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  1. #221
    right on the left wing Philosorapteuse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    Disco I dont know about the US but the UK experience is that independent or private schools are just expensive "educational theme parks" (this was a phrase used by a number of education ministers to describe what has happened to university education in the UK since universal access disappeared with the introduction of fees and the universities right to set the rate at whatever they feel like) which are affordable to a small elite whose money will matter more than merit in any case anyway.

    I'm sure that both sides of the water there's complex rituals and reasons for ivy league schools or universities but in the main it looks like social engineering by rich folk in their country clubs.
    Yep. I think it's iniquitous that privileged children get better education because they're lucky enough to have wealthy parents and a better start in life to begin with - and that these school get charitable status in the UK. Way to broaden existing social divides. I'd sooner see those school fees poured into the state sector. Don't even get me started on academies. Much of the disproportionate state/independent uptake at the top universities can be attributed to failures earlier in the system - kids at fee-paying schools will get far more support and shine better, even if they're of equal or lesser calibre than the state school pupil who's filled out their forms by themself and never had so much as a practice interview.
    "A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices." --William James

    I'd be a card-carrying sensotard, but I can't find the goddamn card.

  2. #222
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    I don't agree with the following quote:

    The implication of these facts is clear: America's public schools have warehoused three million people in jobs that do little to improve student achievement—people who would be working productively in the private sector if that extra $210 billion were not taxed out of the economy each year.
    I somewhat agree with the general sentiment (warehousing 3 million people doing something unproductive), but I believe it should read "people who could be working productively in the private sector, but probably wouldn't be because this country outsources every job it can". Or maybe the author considers flipping burgers at McDonald's to be more productive than teaching.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  3. #223
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Philosorapteuse View Post
    Yep. I think it's iniquitous that privileged children get better education because they're lucky enough to have wealthy parents and a better start in life to begin with - and that these school get charitable status in the UK. Way to broaden existing social divides. I'd sooner see those school fees poured into the state sector. Don't even get me started on academies. Much of the disproportionate state/independent uptake at the top universities can be attributed to failures earlier in the system - kids at fee-paying schools will get far more support and shine better, even if they're of equal or lesser calibre than the state school pupil who's filled out their forms by themself and never had so much as a practice interview. :ranting:
    I've experienced that, I went to an RC secondary school (as opposed to grammer school as Northern Ireland practiced academic selection through tests at eleven years of age at the time) and there was a real anti-intellectual and anti-academic culture AMONG THE TEACHERS, I remember at a time when we had to seek out work experience being teased about whether I would ever do a "real job" when I found one in an office in the Housing Executive (the same as local authority housing in the rest of the UK were its the councils manage it).

    I was the first person in my family to go to university, my parents generation despite being more entitled in terms of the availability of benefits (unemployment benefit without need to evidence job seeking, housing benefit for accomodation, income support if you were working and earning an amount short of what was deemed enough to support yourself, tuition fees paid and a grant to support you as a student - I often wonder, as the UK has become more Thatcherite, if everyone knows what they are missing and what just a generation or two ago, those in the know, took for granted) wouldnt have dreamed of going to university.

    It wasnt until I was at technical college, vocational qualifications for those less academically inclined and not doing the "purer" learning of A Levels in english, maths etc., and one of my modules/classes was completiting applications for university places, this was mandatory no matter what you thought and contributed to your overall grade on that course, so I did it, passed that module and passed it so well that I was actually offered university places. Mind you I was rejected by the more elitist establishments and that's something I've not forgotten because when I had degrees and masters those same institutions went on rejecting me when I was later applying for different studies. Although the point is that neither the schools nor my family culture would have given me the steer to go to university.

    I know that I thought that one of the fairer reasons given for abolishing spending on tuition fees was that middle class families were opting out of the public schools at great expense because they knew that their expenses for university education would be covered by the taxpayer (mind you I only thought that supportable so long as the baby bonds were available as these were, in an indirect and covert way, public spending for tuition fees, for anything really but for those that knew how to use them it would have been that, like a lot of technical adjustments New Labour made the public didnt really get it so didnt worry about it when the Tories abolished it, in fact it seemed sensible).

    Crosland's attitude to private education and its expense was good, he said let people with money do what they want, if they wanted to spend their money on private education when they had already paid for perfectly good public schooling through taxation. He saw that as a kind of rich persons eccentricity. What I dont like is that the debate and discussion has been framed in such a way as to make it appear like private schooling is the only option, its not, often its accompanied by the running down of existing or alternative education to independent/private schools and tuition. There's not a real objective assessment of private education or private anything contra the public. I'm a socialist but support certain sorts of privatisation. However most of it is ideologically weighted, seriously so, and when failings or the inappropriateness of marketisation should be in evidence there is instead a welter of excuses which amount to "we're on this road now, lets see it through".

    The whole thing avoids the realpolitik too that most governments do not govern for the electorate but the transglobal capitalists, how do you attract their money is the bottom line, academic theme parks is one way. I would be totally unsurprised if eventually education is carved up into people indulging various educational fantasies within their elite stratum, all age groups or stages from earliest to latest, with a deteriorated and deteriorating system running parallel to it producing less than satisfactory "help" for the privileged houses or families who will reign.

  4. #224
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by uumlau View Post
    Public-school employees have doubled (and spending has tripled), and we have nothing to show for it. I don't believe that teacher's unions are evil, but neither are they angelic, and they do often get in the way of efforts to spend money more effectively. They enforce "tenure" and oppose merit pay, and in Wisconsin, they'd rather suffer layoffs than have benefits restructured in a sustainable way. I do not regard them as the sole problem with public schools, but they are part of the forces that wish to prevent any change that involves spending less money or firing bad/mediocre teachers: that's just the nature of unions.

    They can focus on "educational quality" all they want, but note that your list of improvements includes lower class size (i.e., lower work load) and blaming others (it's those administrators and testing standards), but not anything that resembles "merit pay" or the use of any kind of a metric to measure teacher quality. It's one thing to oppose particular metrics and favor others, but opposing all metrics other than seniority suggests less-than-unselfish aims. W/r to class size, the WSJ opinion piece I linked points out that we do have lower class sizes, but that doesn't appear to produce better results than higher class sizes did 40 years ago.

    As for reasonable wages, what is a "reasonable wage"?
    http://www.teacherportal.com/teacher-salaries-by-state/
    Are these reasonable or unreasonable? Why? Why not? Did you remember to factor in the 9-month work year? (Feel free to google for other lists/sources)

    Note that one valid possible solution for increasing wages and improving educational results is to hire fewer, more effective teachers at higher pay (think in terms of being high enough to attract them from other careers). Think unions would go for that? I think it would be worthwhile to have school in session year round: would the teachers want to forgo their 3-month summer vacation, even if it meant more pay?

    FWIW, teaching is one of the jobs I was considering, at least for a while. I've enjoyed teaching the few chances I got (both as a TA in graduate school and in special summer school programs for high school students when I was in college). It was a blast: I really enjoyed it, and those who've seen me explain things tell me I ought to be a teacher. But it didn't take much research for me to decide that a career in teaching would suck, and not because of the pay (my degree in most cases would ensure a fairly high pay, as long as I found a district that could afford it), but because of the unions and the politics and the one-size-fits-all nature of public education. (Remember, we INTJs generally don't like being told how to do what we do!) I often wonder how many other qualified potential teachers make the same decision.
    1. Lower class size and reduced administrative duties don't mean a smaller workload for teachers, just a different workload. For instance, with a small class, teachers can assign more frequent essays, projects, free-response questions on exams because they have time (including evenings and weekends at home) to review them. Teachers can run more interactive lessons, address more individual questions and problems in class, and have more time to deal with fewer troublemakers. With a large class, discipline takes proportionally more time, many students will not be able to get their questions addressed or their ideas heard, and multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank style assignments will predominate. The teacher saves no more time and effort, but has delivered less to each student.

    2. Assigning to teachers administrative duties that should be done by administrative personnel makes as much sense as saving money by firing the janitor and having the teachers mop the floors and clean the toilets when the kids leave for the day.

    3. The teacher should be focused on teaching content and skills to students. If this alone is not adequate preparation for required standardized tests, then there is something wrong with the tests. All too often, there IS something wrong with the tests, or school districts are so greedy for the smallest of test score increases, that substantial time in the schedule is set aside for "test preparation", some of which is not learning content at all, but just learning how to take that particular brand of standardized test (i.e. gaming the system).

    4. (3) above is related to the idea of merit pay in that such systems are often based on standardized test scores since that is easy to measure and to analyze statistically. Yes, many teachers and teachers's unions/groups oppose merit pay systems categorically and beyond reason. This is partly because most merit pay systems proposed are based on flawed or inappropriate metrics, so they generalize. It is one thing to embrace the theory of merit pay and tenure, and easier removal of poorly performing teachers; while quite another to find a system that will work in practice. A workable system requires fair, transparent performance standards that can be accurately measured and correlate with actual student learning, not just test-taking skills. (Factors like a school or department's rates of graduation, and college admission would be fair game for such a figure of merit.)

    5. I do not have time now to find statistics on teacher pay relative to that of other professions. Anecdotally, I have a friend who found he could earn more as a truck driver, and another as a restaurant manager. Both left teaching for these other careers because their families needed the money. I know even more teachers (my parents included) who used those 3 summer months to work part-time to augment their income, I suppose much as university faculty will derive summer salary from research grants. People often argue that teachers shouldn't expect to be attracted to the profession by the pay. Either we are still underpaying teachers, or we are vastly overpaying people in many other professions. Perhaps we should encourage them to look beyond the profit motive as well.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  5. #225
    Superwoman Red Herring's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    Wise words
    + 1

    As somebody with a lot of teachers in her family and social circle I can only agree and add that most of it also applies to these parts of Europe.
    The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge. Neither love without knowledge, nor knowledge without love can produce a good life. - Bertrand Russell
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  6. #226
    Ginkgo
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    Let's honor our mothers and fathers by dismantling their failing worldviews.

  7. #227
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
    And on the pedestal these words appear --
    "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.


    ~Percy Bysshe Shelley
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  8. #228
    Happy Dancer uumlau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    1. Lower class size and reduced administrative duties don't mean a smaller workload for teachers, just a different workload. For instance, with a small class, teachers can assign more frequent essays, projects, free-response questions on exams because they have time (including evenings and weekends at home) to review them. Teachers can run more interactive lessons, address more individual questions and problems in class, and have more time to deal with fewer troublemakers. With a large class, discipline takes proportionally more time, many students will not be able to get their questions addressed or their ideas heard, and multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank style assignments will predominate. The teacher saves no more time and effort, but has delivered less to each student.
    These are hand-waving assertions. To the degree that teachers need to pay attention to "individual" issues, they aren't teaching the rest of the class. (It is entirely appropriate of course to have teachers who specialize in students who are lagging behind.) "[M]ore time to deal with fewer troublemakers?" How about trading that for spending hardly any time to deal with any troublemakers, because troublemakers aren't allowed in the classroom.
    2. Assigning to teachers administrative duties that should be done by administrative personnel makes as much sense as saving money by firing the janitor and having the teachers mop the floors and clean the toilets when the kids leave for the day.
    Agreed. Though if you have spare teachers to assign to administrative duties, I guess there aren't any students for them to teach. This doesn't say much for productivity or wise hiring on the part of the school district.

    3. The teacher should be focused on teaching content and skills to students. If this alone is not adequate preparation for required standardized tests, then there is something wrong with the tests. All too often, there IS something wrong with the tests, or school districts are so greedy for the smallest of test score increases, that substantial time in the schedule is set aside for "test preparation", some of which is not learning content at all, but just learning how to take that particular brand of standardized test (i.e. gaming the system).
    I think the problem is that the good teachers can "just teach" and test scores aren't a problem, but to an administrator, any teacher not teaching to the test isn't performing. I largely agree with you w/r to teaching to standardized tests. That misses the point of education. I never took any standardized test for which I prepared or studied; I took them and aced them because my education was adequate to the task.

    4. (3) above is related to the idea of merit pay in that such systems are often based on standardized test scores since that is easy to measure and to analyze statistically. Yes, many teachers and teachers's unions/groups oppose merit pay systems categorically and beyond reason. This is partly because most merit pay systems proposed are based on flawed or inappropriate metrics, so they generalize. It is one thing to embrace the theory of merit pay and tenure, and easier removal of poorly performing teachers; while quite another to find a system that will work in practice. A workable system requires fair, transparent performance standards that can be accurately measured and correlate with actual student learning, not just test-taking skills. (Factors like a school or department's rates of graduation, and college admission would be fair game for such a figure of merit.)
    I largely agree here. Metrics along the lines of income earned (relative to others from the same school), college admissions, graduate school admissions, rate of employment 5 years or 10 years after graduation are much better metrics than test scores. Fire all teachers who are in the bottom 10% for three years straight. Like I said, debating metrics is fine; opposing all potential metrics is not.

    5. I do not have time now to find statistics on teacher pay relative to that of other professions. Anecdotally, I have a friend who found he could earn more as a truck driver, and another as a restaurant manager. Both left teaching for these other careers because their families needed the money. I know even more teachers (my parents included) who used those 3 summer months to work part-time to augment their income, I suppose much as university faculty will derive summer salary from research grants. People often argue that teachers shouldn't expect to be attracted to the profession by the pay. Either we are still underpaying teachers, or we are vastly overpaying people in many other professions. Perhaps we should encourage them to look beyond the profit motive as well.
    I don't disagree that teachers earn low pay. About 25% of that is the nine-month work year. I think most parents and teachers wouldn't mind an all-year school session (with appropriate vacation time, just not all summer long). Teachers would get more pay (because school is in session all year long), and parents wouldn't have to pay for day care for their younger children who are in school. The rest of it is that the system is gamed and works against new teachers.

    Overpaying people in other professions? I suspect we're overpaying the teachers we have. I recall many good teachers, but most of them were mediocre, at best. Do I need to remind you the joke that a Ph.D. in Education is? My impression is that we overpay mediocre teachers who don't mind working in a very political system that merely requires that you keep your head down and not mess up very badly (like having sex with a student).

    The way to get better teachers and education is to hire fewer-but-more-effective (and thus higher-paid) teachers to handle the 90% of students who will do fine with basic instruction/lectures, and a few more teachers to handle the 10% of students that are hard cases and otherwise difficult. OR you could even have a system that allows freedom of choice so that it isn't a matter of having a few really "smart" people make the choices for all of us, but instead rely on the power of parents saying "no" to schools and teachers that plainly suck.

    "Look beyond the profit motive"? If public entities understood how to apply the "profit motive" to improve services, we wouldn't be having these discussions. Pay people who do a good job; fire people who don't - it really is that simple ... Unless you're talking government work, where you fire people that do a good job (or rather, give them incentives to leave, because firing is too difficult), because they make the mediocre people look bad.
    An argument is two people sharing their ignorance.

    A discussion is two people sharing their understanding, even when they disagree.

  9. #229
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by uumlau View Post
    These are hand-waving assertions. To the degree that teachers need to pay attention to "individual" issues, they aren't teaching the rest of the class. (It is entirely appropriate of course to have teachers who specialize in students who are lagging behind.) "[M]ore time to deal with fewer troublemakers?" How about trading that for spending hardly any time to deal with any troublemakers, because troublemakers aren't allowed in the classroom.
    And that is a baseless argument. You may have considered a career in teaching, but you appear to have no experience in an ordinary public school setting. A class is nothing more than a collection of individuals; addressing individual questions and needs is part of teaching the class. Teachers must decide between answering more of those raised hands, or making sure they get through the day's lesson plan; between putting meaningful comments on everyone's essay, or just the grade. You are right about troublemakers, though. Every teacher I know would prefer to have them removed from the class, but rarely get that option, thanks to those administrators you seem to feel receive undue blame.

    Quote Originally Posted by uumlau View Post
    Agreed. Though if you have spare teachers to assign to administrative duties, I guess there aren't any students for them to teach. This doesn't say much for productivity or wise hiring on the part of the school district.
    The only "spare" teachers doing administrative duties are those who have been promoted into administrative positions, often a good manifestation of the Peter principle. Most classroom teachers must fit these administrative duties into their standard day, taking up planning periods, lunch time, and of course evening and weekend time, all better spend on instruction and interaction with colleagues and parents. Teachers made "spare" by increases in class size are simply dismissed.

    Quote Originally Posted by uumlau View Post
    I don't disagree that teachers earn low pay. About 25% of that is the nine-month work year. I think most parents and teachers wouldn't mind an all-year school session (with appropriate vacation time, just not all summer long). Teachers would get more pay (because school is in session all year long), and parents wouldn't have to pay for day care for their younger children who are in school. The rest of it is that the system is gamed and works against new teachers.
    Yes, most teachers I know (and I have worked with quite a few) have no objection to all-year school as long as pay is adjusted, and adequate time is provided for training (now often done during the summer).

    Quote Originally Posted by uumlau View Post
    Overpaying people in other professions? I suspect we're overpaying the teachers we have. I recall many good teachers, but most of them were mediocre, at best. Do I need to remind you the joke that a Ph.D. in Education is? My impression is that we overpay mediocre teachers who don't mind working in a very political system that merely requires that you keep your head down and not mess up very badly (like having sex with a student).

    "Look beyond the profit motive"? If public entities understood how to apply the "profit motive" to improve services, we wouldn't be having these discussions. Pay people who do a good job; fire people who don't - it really is that simple, unless you're talking government work, where you fire people that do a good job (or rather, give them incentives to leave, because firing is too difficult), because they make the mediocre people look bad.
    You keep mentioning the politics of the system, as if that is a unique feature of K-12 education. It is not. Politics is rampant in higher ed, in medicine (on top of legal issues), in finance, in government and their contractors, and many other professions and workplaces. Teachers actually have more chance of overcoming this if they put their minds to it than many other professionals do. No job or work environment is ideal.

    As for the profit motive, it's not all it's cracked up to be. We see what it has done in health care, and in most of the schools (including higher ed) run by for-profit entities. My main point, however, is that there is a double standard regarding compensation and professional motivation where teachers are concerned.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  10. #230
    Filthy Apes! Kalach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by uumlau View Post
    The way to get better teachers and education is to hire fewer-but-more-effective (and thus higher-paid) teachers to handle the 90% of students who will do fine with basic instruction/lectures, and a few more teachers to handle the 10% of students that are hard cases and otherwise difficult.
    Is there hidden in here an assumption that students in general will complete their several years long courses of tuition? At various legitimate stages in any person's school career, interests fork. If you keep, as we do, all these people attending the same institutions with the same curriculum taught largely in the same way, you are most assuredly no longer talking about groups of people the majority of whom can do fine with the same basic instruction/lectures.

    Any discussion on how to find better teachers is fundamentally wrong headed if one doesn't acknowledge that a huge amount of the education prescribed for young people these days has little relationship to the needs of those young people, and as such voids one of the more effective notions of teacher, someone present to share their love of one kind of knowledge.


    If education were genuinely valuable without reference to the student's own interests and directions, then the present system worldwide would be fine.
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