around acting white, can we?
    reply to this


    What does it mean to act white?

  • Realist||

    "What does it mean to act white?"
    Giving a shit about something other than basketball and grabing your crotch

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Giving a shit about something other than basketball and grabing your crotch


    Then they must admire white people if studying in school and working hard constitute acting white.

  • Realist||

    Not admire...envy!

  • k2000k||

    That sounds more asian to me. Whites are concerned with getting poon and drinking beer.

  • ||

    I think we don't spend enough on our crumbling urban schools. $578MM per LA Unified high school, amortized over 25 years, equates to only $20,000 per dropout. A bargain!

    http://www.care2.com/causes/57.....geles.html

  • k2000k||

    Might as well by them all shiny rims you know?

  • Mr Whipple®©™||

    The more money that is spent on education, the more money the unions can collect in dues. End of story.

  • -||

    So far we have Laziness and Greed.

    Next?

  • Mr Whipple®©™||

    How about stupidity, complacency and arrogance? For over 30 years the State of NJ has been pumping money into school districts like Camden and Newark. It is exactly why NJ has an income tax. But the poor, minority students are FORCED to attend the broken, failed school system, and the nice suburban schools won't let the little nigglets and spicks into their neigborhoods, for fear of drugs and guns. So, you can add racism and ignorance, as well.

    School vouchers have been proposed a few times, to allow the kids to attend private schools, but it was shot down by the unions. The unions are very politically connected in NJ. Just ask Steve Sweeney and George Norcross III.

  • JohnD||

    There was a black woman in Cobb County GA that was arrested for enrolling her child in a (ostly white) school outside her district. All she wanted was for her child to get a better education. The principal in the upscale school stated that the parents in his district paid more taxes so they deserved a better education for their kids. What an arrogant ass. I wanted to beat the shit out of him.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    The principal in the upscale school stated that the parents in his district paid more taxes so they deserved a better education for their kids.

    I've seen left-wingers argue that this should apply towards the states in regards to federal spending.

  • ||

    You sure that wasn't Ohio, ;)*

    *yes, I know it occurs everywhere.

    Its dumb. Hell, I pay high property taxes and I don't even have children. Think I could sponsor one?

  • ||

    Which, of course, begs the question of why, if quality education is simply a good that should be available to those willing and able to pay for it, should the schools be public institutions paid for at the point of a gun?

  • Mensan||

    Who is begging the question? You are simply asking a new question.

  • ||

    I think he means "begs the question" in the colloquial sense of "demands an answer to the question," rather than in the technical logic sense of the phrase.

  • ||

    Let me guess you follow the "we need more money" school of thought.

  • Daniel||

    Socialist calculation problem. Education doesn't belong to some mystical category that doesn't need pricing.

  • nanda||

    the US underperformance is due to cultural factors which cannot be challenged easily because objections result in accusations that the objector is a bigot, racist, snob, and other such things.

    one example of a cultural change, we are told that colleges now have more girls than boys. this means that the best and brightest are being denied access to higher ed. so what happened in one generation to bring boys, the smartest in the world at one point, to this stage? (no girls can't do that, women simply don't have the creative genius of men and no amount of feminist ire will change that). the exclusion of boys from education will have a tremendous impact on the economy, including such things as innovation and scientific advancement, American know-how (yes, I know at this point liberals are foaming at the mouth).

    something else going on is the liberalism of the teacher force and the emphasis on "social justice" at the expense of learning. many teachers have a fixed belief that education cannot be improved until the US, a very bad place, is made better in the liberal sense. Until there is "justice" there is no point in trying to improve education. In fact, bad education furthers the cause of justice because bad education shows how bad the US is. So when told about bad education, one shrugs and says what can one expect from a nation that has a war in Iraq or opposes obamacare or has the death penalty or does not want the mosque at the WTC. This is just one of the underlying assumptions that made education not work despite the tons of money.

  • ||

    I don't understand how boys are being "excluded", nor do I agree with your sarcasm (at least I hope it is) regarding the creativity of women. Chauvinism doesn't help the cause. Part of being a man is recognizing and appreciating the differences between men and women and trying to be as egalitarian as possible.

  • Jen||

    That's because they're not being excluded. There is absolutely no affirmative action for female students; nanda just can't reconcile his sexism with the fact that, ever since girls ceased being excluded, they've steadily outperformed boys in grade school and high school.

  • ||

    boys aren't excluded, but men are capitalists and women are communists (mars and venus). I have watched as schools and education have gone from the competitive approach to the cooperative approach. I absolutely believe in the difference between the sexes in the psychological approach. I'm not saying either is smarter or better or more correct than the other, just that male and female think differently, and it isn't just nurture.

  • Jen||

    pigmy, I am a capitalist and not a communist. Please keep your generalizations to yourself.

  • ||

    +1

    Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, and anyone who actually believes that is from Uranus.

  • ||

    There is also a subtle anti-boy bigotry at work. Unintended, I'm sure, but it exists. I have a K-12 age son and until I watched kids programming so much I didn't realize this -- almost all of the "you can do it" commercials and programming are aimed at girls. Girls can do it, girls are great, girls are empowered, girls are strong, etc. In he TV shows, most of the time the girls are depicted as being smarter and cooler than the boys. Maybe 30 years ago that was needed, but now it's too much and sends the subliminal message that boys aren't as good as girls, or as special. This should be gender neutral that KIDS are empowered and smart and can excel.

    Then also there are also real differences between how boys and girls act and even learn. Boys tend to be much more kinetic and physical than girls, and that extends to how they learn. The school setting is designed around a feminine approach to learning that may hamper how boys learn and perform in school.

  • ||

    The anecdote about the kids programming really needs an unbiased statistical analysis rather than just a knee-jerk impression. Human pattern recognition is a treacherous thing.

    And the schools haven't become any less kinetic and physical since the good old days; I don't really see the basis for your point that the mode of instruction has become feminine.

  • ||

    The Schools have cut many "hands on" programs especially here in New England. And they have added many "theory only" classes. So in that sense they are much less kinetic and physical than in the past.
    I attended a standard HS 22 years ago that offered wood shop , metal shop, auto shop, home ec, cooking classes every last one of those is gone now....And from what I see these kids cant find there ass with both hands now a days, but they can tell you how to and what "feel" when they do find it but just can't DO and it's not "their" fault they can't do it it because no one ever "showed them"...gym class is even no winner or looser for the most part....We are quickly becoming the softest physically and mentally weakest country in history. All because no one can confront the fact that life is not and never will be fair.

    Also in the name of "saving" money on "useless" hands on programs in turn of "feel good" theory based learning that has never proved good for anything but sure makes every one "feel" equal.

  • Stoddard||

    >>"it's not "their" fault they can't do it it because no one ever 'showed them'..."

    And for this I not only blame the schools, but also the parents for putting up with it.

  • nanda||

    men have always outperformed in math and science. if that has changed, something is really wrong with how we raise boys. maybe it's not having fathers.

    women succeed in the world men created, the very civilized gentle world of the western democracies, which requires a balance between male domonination and appreciation/idealization of the female. when the men are too far behind the women, one symptom of which is that they regard education as women's stuff, they will lose all interest in sustaining such a world. we'll end up with a world of very hostile unsocialized males and an ever increasing powerful police force, also of males, to control those other males.

  • Jen||

    Boys do not "outperform" in math and science. A greater percentage of boys choose to go into math and science related majors (and - surprise! - a student who chooses to major in a given subject tends to outperform those who do not in that subject), but female students that choose these majors do just as well in them. The fact that the gender breakdown of engineering majors has become more or less equal is a testament to that. This has absolutely nothing to do with boys' declining math scores and everything to do with more girls gravitating toward these fields. Get your head out of your ass.

  • Gray Ghost||

    "The fact that the gender breakdown of engineering majors has become more or less equal is a testament to that."

    Whaaat?! Since when? It has been over 10 years since I was an undergrad, but back then, you were lucky if there were 20% women in engineering classes, fewer in upper division courses. I'll be profoundly surprised if you show me that engineering courses are now 50/50 men/women. And I mean Engineering: Electrical, Chemical, Mechanical, Aeronautical; o.k., Civil too---not some design or computer science major that adopted engineering in their title.

  • Jen||

    Since the latest census. As of 2009, about 47% of science and engineering degree holders ages 25 to 39 were women, compared with 21% among those 65 and older.

  • Jen||

    ...although I suppose that does include the biological science, where women are now outnumbering men...

  • Gray Ghost||

    Exactly my experience. IIRC, my Biology, Zoology, and Physiology classes were heavily subscribed by women, over 70% for the Bio and Zoo classes. Throw heavy math (differential equations, linear algebra, etc...) into the mix and the situation changed. My chemistry and physics courses, where calculus and trig were required, were about 1/3 women, OTOH.

    I am not an engineer, FWIW.

  • lurker||

    Your statistic includes science degrees. I think the engineering numbers still skew heavily towards males, especially in certain concentrations like electrical and mechanical. I'll agree with your previous point. Women who do go into engineering seem to do quite well.

  • lurker||

    I posted the last comment before seeing Jen's post at 12:16.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I'm surprised to hear about engineering. I know women now make a majority of (science heavy) pre-med majors. In some pharma schools, 65% of the student population is female.

  • Jen||

    Apparently I was wrong about engineering (or at least we're inconclusive about engineering, because no one seems to have much more than anecdotal experience), because engineering and science were grouped together in the statistic. Still, that doesn't really change the argument much, as I was responding to nanda's "point" about math and science in general.

  • Gray Ghost||

    Since nanda's point was towards innate abilities in math and science, here is a post discussing math SAT scores from the early 70s to 2010. http://blog.american.com/?p=19508

    Per the article, boys do roughly 30 points better on the math section with a mean score in the 530s than do girls. This despite more girls taking math, and getting a higher GPA in those classes, than boys do. Of course, the SAT is hardly the end-all, be-all of assessing mathematical ability...

    Unlike the author, I am not claiming that boys are innately superior to girls in math. It wouldn't surprise me if there was a small difference in innate ability between the genders. I'm certainly bombarded with no end of bullshit that women are more innately intuitive than men are. And I wouldn't be surprised if that supposition was true, too.

    This is from 1996, but MIT cites an NSF study claiming that women are only 22% of employed scientists and engineers, with only 16% of the bachelor's degrees in engineering going to women. http://web.mit.edu/wi/home2.shtml I'm sure that must've increased, and of course, it depends on the definition of "employed scientists and engineers," not to mention women dropping out of the workforce to raise a family was more prevalent back then.

    Speaking of work, I've got to get back to it...

  • ||

    I'm certainly bombarded with no end of bullshit that women are more innately intuitive than men are.

    At the level of math that the SAT tests, intuition is a killer. It's all about memorizing formulas and techniques.

    It doesn't really become a creative subject until a much higher level, and even then you have to know when to slam the brakes on your intuition and demand rigorous proof.

  • k2000k||

    It's still true. A recent college grade, a friend of mine got an electrical engineering degree. He said in all his electrical engineering classes he could count the number of girls that attended with just two hands.

  • Obvious||

    Uh...but fewer women CHOOSE such majors because they are not as GOOD at those subjects. People - men and women both - tend to choose to do what they're good at. Not what they aren't good at. So the fact that fewer women choose math and science suggests they probably aren't as good at it. The best female scientist may indeed be better than the best male scientist, but on average, men are better at math and science than women. On average, women are better at verbal skills than men. This is just as is it is. It doesn't mean one group is inferior to the other as human beings.

  • Jen||

    You should change your handle to Obviously mentally deficient. People - men and women both - choose to do what they're interested in. There is a multiplicity of factors that go into that - potential earnings, job security, etc. Perhaps more men major in engineering because their fathers taught them to work on cars, and because their friends liked cars, while women choose majors more akin to what their own parents and friends conditioned them to like.

    And before you ramble on about how "it is," maybe you should first educate yourself on how it actually is. The recent research finds virtually no disparity in mathematical performance: http://dericbownds.net/uploaded_images/hyde.pdf

  • Michael Ejercito||

    we'll end up with a world of very hostile unsocialized males and an ever increasing powerful police force, also of males, to control those other males.


    And to control females.

  • ||

    Except math and many of the sciences.
    Back to the differences between men and women: As far as women being communist in general, it is a fact. Women (generally) raise kids and if they cannot get what they need from themselves or their mate, they ask me to pay for their poor choices and lack of planning. I just want to pay for my own kids, not for "yours" too.

  • Jen||

    Generalizations are never "facts," jimbo.

    1) What's ironically delicious about your comment is that you're making a generalization about others' being communist at all. Libertarianism is a philosophy based on individualism and should therefore shun stereotypes and generalizations as the falsehoods that they are. Stereotyping is exactly the sort of collectivist impulse that one would expect from a communist. So who's the communist here?

    2) I don't have kids. I have never collected so much as a dollar of welfare, food stamps, unemployment, or even financial aid for college. I have a little hunch that you've held your hand out for a lot more of other people's money than I have.

    3) Are you actually claiming that looking for entitlements is a female thing? People - all people - will make the choices that benefit them economically. If you really believe this has anything to do with gender, then not only are you bigoted and ignorant, but you have a very poor understanding of economics as well.

  • ||

    I think it has something to do with a cultural change in education that penalizes boys for being boys, and tilts towards girls.

    I'd be shocked to discover, as well, that in our lefty multi-culti feminista higher education system, that there isn't a thumb on the admission scales, as well.

    Still, I doubt any men who need to be in college are excluded. I think there are still way too many college students (male and female) who have no business there.

  • Jen||

    Your second and third points are perfectly reasonable, but your first isn't. Can you cite a single example of boys' being penalized?

    I saw just the opposite in my education: girls raise their hands and wait to be called on, and are scolded if they speak out of turn. Boys speak out of turn regularly, and teachers rarely if ever have any problem with this. Even in classes where everyone raises his/her hand, teachers call on boys more frequently. Male students frequently receive more attention and guidance from teachers and benefit from a more interactive educational experience. Of course, I'm talking about grade and high school rather than college, but what we experience in our formative years sends us powerful messages and sets a tone for the rest of our lives. This is the reason why all-girls schools starting popping up in the first place, and I think the fact that girls perform better in all-girls schools shows that they were not getting any special treatment in the co-ed system.

    In college admissions, gender doesn't play a role. Is it possible that an admissions board might look at a name and see a benefit to admitting a female student? I guess. But there isn't any quota in place like there is with race. And I think the large gender gap in the student populations of schools that specialize in hard subjects shows that no one is trying to tip the scales in favor of girls (for example, check out the male/female ratio of, say, Georgia Tech).

  • ||

    Is there a state (experiments of democracy) where male and female are taught separately where the results of different teaching methods can be compared. I exclude the private schools normaly associated with separation of sexes because the students are selected.

  • Jen||

    No, admittedly there are not. Still, there is no evidence that boys are now getting a raw deal. One can make that argument for whites under Affirmative Action, but there is no comparable policy with gender. The only thing I ever saw regarding gender and college was that there used to be a lot of scholarships and other incentives given to girls to encourage them to study STEM disciplines, but that's financial aid, not admission, and it doesn't hurt boys, just helps girls. Anyway, the gap has since narrowed so much in the math and science fields that most of those scholarships have disappeared by now.

  • ||

    This article doesn't discuss college, but anything that helps girls, must hurt boys. Yearly, college admissions, incentives, grants and schollarships ARE a zero sum game. BUT, the article is looking at public education, k-12, not college. back to the point...

  • DK||

    Anything that helps girls, must hurt boys.

    How is this remotely true? Education is not a zero sum game.

  • Jen||

    Beat me to it, DK. If we're not talking about college, then there's no zero-sum game anyway. There's absolutely no reason to believe that what helps high school or grade school girls will hurt boys of the same age. That's utterly ridiculous, unless you're trying to suggest that males and females learn differently, in which case...oh yeah, still utterly ridiculous as there's no scientific evidence that supports that.

  • ||

    OK premise one: Boys and girls are motivated differently and therefore learn differently. Boys and girls value rewards and their type differently. Once again, I'm talking K-12.

  • Jen||

    Have you ever actually looked at psychological studies on gender differences? I mean not just read a news article about them, but actually read the studies? Sometimes they find differences and sometimes they don't, but even when they do, those differences are rarely statistically significant. Thinking differences, motivational differences, and learning differences are individual, not gender-based.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    This is the reason why all-girls schools starting popping up in the first place, and I think the fact that girls perform better in all-girls schools shows that they were not getting any special treatment in the co-ed system.

    In all honesty, it might be time to seriously consider the concept of segregating the genders at some point in the education process.

    There was an experimental class in Albuquerque during the last school year that was all boys of 11-12 years old, IIRC. Essentially, this class was tailored around the boys' unique physiological and social traits--they sat on those big rubber balls which allowed them to burn off excess energy, the class assignments were competition-oriented, etc. By the end of the year, their scores had gone up way across the board, although when asked, one of them said, "well, we probably did so well because we weren't distracted by the girls (meaning, their hormones weren't wreaking havoc on their attention span)." Still, given the improvements, I don't think gender segregation would be the worst thing in the world for kids.

  • ||

    To repeat what I said above in support of the first point about boys being penalized, there is a subtle anti-boy bias at work that is an unintended hold-over from the past. I have a K-12 age son and until I watched kids programming so much I didn't realize this -- almost all of the "you can do it" commercials and programming are aimed at girls. Girls can do it, girls are great, girls are empowered, girls are strong, etc. In the TV shows, most of the time the girls are depicted as being smarter and cooler than the boys. Maybe 30 years ago that was needed, but now it's too much and sends the subliminal message that boys aren't as good as girls, or as special. This should be gender neutral that KIDS are empowered and smart and can excel.

  • DK||

    How is any of what you've cited evidence of boys being penalized? It seems to be more about girls being empowered to fill roles from which they've historically been repressed. Here's an idea - if you don't like the content of the shows, don't let your kids watch them. There must be plenty of shows that portray men in a dominant role. Didn't Disney launch an all-boys-programming channel a couple years ago?

  • Jen||

    I watch kids' programming sometimes myself. Don't knock it; I have nieces, and at any rate some of it is genuinely very good. I watch iCarly sometimes, and I've never seen any anti-boy messaging in it. I watched every episode of Avatar: the Last Airbender, and I found it to be perhaps the most gender-neutral show I've ever seen. It's a wildly popular show, too, so I think it stands to reason that a fair amount of kids are getting the message.

  • ||

    Watch it again. Who are the cool kids? The girls. Who are the smarter, more powerful ones? The girls. You may say, "oh, that's just iCarly." Watch more broadly, it's pretty common. The boys are depicted as less mature, more childish and less serious than the girls. Now really watch the "empowerment" ads -- almost all aimed at girls telling them how special they are, how cool and smart they are. You don't see that aimed at boys.

    And it's not about wanting a "male dominate" environment, you're trapped in the past like a fly in amber if you think that. This isn't the 1950s Ozzie & Harriet world, this is 2011. I want an inclusive supportive environment for my son that doesn't penalize him because of his gender, and that treats him appropriately by recognizing the real differences between boys and girls.

    So back off of the old feminist war stuff, open your eyes.

  • Jen||

    Okay, you need therapy. Who says I'm a feminist, first of all? I'm correcting people's misinformation here by showing them the facts, that is all. I think you're reading a little too deeply into children's programming, trying to find fault with everything you see, because you have some paranoid notion that anything that is "good" for girls is automatically "bad" for boys. Open your own eyes.

    Let's stick with iCarly, shall we? Carly's brother isn't that bright or mature, but neither is Carly's (female) friend Sam. And what about Freddie? He's mature, he's smart, he's a perfect role model. What exactly do you object to about that messaging? Should no male character ever be portrayed as immature? You'd have us watching some pretty boring TV, wouldn't you?

    Who were the "cool kids" in The Last Airbender? Last time I checked, it was Aang and Sokka. Katara was decidedly NOT cool.

    As others have said on this post, you're obviously not watching enough kids' program, or else you're just cherry-picking.

  • Jen||

    Furthermore, the "messaging" you're reading into can be spun however you want it to. You say the male characters are portrayed as immature? I say they're portrayed as the funny ones. How dare those sexist TV bastards send out the message that girls can't be funny! I demand fairness in TV programming! Sniffle, sniffle, sob!

  • ||

    Again, Mr Eight, you need a careful statistical study with precise definitions of coolness and such. Otherwise you just see what you want to see (and it's pretty clear you have a scalpel to grind on this subject).

  • Obvious||

    ] I think it has something to do with a cultural change in education that penalizes boys for being boys, and tilts towards girls.

    I'm SO tired of this B.S. As if one to two generations ago boys weren't required to sit still in school, weren't required to refrain from tackling the kid in the seat next to him, weren't required to be courteous and respectful, weren't required to sit still and listen, and this is some modern feminist invention that boys are now expected to behave in such a manner. If anything, EVERYONE was expected to be quieter, more subservient, more disciplined, more polite, and less rambunctions in the classrooms of the past. Boys aren't penalized for "being boys." They're penalized for not following directions, talking out of turn, and disrupting the class. Just like they always were. If they are penalized for being boys, it is OUTSIDE of the classroom, at home or on the playground or by wider society, but not in the classroom.

  • Obvious||

    However - I do agree they don't assign enough "boy literature."

  • Jen||

    What about Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn? Or The Catcher in the Rye? They don't read those boy books in school anymore?

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    What about Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn? Or The Catcher in the Rye? They don't read those boy books in school anymore?

    They were never assigned in my middle-class suburban high school in the early 90s, nor anything like "Call of the Wild," and the average GPA was pretty high and the school was fairly strong academically. I actually noticed this after taking several literature courses through junior year, and ended up reading these, plus Animal Farm and 1984, during my lunch periods that year.

    I did take a Mythology class that required us to read the Iliad and the Odyssey, though, so it wasn't a broad cutback.

  • ||

    That's because most boy literature promotes homosexuality, or something.

  • Jeff||

    By "cultural factors" I think you mean a monopolistic gang in charge of education.

    I do like your statement on the "emphasis on "social justice" at the expense of learning." I always wondered why my education had to be put on hold so the teacher could explain something once again to someone who just wasn't getting it.

  •  -||

    OK, so far we have Laziness, Greed, Stupidity, Complacency, Arrogance, Racism, Ignorance, and The U.S. Is A Very Bad Place.

    Next?

  • Mr Whipple®©™||

    What are you, the official scorekeeper? How about contributing to the discussion, instead of just crying out for attention.

  •  -||

    Yup, just keeping score. The "discussion" will proceed perfectly well without my crackpot notions. Now try to stay on topic.

  • ||

    So far we have had people giving their opinions on an opinion page, and one idiot who's only response is that they are all wrong. Perhaps share your infallible wisdom on the matter with rest of the lesser beings here.

  • mr simple||

    It's funny how everyone has their own ideas on how to fix education, i.e. teacher hiring practices, curriculum, money, whatever. But the solution to this problem is the same as most problems in our country: remove government from education. Then any solution that a person can think of can be tried at the same time and the ideas can compete. That's it, end of discussion, nothing else matters. Until we do this it won't matter how much money we spend. No top down solution will ever solve anything.

  •  -||

    remove government from education

    Winner!
    Nothing more to see. Move along, now.

  • Brian D||

    But golly, then some children might do poorly in school, and we can't have that!

    ...

    Uh, I mean even more poorly than they're doing now, which is certainly poor, but not so poor as to not warrant dumping more truckloads of money into the system that's effectively producing poor results, you know... Anyhow, that could prevent students from their Constitutionally guaranteed right to succeed (seriously, I swear that right is scribbled in the margins somewhere...)

  • ||

    There is another solution that is a taboo for Americans and their ideal of a classless society. In some countries they have schools for the bright people and schools for the not so bright people, and sometimes in between. Yes I know they do not call those schools that exactly, but a fact of nature is that not everyone in America is made for university, sending people to technical schools is much better that every single student is a potential Einstein.

  • sarcasmic||

    But, but *sputter* but, but...

    We can't put Johnny is a different school than Joey just because Joey doesn't learn as well.
    Little Joey might feel bad about himself!

    That just isn't fair!

    It's not his fault that he's not bright!

    No, no, no, no, NO!

    There is a much better solution.
    We need to hold Johnny back a bit. Slow him down so Joey doesn't feel so bad about not being so bright.

    Remember, it's all about feelings and fairness.

  • J_L_B||

    I remember Johnny.
    We shall never forget you Johnny.
    We are all Johnny!

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    In some countries they have schools for the bright people and schools for the not so bright people, and sometimes in between.

    Those used to be called "vocational" or "manual" schools here in the US.

  • ||

    There is another solution that is a taboo for Americans and their ideal of a classless society. In some countries they have schools for the bright people and schools for the not so bright people, and sometimes in between.

    Your statement that this idea is taboo in America is demonstrably false. In Hillsborough County Florida (Tampa) there are IB schools, magnet schools, STEM schools, and every school has an AP track on top of its traditional program. We even have special assignment for a variation on school choice.

    And not for a second do I believe that teachers are underpaid, education underfunded or classes are too big. I would argue that there are dozens of reasons why American students as a whole tend to underperform against the rest of the world but outside of their raw intelligence the main predictor is how much their parents value their success and what they are willing and able to do about it.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    I do believe that the technical or co-op approach to higher education would even benefit things like engineering, medicine, and business. Universities are awful at teaching experience and they are too caught up in the "liberal education" horse shit. The stuffy top-down academic crap like credentialism and "ethics" are a hindrance to innovation, mainly designed to keep certain people in charge of their field and what-not.

  • ||

    Some of the brightest people I've met were smart enough to realize that a vocational education would provide more opportunities at an earlier age than spending 10+ years chasing a doctorate and racking up thousands in loans while forfeiting valuable years that could have been spent earning real experience.

  • Ron||

    Although I don't like many of the things this government does, getting it out of the education racket does not guarantee results since all the other countries schools that out pace the U.S. are also run by the their governments.

  • ||

    Then any solution that a person can think of can be tried at the same time and the ideas can compete.

    But the problem is, are the goals we desire actually incentivized by such a system? You can't just throw a market at every problem and expect the solution you want. Economic markets directly incentivize the production and accumulation of economic wealth, which is exactly what we want from an economic system...but the same may not work for an educational market.

    Of course, you can't possibly do worse than our current public education system, so I favor blowing it up as well, but we shouldn't expect that to solve all the problems.

  • Not Arne Duncan||

    We do not spend enough effort trying to teach them to read, write, do mathematics, and understand science.

    Citation needed. And please define "effort".

  • Johnny Longtorso||

    We don't spend on 'education'. We spend on schools. There's a difference.

  • ||

    We spend too much on trying to make students "feel good about themselves" if they are poor, and/or, interestingly, guilt(about money, injustice, environmental degradation), if they are not poor or appear to be "above average". We do not spend enough effort trying to teach them to read, write, do mathematics, and understand science. Everything else should be optional and secondary.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    We spend too much on trying to make students "feel good about themselves" if they are poor, and/or, interestingly, guilt(about money, injustice, environmental degradation), if they are not poor or appear to be "above average".


    Where is it being taught?

  • ||

    Students who have no confidence in themselves are far less likely to put in the effort necessary to learn. A competent teacher sets students up to succeed at small tasks AND praises them when they do, and repeats this process until they've really accomplished something huge.

    The problems arise when you have lazy and incompetent teachers who attempt to "build confidence" by just randomly praising students for no reason and doesn't really set them up to succeed. You can't fool someone into being confident for very long.

  • Mr Whipple®©™||

    If anyone is interested in what teachers earn in NJ, here is a handy little database. Don't forget, in NJ, state pensions are based on a percentage of the last salary "earned" by the individual with no cap.

    http://php.courierpostonline.c.....e/edstaff/

  • sarcasmic||

    The public school system is little more than a welfare program for teachers.

    It exists not to educate, but to provide benefits and a cushy retirement for the union faithful.

  • Appalachian-Australian||

    Reason has done several good artidcles exposing D.C. Public Schools as being exactly that.

  • Gregory Smith||

    We need to spend LESS in education, promote more trade schools, get rid of environmental regulations to bring back more manufacturing jobs, and stop thinking collectively about needing to do better in math and science.

    Latest outrage from the anti-tobacco Nazis: Honduras bans smoking in public places.
    http://libertarians4freedom.bl.....nazis.html

  • ||

    I teach 10th Grade Economics, 11th grade U.S. History and 12th Grade World History. I would venture to say that 40% of my students cannot read. Oh, they can read words, but cannot summarize what they have read. A poll conducted in my classes revealed that 60% of my students have never read a book to completion (textbooks not included).
    My 10th Grade students could not figure out the simple interest on 100.00 dollars. They could not turn 5% into a decimal!! They are not learning basic skills because we push them past the basics too quickly. You cannot learn higher order skills until you have mastered the basics.
    Bloom's Taxonomy cannot be ignored, yet those that create state curricula ignore it all the time.

  • ||

    A poll conducted in my classes revealed that 60% of my students have never read a book to completion (textbooks not included).

    O_o

  • BakedPenguin||

    Seriously. I dropped out of school in 10th grade, but I'd read half of Vonnegut's novels by then.

  • MJL||

    ...reminds me of my favorite Goodwill Hunting quote "You dropped a hundred and fifty grand on an education you coulda' picked up for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library"

  • Ron||

    I agree we need to get back to 2 apples plus 2 apples equals 4. When you type in 2+2 into a calculator you do not see the correlation between the actions just a result.

  • sarcasmic||

    The other day I was at the store and some high school kid was behind the counter. The total came to five dollars and change, so I handed him a twenty and a one. He handed the one back to me. I gave it back and told him to punch the numbers into the machine.
    He actually looked surprised when the computer instructed him to give me two bank notes and some coins.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I often buy a couple sodas and use the rest of the bill for gas. This exchange is common:
    Clerk: "That'll be $2.11"
    Me: "And... $17.89 on pump six"

    Looks of puzzlement often turn into to looks of utter bewilderment as they see $20 show up on the register.

  • Gray Ghost||

    Classic variation on the theme: http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1993-03-20/

  • Jen||

    Haha, I LOVE that comic! Thanks for sharing.

  • Butts Wagner||

    Sadly, I do things like this as a way to rid myself of pennies...

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Looks of puzzlement often turn into to looks of utter bewilderment as they see $20 show up on the register.


    How many people can add up 89 and 11 in their head ?

  • Realist||

    Almost no one under 40.

  • ||

    Are you kidding? That's easy if you know how to do it on paper.

    Plus, I would think the clerk would probably assume that anyone ordering a non-rounded dollar amount in gas is trying to get their total to add up to a rounded amount.

  • Entitled Slacker||

    And it doesn't get any better as you go up the ladder. This sounds like at least half the grad students I teach.

  • ||

    Amen, motherfucker!! For some reason, you can longer drill kids in the basics. Why, it's just "too damn boring" for them, say the "experts". So, we try to teach them how to be "clever", and confuse them up front with 10 different ways to "look" at a problem.

    The result, of course, is that they don't understand even ONE way to look at the problem. You can't teach them to run before they know how to walk! Why have we discarded decades of experience? Because it's better to dumb down everything in the name of "social justice" then to face the fact that there is a spectrum of abilities in our population.

    WE IZ ALL SPESHUL!!!

  • Obvious||

    So glad my kid goes to a classical school. Guess what? Kids think the drilling is fun. They love recitation - rattling off the facts they've learned, sound offs, reciting the poetry they've memorized, and the like. Kids like to show off what they've learned, and they like to aquire knowledge. Drilling and rote memorization may be boring for adults - it isn't for kids.

  • ||

    True, but there's diminishing returns to memorization after a certain point. They need to learn how to figure out things they haven't memorized.

  • ||

    Reminds me of a bit about a parent complaining to an in-law that their preteen son was diagnosed with ADHD and required medication. The in-law replies "But he can play Halo for twelve hours straight without moving"

  • ||

    these studies are worthless since most other advanced nations test early then vocationally track avg & below kids...who are then NOT subject to these worthless tests.

  • H man||

    Yes we're spending more money but what percentage of that is going toward getting good teachers vs going toward overhead, school adminstrators and yes bad teachers?

  • Realist||

    This country has very little to work with....the sack of shit with big ears as President is proof of that.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    Why is America losing the brains race? Because of articles like this one.

  • Bears! (repeating)||

    Why is America losing the brains race? Because of articles like this one.

  • ||

    While many of the respondents are calling for less government intrusion and more localized innovation, the truth is that most of the countries being compared to the U.S. have national curricula and national tests. Everyone there is on the same page and knows what the stakes are. And... not everyone makes it to the testing stage like NCLB requires in the U.S.

  • DK||

    Why does everyone get in such a hysteria about the so-called low quality of education in the United States? Yes - under the metric of overall performance on standardized testing, we're not so great.

    Yet it's well known that American science PhD's outperform their foreign counterparts at every level. 326 of the 829 Nobel Prizes ever awarded have gone to Americans, making this country by far the leader under such a metric. Beyond these academic achievements, the United States has an entrepreneurial spirit unrivaled by any other nation in the world. We have the most productive workers in the world. Etc etc etc.

    All of these great outcomes are a result of our educational system. Here, educational system should be taken to mean not only the formal schooling, but the more invaluable concepts of entrepreneurship, productivity, etc that we learn from a society which still somewhat cares about such things. Metrics which focus on test results miss all of these things and replace them with a silly number which says nothing about a nation's ability to perform in the world. So why do we use them?

  • Mensan||

    326 of the 829 Nobel Prizes ever awarded have gone to Americans

    Three of which were: Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, and Al Gore.

  • ||

    326 of the 829 Nobel Prizes ever awarded have gone to Americans, making this country by far the leader under such a metric.

    1. A lot of those are naturalized citizens whose K-12 education occurred elsewhere.

    2. That mostly arises the period before our public education system started tanking in the late 60s.

  • k2000k||

    Well I think it would be a fair to ask how many of our US nobel prize winners were US educated citizens versus immigrant transplants and to see if there has been any large change in the ratio of the decades. If we, after looking at the data, see that more and more of our nobel prize winners are in fact 'naturalized' citizens, who were not educated in the US, versus native born, or US educated from childhood on. Then it wouldn't be unreasonable to assume we might have a probelem.

  • ||

    I love/hate the scale change on the pupil/teacher ration graph, too. The line changes about 1.8 points, but the scale is in tiny increments. That makes it look like a huge change. If it was on the same scale as the cost graph, the line would just be a slight wiggle rather than a precipitous drop.

  • ||

    I agree can Reason (or Veronique) stop using shitty graphs for once?

  • Pirate J. Freeloader||

    But pretty pictures!

  • Tony||

    There's certainly room for innovation in education, but let's not pretend that "competition" is all that's needed. Surely insisting on high standards and having the resources to back those standards up is a necessary first step.

    It's a tough issue, and probably the most important factor in our low metrics is our high rates of poverty and large disparity in school quality based on income. What I do know is that I don't trust libertarians to solve it, not one bit. I envision thousands of Kindergartens of Phoenix and High Schools of Phoenix dotting the landscape.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I envision thousands of Kindergartens of Phoenix and High Schools of Phoenix dotting the landscape.

    And?

  • Tony||

    And as UOP has proven in multiple scandals, there's no reason to believe that profit motive and high education outcomes have anything to do with each other.

  • Realist||

    That's correct....but genetics does!

  • Appalachian-Australian||

    Do the profit motives of teachers or unions have anything to do with positive education outcomes?

  • Tony||

    Earning wages, I'm positive, motivates teachers to do their jobs to some extent.

  • MJL||

    Ever worked for a union, Tony? There is little incentive to produce above the minimum. As you put it "some extent".

  • Tony||

    And I see dead people everywhere.

  • K S||

    What is your issue with University of Phoenix? Do you have a problem with its for profit status? Or do you have evidence of poor outcomes?

    When you say competition isn't needed, how does that fit with the better outcomes of private, home, and charter school students?

    How do you envision using resources to ensure higher standards?

  • Concerned Citizen||

    All schools are for profit. Check out the stadiums and arenas that state universities have been building.

  • Edwin||

    also look at their benefits and pay and job security compared to the amount of time they work (remember, summers are off), also their lack of liability (at least compared to the private sector) and their lack of having to produce results

    It's a dream job except for having to deal with the little bastards

  • Appalachian-Australian||

    University of Phoenix primarily gets its tuition paid via government subsidised loans. It's about as "private" as Lockheed or Diebold Election Systems--just more swine feeding at the public trough.

  • Appalachian-Australian||

    We had a lot more poverty in the 1930s (my grandma had an 8th grade education). Nobody had graphing calculators or iPods back then.

    Stop blaming poverty for lack of parental involvement. The only way OUT of poverty is to get motivated to get a decent education and/or decent job.

  • Concerned Citizen||

    I saw that when the Vietnamese boat people came here to escape communism in the 1970s. Within a few short years their children had learned English, and were graduating at the top of their high school classes.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    I saw that when the Vietnamese boat people came here to escape communism in the 1970s. Within a few short years their children had learned English, and were graduating at the top of their high school classes.


    I wonder how they did that, considering they were initially at a disadvantage from America's rural poor.

  • Ron||

    I agree and note we are spending millions for computers for each student yet the guys who invented the computer didn't have computers

  • ||

    Nobody had graphing calculators or iPods back then.

    If you dropped a great mathematician from the 1930s into a 2010s graduate program in mathematics he would probably have to drop out or take remedial courses to keep up. I mean, linear algebra was considered a cutting-edge topic for math graduates back then; now it's a junior-level course in undergraduate math programs.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    If you dropped a great mathematician from the 1930s into a 2010s graduate program in mathematics he would probably have to drop out or take remedial courses to keep up. I mean, linear algebra was considered a cutting-edge topic for math graduates back then; now it's a junior-level course in undergraduate math programs.
    reply to this


    Fermat would not understand the proof of his last theorem.

  • BakedPenguin||

    What I do know is that I don't trust libertarians to solve it, not one bit.

    Yeah, we need Democrats to fix education! They've proven their effectiveness over the past 30 years! The last thing we need are new ideas!

  • Barack Obama||

    The last thing we need are new ideas!

    Let me be clear.

    I have repeatedly said that My, uh, my Administration is open to considering new ideas. But they must be reasonable ideas. Clearly, it makes no sense to waste the resources of the American people on unreasonable ideas, however new they may be.

  • Edwin||

    Tony, what exactly is wrong with a voucher system? If you're worried unequal distribution of money between poor/rich areas, the laws could easily be written in various ways so that the money collected from taxes is divied up equally among municipalities. Saddle River, NJ would help subsidize Hackensack, NJ, for example. If I ever get into politics advocating for school choice, I would only do it with that added policy to my proposal.

    But what exactly is wrong with vouchers in and of itself? Regardless of libertarias over-applying the concept, competition does massivekly improve performance in any industry.
    You think as many people should be enfranchised/empowered in concrete, real-life ways, right? Nothing would do that as quickly or directly as school choice. People could actually choose between different schools, different ways of teaching.

    When I imagine what it would be like, I always imagine that checks/stamps/whatever would go to the parents on a weekly or monthly basis. Maybe checks with some official government embossment. That official check would represent everything you liberals believe in; government, smart government, providing for the people where it is clearly a necessary public good; where the net benefit to society is clearly greater than the sum of the money that goes to each recipient, regardless of whatever any libertarian jagaloons say.
    That's how I see it (is also why I'm NOT a libertarian even if I support school choice)

    hell, Sweden, you liberals' much-fellated utopia, has school choice.

  • Tony||

    Any robust voucher system I would endorse would start to look just like public schooling, since it would require curricular standards, be government-funded, and require universal equitable access. And, consequently, their end results would start to look very much like those of public schools.

    I think there's plenty of evidence that voucher programs exacerbate, rather than mitigate, problems of inequitable access to education, and this has been a criticism of Sweden's system.

    My preferred solution is to fix the public system, not put another system in direct conflict with it. I doubt the motives of voucher proponents and I don't think there's enough evidence for the superiority of the idea.

  • Edwin||

    mmmmmm.... Any voucher system I would endorse would be the same way. But it would NOT be the same as/ have the same results as public schools. That competition, that choice, is a big deal. Some schools would be better at meeting those curricular standards and exceeding them. Others might not be, but might be better at the arts or certain trade-oriented classes, or just whatever.

    Hell, just curriculum-calendar choice would be a huge improvement. We started the September-May calendar back in the farming days... and we're still stuck with it? What the hell? It's absurd, it's ludicrous. There' no reason to mandate that the entire country follow just one academic year schedule.

  • Edwin||

    Also, why should teachers have the right to unionize, or at least, why should the laws that forcibly require employers to deal with unions apply to schools/the government?

    I mean, for all the pro-government talk you have (though really it's not pro-government but actually government viewed in a proper, reasonable way - I guess it's pro-government compared to the libertarians' anti-government on this website), all of a sudden you have this giant blind spot when it comes to people employed by the government. If government is a necessary tool, and even something that can sometimes make our lives better, and it is legitimate and so are our taxes, then why the hell should one special group get to twist its arm to force more money out of it for their sake? Isn't that kleptocratic? I pay my taxes, and it is the governments fiduciary, nay, civic responsibility to use it only for the benefit of the publiuc as much as possible - why does some well-connected, well-organized group get to take more of my money for themselves by force? It's one thing when it's private companies the unions get to force more money out of, and maybe that is a good policy and does help society on the whole and even out unjust imbalances of power, but you can't tell me that it helps when it's the government they can force more money out of.

  • Edwin||

    maybe this hypothetical/thought experiment will help you see things better:
    What if Congress formed a union and went on strike? What about judges? What if all the judges within a state refused to rule on any matters until thy got more money?
    Would these things be OK? Think about it, such demands would be absurd not just on a practical level ( I DID say it was a hypothetical), but on a moral level as well, don't you think so?

  • Tony||

    I don't see what being a public employee and having restricted rights have to do with each other. Public employees may get their wages from taxpayers, but they're every bit as much of a player in society as those in private sector and should have the right to organize and advocate for their own interests, including increased pay and benefits from their employer, even though their employer happens to be taxpayers.

    There've actually been supreme court justices arguing forcefully in favor of higher pay for judges, with convincing arguments. It seems to be a real problem, and organizing would seem to be a good solution.

    Remember, public sector workers may have more job security and decent pay (though it's actually just average), but they're constantly under assault by powerful political interests, and I think they should have as much of a right to organize and advocate for their own interests as anyone else.

  • Concerned Citizen||

    Fuck the unions. What haven't they ruined? Passenger trains? Steel industry? Coal industry? Public schools? They exist for the union officials, nothing more. Ask the NHL how their union did them in the last contract.

  • Jen||

    The NHL is an interesting example. In this case, the players' union is actually trying to get free-market reforms that would allow teams and players to negotiate their contracts as they see fit. It's that waste of space Gary Bettman that's standing in the way of that.

  • Edwin||

    "I don't see what being a public employee and having restricted rights have to do with each other. Public employees may get their wages from taxpayers, but they're every bit as much of a player in society as those in private sector and should have the right to organize and advocate for their own interests, including increased pay and benefits from their employer, even though their employer happens to be taxpayers."

    Then you don't really believe all the things you say, Tony. If society and civic government are important, in all the ways you say/imply, then public workers should not get to force the government to negogiate with them.

    just think about it - would judges really have the right to halt the smooth running of our society just because they want more money? How long would we be obligated to wait just to get simple things through court; liens forelosures, warrants, etc.? Does society really owe them that if they want more money? It's ridiculous.
    In a weird way, this policy is more far less collectivist and more individualistic than what is my supposedly more libertarian proposition - in your position it's imlied that those workers are more important than the rest of society, that they get to hamstring other people for their own gain if they want to.

    But they're not and they don't. The government is all of us, ALL OF US, it's the basic conflict-resolution mechanism and more of our ENTIRE SOCIETY. We ALL pay for it. No group of people is more important than EVERYBODY.
    The only reasonable law would be that the typical union laws don't apply to gov workers and the gov is not FORCED to deal with the unions. I might even go so far and say that it might be reasonable to ban unionizing and striking by gov workers altogether.

  • Tony||

    I left off legislators, and this will get around to the point I'm trying to make. Legislators get to vote for their own pay and benefits. So they don't need unions, and wouldn't know what to do with them if they formed them. Unions exist because workers feel they need more pay, protections, and benefits, or they want to secure what they have. If teachers say they need a union, I'll take them at their word. I am certainly not gonna jump on the bandwagon of trashing teachers. They do more necessary work for less pay than most people in this country would tolerate for themselves. In one sense, government is just another employer, and I think its workers should have the same rights as anyone else. The fact that they actually have more robust unionization is not an indictment of government employees being too coddled, because they have union rates and benefits packages that used to exist in the private sector. The other thing I'm not about to do is to advocate for the destruction of the last bastion of the middle class--which more than almost anything has depended on unions to maintain itself.

  • Tony||

    Which is to say, I'm not going to bow to the fake Republican narrative in which current crises happen to all be the fault of their various political enemies.

  • MJL||

    "same rights as anyone else". Are you kidding? Not everyone gets to be part of the monopoly. Only 7% of us are unionized government employees. The rest of us pay the resultant higher taxes to support it. Most everyone I know who's retired in their fifties worked for the government. Ed Shultz and friends don't like to mention benefits when talking about government pay. Funny that. I'll shut up now and get back to work so I can hopefully retire @ 67 1/2.

  • MJL||

    "The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service." -Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

  • Ron||

    Another example of government employees that shouldn't unionize. What if the Military were to unionized and went on strike just as the Brits invaded. not a good thing.

  • Tony||

    Not fighting when called would be not doing their job and fair grounds for dismissal, if soldiers had a hypothetical union. Forming a union doesn't mean becoming completely irrational and greedy.

  • k2000k||

    Tony my grandmother taught education in an impoverished rural area. And I can tell you straight from her mouth.

    "This whole thing about poverty affecting education is nonesense. We had plenty of poor kids when I was teaching and they did just fine on their tests. It wasn't until our school started adopting those ludicrous experiemental ideas from the cities, and the take over by the big city unions, that our kids education went down hill where I lived."

  • Capt. Obvious||

    How about a chart showing the relationship between quality of education vs the bureaucratic BS load given to public school teachers?

    Being a public school teacher just isn't worth the effort or money for anyone who can find even comparable pay in the private sector.

  • Problems Could Have Been...||

    ...avoided if we had picked our own cotton and lettuce.

  • Concerned Citizen||

    Then who would play in the NBA?

  • ||

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  • wulfy||

    Democrat Dad: Son, I'm proud of you. Algebra is hard, but you did your best.

    Democrat Son: But Dad, I only got a 58% because I cheated. I want to quit school.

    Democrat Dad: If you quit, I'll stop giving you free pot! Sorry, that was an angry response. I didn't mean it. It doesn't matter if you don't test well son, as long as I gain political advantage by you attending school, and you keep taking my bribes to keep going. You see, I am a binding arbitrator who always imposes big bennies for your teachers, and it would look pretty bad if you dropped out. So as long as you can keep dragging your dumb fat ass to school, I keep whatever credibility I have left. C'mon, champ...let's smoke a joint and go to Dairy Queen! Fuck your homework for tonight!

    Democrat Son: You're the best Dad ever!

  • ||

    Does it cost more to live in the U.S.? I mean, do schools spend more on busing, books, computers, etc.?

  • ||

    I think lack of competition is one reason why education is suffering, but it's not the whole enchilada.

    If you set up competition but the schools all provide the same style of education currently existing in many public, private, charter and even homeschools, you're still going to see the US lag behind other countries. (Plus, do all those other countries that do better than us really have competition?)

    We simply must address the fact that children learn in different ways and at different paces. Could competition facilitate that? Sure, but it's not a guarantee.

    The future of education is in technology, which is the only way to scale solutions that can address the variety of educational needs of millions of students. The rise of virtual schools and sites like KhanAcademy.org and Aleks.com are where we need to be looking.

    Furthermore, it's not the worst thing that our kids don't do well on standardized tests. These tests demonstrate the ability of children who are essentially robots, but it doesn't measure the creativity and innovative thinking develop progressive societies.

  • ||

    Have these numbers been adjusted for inflation? It's hard to believe that we are spending more money on education while the number of teachers per pupil is declining.

  • Jersey Patriot||

    Yes, that's what "real" means in economic statistics: adjusted for inflation.

  • ||

    While students in many developed nations have been learning more and more over time, American 15-year-olds are stuck in the middle of the pack in many fundamental areas, including reading and math.

    Only some American students. But not most.

    But it's impolite to notice that fact, much less mention it; apparently it's more important for Veronique de Rugy to fit in with her peer group than to understand what she's writing about.

  • Bruno Behrend||

    A parent trigger is not a panacea, but it introduces an element of choice (and hence competition) into a monopoly that has been shortchanging its customers and benefactors for decades. ... The parent trigger gives less fortunate parents a similar and much less expensive tool.

    This comment is accurate, but understates the truly revolutionary nature of the Parent Trigger. First, it gives parents real political power, allowing them to initiate an impactful change in a school's governance.

    This is a massive departure from the nearly worthless action of showing up at a board meeting to be patted on the head and then ignored by union-dominated school board toadies.

    Second, as this empowerment is exercised, it grows. Parents will want more of a say and become more involved. They will start asking for more choices and avenues to exercise their rights.

    This is why the school board in Compton, along with the usual suspects of the Government Education Complex, are working feverishly to kill the trigger. They could have simply held a meeting and chosen another option in Compton, but decided to go nuclear instead. They know they need to kill the Trigger before its use grows beyond their control.

    Wake up folks. The parent trigger is where the policy heft of the free market think tank meets the superior organizing heft of the left. Get your petitions going. Trigger more schools now. Force the issue in as many places as you can.

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  • Dat_Truth_Hurts||

    Stupid parents have stupid children. Those kids grow up and vote... wait for it... stupid.

  • wormme||

    It's not a coincidence. Education will continue to worsen as we spend more on it. Argument here.

  • ||

    You can't compare Finland and Switzerland to a society like ours which is full of semi-literate immigrants and inner city blacks. Yes, our educational system needs reform, and is very wasteful, but due to our demographic, we will never get those sorts of results, no matter what we do.

  • ||

    I think the social problem here is the existence of racist turds.

  • putra||

    Every school has different characteristics and specific what they are urgency.

    However, even the budget increases, but keeps on re-evaluation of the necessary the schools needed, maybe the curriculum, subject matter or the other.

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  • John||

    "Education was the great mumbo-jumbo of progress. As more and more money is spent on education, illiteracy is increasing. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it didn’t end up with virtually the whole revenue of the western countries being spent on education, and a condition of almost total illiteracy resulting therefrom." - Malcolm Muggeridge

  • thiagodaluz7@gmail.com||

    Maybe if we applied a little less weed control surprise, we wouldn't have so many brain problems. By problems I mean dumb kids.

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