The Voucher Problem

While Obama’s joke of a budget is certainly DOA, it is worth looking through to see what bones he threw to his various supporters and what enemies he buried. I previously mentioned some heavy cuts to NASA. Here’s another one:

President Obama’s 2013 budget request not only recklessly increases funding for the Department of Education by another 3.5 percent (taking the bloated agency’s budget to $68.9 billion), it brazenly eliminates funding for the highly successful D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.

Not that long ago, President Obama said on the Today show that he would not send his own children to D.C. public schools. For seemingly political reasons, Obama has decided to stand in solidarity with the education special-interest groups and against this highly successful school-choice program.

1600 students are in the program and they have made substantial progress relative to their peers. Perhaps this is the reason Obama continues to target this program (it was killed in the 2009 stimulus, then resurrected by the Republicans). We simply can’t have someone competing with our Soviet-style education system. Next thing you know, teachers are teaching like they want, students are learning as they should, parents are involved and the well of ignorant Democratic voters begins to dry up.

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  1. AlexInCT

    1600 students are in the program and they have made substantial progress relative to their peers.

    Precisely why the powers that be need this program killed ASAP. When resutls are hard to explain away, you just make sure they can not be produced. Then you can argue that this stuff doesn’t work. People stupid enough to bring up these statistics can then be silenced with the counter argument that if government cut it, it must not have been working well at all, too. Win-Win for the nanny staters. The kids in DC whose parents will keep voting for the nanny staters however, just got shafted harder than Sully does by his boy friend.

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  2. davidst

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  3. salinger

    1600 students are in the program and they have made substantial progress relative to their peers

    In a district that has close to 50,000 students. My bet is that these 1600 (three percent or so) kids have engaged parents, strong support at home and would be doing better than the rest of the population no matter where they went to school. Even so, kudos to these parents and guardians – they’ve obviously made good choices for their kids.

    A mistake would be to extrapolate that charter schools and more parent choice is the answer to the education dilemma. (Research shows charter school as a whole have no better record than public.) The parents of these 1600 kids are the exception in urban school districts.

    It’s easy to throw some cash in the direction of a motivated subset of folks and record improvement. I’d be much more interested in how we plan to save the kids with derelict parents.

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  4. Seattle Outcast

    The reason is that most learning is not done in school.

    Obviously. I mean, kids love history, math, spelling, etc, and eagerly seek out library books on a wide variety of subjects like chemistry, physics, biology, calculus, astronomy etc and spend most of their free time indulging in study, and don’t sit around playing video games.

    These days, if a kid in a public school gets a good basic education, it is generally in spite of the teachers, not because of them.

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  5. balthazar

    “Another minus-one and run. You know, your inability to respond to my points gives me validation. Thanks.”

    You know what you can validate?

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  6. AlexInCT

    I’ve never met anyone who is intelligent or stupid because of good or bad teaching, or good or bad schools.

    Agreed. What I have however seen first hand is both stupid and intelligent people being done a disservice because of the way our schools are dominated by insane bureaucratic bullshit that is more concerned with PC concepts like self esteem and global warming than actually making students work for their grades and learning things of value.

    Good parenting, a healthy environment (at home and in school), and most of all the personality of the student are probably the biggest factors.

    Funny how the students with the best predispositions tend to come from “healthy homes”, where parents value education, work hard – setting the example – and inculcate some values into the kid. Broken homes, people that make bad choices that leave them living in poverty, people that think school is for stupid honkeys or rich people, and the kids that feel they need to be rewarded just for showing, do bad in school for a reason.

    The reason is that most learning is not done in school.

    Not anymore. Unfortunately a lot of valuable learning was done away with for one reason or another. Too much time is spent on PC bullshit and feel-good crap, while important things like US history and our system of government are glanced over. I believe there is an agenda behind this. People that don’t lack historical perspective or understanding of their government wouldn’t tolerate the shit we are now dealing with, just like narcissistic people brainwashed to live in the PC world, will demand more of it.

    It’s not a coincidence that throughout history tyrants have uses schools to breed drones, and that the countries that prospered the most where the ones that valued education and hard work. That’s why Asian countries are gaining on us while our kids spend more time concerned with Jersey Shore and getting a trophy for showing.

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  7. AlexInCT

    It’s easy to throw some cash in the direction of a motivated subset of folks and record improvement. I’d be much more interested in how we plan to save the kids with derelict parents.

    Why is this my task? If their parents do not feel obligated to do this why should I pay for it both hypothtically and literally?

    I still contend that the quickest way to make education relevant, and get people to want it, is to basically let the people that do not want it now to opt out, but only if they agree to live with the consequences of that decision. With a few exceptions the next generation of these people will sure as hell value education. Because it is free and we go to such extremes to make sure everyone gets it, we have devalued and diluted it. Look at Asian kids, and tell me I am wrong.

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  8. Seattle Outcast

    That’s why Asian countries are gaining on us while our kids spend more time concerned with Jersey Shore and getting a trophy for showing

    What the hell ever happened to competition in this country (I mean, besides soccer moms)? When I was a kid you got a trophy for WINNING. You wanted that trophy or award, you fucking worked your ass off and earned it. And if you were never good enough to win, then you learned that others were better than you at that and appreciated their work/talent for what it was. Lots of kids never got a trophy, and they were perfectly fine with that.

    You know who actually hates getting shit they haven’t earned? Kids – they know bullshit when they see it.

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  9. davidst

    Obviously. I mean, kids love history, math, spelling, etc, and eagerly seek out library books on a wide variety of subjects like chemistry, physics, biology, calculus, astronomy etc and spend most of their free time indulging in study, and don’t sit around playing video games./blockquote>

    Some of them actually do, with only the slightest prodding. In any case, after people get out of school, what do they remember of what they learned? Most of them, almost nothing. Obviously, most kids will take the easy way out and learn nothing if parents and other authorities let them. Schools and parents can plant seeds of learning and can force a certain amount of learning by rote, but serious learning happens when natural curiosity takes over.

    I’m not saying we should cancel school or that rigorous courses aren’t the best way to teach proficiency in technical subjects.

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  10. Seattle Outcast

    In any case, after people get out of school, what do they remember of what they learned? Most of them, almost nothing.

    I’ll disagree with that – if it was true then there would be no point to school at all.

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  11. AlexInCT

    I’ve never met anyone who is intelligent or stupid because of good or bad teaching, or good or bad schools.

    Some of the biggest dumbasses I have ever known of, completely lacking in basic common sense, were full of themselves because they had so much more schooling than the common man. The country is run by a bunch of them right now. They still think they can defy human nature because they are credentialed. These people all where done a disservice because they where taught the nonsense that ended up making them unable to deal with reality. They where taught this bullshit by bad teachers in stupid school systems.

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  12. blameme

    A mistake would be to extrapolate that charter schools and more parent choice is the answer to the education dilemma.

    How is giving parents more choices EVER a bad thing? It is their children – they should be able to send their kids to schools that are safe, well run and achieving.

    Some schools are gang infested, drug infested hell holes. Why should a parent be FORCED to send their child there – they shouldn’t – but since schools are paid by the number of kids sitting in theirs desks – the unions damn sure want them in those seats – safety be damned.

    Parents with kids should be able to send their kids to the schools of their choice. Period. Vouchers that pay for that should follow the kids – competition would then create scenarios where bad schools would perform or be replaced.

    I am always shocked when liberals scream for more choice for individuals, then limit parents who are trying to do right by their kids because it would screw up their little social experiment in public schools – equal misery for everyone.

    To say that there is no evidence of more success is to ignore…these 1600. I know kids in rotten schools. I have seen the influence of these schools on these kids. Many studies show that a kid’s peers have much more influence, eventually, on their lives than their parents.

    SMDH on this. Less freedom for those parents!! I mean, who are they to decide what is best for their family? Let good old government solve all the problems. Geez.

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  13. davidst
    In any case, after people get out of school, what do they remember of what they learned? Most of them, almost nothing.

    I’ll disagree with that – if it was true then there would be no point to school at all

    If you don’t use it, you lose it. The things people learn in school they mostly don’t use. There are exceptions to both rules of course, plus people retain a general base of knowledge (5%?) and they learn to what extent they have the ability to learn. I know I can do Calculus and I can vaguely remember the most fundamental concepts taught in Calc I. Everything from Calc II and III though… gone.

    I’ve never met anyone who is intelligent or stupid because of good or bad teaching, or good or bad schools.

    Some of the biggest dumbasses I have ever known of, completely lacking in basic common sense, were full of themselves because they had so much more schooling than the common man. The country is run by a bunch of them right now. They still think they can defy human nature because they are credentialed. These people all where done a disservice because they where taught the nonsense that ended up making them unable to deal with reality. They where taught this bullshit by bad teachers in stupid school systems.

    Definitely. Ability to pass courses does not necessarily mean a person is smart to begin with, much less in all areas (such as common sense). As for Obama and company, they are ignorant if they think they are helping, but I don’t think that is their intention or belief.

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  14. salinger

    How is giving parents more choices EVER a bad thing?

    and

    SMDH on this. Less freedom for those parents!! I mean, who are they to decide what is best for their family? Let good old government solve all the problems. Geez.

    You’re shaking your head because you’ve made a common analytical mistake known as selective heuristics – when faced with a difficult question you answered a different and easier “common sense” question ignoring the original query.

    More choice is certainly a good thing when folks are capable. I posited that the parents of these 1,600 kids (out of 50,000) were the exception in most school situations and asked how do we meet the needs of the kids whose home structure does not include engaged parents? – a very significant number, most likely the majority.

    So, my premise is not that choice is a bad thing (nor do I dismiss the the achievements of the 1,600 kids) – my premise is that choice in itself doesn’t answer the greater problem.

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  15. balthazar

    So, my premise is not that choice is a bad thing (nor do I dismiss the the achievements of the 1,600 kids) – my premise is that choice in itself doesn’t answer the greater problem.

    It did for 1600 kids, and it could for many more if the idiot in the WH didn’t try and cancel the goddamn program every year because his asshole union reps tell him he must.

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  16. Section8

    Unions force schools to keep ineffectual teachers, but they also force schools to keep controversial teachers. Teachers have more liberty with union support. Students probably hear a greater variety of ideas and could conceivably weigh them against each other as freely as they are inclined to.

    They’ll keep controversial teachers if the union supports the controversy. Also, I’ve seen it first hand where teachers got laid off after a union vote. The option was to not have raise for the year, to keep all teachers, or to get a raise and sacrifice some teachers. The ones with seniority knew they weren’t getting laid off, so I know kid’s best interest isn’t part of the union’s job. Market pressures would be based on the parent’s best interest, which by extension would be the kids.

    I do have to wonder if you claim to be more libertarian, you certainly seem to support the leftist ideology. This is fine, anyone can change their views over time, but at least be honest about it.

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  17. blameme

    So, my premise is not that choice is a bad thing (nor do I dismiss the the achievements of the 1,600 kids) – my premise is that choice in itself doesn’t answer the greater problem.

    And this is the attitude I am SMDH at….though you made a common mistake of not liking the answer I gave and therefore tried to move the goal posts ever so slightly.

    SMDH at….the fact that you, or anyone thinks it is ok to reduce freedom for all parents because some are incapable of raising kids is my issue.

    Look, there are morons in every facet of life. If we apply your reasoning from this (well some are good at it, but many can’t be trusted so let the government take freedom of choice from everyone), then our freedom of choice is a joke. We have no freedom – as we must be saved from ourselves! Though many can do a great job running their own lives, there are many who cannot – so we must sacrifice freedom for all!

    The “all knowing government” has to save us from ourselves. That is what I am SMDH at – very simple.

    I assume you are a government paid teacher? If not – that is their party line…I don’t think any parent thinks a school has to be perfect. But when you need metal detectors to get in to one, or drug dogs etc, then a parent should IN AMERICA HAVE THE RIGHT TO DECIDE FOR THEIR CHILDREN what is best for them. Simple, but apparently very scary and dangerous so the government just must not let that happen.

    I think even if there isn’t success that the right of school choice is inherently with the parent. So, throw the statistics out – I support freedom for the parents. I do NOT think the government is smarter, or better at making school decisions than the VAST majority of parents. This is a freedom issue. I see which side you are on – let’s just let good ol’ benevolent gubmint step in and change our diapers for us. Freedom is overrated.

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  18. blameme

    Another example of “government, union run schools taking care of our kids…” Just like the TSA – let’s search all people as maybe a few could be scary….less freedom. Get used to it – government knows best, loves us dearly and has the best intentions. No School Choice – save the children!

    http://tinyurl.com/82tjful

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  19. salinger

    though you made a common mistake of not liking the answer I gave and therefore tried to move the goal posts ever so slightly.

    An honest reading of my previous posts will show, factually my premise never changed a bit.

    So, throw the statistics out – I support freedom for the parents.

    I support both – in fact without honest statistics and research the parents cannot make an informed choice. So much of our recent education policy from the last three administrations ignores research for “common sense” solutions which do more harm than good.

    I also support raising the level of education across the board – not just for the few who come from a home where the head of household is engaged enough to opt out.

    But for arguments sake – let’s say a voucher like program is open to all and – based on best research estimates- around 15-35% of families from struggling schools would utilize it – what do we do with the kids who do not participate? (In Milwaukee 15,000 vouchers were made available – under 10,000 were used – this in a district with the population of almost 90,000 – meaning only about 10% opted for the voucher. The fact that there were unused vouchers implies demand was satisfied.)

    What do you do with the schools left with only the kids who are left behind?

    You can, as an earlier poster did, say fuck ‘em. But remember these are the same kids who will grow up wanting what you’ve got without the skill set to do so legally. I’d prefer not to write off this slice of our youth.

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  20. Kimpost

    But why is freedom of choice a bad thing? Why not have a voucher program while making sure that all education is good? Does one really have to exclude the other? Why is this a right/left issue?

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  21. AlexInCT

    If you don’t use it, you lose it. The things people learn in school they mostly don’t use. There are exceptions to both rules of course, plus people retain a general base of knowledge (5%?) and they learn to what extent they have the ability to learn. I know I can do Calculus and I can vaguely remember the most fundamental concepts taught in Calc I. Everything from Calc II and III though… gone.

    And here I thought school was supposed to teach you to think. Or was that the pursuit of my engineering bachelor degrees that was suppose to do that, as my professor took great care to remind us of our senior year, when he made it a point of telling all the young bucks with their heads full of themselves that they knew shit, yet? Can’t remember. The point is that if we are going to evaluate what you should be thought in school, based on future usage, you can chuck out everything because it all will be “unused” by someone or another. The experience of learning these things. Figuring out what they mean, is what is of value, if what you take from it actually translates to useful skills.

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  22. salinger

    The point is that if we are going to evaluate what you should be thought in school, based on future usage, you can chuck out everything because it all will be “unused” by someone or another. The experience of learning these things. Figuring out what they mean, is what is of value, if what you take from it actually translates to useful skills.

    Which makes the case for doing away with standardized testing.

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  23. AlexInCT

    But why is freedom of choice a bad thing? Why not have a voucher program while making sure that all education is good? Does one really have to exclude the other? Why is this a right/left issue?

    You are not very familiar with the schools system in the US, are you Kimpost? It’s a right vs. left issue because the people that are now clamoring for choice do so out of frustration. After more than 5 decades of the left monopolizing the education experience it is a fracas of epic proportions. As others have pointed out the unions protect the teachers at the expense of the kids, most of what passes for education is nothing but brainwashing, and we keep graduating idiots that are barely functional and could be outdone at the few jobs they are qualified for by a monkey wearing a hairnet. We have an entire segment of our population that thinks school is a waste. It’s acting white or not going to make a difference.

    If you are lucky enough to live where the schools are not abysmally bad, your kids might sneak bye. But the most expensive school systems tend to be the ones with the highest failure rates. And we keep getting told the solution is to give unions more power, the left more influence over what’s taught, how we grade, and what constitutes failure/success, and to shut up about wanting results and give them more money. On average we spend so much money per pupil that you would expect us to be producing Einsteins en mass, but in the mean time the kids keep getting dumber and dumber. When you point out that the system is broke and a failure, you get told that is because we are being cheap and not spending enough.

    BTW, I could say there is justice in the universe because the people impacted the worse by the left’s policies and agenda are the ones that constantly vote for them regardless of how hard they get shafted, but that’s little consolation considering the overall impact on the prospective future of this country.

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  24. davidst
    Unions force schools to keep ineffectual teachers, but they also force schools to keep controversial teachers. Teachers have more liberty with union support. Students probably hear a greater variety of ideas and could conceivably weigh them against each other as freely as they are inclined to.

    I do have to wonder if you claim to be more libertarian, you certainly seem to support the leftist ideology. This is fine, anyone can change their views over time, but at least be honest about it.

    You only quoted the block where I considered the positives of union protected teachers. I took both sides in that post and ended it by saying: “As with most issues, I don’t know which system I prefer and instead start wondering what other possibilities there are.”

    They’ll keep controversial teachers if the union supports the controversy. Also, I’ve seen it first hand where teachers got laid off after a union vote. The option was to not have raise for the year, to keep all teachers, or to get a raise and sacrifice some teachers. The ones with seniority knew they weren’t getting laid off, so I know kid’s best interest isn’t part of the union’s job. Market pressures would be based on the parent’s best interest, which by extension would be the kids.

    I don’t agree that parents best interest is always the kids best interest. That depends greatly on the parents. But I suppose when there is uncertainty, it’s best to defer to individual choice.

    With vouchers (to the extent that it creates a “free” market) schools and teachers must strictly fall in line with “market” pressures. The pressures are not guaranteed to be good, better or benign. The pressure for true excellence is good, but it is only as good as the measurement system.

    So who invents and manages the measurement system in voucher programs?

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  25. AlexInCT

    Which makes the case for doing away with standardized testing.

    If we are going to do away with standardized testing, let’s also admit we need to reform the schools system completely, so that students are co located and taught at the level of their ability, like most other advanced nations in the west do, instead of forcing them all into an one-size-fits-all solution like we do now, which encourages promotion whether they are really prepared to move to a higher level or not. Create a system with schools that each specialize in and target different educational levels, geared towards the capability of the individuals attending, and let those that are not as gifted work their way up the education chain, if they show the desire and aptitude. Of course, this would also mean that only the people that prove they are qualified get to actually go to higher learning institutions, which might really kill the racket that government and colleges/universities are running right now.

    However, we will need some form of testing at each grade/level to determine people actually are learning, and those that fail need to be held back. The most horrible and damaging thing done to our educations system was the introduction for the whole self esteem model and the fear of telling kids they fail. It’s no wonder we have so many prissies out there OWSing it up these days after this model basically left them thinking they would be rewarded just for going through the motions.

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  26. AlexInCT

    So who invents and manages the measurement system in voucher programs?

    Defenitley not the people that have been driving the education model in this country for the last 5 or 6 decades. You can infer from that whatever you want, but you can not deny they have destroyed a system that was once the envy of the world and served our country well.

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  27. salinger

    let’s also admit we need to reform the schools system completely, so that students are co located and taught at the level of their ability, like most other advanced nations in the west do, instead of forcing them all into an one-size-fits-all solution like we do now, which encourages promotion whether they are really prepared to move to a higher level or not.

    You understand that this is the approach suggested by the NEA?

    However, we will need some form of testing at each grade/level to determine people actually are learning, and those that fail need to be held back.

    And the position held by the overwhelming majority of teacher union members?

    The most horrible and damaging thing done to our educations system was the introduction for the whole self esteem model and the fear of telling kids they fail

    This is a myth – the self esteem tact is way overplayed. The most dangerous contribution to social advancement is tying salaries to (ineffective standardized) test scores.

    Defenitley not the people that have been driving the education model in this country for the last 5 or 6 decades

    True, and these people have not been educators but politicians and lay-folk who do not specialize in education and their ideas for reform are as often as not nothing more than hunches. Reading First being an example.

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  28. AlexInCT

    You understand that this is the approach suggested by the NEA?

    Never heard that from anyone in the NEA. In fact, the few occasions I can remember hearing from NEA reps they all but demanded we institute more PC bullshit at the expense of education. What else I have heard involves the NEA pushing for changes that would allow them to entrench the union bureaucracy even harder at the expense of the poor souls passing through the halls of these schools.

    I would love to see the details of what the NEA has to say on this topic, though. The devil is always in the details.

    And the position held by the overwhelming majority of teacher union members?

    If I was a member of an organization that pissed on my leg and told me it was warm rain as much as union bosses do to their “members”, I would want to do away with that organization. In fact I would try as hard as possible to keep the damned thing from taking my money and not representing me.

    The point is that even if you are correct, the union membership’s wishes seem to be unimportant to the union bosses whose primary job is to grab as much money as they can and keep democrats in power to facilitate that shakedown.

    This is a myth – the self esteem tact is way overplayed. The most dangerous contribution to social advancement is tying salaries to (ineffective standardized) test scores.

    Totally unsurprised you would try to pretend this PC nonsense was not important and then shift blame to people that want union protected teachers to produce results for their compensation. The standardized testing initiative was a response to the massive problems endemic to the whole education system, which was failing to educate people properly. You are trying to argue that a bad attempt at a solution is the cause of a problem that already existed and was trying to be addressed.

    And I would love to know if you are OK with using more specialized testing applicable to the education level of the students to determine success, and then tying the job and compensation to that? Or do you simply want no real way to measure if teachers are teaching or not?

    True, and these people have not been educators but politicians and lay-folk who do not specialize in education and their ideas for reform are as often as not nothing more than hunches. Reading First being an example.

    You may have a point about who has been responsible for these problems, but way too many of the educators I have direct experience with are hard core leftists and firm believers in most, if not all, of this PC bullshit I am talking about. Many want even more of it. The non-testing concept that has been bandied around comes from them. So, I am not sure I would want them doing any of these changes on their own and without some supervision either.

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  29. salinger

    are OK with using more specialized testing applicable to the education level of the students to determine success, and then tying the job and compensation to that?

    Certainly – I believe every student should have the equivalent of what is called an IEP (Individualized Education Program). The teacher and parents set down at the beginning of the year and review the students progress from the preceding year and together set goals for their student in the upcoming year. Then quarterly the teacher and parents meet and assess progress toward those goals. This way rather than some blanket standardized test – real growth is measured.

    This model also allows for transient and transferring students, or students who for whatever reason miss a lot of school time who otherwise under present plans would be lumped in with the rest of the class population invalidating the results for that class.

    This was the reason the Florida law was vetoed by Scott (a governor with a few teachers in his family. Teacher’s pay was to be tied to test scores no matter if that teachers class had a 60% change in students during the year. Yet another example of a “common sense” approach to education reform which doesn’t take into account the realities of today’s classroom.

    The non-testing concept that has been bandied around comes from them.

    What do you mean by this. I challenge you to find one educator who believes we don’t need to assess a student’s learning. You might be able to find quotes about the failings of different test models – but to say teachers or administrators are against assessment is plain wrong.

    It is akin to saying that an electrician who will not rewire a house until the power had been turned off is against the safety of the folks in that house because he refuses to do the work. Doing something that is demonstrably and dangerously the wrong way is not a solution.

    I’ve got work to do now – I’m done here for the day. Keep warm.

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  30. AlexInCT

    Certainly – I believe every student should have the equivalent of what is called an IEP (Individualized Education Program). The teacher and parents set down at the beginning of the year and review the students progress from the preceding year and together set goals for their student in the upcoming year. Then quarterly the teacher and parents meet and assess progress toward those goals. This way rather than some blanket standardized test – real growth is measured.

    I have experience with IEPs because my son has a learning disability cause by medical conditions (seizures), and frankly I do not trust them as the only instrument to evaluate progress, because they are simply to abstract and easy to make look good. Some kind of hard testing, to verify the student actually grasped the concepts taught as well as can replicate them, must also be part of the evaluation. Short of that teachers can give inflated grades, and boy do we have grade inflation these days, write nice comments about how the student is doing well, even when they are not, and make IEPs look like progress is happening, but then ,when the kid leaves school, not only do they know squat, they haven’t learned to tell that they know nothing, and believe they actually do know, which is far worse.

    Standardized tests that are one size fits all might not work, but some kind of testing to show grade inflation isn’t happening, is key. Especially when pay is tied to ephemeral results and measured off grades that are easily inflated.

    What do you mean by this. I challenge you to find one educator who believes we don’t need to assess a student’s learning. You might be able to find quotes about the failings of different test models – but to say teachers or administrators are against assessment is plain wrong.

    I have several at my kid’s school, and lucky for me the school in my district is quite decent, that have told me personally they think tests are idiotic and tell us nothing about a kids learning, so they should completely be done away with. I am smart enough not to let on that I think they are morons for thinking this, so my kid doesn’t end up taking it up the a$$ for me telling them off, but this shit is insane. My wife’s sister is also a teacher, in a different school system, and she has quite a few teacher friends that feel the same way. So you will pardon me for not agreeing with you.

    I’ve got work to do now – I’m done here for the day. Keep warm.

    Warm is easy to do. Keep the snow away is my preference. Not getting much more snow after spending 9 days without power in late October due to a nasty northeaster has left me feeling content that we have not had much snow to speak off in Connecticut.

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  31. Seattle Outcast

    , but then ,when the kid leaves school, not only do they know squat, they haven’t learned to tell that they know nothing, and believe they actually do know, which is far worse.

    This is why so many colleges have remedial math classes these days. Oddly enough, they are basically what a high school math class was 40 years ago before they got sidetracked by teaching asinine “math theory” to kids that couldn’t do long division without a calculator. Which is what they teach kids to do these days – operate a calculator. They can’t actually do basic math without one. But then, neither can the teachers any longer, there’s that – you can get a degree in education without being able to do 8th grade math.

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  32. blameme

    But why is freedom of choice a bad thing? Why not have a voucher program while making sure that all education is good? Does one really have to exclude the other? Why is this a right/left issue?

    This…it shouldn’t be. Just because I support choice does not mean I do not support creating, building or improving current schools.

    For some, it seems that by my supporting vouchers that I want only that and to hell with the rest of the kids. Not so – my case is that no parent should be forced to act against the best interests of their kids simply because some government moron thinks they know better.

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  33. blameme

    You can, as an earlier poster did, say fuck ‘em. But remember these are the same kids who will grow up wanting what you’ve got without the skill set to do so legally. I’d prefer not to write off this slice of our youth.

    Never said fuck’em. Please do not put words into my mouth that I did not say. I did not say fuck’em or anything to that effect.

    I said I support parental choice and a voucher program – only someone with an obtuse understanding would then turn that into fuck’em.

    My case is that parents should have the flexibility to remove their children from horrible schools. Does not mean that I would not be in support of trying to correct that school. I am all for making sure every child can get a solid education. I am not for forcing parents, against their will to push their kids into dangerous and anti-educational environments.

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  34. salinger

    Never said fuck’em. Please do not put words into my mouth that I did not say.

    Relax, taken in context with the line right before it.

    What do you do with the schools left with only the kids who are left behind?

    You can, as an earlier poster did, say fuck ‘em. But remember these are the same kids who will grow up wanting what you’ve got without the skill set to do so legally. I’d prefer not to write off this slice of our youth.

    Nobody is putting words in your mouth – the you refers to everyone. In this case the word you is interchangeable with the word one. ie “What is one to do with the schools left with only the kids who are left behind?” etc.

    Isn’t that obvious?

    And by your last post I guess you now agree with me that offering vouchers doesn’t address the whole problem, which is the crux of the point I was trying to make in the first place.

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  35. drunkkus

    ….we need to reform the schools system completely, so that students are co located and taught at the level of their ability, like most other advanced nations in the west do, instead of forcing them all into an one-size-fits-all solution like we do now….

    Mark me down for this one.

    Not everyone can be an astrophysicist or a brain surgeon. Not everyone can complete a technical program. Not even everyone has what it takes to finish high school. We are always going to need people to clean our houses, mow our yards, and nail shingles to our roofs. And goddamnit! The people doing the cleaning, mowing, or nailing should at least be good at it. Instead of making them sit through high school algebra where they get bored, disrupt other students, and fail, why not give them a few pointers on cleaning, mowing, or nailing to help them on their way if that’s what they’re going to be doing anyway. Maybe it could also just be mentioned somewhere, sometime, that you can’t do any of the above by being a lazy ass slug and living off the government. It might also be worth mentioning that plenty of people have become millionaires by cleaning, mowing, or nailing. I used cleaning, mowing, and nailing as examples because I know of at least one self-made wealthy person who started off doing each on their own and now has an army of people working for them doing those jobs. Geniuses they are not, but they worked their asses off and gave a shit and now have a lot to show for it.

    Also, there’s not a damned thing stopping anyone from deciding later on that they’d rather do something else, at which point they could get high school equvalency, and then move onward from there. Fuck! Maybe everyone could stand to learn a little about how to clean, mow, and nail before they leave the public school system, anyway. Have you seen how younger people keep, or rather don’t keep house these days? It’s disgusting.

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  36. blameme

    I guess we both misread each other then – as it seemed to me you were against parents having choice.

    While vouchers may ease the pain, I still believe that parents should have the right to send their kids to the schools that they deem best fit for their children. The fact that they can’t is my main issue.

    Vouchers are just a symptom of the whole. An no, they do not solve the whole problem, but they should not be denied either. Which, in my “misreading” your comments, thought you were leaning toward – no choice, no vouchers.

    I am for choice, for vouchers and for fixing public education. Not by throwing money at it, unions or anything of the sort. But by many of the suggestions above.

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  37. hist_ed

    I have several at my kid’s school, and lucky for me the school in my district is quite decent, that have told me personally they think tests are idiotic and tell us nothing about a kids learning, so they should completely be done away with. I am smart enough not to let on that I think they are morons for thinking this, so my kid doesn’t end up taking it up the a$$ for me telling them off, but this shit is insane. My wife’s sister is also a teacher, in a different school system, and she has quite a few teacher friends that feel the same way. So you will pardon me for not agreeing with you.

    Alex they are talking about tests being idiotic, are they referring to state mandated standardized tests or all tests from the SAT down to weekly vocab quizzes? When Salinger mentioned that all teacher support assessments, my assumption was that he was not talking about annual high stakes state tests but regular old in class assessments. Any teacher who is against all assessments should not be teaching. I find it hard to believe that you could find more than one that fits that description.

    Drunkkus’ rant above is spot on. One of the biggest problems I have with my affluent suburban district is that it assumes that all its students are college bound and plans thing accordingly. Several years ago I was teaching at one of our high schools as they were planning the construction of a new building. As part of the plan, they eliminated the auto program at the school. There were several electives than ran from basic car maintenance to some pretty advanced shop stuff-welding, metal working, fabricating parts, etc. These were popular and gave a great outlet to kids who were college material, but it didn’t fit in with the image so it got the ax.

    Salinger: while an IEP for all would be nice, it’s in the realm of fairy land. To do it officially would require a shitload of money that just isn’t going to be there. I do a mini version with my kids-quarterly mini conferences, goal planning and check ins and some feedback, but even that takes a lot of instructional time and a lot of prep time.

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  38. hist_ed

    This is why so many colleges have remedial math classes these days. Oddly enough, they are basically what a high school math class was 40 years ago before they got sidetracked by teaching asinine “math theory” to kids that couldn’t do long division without a calculator. Which is what they teach kids to do these days – operate a calculator. They can’t actually do basic math without one. But then, neither can the teachers any longer, there’s that – you can get a degree in education without being able to do 8th grade math.

    Holy crap, sing that song brother. In my first year teaching, I was dealing with some basic econ in a history class and asked for a volunteer in the class to divide a 4 digit number by a 2 digit number. There was silence. After prodding them a bit some said “You don’t let us have calculators in class.” Not one kid in a 30 person class could do long division by hand. In a remedial writing class, I actually had a 9th grader reach for a calculator when I asked him to subtract 6 from 11. Now the kid was a bit of a knucklehead, but Jesus.

    I should add that every math teacher in my building hates our math curriculum. We get shitty test scores because the district curriculum doesn’t match the state tests and, well, in earlier grades it really is a calculator operator class.

    Finally, somewhere at work I have a copy on an 8th grade history test from around World War One. I bet that less than 5% of the seniors in my district could pass it. Hell, I bet most history majors in college would screw it up too.

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  39. salinger

    Salinger: while an IEP for all would be nice, it’s in the realm of fairy land.

    Hey Hist_ed – glad to see you weighing in here.

    It can be done if that is how your curriculum is set up instead of preparation for some high stakes test.

    I worked in two K-12 schools in the last couple months, one with 5,000 students the other 6,000 students with three campuses between them and each student had the equivalent of an individualized education program.

    Of course the school was not tied to any standardized test to secure funding and the parents were highly involved.

    Both were American International Schools one is in Singapore and the other Shanghai. What do they know that we don’t?

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  40. drunkkus

    One of the biggest problems I have with my affluent suburban district is that it assumes that all its students are college bound and plans thing accordingly. Several years ago I was teaching at one of our high schools as they were planning the construction of a new building. As part of the plan, they eliminated the auto program at the school. There were several electives than ran from basic car maintenance to some pretty advanced shop stuff-welding, metal working, fabricating parts, etc. These were popular and gave a great outlet to kids who were college material, but it didn’t fit in with the image so it got the ax.

    I don’t think that problem is necessarily limited to affluent districts, either. At least it’s not here. Here there is a statewide education curriculum that says every student in each district must perform at their age/grade level in any given subject NO MATTER WHAT, or else the district loses funding and/or is consolidated with a neighboring district or shut down altogether. I wouldn’t necessarily have a problem with that policy if there was something in it that took into account the fact that there really are some students out there who have legitimate reasons for not being able to perform at the same level as students of their same age such as, oh I dunno, one of the many mental disabilities that exists out there, maybe! But no, here a 15 year old with such real disability that he may not have even learned to tie his own shoes is still expected to read at a high school sophomore reading level. How anyone could realistically expect this is beyond me, and the state’s policy is that that ain’t the state’s problem.

    Back here in the real world, everyone knows there are students who may be quite a bit better off than a 15 year old who can’t tie his own shoes, but who aren’t going to turn future Constitutional scholars by the end of high school. I’m sure there’s a kid or two who might love the hell outta some cars and might do pretty well with them but doesn’t do math too well, or might love some drawing and might be pretty good at it but could give a fuck less about memorizing the name of some fucking foreigner who painted something somewhere one time a thousand years ago. Other than the fact that politicians are morons and have tried to use the whole education system for purposes other than educating people, I will never fully understand why K-12 doesn’t offer an opportunity for a kid who likes cars but not math or who likes drawing but not art history.

    Speaking of mental disability, that slobbering retard Ted Kennedy apparently had a lot to do with NCLB, which I suspect is mainly what drives the state curriculum here these days and also probably is why all students must be treated as if they are college bound in your district. But, IMHO, the problems started way before Tard Kennedy started trying to “fix education” or whatever it is he used to say he wanted to do. (Goddamn the air was little fresher the day that bastard died.)

    Around here at least, the problems really seem to have started when the state began to throttle all of the power of local school districts and impose a statewide standardized curriculum. It just so happens that the high-school-level vocational-type programs that used to be pretty common and beneficial began to disappear right about the same time. In my mind NCLB is really just the same thing happening, except it’s the federal government trying to take control of state education systems this time. I have a feeling we haven’t even seen the beginning of the idiocy WRT education in the US that we eventually will when the feds try to do a nationwide curriculum, either. And mark my words. If things don’t change, it’ll happen.

    Haha. And rant is right. I get frustrated when it comes to education. There are too many people making it more complicated than it really is.

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  41. AlexInCT

    Alex they are talking about tests being idiotic, are they referring to state mandated standardized tests or all tests from the SAT down to weekly vocab quizzes? When Salinger mentioned that all teacher support assessments, my assumption was that he was not talking about annual high stakes state tests but regular old in class assessments. Any teacher who is against all assessments should not be teaching. I find it hard to believe that you could find more than one that fits that description.

    The ones I have dealt with hist_ed want testing done away with period. One of them tried to convince me for almost 10 minutes that when kids are forced to take tests they only learn what they need for the test, then promptly forget it anyway. Me pointing out that when they have to take no tests all but a very few exceptions will learn nothing, so they don’t need to forget it either.

    Standardized tests may not be the solution, but as I pointed out, unless someone monitors the regular tests done in class as well, all we get is dumbed down teaching and testing. We got the standardized test fiasco because such a huge portion of the graduates produced under the system where kids were just tested in class and got good grades, only to then show they had no grasp of any of the subjects they supposedly learned about and tested so well on. Going back to the same problem riddled system that gave us standardized testing is not the solution either. Now getting rid of the expectation that ALL kids can or have to be thought to the same level given the 12 year experience, might go a long way to correcting this issue. But the issue is the beleif that kids are all drones, everyone should go to college, and that it is wrong to tell some people they are unqualified for anything other than working with their hands because they like the brains to do otherwise.

    And maybe we need to start treating education like a privilege and not another freebee. If you want it you work for it. Those that don’t, well, they get to do the menial work and shit jobs. I bet you a lot of kids suddenly will take a serious interest in education once school isn’t just a boring mandatory 12 year ride.

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  42. hist_ed

    Yeah, I hear you on a lot of that. One of th big problems is that the kids that don’t want to be there suck up the lion’s share of the resources. In Washington we have the Becca Law (named after a murdered kid). It is a criminal offence for kids under 16 to not be in school. Their parents can be held liable as well. We have several Becca enforcement positions in our district and every teacher with a Becca case has miles of papaerwork to go through. To my knowledge, no one has tracked Becca cases. I bet their graduation rate is close to zero.

    Schools really need to kick out the criminals. We has a theft and drug ring operating in my school several years ago. We finally kicked the ringleaders out-they were permanently expelled. They all have to go to school though, so they were sent to the next junior high over after their suspensions (they tried to split them up into different schools, but the parents argued that they couldn’t afford to transport them). Within a few months, they were up and running again at the new school.

    Standardized tests may not be the solution, but as I pointed out, unless someone monitors the regular tests done in class as well, all we get is dumbed down teaching and testing.

    I get shit every year because kids and parents think my tests are too hard. What’s interesting is that my former students get better grades in history in later years. I have many kids tell me that their 9th and 10th grade history classes were easier than my 8th or 7th grade class. Some of them even figure out that the 10th grade history is easier because of my class. It would be really easy to make changes that resulted in, say, a B average in my classes (my classes usually average low C to high D). I’d get less grief, I wouldn’t have to meet with so many parents, I have to grade less work, etc. The pressure to dumb things down is definately there.

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