US Schools Best in the World: new data

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by Tyler B., Jan 23, 2015.

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  1. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    When politicians and pundits complain about how bad our schools are performing, it makes it easier to push through "reforms" like public-supported charters. New data now shows that when poverty is accounted for, our schools are some of the world's best.

    The solution: address poverty.
     
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  3. vateacher757

    vateacher757 Cohort

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    As we were discussing in another thread....paying a living wage......how do we as a country address poverty when we can't be on the same page with understanding we need to pay people a living wage regardless of the type of job or skills they have.
     
  4. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Should we give all students a passing grade regardless of the type of work they do or the skills they have?
     
  5. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I have been able to spend some significant time in a variety of public schools. IMO, if you looked at the top 20 public schools, US could take on any country in the world in education. If you looked at the lowest 20 public schools in the country, I wouldn't be surprised of third world countries beating us out. I believe there are a lot of variables that make up this difference, and I believe poverty is one of them.
     
  6. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    Not surprising at all.
     
  7. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    But we also have to take into account that in those third world countries many children can't afford or simply don't go to school.
     
  8. readingrules12

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    True. My point is that the difference between our highest and lowest public schools in our country is astonishing. The media and politicians tend to ignore that fact. They talk as if all the public schools are the same. I have seen public school 7th graders knowing college level material and being many grade levels above the norm. I have seen 7th grade classrooms where most students didn't turn in most assignments and were around 2nd and 3rd grade levels. I think this is the problem. If we stereotype public schools, we completely miss the truth. We should not be asking, "Are public schools doing well", but instead be asking, "Why do some public schools have students doing so amazing well in school, and others are not?" I do agree that when this question is asked, we will see that poverty is a part of the answer.
     
  9. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

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    This is so true!
     
  10. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Poverty is too broad a term. Poverty is a symptom of other issues in most cases.

    When I was younger I ended up in a section of Newark, NJ that was extremely dangerous. I was on my way to a hospital in the area but had to go through a really bad, bad section of town (not that this is the only place I have seen what I will describe).
    The street was lined with government provided housing complexes. There was graffiti EVERYWHERE. There were windows smashed out, trash on the lawns, and destruction of just about everything. This was once new housing provided to the poor to help stamp out poverty. The idea was that poverty was the problem. Seeing this devastation and being poor myself, I realized that poverty isn't the problem. Being poor doesn't make one destroy your property. Being poor doesn't make one obtain paint and spray the heck out of everything. Other issues cause this.

    Until society realizes that poverty is a symptom of other issues ranging from lack of education, lack of skills, lack of common sense, mental illness, dysfunction resulting from underlying issues, addictions of various sorts, lack of caring about others, and sometimes just some really bad luck for people who were doing things right, etc, we will never be able to heal the broken society.

    We don't need a war on poverty. We need to address the issues that cause poverty in the first place.

    EDIT: There will always be poverty. It will never be completely eliminated. Any comparison of poverty is now in relative terms. Therefore, even if all people are housed, fed, and have medical services, there will still be what is said to be poverty because some will always have more.
     
  11. vateacher757

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    Excellent post and you hit the nail on the head.
     
  12. Tyler B.

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    Other countries have successfully addressed poverty: Finland for example. It was a complete mess after WWII. In 1964 when President Johnson launched his War on Poverty, poverty rates in the U.S. dropped to their lowest level since comprehensive records began in 1958.

    It can be done. But this new data also brings to mind a question: Why are so many of the "reforms" connected with firing teachers, punishing schools and turning over education to private companies? It's pretty clear that the most significant problem with schools is poverty.

    The US is one of the only advanced nations that spend more on affluent schools than impoverished schools. Then we punish teachers for not doing more to bring those impoverished students up to where affluent students are scoring.
     
  13. a2z

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    Finland has a different culture regarding community and individualism. The average Finn has fewer material goods than most Americans.

    There are many things that are different in Finnish society that address issues that lead to poverty.

    Here is an article from Forbes that shows how the bottom 10% of the US compares to other countries. In the majority of cases, including Finland, we are better off. So, Finland didn't really eliminate poverty. The people are just more willing to respond to poverty differently. In addition, they do address mental and emotional health in different ways than the US.
     
  14. Linguist92021

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    This!
     
  15. Jerseygirlteach

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    Yes, I agree with this completely. I've worked at both an affluent school and a high poverty school. I would say that the dedication and skill level of the teachers at the high poverty school is at least as high as the affluent school. Yet test scores, graduation rates, and overall student performance is dramatically higher at the affluent school. I would bet almost anything that you flipped the teaching staff at these two schools, the student results would not change. The teachers who had been in the affluent school achieving great test results would find far less success when faced with teaching the children in poverty. The reverse would also be true. The teachers who had been struggling to help the children in poverty would find much more success with the affluent kids. No threats of firing or bribes of rewards would be necessary. Neither of these can or will have any affect on teacher success.
     
  16. a2z

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    I agree that just flipping staff and keeping the same type of teaching would produce the same results, but it isn't necessarily the kids that are the problems. Dedicated, hard-working, and other superlatives are great, but that doesn't mean a teacher will be effective. Granted an undedicated, lazy slacker will most likely be ineffective. But the positive qualities do not guarantee effectiveness.

    A school near my home is a Title 1 school. They were very close to having the state come in when the district finally decided to more than superficially change how the students were taught. I know I've told this before. They brought in new administration and got rid of a fair portion of the staff by either staff wanting to leave or reassigning by administration. The school completely changed how they taught the students. Students started to improve. The next year any teacher that didn't get with the program was reassigned. Within 2 years the school was on a huge upward trajectory. Within 4 years they surpassed the surrounding schools that were not Title 1 schools. The kids didn't change. The families didn't change. The teaching methods and the policies of the school changed. They still outperform the other local elementary schools and the students continue to be successful in MS and HS.

    While this is one example, it does show that at least in one case teaching made the difference.

    What it also shows is that some teachers were willing to learn and change and others were not. Some tried but couldn't learn how to teach differently. They do well at the wealthier schools where parents tutor or hire tutors to make sure their kids know the material. Ineffectiveness isn't as much an issue at wealthier schools because parents will pick up the slack in most cases.
     
  17. Peregrin5

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    Then we as a culture need to begin thinking about ways to change our mentality to be more akin to Finland. Our current culture of "me, me, me" is what's killing us and causing poverty to grow. This problem is only going to get worse unless we do something about it, and it will need a major culture shift away from our capitalistic tendencies.
     
  18. vateacher757

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    I continue to scratch my head and ask, before NCLB and everything that came with it we were doing well academically as a nation.......it wasn't broke so what were TPTB trying to fix.......they came in and destroyed a system that worked.

    Part of the problem is discipline as well as lack of parent involvement - you can find that in both affluent and non affluent schools except many schools allow the students and their parents to "run" the school.

    There are no consequences given to the children nor the adults for the decisions they CHOOSE to make.

    Single parent households (I don't mean those due to divorce/death etc) are hurting us as well and as long as those struggling parents with multiple kids and multiple baby daddies with some in jail continue to have kids and are comfortable with their stage in life ie getting "help" from the government, free or reduced lunch/breakfast at school, among other things and their kids can act a fool in school with teachers, admin an society having to deal with them nothing will change!

    No we can not make them stop having kids but we can make them more accountable for the kids that they want society to take care of.

    Don't let me get on my vent on the number of kids with IEP's and 504's whose parents can't even make it to an IEP meeting about their kids and whose kids (some of them) do not take advantage of nor appreciate the "accommodations" they get while you have gen ed kids who truly need and would appreciate some of the "extra" that SPED kids get.

    I know a student who has accommodations...this student cuts up in class, does not do any work, is failing every class mom does nothing...when someone said "oh he will just go to summer school again" I said but that is not free.....well it is for this student (free or reduced lunch student).

    Our system is just broken!

    I could say more but I will stop here.
     
  19. GTB4GT

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    I would argue that things changed only because the admin changed. the improvement of teaching was a result or outcome of that.

    as I always say, a losing team in sports is not a result of poor players, it is a result of poor coaching/leadership - good leaders will not tolerate poor players. they either coach them to get better or replace them.

    In all the discussion about "fixing education", I am always astonished at how the spotlight is on the teachers rather than the administrators. This is exactly the opposite of how things would be handled in the private sector. poor results are blamed on the manager, not the employees.
     
  20. a2z

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    It was more than that, GTB4GT. Yes, the change in administration spurred the change (and the threat of the state coming in and taking over which meant that the school couldn't continue to do the same thing). Yes, the administration forced the teaching staff to change how the students were being taught. The administration put a block at the end of every day to have supervised "homework" time, which was really application of skills time to see if the students were retaining what they were taught earlier. The way reading and literacy was taught was changed because the teachers insisted that whole language methods was what the students needed because it would immerse the students in language rich texts which would then allow students to catch on to reading and increase their vocabularies. However the students needed phonics. These students really needed to know how to break down words. They needed many of the low level skills that wealthier school's students tend to have coming into school. The kids needed different math instruction. Grammar could not longer be caught but had to be taught. (MS knows where the kids come from just from their grammar skills. Yep, the title 1 kids are easy to identify. They have skills the wealthier school's children don't have because the wealthier schools do not teach them effectively and not all kids catch them along the way.)

    It isn't just administration change. There were problems at all levels.

    So, admin had to get rid of teachers who wouldn't abandon their insistence that they were correct in how to teach. Some teachers were glad to try something different (not some fad). So, those that wouldn't adapt were gone. I know teachers who worked there during that time and people who had children at the school.
     
  21. teacherintexas

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    Finland's people also pay about a 50% tax rate according to my Finnish friend. I don't want that.
     
  22. gr3teacher

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    If a 50% tax rate meant that I didn't have to pay health care costs, the country had a significantly lower crime and poverty rate, infrastructure were actually modernized, etc... I wouldn't say I'd accept it willingly, but I'd accept it. As it is now, even with my (pretty good) insurance, if I were to have any major medical issue, I'd probably need to declare bankruptcy.
     
  23. teacherintexas

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    If you want to get rid of poverty, I think all entitlements should stop except for those living in a care facility or perhaps limit it to six months for a life time for able bodied recipients. I've taught at an extremely poor school where generational poverty is the norm. Getting kids and parents to care about the child's ability to read and write is extremely difficult. The ones who were in situational poverty were usually the only ones who cared. I had parents tell me it doesn't matter if the kid can read. That's what welfare is for. Um...no, it's not. Getting rid of the crutch may be the only way to get some people on the road to independence. It will be an extremely tough transition period, but change is never easy.

    I'm sure I'll be blasted. Go ahead. I've been in situational poverty and managed to put myself through college in four years (magna cum laude at that) while working three part time jobs and got no loans, grants, or help from my parents other than being supportive and expecting me to go to college.

    I've also been deemed disabled and couldn't work for six months. I did not apply for disability even though I qualified.

    I know two different situations of this, so who knows how much of this is really happening. I know of two situations where formally middle class people who struggle to make ends meet have totally given up and gone on public assistance and moved into housing just because they were fed up with struggling and paying for other people's benefits.
     
  24. vateacher757

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    And perhaps with that higher tax rate and more things being provided means less I will have to pay for myself and it could possibly mean I have extra money and will not need a second job or be living paycheck to paycheck....and the money either goes into savings or circulates back into the economy through my spending.
     
  25. Jerseygirlteach

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    I'm glad the school was able to make dramatic strides. I would not argue that certain educators and teaching styles can't be more effective.

    My point was that the corporate reform movement wants us to believe that if you take away a teacher's job security and pay them a bonus for getting results, poverty shouldn't matter. The fact that all students can't succeed must mean that there's a systemic problem of lazy, incompetent teachers. I argue that highly effective teachers certainly can make a big impact on kids, but there are limits. What we should be addressing are the real root causes of failing schools.
     
  26. Peregrin5

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    Getting rid of social supports for these families is not the answer. Do you know why they don't value education? It's because they were never educated. This is why it's crucial that their children DO receive an education and have access to it. Removing the support may get SOME people off of their butts as you said, but a much larger group of them will only be debilitated by crippling poverty.

    I have also been through situational poverty much more recently, and did all the same things you did. Worked 3 jobs, taught part-time, went to school full-time, volunteered for free to get required internship hours, etc.

    I STILL needed aid in the form of grants and loans. Back when you went to college, the prices for college were SANE. These days they are not. You cannot work full time on a minimum wage job (which is essentially the only job most college students can obtain) and pay for tuition, books, food, lodging, or anything else. The wall to obtaining an education is growing ever higher.
     
  27. a2z

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    First I think we have to be careful about using absolutes. All will never happen and everyone knows that. It is a lofty goal, but the fact that all is used is not reason to not get as many where they need to be as possible.

    Sure, a bonus wouldn't matter to those teachers who were insistent that they were already doing the right thing and the problem was with the students and parents in the school near me unless that bonus was enough to make them consider there may be another option. It seems that hard-working, ineffective (one may say incompetent since they were unwilling to adjust to different researched and proven methods) teachers were the problem in the local school near me. I also understand how burnt out other teachers are because of the merry-go-round of "new methods" that have not worked. Of course there were still other issue that could benefit the school such as addressing. I'm not saying we, as a society, should fail to address underlying issues that cause poverty, but looking at the educational side of the issue, sometimes it really is the administration and teachers that can impact a school significantly.
     
  28. readingrules12

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    I couldn't disagree more. This might be true in some professions, but this isn't true at all in teaching. How I teach each day and I how I relate to students is decided by myself each day. If I come up with a good lesson and teach it well...it is me not the principal. If I hand in great lesson plans, but then am poorly prepared to teach a lesson, it is my fault...not admin.

    Sports is similar...the players are like the students. The coach is the teacher. The owner and GM (general Manager) are like the admin. Who is the owner or GM for each sports team? Even sports enthusiasts know it is the coach not the GM that makes the difference.

    I have had over a half a dozen principals. They had little effect on whether I succeeded or didn't succeed in the classroom. The average time a principal spends in a teacher's classroom in a week is often less than 10 minutes. I will take a school with 30 great teachers over a school with 30 poor teachers and a good principal any day.
     
  29. GTB4GT

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    i think you are actually agreeing with me. you are correct, a good coach doesn't have much impact on a great player.

    The impact of good administration is on the poor teachers...they either need to coach them on how to be better ot get rid of them.

    I think we all agree that bad or poor teachers are harmful. but if you (as an admin) allow that to continue, then the responsibility falls on the leadership. By definition, bad leadership is allowing poor performance to continue.

    I am not excusing poor teaching by any stretch of the imagination. They need to be improved or removed. any performance issue is ultimately due to a person being unable or unwilling to do the job. There is no place for that in any team, school or business.


    but saying a school can be succesful if they have 30 great teachers is like saying a basketball coach can win if he has a team full of Micheal Jordan's and Larry Birds. Sure they can. You and I could as well. but that is not leadership. Leadership is going to a team that has had losing seasons and changing either the players or the culture (or both).

    Bottom line, i don't really believe we disagree at all if you think about it.
     
  30. teacherintexas

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    When I went to college, a semester was around 3,000 and minimum wage was three something. Two of my three jobs were minimum wage. I worked 50-60 hours a week total for all three jobs, took 12-18 hours, and still managed to make the Dean's List.
     
  31. a2z

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    You are an exception. There will always be exceptions.

    We have to be careful to not take the exceptions as the norm.

    Physically and mentally, I could never have done that. That doesn't mean that I couldn't have worked less and taken fewer classes taking longer to get through school. (I did work some during school, but no where near full time.) It also depends on the major you take. Some majors take more time above and beyond the in-class hours.

    I applaud you for your ability to do what you did. I'm sure it was extremely difficult. I do understand your sentiment, but I believe what you were capable is the exception, not the rule.
     
  32. bella84

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    I couldn't agree more. My school currently faces this issue. I'm a good teacher (I think), doing what I need to do for my students to be successful, and there are many more like me. There are some teachers in my school, however, who just refuse to do things that admin has required. Admin doesn't confront those teachers and just allows them to do what they want. That's a leadership problem, not a teacher problem. The leaders really do make the difference. Good leaders know to leave the good teachers alone and have the courage to confront those who are ineffective because they are not on board with school policy.

    I'd disagree with this. In some cases it may be true, but I can think of a situation from this past summer in which my favorite baseball team's GM got a rid of a player because he didn't want the coach playing him anymore. He thought the coach was making a bad call in playing that player so often, so he traded the player. He did what he, as the leader, thought he needed to do to make a difference for the team. In that case, the GM made the difference, not the coach. The higher up you are, the more opportunity you have to make a difference. The same can be said for schools.
     
  33. bella84

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    I disagree with this as well. You're correct that you make those decisions and are responsible for yourself, but your admin made the decision to allow you to make those decisions. Not all admins are like that. Some micromanage more than others, and some provide more support than others. Admin sets the policy, climate, and culture for the school, which allows teachers to be either successful or unsuccessful. Yes, after admin has put into a place a system where it is up to teachers to be successful themselves, then you can say it's the teachers making the difference. It all starts at the top though with the policies, climate, and culture set by admin.
     
  34. Tyler B.

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    Jerseygirlteach has it figured out. The answer is so profoundly obvious, but corporate reformers insist on pushing the test-and-punish method of dealing with low achieving students. Either they don't want to face the daunting task of addressing poverty or they want to destroy public education.
     
  35. vateacher757

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    I agree ^^^^

    When did we come to believe that EVERY student should and will pass...it is not possible and then they make the teachers the fall guy when they don't get a 100% student pass rate.

    The whole test and punish method is so they can say "see Charter schools are better" and then our government throws money to the charter schools whose main priority is to MAKE money NOT educate our kids......when you make education a money making profit scheme you lose what schools were set up to do.

    ETA: and generally those charter schools are set up in low performing poverty areas.
     
  36. GTB4GT

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    actually (and quite sadly) it is in fact very easy to get 100% of the kids to pass. :mad:
     
  37. a2z

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    How do you mean this?
     
  38. vateacher757

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    I would like to know that answer as well.

    Pass or barely passing? Knowing and understanding the material?
     
  39. readingrules12

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    Well to get the conversation more focused, let's focus on reality instead of theory. In theory a P might be able to micromanage a school to death...but I find that is rarely the case. Most Ps are too busy to do such.

    I will agree that a P has power in that they get to do the hiring. Most Ps say the most important part of their job is the hiring process. I will also agree that the removal of poor teachers give Ps a great influence. These are only powerful because the truth that the teachers are the one that makes the difference in the school. Look at any school. There are teachers doing a great job and some that have no business being in a classroom. The research shows that the effective teacher has as much as triple the effect on student performance as a non-effective teacher in the same school.

    Principal/School Leaders were found to be 74th in importance of nearly 800 factors effecting education. The difference made by having an effective principal is 0.36 years of growth extra than without one. The study used 1,133,657 students in their studies. The same studies (which included 141 different studies) showed that the difference made by a quality teacher was 0.44 years of growth extra than without one. This is 56th in importance of nearly 800 factors effecting education.

    The largest effects on teaching included (in order):
    *Had a deeper understanding of teaching and its effects on student
    learning.
    * Had a sense of control
    * Had high levels of passion for teaching and learning
    *Had deep understanding of their subject.
    *Were adept at improvisation
    *Had a problem solving disposition to teaching
    *Had a positive classroom climate that fostered learning
    *Had respect for students


    My statement is based on research. Research shows that the effect teachers have on their students greatly varies--much more so than that of principals.
     
  40. GTB4GT

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    Jan 25, 2015

    well, in my school the teachers fail the students who can't do the work. The students go through some process called credit recovery for the subject. this is an online class where they can take the test multiple times. It is not strictly supervised so the kids take the test over and over, writing down the correct answers and/or googling the correct answers. Viola! instant passing grade from the school system without comprehension or mastery of the subject. Another teacher on here said something about "take home packets" which, in essence, is the same thing.
     
  41. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Jan 25, 2015

    Thanks. I wasn't sure how to take your original comment because it was with the idea of the test and punish conversation and how the teacher is made the fall guy for students failing.
     
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