Obama's Education Vision Deserves an F

NBC is doing a big education spectacle all this week in NYC outside of Rockefeller Center. President Barack Obama appeared on The Today Show and here's an account:

President Barack Obama says money alone can't solve the problems in America's schools.

Obama says money must be combined with reforms that put the best teachers in classrooms and remove some of the bureaucracy that stands in the way of students' ability to succeed.

Obama says his administration's Race to the Top initiative has been one of the "most powerful tools for reform" in many years. Through the program, states compete for $4 billion in funding by highlighting their plans for reform.

Obama spoke Monday during an interview with NBC's "Today" show.

More here.

This is weak, really weak. For starters, more money is plainly not the issue. Since 1961-62, expenditures per student have more than tripled in inflation-adjusted dollars. Since 1970, they have more than doubled. And yet, since the early 1970s, when the first truly usable data started being collected on educational achievement, schools have not increased student performance. As the National Assessment of Educational Progress shows, scores for 17 year olds are flat as flat can be. We are already spending much more money for the same damn output. Nowhere but K-12 education would we put up with such a self-evidently obvious waste of resources.

And let's not allow Obama's Race to the Top initiative to get off easy. He plunked down $4 billion for reform plans nationally? Whoop-de-do. He trumped that figure by giving $10 billion in no-strings-attached pork to teachers just recently.

What's the alternative to the same-old same-old? How about doing the sorts of things that, first and foremost, would allow parents to exercise something like the choice that the Obamas do in sending their kids to a hugely expensive and selective prep school in DC? And how about allowing educators who are fed up with a system that protects the status quo at the expense of trying something different? The alternatives could range from making all schools schools of choice (meaning no public school anywhere gets kids automatically assigned to it) to eliminating caps of charter schools to experimenting with voucher programs free of the red tape and court challenges and Obama-endorsed smackdowns. How many more centuries are we going to put up with a school system based on an Industrial Revolution mind-set (all inputs are identical and all outputs should be too) and an agricultural calendar that might as well have been developed by the Aztecs?

There are top-performing conventional public schools and there are lousy charter and private schools, athough parents with students in the latter categories report much higher satisfaction rates. The point is that no serious changes will ever happen as long as we're stuck with the old "more money + new ideas" equation. We know exactly what that will produce: Next year's education summit about how the system needs, well, not just more money but new ideas.

Actual innovations need not cost a dollar more than we're spending now and, given the ways that charter schools and voucher programs are always stiffed when it comes to per-pupil expenditures, might be cheaper. The point is that they would actually be different. Then, maybe we can get to an even more meaningful set of conversations about what role (if any) the state should have in education and why folks who don't benefit from the system are forced to pay into it.

Reason on education.

And check out this video, which underscores the promising DC voucher program that President Obama went out of his way to torpedo.

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  • Dick Whesill||

    He said that we need to raise teacher'
    s salaries and add 10,000 new teachers to the system.

  • JEP||

    I really hope that those two kids of his don't have much ambition. I can foresee them possibly being groomed to become the leaders of the next generation of entitled, rich kids.

    I don't want to be hearing about the Obama sisters for the next 30 years.

    All we need is another Kennedy family to lead the progressives.

  • ||

    Notable fact: It's been almost 17 years since the sitting President has had a son. They're getting to be like the Caesars with their inability to produce male heirs. Too much acid in the First Vagina, methinks.

    Though, the most recent male heir might make that seem like a good thing.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    I feel sorry for the Obama kids. They will never lead normal lives, being the offspring of a president - and who knows what kind of nonsense has been drilled into their little noggins by their parents and their teachers.

    IMO, men or women with young children should not be elected to the presidency.

  • ||

    I don't see how your second paragraph follows from the first...so why not?

  • tjordan||

    This entire string of comments demonstrates nothing but pure ignorance and stupidity. (1)Don't judge President Obama's daughters. You don't know them and they did not put in a special request to be rich. Let's talk about the Bush girls... (2)What the heck does not having a son have to do with the presidency? (3)What kind of nonsense has been drilled into their heads by people like you. President Obama accomplished something, despite the racism in this country,that I thought I would never see in my lifetime. I am certain he and Michelle are raising their children to be good and decent people..to love even the likes of you. (4)Waht does having small children have to do wtih running the country? You really are an idiot. It seems like the older ones get into more trouble.

  • Sniktpool||

    Why so serious?

  • JEP||

    The single biggest improvement that could be made in the public system is that more intelligent/eager students are separated from everyone else.

    I don't have high hopes for any system funded by the government. But at the very least, it should be system that doesn't limit a student's potential. The more capable students should be separated so that they are able to move at a faster pace than usual, or even start specializing while they are in high school instead of college.

    Germany starts giving aptitude tests very early in a student's career and allows students to start focusing on either liberal arts or STEM fields before they enter the university level.

    The only thing the US public schools are good for is indoctrinating the next generation in the status quo.

  • ||

    This. I left highschool because i wasn't allowed to progress at my own pace in C++ class. It was the only part of my day that held my interest, and yet me clacking away at the keyboard with my functions and variables was an unacceptable disturbance to....the other kids who were trying to browse the web while not listening to the teacher yammer on and on about Visual Basic (our teacher didn't actually KNOW C, but hey, VB is close enough, right...?)

    So yeah, obama,

    Obama says money must be combined with reforms that put the best teachers in classrooms and remove some of the bureaucracy that stands in the way of students' ability to succeed.,

    just remember that for plenty of students, the classroom IS the bureaucratic obstacle to their success.

  • ||

    Yes it is. How many kids would be better off going straight into something productive at 16, be it computer programing, mechanics or whatever? A whole bunch. If you were that into something as lucrative and useful as programing by age 16, doing anything else was just a waste of time.

  • ||

    A lot of suburban public schools have programs for both ends of that spectrum.

    But, as always, suburban schools aren't the problem...rural and inner city ones are.

  • johnl||

    There is a lot of variation in suburban public schools. For example, the continuation school in Irvine puts out better graduates than any school in North Orange County. And North Orange County is not poor. For some reason though, the parents there have always wanted their kids to be stupid.

  • Rhywun||

    Inner city school districts more often than not (at least where I'm from - upstate NY) have wider choices than suburban districts. Really, the whole concept of "district" is the problem. Someone mentioned Germany, and there, not only did they never pick up on the one-size-fits-all mania*, but all schools are essentially "schools of choice" at least beyond 4th grade.

    *This isn't entirely accurate as there is/were some trends in that direction. Haven't followed it closely for awhile though, so I dunno how far it got.

  • Devil's Advocate||

    BUtt...BUTT...We can't let kids go into the real world without knowledge of state-approved history, archaic grammatical rules, and no self esteem. Plus, they'd be exploited for less than mininum wage by heartless capitalists that employ third world children as foot stools. It's be insane to let a teenager do what makes him happy. Go back to Salmonella.

  • ||

    Grammatical rules are important for making a good impression on potential employers...a knowledge of history and civics are also important for putting out citizens capable of sustaining our political system as voters and jurors, though schools tend to do a terrible job teaching both.

  • ||

    So public schools are responsible for our current shitbag gov't? Nice.

  • ||

    From the looks of it. Those Ivy League Grads who are now high muckity mucks in government seem less on the ball then public school grads are. After all, did not the President speak of the 57 states in his travels?

  • Lord Ballsac||

    All one really needs to learn about grammar comes from some basic principles and then reading books. Who gives a shit about be able to define a gerund? And half of my (well-payed) employers couldn't write a complete sentence to save their lives. They hired me because I could pretend not to be some stuck up asshole taking his high school "education" as some sort of gospel from on high.

    Regarding history, students are routinely fed fluffed up accounts that tend to paint their country as the defender of the downtrodden despite reality. Yet at the same time "history" classes refuse to give credit to certain individuals, organizations, and nations. Most people think the United States completely trounced the British in 1812. Most people are also fucksticks. Thomas Woods is a good source for this type of information. For example, the concept of Nullification is consistently demonized as something the Slave states used to prevent the Federal government from freeing their slaves. The DASTARDS. Yet, most people completely ignore the fact that nullification was used to prevent the Federal Government from returning escaped slaves to the south per the Fugitive Slave Act.

    And civics...well look what good citizens have wrought for us. Good citizens wouldn't dare speak up against the Iraq Invasion. Good Citizens would never recognize that the Supreme court just validates the unconstitional laws it should be rejecting. Good citizens let police officers bust into their homes, light their children on fire, and then kill them without a peep of resistance. Good citizens can suck the president's nut sack.

  • ||

    "Good citizens let police officers bust into their homes, light their children on fire, and then kill them without a peep of resistance." Get a grip dude.

  • xenophon||

    You are unaware of the war on drugs?

  • ||

    How many kids would be better off going straight into something productive at 16, be it computer programing, mechanics or whatever?

    Well, close to none because we are giving those jobs to immigrants or just outsourcing overseas. Programming is a dead end job if you're an American citizen. And face it - 50% of American kids don't have the IQ to do those jobs no matter how much money you throw at them.

  • ||

    THE IMMIGANTS TOOK UR JORBS!

    STFU and try to be better at what you do.

  • JEP||

    My roommate's little brother is enrolled in a Caterpillar corporate program where they teach you how to work on diesel engines. He's still in high school. He's going to skip college and go directly into Caterpillar's mechanics program.

    Programming is not a dead end job if you're an American. You know you can use programming skills to do other things beside making websites and apps for your iPhone...

    How about being able to program in Assembly language? You can program microcontrollers to do anything the fuck you want them to do. Learn a hardware description language and you can program CPLDs and FPGAs - it supports parallel programming so that you can learn how to design programs that work more efficiently on those fancy new mulitcore processors.

    And face it - 50% of American kids don't have the IQ to do those jobs no matter how much money you throw at them.

    Who the fuck do you think designs all of our missile defense systems and communication satellites? You can't outsource those programs.

    You don't know what the fuck you're talking about.

  • ||

    You apparently don't understand what "50%" means. The kids in the lower percentiles are not designing missile defense systems.

  • JEP||

    No, but if you treat the kids with the potential to do those jobs like the dumbass 50%, then those kids with potential will never reach it.

    Just because you're a raging dumbass, doesn't mean that the USA doesn't produce intelligent kids.

  • DLM||

    50% of people are of below average intelligence.

  • Jordan||

    Programming is a dead end job if you're an American citizen.

    Go check out the software engineer job listings on Dice.com, moron.

  • ||

    Paul's Law #4: Never let school get in the way of your education.

  • ||

    That is because we buy into the romantic idea that everyone can be anything they want to be.

  • Ted S.||

  • VON||

    But didn't you know? College Education is our next RIGHT?!?!

    So many kids would be so much better off if they learned a useful trade rather than wasting time and money trying for a college degree most will never obtain (but still carry the debt for).

  • ||

    I predict that next we will see college teaching what the kids should have learned in high school and elementary school, a possible basis for making it a "right."

  • Sniktpool||

    Predict? Shit, just look at an English 101 class.
    Also, why in the name of the Jacket's jacket is formal logic not taught in high school? I don't want more philosophy majors just as much as the next guy, but if it'll spare me from another classmate that can't form a syllogism properly, then it's worth it.

  • ||

    Yes, this is right on. One-size-fits-all education does not work. Kids are not the same. But instead, No Child Let Ahead, because that would be "unfair."

  • Rich||

    I confess, I watched Meet The Press to see what Arne Duncan et al. had to say about "education", and it was -- not much. There was next to nothing about students, other than using their purported improvement as a measure of teacher quality. Nick's video mentioned environments that stifle the schooling of black males. Until such larger issues are dealt with successfully and (most) students are *really* motivated, the US will continue to suffer on the world stage.

  • ||

    Nick's video mentioned environments that stifle the schooling of black males.

    Gotta play the race card, huh, Nick? Because it's not like schools stifle motivated students of all races, colors, creeds, and sexes...

  • rhofulster||

    Timely.

    On the way to school this morning(Columbus, O.'s flagship, award winning STEM school) DD and I disussed whether she's going to quit and return to homeschooling.

    She has a 3 hour per day, yearlong robotics class that is being dominated by some miscreant that has been kicked out of class 3 times in the first 6 weeks. Spineless teacher won't stand up to the administration and demand the the punk stays out.

    I told the daughter that if she wants to go back to homeschooling rather than waste 3 hours per day for the next 8 months it's ok. Shame that leaving or not is the only variable she has control over.

  • ||

    Shame that leaving or not is the only variable she has control over.

    That's pretty libertarian though, isn't it? Aside from the part about how you're paying for it regardless of attendance, of course.

  • rhofulster||

    exactly

  • ||

    Spineless teacher won't stand up to the administration and demand the the punk stays out.

    Did spineless teacher announce this to the class, or is this just your inference?

    Oh, and it's a bit too easy to call someone else "spineless" for not risking their job for YOUR principles.

  • rhofulster||

    My bad. He's one of the heroic educators the NEA is always telling us about.

  • Matt C||

    Isn't a teacher paid by taxpayers? Whose principles should they uphold?

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Spineless teacher won't stand up to the administration and demand the the punk stays out.

    Oh, and it's a bit too easy to call someone else "spineless" for not risking their job for YOUR principles.

    The teacher's lack of backbone is understandable, of course. But it is by a million such little acquiescences that our current system is forged. Every time a teacher won't stand up to a principal, every time a principle won't stand up to the board, and every time a board won't stand up to a lawyer a little more control slips out of the hands of the educators and into the forces of useless mediocrity.

    Somewhere along the way we---as a society---stopped caring about personal integrity, and now we pay the price.

  • rhofulster||

    Very well said. I will recommend this thread to my daughter - your comment in particular.

  • ||

    Societies don't stop caring. Individuals do.

  • JEP||

    I think homeschooling has a lot of merits, but you can't really offer a good robotics program like that.

    That takes a very significant investment to buy tools, software, materials, etc to create a decent shop.

    That might be one of the only downsides.

  • rhofulster||

    "good robotics program like that."

    It's not a good robotics program if the students who want to learn are constantly being disrupted by students that don't to participate in the program.

  • JEP||

    I assumed it was a decent program sans miscreants.

  • rhofulster||

    Yeah, actually if they got rid of the 15 students who don't give a shit, it would be a phenomenal experience for the remaining students.

  • tjordan||

    What have you done as a parent to make certain the disruption ends in the classroom? You, as the parent have a responsibility to speak for your child. Have you sat in the class? Have you requested a meeting? Have you spoken with the other parents? There is so much you can do, but it takes time. Don't blame the teacher because most times the teavehrs will send a student out and administration sends them right back. did you request to speak with the prinicpal and the teacher? This student's lack of discipline and concern for the education of others is stemming from home or he has a serious learning disability. Get involved even though it takes effort. Your child is worth ir right?

  • ||

    I investigate homeschooling a lot, as I think that is the direction I'm headed with my kids. There are tons of resources: workshops, hobby groups, community college events, and sometimes just plain ole' regular local professionals willing to share their time, sometimes for a fee, to teach your kid just about anything you cannot teach her yourself. It's an investment of time, more than anything, to do the research.

  • JEP||

    One of my best friends was homeschooled. His parents taught him all the basics and once he figured out how to teach himself from just reading the text books, they went back to work full time.

    Now that he's in college, he's immune to shitty professors because he's used to just reading the book anyway.

  • ||

    Same here. I'm prepared to do so if and when it becomes necessary. There's an article about homeschooling at msnbc today, but unfortunately it doesn't focus on what is often an important reason for it: the lack of an appropriate education available in many public schools, even the supposed "good" ones, for kids who learn differently/faster/slower than "average".

    I already started my kids doing math afterschool with an on-line program to keep them advancing and to fill in any holes that they didn't get at school. And I like their school; it just is insufficient for their needs.

  • DADIODADDY||

    Since we have a rural agricultural school schedule, why not use the less scholatically inclined to harvest like in days of old...2 birds (disinterested kids in class out in the sunshine and undocumented workers from the fields back over the border) with one stone...

  • DADIODADDY||

    can I get a +1 or a hazaa?

  • Barack Obama||

    Let me be clear.

    I'll get back to you on that after Rahm analyzes the poll data.

  • Patriot Mike||

    +1 in my book. We are paying property tax extortion for the abysmal Columbus schools while also paying private school tuition for our daughter. Liberals would call that "fair".

  • ||

    Well you must be rich, then.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Haven't checked it in awhile, but last look I took, the evidence for a positive impact for vouchers is pretty weak. There is some evidence that vouchers segregate poor students from good students (which some above have asked for)...but for poorly performing students, public schools do a better job. And given that this is a larger group, and may provide society with a greater benefit, I remain unconvinced that improvements in schools (overall) will come from changes to the funding structure.

    Education reform is a school by school project. People should put energy into improving the school their kids go to and stop worrying about what is happening in the next town.

  • Patriot Mike||

    Why so much faith in the government? The things they do outside of their enumerated powers are in constant need of reform.

  • ||

    Heck, even the activities that stem from their enumerated powers need reform.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Nice idea, PM, but Team Red and Team Blue shat upon enumerated powers many years ago... and will do so well into the future.

    Cue Tony in 3... 2...

  • ||

    Were you looking at US examples or International? True voucher systems are few and far between, especially in the US. Any US centric studies are unlikely to have the necessary data to do a true apples-to-apples comparison.

  • ||

    People should put energy into improving the school their kids go to

    Which is exactly what vouchers do. First, by allowing you to change the school your kid goes to (meaning that your kid is going to a better school), and second by apply real pressure for improvement of the other ones.

    There is some evidence that vouchers segregate poor students from good students (which some above have asked for)...but for poorly performing students, public schools do a better job.And given that this is a larger group, and may provide society with a greater benefit,

    I reject the notion that the quality of any student's education should be sacrificed for the Greater Good.

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    I agree Dean. Fuck society and the unicorn pony it rode in on (and the guns it hides behind its back after pointing them in our faces).

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Neu Mejican,

    There is some evidence that vouchers segregate poor students from good students (which some above have asked for)...but for poorly performing students, public schools do a better job.

    Do a better job of what?

    And given that this is a larger group, and may provide society with a greater benefit[...]

    You're begging the question - a greater benefit compared to what?

    I remain unconvinced that improvements in schools (overall) will come from changes to the funding structure.

    My boat leaks, but I do not see any reason to take to the dingy if bailing out the water has been working fine so far...

    Education reform is a school by school project.

    Neu, education is a PERSONAL CHOICE; no amount of beautification of a building or a rickety system will make the effort of educating oneself more appealing. Yes, even KIDS make choices, they DO have a brain and ARE conscious beings.

  • ||

    "Yes, even KIDS make choices, they DO have a brain and ARE conscious beings."

    And a surprising number of teachers and administrators either ignore or downplay this fact. Kids could and would be self-directed if they were trusted to make decisions more regularly. Most states/school systems rob them of any choice or self-direction through curricular mandates and graduation requirements, and community service requirements. There are some educators who advocate policies that ALL students be required to join at least one extra-curricular activity, club or sport, in addition to doing a mandatory community service project, in order to produce more "well-rounded" citizens. No choice in the matter, at all. Just another requirement.

    What do we end up teaching kids? Not independence, certainly, or that their intelligence and desires plays any role whatsoever in their worth to themselves or others. Only that their ability to follow rules and subjugate their desires to some Authority/State is what gives them value.

    Education experts say we need a nation of innovators and entrepreneurial thinkers who have creativity and adaptability, all while working within and actively supporting a framework that stifles these very traits.

  • ||

    You bring up good points, but education is inherently distinguished from playtime by the fact that it's what kids DON'T want to do. Not requiring them to do anything beyond what they choose is going to lead to most kids doing nothing.

    The extracurricular requirement is actually a good idea in my opinion (assuming there is a diverse set of activities to choose from) because it both allows choice and guarantees that the kids will choose something. The trick is to set up requirements strict enough to ensure that students actually engage in something educational but loose enough that it still allows choice -- a hard balance but not an impossible one.

  • ||

    but education is inherently distinguished from playtime by the fact that it's what kids DON'T want to do.

    That's the inherent difference between work and play. But why does learning have to be work? I enjoy the hell out of reading about physics, or learning a new piece of software. Reading Shakespear is fucking work though, ie: you'd have to pay me to do it.

    When "education" just means a lot of make-work, well, yeah kids aren't going to want to do that. But that doesn't mean they have some sort of aversion to learning.

  • ||

    I would never have memorized my multiplication tables when I was in 2nd grade if my education was based on what I wanted to do. And guess what -- then I would have been in the same boat as all the people I tutored in college for precalc or calculus who had to grab a calculator to compute 5 times 7.

    Kids are stupid about planning for the future; they really don't know what's best for them. Any so-called educator who fails to abide by this axiom can easily be replaced by a Discovery Zone babysitter for minimum wage, if all they're going to do is let the kids do what they want.

  • ||

    Except that you rob a child of choice to NOT participate in the Well-Rounded Citizen Project. EVERYTHING becomes coercion.

    And your statement reveals an attitude much like many of the educators that don't trust kids. Given the choice between traditional, mandated, structured curricula, most kids would probably choose play. But if given the choice to learn and do what they want, what aligns with their interests, most kids would, believe or not, take the opportunity to learn.

    Kids that would not, will never, regardless of the amount of coercive requirements you place on them. Some may be dragged, reluctantly, across the finish line, and others will give a fist-up to the school system and go their own way. Still others will choose drugs or crime to occupy their time.

    Give a kid, a teen, or adult enough reason to want to learn something, and they will seek the knowledge. But trying to dictate the when and how of seeking that knowledge, whether it be about art, sports writing, or the black market drug trade, is a futile effort. People have to WANT to learn. You can't force desire.

  • ||

    Kids that would not, will never, regardless of the amount of coercive requirements you place on them.

    Well then we'll just have to toss their asses in jail...or just keep them in school forever, same/diff.

  • ||

    And your statement reveals an attitude much like many of the educators that don't trust kids.

    Guilty as charged; I don't trust kids to design their own education. To believe otherwise is either insane or incredibly naive, and since you claim to be a former teacher...well, I won't go there.

    Kids that would not, will never, regardless of the amount of coercive requirements you place on them.

    And you claim I'm the one with the cynical attitude? Sometimes kids develop an interest in something AFTER being forced and dragged through it for a few years. Or, in many cases, they have to be dragged through some background material to make the things they're interested in achievable.

    A second-grader might develop an interest in planes and decide he or she wants to design planes when he or she grows up. But if the "education" system allows him or her to spend the next ten years building model airplanes, that dream is NEVER going to be realized. He or she has to spend time memorizing multiplication tables, learning algebra and trig and calculus, doing boring physics experiments, etc, before they're going to be able to do the stuff they're interested in in the real world.

    Kids don't understand that, or don't have the willpower to put that into action. That's why adults have to force them to eat their educational vegetables.

  • Eric||

    To some extent, this is true. However (and especially at the high school level) the entire system is structured to make things easy for teachers and to socialize blame and reward among the teaching staff, not to teach children and youth what they should learn. The Montessori system has had much more impressive results, and is based on a much less structured and coercive system than alternatives. So yes, there is the need for some coercion, but the current levels of coercion and authority worshiping that is adhered to in schools (particularly in the social sciences) is absurd. Also, you did just go there with the former educator bit, and I'd suggest that you not go there again, as it was an unwarranted low blow that had nothing to do with your point.

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    Do a better job of what?

    Employing worthless "Teachers", babysitting children that should be smacked around a bit, empowering pedophiles, cramming approved curriculum down children's throats, forever tying the concept of education to horrendous schooling in young minds, creating empty husks that would rather watch Two and a Half Men than study a bunch of feel good bullshit. I could go on but recalling 12 wasted years of my life is not good for my blood pressure.

  • ||

    I smell a lot of claim and not much evidence there, NM. Besides, what does this gem mean:

    for poorly performing students, public schools do a better job.

    How are you measuring "doing a better job" apart from performance?

  • ||

    If public schools do a better job, then they will compete with the private schools and have nothing to worry about. All vouchers do is give parents the right to expect better from their schools. Poor parents have absolutely no leverage over schools. With vouchers, the schools have to produce something of value or the parents will go elsewhere.

    This post is really a new low for you Neu Mexican.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: John,

    If public schools do a better job, then they will compete with the private schools and have nothing to worry about.

    It gets interesting when you argue in favor of more competition. When I pointed out that the reason there's LESS competition was because of the draconian requirements to build a frigging school, thereby leading to an expensive, pharaonic eyesore, some STUPID, UNTHINKING WISEGUY retorted with the oh-so-smart "Oh, you want kids to die under the rubble."

    So you have a two pronged attack on education freedom: One, compulsory education and the other, licensing laws/permits/building codes and other legaloid impediments.

  • SBOD||

    "the evidence for a positive impact for vouchers is pretty weak."

    Well, they do produce, at least, similar results, usually for a fraction of the price. Is that positive enough for you?

  • Jimbo||

    I like it...

  • JEP||

    I went to a county magnet program for high school. The only reason why that school survived because the parents loved it.

    All the teacher's hated it because it took all the diligent, bright, ambitious students out of their mediocre schools and put them in one place. That meant that the teachers at the mediocre schools had to work that much harder for the schools to meet all the state and federal requirements for funding.

    Never think that teachers have the student's best interest at heart, especially on the grade school/high school level.

    It will always boil down to politics.

    And given that this is a larger group, and may provide society with a greater benefit, I remain unconvinced that improvements in schools (overall) will come from changes to the funding structure.

    Ah yes, let's the limit the potential of our best and brightest students because the lowest common denominator is a majority.

    God I wish natural selection would exercise itself and rid you from our gene pool.

    When school children start paying union dues, that 's when I'll start representing the interests of school children.
    -Albert Shanker, President of the Teachers Union (United Federation of Teachers) from 1964 to 1984 as well as President of the Teachers Union (American Federation of Teachers) from 1974 to 1997.

  • ||

    If Obama doesn't come through on this, and caves to political pressure (thus effectively politicizing the issue further).

    The point is these people ALREADY pay taxes but are terribly served by their tax dollars. They can't get any relief from the neighborhood. Like affirmative action, or black folks are to many liberal whites, they are CATEGORIES, or political footballs, more often than ACTUAL kids with potential, intelligence but no opportunity.

    The subsidizing of Mercedes by the government may not a libertarian ideal, but look at her other options, and look how much money these fools will spend to maintain their OWN POWER.

    This is everyone's issue, and I'm just really riled up about it.

  • ||

    New ideas are like testicles. Everybody's got one (on average).

  • Kant feel Pietzsche||

    And how about allowing educators who are fed up with a system that protects the status quo at the expense of trying something different?


    I recognize all the words as English, but...

  • ||

    How about we re-examine our assupmtions about public education.

    Face it, if a high school diploma is going to actually mean something, lot's of kids aren't going to get one. What to do with the slow, the lazy, the disruptive that occupy an inordinate amount of educational resources (even in quality districts with quality teachers) is a question nobody wants to discuss.

    Instead we platitudes like No Child Left Behind and Every Child Succeeds.* Some kids get left behind no matter what you do, not all children are going to succeed. Deal with it.

    Full disclosure - I went to a quality public school system and got an above average education. I was never challenged to be better than than the B student I was even though I was obviously loafing through the system.

    * OK, I made that one up, but itis probably in use somewhere.

  • ||

    Full disclosure - I went to a quality public school system and got an above average education.

    Same here. I benefitted, however, from relentless parental pressure (anything less than straight As was Not Acceptable, Young Man), and a small handful of very good teachers who kept me (barely) interested.

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    I had (mostly) A's without even trying. Most of the time I could fall asleep in class and do my homework on the bus. All it taught me was that I can recite bullshit on command with a minimal amount of effort. It did not prepare me for College one Iota since my studying habits were non-existent. Then again, I might not have went to college (a worthless one at that) in the first place had I not been indoctrinated to believe that is what I was supposed to do. Oh well. Fuck it.

  • ||

    "Then again, I might not have went to college (a worthless one at that)..."

    I'll say! Ask for your money back!

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    That ship has sailed. Oh and if you're trying to make a dig at my intelligence, there is no need. I can soberly recognize the shortcomings of my faculties. Every day is a reminder of that. All the more reason I should have done something more worthwhile than schooling and college. Alas, bills have to be paid. I'm at least more responsible than a lot of these defaulting assholes.

  • Old Mexican||

    What's the alternative to the same-old same-old?

    End compulsory education.

    The alternatives could range from making all schools schools of choice (meaning no public school anywhere gets kids automatically assigned to it) to eliminating caps of charter schools to experimenting with voucher programs free of the red tape and court challenges and Obama-endorsed smackdowns.

    End compulsory education.

    How many more centuries are we going to put up with a school system based on an Industrial Revolution mind-set (all inputs are identical and all outputs should be too)[...]

    End compulsory education.

    [...] and an agricultural calendar that might as well have been developed by the Aztecs?

    Well, it wasn't - and End compulsory education. It's THAT simple, really. End it. The rest will fix itself.

  • Patriot Mike||

    +infinity

  • rhofulster||

    times infinity

  • ||

    and finally, raised by the power of infinity.

  • ||

    and than add 1.

  • ||

    That ship sailed when we shifted from an agriculture economy to an industrial economy (and then to the whatthefuck economy we have today). Children need to be kept out of the way of the business of society during the day.

  • ||

    then to the whatthefuck economy we have today

    Or lack thereof...

  • ||

    why, why do we have summer then? if this were the case, year-round school would make SNESE. its a siht sstemy taht encouagers poelpe woh wkro in it to be sifhtless and zaly.

    whatever, go back to salmonella

  • dinkster||

    Because child labor laws prevent them from stepping foot inside a building with even the remotest chance of an education beyond the state monopoly?

  • ||

    Another impediment is teacher education at the university level...

  • JLE||

    No one seems to realize it has little to do with teachers and everything to do with a pervasive disrespect for learning that dominates students' home life. Teachers are just the medium, and they have to deal with the lot they're given. Students (and parents) have to *want* to learn and take responsibility for that.

  • rhofulster||

    Do not let the NEA hear you say this!

  • ||

    Something about leading horses to water...I can't remember the rest.

  • ||

    Yes, and standard administration/union rhetoric is that teachers are the ones charged with inspiring kids to want to learn. Teachers can overcome parental missteps. Teachers can inspire the uninspired. Teachers must be friend, advisor, manager, mentor, disciplinarian, and sense of security for the insecure, at all times.

    /sarc

  • ||

    I wish somebody had taken the time to teach our President not to be such an annoying petulant cunt all the time.

  • ||

    Why would you have his mom limit his potential? How else was he supposed to grow up and become president someday?

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    Excellent Band Name: Annoying Petulant Cunt

  • ||

    George Carlin expressed everything anyone needs to know about education in this country.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGL8FEMc378

  • ||

    There is nothing I love more than all the nonsense about education reform.
    With the teachers union a powerful interest group, with ever more excuses about class size and not being paid enough, and the inability to blame the students and/or the parents, it is just a hilarious circle jerk of excusion and blamery.

  • ||

    There is nothing I love more than all the nonsense about education reform.

    It is pretty funny, but also sad because basing policy on false egalitarian ideas can be arbitrarily expensive since the goals are impossible. "Failing schools" are just schools with lots of dumb students; they lower the variance between schools by closing the "bad" schools and redistributing the same-performing bad students among the "better" schools.

    the inability to blame the students

    Even though all children are above average, possibly even exactly the same, someone's feelings might get hurt.

    A few people are getting it, though:

    A HREF="http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Students-Not-Schools/dp/141281345X/ref=sr_1_1?s=gateway&ie=UTF8&qid=1285615830&sr=8-1&tag=reasonmagazineA">Bad Students, Not Bad Schools

  • ||

    Let's see if this works...
    Bad Students, Not Bad Schools

  • ||

    As long as school assignments are tied to property, you will never see any true school reform.

    Assigning students to schools based on geography makes no sense. However, that is the way we have run things for years. What this means is that people have paid significant sums of money to buy property in "good" school districts. These people will oppose any sort of "school choice" proposal in order to protect their property values.

  • ||

    Right, busing kids a half an hour away, instead of two streets over would be a great use of everyone's time and effort. It doesn't change the kids, the schools or the teachers, just shuffles them around.

  • ||

    Obama's willingness to kill the DC Voucher Program says all we need to know about his attitude toward education. Please also note that his own girls attend private school in DC. Hypocritical at best.

  • ||

    I am a high school Economics teacher. School reform is a bunch of bull and money is not the solution.
    Since IDEA was enacted by congress school costs have soared. Every educator knows that the largest part of a school budget is Special Education costs.They have allowed students who normally drop out of school to stay in. This contributes dramatically to dragging down scores and increasing costs. In inner-city schools these costs are even more acute. In most schools,Special Education Departments are the largest department in the school. What does that tell you?
    Do unions contribute to the problem? Absolutely, they protect the system. But the "good" teachers argument is bogus. Special education is the problem.Defined Benefit Pension plans are the other problem...not teacher quality or teacher pay.

  • ||

    Best comment ever - I grew up in the Third World and got a very good British education - lots of whacking and memorising- special needs kids were in dedicated schools with special needs educators.
    My oldest is about to enter K1 with 7 year old special ed kids.
    Its fucking ridiculous - how can a teacher be expected to teach even at bare minimum standard if many of the kids are only barely functional and the class is full of adult "teacher's aides".
    Again - money is not the issue.

  • ||

    My wife is a special education teacher, and my daughter teaches 1st grade (and she has 3 special needs kids in her class) and Dan's comments are valid. When budgets are cut, the Special Education budget is not touched. This is great for my wife, but they actually have more aids than they do kids.

  • ||

    There is a simple way to put the best teachers in the classroom. Make all college graduate eligible to teach, without having to take education credit.

    The best potential teachers will not sit through these classes, and never consider education as a career. I remember years ago, in the 1980s, there was some discussion about how to get more elite college graduates to go into teaching, if not for their entire career, then at least a significant number of years.

    I knew the answer back then, and it is the same today. Just treat them as qualified by virtue of their B.A. and B.S. degrees, and let them go to work.

    Maybe an education degree is necessary for the lower grades, though not always in my opinion. Hiring the people who will sit through certification classes is not going to produce the best teachers.

    Maybe it's all a matter of words. I can hear in my mind those teachers union types ranting about "uncertified" teachers. Suppose you called it what it is, "jumping through hoops" or maybe "submitting to brainwashing", better yet.

    If you heard someone on television talking about hiring teachers who refused to "jump through hoops" or teacher who were not "submitting to brainwashing", you would laugh these people off the public scene. Like they deserve.

    Words matter.

  • elder||

    Our "leaders" give us the pretense of trying to solve entrenched problems, without trying to offend those who create them.

  • ||

    Obama's "vision" for public education is to indoctrinate our children in the belief of dependence on an all powerful big government and Democratic Socialism. There is already a Democratic proposal for extending the school year in order to have more time to accomplish this more quickly.

    His larger narcissistic "vision" is to have the power and control over America that Hugo Chavez has over Venezuela. He will need the next generation's support for that. Might this be why the "progressives" support the teachers unions so strongly? Think about it, and do a little research. Look into it yourself. It's not so far-fetched once you start to see what's really going on.

  • ||

    I believe it completely. As a mother with children about to enter the public schools - what can I do about it? Aside from never voting for a democrat again.

  • ||

    50 years of government as edcuator, and the results achieved, are proof enough that the Dept of Education should be abolished, State government should be run out of the business, and parents empowered.

  • ||

    We've tried throwing money at the education issue for years. But giving more money to the teachers union so that they can turn around and use it for political advertising is NOT HELPING THE KIDS. In California, we spend more money per student than any other state, and yet we rate in the bottom 10%.

  • ||

    Just pay all teachers the same as Alex Rodriguez and schools would get better. We could do this for less than a trillion a year (I think...I didn't do the math...I'm a certificated math/science teacher).

    Please ignore my apparent conflict of interest.

  • ||

    Wait. I did the math and 6.5 million teachers at $27.5 million per year is more than $170 trillion.

    Still, it WOULD make the schools better. Okay?

  • George||

    So...
    These folks, who need a break to get their children a decent education, they also went out and campaigned hard for obama, and now they are losing their chance for this education, because of obama. Hmmm. And they campaigned for him why? Based on his razor thin record in the senate? His achievements as a "community organizer"? His Hope/Change slogan sure doesn't mean too much now. Must be a bitter pill to swallow. Tough break. I'm heartbroken.

  • ||

    Is that a tele prompter?

    Why do education critics (read: everyone) always let parents off the hook for student performance?

    Your local government does not adopt children for their 12 years of public schooling. They still go home after class. What happens there is hugely responsible for student success.

    Obama hasn't the stones to say our degree of societal erosion has reached the point where parenthood is simply a government supported biological outcome of individuals' "pursuit of life and liberty".

    Parenting is not a biological function, that's fathering and pregnancy. Birth is not the hardest part of having kids and its about time we begin address that in our public education policy. Otherwise all this is a huge advertisement for private schooling.

  • ||

    Wake up, asc. Both parents are working and their kids are getting pabulum ladled on by politically correct teachers using neutered PC reading lists, dumbed down textbooks, and feel-good pop-psychology-based teaching methods that have only one thing in common with each other: they have absolutely NO data that supports their efficacy. So, CA throws millions of kids into a "whole language" method of teaching and an entire generation comes out of school with abysmal reading comprehension skills.

    Are parents a necessary component of the answer? Of course. Necessary, but insufficient. Public school employment has grown 100% since 1970 while enrollment and achievement are flat. Along with higher education cost inflation, it is one of the largest scandals of our times. These facts are largely unreported because academia is the factory of progressivism and we can't have the rube parents figure out that all their tax money is going into public union pockets.

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