What role should the Feds have in schools?

Later this year Congress will rewrite the federal No Child Left Behind Act and there’s been a lot of discussion about placing stricter rules on teacher quality and academic standards.

President Obama campaigned on these issues and Education Secretary Arne Duncan has mentioned them during telephone conferences with education writers.

Many of you on this blog have said we need higher quality academic standards for students. Some also have said teacher quality must be improved so that the weak are pushed out and the strong are rewarded.

But are these issues the federal government should control?

No Child Left Behind increased the federal government’s role in education. Obama’s stimulus package extended it and it looks like this administration isn’t stopping.

Here in Georgia we see the Legislature passing bills every year that usurp local control over education.

When did education stop being an issue handled locally? Has this change improved or weakened education?

56 comments Add your comment

Reality

April 16th, 2009
10:49 am

It always seems to be a good idea to have “national standards” and for the federal government to enforce some sort of uniform “requirement” for anything – not just education. What most people don’t realize (until it is too late) is that doing this comes with a price.

The obvious price is higher taxes. The federal government must hire more people to write/modify/undate these standards and also to enforce them.

Then there is loss of local control. If the federal government says to “jump” then the locals must ask “how high.” And, it does not matter what the local people want, need, or desire. If a local community is prefectly happy with their local school system, if the federal government wants to, they can force them to totally change.

Then, there is the “common denominator” factor. The federal government treats people the same with the same rules, the same requirments, etc. It doesn’t matter that there may be one small area that has a different need – the rules are the same for all.

Yes, everyone wants to improve education – but at what price do we really want more federal control?

jim d

April 16th, 2009
11:28 am

What role should the Feds have in schools?

NONE, NADA, ZILCH!!

But then that is just IMHO

Lester Maddox

April 16th, 2009
11:38 am

“What role should the Feds have in schools?

NONE, NADA, ZILCH!!”

So lets quit taking federal money and TOTALLY finance our schools. Ain’t gonna happen no time soon.

Lisa B.

April 16th, 2009
12:14 pm

The Feds got involved because the Public became dissatisfied with the quality of students churned out by public schools. I don’t think Federal involvement has improved public education. At this point, I agree with previous posts that “choice” may be the only way to improve the schools. Some good, old competition doesn’t need Federal involvement, and could help.

V for Vendetta

April 16th, 2009
12:24 pm

My two answers:

The Fed should have NO role in public school. Schools should be privately run enterprises. We were founded on laissez-faire capitalism, remember?

This change has most certainly weakened education. You can trace this snowball back to the roots of public education and speeches like FDR’s famous “second” Bill of Rights–which was itself a load of total garbage.

Tony

April 16th, 2009
1:26 pm

Reality hit several nails squarely on the head. Some of you are a little off on your history of schooling in America, though. Early in American history, it was the responsibility of the community to provide for the education of the children. These common schools grew into public schools as time passed. Late in the 19th century, the business and industrial leaders wanted the schools to train “workers” and the factory model of schooling was born. This paradigm continues to this day. The curriculum that was established then is still the norm even though technology could completely transform the content available for students.

The US Constitution is silent on education and therefore the Feds should have no authority over the states. When did this all change? Brown vs Board of Education, Eisenhower, and and LBJ all separately had profound impact over federal involvement in public education. Carter established the DOE which continues to push its way into our local schools. The modus operandi? Money. Here’s you a little bit of money, but you have to follow our rules to use it. Many districts only receive about 5% to 7% of their total budgets from federal funding, but we continue to take that money because we are addicted to it.

And yes, as Reality stated, the “common denominator” effect takes over. I’ll add one word to drive the point – lowest common denominator. Everyone must be equal and this precept begins to dumb down everything. One community can’t have better facilities than another because all must be equal. One community can’t have all the “good” teachers because there are children somewhere else with lower quality teachers. We need to redistribute them. Sound familiar?

Improving education can best be achieved within the community that wants better schools and better opportunities for its youth. If that community is willing to make the necessary commitments, then there will be a difference in the quality of education. These changes are based on values. Last time I checked, you can’t legislate values.

Ernest

April 16th, 2009
1:56 pm

Gee whiz V, you believe the Feds should have no role in public schools. Does that mean:

-No free and reduced lunch program?
-No equal access provisions?
-No ensuring services and protections for special needs students?
-No assistance with school construction, modernization, technology, etc.?
-No attempt at standards?

I wonder what our schools would look like if we did not have any Federal involvement?

To the question, I do see where our legislature is attempting to usurp local control in education matters. How can legislators suggest a state wide salary for school board members? How about how a local school board handles charter school applications? Several of our legislators have questionable motives with their education legislation.

V for Vendetta

April 16th, 2009
2:21 pm

Ernest, let me go point by point.

No
No
No
No
No

What would schools look like with no Fed involvement? In a word . . . BETTER.

VOICE

April 16th, 2009
3:27 pm

The answer depends a great deal on your perspective. If you were an African-American before Brown v. Board, then federal involvement has a been a blessing, and in many cases schools have gotten better. But, it’s all somewhat relative(?).

Several of you make STRONG points, both for and against fed involvement. However, Lisa B. hit it on the head. CHOICE, CHOICE, CHOICE! We should try it with several pilot projects and see what happens. If not, Lester Maddox may have the answer, stop taking federal money, and see how that works.

Reality 2

April 16th, 2009
3:40 pm

So, what exactly are the criteria we use to determine what’s “better” or “improved”? Are we talking about academic achievement? Then, many (most?) countries that seem to outscore us in international studies do have national curricula and their Ministries of Education (or equivalent) seem to have strong control. Their public schools seem to do well, and I don’t know of any country that offers “choice” in the form of voucher. So, what’s wrong with US???

VOICE

April 16th, 2009
3:56 pm

Reality2, I think you are right. That’s why I say it’s relative(?).

Ernest

April 16th, 2009
4:59 pm

Voice, you read through the questions that I posed to V. What could our state look like if there was not Federal intervention? It is ‘possible’ that businesses would chose to go elsewhere as I’m sure they would not want to operate in a state that tolerated discrimination, did not look to feed their poor children, ignored the special needs children, and used outdated equipment in old buildings. I’m not sure if that is better…..

ScienceTeacher671

April 16th, 2009
5:36 pm

I tend to agree most with Reality 2 on this one – s/he is correct about the countries that tend to outperform us academically. In addition, there are many states that outperform Georgia, and I don’t think we are ready to admit that our children aren’t as smart as their children.

Our system has a number of military dependents. I don’t think it’s right that those children have different standards and curricula each time their parents are transferred. A standardized curriculum for the entire country would certainly help them.

Yes, a national curriculum and standards would have to be developed – but we wouldn’t have to pay for 50 different sets to be developed either.

EnglebertHumphreyDink

April 16th, 2009
6:57 pm

Some things have improved by Fed involvement, but, as a whole, the Fed laws like NCLB have been disasterous.

Y2Educate

April 16th, 2009
7:07 pm

“placing stricter rules on teacher quality and academic standards”

There seems to be an overabundance of opinions and no real solutions. We keep increasing standards for teachers (that’s wonderful ) and students (which aren’t always enforced). Until we place stricter rules on who is allowed to procreate and improve parenting standards, little will change no matter how much cash you throw on the situation.

jim d

April 16th, 2009
7:21 pm

Voice,

“If you were an African-American before Brown v. Board, then federal involvement has a been a blessing”,

That is arguable at best. Blacks have arguably done much worse academically and socially as a whole since that historic case. It is a matter of perspective.

Lee

April 16th, 2009
8:10 pm

You’d be hard pressed to find anything that the feds have done with regards to education that improved something.

Brown vs Board was the official ‘beginning of the end’ with regards to public education, IMHO. In one fell swoop, the feds wrested control away from the local and public education has been on a downward spiral ever since. The resulting forced bussing of students also was a causal factor of the ‘white flight’ phenomena, which led to the eventual deterioration of many inner cities.

Next came the ill advised Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which thought it would be great fun to place the Special Ed student next to the Valedictorian and see what would happen.

The latest chapter in this sorry episode is the infamous NCLB, which in practice, means that if you slow everybody down to a crawl, the laggards might keep up.

You’d be hard pressed to find one thing that the Feds touched that they didn’t mess up – and yes, that includes the military. ($900 hammers anyone?)

high school teacher

April 16th, 2009
8:11 pm

“Their public schools seem to do well, and I don’t know of any country that offers “choice” in the form of voucher. So, what’s wrong with US???”

We feel the need to allow everyone to attend school to age 18, 20 if necessary, regardless of IQ, test scores, or motivational level, and hold all of the above to the same standard.

“Until we place stricter rules on who is allowed to procreate and improve parenting standards, little will change no matter how much cash you throw on the situation.”

There is a bit of truth to that!

Reality 2

April 16th, 2009
9:27 pm

HS teacher,

We only require students to attend schools until 16. I know that students are required to attend schools until the end of grade 9 in Japan, 15/16 years old. So, let’s not pretend that we are the only country that require all students to attend schools.

jim d

Do you have any data that support your claim that “Blacks have arguably done much worse academically and socially as a whole”? Now, I do think that our society has systematically ignored Brown v. Board as our schools are often still very much separate and unequal. Look at all those inner city schools where 99% of students are blacks, while some suburban and rural schools where 99% are white. We may be following the letter of the law, but our society continue to discriminate in some sectors, unfortunately.

V for Vendetta

April 16th, 2009
10:20 pm

Ernest, why do you assume that everything would be worse? It would open up the playing field for COMPETITION, something that has been sorely lacking in public education for decades. There would be typical private schools that catered to the wealthy, middle class private schools that would take the money currently stolen from us by the Feds, and lower class private schools that attempted to serve lower socioeconomic strata. The BIG difference is that the SCHOOLS would be in charge. I would be willing to bet that discipline would suddenly be fixed, as schools would have the right to remove persistently bad students. Scholarships would become the norm for children of low income families, as well as other performance based incentives. Similar to the private sector, a school’s reputation would be built over time. Honda didn’t become Honda overnight, you know.

Would there be an initial class divide between the haves and the have nots? Absolutely. Is that necessarily a bad thing? Not at all. If anything, it would make the path to economic success that much clearer (and the steps to get there). Having no money or being born into poverty isn’t a mortgage on the income of the middle and upper classes; it’s not a debt to be paid by the rest of society. These children would have more opportunity than ever before, in environments full of other like-minded students. The bad students would be removed and end up exactly where they belong–in jail.

So tell me, Ernest, Reality 2, et. al. What’s so bad about all that?

ScienceTeacher671

April 16th, 2009
10:56 pm

It’s true that the other countries with national standards also don’t expect everyone to go to college…or even to the academic high schools.

DB

April 17th, 2009
7:57 am

The feds have no place in education. If the federal government is so interested in education , let it found a national university and have at it, but as far as bullying local schools because “he who has the cash gets to make the rules”, then I wish they’d take their money and go away.

Free lunch? Freee breakfast? What is this, a fast food restaurant or a school? Is it a coincidence that the schools with the highest percentage of free lunches are also the ones that are the lowest performing school?

You cannot legislate poor parenting skills, lack of societal values, lack of morals and lack of motivation. You have two and a half generations of a growing segment of society who have been brought up by the welfare state, which has stripped so many people of the incentive to get up off their a$$ and work. The state gives them just enough to get by — free breakfast, lunch, free babysitting (i.e., education), and a stipend for child care if the find themselves knocked up. Yes, you can always point to the exceptions that do well — but the fact that they are EXCEPTIONS misses the point that there is a growing percentage of the population who is happily ignorant and minimally cared for by the state.

My children attended a private school. There was no federal involvement. One child, who is at a top 15 nationally-ranked university, recently thanked me for sending him to the private school, because he is constantly amazed at the number of kids, even at this university, who don’t know how to learn and who cannot write a coherent sentence.

Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” was predicated on wiping out poverty and assumed that people had enough self-respect to want to succeed. He didn’t understand the basic concept that self-respect is something that comes from within — you cannot give someone respect by giving them education, food, money, medical care, etc. The very act of giving these things actually erodes what little self-respect is owned in the first place.

Medicare and Medicaid has ruined health care in this country. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 was the first step in ruining the schools. When the federal government kept its nose out of schools, the U.S. was near the top of education world-wide. The federal government started to poke around, and the Dumbing Down of America began.

GC Parent

April 17th, 2009
8:21 am

There has to be federal involvement. Say what you will about NCLB and there are ton’s of improvements and fine-tuning that must happen, but without it, the subgroup performance would continue to be masked and we would be fooling ourselves about the most important issue for the future of our country – education. Too few Governors have the will to be candid about education. Even fewer leaders at the local level. They are too worried about getting reelected, job security, or financial impacts.

jim d

April 17th, 2009
8:30 am

School choice and a couple of world rankings;

Ranked #7 New Zeland

#22 Sweden

jim d

April 17th, 2009
8:32 am

Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution actually says it all

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”

high school teacher

April 17th, 2009
9:22 am

Reality2, you missed the second part of my statement: we hold them all to the same standard. That doesn’t happen elsewhere. And most 9th graders are 14 or 15, not 16, unless Japan has more grades for our 1-8.

Also, I said that we “allow” students to go to school until age 18. That also doesn’t happen in Japan. Students have to take placement tests to see if they can continue their education.

ScienceTeacher671

April 17th, 2009
9:30 am

There is already competition for those wealthy enough to take advantage of it.

I CHOSE to live in a certain area when my children were growing up, so that my children could attend the schools I CHOSE for them. There are certain areas I CHOSE not to live in, because the schools in those areas were sub-par.

From the posts here, I see that many of you have CHOSEN to send your children to private schools, and others have CHOSEN to live in areas with better public schools.

Reality2

April 17th, 2009
10:00 am

HS teacher and science teacher

Japanese children start schools when they turn 6 – in Grade 1. They don’t have Kindergarten as a part of their compulsory education. So, by the time they graduate from their middle school (Grade 9), they are typically 15 years old.

Yes, it is true that Japanese students do have to take entrance exams to go to HS, but 99% of their students DO go on to high schools. I don’t have the exact data, but I think a fairly significant portion of HS graduates also go on to colleges.

Oh, by the way, for up to Grade 9, students ARE held to the same standards. They don’t track students, either. So, let’s not pretend that we are trying to do something other countries aren’t – and that’s the reason we aren’t doing as well academically.

ScienceTeacher671

April 17th, 2009
10:06 am

Reality 2, Japan also has a very different culture, and much less diversity than the U.S.

But maybe one problem is that we don’t really hold our students to the same standards – we say we do, but we have different standards state by state, and in Georgia, we socially promote students even if they don’t meet the standards.

Reality 2

April 17th, 2009
10:24 am

Science Teacher,

Clearly, Japan and US are two different countries. However, I wish we stop focusing on the differences and use them as an excuse to not study what Japan may be doing that can inform our practice.

In Japan, during the compulsory education (Grades 1 through 9), social promotion is the norm. They DON’T test students every year. Although the Ministry of Education now conducts achievement tests in Grades 6 and 9 (the end of elementary and middle schools), they are NOT high-stake. Neither students nor schools are penalized or rewarded on those achievement tests. Unfortunately, some policy makers are looking at US and considering doing something like what we do. It’s very ironic that it’s Japan who is trying to learn from US even though, at least in math and science, they are far ahead of us. Why do we have so much problem with the idea of trying to learn from Japan?

V for Vendetta

April 17th, 2009
10:58 am

You’re missing an ENORMOUS point, Reality 2–culture. The Japanese culture is driven by standards and values, almost too much so. The students are expected to live up to the standards set by their parents; there is little choice in the matter. Thus the students have a driving force behind their motivation to succeed; however the positivity of that force and its effect on their sense of personal self worth is debatable.

Here in America, we crave freedom and choice. With freedom and choice come two very obvious realities subsumed under those banners–the freedom to fail and the freedom to not make a choice. You can’t force people to make a choice; it’s a contradiction in terms. If you want to accept that we live in a FREE society, you must also accept that people are FREE to FAIL. Such is life. This is why a laissez-faire system that promotes capitalism will always be better than an over-regulated socialistic mess. If the schools were free to compete, people would truly have the OPPORTUNITY to receive an education. In order to value education properly, we must first eliminate the most devaluing concept in all of public education–that it’s a right.

jim d

April 17th, 2009
11:23 am

ST671,

Hmm, not much choice being offered if one lives in a fast growing area like many parts of Gwinnett where new schools are being built and opened at record rates. I’ve seen one neighborhood redistricted 3 times in the past 10 years

jim d

April 17th, 2009
11:31 am

Reality2′

Leave us not forget the one thing that differs greatly.

Mainstreaming in Japan does not necessarily mean attending regular classes; it often means attending a regular school that has special classes for handicapped students. There are also special public schools for the handicapped, which have departments equivalent to the various levels of elementary and secondary schools, including kindergarten and upper-secondary departments in some cases.

chuck

April 17th, 2009
12:00 pm

Lee, Vendetta, Jim d, and HSscience teacher, great posts. Ernest, I can tell you that we are at a crossroad in education. Federal involvement is the ABSOLUTE WORST THING TO EVER HAPPEN TO EDUCATION.

National standards are a JOKE. EVERY TIME we have attempted to formulate national standards, POLITICS and political correctness have so confused the issue that the standards end up as so much fluff.

As for Free breakfast and lunch programs, they are simply a bad idea. I don’t want to see any child go hungry in my school. In fact, I have provided lunch mone NUMEROUS times for students who needed it. Parents who don’t see to it that their children have food at home are just lousy parents. How about this, if you want me to FEED YOUR CHILDREN, I should also have a say in how they are raised. These programs are simply enablement.

IDEA is HORRIBLE. We spend as much to educate one child who is afflicted with cerebral palsy who cannot even feed him or herself as we do to educate a WHOLE CLASS OF STUDENTS who will have the opportunity to make real contributions to society as a whole. I know this sounds harsh, but that IS NOT a good use of our limited resources. IDEA has done tremendous damage to public education by wasting time, resources,and effort on students who will not EVER contribute in a meaningful way to the nation as a whole. Teachers have to spend an UNFAIR amount of time on these students in the classroom and that comes at the expense of students who are ready to move on but are forced to wait. We used to have high standards, but IDEA and NCLB force us to teach as one put it, to the LOWEST common denominator.

The 10th Amendment should be the deciding factor in answering the question. If there is not a provision in the constitution making education a federal power (and there is NOT), then the feds should not have ANY involvement in the educational decisions of the states, and they should not be funding education at all.

Reality2

April 17th, 2009
12:25 pm

All,

Has any of you actually stepped your foot in a Japanese school? Japanese elementary schools are filled with noise and kids are running around – almost chaotic. There is no lining up to go to bathroom or music room, etc. Kids are given much more freedom. Yes, they are expected to learn to follow certain rules, but they are taught to do so. Teachers spend enormous amount of time trying to help children learn to be members of a community. Their class sizes are larger – the law currently allows up to 40 students in a classroom. Teachers spend many hours of their professional development hours to learn to become more effective teachers.

Children who are classified as “educably retarded” ARE in regular classrooms. No, they will not place children who cannot take care of their basic physiological needs will not be placed in a regular classroom, but they have all other types of kids like ADHD, etc. in regular classroom. Yes, they do have schools for blind, deaf, etc., but so do we. Furthermore, how many classrooms in suburuban Atlanta actually have “one child who is afflicted with cerebral palsy who cannot even feed him or herself”? I’m sure we are talking about a small percent of classrooms. There are many more classrooms without such students with special needs.

Japanese classrooms aren’t the eutopia that some of you seem to think. They are filled with real children with different degree of understanding of specific topics, different needs (social, psychological, physical), etc. Teachers work VERY hard – if you walk by a regular public schools around 7 pm, you still see the light in the teachers’ office.

So, why can’t we admit that maybe there are things we can learn from Japanese schools – as Japanse are looking at US and all over the world to learn to improve their education? Why are we so concerned about pointing out the differences? Many Japanese educators will tell you that they are using a LOT of ideas that originated in the United States. Somehow, they manage to take advantage of our ideas much better while we keep looking for a better idea.

jim d

April 17th, 2009
1:51 pm

reality 2,

I simply pointed out a major difference in the two systems because we constantly hear how much better the japs system of education is. I don’t know for a fact that it is any better, however if it is we should look at some of the major differences.

Perhaps the less structured classes you mention may be another contributing factor. However, I don’t see our teachers putting up with that type of behavior anytime in the near future.

V for Vendetta

April 17th, 2009
2:31 pm

“Japanese classrooms aren’t the eutopia [sic] that some of you seem to think.”

I’m not saying they are (though I highly doubt that sort of behavior is tolerated in the higher grades). One must wonder how the Japanese are able to allow such freedom and still maintain relative amounts of success. I wonder if culture and values have anything to do with it . . . .

There are many great ideas that originate in the US–some of the best, in fact. But the one thing that they have in common is being squashed by a government run sytem more concerned with “equality” than actual learning. Again, the choice issue comes up. Again, school choice would allow schools to decide on what type of pedagogy champion.

There is simply no rational reason for government run education to continue for one more minute. NONE!

ScienceTeacher671

April 17th, 2009
2:42 pm

jim d, try down here in “the other Georgia” where public schools are frequently 15-30 miles apart, and academically strong private schools are practically non-existent. Changing schools will involve changing where you live, may involve changing your job, and will certainly impact your commute time.

Reality2

April 17th, 2009
3:46 pm

V,

If you talk with Japanese teachers, you will notice that they put a lot of emphasis on “nurturing” children. They consider their primary mission is to educate children to become productive members of society. They want children with character – like caring, thoughtful,etc. They have visions of what they want their students to be like when they leave their classroom at the end of the year that is much more about the personhood of individual children. They think how to teach academic subject so that they can develop such characters. They focus on developing relationships with children/students. They try to earn respect from their students – although there is definitely cultural expectation that teachers are to be respected, but they work on developing respect that is more than superficial obedience.

And, they are done by, for the most part, teachers at public schools. Japanese schools are very much concerned about “equality.” In fact, the Ministry of Education makes sure that public schools are equally equipped no matter where they are located (for the most part). So, most elementary schools will have a swimming pool, a gym, a large play ground, science room, music room, etc. Why can they run their “government schools” in such a way that produce positive results but our “government schools” are squashed by government interferences?

I think what Japanese (and other) systems show us is that “government schools” do not have to be inefficient failure. Many of our schools ARE quite successful, too.

jim d

April 17th, 2009
4:00 pm

Reality 2,

Correct me if’n I’m wrong but doesn’t HS in japan inclde only grades 10-12 (optional) with the last year studying and preparing for college exams? and don’t students select (chose)(there’s that pesky word again) the school based on field of studey they will be entering?

Reality 2

April 17th, 2009
7:37 pm

jim d,

Yes, Japanese HS (they call upper secondary) are Grades 10 through 12. Yes, students have to “chose” for which HS entrance exams to take – all public HS tend to hold their entrance exams on the same day, so students usually get one shot. There are a variety of HS – “regular” or more college prep type (which I believe is the majority) as well as more vocationally focused such as business, technical, agricultural, etc. So, unless you go to a vocational HS, your choice is really based on your academic achievement up to that point. Entrance exams aren’t too competitive in that the ratio of applicants to seat is just over 1. But, I don’t think they will just fill the seats – if there aren’t enough students meeting the cut off scores, they may hold a second exam – I think this practice probably varies from school to school.

Most academic HS will split their students into either Science or Humanities tracks in their senior year at least. Some may actually begin tracking in Grade 11.

The Ministry sets the standards for all types of HS, and all students are required to take some academic classes no matter what type of HS they attend. For example, they are all required to take Grade 10 math, which is probably something similar to Math II/III in the GPS.

V for Vendetta

April 17th, 2009
9:29 pm

Reality 2, a few points:

1. We’re not really comparing apples to apples here. Now matter how many allowances you make for the few similarities, you’re still not understanding that fundamental cultural differences are at work here. You’re right about developing respect. It IS more important than developing superficial obedience. However, superficial obedience isn’t needed when you have respect. Again, it comes back to culture.

2. I don’t want my schools to be equal. I want to know which ones are the best. (Many of us know that now, but I want it to be championed and advertised, not covered up by people like Alvin Wilbanks.) I don’t want all schools to have the same stuff. I want the quality of the school to REFLECT THE QUALITY OF THE SCHOOL. Get it?

3. You’ll also notice that the Japanese model is not terribly different from ours in the lower grades, as you have pointed out, but, at the high school level, it is vastly different. Europe, despite many government run schools, is also modeled in a similar fashion. They test. Kids are segregated based on ability. Schools function.

But I still submit that a privatized education system unencumbered by inane government meddling would trump all of those systems. Trust me. I’m seeing ours from the inside out; it ain’t working!

Asmilyoo

April 17th, 2009
11:08 pm

G Man, you put out some good stuff on this thread, though so much is politically incorrect and therefore almost has the built-in inability to be heard. I hear you way down here in Brasil. Mandatory education starts at seven here. Some of the same problems here in public schools. Thugs and so forth. Many parents just opt for “escolas da privadas.” Esta chuvendo este noite. Eu espero para muito sol amanha! Ta bom! Seu amigo, Asmilyoo. P. S. Como vais Rev. B. em Estados Unidos?

V for Vendetta

April 18th, 2009
10:32 pm

Reality 2, a few (important) points:

1. We’re not really comparing apples to apples here. Now matter how many allowances you make for the few similarities, you’re still not understanding that fundamental cultural differences are at work here. You’re right about developing respect. It IS more important than developing superficial obedience. However, superficial obedience isn’t needed when you have respect. Again, it comes back to culture.

2. I don’t want my schools to be equal. I want to know which ones are the best. (Many of us know that now, but I want it to be championed and advertised, not covered up by people like Alvin Wilbanks.) I don’t want all schools to have the same stuff. I want the quality of the school to REFLECT THE QUALITY OF THE SCHOOL. Get it?

3. You’ll also notice that the Japanese model is not terribly different from ours in the lower grades, as you have pointed out, but, at the high school level, it is vastly different. Europe, despite many government run schools, is also modeled in a similar fashion. They test. Kids are segregated based on ability. Schools function.

But I still submit that a privatized education system unencumbered by inane government meddling would trump all of those systems. Trust me. I’m seeing ours from the inside out; it ain’t working!

V for Vendetta

April 18th, 2009
10:32 pm

sorry if a double post appears. grrrrrrrr.

Reality 2

April 19th, 2009
1:05 pm

V,

I am not suggesting we should make our schools like Japanese schools. However, I am suggesting that we should study what Japanese are doing and identify things that might work for us as well instead of simply writing them off because their culture is different.

It is interesting to note that many Japanese educators will tell you that their system is really modeled after the US model. Not quite sure whether or not the original US model is still around in this country…

As you noted, Japanese HS system is structured differently than ES and MS. Given that their ES and MS students are outperforming our students at ES and MS levels, perhaps there is an added reason for us to be looking at what they are doing.

I agree that our system isn’t working quite as well as we would like it to be. What are the root causes for this failure? I don’t think it is as simple as “it’s discipline, stupid.” Then, the important question is whether or not privatizing will automatically remove those factors. I am not sold on that.

V for Vendetta

April 20th, 2009
11:18 am

Though I agree with many others on this blog that discipline is a root cause of many problems, it is not the problem I feel is responsible for our current system’s failure. The idea that education is a “right” is the culprit. Because of that, I DO think that privatizing the system would eliminate nearly all of the common problems we face in the classrooms.

Reality2

April 20th, 2009
2:08 pm

Suppose if we say education is not a “right.” Then, what could it be? There are more than one possibility, I think. I think we can say education is a priviledge/choice. Perhaps, then, privatization may be relevant. However, we can also think of education as an obligation, just like tax – after all, that’s what compulsory education is about, isn’t it? Of course, we can think of education as combination of these, perhaps at the different levels, as well.

Moreover, we are only addressing the structures of education system. Changing the systemic structure does not necessarily change the actual teaching practices, which is, at least, just as important. Privatization, I doubt, will address that aspect.

V for Vendetta

April 20th, 2009
2:16 pm

Education is valuable to your life–to make it anything other than a choice is to rob it of its inherent value. I don’t agree with our compulsory tax laws, so I sure as heck don’t agree with compulsory education. No one has the “right” to an education nor should they.

high school teacher

April 20th, 2009
3:17 pm

I think where we err is that we fail to recognize a peron’s right NOT to have an education. This right not to educate fall’s upon the backs of the parents, however, not the children. Do you have any idea how many parents we have taken to court this year because their 14 or 15 year old child has missed more than 10 unexcused days from school? The manpower and the money that go into this process is staggering.

I am all for offering an opportunity for all to attend school. I am all for public schools. However, I am all for parents exercising the right not to have their child attend the school, and not have the school accountable for it.