Are certain educational policies effective? Depends on what your goal is

Discussion in 'General Education' started by EdEd, Nov 30, 2017.

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  1. Belch

    Belch Rookie

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    Obviously, you don't need any achievement data, other than profits. Look at any other commodity or service and you don't need to be asking yourself if X or Y is better. Look at the profits and you will easily see which one is currently better.

    Your question is much more philosophical than empirical. Who is better able to judge whether a particular product is better? Public school teachers would just love to tell you that the best product is public education, but that's because they don't want competition.

    We can easily discount their opinions because of obvious bias. The more bias they have, the more obvious they fear competition.

    If you dislike looking at this from a free market perspective, then I'm sure the math boffins could come up with an algebraic equation that looks at the money a community spends to educate their children vs. the time that takes to receive that education minus whatever they could receive if they were to forgo a formal education in favor of entering straight into a trade from an early age. Set a cut-off age of say 40 and then calculate the results.

    Or you could simply look at how mandating a formal education in a particular area has helped raise the GDP of that area, minus the cost of any social welfare services.
     
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  2. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Yes, totally another goal one might have in education, and it may not even be as active as "saving souls" - simply promoting curriculum that is at least inclusive or not exclusive of ideas such as creationism.

    In terms of your "choice" comments, I do actually think that "school choice" refers to giving parents public options, not merely the presence of private choices.
     
  3. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said the the question is more philosophical than empirical, although I might make this caveat: All empiricism starts with subjective values related to what we want to see. We can say that academic achievement is empirical, but at some point we had to start with the idea that we valued academic achievement over, say, trade achievement. We also have to define which types of academic achievement are valuable to us. So, my question is simply trying to move the conversation, at least in this thread, up a level and talk about what values or goals could we have that might lead us in directions other than academic achievement.

    In terms of your free market comment, the problem with that method of analysis is that there is no agreed upon "currency" by which to measure education. Some teachers want denominations of academic achievement, while some may prefer measuring success by a culture of learning created. Still others may look at whether students are happy & engaged, and some teachers may not care about outcomes at all - they may simply be passionate about the process and believe that as long as they're working hard, they're doing the right thing. In other words, a free market explanation of education assumes that there are common items being bought and sold, and that there is equal motivation by all "vendors" to accumulate the same commodities.

    Personally, I think it's most helpful to have a range of lenses through which to view education from a macro perspective, realizing that each lens will necessarily have its own unique advantages and disadvantages. The free market lens is helpful, but not complete. Neither is a data-driven approach in which we attempt to quantify everything and fit the education system into an equation. A consistent theme across my posts recently, not just in this thread, is that we need to avoid polarized perspectives in which we say that all teachers think/do/believe X, all state tests are Y, etc.
     
  4. tchr4vr

    tchr4vr Rookie

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    Here in lies the rub. Yes, even our poorest are often wealthier than the poor of third-world countries. The problem is the position of education in America. We as a country do not value education. Not individuals, but as a country. We celebrate those who succeeded despite not finishing school. We talk about those who succeeded despite not having an education. And we should. However, in other countries, education is a privilege. Teaching is considered a noble profession, and those students who go to school, especially in the poorest countries, realize it is an opportunity. Here, too many people can be successful if they can go "viral" or can throw a ball. We still live in a world where it is not okay to be a "nerd"--if you study, you're not normal. OUr current valedictorian brags about the fact that he never studies. I think he's a great kid, and he's been blessed with many gifts, and I'm glad that he has so much free time--but is he really learning anything?

    I had the privilege of travelling to Ghana this summer. My dad was working with college students at an agricultural school and I went with him sort of as a secretary. When they found out I was a teacher, they told my dad how proud he must be to have such a well-respected and intelligent person for a daughter. I watched my dad teach them how to install sprinkler lines and trim trees, and the amount of attention and respect they paid him was insane. If they were late, it was apologies and forgiveness. They were astounded when I told them how some of my students behave. Their comment was - "Why do they go to school is they don't want to be there. Get a job."

    Our problem is that we as a nation do not value education--it is those who succeed despite their failings that we celebrate. We need to change our countries culture and education will improve across the board.
     
  5. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Comrade

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    This is probably one of the most insightful and thought-provoking posts that I’ve read in a while. Excellent!
     
  6. Belch

    Belch Rookie

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    It seems that you're fogging the issue up with a lot of variations of what success can be, which doesn't answer the question posed by the OP which is how we define goals that can be met or not met when it comes to defining success.

    I gave a few examples of goals that can be empirically measured. Yes, it is a philosophical question when we as educators attempt to define it, but it's not up to us. It's up to the people who employ us to define our success or failure.

    At the end of the day, when I walk past a classroom with one student and one teacher, I know that teacher is one student away from failure (and yes, that does happen). It doesn't matter what that teacher's educational philosophy is if they have no students.
     
  7. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I'm all for empirical measurement, and am probably one of the strongest advocates of the idea that you can measure just about anything. My point, though, isn't that we shouldn't operationalize goals, but simply that we should be open-minded to the fact that different goals can exist.

    When you mention it's not up to us, but to the people who employ us - ultimately our employers are taxpayers and voters who set broad educational expectations, and this is precisely my point when it comes to school choice - do voters/taxpayers/elected representatives have goals other than academic achievement?
     
  8. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    This is perhaps a more succinct way of saying what I've been trying to ask:

    Perhaps school choice isn't a strategy to improve outcomes like academic achievement, but an outcome itself. Maybe simply increasing parental control over how governments allocate educational resources is the final goal of some school choice advocates. Is this not okay?
     
  9. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Devotee

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    It may not be that parents in poor areas are trying to control how governments allocate resources. They just want a good neighborhood school for their children.

    Something you haven't explored is another motivation that causes certain media outlets to bash public school teachers could be the $32 billion in revenue that the charter industry pulls in each year. That's a lot of reasons to support "choice".
     
  10. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    School choice has always been available. The recent outcry is about private or privately-run options being funded by public dollars.

    We can get into whatever philosophical arguments we like about the purpose of education and the effectiveness of educational policies. The fact is that the purpose and effectiveness are measured by different criteria and evaluated by different stakeholders. Vegas wants graduates who have the skills to work in the big casinos and entertainment industry: accounting, customer service, marketing, etc. Jimmy's parents will know that his education was effective when he is accepted into med school. Cardinal Nathaniel Seminary hopes to increase the number of graduates who enter the seminary or begin the process for entering the Permanent Diaconate. Marlene's parents want to know that none of that liberal, birth control, abortion, "gay stuff", or socialism is taught at her school. The Willow Grove Public School District knows that it is effective when its graduation rate is at least 85%.

    If the question being asked is about whether school choice can be a goal of education, the answer is sure, along with many other possible goals. I would follow up with questions about whether private and privately-run school choice should be funded by public dollars.

    If the question being asked is about whether families should have more control over how public dollars are spent, the answer depends on personal ideologies and philosophies. I prefer that public dollars fund public enterprises that are available to the general public. I prefer that private and privately-run enterprises be funded privately or through a grant process that's fairly available to other entities. While I agree that there are people who think that it's a huge win for private and privately-run schools to receive public per-pupil dollars, I view what's happening as the early steps of a systemic destruction of Public Education, and I don't support that. For me, using public funds at private and privately-run schools is definitely not a goal; to me, this is a terrible side effect of an egocentric wealthy class.
     
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  11. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    The benefits of school choice are: school choice. As someone mentioned earlier I think. This is America, and there is a very strong anti-government sentiment brewing in the more right-wing families and politicians. All they need to know for school choice to appeal to them is that they can choose what school they want their kids to go to. And that the darn government can't control their lives.

    As for whether or not school choice benefits society as a whole is irrelevant to them. They care only about themselves, and their family. It's not a wrong sentiment, but it is near-sighted in terms of thinking about the country's education as a whole and the impact on poor and underserved families. Nothing you say can change their minds, because it's their children they care about. Why should they care about other children? Black, brown, poor, or otherwise?

    They want their kids away from those other kids anyway because they think they're dangerous, ignorant, and foster a negative culture.

    And the motivations of the private corporations that run these schools should be plainly obvious. But this is 'murica and go capitalism, right?
     
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  12. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    There is so much wrong with this statement, I don't even...

    So you're saying that if a certain product sells better than it must be inherently better than any other product?

    Nothing else at play could affect their sales. More money to spend on marketing? No. Public ignorance about the impacts of said product? No. Playing on the fears and emotions of the consumers? No. Of course not.

    These are all things that corporations have become masters as manipulating. If you think something that sells better is inherently better than something else, I would say you don't know a lot about sales.

    Cigarettes and fossil fuels are still billion dollar industries. Would you argue that they are better for people and for the world than chewing gum and using renewable energy?
     
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  13. Belch

    Belch Rookie

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    Profits are how the market determines the value of a particular commodity. Our salaries reflect the perceived value that we bring to the table of pedagogy, and the prices of chewing gum or cigarettes reflect the value that customers and manufacturers place on those items.

    This is basic economics, and in economics, we don't care what the commodity is which is why economists routinely use the term "widgets" rather than loaded terms like "green energy" or "cigarettes". So would I argue that fossil fuels are better for people than green energy? I can only answer for me, and I answer that every time I go to the gasoline station to fill my car up with gas rather than electricity.

    What is better for the world isn't a decision that should be made by socialists in smoke filled boardrooms at the politburo. We've seen how that goes far too many times, and the main problem those illustrious gentleman always get wrong is determining how many body bags are going to be needed.
     
  14. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I don't believe that the public education system should be built upon a business model.
     
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  15. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Nor it is it a decision that should be made by people with no experience or expertise on the subject. Decisions that affect education in our country shouldn't be made based on "perceived value" by the market. They should be based on actual value as determined through proven results and evidence. But I get the sense those things don't mean much to you.

    Every expert just a government shill and all that. The corporations are the ones really looking out for our interests. :rolleyes:
     
  16. Belch

    Belch Rookie

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    Would you like your salary to be based on proven results and evidence?
     
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  17. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Yes. The evidence shows that better paid and better respected teachers have greater positive effect on student achievement. So hit us with it baby.
     
  18. Belch

    Belch Rookie

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    Then you are in favor of market forces driving your salary.

    You can be "hit with it" as soon as the results and evidence of your efficacy as a teacher are shown.

    At least that is how it would work under my administration.
     
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  19. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Comrade

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    Then teacher salaries should be tied to student performance. If students don’t show positive growth and meet stage benchmarks then “no salary increase for you.” Yeah, that’s going to go well with public schoolteachers. :rolleyes:
     
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  20. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Student achievement is not a "market force". Though it's often touted with little supporting evidence as a product feature.

    And it doesn't follow that if happy well paid teachers produce high achievement that they should demonstrate high achievement before being well paid. Cause does not follow effect. Logic.
     
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