National education standards: Socialism or good sense?

I posted an entry Tuesday  on the first draft of common academic standards for our nation’s k-12 schools. I was surprised at the criticisms of such standards, believing that it makes sense for students to learn to the highest possible standards and that those standards ought to be the same whether in Dalton or Dallas or Atlanta or Annapolis.

Not so, said several posters. National standards represent socialism. They will weaken rigor rather than reinforce it.

There were several compelling posts and I am highlighting two of them here. My thanks to Tony and Dr. Pohl  for such thoughtful posts:

Tony’s comment:

The purpose of the development of so-called national standards is so we can institute a national test. Testing does not improve student achievement. Testing will not solve the problems that cause schools to have low achievement. Testing will not make kids smarter.

Some have referenced “a level playing field.” Do you know how a field is leveled? Dirt is moved from higher areas to lower areas. That is exactly what will happen with student achievement. The areas that see higher achievement will see decreases and the areas with low achievement may see increases. In other words, this will be the ultimate assault that will dumb down education.

No to national standards.

Dr. Pohl’s comment:

A national test would save us enormous amounts of money. It costs mega-millions for each state to develop its own 5th grade math or 11th grade grammar questions. WHY do we need 50 versions? Can’t we all agree on what a 5th or 11th grader should know in the core subjects? Of course, we already HAVE good national tests (e.g., ITBS or MAP, but especially the excellent NAEP tests). Let’s use them, but smartly, remembering their limitations.

What’s more, since the major text books are sold nationally, we already have an implicit national curriculum, and thus implicit national standards. Unfortunately the textbook contents are determined by a very few narrow-minded state boards of education (not educators) of the publishers’ biggest customers, i.e., Texas and California. I, for one, would prefer a thoughtful, diverse group of folks from across the nation determining curriculum and standards for our nation’s children, rather than the way it’s determined now.

Having local control of education strikes me as absurd in a country where people are frequently moving from state to state. Is geometry or chemistry or US history really different across state lines? Would it not make sense for families who move around to have their kids ease into the transition from school to school by facing a similar curriculum? And as many commentators here have already pointed out, what Georgia employers expect as job-related skills is surely no different from what Massachusetts employers look for. Local control once made sense when folks stayed pretty close to home.  It doesn’t make sense in the 21st Century.

88 comments Add your comment

Parent

September 23rd, 2009
10:56 am

I agree with Dr. Pohl. Could it be that we have too many administrators and not enough teachers? The administrators have too much time on their hands and keep spending money on developing more tests, standards and curriculum them they know what to do with. I agree it makes sense to use what is already out there. Its the teachers and students that are the issue not the way we test it or package it. English, history, chemistry and math is still the same as it was when we went to school. The CRCT in Georgia is a mess as well as its so-called new math.

Reality 2

September 23rd, 2009
11:27 am

I have really no idea whether or not we have too many administrators – there are some papers that have to be filled out BECAUSE schools run on public money. We want them to use their best judgment, but we don’t really trust them so they have to follow a bunch of rules to protect the tax payers. It’s a catch-22 situation.

I think we do have some problems with having good teachers in some areas – unfortunately, in some areas,they have to find the quantity before they can worry about quality.

Parent has no idea what s/he is talking about the new GA math standards. The CRCT mess is not about mathematics standards but it’s about the development/implementation/administration of the test. The same scene can be repeated even with a national standards – it will be a nationwide mess instead of just in one state.

Parent further doesn’t understand that mathematics evolves. Yes, there are a lot of mathematics that are the same as 30 years ago (or even further in the past). But there are certain ideas that are no longer taught, and there are new ideas that are getting more attention because if its importance. In general, statistics is a topic that is getting (rightly, in my view) more attention. I don’t think we discuss how to hand calculate square roots or use trig tables any more – that makes no sense when calculators are available. So, some changes are necessary and appropriate.

I think the national standards are a good thing. Dr. Pohl’s comments about textbooks is particularly important – however, I’m not sure if US publishers are capable of making any quality textbooks. If you compare US textbooks to some of the Asian textbooks, it’s just horrible. Even when they try to develop one based on an Asian (Singapore) book, they can just make it so “American” and poor quality. It would help to have the same standards to which textbooks are prepared, but having standards alone may not do much there, either.

Darren

September 23rd, 2009
11:28 am

Definitely vote for Dr. Pohl.

Dr. John Trotter

September 23rd, 2009
11:30 am

New standards. New curricula. New materials for the new curricula. New textbooks. New programs. New experts. New consultants. More money. It’s all about the money. Don’t kid yourselves. Ostensibly, it is about the children, but it is about the money. Money now drives the public schooling process. Just like the Military Industrial Complex which President Eisenhower warned us about, this Educational Curricula Complex is also very dangerous. Wouldn’t it be nice if our students learned the rules of grammar and could write a creative and cogent paragraph? Wouldn’t it be nice if our students could elucidate on the three branches of our republic and intelligently discuss our national bi-cameral legislature? Wouldn’t it be nice if our children could compute numbers on the basic level (e.g., percentages, perhaps simple long division, etc.)? Wouldn’t it be nice if our children could actually quote the Preambles to our Constitution and Declaration of Independence as well as Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and King’s “I Have a Dream” speech? Wouldn’t it be nice if our children could actually recall in which century that the Civil War took place or the Civil Rights movement took place? What about the essential causes of World Wars I and II?

So many of our children don’t even know these basics…stuff that was so elementary for those of us who went to school in the 1950s and 1960s before all of the “feel good” curriculum of the 1970s came down the pike (stuff like “Values Clarification”). All of the tinkering with the curriculum (minus the obvious changes like in technology) have actually watered-down the curriculum to meet some denominator. The cookie-cutter approaches to both curriculum and pedagogy have contributed to the demise in public schooling. Creating and promulgating new standards will not make a whit of difference. They will not improve anything, but perhaps billions of dollars will be spent on such curricula ballyhoo. Giving the teachers power in the classroom (1) to enforce her or his standards (without any pressure from the administration to change grades and lower the failure rate) and (2) to establish discipline in her or his classroom (without the rug being pulled out from under her or him by the spineless and weasel administrators) will do wonders in improving student achievement. But, these educational bozos (who always clamor for “new” and “higher” standards) have not yet figured this out. They just can’t hit a curve ball. They need to be sent back down to the “bush league” where they belong. (c) MACE, September 23, 2009.

Lee

September 23rd, 2009
11:35 am

Until the politically correct pathogens admit to the simple fact that you cannot teach a student with an 85 IQ in the same manner and pace that you would a student with an IQ of 120, any attempt at education reform or standardization will be akin to flushing sacks full of $100 bills down the proverbial toilet.

I mean, really, we’ve been talking about SAT, CRCT, EOCT, graduation tests, ITBS, black/white achievement gaps and a host of other metrics for years. How many points of reference do you online diploma mill Phd’s need to figure out what you’re doing is not working?

Of course, national standards might be interesting with one regard. IE, how the spin doctors will explain District of Columbia schools….

Dr. John Trotter

September 23rd, 2009
11:37 am

Let’s try submitting this again. I suppose that the AJC Filter has so many words and phrases attached to my name so that just about anything that I submit constantly gets caught in the almighty filter (”Waiting for moderation,” eh?). I could submit educational palbum, and I suppose that it would always get through the filter. Here we go again…submit!

New standards. New curricula. New materials for the new curricula. New textbooks. New programs. New experts. New consultants. More money. It’s all about the money. Don’t kid yourselves. Ostensibly, it is about the children, but it is about the money. Money now drives the public schooling process. Just like the Military Industrial Complex which President Eisenhower warned us about, this Educational Curricula Complex is also very dangerous. Wouldn’t it be nice if our students learned the rules of grammar and could write a creative and cogent paragraph? Wouldn’t it be nice if our students could elucidate on the three branches of our republic and intelligently discuss our national bi-cameral legislature? Wouldn’t it be nice if our children could compute numbers on the basic level (e.g., percentages, perhaps simple long division, etc.)? Wouldn’t it be nice if our children could actually quote the Preambles to our Constitution and Declaration of Independence as well as Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and King’s “I Have a Dream” speech? Wouldn’t it be nice if our children could actually recall in which century that the Civil War took place or the Civil Rights movement took place? What about the essential causes of World Wars I and II?

So many of our children don’t even know these basics…stuff that was so elementary for those of us who went to school in the 1950s and 1960s before all of the “feel good” curriculum of the 1970s came down the pike (stuff like “Values Clarification”). All of the tinkering with the curriculum (minus the obvious changes like in technology) have actually watered-down the curriculum to meet some denominator. The cookie-cutter approaches to both curriculum and pedagogy have contributed to the demise in public schooling. Creating and promulgating new standards will not make a whit of difference. They will not improve anything, but perhaps billions of dollars will be spent on such curricula ballyhoo. Giving the teachers power in the classroom (1) to enforce her or his standards (without any pressure from the administration to change grades and lower the failure rate) and (2) to establish discipline in her or his classroom (without the rug being pulled out from under her or him by the spineless and weasel administrators) will do wonders in improving student achievement. But, these educational bozos (who always clamor for “new” and “higher” standards) have not yet figured this out. They just can’t hit a curve ball. They need to be sent back down to the “bush league” where they belong. © MACE, September 23, 2009.

parent

September 23rd, 2009
11:48 am

Reality 2 – Sounds like you helped develop the math program in Georgia. Why don’t you publish the results of the EOCT for Math 1. Oh let me guess its a problem with development/implementation/administration of the test. No, I’m so stupid I forgot it was just a “field test”. When you figure out how to get the results you want let the taxpayers know.

Dr. John Trotter

September 23rd, 2009
11:49 am

Again, I apologize for the typos (like “some denominator” should be “some common denominator”). Typing too hastily, I suppose, but I’m in a hurry today…too many administrative bozos out there for us to haunt, humiliate, and intimidate (simply by our mere presence). Darkness doesn’t like the light! Yes, we’ve got to shine the light! Shine on, baby, shine on!

Maureen Downey

September 23rd, 2009
11:52 am

Dr. Trotter, Not sure why you land in the filter but I am freeing your posts as soon as I find them. It may be length as longer posts seem to get sidetracked.
Maureen

Reality 2

September 23rd, 2009
12:01 pm

Parent,

If you have problems with the EOCT, that’s fine. Don’t just to conclude that the new georgia standards are “new math” or somehow they are so different. Have you actually seen the standards? Do you see so many unfamiliar ideas there? Can you be more specific when you criticize something – you might even sound reasonably intelligent if you do so.

Parent

September 23rd, 2009
12:13 pm

Reality 2 – Why do I have to read some standards for the “new math”? I deal with the new math everyday, when my child comes home from school. Its not about administrators writing great standards its about teaching math. It is my opinion that the “new math” is Georgia was a waste of tax dollars period.

V for Vendetta

September 23rd, 2009
12:27 pm

It amazes me that people so readily slurp down the Kool Aid.

We already have a socialized education system in this country run by know-nothing bureaucrats who claim that what they’re doing is in the best interets of the children.

Please.

The children in this country would be better served by tearing down the current public system and allowing private enterprise, i.e., capitalism, to take over. The monies handed back to the tax paying citizens would be more than adequate to fund tuition at a mid-level private school. The current upper-level private schools would still be expensive. Lower-level private schools, consistent in quality with the cost of attendance, could be set up to provide education to lower sociodemographic segments of the population.

Egalitarianism prevents us from doing this. But why?

A citizen in this country would never dream of allowing the government to mandate what model/make of car he or she drives. They would expect to pay more for a BMW than a Honda, more for a Honda than a Chevy, more for a Chevy than a Kia.

A citizen of this country would never imagine a world in which the government dictates what kind of clothes he or she wears. They would expect to pay more for Gucci than The Gap, more for The Gap than Target.

An INDIVIDUAL in this country would never fathom letting the government take the reigns of healthcare, and, in fact, they have already begun fervently fighting that battle.

So why do they care so little about education, a topic vastly more important to the well being of America than any of the aforementioned examples?

The influence of the moochers is amazing. They have wormed their way into the collective consciousness of America, causing the producers to FEEL BAD for them and their self perpetuating situations. The liberal sycophant, Michael Moore, is a perfect example of America’s continual self-abasement. His newest film, “Capitalism: A Love Story” attempts to skewer the free market, blaming it for poverty and the financial crisis among other things.

If you value education, then help destroy the public system. Only the Free Market can provide quality education. National standards can do no such thing.

Darren

September 23rd, 2009
12:36 pm

Dr. John Trotter is to education what an ambulance chaser is to medicine.

That you reference MACE (stuff you wrote yourself) is laughable.

Maureen – your filter catches him because the AJC normally charges for advertising.

jim d

September 23rd, 2009
12:42 pm

The Caymens are sounding better every day.

no BOO (bank of obama)and no thats not a racist comment, not driving a chevrobama, no obamaCare, and now escaping obama ed.

DeKalb Conservative

September 23rd, 2009
12:45 pm

Both sides of this have a VERY valid points.

On the one hand you don’t want to “lower the bar” by implementing a national standard (let’s be realistic, unlike CA car emissions, the chances of standards increasing are low).

On the other hand its a bit ridiculous to have state wide debates on whether subjects such as evolution should be taught because one state (ex. Texas) has issue with it. Equally text books on a national level get dangerous when historical events are made to be “politically correct” because of cultural sensitivities.

Bottom line, leave universal subjects are a standardized curriculum to save costs. Examples being math, grammar and spelling. Those are the subjects that matter the most, especially on collegiate testing.

Leave the other decisions to states and school districts.

DeKalb Conservative

September 23rd, 2009
12:53 pm

I think I might have thought through my comment incorrectly. Technically we already have two national standards, the SAT and ACT.

For what I’ve seen w/ textbook companies the intellectual honesty of there material is questionable at best, particularly in Social Studies and history books.

While a national standard might serve well in some areas, it is also not constitutional under the 10th amendment, “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.”

Having states collectively form an association to set the national standards is likely a better solution. The current system of materials being customer made for TX and CA and then shoved down the throats of the rest of the country is unacceptable, in particular with history and science books.

what's right for kids?

September 23rd, 2009
1:07 pm

Jimd, Bush introduced lots and lots of national standards by way of NCLB way before Obama came on to the scene. We should, however, learn from experience, and keep away from any form of educational nationalization. Besides, we have the SAT and ACT to use as a standardized national test.
All the national standards seem to do is mandate more from the local schools without funding the mandates.

decaturparent

September 23rd, 2009
1:15 pm

Why not use an already existing, nationally normed test like the ITBS or MAP .. or maybe the NAEP? No need to enforce any particular curriculum. School systems that are not getting the curriculum right will not do well on the nationally normed tests.

Let all of the states compete with eachother on a national stage. That will encourage all states to raise standards or answer to parents who wonder why their students never measure up to those in other states.

Maybe Georgia is afraid of such a thing. I wonder why?

Parent

September 23rd, 2009
1:26 pm

decaturparent – Totally agree. If Georgia is teaching the basics well it should be not problem. As a parent I would like to see how my children do on standardized national tests, not just the Georgia make-up tests.

Lynn

September 23rd, 2009
1:34 pm

Reality 2 I agree with Parent about the New Math curriculum. And yes, it is presented as a “New” because the way it is teaching Math is a new method (combining Statistics, Geometry and Algebra). And yes, it is failing a high percentage of our students. This year’s 10th graders are Georgia’s sacrificial students as the first class to be taught this new method. I have children who are in this group and I have spoken with many Math teachers. This method is failing the vast majority of our students. Even if the somehow manage to pass the EOCT (however results of last year’s 9th grade Math EOCT were not used and I am not sure results were even released) the students are not grasping the fundamentals of these Math disciplines. If you are a Math major or inherently strong in Math it may work. However, for the vast majority of our students, it is not working. Georgia has chosen to sacrifice the Math education of these students in the search for a new method of teaching. Again, if this method is so great, why aren’t other states overwhelmingly using it?

Parent

September 23rd, 2009
1:37 pm

sorry made-up tests

Reality 2

September 23rd, 2009
2:15 pm

parent,

You should read it because teachers may be misinterpreting the standards. Oh, by the way, I didn’t write the new standards – I just read them.

Lynn, the GPS does not specify how math is taught. A big problem is that the DOE also publishes something called “Frameworks,” which seem to have becomea defacto textbooks for many schools. That particular work approaches the standards in a certain way for which many teachers or parents aren’t used to. But, as far as I know, the only thing that has legal authority is the GPS. You can teach it in any way you want.

If there is indeed a higher failing rate, a part of it is because the expectations are higher. The students who are currently in Grades 3 through 12 are all at disadvantage to different degrees because they were switched to the new standards in the middle of their schoolsing. Current 10th graders started their grade 6 mathematics under the new curriculum, and there were some gaps in their K-5 experiences and the K-5 expectations in the new GPS. Moreover, these students were taught by teachers who were teaching under the new standards for the first time. So, these students are particularly disadvantaged.

However, I don’t see how you can conclude “it isn’t working” at this point. That’s actually a huge part of our education system – we try something new and expect a huge success right away. When that doesn’t happen in the first month, we throw it away and try something new. When the “traditional” methods weren’t working – remember where GA ranks in the US – there are plenty of reasons to try something new.

By the way, the new GPS was modeled after the Japanese standards, and strengthened by adding more statistics by adapting the standards developed by the American Statistical Association. Most top achieving countries in mathematics teach mathematics in a similarly organized courses, not separating algebra and geometry. The fact that not many US states aren’t using such an organization seems rather weak argument when US is, at best, average in international studies.

dad of two

September 23rd, 2009
2:27 pm

my youngest son is in Grade 10. We moved from PA a few years ago. He found the math classes here to be so much easier than the ones he had in PA. As I look at my oldest son’s experiences under the previous standards, they were rather weak. I think my youngest is getting much better experiences. It’s unfortunate that others have had different experiences, but I just wonder if that’s simply the matter of quality of teachers. I tend to agree with Reality 2 that the new standards seem to be much better than the old ones.

Parent in Gwinnett

September 23rd, 2009
2:28 pm

Jimd,

Did you mean the Cayman, instead of the Caymen?

If so, the Cayman Islalnds are part of the British Commonwealth, and the system of education is based on the British model, thus they have standardized national standards and standardized national testing.

Please see information below taken from official Cayman Islands website: “Cayman Islands schools are based upon the British system, with primary schools (4-11 year olds) in each district, two Government high schools (11-16 year olds), a community college and a law school in George Town. Cayman Brac has three primary schools and a high school, providing full education for 5-16 year olds. There is also a private day-care centre.

Cayman Islands high schools follow the CXC (Caribbean Exchange Council) curriculum, roughly equivalent to the British GCSE, and also offer a range of other external examinations to meet all ability levels, including IGCSE (the international version of the GCSE), Pitman’s and City and Guilds.”

All students who go to school in the Caribbean Islands that are part of the British Empire follow the same national standardized system, and sit the same standardized testing at the end of high school. No student will be issued a high school diploma unless they have sat and passed either the CXC or the BGCE (there is a test for each subject taught in high school). The BGCE test questions are written in England by such universities as London and Cambridge.

I am a product of this British Empire system of education, the focus was not on acing the test and getting a perfect 2400 or GPA score, or how rich we were, what our skin color was, whether test scores are dropping because more blacks and hispanics are sitting the tests,or if there were too many administrators. It was about learning the individual subject matter.

We were taught in elementary school how to spell, words and meanings were mandatory homework assignments given every night in addition to reading, writing, and arithematic. In the early years of high school we were taught the basic construction of an essay, so on and so forth. We learnt how to take notes in class, and review our class notes to prepare for tests.

There is no free public education, no school buses to take us to and from school, no free or reduced lunches, therefore if one’s parent could not afford to purchase school books, the student knew early in one’s school career that you borrow the text book from a friend, handwrite the homework and return the books by the end of lunch. Not turning in homework meant you had to face both the teachers and your parents, neither situation was pleasant.

All this debate here seems moot to me, because it is not about the test, race of the students, or socioeconomic status of the students/parents/school districts. It is about the quality of the teaching, the curriculum, and good study skills.

Needless to say, none of the islands in the Caribbean has the sorts of budgets, resources and federal fundings for the entire school system in each of the islands, that individual school systems here in America have. Yet, we did well in the BGCE, I sat eight (8) subjects at 16, and passed all with A”s. Am I the exception? Hell no, there were students who took ten subjects and passed all ten with “A’”.

My son is in high school here, and over the years I have marvelled at teachers giving him a grade for “bag check” and turning a piece of paper that I had to sign, he has also gotten in trouble because I did not sign a piece of paper. When I see students getting straight “A’s”, I wonder how much of the subject matter is the student actually learning. I have experienced teachers who openly admit to given a good grade to another student because the student is “cute” yes it did happen.

Sorry Jimd, when you move to the Caymen or Cayman Island, you will have to deal with more BOOs in positions of power than you care for now! That in it self might be a teaching moment for you!

Your attempt to belittle a third world country is misplaced and not funny, because our third world education has served us well in these United States and worldwide. This is a sidebar, but relevant to the subject of education, when I applied for permanent residency to the USA, the morning that I went to the US Embassy, the middle-aged, white, American man who interviewed me was not interested in my socioeconomic status, political affliation or skin color. He was interested in the fact that, I had a high school dimploma, a college education from the University of the West Indies,(yes, based on the British system of tertiary education) and had had a steady career working for an North American financial institution in my native island! His focus was my education and marketability in the American work force!

Lynn

September 23rd, 2009
2:58 pm

Reality 2, I conclude it isn’t working if a high percentage of students are not learning the material as evidenced by the high failure rates. While it may take some time for students and teachers to get up to speed on how this approach works, what do we tell our current 10th graders? Sorry you didn’t get a chance to really learn the basics of geometry, statistics and algebra because we are still trying to figure it out. A friend is a great AP stat teacher. Truly a great teacher at all levels. As his AP stat students struggle to learn a concept, she tells them if you think you are having trouble as an advanced Math student, think of how much trouble my on level 9th graders are having learning this same concept.

I still think that even with the US lagging in Math, if this was such a great method, more states would be using it. Also, while I agree that Japan has a high success rate, I do not know what it will it take here to replicate a homogenous culture that places a high premium on education including many extra hours of study and Saturday schools destined to prepare students for high school and universtiy entrance exams.

Could GA have tested this as a pilot program to see if it would work? The theory may be good, but the application is leaving much to be desired and is leaving many of our students behind.

GOB

September 23rd, 2009
3:13 pm

V for Vendetta:

Privatizing the entire system doesn’t change anything. If such a plan were put in place, what would be different from today from an educational standpoint? The good schools will still be good, just with different names, and the bad schools will still be bad, but with different names.

The most likely scenario if we were to completely privatize education is that those without a strong family structure would fall even farther behind those that have a decent support system. There are countless kids that come from awful homes that are saved by caring teachers and coaches every single year. Under complete privatization, those students will more than likely be stuck at the absolute worst schools – their parents aren’t going to find the best place for them (and I’m sure there wouldn’t be any companies set up purely to take advantage of that situation) with the worst teachers (those who couldn’t get a job at a better, higher paying school). How does that benefit those students?

All you would be doing is changing the names of the schools and who is getting the money. Privatizing the whole system changes nothing.

Parent

September 23rd, 2009
3:16 pm

We cann’t take the success Japan has had with their math problem and think it will work on Georgia children. If this is a reason we implemented this program, we are in alot of trouble. I want to see test results, either the EOCT for math 1 or a basic algebra and geometry test that we could give these students. I think standardize national tests could answer some of the questions about the Georgia standards or GPS in math.

Just a teacher

September 23rd, 2009
3:21 pm

I think it is interesting that there is a move for nationalization of education when the responsibility of educating citizens has always been left to the individual states. The logic behind leaving that responsibility to the states has always been that students in Georgia might not need the same type of education as those in Michigan (or any other state, for that matter). On a more practical level, even if such a standardized curriculum was shown to be beneficial for the majority of students, the red tape that would surround its implementation would ultimately only benefit those who knew how to manipulate the system. This has been proven true with such programs as HUD and ADC. I say leave the federal government out of state government’s business, and leave them to what they do best, giving away tax money to wealthy bankers and declaring unneccessary wars.

Reality 2

September 23rd, 2009
3:45 pm

Lynn,

You are misinformed about Japanese schools.

They only go to schools 5 days a week. Although some students do go to after-school “cram schools,” that is more or less a “metropolitan” phenomenon. Even though Japanese students do go to schools for more days that GA students, the number of math periods is pretty much the same – in fact, Japanese MS and HS students may have fewer lessons than GA students. They don’t have math everyday while our students do. Although their society is more homogeneous than many US schools (although there are plenty of US schools with almost 100% African Americans or 100% Caucasians), social promotion is the norm in their elementary and middle schools. Moreover, there are actually more seats in colleges than the number of college age students.

What’s the biggest difference, or the obstacle for implementing the GPS successfully? Teachers. Their teachers simply know mathematics better – not necessarily more advanced mathematics, but DEEP understanding of mathematics they are teaching. I think that is also the case in China, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore,etc. It is indeed a rich gets richer situation since our teachers are the product of our own system. When our own system isn’t producing the high achievement, and those who do attain high achievement don’t pursue teaching as their careers, what do you expect?

By the way, at the link below, you can see some tests from Japan, Hong Kong and US (Mass??)

Parent in Gwinnett

September 23rd, 2009
3:53 pm

I quite agree that our math skills are lagging. We might have to go back to the basic, all the way to elementary school and start teaching mulitiplication, addition, and subtractions properly. I do not know if the answer is that we probably need to recruit teachers who have degrees in math to teach elementary math to give the students a better foundation.

I am in favor of a national standardized system of education, if it will achieve improvements in our school systems and students learning since I am a product of such educational system. Since I am not a teacher, but am deeply concerned about the state of our education, If someone on this blog could explain to me how are students assessed coming into a new school system from another region of the country.

I agree with the majority of points of view, sav Jimd’s!

me

September 23rd, 2009
4:25 pm

This: “New standards. New curricula. New materials for the new curricula. New textbooks. New programs. New experts. New consultants. More money. It’s all about the money. Don’t kid yourselves.”

Rough National Standards = yes
National “CRCT” type testing = no

Parent

September 23rd, 2009
4:50 pm

I think Reality 2 should move to Japan. Because I have to deal with the Georgia BOD, I say yes to the national standards.

V for Vendetta

September 23rd, 2009
5:40 pm

GOB,

Perhaps. However, the difference between the current public system and the privatized system that you mention is the removal of force. Whenever socialism encroaches on individual rights, force is inevitably used to extract something from one person and redistribute it to others who have not earned it. The current tax system is a perfect example: you pay into it, or you go to jail. (We can discuss the Fair Tax some other time.) The good schools would not just remain good schools; they would become GREAT schools. No longer forced to accept discipline problems or underachievers, those good schools would see a massive increase in student achievement and productivity. Standards and expectations could be raised accordingly. The academic environment would better prepare students for the rigorous college education of a premier institution such as UGA or Tech. Without district boundaries to worry about, parents who truly care about education could send their kids to whichever school they desired. Of course, those students would have to meet the educational and behavioral standards set by the school . . . .

You see, GOB, the free market would accomplish what public education has failed to do: It would provide all students with the opportunity to go to school–which is no different than the current system–and it would create an environment focused on learning without interference from egalitarian and altruistic politicos. Individuals would determine their own fates.

Another thing to keep in mind, GOB, is that education is NOT a right; it is a privilege. I contend that a good education could be made available to anyone who is willing to seek it, willing to work for it, and willing to excel at it. As I’ve blogged before, research proves that these values are instilled in children prior to five years of age. However, lacking these values is not equivalent to a debt to be paid by someone who does. Growing up in a family that does not value education is not an entitlement to the resources provided to those who do. The playing field in life is never level nor should it be.

The moochers think education is a right, and they treat it as such.

The producers KNOW that education is a privilege, and they treat it as such.

catlady

September 23rd, 2009
7:45 pm

Dr. Pohl: If you think a national standard and test would eliminate ONE SINGLE job at the Georgia DOE (Motto: We test, therefore we are.), you are way too naive to be out in public. Join us in the real world.

catlady

September 23rd, 2009
7:51 pm

Reality 2: I would say a chief difference is that Japanese students are required to MASTER their math. And they don’t go on to another topic until they show mastery, rather than this insane “exposing” kids to concepts like we do in Georgia. And pass them on whether they show any mastery or not. This is how you get fifth grade students who do not KNOW that 8+4=12. They have to count it on their fingers each and every time. This is what I have observed the last 3 years of “pushing in” to math classes. 75% of the students have not mastered skills from 2 or more years previous, and thus have little hope of mastering the current GPS.

Dale B. Halling

September 23rd, 2009
8:22 pm

Better than standards would be a competition with a prize. This promotes excellence instead of lowest common denominator. It is also less expensive.

Rosie

September 23rd, 2009
10:18 pm

The time and money needed to develop national standards would take away more important resources. Unless we are able to discipline or kick out unruly students things will never change. Too many parents and children expect school to come easy. Real knowledge is developed due to hard work on the part of the student. Students should consider it an honor to sit in the prescence of experts to absorb as much knowledge as possible. When the government suggest implementing standards they disrespect teachers by suggesting they don’t know enough about their field of study to teach what is important. How can students respect teachers if our government does not set the example?

Standards based education has taken most of the thought process out of teaching. Teachers will increasingly leave the teaching field and it will be very difficult to recruit people to become teachers. Teachers are going to become very bored with their jobs, not to mention the continuing discipline issues. Standards based materials do not allow for teachers to teach to their strengths. Students are missing out on teachers sharing their expertise due to the lock standards place on classroom instruction.

Our state has adopted standards, but mastery is not required before a student moves on to the next standard or grade level. Due to many loopholes put in place by our state government, students can fail the CRCT (a statewide standards based test) and move on to the next grade if teachers and parents agree to move the student to the next grade. What administrator doesn’t pressure teachers to agree to moving a student to the next grade?

The last thing our country should consider is more government involvement in schools. Less is definitely more.

ScienceTeacher671

September 23rd, 2009
10:32 pm

In general, I agree with Dr. Pohl, although Tony is correct in saying that testing doesn’t make children smarter.

As for the Georgia math standards, we’ll find out when this year’s 10th graders take the PSAT and SAT. I suspect it will look a bit like last year’s EOCTs, except that the GaDOE won’t be able to withhold the results. (For the sake of the students, I hope I’m wrong.)

V for Vendetta

September 23rd, 2009
10:55 pm

If you’d like to see the benefits of privatizing the system, do yourself a favor and check out Lisa VanDamme’s fantastic school in California. I highly recommend fellow teachers read about it.

http://www.vandammeacademy.com/

Reality 2

September 23rd, 2009
11:23 pm

Parent,

Maybe I will move to Japan for my children’s sake.

You may be surprised to see that the content of the common standards being proposed isn’t that different from what you see in the GPS – if you take time to actually read it. (Didn’t we have a blog here a few days ago about kids discussing books without reading them? How absurd! But, maybe understandable if we have parents like … well parent.)

Reality 2

September 23rd, 2009
11:26 pm

catlady,

As I read the GPS, mastery is expected. Of course, policy makers can come up with different cut scores and so on to pass students on, but that’s not the reason to abandon the standards. By the way, as I said earlier, social promotion is the norm in Japanese elementary and middle schools. Maybe there is something we can learn from them…

Dr. John Trotter

September 23rd, 2009
11:57 pm

“Darren” (and your many, many other monikers like Reality 2, Lee, Catlady, jim d, et al.): I am so sorry that I seem to steal your thunder on this blog. Take comfort that your many pseudonyms read each others’ posts and comment back and forth to each other. I am sorry that your many, many posts each day are rather inane, dry, and boring. (Every now and then, you actually come up with something insightful.) I don’t believe that “MACE” is in either of my posts today. I do occasionally mention MACE because this is the organization which I head up and people like you as well as some in the media want to make it an issue. This is O. K. with me. We let our services speak for themselves. We try to be in the schools each day and still have to stay at the office up to around 11:00 PM servicing our members. (I got home early tonight — around 10:45 PM. I left three other staffers still at the MACE Office.) We must be doing something right. We meet with teachers in person each night — many of whom have just joined because they couldn’t get their organizations to support them. I asked one of the new members tonight — from the state of Michigan — how he heard about MACE. He said teachers told him that he needs MACE. His principal apparently thought that he sent an email to the AJC, the Fulton superintendent, et al., about some illegalities which apparently are taking place at his Fulton elementary school. He didn’t send the email but he agreed with it. Since August, the administration apparently have been trying to make his life hell. The school system has suspended him and is trying to get him to resign. Meantime, the Fulton County School System — under the illustrious “legal leadership” of the Brock & Clay law firm — have already violated the law of O.C.G.A. 20-2-940(g). I asked him: “Did the teachers tell you that I am crazy?” He sheepishly giggled and answered, “Yeah, they did.” I replied: “Good — ’cause I am.”

Nah, “Darren,” I know that my appearance on “your” blog bugs you, but Maureen, I am sure, is immensely fair, and I am confident that if Jeff Hubbard of GAE or Tim Callahan of PAGE set down and wrote posts for this blog that she would gladly make sure that theie posts that they submitted would be published on Get Schooled. Unlike you, I don’t try to monopolize this blog. I write some things four or five times per week — under my real name, mind you. But, you do humor me. So, keep up the criticism. I am weird. I somewhat enjoy the banter, and it obviously hasn’t hurt us one bit at MACE; to the contrary, I think your constant criticisms actually help. “Darren,” my buddy, you have a good night.

GOB

September 24th, 2009
9:15 am

V for Vendatta – So you’re proposing moving towards a class system in which where you’re born (parents that care about education or not) will determine your opportunities? You admit that those traits are ingrained by age 5, so surely you see understand that it isn’t about a student being a “moocher” or a “producer.”

There certainly wont be any tax savings because all of that money that was going to fund public schools will now be funneled into building new prisons.

Dr. John Trotter

September 24th, 2009
9:40 am

Do you think that “higher standards” would have kept Mr. Henry from being killed by one his students yesterday in Tyler, Texas? Hardly. Nothing will improve until the educational policy-makers (school boards, etc.) get a grip on student discipline. As long as discipline is out of control, the schools will languish. In the fewer and fewer schools where there is strong discipline, the academic performance usually correlates with the strong discipline. You have to want to NOT see this. (c) MACE, September 24, 2009.

V for Vendetta

September 24th, 2009
9:27 pm

GOB,

Based on your way of thinking, the money will be funneled to those who didn’t earn it, i.e., moochers. At what point are people expected to do things for themselves? When you TAKE something from someone and give it to someone else, even in the name of charity, it doesn’t change the fact that what you have just done constitutes robbery. (Voluntary charity is another matter . . . .)

My parents read to me from birth. My parents taught me how to read, write, and do math before I started kindergarten. My parents made sure I never forgot how important my education was.

Are each of those facts equivalent to a debt to be paid to those who were not so fortunate? Should I be required to tithe a percentage of my hard-earned money in order to fund the next, great, ineffectual educational program? How is that not robbery? Because it’s for the “good of society?”

Bollocks.

No society has ever prospered by taking from the rich and giving to the poor. However, that doesn’t seem to deter our current administration now does it?

AlreadySheared

September 25th, 2009
8:37 am

As a software developer, my competition is now in India, Shanghai, Singapore, England, Germany, etc. as well as in the U.S.

Dunno about English and History, but for math, science and technology national standards make a world of sense. A national body would do a much better job of promulgating standards that are internationally competitive than Atlanta Public Schools or the State of Georgia.

GOB

September 25th, 2009
10:21 am

V,

How does a 5 year old who has not ever been read to or had the value of education instilled in them go about “earning” an education. Your replies sound liked canned Boortz rants. And I also suppose that you arent a supporter of roads, police, fire departments, parks, etc except for those that have somehow “earned” the right to be used?

“When socialism comes to America, it will be wrapped in asbestos and carrying a hose.”

Please respond with your thoughts on how to deal with those kids whose parents dont value education. Should they just be discarded? Would they even be mandated to go to school, or would you leave that decision to the parents that you already agree are not doing what is in the best interest of their child?

Simply saying that schools should all be privatized is not a real solution to anything. All it does is ensure that those cycles of poverty and lack of education wont ever be broken.

V for Vendetta

September 25th, 2009
12:06 pm

GOB,

This is the question you posed:

“How does a 5 year old who has not ever been read to or had the value of education instilled in them go about “earning” an education[?]”

Here is my response: Although the situation you propose is indeed tragic, it is the natural result of the individual freedom with which all people are endowed. This individual freedom allows us the opportunity to live our lives as we see fit. It SHOULD protect us from living our lives for others, being sacrificed to those who demand it, and being villified for our successes. But that is not the case. The rich should not be sacrificed to the poor for no other reason than their money. The intelligent should not be sacrificed to the unintelligent for no other reason than their intelligence. A man should never be sacrificed to another man for ANY reason.

Is the situation you describe abhorrent? Yes it is. Is it equivalent to a debt to be paid by me and every other man or woman who is not in that same situation? Absolutely not. Charity is only charity when it is unforced. When it is forced, it is called robbery.

Since this philisophical discussion doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, allow me to respond to another one of your questions as well as pose one of my own. You asked:

“Would they even be mandated to go to school, or would you leave that decision to the parents that you already agree are not doing what is in the best interest of their child?”

My response: I’m sure I don’t care. They are free to have the child. They are free to teach the child the value of education. They are also free to ruin the poor child’s life. That is freedom. You can’t have the good without also having the bad.

You have two choices in the matter, GOB. You can either take from me and give to them (socialism), or you can prevent such people from having children in the first place (fascism).

Since you don’t seem to value freedom, which of those alternatives do you prefer?

John Dewey

September 25th, 2009
3:27 pm

GOB

September 25th, 2009
3:50 pm

V,

So because I disagree with your philosophy of “I got mine, screw everyone else,” I somehow hate freedom? Interesting. You proclaim liberty and freedom, just not for those kids born into crappy situations. Their parents are “free to ruin the poor child’s life.” So the parents are free, just not the kid.

You say that all people are endowed with freedom. What freedom does a child who has never been taught the value of an education really have? All of their decisions are made for them by someone else, so if you truly do believe that they are endowed with freedom, how do you reconcile the two?

When it comes to adults, I actually agree with much of your philosophy. I think when applied to children, however, it borders on barbaric. Everyone deserves a chance to make something out of their life. I think you’ll agree with that, right? If they fail to make use of their chance, so be it, but what you’re arguing for takes their opportunity off the table before they ever see it. Is that really the country you want to live in?