Losing Experienced Teachers Won't Tank Test Scores: Study

teacherA new study finds that when school districts offer experienced teachers early retirement, the quality of instruction doesn't suffer, despite what one might predict.

The analysis, by Cornell's Maria Fitzpatrick and Michael Lovenheim, looked at Illinois schools that offered early retirement incentives in the 1990s. And here's the key finding: 

We find the program did not reduce test scores; likely, it increased them, with positive effects most pronounced in lower-[socio-economic-status] schools.

The Freakonomics blog picked up this study, and pulled these musings from the paper: 

On the one hand, retiring teachers are highly experienced, and they typically are replaced with much less-experienced teachers or with new teachers. The evidence of the strong relationship between experience and effectiveness in the classroom...suggests teacher retirements could reduce student achievement....

On the other hand, teachers who are near retirement may put forth less effort than younger teachers or may be less well-trained in modern, potentially more effective, pedagogical practices. This may be particularly true for those teachers who desire to retire early. 

The findings cast a negative light on the first-in, firstlast-out seniority hiring and firing policies that are so common in public schools. The study also found that principals use the money freed up by retiring senior teachers to make structural changes, such as tweaks in class size or investment in "non-teacher resources," like computers or other tools. 

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  • Hugh Akston||

    Does 'experience' here mean anything more than 'managed not to die or get fired for longer than other people'?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Nope. And you can thank Albert Shanker for that.

    Die Gewerkschaft Lehrer, Gewerkschaft ueber Alles Kinder!

  • Hugh Akston||

    I never really liked the sitar.

  • ||

    A new study finds that when school districts offer experienced teachers early retirement, the quality of instruction doesn't suffer, despite what one might predict.

    I would predict that any nominally competent adult -- certainly anyone who has a teaching degree -- can teach children so long as some modicum of discipline exists. And I would predict that under those circumstances test scores are entirely mediated by the quality of individual students, not by any marginal difference in their teachers.

    Thus this study finds exactly what I would predict.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I would predict that any nominally competent adult -- certainly anyone who has a teaching degree -- can teach children so long as some modicum of discipline exists.

    Aye, but there is the rub! The modern public school classroom is forced to contain "emotionally disturbed" students who are prone to violent outbursts. Furthermore, the secondary school classroom is often full of teenagers who just don't want to be there.

    What a good teaching degree should reflect is training in organizational and child psychology that provides knowledge and skill on how to effectively maintain discipline amongst a room of 30 plus children.

    Of course, all the training in the world isn't going to be effective when students who are mentally and emotionally incapable of controlling themselves are placed in the classroom due to a naive belief in the school as a machine for social equity.

  • Almanian!||

    My wife can tell you all about this. She's kind of specialized in teaching "special needs" kids over the years - gladly takes those classes. As MI has reduced funding and "mainstreamed" them into regular classes instead of providing smaller, more-controlled environments more conducive to their needs....let's just say results are predictable.

    However, I also note that it seems like we have WAY more "special needs" kids in school than when I was a kid. I dunno - maybe we drowned 'em all back then.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    That's because the definition of special needs has expanded greatly.

  • General Butt Naked||

    My buddy used to teach older "special needs" kids and he claimed that half of them were just violent, dumb teens that were raised by wolves.

    He had a couple 18 yo "kids" that would threaten him and only came to class to act in a menacing manner. Why they stayed in school, sucking up resources, is anyone's guess.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Because they were too young for the police academy?

  • ||

    Look, Hugh, you can't get a crack team of officers like Mahoney, Hightower, Tackleberry, Fackler, Barbara, and Thompson from just anywhere.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Because the state would rather have violent goons in the school with your children than out on the streets where they might be arrested and incarcerated.

    The public education system, despite its name, has little to do with education. It's about warehousing and indoctrination.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    ^^^^This^^^^

  • Cytotoxic||

    And, of utmost importance, 'socialization'. They have to kneel to authority and learn to conform before their minds are kneaded.

  • R C Dean||

    let's just say results are predictable

    And no doubt waved off by the authors of these policies as "unintended consequences."

  • ||

    To be fair, I have to admit that when I was in grade school, I probably would have qualified as emotionally disturbed.

    My guess is most of the emotionally disturbed kids are from abusive homes, and would turn out all right if you sent them to the library and told them to go read a book for a while. Even comic books. Anything. A few hours of quiet space is a fucking godsend to a kid from an abusive home.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Of course, all the training in the world isn't going to be effective when students who are mentally and emotionally incapable of controlling themselves are placed in the classroom due to a naive belief in the school as a machine for social equity.

    My sister is a teacher and she's constantly bitching about kids that have no expectation of being disciplined for misbehaving and their parents bitching her out when the kids are disciplined. And not punishment for minor things like talking out of turn. No, things like stealing and hurting other kids.

  • SFC B||

    My wife taught middle school for a couple of years. In her experience the greatest impediment to the students learning were other students, usually one, maybe two, per class who simply either could not, or would not, just be quiet and let the other students do their classwork. And as the teacher there was jack she could do. She couldn't kick the disruptive students out. The students couldn't just drop out. The parents, at best, didn't care and, at worst, thought it was her fault for not being a better teacher able to reach their special snowflake.

    She quit after one of the problem students cornered her in the classroom, grabbed her, and probably would have assaulted her had another teacher not heard her calling for help. The administration said there wasn't enough proof to suspend the student since it was his word against hers, and said it was against policy to reassign students or teachers without a substantiated complaint, so they were going to leave him in her class. She quit that afternoon.

  • Agammamon||

    A friend of mine is (now in his second year of) teaching middle school (social studies).

    In one of his classes last year the school put a mentally challenged kid who even the 'special needs' teacher says that he's probably going to be institutionalized when he's older (not for behavior, the kid is just that damaged).

    Why? who knows since my friend has absolutely no-experience or training in teaching special-needs. And the specialist recommended just letting the kid do whatever he wanted (which is mostly sleep all day).

  • VG Zaytsev||

    What a good teaching degree should reflect is training in organizational and child psychology that provides knowledge and skill on how to effectively maintain discipline amongst a room of 30 plus children.

    Yeah,

    Or we could stop make schools into prisons by not forcing attendance on those that don't want it.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Or we could stop make schools into prisons by not forcing attendance on those that don't want it.

    Indeed.

  • SIV||

    Compulsory school attendance is slavery, among other objectionable and unjust things.

  • SIV||

    They should offer the best compensation to new teachers and then cut it every year until they quit. "New brooms sweep clean".

  • Fluffy||

    I read a short story once where a corporation determined that customer service reps were most effective for the first month after their training (after that they burned out).

    So what they did was personality scans of a group of trainees, and put them into a virtual environment where they believed it was their first month of work. Every 30 days, they reset the program.

    Maybe we could do that with teachers.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Hell, we should do that with everybody.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Actually, the Japanese Ministry of Education does something similar. It is mandatory that teachers are transferred to a new school district every five or seven years (I forget exactly). The transfers are staggered so that every school has a mixture of new and old teachers.

  • Almanian!||

    OK, this study result is SHOCKING, right? Cause, think back to your own and your friends' experience. Throw out the outliers on either end - who were your "best" and "favorite" teachers throughout school.

    Yeah - it wasn't that fuck Mr. G. who talked about golf instead of history, and everyone knew he was marking time to GTFO next year. No - it was typically newer to mid-career teachers who weren't burned the fuck out or lazy.

    It was the same shit for my kids - the "high-seniority" fucks? Marginal - we were fortunate not to experience any real slugs. The "good ones" - mostly people in the middle of their tenure.

    Fuck public schools anyway...

  • cw||

    You don't think public school teachers should get paid while they dink around in their final teaching years? Blasphemor!

  • Zeb||

    I found it to be a lot more mixed than that. I had several very good teachers who were close to retirement (and several who didn't give a fuck). And I always thought that the very new teachers didn't know very well how to deal with teenage students and either couldn't control the classroom or were overly strict. After a few years they usually seemed to find their groove.

  • Zeb||

    So I guess I'm agreeing about mid-career teachers. And about public schools in general.

  • Flemur||

    OK, this study result is SHOCKING, right?

    No, it was completely predictable.

  • SIV||

    My best public school teacher was a rightwing radio talk show host(in the era of the fairness doctrine no less) and Republican political operative who took 1 year teaching jobs between his preferred gigs. He was my 9th grade civics teacher. I thought he was a total jerk and completely wrong at the time with me being a dumbass leftwing anarchist child.

  • UnCivilServant||

    When I was in school there were four types of teachers - Young incompetent sods who were there to teach their ideology, Young incompetent sods who haven't figured out what they're doing yet, old incompetent sods who were running down the clock and did things like yammer about their vacations instead of teaching math, and old competent sods who got into teaching to teach.

    We had no mid career instructors.

  • cw||

    What? Our most noble and honorable Publik Skoul teachers would never sacrifice performance before retiring! Never ever in a bajillion years!

    Teachers are self-sacrificing, which is why they deserve more pay!

  • ||

    Yeah, I don't think the problem is so much that they are sacrificing performance as they get older, but rather that the payscale is such that they become vastly overpaid by the time they get close to retirement. Thus when they retire the school district can hire three new teachers for the same price and reduce class size.

  • Almanian!||

    OT: Where the hell is Veronique de Rugy? Haven't seen anything from her in some time. Maybe I've just missed it.

    OR DID SHE GET LUCYED? That'd be just like the bastards...

  • William of Purple||

    don't talk about Lucy

  • Brandon||

    This kind of shit never happened when Postrel was in....OH MY GOD, IS THAT WHAT HAPPENED TO POSTREL???!! DOES THE JACKET'S BLOODLUST KNOW NO BOUNDS???

  • cw||

    How about this: Instead of "If you can read this, thank a teacher," we plaster signs that read "If you afforded your groceries this month, thank Walmart."

    Progressive heads would xplode.

  • Zeb||

    "If you can read this, thank a teacher,"

    I hate that. I could read before I went to pre-school.

  • ||

    Exactly, me too. I'll thank myself and my parents instead.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    If you can read this, thank a teacher

    I learned to read long before I entered the loving embrace of the educrats. And I learned to think in spite of them.

  • Ashlyn||

    I still remember sitting in a circle of other kindergarteners, practically bouncing with impatience while some other kid sounded out a sentence. I was just dying to yell out, "It says FROG AND TOAD ARE FRIENDS!"

    And I went to an excellent private school with teachers I loved. It seems like a feature of any pedagogical method that groups kids in age cohorts.

    My mother was a very dedicated Sunday School teacher, and I remember her throwing around the word Montessori a lot. Judging by what I got to do on Sundays, Montessori meant, "Here is a room full of books, maps, dioramas, and a papier mache table-map of Jerusalem at the time of Christ. GO!"

  • hotsy totsy||

    ^^^THIS!! If I wait long enough I don't need to comment, someone usually says exactly what I wanted to, only better.

  • hotsy totsy||

    How about this: Instead of "If you can read this, thank a teacher," we plaster signs that read "If you afforded your groceries this month, thank Walmart."

    Except progressives would say, "Thank a farmer!" They are idiots like that.

  • R C Dean||

    You mean, spending an entire career in an increasingly bureaucratized and unionized workplace, with no incentives other than those tied to longevity, and little career risk, doesn't produce teachers who just get better and better the longer they are there?

    Shocking.

  • John||

    Or maybe the kids would do just as well or poorly no matter who the teacher was? Isn't that the more likely conclusion? If the teachers leaving were bad and adversely affecting performance, the scores should improve not stay the same.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Or maybe it says something about the tests as a measure of performance or education.

  • John||

    I doubt it says anything about the tests. Why would it? To say that it does is to assume that experienced teachers are having an effect that isn't showing up. And that seems to be a pretty unlikely assumption. More likely, is that most teachers are about the same and the more experienced ones retiring really doesn't make a difference one way or another.

  • ||

    John, I think you're right.
    See my comment below. As mentioned in the article, the school district frequently gets a windfall in it's budget when a senior employee retires and spends it on structure reform. That tells me the problem isn't lazy senior teacher, that that the senior teachers are simply overpaid, probably due to the rules about annual wages and so on. So you get rid of one and suddenly you have all this spare cash to spend on things. The fact this improve performance is a sign not that performance declines as you get older, but that the cost/benefit ratio declines, because the cost is going up. Plus, this comports with recent studies showing that teachers in many areas are actually well paid. I wouldn't be surprised in senior teachers were pulling in close to six figures.

  • ||

    Sorry about all the typos ... just try to imagine that I'm not speaking pidgin English.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    If the teachers leaving were bad and adversely affecting performance, the scores should improve not stay the same.

    The study says they did increase. RTFA, man!

  • John||

    It said it "likely" increased them. that is hardly definitive and says nothing by how much.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Or maybe the kids would do just as well or poorly no matter who the teacher was? Isn't that the more likely conclusion?

    Ironically enough, teachers have been telling us exactly that for decades but the general public is to stubborn and stupid to listen to them.

    Teachers don't explicitly say that of course, but it is the message they convey when opposing all types of merit pay.

  • ||

    Yeah, I don't think it's that the teachers get worse as they get older. It's that they get *overpaid* as they get older and thus become a drain on resources.

  • hotsy totsy||

    Gotta agree with John.

  • Loki||

    teachers who are near retirement may put forth less effort than younger teachers

    Gee, I wonder what incentive they would have to no longer give a shit and just mark time until retirement. Hmmm, it is a mystery...

    It's probably also true that younger teachers are more current in their knowledge. When I was kid, the smallest sub-atomic particle was the electron and Pluto was still a planet.

  • Zeb||

    the smallest sub-atomic particle was the electron

    Well, it's still probably the smallest (or at least tied for that honor with other point like particles).

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    Would not the Higgs-Bosom take that honour now?

  • Agammamon||

    Higgs Boson has a mass of 125 GeV - the electron .5 MeV

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    Well luckily I am not a physicist I guess. I am a few deep on an empty stomach though.

  • hotsy totsy||

    Must have gotten bigger somehow

  • John||

    In every other sector of education people realized that students teach themselves. The "great teacher" is really a myth. Students teach themselves. The teacher is a bystander most of the time. Schools fail because the kids in them come from families who don't give a shit.

  • Flemur||

    No, it's because the kids are stupid.

  • John||

    You don't have to be smart to do well in public school. Just try hard and take it seriously. They are both stupid and don't care.

  • hotsy totsy||

    You don't even have to try hard, actually. Just have your ass in the seat most of the time and try to pay attention.

    Actually, this holds true for most universities as well. In the harder courses, read the material three times and you'll pass most tests.

    Really, I think most kids who stop attending or flunk out are bored rather than stupid.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    Teachers do inspire a little bit of self motivation, at least in my experience. But it is definitely in the child and the parents where most of the drive to really absorb the information comes from. If my father didn't explain to me the shitty lifestyle likely to occur if I didn't pull my grades up (and my general work ethic) in highschool, and also back that up with beating the shit out of me if I didn't get my act together, around grade 10, I likely wouldn't have pulled my grades up, got a degree in chemical engineering and a master's degree in nuclear engineering. Both of which, 10 years ago, I would have laughed at anybody who told me was possible.

  • John||

    They will inspire some kids and kill motivation in others. With all but the really exceptional teachers it evens out over a large group. And of course half of all teachers are below the mean.

    What this study shows is that most teachers are pretty fungible. Our obsession with teacher pay and class size and such is completely misplaced.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    Yes, sorry. I meant to add legitimately good teachers can inspire, not all teachers. Going through all my years of school in public school, their definitely is a lot that do damage to a kids drive to absorb the material.

  • ||

    And some are just mean.

  • hotsy totsy||

    Yes, they can inspire, but the main thing is to not UNINSPIRE, to avoid killing the kid's curiousity and drive to learn. LOTS of teachers dampen the desire to learn by being the rigid, uptight, authoritarians that public employees usually are.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    But it is definitely in the child and the parents where most of the drive to really absorb the information comes from.


    The Coleman I and II studies discovered this in 1966. When LBJ, who commissioned the study, heard the results, he hit the roof for it meant that all his War on Poverty social engineering programs were proven to be bullshit. LBJ then led a campaign to destroy James Coleman's career.

  • Cytotoxic||

    No teachers can be very helpful in teaching and coming up with ways for kids to demonstrate their knowledge. They do matter.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    In every other sector of education people realized that students teach themselves. The "great teacher" is really a myth. Students teach themselves. The teacher is a bystander most of the time.

    Yep.

    And the teachers that kids remember as great teachers were just randomly there when that kid hit a developmental milestone.

  • Ashlyn||

    I don't think this is quite true.

    My favorite teachers were the ones who treated students as if we were human beings possessed of reason and dignity, who just happened to be a little shorter and less experienced than they were. The European history teacher who addressed us all as Mr. or Miss Surname stands out.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    And the teachers that kids remember as great teachers were just randomly there when that kid hit a developmental milestone.

    Zod no.

    My third grade teacher used a completely different approach with me than with the rest of the class. She created different assignments and tests just for me that required analysis and not just memorization. She went over the tests and assignments with me on her own time. She told the rest of the class to pound sand when they tattled that I wasn't working on the same things they were. "NEM can do two things at once and do them both well. Don't worry about him, he'll be fine. Worry about yourself."

    My fourth grade teacher, her friend, did the same thing.

    Mrs. Wynn and Mrs. Allen weren't just randomly there.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    I am about half way through Milton Friedman's "Freedom to Choose" and was wondering what you all thought of the voucher idea he had for elementary and secondary schools? I haven't had much time to think about it, but at first glance it seems like a far better approach than the current setup for public funding of education.

    His ideas about higher education rubbed me a little the wrong way but his ideas for elementary and secondary schools sounded good.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    Vouchers are an excellent idea; tax credits are even better, given the current state of affairs.

    Full disclosure: I mostly agree with Friedman on higher education as well as elementary and secondary.

  • Flemur||

    Study: "There is suggestive evidence of heterogeneity: in lower SES and lower-performing schools, retirements from the ERI program led to larger increases in test scores, particularly for reading. Although the differences
    are not statistically significant
    , ..."

    The below isn't new in any sense of the word, but the info is continually suppressed or ignored by PC/anti-science outlets - like Reason - which like to pretend that minor differences in schools and teachers are significant when the most important factor in education - always, everywhere - is the kids attending the schools:

    Revealed: how exam results owe more to genes than teaching

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    American, its been a while. Nice seeing you back to your legit handle.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Thanks for providing an excellent example of how terrible science reporting is.

    Now your assignment is to read through the following bibliography:

    Bradely, R. H. & Corwyn, R.F. (2002) Socioeconomic status and child development. Annual Review of Psychology, Annual, 371-400.

    Capron and Duyme, (1989), Assessment of effects of socio-economic status on IQ in a full cross-fostering study, Nature 340, 552- 554 (17 August).

    Duyme M, Dumaret AC, Tomkiewicz S (1999) How can we boost IQs of "dull children"?. A late adoption study. Proceedings National Academy of Sciences USA 96: 8790-8794

    Hoff E. (2003). The specificity of environmental influence: socioeconomic status affects early vocabulary development via maternal speech. Child Development, 74(5), 1368-78.

    Jiaxu C, Y Weiyi, Y. (2000) Influence of acute and chronic treadmill exercise on rat brain POMC gene expression. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: Volume 32(5) May, pp 954-957.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Jensen, E. (2006) Enriching the Brain. Jossey-Bass, a Wiley Imprint. San Francisco, CA.

    Johnston-Brooks, C. H., Lewis, M. A., Evans, G. W., & Whalen, C. K. (1998, Sep-Oct). Chronic stress and illness in children: The role of allostatic load. Psychosomatic Medicine, 60(5):597-603.

    Korat, & Haflili (2007) Maternal evaluations of children's emergent literacy level, maternal mediation in book reading, and children's emergent literacy level: A comparison between SES groups Journal of Literacy Research, 39(2), 249-276.

    Lupien S. J., King S., Meaney, M. J. & McEwn, B.S. (2001) Can poverty get under your skin? Basal cortisol levels and cognitive function in children from low and high socioeconomic status. Dev Psychopathol, 13(3), 652-676

    Nobel KG, Norman MF, Farah MJ (2205) Neurocognitive correlates of socioeconomic status in kindergarten children. Dev Sci Jan;8(1):74-87

  • ||

    I find people who go all-in on nature vs nurture just as silly as people who think genetics play no role. I mean height (discussed in the article) is a perfect example. Obviously genetics set your potential height range but your diet growing up affects how much of your potential you achieve. No reason to think intelligence is any different.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Bingo. To think otherwise is to posit that the brain doesn't require nutritious food or something.

  • William of Purple||

    Those who can't, teach.

  • Agammamon||

    ". . .the first-in, first-out seniority hiring . . ."

    Isn't that first in, *last* out?

  • William of Purple||

    last in- firstlast out is a stack
    first in-first out is a queue

  • Agammamon||

    In a seniority system , the *last* one's hired are the *first* one's fired/layed-off.

    What she wrote is that the *first* hired are the *first* 'out' (in other words - fired).

  • William of Purple||

    right.
    LIFO

  • Flemur||

    wondering what you all thought of the voucher idea he had for elementary and secondary schools?

    Vouchers would probably save money, but the education results would remain unchanged. "Would" because they already do.

  • Cytotoxic||

    You mean they already do improve students? Yes Charters do that.

    If your stupid notion was anywhere near correct American IQ would not have risen over the past several decades, but it has so you're wrong.

  • Acosmist||

    No, charters do no such thing.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Vouchers would probably save money, but the education results would remain unchanged.

    Nope, they would improve over time because implicit in the idea is competition for students and a variety of approaches to instruction.

  • General Butt Naked||

    I think the best thing we can do is have a system that separates the kids that want to learn from the little shits there to cause problems. We need schools that must compete for students and have the ability to toss out problem students.

  • ||

    We need to stop assuming that every child learns best by sitting at a desk listening to a lecture. Some kids are better off being left to their own devices with minimal supervision. Some kids need a lot of hand holding and supervision. Some kids that you THINK need discipline just need to be left the fuck alone. Many kids are overstimulated in crowded classrooms and would be better off being sent to a quiet study hall. Others need someone to tell them what to do all day.

  • Ashlyn||

    I was the sort you could dump in a library, come back for me in a few hours, and then I'd talk your ear off about whatever I'd just read about the Black Plague and the Black Prince and the Hundred Years War and ohmygod Mom the 14th century was awful except can we visit this castle?

    My brother needed someone to coax him and bribe him and occasionally drag him in front of his pile of books. Of the two of us, these days he is now the more academically accomplished. Funny ole world, innit?

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Agreed

    And will add that not all kids learn at the same age level. We need to move to an individualized approach that accommodates different aptitudes, learning styles and paces of development.

    A voucher paradigm could do that, the one size fits all schools as prisons model obviously cannot.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Grouping kids by age rather than skill may be the single dumbest thing schools do.

  • ||

    Money saved can be spent on other things, such as reducing class sizes, adding enrichment courses, etc.

    So you can't really say that scores would never improve. Efficiency can be used to save resources, but it can also be used to improve performance. Take the money you save and plow it back into things that improve performance.

  • William of Purple||

    before we forget

    MATT DAMON

  • Agammamon||

    MATT DAMON!

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    THE DAMON

  • Sevo||

    Hugh Akston| 8.13.13 @ 5:17PM |#
    "Does 'experience' here mean anything more than 'managed not to die or get fired for longer than other people'?"

    Most of the teachers I've known who are close to retirement remind me of United flight attendants: They've been doing the same thing entirely too long and they're tired if it.

  • ||

    HM, you didn't answer my question in the PM links thread.

  • General Butt Naked||

    I sometimes hear/read people advocating against interracial couples having children because they're worried that said children will have "identity issues". A Korean friend of mine opined about this at length, though he's not the only example.

    I have an Italian mother and a Croatian father and have not noticed any identity issues. And don't fucking tell me I do either or I'll hunt you down and murder your family in front of you!

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Sorry, didn't see it.

    As you can guess by my handle, I have very little patience for the "tragic mulatto/mulatta" trope. Many who claim to have "identity issues", in my experience, are usually drama queens looking for attention.

    Granted, it is easier in some cultures than others. When I met my wife and had our daughter in Thailand, we never experienced any problems as Thailand/Siam had been a cross-cultural crossroads for a millennium and a half. Throughout history Thais have happily interbred with Persians, Indians, Khmer, and Chinese. (Exhibit A: The lovely ThaIndian, Ms. Khemanit "Pancake" Jamikorn)

    On the other hand, Korea, the Hermit Kingdom, has some fucked-up issues with blood purity that have been a part of the culture for centuries. The constant stress of growing up "mixed" in Korean culture might produce negative self-image. Still, it's not a large enough obstacle to prevent one from being a Super Bowl MVP.

    As for myself, growing up in America, I never gave it a second thought. My "identity" is formulated from my values, beliefs, interests, and knowledge. I always found that having bake & shark and calypso on one side and latkes and klezmer on the other to be additive and not subtractive. Those who have issues with having a multicultural heritage haven't come to the realization that we are greater than the sum of our parts.

  • ||

    That's what I figured, thanks.

    I've always been skeptical of the "identity issues" argument but I figured hey, I'm just a WASP (well, WAS -- WASP by heritage though), what do I know?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    You mean you don't have issues of identity because you can't fully relate to the Angles, the Saxons, the Frisians, or the Jutes alone?

  • ||

    Well, in a way.

    My ancestry is almost entirely Northern European and most of my ancestors arrived in the US or Cananda (mostly the former) before the 20th century and as early as the 1600s.

    So besides having a fairly homogeneous ancestry, I am far removed from the cultures of most of my ancestors (except to the extent that American culture is based on their cultures, which is very much in the case of the Brits).

    I'm basically just "American". The only exception is a couple great-grandparents who were recent emigrants from Germany (well, actually from Russia), the only obvious impact of which is that my paternal grandmother cooks disgusting German food, which doesn't affect me because I have never lived near her and my 100% old-blood Anglo-American mom did the cooking.

  • Calidissident||

    "I'm basically just "American". The only exception is a couple great-grandparents who were recent emigrants from Germany (well, actually from Russia), the only obvious impact of which is that my paternal grandmother cooks disgusting German food, which doesn't affect me because I have never lived near her and my 100% old-blood Anglo-American mom did the cooking."

    I'm glad my maternal grandmother learned how to cook good Italian food for her husband (whose parents were from Italy) rather than pass on German cooking (her dad's parents were from Germany and her mom was adopted my French Canadians) to my mother

  • lap83||

    Being part German, part Mediterranean, part Jewish, and part Nordic I shudder to think what my identity issues would look like if I had them. At least I would get the trains to run on time.

  • Calidissident||

    Yeah, I'm mostly Italian, German, and English, with some Scottish (including some Scots-Irish,which is where I get my last name from, and Dutch, plus a little bit of Welsh and a very small amount of Irish (when researching my ancestry I found one Irish ancestor who came over as an indentured servant in the 1600s). One of my great-grandmas was adopted, so I don't know what her ancestry was, beyond European (most likely Northern European). I'm proud of all those, though I have little direct cultural connection to any of them besides Italian (and even then it's still a fairly loose connection), and I'm glad it's not something I really worry about or have people bother me about

  • Ashlyn||

    I recently received a family tree from my grandfather, and he traced a few branches as far back as the fourteenth century.

    It's kind of gratifying to see such a mix of Gautiers with Suarezes with Ryans with Schindlers. There's even a note that, "So-and-so's children's birth dates would make his wife an implausibly young mother; near as we can tell, they were the product of his relationship with an Indian woman."

    Ethnic or national "roots" are more like shifting sand. And culture exist to serve people's needs, not the other way round.

  • Ashlyn||

    By fourteenth, I meant sixteenth, dammit. And culture was meant to be plural.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "Being part German, part Mediterranean, part Jewish, and part Nordic...I would get the trains to run on time."

    Yeah, but 1/4 the time you'd feel guilty about it, and the other 3/4 you'd, uh, have a herring-and-calamari sandwich, lol!

    www.thisbetternotbearealwebsiteorillbepissed.com

  • hotsy totsy||

    Plus I'll bet your kids are beautiful!

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    My identity is not bound up in the identities of my ancestors. It's sometimes interesting to hear the crap they went through, but Popeye and I are both what we are, not what someone else was.

  • Brandon||

    This study is intrinsically paternalistic.

    -MATT DAMON!!

  • ||

    The study also found that principals use the money freed up by retiring senior teachers to make structural changes

    Translation: Experienced teachers get paid a lot more and their excess pay, could be better spent on other things.

    In other words, union pay scales unduly reward senior teachers at the expense of education quality.

  • Robert||

    What's the story in that picture she's pointing to? That it's easier to move if it has wheels under it, and easiest of all if it has wheels and a grownup pulling it for you?

  • Acosmist||

    Does Reason really want to go there? Teachers don't matter at all because it's the inherent IQ of the student body. So charters are worthless.

  • Alice Bowie||

    I have no complaints with my local public school. For us it works.

    We have a union-free school, and our teachers make more than those in the union in other school districts. We don't have a single teacher making under $100k. They never quit. And, when spots open up, they are gobbled up internally.

    In the inner City, where I guess parents aren't involved, the public schools are lousy. I don't think private schools would help with these students. I doubt anything would help.

    I'm surprised that the tea-baggers haven't proposed just closing down public schools, elminiating the government requirement that kids need to be educated (teabaggers don't need the gob-ment telling them what to do), and letting the free market fix it. That'll definitely help those kids.

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