American Education Fails Because It isn't Education

Discussion in 'Education' started by Adam's Apple, Dec 16, 2007.

  1. Adam's Apple
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    Adam's Apple Senior Member

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    Gets right into the nitty gritty of the failure.

    American Education Fails Because It Isn't Education
    By Tom DeWeese, MichNews.com
    December 8, 2007

    ...there are two specific categories in which the U.S. excels, compared to the rest of the world. First, the U.S. ranks second in the world in the amount we spend per student per year on education = $11,152. The U.S. is also a leader in having some of the smallest classroom numbers in the world. Yet the slide continues. American students grow more illiterate by the year. How can that be? We're doing everything the "experts" tell us to do. We're spending the money. We're building more and more schools. We're raising teachers' pay.

    Every American should understand that these three items: higher pay, smaller classrooms and more money for schools are the specific agenda of the National Education Association (NEA). The NEA is not a professional organization for teachers. It is a labor union and its sole job is to get more money into the education system, and more pay for its members. It also seeks to make work easier for its members - smaller classrooms. Clearly the NEA is not about education - it's about money and a political agenda.

    for full article:
    http://www.michnews.com/artman/publish/article_18707.shtml
     
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  2. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    I certainly agree that many things are broken down in American education system, part of it is the NEA, I think a larger part can be laid at the door of education departments throughout the country, and perhaps the largest part is the problem of parents.

    Mr DeWeese does a fine job on highlighting the NEA, but he fails to make the link to the education departments and the writing of textbooks that flows from this department of universities across the nation. Ever wonder why you are unable to help your 3rd grader with their math? You KNOW they don't really have their addition and subtraction facts down, much less beginning their multiplication facts, yet here you sit at the kitchen table and it seems they are to do ALGEBRA! My how progressive, your child has one of the texts that goes under the heading of Fuzzy Math. Texas recently pulled it's state funding from one of the largest and most popular math series with this problem, The University of Chicago's "Everyday Math". If your child does have one of these 'feel good' math series, take a look at the list of authors, it's not from the Universities MATH department, but rather the education department.

    Same with reading. Over the past 25 years, it was recognized by schools that the wide use of 'Whole language' wasn't working for too many children. This was one idea that probably made sense in a way, but was not dropped soon enough and still hasn't been rooted out because education departments, (remember where most text authors come from), still blame the instructors, not their theory.

    Whole language was very effective in helping children with disabilities in reading, the most important skill taught. These were children who just could not decode or comprehend words through phonics. With whole language for many of these kids, reading suddenly 'clicked.' So with real results, the education departments one by one, then in a flood came to the conclusion that 'if whole language was so successful with those that 'can't read', how much better would all children perform if phonics was removed from the curriculum and replaced with WL. (Same thinking happened with preschool, based on results from "Head Start"). Like New Math in the late 50's and 60's, (we do repeat our errors), most children did not learn from WL, instead we started having children labeled 'disabled' but refused to teach phonics. In the past 10 years or so, concerned teachers and parents have raised so much problems, that phonics has reentered the curriculum, but not enough. WL has not been written off, just disguised and integrated into the reading programs with some phonics. (If your young child's spelling, reading, science, or social studies worksheets have 'size' blocks, which indicate 'tall letters' in the answer area, that's WL.)

    Same with the social studies texts, they are not written primarily by historians, rather from the education departments phd's, and in many cases contributors only have BA's and MA's. Not good. It's one of the reasons that the National Council of Historians failed to go along with the national standards in social studies, (which truth to tell, the term 'social studies' itself is an indictment of the education dumbing down which has been happening for decades.)

    They never could reach agreement so The National Council of the Social Studies released their standards, leaving it up to the states to write their own measurements and requirements. Not good. The best text I've found in my state is published by Pearson/Prentice-Hall, the majority of authors are from history/geography departments, but education contributors are well represented.

    Glancing through the texts, look to see how much space is devoted to the facts you need to know about geography, map reading, graph reading, and historical events, and people of significance. In 99% of the 'social studies' texts, you will find some science, (biomes), some politics, (global/UN thinking), and very little on civics or political philosophy that underlies our system of government. This doesn't seem so 'bad' to many that want their children to 'think globally', yet even they should take the time to consider the results of children in our country that haven't a clue to where even the US is on a map, who was president during the civil war, who were allies in WWI, II, Why there was a revolution, who Karl Marx was, why communism failed, (much less what it was)....

    Then there are the parents and the children. Very few do not care about their children, anything but. However some of the hardest working parents I know do not want their children to miss a practice or game because they failed to get their homework finished. They will take them or drop them off at the mall with plenty of money, but without insisting they first complete their homework, (which in any case is 'too much'). These kids do not have any chores to do at home and I do mean 'none.' Not make a bed, take out trash, help with laundry, vacuum, dust, anything. By the time they are in middle school and cannot fathom how to plan their time and act responsibly, the parents cannot understand and blame the amount and/or level of work. The parents seem incapable of identifying the connections between increasing responsibilities and increasing independence. The kids have never been responsible for themselves or even feeding their pets.

    Back to math and other subjects including families. Those math facts, you remember having to learn your times tables, addition and subtraction facts, how to 'test' your answers? For most of us either our parents or a sibling tested us with flash cards, (which we made up at school) or we had to learn them on our own. Remember the drills in school? The competitive games? I know I didn't want to be the first to sit down. That type of 'humiliation' has been removed, it isn't considered 'fair' since all children 'learn differently'. Instead their are 'math minutes' which are X number of problems to solve in a minute, but if you don't 'get it' you do it the next day or the next. Some never get it done. Some parents just won't take the time, which for some kids might be a lot of time.

    Yet these very same parents, yes it's nearly always the same ones, will spend tens or even hundreds of dollars to complete a science project or social studies project that will be 'displayed.' The parents do the work, the child cannot explain it, so they get a 'C' or 'C+' because no teacher after the first confrontation with a parent completed project will repeat that 'mistake.' The parent will deny doing it, the kid will tell you they did it, but can't explain the how or why. It's a lose/lose situation. It's not the teacher that pays the price, (well except with that one confrontation that nearly all have gone through-I was shattered for a couple of days), it's the child and parent. The child KNOWS they didn't do the work, the parent should know that they did the work, the child knows the parent kept them out of trouble and that the teacher 'lost.' Not a good lesson for any of those relationships, thus teachers tend not to repeat.

    Heck, I haven't even brought up the whole concept of 'teaching to the tests', which in some cases might be an improvement on some teaching methods.
     
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  3. Diuretic
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    Diuretic Permanently confused

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    In the article DeWeese says that the entire education system is behaviourist (referring to Fred Skinner). But my understanding was that constructivism is the main theory and that comes from Bruner. So which is it? Skinner-box classrooms or spiral curriculum?

    I disagree with his comments about Thomas. From reading the extract it seems to me that Thomas is on track. Sure, basic skills have to be learned early but DWeese seems to think that education is solely about memorising facts.

    As for teaching to the tests - what's tested gets taught. Do US schools use norm-referenced testing or criterion-referenced testing? May be a blend of both?
     
  4. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    I'm addressing the standardized tests, whether state, Iowa Basics, Terra Novas, etc.
     
  5. Diuretic
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    Diuretic Permanently confused

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    Okay, I did some googling.
     
  6. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    Sorry about the too quick answer before. We used to use Terra Nova, this year switched to the Iowa Basics and CoGats. The first is norm-referenced the other ability predictor, (they never use IQ, the average CSQ is 100. ;) )

    The CSQ is arrived at by predicted verses achieved score.

    Our school, private, does not teach to the tests. We're able to pretty much make our own curriculum, as long as we hit all the state standards and goals for our age group. I've moved the Constitution unit to 7th from 8th grade, as it makes more sense to me to teach it following the Revolution. However the state curriculum calls for it in 8th, as does the testing companies. This year we tested in mid-October, 8th graders are not given the tests, as their standardized testing is PSAT and Catholic Schools Admissions Test, given in January. However when testing was in March, the 7th grade had already completed Constitution, so would be able to answer those questions where many nationally wouldn't, however we would be perhaps at Jacksonian Era, while most would be closing in on Civil War. Our year ends with Civil War, while most nationally would end at Reconstruction.

    Generally our school tests quite high, at about 78% average. This year it dipped, though the 7th grade didn't. Two things were changed because the diocese said so: Testing was moved from March to October AND they changed from Terra Novas to Iowa Basics. I'm quite unaware of why they would change two aspects in the same year. We're waiting to see what the other schools results were.

    As for teaching to tests, if the test has value and the schools are failing to adequately prepare their students for the materials covered, something is really wrong. As I said, IF you are teaching to age appropriate standards within your curriculum, even if you change the order of presentation, the kids will be ready. Thus schools, not classes, that fall consistently below the 50% should probably stop saying they are standards based and get the curriculum in line. That in effect is teaching to the tests, which are standards based in make-up.

    I thought you might get a kick out of a 'wish list' I got off a teacher board. I don't think anyone can be more frustrated with all that's wrong with schools than teachers:

    Of course some additions:

    and a bit from another on tests:

     
  7. actsnoblemartin
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    actsnoblemartin I love Andrea & April

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    excellent point, from one of the best posters on this board.

     
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  8. Adam's Apple
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    Adam's Apple Senior Member

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    Thanks. I posted the article because my oldest daughter is on the textbooks selection committee for her school district, and some of the things she has told me about the discussions and showed me in proposed textbooks seemed to bear out what the author stated in his article as being wrong with public education. I think there is little doubt that the area of public education is one that the lefties have staked out to impact.
     
  9. bennylava
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    bennylava Member

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    Here's part of the problem. When you say that a certain amount of money is spent on each student in the US, that's not accurate. The amount of money spent is not equal at all.
    The money for schools comes from property taxes. The higher the value of the property in a school district, the more money that school district has to spend.
    My mother was a secretary at a public highschool in a suburb that had more money per capita than Beverly Hills. The school district had so much money the buildings looked like posh malls, with huge tropical trees, beautiful grounds, lots of pets and art displays, murals, tons of sports facilities that were state of the art.
    In addition, the employees of the school were given great benefits, including a discount on any work out equipment they bought or any gym memberships.
    Now I ask you, is that fair? Is it right that kids twenty miles away in a poorer neighborhood didn't even have enough books to go around? And the books they did have were falling apart and twenty years old?

    That is the problem with the amount of money we spend on education in this country. So much of it goes to luxuries in rich school districts.
     
  10. Mr.Conley
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    Mr.Conley Senior Member

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    Agreed. $11,152 might be the average, but it's distributed very unequally. I've seen schools in southern Alabama that don't receive half that figure. Conversely, there's places like Andover, Exeter and the New York Privates that spend nearly $70,000 per student. So you've got a lot of money going into the system, but distribution is also a factor. Not the only factor, but a factor.
     
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