Schools Won't Pay For Quality

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As the baby boom generation of teachers retires, schools are facing shortages of qualified teachers:

"It's not that you don't have some terrifically talented people going into teaching. You do," said Richard J. Murnane, an economist at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. "The issue is that you don't have enough. And many are the most likely to leave teaching, because they have lots of other opportunities."…

To offset a shortfall of 280,000 qualified math and science teachers projected by 2015, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics advocates more competitive pay—a controversial move away from a fixed salary structure that some teacher advocates say reflects a mentality that teaching is a second income.

Only in government-run schools can people believe that paying someone on the bases of aptitude and performance is "controversial."

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  1. When i was going to college, I spoke with these educational major going through their pedagogy classes. I thought how could a 20 year tenured fuck who has never been in a 6 grade classroom know anything about how to teach children.
    I would say 1) pay more, 2) get rid of the stupid pedagogy requirements. If Bill Gates was willing to teach my high school computer class, that would rock.

    This has to be the toughest job in the world but for a soldier. I mean you have these snotty nosed punks who know that you can’t do anything. The children by merely alleging abuse or misconduct could fuck up your career. And then you have top worry about the hippies and christ fanatics getting bent at each other at whatever you teach regardless of its foundation in reality or reason. No Thanks.

    But the top award for spinelessness goes to all those PHD fucks that run these schools. Between enforcing idiotic Zero Tolerance policy and shoving amphetamines down kids’ throats, and practicing lawsuit avoidance rather than education put them at the top of the shit list

  2. I’d love to teach science if I could do it ‘on the side,’ but I’d be pretty unhappy if it were a 40 hour a week job for me, but it’s something I’d love to do in addition to a full-time job.

  3. I should really hit ‘preview.’ Sorry for the run-on sentence.

  4. When I was living in Killeen, Texas there was a guy who lived a couple of towns over who was the retired general counsel to the Army. Killeen is a big army town so a surprising number of former Army big wigs live in the area. The guy had both a JD and a PHD in political science. In addition, he had 30 years experience in government a lot of which was in Washington at very high levels. He asked the local high school if he could teach a government class. They told him he would have to get a certification or they couldn’t hire him. After he saw that getting the certification required a year at the local education college taking a mindnumbing collection of BS education classes, he said screw it. I know about this because my boss was friends with him and his daughter was a student in the high school. Instead of the retired general counsel, the high school government class was taught by, you guessed it, the football coach.

    That story sums up what is wrong with our education system. The education system exists to provide wages and job security to teachers and teachers colleges. It does not exist to in any way provide a quality education.

  5. Ahhh, my favorite subject.

    NCLB has a “Highly Qualified Teacher” model that all states are using to determine the fitness of their teachers. In short, you have to have a 2.75 GPA or higher, a major in the subject you wish to teach, and a passing score on the teacher’s exam stipulated in your state (Praxis for me in NJ).

    I fit this model completely: 3.6 GPA, English major (and a desire to teach English to high-schoolers), and a tip-top score on Praxis II. I hold a certificate (not a full license yet, cannot get that until after 1 year teaching) enabling me to teach, and 10 years experience in writing, editing, ed administration and communication. Yet I did not major in Ed in college and have not taken any pedagogy courses. Therefore, a mature, well-read, well-educated and highly qualified potential teacher is sitting right here waiting for any job, but no school district will give me the time of day.

    Because a 20 year old kid who took all the right classes is better qualified than I am.

    Not saying a 20 year old kid does not necessarily know what they are doing, but not having taken pedagogy classes does not mean that I do not know what I am doing either.

  6. MadBiker — If you’re not already acquainted with the writings of Richard Mitchell, the Underground Grammarian, I suggest you check them out. He speaks your language.

  7. In short, you have to have a 2.75 GPA or higher, a major in the subject you wish to teach, and a passing score on the teacher’s exam stipulated in your state (Praxis for me in NJ).

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but due to overmining by the Klingons, Praxis exploded.

  8. In exit interviews, the most common reason teachers give for leaving is frustration over red tape. Pay is #2 or #3.

  9. After he saw that getting the certification required a year at the local education college taking a mindnumbing collection of BS education classes, he said screw it

    This is the biggest obstacle to teaching. I know, went through the same experience myself. Reason for the barrier-to-entry? Union protectionism. better test for getting the gig is a) criminal background check, b) required psych evaluation, and c) demonstration of mastry (e.g. teach a dummy class course in front of panel).

  10. MadBiker,

    Sounds like you’re in a somewhat similar situation as my wife. She’s a PhD in cellular biology and teaches biology at a Catholic HS because she’s “unqualified” to teach in the public system.

  11. Red tape was the reason my mom quit teaching. My mom’s experience with red tape combined with the entry barriers were what caused my sister-in-law to never start. Of course, now she’s making much more at a job she loves, so she’s not out anything, but the kids are. Not that that matters a lick to anyone in school administration.

  12. I can see where teaching elementary school kids requires specialized training. Knowing the subject is not good enough in that case. I certainly know how to read and do basic math, but I would be the first to admit that I would be lost trying to show a class of even the smartest six year olds how to do it.

    But, at the high school or even junior high level, knoweldge of the subject matter matters. It is worst in areas like history and government where athletic coaches tend to be housed.

    Even in subjects like English the top students are driven away from the field by the education college bullshit. One of my roommate was an good English major who stayed and extra year to get his certification. One semester he had a class in childrens literature. The other ed students were appalled that the reading list included over 1500 pages of reading. Ernest was like “but its children’s literature. It is 1500 pages of kids books.” It was apparently too much for these budding geniuses to read 1500 pages of Frog and Toad and Dr. Seuse.

  13. jp, thanks I’ll check it out.

    GILMORE, I agree. I do have to undergo a criminal background check, but only after I get a job. I had one done recently for another purpose, but for some reason a CBC done at the state/federal level for one thing cannot be used to verify my record in another state level area…so I have to pay $75 for the background check and $25 to get fingerprinted, again, for the 5th time in my life…but I digress.

    I think a demonstration of mastery is most important, and also a demonstration of an ability to deal with the varying attitudes, levels of maturity, and learning abilities presented by students. When I was 20, hell even 25, I did not have half of the patience, diplomacy, confidence, courage, and humility that I do now at 31, and I think you need all of those characteristics and then some to be an effective teacher.

  14. Mad Biker,

    I think you are right about age helping. Also, having real life experience means something to. The best teachers I had in school were always people who had been places and done things. They held your attention and respect much more than the typical 23 year old who had done nothing but go to college and teach, even if she was hot and you were in love with her.

  15. When I first was going into eduation someone warned me that teaching is less of an intellectual challenge than a leadership challenge. Mastering your subject area is less important than managing the kids. That being said, education schools don’t really help you with classroom management. About the only thing that does help in that area is putting in the years.

  16. Schools will get what they pay for.

    Performance-based pay leaves students with even more power than they already have to manipulate teachers; students have to want to learn. P4P takes teachers’ already meager paychecks and puts them in the hands of people who may or may not welcome their own education.

    –JLE

  17. The NYTimes recently had an op-ed piece about merit pay, and the Letters in last Sunday’s edition provide a great discussion of the subject. If they’re available on line I highly recommend reading them.

    Merit pay is one of those ideas that everyone can get behind — until you start to imagine how it would be implemented.

    One big problem is that without strong objective measures, which tends to mean standardized tests, themselves subject to gaming as state-level vs fed-level scores show, ‘merit’ winds up being ‘kissing admin ass’.

    For some excellent discourse on this, hunt down those letters.

  18. I’m majoring in physics, and was approached by one of my professors about the math/science teacher shortage, and how it would only take me one extra year to get NYS teacher certification, and would have absolutely no problem getting a job immediately out of college.

    When I asked where that job would likely be, he hemmed and hawed, and finally admitted it would probably be in one of the “troubled” schools in one of the upstate cities if I were lucky, and Hell’s Kitchen or similar if I weren’t. Uhh, no thanks.

  19. Crimethink,

    An old girlfriend of mine did teach for America and taught in a really bad area of Houston. She, at least, liked teaching there better than she did at the big surburban school she moved to after he commitment was up. She said the kids may have had issues, but not all of them did and their parents would actually listen to you as a teacher. In the burbs, it was constant meddling from over controling parents and generally more hassle than it was worth. She actually went back to the ghetto after one year in the burbs. I know it is an anicdote but perhaps the kids in Hell’s Kichean are not as bad as you think.

  20. I would like just once to hear the argument from a dyed in the wool union teacher.

    Every other organization of every type on this planet is subject to performance measures in some way. I can’t think of another job where you get to say “I’m doing great work. It is impossible to measure how great I am, and I don’t really have to demonstrate anything, so just give me my money.”

    It is an accountability black hole. Surely if you are teaching you have to be responsible for something, right?

  21. The whole hiring thing for teachers is -so- screwy. When I first graduated high school, I thought “no way I’m gonna ever want to do that” — then I considered it, for a little while, before realizing that, hey, I’m 25, it’ll be at least a year before I could get certified, this’ll make me unhirable.

    26 and unmarried is an old maid in the education business, you have a serious danger of STAYING there. And that’s the last thing you want. Then they’ll actually have to start giving you pay raises!

    Same deal with my father… he was looking at teaching government in a high school… he’s taught at a college level, but for high school he’s overeducated and not a coach. You wonder why we have such ignorance of the constitution and political theory in this country, it’s because all those classes are taught by coaches and if they happen to know the first thing about government that’s a happy coincidence.

  22. JasonL, I think there are accountability measures built in for teachers, but those measures are dependent on the standardized test results of their students. But standardized tests in themselves tend to be an imperfect measurement of what students know and how they apply what they know. Testing organizations try to address the spectra of what a student should know and at what age. They lobby relentlessly to have “their” test given in schools – it keeps them in business. The lobbying aspect of any business is shitty at best, but I believe many of the researchers are motivated by good intentions (the road to hell…).

    From my perspective, the measurment of a good teacher would include earning the respect and attention of his/her students, enabling students to absorb information and express their objective and subjective views in constructive ways, succeeding in producing young people able to take thier knowledge outside the classroom and apply it to the “real world,” imparting the skills of observation and reflection to learn about things not taught in the classroom, and perhaps most important of all, inspire students to continue to learn even one new thing from all situations.

    These have nothing to do with objective metrics like grades or standardized test scores. Learning is so subjective I sometimes wonder if grades should apply at all.

    I had a pre-cal teacher in college who was the best teacher EVER EVER. Math is difficult for me at best, but he was able to communicate the subject to me on my level and coax from me an understanding of it I never thought I could have. He gave me a “B” in the class even though my test scores were abysmal. He said he had to put something on paper and would not give me an “F” just cause the numbers said so…my grasp of the concepts and ability to apply them were there, I was just a faulty mechanic when it came to the pressure of a test. I have no idea how one would implement such a subjective assessment to either students or teachers, but I can definitely say he was fantastic, just as he can surely say I can understand Precal at a level high enough to pass the course.

  23. I (briefly) was a high school history teacher. I have a B.A. with a major in foreign affairs and a minor in history. I also have a masters of education. I was surprised by this at the time, but my education classes were far, far more important to the quality of teaching I delivered than my mastery of the subject matter. The fact is, I could teach myself enough info on just about any subject in a couple of days to be able to cover it for a bunch of high school kids. But the real trick is being able to present it in a way that keeps the kids’ attention and helps them actually remember it down the road.

    Given a choice, I’d rather have my kids learn from an education major than a subject matter major.

    Of course, there are bad teachers of all kinds; taking ed school classes doesn’t automatically make you a good teacher. But many people on this board who have never taken education classes put them down as though they were self-evidently useless. They are not.

  24. I’m just saying. In the world outside teaching, you can have all sorts of measures, but if you are granting an organization 100% subjective measures, you will have a crap organization.

    You won’t know how to allocate money. You won’t know which processes to replicate (i.e., no ‘best practices’). You won’t be able to establish meaningful development plans. You can’t do anything.

  25. john,

    Re your anecdote about the retired army colonel reminds me… years ago Glenn Seaborg (now deceased UC Berkeley Nobel-prize physicist for whom element 106 is named), I believe at the time the chancellor of the UC system and after serving on a Reagan administration commission on excellence in education, was snubbed by the California Board of Education at his offer to create a standard science curriculum for the state in favor of the earth science faculty at Cal State San Bernadino.

    Ah yes, quite a story:
    http://www.mathematicallycorrect.com/science.htm

  26. That being said, education schools don’t really help you with classroom management. About the only thing that does help in that area is putting in the years.

    A couple of years of karate also helps.

    I can see where teaching elementary school kids requires specialized training.

    Each level has its quirks. High school students are locked into a system that tells them they are adults but treats them like children. And kids in junior high are going through puberty, which often turns them feral.

    That’s why I like teaching adults.

  27. Here, let me fix that:

    As the baby boom generation of teachers retires, schools are still, as always, facing shortages of qualified teachers…. Only in government run schools and on the left can people believe that paying someone on the baseis of aptitude and performance is “controversial.”

  28. “And kids in junior high are going through puberty, which often turns them feral.”

    Matt Groening did a book back in the 80s called “School is Hell.” He described junior high as a place to warehouse children of that age to keep them from terrorizing younger children and allow them to avoid the beatings they so richly deserve from older kids.

    gorgonzola,

    I am not surprised by that story. The account Richard Feinman gives of his days on the California science text book review board is a similiar story. All of the books were filled with factual errors, some of them hadn’t even been printed but were just nice covers filled with blank pages and none of the members of the review board bothered to actually read the text books.

  29. Performance-based pay leaves students with even more power than they already have to manipulate teachers; students have to want to learn. P4P takes teachers’ already meager paychecks and puts them in the hands of people who may or may not welcome their own education.

    First, the teacher profiled in the linked article, who is about to retire, was making $85,000 during her highest-earning years. I would hardly call that “meager.”

    Second, private schools and colleges somehow have figured out a way to measure teachers’ performance without making it a popularity contest among students.

  30. Pedagogy matters. I had many brilliant math and physics profs in college who were horrendous teachers. I had some dim college profs who were also horrendous teachers. I think it’s fair to ask someone who wants to be a professional teacher to actually take classes on how to teach.

    As for merit pay, great idea. The problem is the political nature of the job. If the mayor’s kid or a school board member’s kid is in your class, does the grade they get impact your bonus? If the mayor doesn’t like a teacher do they not get a raise. Schools are VERY political places and the union with it’s rigid rules and inflexible pay schedules is a check against the power of local despots.

    That said, the administrators generally know who the slackers are so a merit pay system isn’t impossible, it just needs to be carefully designed so that everyone’s interests are protected.

  31. Pedagogy matters. I had many brilliant math and physics profs in college who were horrendous teachers. I had some dim college profs who were also horrendous teachers. I think it’s fair to ask someone who wants to be a professional teacher to actually take classes on how to teach.

    I’d say the professors I had in college kicked the ass of the teachers I had in high school in both knowledge of their subject and their method of teaching/grading 9/10 times.

    For God’s sake, I had teachers making me do crossword puzzles as history and poli sci assignments–in my senior year of high school.

  32. On using education majors as our primary source of teachers:

    I think we need more training for teaching kids than classes on how to cut out duckies and bunnies from construction paper.

  33. Imagine science and math education in statist countries where the government intrudes heavily into education, like China and India. Must be a disaster, I’ll bet.

  34. “I certainly know how to read and do basic math, but I would be the first to admit that I would be lost trying to show a class of even the smartest six year olds how to do it.”

    Why can’t you just do it the same way your own 1st grade teacher did for you?

    I’ll tell you what is challenging, something I just took up (but have had to interrupt for plantar wart removal): coaching football.

  35. I think we need more training for teaching kids than classes on how to cut out duckies and bunnies from construction paper.

    I tutor in a room across from one of the education classrooms, and from what I’ve overheard this is a very apt description of what goes on in them. Lots of games and crafts.

    Education classes for teachers are a good idea, but the implementation isn’t always so good.

  36. Second, private schools and colleges somehow have figured out a way to measure teachers’ performance without making it a popularity contest among students.

    I disagree with this statement. I wrote an explanation why, but it ended up very long and ranty. The important point is: private schools and colleges have a system not unlike democracy. It sucks, and mightily, but it is unfortunately better than any other option. But being better than the public schools in no way means that the evaluations are actually performed precisely or accurately. Rather that their systems are the lesser of two evils.

  37. I do not disagree that pedagogy matters, it just is not the only thing that makes one a good teacher.

    Fresh out of college teachers may be better off in a classroom because of their coursework in pedagogy.

    I had a few rookie teachers in high school, and I was not interested in the least by anything any of them had to teach me. They seemed too interested in the structure and the method and not the subject at hand. I suppose this goes away with time, if they can be coaxed to stay with the profession long enough.

  38. “I’ll tell you what is challenging, something I just took up (but have had to interrupt for plantar wart removal): coaching football.”

    I am sure it is. I would love to coach football. Since I wasn’t good enough in high school to get better than offers from non-scholarship Division III schools, I didn’t get to play it in college and have no desire to be a high school teacher, so I will never get to do it. I would love to do it someday.

  39. I’d say the professors I had in college kicked the ass of the teachers I had in high school in both knowledge of their subject and their method of teaching/grading 9/10 times.

    The opposite is true in my case. I think I got a much better education in high school than in college. The college professors generally had better knowledge but many of them had no teaching skills at all. There is without a doubt something to be learned in teacher education school; sure, a lot of it is probably fluff, but don’t for a moment think that just because you know a subject well that you’re going to be able to convey it to kids. It’s harder than it looks.

  40. e,

    Needless to say, China is a very, very different culture from ours. The greater success they have can hardly be credited to their govt. I don’t see the kid living in your typical American family doing well in Chinese schools (though that would make a great reality show).

    Keep in mind that the stereotype of the just-off-the-boat Chinese kid who does great in math and science isn’t an unfair one. When you have a family and culture urging you to focus on school to the expense of everything else, you’re going to do well.

  41. E-

    The Soviet Union retarded the development of biology in Russia for years because of their insistence on Lysenkoism.

  42. Rhywun-

    Don’t get me wrong, I had some great teachers in high school. But the level of fluff and busywork was just ridculous. Word Searches, crossword puzzles, endless amounts of easy but incredibly long and time-consuming homework, etc.

    I think the college model of Lecture, Test, Lecture, Test, Paper, Lecture, Final, worked better for me.

  43. I’m thinking there are measures for performance to report back to the politbureau in statist countries. You need to know who to send to the gulag, after all.

  44. Cesar,

    I went to a “magnet” school. There was no busy work, no study halls, nothing like that. Maybe that’s part of it always ranks in the top 25 nationwide. I guess the point is that the quality of education varies wildly in both high school and beyond.

  45. er, “part of WHY it always ranks”

  46. Well, I went to a run-of-the-mill, average public high school. So that probably explains the difference.

  47. Yeah, the regular schools in my hometown (Rochester, NY) have gone down the toilet. The magnet school is still doing great. A lot of that comes from corporate money: Kodak, Xerox, Bausch & Lomb and others donated piles of money. I think that’s a pretty good model to follow.

  48. “I would love to coach football. Since I wasn’t good enough in high school to get better than offers from non-scholarship Division III schools, I didn’t get to play it in college and have no desire to be a high school teacher, so I will never get to do it. I would love to do it someday.”

    I never played American football under adult supervision at all. Don’t let that stop you. I didn’t say I was coaching for money. I’m a volunteer (we all are) with the North Bronx Youth Sports Ass’n. We’re not a school program, so you don’t have to be a teacher, although we do have an arrangement some of the time to use Harry S Truman HS’s facilities.

    There are opportunities in women’s and minor league men’s football too.

  49. I disagree with this statement. I wrote an explanation why, but it ended up very long and ranty. The important point is: private schools and colleges have a system not unlike democracy. It sucks, and mightily, but it is unfortunately better than any other option. But being better than the public schools in no way means that the evaluations are actually performed precisely or accurately. Rather that their systems are the lesser of two evils.

    Yes, I have no reason to doubt that evaluations in private schools and colleges are inaccurate. That’s the case in most businesses. My point was just that they have found a way to deal with the problem that Jessica Evans described, and that it works well enough for plenty of private schools and colleges to stay in business.

  50. crimethink

    Needless to say, China is a very, very different culture from ours

    Yes, they have a strange culture where their governments invest heavily on science and math education, a quaint but charming cultural trait that they share with India, Russia and Europe.

  51. E-

    Thats why they’ve been so ahead of us in the development of technology in the past 30 years, right? I mean we all know India invented the personal computer and we all use Chinese operating systems, and that Russia gave us the internet.

  52. … in no way means that the evaluations are actually performed precisely or accurately.

    Is it even possible to accurately or precisely evaluate a teacher? A teacher may be inspiring to one student, boring to another, and intimidating to a third. Subjective evaluation, with all of it’s flaws, is probably the only viable course to take. I don’t like it, but can offer no reasonable alternatives.

  53. Caesar, ohh you mean all that stuff that we developed back before Reagan became president, when the US considered math and science education funding important (for fighting the Cold War as well as just a general respect for publicly funded education)?

    Oh yeah, sorry, forgot about that, thanks for setting me straight.

  54. My grandmother taught in a one-room schoolhouse in Wyoming and never had a day of college in her life. And I *guarantee* that her students read and wrote much better than 90% of the yutes coming out of the public skools now. Of course, she had a frightening force of personality and wouldn’t have put up with any bullshit from the little darlings–nor would their parents expected her to.

  55. E-

    Give me one piece of technology that has been invented by India or China since the end of the cold war. Just one.

    The world leaders in technology are still Japan and the United States.

  56. Cesar,

    Give me one piece of technology that has been invented by India or China since the end of the cold war.

    (Why the stipulation, “since the cold war”, by the way?)

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

    “but it’s just a Soyuz! They stole that from the Russians!”

    “Life-support and propulsion systems are therefore indigenous to China”

    I don’t blame you for shifting the topic of argument from science and math education, over to world leadership in techology, though. It allows you to highlight the US’s present strength (based on past government investment), while minimizing the present investment that China, India, (and of course the sustained government role in education for Europe and Japan) are making in public education compared the US’s current sorry state of funding in the present.

  57. Cesar,
    Another measure of future technological prowess is the annual the ACM’s International Collegiate Programming Contest, note the preponderance of Chinese and Russian schools in the most recent results. The US had only 1 in the top 10 (MIT); Japan’s top uni is 14 (Kyoto).

  58. e:

    I think the larger issue is that there are other aspects of the Indian and Chinese government education systems that probably drive results at least as much (more?) than the funding, and you don’t want anything to do with those. For example, in India you get The Poverty Incentive – study or live in squalor forever. You also get plentiful beatings.

  59. E-

    I said “since the cold war” because you said the United States did great in the cold war, but somehow now is a science wasteland.

    They can win competitions and pass standardized tests. Whoopie. That doesn’t measure innovation, does it? Wheres the Indian iPod?

    But yeah, how many American students do you see killing themselves to get into universities in New Delhi and Beijing?

    Our system of secondary education leaves much to be desired, but our universities are the best in the world.

  60. Cesar, ICPC, is hardly a “standarized test”; if you knew anything about computer programming you’d have more respect for it than that. Go ahead and have a look at last year’s questions and then come back here and talk about standardized tests.

  61. I called it a competition. I said the thing about standardized tests because people always love to point out Americans don’t do well on them.

    I’m not a computer programmer, I can hardly do html. I never took a course on it in my life.

    I do, however, follow consumer technology, however, and its dominated by Japan, the United States, and to a lesser extent South Korea and Finland.

    I also know a bit about history, and it tells us massive government spending and programs are very effective at pushing one “showcase” technology or industry–think of rockets in the USSR in the 50s and 60s. But this is usually at the expense of any flexibility. Everything in their scientific and technical education became about rockets. And that was a big reason why the computer revolution occured in the United States but passed the USSR by.

    Just like their centrally-planned economy, their centrally-planned system of education was horribly inflexible.

    Our public universities are (surprise!) mostly run and the state level, funded by the state government and private sources. Yet Indian and Chinese students kill themselves to get admitted to even an average American public university, but no American students seem to be very eager to graduate from a university in New Delhi.

  62. Our system of secondary education leaves much to be desired, but our universities are the best in the world.

    How is that even theoretically possible? It can’t be the IQ of the teachers and students (unless, perhaps, you are talking only about the ultra-elite schools). Oh, wait, I’ve got it – it must the bold, risk-taking innovation of American college administrators.

  63. They can win competitions and pass standardized tests. Whoopie. That doesn’t measure innovation, does it? Wheres the Indian iPod?

    In all likelihood, “they” did (in part) design the iPod – there are a lot of very bright Indian engineers working in America.

  64. This “merit pay” idea sounds good, but it’s really a one-way ratchet for the unions. That is, “merit pay” will be used to demand more pay for (hopefully) good teachers, but the unions won’t allow poor teachers to suffer pay decreases or termination. Viola, total dollars going into union coffers will increase. Same goes for the “small classroom” movement: it isn’t teaching kids any better but it sure did swell union membership rolls.

  65. Caesar, I wouldn’t keep beating the drum for the US that long. Remember that we’re looking at a lag time of about 20 years between education and results.

    The other fact is, a lot of the top colleges in the US are populated by a heck of a lot of foreigners. Or second-generation immigrants. Or students from intellectual cultures here in the US that are decidedly not the standard (Jewish, Asian).

    The US has been pandering for far too long to its anti-intellectual percentage. We’ve had a long run, but at some point the game is going to shift. And I’d place my money on some place like China.

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