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  1. #231
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    U.S. Education Spending and Performance vs. The World

    We’ve put together this infographic that compares the United States’ education spend and performance versus eleven countries. The U.S. is the clear leader in total annual spending, but ranks 9th in Science performance and 10th in Math.

    During the most recent State of the Union Address, President Obama put out the call to “prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science and technology and engineering and math.” While the need is there to improve student performance in these subjects, the question remains: Are Americans ready to rise to the occasion?

    How much does annual spending per child impact educational outcomes? What role will teachers play in improving math and science scores? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below and share this infographic with others.

  2. #232
    Happy Dancer uumlau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    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.
    I've had to deal with lesson plans and the like, just not in a "public school setting". The same logistics apply. You can increase class size without hindering "individual questions": more often than not, answering one such question answers several others that other students were too shy to ask. Usually the phrase "any questions?" results in silence. "Individual attention" is a different matter. It's the difference between teaching a group class and giving what is effectively private tutoring to several students individually.

    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.
    The schools are government-run, and are for the most part are a government run monopoly. They're perhaps the single most socialistic institution in our society, run entirely differently than just about everything else, with compulsory attendance and compulsory taxes to pay for it. And yet you say "as if that is a unique feature of K-12 education"?! You're twisting the meaning of the word "politics" as I used it, to pretend that applies to every possible work environment. Most of those other work environments, even the more "political" ones, have more freedom than the public school environment.

    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.
    Notice I said "properly understood how to apply the 'profit motive'." Health care and higher education are rampant with rent-seeking as much or more than profit-seeking. (Google the terms.) The inflation rates in both "markets" are much higher than the rest of the economy, which implies that much of the money isn't coming from wealth creation. I expect both sectors to experience bubbles popping in the next decade or so.

    W/r to the "double standard", please specify what you believe the double standard is.
    An argument is two people sharing their ignorance.

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

  3. #233
    Happy Dancer uumlau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalach View Post
    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.
    For the most part, I agree with your comments. Education does need to be more individualized, which is difficult (if not impossible, by definition) to do in a systematically uniform way.
    An argument is two people sharing their ignorance.

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

  4. #234
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by uumlau View Post
    I've had to deal with lesson plans and the like, just not in a "public school setting". The same logistics apply. You can increase class size without hindering "individual questions": more often than not, answering one such question answers several others that other students were too shy to ask. Usually the phrase "any questions?" results in silence. "Individual attention" is a different matter. It's the difference between teaching a group class and giving what is effectively private tutoring to several students individually.
    Then you have been in an educational setting with strange logistics indeed. One need not be a teacher to understand that Q&A, discussion, and overall give-and-take work better in a smaller group. This is not private tutoring, it is giving each student a greater chance of being heard. The larger the class, the harder it is for the teacher to elicit participation from the shy, unsure, or distracted students. Even as a student, I have preferred smaller classes for this reason. In elementary schools, teachers are often checking individual or small group work, for instance listening to students read. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that in a larger class, the teacher will have less time to spend listening to each student; or will have to spend a larger portion of the school day on reading groups, at the expense of other activities.

    Quote Originally Posted by uumlau View Post
    The schools are government-run, and are for the most part are a government run monopoly. They're perhaps the single most socialistic institution in our society, run entirely differently than just about everything else, with compulsory attendance and compulsory taxes to pay for it. And yet you say "as if that is a unique feature of K-12 education"?! You're twisting the meaning of the word "politics" as I used it, to pretend that applies to every possible work environment. Most of those other work environments, even the more "political" ones, have more freedom than the public school environment.
    So what is the alternative? Disband the public schools in favor of a market-driven educational free-for-all? This would result in an educational patchwork even more uneven and unfair than what we have today, while we need just the opposite. Our public education system has historically been a primary factor in fostering social mobility and the integration of immigrants.

    In any case, the large number of private and religious schools, and homeschooling families, shows that public education is hardly a monopoly. Even the term "government run" makes them sound far more monolithic and homogeneous than they are, with their given the substantial local control. As you mentioned yourself, public education is quite a mixed bag. And far from being socialist (I suppose by your definition, the public safety infrastructure is socialist, too), public schools are most effective in churning out workers for a very capitalistic system. Conformity is valued, the typical office or production work environment is idolized, and any real criticism of the status quo is rare (now we're back to the idea of critical thinking).

    There is some element of politics in every work environment because they all contain people. Having been involved in other work environments run by the government, I can tell you that your average public school has much more opportunity for professional freedom than most, because the people a teacher must persuade to accept something new are in fact local, and the scale (a school, a school district) is relatively small. Many teachers are hesitant to use this freedom, either out of concern for their career, or because of the work involved in going against the flow. The ones who try often succeed, however, while the same initiative in other government workplaces or even large industry doesn't stand a chance, no matter how much effort an individual puts in.

    Quote Originally Posted by uumlau View Post
    Notice I said "properly understood how to apply the 'profit motive'." Health care and higher education are rampant with rent-seeking as much or more than profit-seeking. (Google the terms.) The inflation rates in both "markets" are much higher than the rest of the economy, which implies that much of the money isn't coming from wealth creation. I expect both sectors to experience bubbles popping in the next decade or so.

    W/r to the "double standard", please specify what you believe the double standard is.
    I am no economist, but it seems that any effort at government regulation can be labelled as "rent-seeking" by those who stand to lose under it. Professions of all kinds are indeed increasingly overregulated, with certification becoming more important than qualification and actual ability to do the job. Teaching is probably not the worst in this regard, but is well up there. Most teachers I know do not support this, especially when it makes them jump through hoops to continue to do the job they have been doing well for years.

    Higher ed is certainly due for a bubble to pop; I'm not as sure about K-12 education, public or private. I don't see so much cost inflation there, as stupid budgeting. Many schools have gone technology happy, putting smart boards and fancy projection systems in every classroom. They buy new textbooks when the old ones are still serviceable and accurate (how much changes in algebra, really). Then, they tell parents to purchase tissues and crayons and baggies for the classroom because "there is not enough money". That is the equivalent of a parent buying a fancy flat screen TV, taking his family to Disney World, then asking his boss for a bonus so he can replace his kids' worn out shoes. Teachers do not drive these skewed priorities -- administrators and school boards do (there's your politics). What teachers do typically is make up the difference by purchasing necessary classroom supplies and materials out of their own pockets.

    The double standard is that teachers typically get criticised for attempting to improve their salary and benefits, while members of most other professions do not. I often hear "people don't become teachers for the money", but rarely "people don't become lawyers, doctors, financial analysts, engineers for the money", even though many in these professions, like teachers, probably do the job for fulfillment rather than wealth. Put another way, teachers have long been expected to accept a mediocre salary out of devotion to their profession, while most others have not. (I'm not sure how many teachers are in your family, but I grew up hearing this one.)
    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. #235
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalach View Post
    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.
    Our system does a poor job of differentiating the educational experience. Even the mantra of enabling everyone to attend college is misguided; college is not for everyone, and there is nothing wrong with the many productive careers that do not require it. We would do better to establish a basic level of knowledge and skill that every student should attain, then build on that with more consideration of individual interests and abilities. The pitfall to avoid is sorting students into inescapable tracks too early in their school career, when they may not be sure of either.
    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...

  6. #236
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    Put another way, teachers have long been expected to accept a mediocre salary out of devotion to their profession, while most others have not. (I'm not sure how many teachers are in your family, but I grew up hearing this one.)
    We can afford to pay the good teachers more.

    As long as we can pay the bad teachers less.

  7. #237
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    We can afford to pay the good teachers more.

    As long as we can pay the bad teachers less.
    How do you think we should determine which teachers are good and which are bad? Right now they're determining it entirely via standardized test scores, which is kind of ridic IMO. But I can't really think of a better way. "Good teacher"/"Bad teacher" is pretty subjective, a lot of the time- I recently discovered in a Facebook group somebody from my elementary school formed that a lot of people thought my 5th grade English teacher was awesome. I was terrified of her and in her class my grades dropped from all As to mostly Ds.

  8. #238
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    How do you think we should determine which teachers are good and which are bad? Right now they're determining it entirely via standardized test scores, which is kind of ridic IMO. But I can't really think of a better way. "Good teacher"/"Bad teacher" is pretty subjective, a lot of the time- I recently discovered in a Facebook group somebody from my elementary school formed that a lot of people thought my 5th grade English teacher was awesome. I was terrified of her and in her class my grades dropped from all As to mostly Ds.
    Without incentivizing success we will be stuck with the same caliber of teachers we have now.

    Just because the tests suck doesn't mean we couldn't have some sort of a county board made up of former educators that would be allowed to rate the counties public school teachers.

    There's more than one way to skin a cat.

    Either way, education needs major reform and teachers and their pay will probably end up being a part of that reform out of necessity.

  9. #239
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    How do you think we should determine which teachers are good and which are bad? Right now they're determining it entirely via standardized test scores, which is kind of ridic IMO. But I can't really think of a better way. "Good teacher"/"Bad teacher" is pretty subjective, a lot of the time- I recently discovered in a Facebook group somebody from my elementary school formed that a lot of people thought my 5th grade English teacher was awesome. I was terrified of her and in her class my grades dropped from all As to mostly Ds.
    Uumlau mentioned a few metrics that sound good in theory since they actually relate to students' future success: things like income earned, college admissions, graduate school admissions, and rate of employment 5 years or 10 years after graduation. Everything but college admissions, however, has too long a time constant to be practical for evaluating teachers, and even that is fairly useless for elementary teachers. And don't forget that those social workers, "starving artists", and clergy may never make that much money, however well educated they were.

    Evaluating teachers is almost inherently a subjective activity, but administrators in schools, as elsewhere, are loathe to make actual judgment calls about anything. They prefer to hide behind the objectivity of statistics that mean nothing, because the underlying data don't measure the desired parameter.
    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. #240
    Filthy Apes! Kalach's Avatar
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    I think perhaps if a standardised education takes more than ten years to complete, then something is very much amiss. Individual education guided by your own choice and resources can and maybe should last a lifetime, but for the people of any given country, how is there ten years worth of standard material that everyone is supposed to share? What society actually functions that way? The nations of the world need more realistic institutions.

    Education, as much as it has been commodified in the last twenty years, is a fake purchase. You can't buy education. You can buy opportunity. You can pay for a seat in a room with like-minded fellows and a teacher. There you can use up money being introduced to a method and a standard, and you can expect to have your eventual proficiency measured. And if you fail? Well, if it wasn't you on your own who decided you'd be taking that class, you probably can complain. If it was legitimate for someone else to thrust that opportunity on you, then it is legitimate for us all to assume that the opportunity was going to be efficacious, your choice or not. And that might be what's weirdest about education these days.
    Bellison uncorked a flood of horrible profanity, which, translated, meant, "This is extremely unusual."

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