Is the American System of Education in a

Discussion in 'General Education' started by stephenpe, Mar 2, 2012.

  1. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    state of failure? I am guessing the meaning was public education but I am wrong often. Another poster said this and I think it deserves it's own thread. Besides that one will be locked very soon from the conflicting opinions and insults.
    Is our system of pubic education a failure? Considering how we have zillions of little systems all over the country I find it hard to use a blanket statement like that. I know there are inner city schools that
    have huge percentages of drop outs and illiteracy. Is that all on the school or is it the environment and lives those children live. Probably some of both. IF our school system is failing where all these colleges getting students from? Just charter or private schools? I work in two public schools and my older children went to schools in other districts.
    By state accounting and mine they are very good to excellent schools.
    I read about other local schools here in N Fla and most are doing a good job. Of course those state standards are rewritten each year and the bar is always going up. I think schools are just a small part of society and reflect it honestly. Schools are also an easy target for those that have an "agenda". Let the debate happen.
     
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  3. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    I don't believe American schools are in a state of failure; it's our economic system. Our top students are performing as well as the world's best school systems. Finland outscores nearly every country, but they have only 2% of their children in poverty; we have over 20%.

    The one surefire correlation for high test scores is the degree of poverty. Not having investigated it, I'd bet the highest performing schools in Florida are in the high income areas, and the lowest in the low income areas.

    It's politically popular to blame schools for the failure to compete globally in academics. Politicians like to blame teachers, unions, and public schools for low scores. They are on a tear to deconstruct public education by moving education to religious and private companies. As a result, we get cooperate charter schools, vouchers and on-line schools. None of these methods are used in Finland or any other place that outscores the US.


    _______________________________________________
    favorite blogs: http://ed-is-life.blogspot.com/ and http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/
     
  4. isabunny

    isabunny Comrade

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    It is very difficult for US student's test scores to be evaluated against education systems in other developed or non-developed countries. Many countries do not educate their special education populations, and if they do, they do not include those scores with the general population. Also many poverty stricken children in other countries do not receive an education (millions of children in India). These children are also not included in the test scores. In the US almost the entire population of children would be included in the statistics. This does not give a very accurate picture of where US Schools are in the scheme of education throughout the world.

    I do think that there is a huge crisis in education in the US right now for the majority of school districts. Lack of funding, NCLB Legislation, politicans making curriculum discissions, tons of paperwork, red tape, taking creativity out of the teaching process, our huge poverty problem (25% of children in Georgia live below the poverty line) ect... all has impacted education negatively. I keep going back and reading a great teachers blog about the changes to education over the last 35 years and it explains clearly the challenges that teachers are currently facing.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/02/26/950079/-I-Don-t-Want-to-be-a-Teacher-Any-More
     
  5. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    a newbie opinion....

    based on less than one year and with only at one school. I am impressed with the professionalism, interest, motivation, etc. of the people "in the trenches" - my teacher peers and the school admin/staff..

    However you can also see the impact of such poorly thought out pieces of legislature such as NCLB. If the system as a whole is deemed a failure, imo it is because it is a government/political sytem. It is a stretch (imo)to assume that any system run and controlled by the government/bureacrats/polticians can be effective (or perhaps as effective as it could be may be a better way of stating this). It is also fascinating how (it appears) that the system is not designed to hear the voice of the actual "workers". Most succesful private enterprises have a more collaborative approach to problem solving. In the current process, teachers appear to be "acted upon" rather than "consulted with" in design and implementation of new methods.

    again, take this all with a grain of salt as I am new to the process and don't have the history within the sytem as others who may respond to this post.

    at the end of the day, I think I do what it appears that most of my immediate peers do - filter out all the noise and nonessential bureacratic BS (of which there is surprisingly little in my school and district!) and try to teach mathematics to high school children to the best of my ability.
     
  6. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    I can't speak for 49 other states but in California yes they are.

    You ask where the colleges get their students but that is a false question. Colleges exist to get students. They want students. Public schools will never be bad enough to lessen college enrollment.

    The real evidence is the number of students needing remedial courses in college and in California that is currently over 70%. So, 70% of students who finish their "rigorous" A-G College pre-reqs are STILL not actually prepared for college.

    I'd call that a failure - hands down.
     
  7. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    This. When I student taught at a particular school, I was shocked at what was considered an honors course...because it just seemed way too easy. It was at the same level as CP classes in my school now. This is only in some places, but I do think they need to stop watering down the material. But I also understand that watering down the material is inevitable because if they don't do it, then the students will fail.
     
  8. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    Well spoken isabunny! The article was evocative also.

    The crisis in education is a result of all the attacks on teachers and public schools. The attacks come from a belief that the problem lies with lazy teachers, greedy unions and sloppy school systems.



    _______________________________________________
    favorite blogs: http://ed-is-life.blogspot.com/ and http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/
     
  9. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    Interesting article about remediation:

    http://www.good.is/post/how-to-break-the-cycle-of-remedial-college-classes/
     
  10. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Passing freshman English at a community college doesn't mean much of anything. When I see that those students actually went on to complete their degree I'll regard those statistics as valid.

    Only about 10% of students in California who start community college at any level of readiness go on to transfer successfully in two years. Maybe that is a failure of the community colleges alone but it sure seems like part of that blame has to come down to the secondary level.

    Again, I can't speak for the rest of the nation but California is not preparing the majority of its students for future success and it has nothing to do with "blaming the teachers" around here.
     
  11. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Fantastic debate.

    I agree with Tyler B. in that education's "failures" are a function of our economy. And that being the case, the brunt of the blame is falling on individuals (i.e. teachers) rather disproportionately. Rockguykev also made a good point, in that you can't determine success/failure by college admissions, because the system is designed for that purpose.

    The question (whether American education is a failure) will make you consider what the real goal of education is? Is it to learn the ABC's, bottom line? Is (for example), is it to create "responsible citizens"? There is a distinction IMO.

    There are those who think our system is an abject failure because it fails in teaching students to think of critically, independently... that our system is designed to create a compliant and dependent populace. In that regard, I don't think there is much to debate.

    In terms of the ABC's, standards/grades/benchmarks can be manipulated for purpose, such that we will probably never "fail" too badly in that regard. And anyway, in the grand scheme, it matters not as to what a student learns or when he/she learns it. So if you are measuring, failure will never be explicit.
     
  12. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

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    "So if you are measuring, failure will never be explicit." It depends, as you imply, on who the "you" in the foregoing sentence is. If he were someone, for example, seeking to obscure an actual failure, he would certainly be able to do so. He might, for example, obscure trends in SAT scores by cooking the books and jiggering the scores so that linear analysis is impossible, or he might invent nonsensical notions like racial bias in test design to put a kind of political electric fence around the truth of the matter.

    He might also - if he were leftward leading anyway - be pleased to blame the state of the schools on the "economic situation" in order to justify a whole array of statist interventions in our lives even beyond school. Let's outlaw the unequal distribution of wealth, for example, or the inequalities of advantage which result from unequal natural endowment, or that natural grace and charm some people seem to have (so unfair!), and every other unpleasantnesses reality threatens to offer up. Let's not blame the parents, the students, the teachers: let's (reducing the individuals involved - archaically regarded heretofore as endowed with freedom, capable of responsibility - to deterministic ciphers) blame it all on the "socioeconomic factors" and on those who recalcitrantly refuse to "implement the programs necessary" to solve these problems. It worked for poverty, right? Why not banish ignorance in the same way?

    It's not working: let those hundred flowers bloom (Mao). Let reality be what it fascinatingly is: "a wild where weeds and flowers promiscuous shoot" (Alexander Pope).

    " I'm not in favor of fairness. I'm in favor of freedom, and freedom is not fairness. Fairness means somebody has to decide what's fair.

    The society that puts equality before freedom will end up with neither. The society that puts freedom before equality will end up with a great measure of both."

    - Milton Friedman
     
  13. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    Teachon, you have some good points, but if you are saying there's nothing we can do about poverty, then you've lost me.

    Other countries have approached this problem and had success. Finland for example went from a WWII, threadbare economy with widespread poverty to a place where now only 2% of their children are being raised in poverty. Americans are far more innovative than the Finns and we could accomplish this feat as well.
     
  14. jwteacher

    jwteacher Cohort

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    As polarized as our country is, we would never embrace a government like Finland's as they have a large public sector and much more progressive tax system to pay for education and health care. If anyone touches the issue of income inequality in America, that person is ruined politically by the SIG's who control Washington.

    I don't see the status quo changing anytime soon. Public education will always be a red herring for the underlying problem of poverty in this country.
     
  15. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    I don't think he's saying we should embrace Finland's model; just using them as an example of where poverty can be addressed better than we do.
     
  16. msufan

    msufan Comrade

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    Right now our government is broken. Fixing education would first require fixing our government, and that has to begin with campaign finance reform IMHO. Right now we've created a system where the only way a person can make it to Congress is to raise huge sums of money. The only way to raise truly huge sums of money is from corporations, not just individuals. Thus we end up with Reps and Senators beholden to corporations and special interests. This, I believe, is the root of what ails us.
     
  17. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    :yeahthat:
     
  18. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    You know, of course, that the number 1 donor in the last election cycle was the SEIU, a union, right?
     
  19. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I have been inside more than 70 schools and spent time teaching and observing in all of them. They are incredibly different. Some are really succeeding--some are not. Some have incredible parent support--some don't. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. There are good public, charter, and private schools. There are public, charter, and private schools with lots of problems as well.
     
  20. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

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    But do let's throw out that bathwater.
     
  21. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    That is near impossible because even those with dark, murky bathwater believe the problem isn't with the school, but with those that attend.
     
  22. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

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    "Teachon, you have some good points, but if you are saying there's nothing we can do about poverty, then you've lost me." - jwteacher

    I have been thinking about your question, which really is a fair one, given what I have said.

    In the end, I do not think that the government can do away with poverty, or even reduce it very much, without pressing too much on the freedoms which, among other things, make the accumulation of wealth possible in the first place (before any redistribution thereof is possible). I do think that the government should ensure that the pain of poverty is not unreasonably great - the "safety net" - but I would, I suspect, favor a coarser net than most here.

    Historically, I think, the best answer to poverty has been found in education, and in the determination which parents bring (or, alas, do not bring) to seeing to it that their children get the best one possible. Poverty is not the result of government inaction; it is the result of individual failures of value and of will. It is our job to provide genuine educational opportunities upon which some will seize, some will not.
     
  23. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    I couldn't express it better myself dude. But you do realize that saying that, you're basically saying it's an impossible task (to fix education. It also takes us off the specific point of the thread, right as it may be.)

    I also agree with readingrules12, in that it depends totally on the individual school--some are fine, some aren't. I do think that all could/would benefit by loosening constraints on them by state and federal forces, thereby allowing them to better serve their specific demographic.

    In many ways, it's a chicken/egg argument. Teachers (schools) would do better, with more freedom (i.e. less bureaucratic/paper-pushing nonsense). At the same time, I realize there are MANY teachers who would take advantage of that freedom, or sink (as opposed to swim), fall behind, etc. And not to mention the number of incompetant "leaders" we have as administrators these days. I can see both sides of the argument.
     
  24. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    That varies with what I've seen. Are we talking about the last presidential election? In that one, union contributions ranked ninth: behind eight different corperations.
     
  25. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    I'm not saying we should be Finland, but they have strong teachers because getting a masters degree in education + credential is paid for by the state. There are a limited number of slots. It's so competitive to get into education there, that it's actually easier to get into law or medical school. Only the top 5% of students can get in. These are smart, motivated people: society's best.

    These teachers decide what and how they'll teach based off of a vague state curriculum. It's up to the teacher whether or not the students take a standardized test.
     
  26. Miss84

    Miss84 Comrade

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    Yes. I'm coming from an urban-education perspective. It seems like the achievement gap is getting wider.
     
  27. funvalue

    funvalue New Member

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    I am just going to say this without reading the other responses (without that bias), ok?
    I wonder if schools ought to quit holding student's hands and just teach and be able to give failing grades. It seems like teacher's are bogged down with to much stuff. Now the institution is trying to tell teachers it is ok not to teach ('cause there's to much to learn - to much even in the content being "taught"), so just manage the classroom and have students learn on their own. I know of smart students that attend such classes and are learning nothing. I meant to keep this short. I'll quit here and see if I said anything to anyone.
     
  28. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    First, to address the initial thread, I think it's probably better to say that a significant number of educational systems and structures are failing at a higher percentage than we'd like then to be. Everyone is right when they say that not every teacher, every school, and every district is not achieving any educational goal they have for students. Even miserable teachers are often able to accomplish things.

    Rather than sensationalizing the issue and saying "everything is failing," I think it's better to look at internal variables that are able to be changed, and systematically work on those - at all levels. Teachers should address areas of improvement and work on them, as well as schools, districts, states, and as a country. In other words, at each of those levels, it's possible to identify things that could be better, and that could be fixed (or at least improved).
     
  29. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

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    I work in an excellent school: we're doing great. Others, I suspect, can say the same. I at least, then, am not saying that "everything is failing," so I think you kind of invented a little straw there, you sly devil.

    I do think that as a system, nationwide, we are failing. I don't see that the facts support any other view. I don't think that rearranging the deck chairs, even in keeping with the latest scientific principals, will accomplish much. (Interestingly, the more we treat ourselves as a national system, the worse we seem to do. I think I see a lesson to be drawn there.)

    So: vouchers for all, no federal or state departments of ed, no teacher certification. Let the games begin.
     
  30. Good Doobie

    Good Doobie Rookie

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    Mar 8, 2012

    I am off today because just yesterday or the day before the admin. made a spur of the moment decision to put everyone in a bunch of buses and go watch our team try to win the state title. I don't know if they will get back in time (like they didn't once before when I had a doctor's appt.), so I asked to be excused.
    Anyway, personally I do not identify with most students in most schools here in the southwest. It was totally different back in the 50's and 60's in the northeast. Teachers knew the subject matter and all of us students took notes like crazy, asked questions like crazy and had probably at least an hour's of homework (total in all classes I think but don't really remember; many of us also had a lot of dairy-farm work with about 20 head of cattle). We didn't know there was a lot of stuff that we weren't learning (like today's internet stuff) and we felt confident we were learning everything because the teacher knew everything and taught us.
     

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