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Non-Partisan View of American Education

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  • Independent
    Texas
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    Ok so, I have been reading these forums and the tits for tat blaming for what needs to be done in America.  Some think its about the money, others the system others say the fault is political.  Both parties demonize the other as the problem!

    So, lets be fair. i'm going to have a Non-Partisan discussion from a man who sees the problem from the balcony.  I don't care if you are Republican or Democrat, NO one wants their kid to be stupid or get a bad education that would limit their opportunities to get a good job and enjoy life to the fullest.   No party, no minority or Majority wants bad to befall our kids, their education and their future. So please after reading this, please try to set aside political blaming and talk about the issue from the ground up. 

    Money=Better education?
    I am a school consultant that visits underfunded schools that look like shit, and I visit very well funded schools with computers everywhere, nice artistic building structures and money written all over it.  I do motivational children's presentations on testing, drug-free and bullying.  I have not noticed a clear cut difference where highly funded schools = higher grades.

    In fact, I've seen gettos in Hispanic south Texas with 50yr old crappy run down campuses get the coveted "Exemplary" status for 8yrs in a row and their kids are perfect angels, poor, and wearing very used cloths.  Then I've been to very upscale neighborhoods with a fancy new school, who's kids wear all the designer cloths have iphones, computers everywhere and their rating is only "Acceptable" which stinks by Texas standards. 

    Alot of people even move to areas that have schools that are Exemplary and the house prices go up 10-40% in value for those areas.  Best to worst Texas ratings are: Exemplary, Recognized, Acceptable and Unacceptable.  I've even seen schools who spent $70k per child per year fall short score wise to schools that spent $35k or less per child (such as private schools).  Throwing money at the problem does NOT work.

    The solution:
    You can debate here or throw personal opinions on statistics, but I've seen it first hand in thousands of schools over 10 years.  What is the Key then to better grades?  The Principal, community and Parental involvement.   The poor schools that did well always had an awesome energetic principal the kids loved and wanted to make proud.  That principal hired like minded teachers and the parent teacher associations were huge (these people were poor in a poor neighborhood but low crime).  This was the most successful model I saw in rich OR poor communities, regardless of money.

    Poor schools with great staff but non-existent PTA/ bad high crime neighborhood=bad scores.  (I felt so sorry for these staffs, they tried so hard but with no motivation or follow thru from home, these kids performed poorly and had no ambition to succeed)

    Rich school funding but lazy un-dynamic principal and staff or no Parent teacher association  because the parents were are too busy with Million dollar lifestyle to do homework with or motivate their own kids=Bad scores.  (Yes, millionaires do send their kids to public school, the attitude is with these people is if it was good enough for me its good enough for them.  Some had great public school experiences.)

    Let bad teachers and principals be fired! Not propped up because of seniority.  Focus on parental involvement.  Spend money on reducing crime in the community and fostering a happy supportive community.  Stop throwing money at schools for better computers, fancier campuses or hoping higher pay  will make teachers be better teachers.  All these things sound good, and politicaly these talking points get educational spending programs passed but they don't guarantee better educations.  Exceptional Principals and staff, communities and Parents make 90% of the difference.  We need to use higher wages as Motivation on top of a fair base salary.  The carrot on the stick.  This is how real life works when you do good in your job why should  it be any different in schools.

    Overtesting:
    Even though this statement is detrimental to my job, I'll be honest we test them too much.  We make our kids data spewing test takers.  When they need to be problem solvers, the mass data in the world today can be found in books and on the internet.  There is too much of it for any one human to learn anyways.  We need to teach them how to use this data and apply it to life.  Not be a talking computer or encyclopedia.

    My kids have taken up to 4 major standardized tests in one year.  The big one at the end and practice or benchmark tests before. This takes up huge amounts of time they could be studying other things, and Stresses the kids and teachers out.  Then they need to hire a guy like me to put a smile back on their faces and pump them up for the big test with a positive spin.

    While I am critical of Standardized tests, they are important, as they create a reliable standard for our kids to meet and colleges know what to expect if their applicants passed these standardized tests.  So Yes they are needed but limit it to one per year and make it at least 50/50 critical thinking/fact knowledge.

    I make my living the richer a school gets funded, but I'd gladly change careers if schools got their act together and didn't feel they needed me. (I'm going back to night school actually, just in case they do....)

    Our educational system is broke!  If poorer nations can produce better educated kids than us then we are DOING something wrong.
  • Liberal
    Independent
    Durham, NH
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    My wife is a retired elementary school teacher and she has been telling me much the same thing for 40 years! Our kids are tested to death and the teachers are then forced to "teach to the test" or they all fail (the students & the teachers) and the students end up not learning what they really need to learn but what the "system" says they should know.

    It's not necessarily bad teachers or bad parents, it's a combination of both. Good teachers are not able to be successful with no or little help from bad parents and vice versa. The students are caught in the middle more often as not and they are the ones who lose as you obviously well know! 
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    If I were a student today I would have to do what I did. Skip and go to the library. Did you know the school and legal won't touch a kid that does that. I took a week off in seventh grade and when the school called the library silence ensued. And my mother broke out laughing and asked "What do you all do with a kid who skips in order to learn?".
  • Democrat
    Brookline , MA
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    I grew up in a Catholic School and my goodness, all through out my growing years in school, I felt like a "ball" in the middle between my parents and my teachers.  If I don't get it at home, I get it in school.  These partnership between my parents and my teachers kept me straight up until I was old enough to at least voiced up my side of the story.  I mean, speak my mind up.  I became a better person at the end.  My parents and my teachers helped me in my formative years and I am thankful to that. It was the same story with my kids.  I partner up with their teachers.  So, I really don't know about Public Schools until when I retired, I took a substitute job as Administrative Asst. and School Secretary in one of the most respective School District in our area.  Oh my goodness! that was a shock to me.  Teachers and Parents are at odds with each other.  I am so scared of parents coming to the Student Services where I am sometime assigned, and parents who'd come charging at the Principal's Office at anytime at schools where I am assigned as School Secretary.  I see first hand the battle between Parents and Teachers and Principals as the referee or sometimes the poor Principal is the one getting cussed off in the process.  And I asked myself, is this how the Public School operates?  How in the world would these young minds get to be responsible adults when the adults they look up to are acting like them...children. 
    When a substitute teacher is assigned for the day, these students gives the substitute teachers the hardest time of their life, they always end up at my office, School Secretary,  and the teacher telling me to call all these kid's parent wanting to talk to the parents for some kind of disciplinary action.  At one time, I have to type a letter for the parent of the kid and the teacher gave it to the kid to bring home and have her parent sign it and told to bring it the next day....as soon as the teacher turn her back, this kid crumpled the letter and threw it in the waste basket.  I went straight up to the kid and demanded that she pick up that letter and she turn on me and told me I am not the Principal and she can not make me do what I told her.  So, OK, I will call the Principal and immediately, she picked up that piece of paper from the waste can and ask me not to call the Principal.  I told her to sit besides me while I call her parent...and when I spoke to the parent, I told the parent that I am sending her child home with a letter from the Principal and we expect for her to bring it back the next day.  Because if I didn't do what I did, call her parent in front of her, I am so sure that letter will end up again in the waste basket.  I saw first hand the attitude of the public school students versus the private school students, I admit, I AM TRuLY SHOCKED.  And more so, I am shocked with the attitude of the parents.  Oh my goodness, they are Tigers.  I also saw how the public school teachers treat the students...they're terrible too.  How in the world will these children learn if parents and teachers are fighting each other?  Why can't it be when my children was growing up and myself including, that my parents are friends with my teachers and I could not do wrong at school or at home.  Can anyone tell me?  Cause I can not comprehend.
    I remember when they sent a student at my office, School Secretary, and the teacher told me to hold him there until the Principal comes because the kid I was told is biting his fellow classmates. I was listening when the teacher was telling the kid he is wrong for doing what he is doing, biting kids, and that's that.  While waiting for the Principal I had a chance to talk to the kid...he was very receptive of me.  I ask him why he is biting kids,,,,his answer was because the kids are trying to bully him and he don't like it.  So I told him the next time this happens when kids bully him, to march right down to the teacher and tell the teacher. But I guess the teacher has already formed a bias against this kid. so I told him to come see me if he gets bullied and I will be the one to tell his teacher, and he said he will.  He did as I told him to and the teacher started listening to him because I was the one who was rationalizing with the teacher.  Thing got better after that.  The child behaved differently.  Also, I have ask the kid while waiting for the Principal, if he is a dog? Answer, No.  And ask her if he is a horse, Answer No. ('cause I was also told by the teacher that he is kicking his fellow students)  So I explained to the kid, that dogs are the only one that bites, and horse are the only one that kicks and since he is neither a dog nor a horse, I want him to explain to me why he's biting and kicking other students when he said he is not a dog and he is not a horse.  He smiled, and thought it was funny that I am comparing him to a dog and a horse.  He promise me he won't do it again and he will never do it again.  When the Principal showed up, he immediately admitted to the Principal that he is wrong for biting and kicking because he's not a dog and he's not a horse. Only dogs and horses do them.  The Principal was amazed with what he said, but never told the Principal I told him that.  The kid was A-OK after that incident. He changed to becoming nice.
    These are the things that teachers should learn how to communicate with the kids. Don't just tell the kid he's wrong for doing things....explain why it is wrong.
    With my children when they do wrong, I will give them the benefit of the doubt, I will not directly tell them they are wrong.  I would let them explain to me and convince me that what they did was right...I'm listening.  I don't get a lip back....immediately they will admit they are wrong for doing what they did and promise me they will never do it again.  They are smart kids, because if they think they can wiggle their way out, I got tons to explain to them why they were wrong.  They don't want to listen to that. I told them that is they are in doubt what do to in a certain situation, ask me, don't do something they will later regret.  These were their discipline growing up and today they are both (girls) succesful in their own rights.  If only teachers and parents can get it together like when I was growing up, we will have better citizens to take care of our country in the next generations. 
     
  • Democrat
    Pontiac, MI
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    my father made it from a one room school in rural mississippi in the 1890's and did ok for 101 years. my two uncles went to the same schools plus a ghetto high school in cleveland ohio. they both went on to graduate from college. it was the attitude that the parents sent themto school with. school was their "job" and it was reinforced both at school; and at home. we need to get back to that, we need to remove some of the distractions kids face today, and we need to get them past just studying enough to past the test.
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Central, FL
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    I always find it strange when people bring back a thread that was started 18 months ago. I mean it's fine to do so but it would be just as simple to start a new thread. There's a current thread about the Marines in a Florida middle school. Don't you agree the above post would have fit there ?

    Never mind, new thread started.....
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    TJ Wrote: I always find it strange when people bring back a thread that was started 18 months ago. I mean it's fine to do so but it would be just as simple to start a new thread. There's a current thread about the Marines in a Florida middle school. Don't you agree the above post would have fit there ?

    Never mind, new thread started.....
    I removed the previous thread for only posting advertising links.
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    There are two sides to every U.S. education policy debate ...and that is the problem.

    Those two sides – public education’s entrenched groups allied with the Democratic and Republican Parties – represent the interests of few U.S. citizens on education issues. Yet, with the cooperation of most education journalists, and some wealthy foundations, these groups have become the source of virtually all the information provided the public about education policy. Their selective information is then sold to the rest of the world as neutral, objective, scientific research that, when trusted, can compromise education policy in other nations like an invasive, exotic species of weed.

    The Nonpartisan Education Review provides an alternative. We are allied with neither side. We have no vested interest. Unlike the many allied education pundits and dissertation help who call themselves independent, we actually are. And, we prove it by criticizing both sides, though probably not nearly as much as they deserve.

    The Nonpartisan Education Review's purpose is to provide education information the public can trust.

  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Pensacola, FL
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    Colleges can make a world of difference for networking for BA degrees and BS degrees can benefit more from curriculum. But Colleges producing $50,000 dollar incomes from $150,000 educations should be put in jail. Probably the only thing saving Trump from a huge loss from a Trump University law suit is it would set a precedent putting a huge amount of colleges at risk. I know a lot of kids working out of degree fields at minimum wage or low wage jobs because they bought worthless degrees. Communications is one that should be outlawed.
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Central, FL
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    I like that education is being discussed. Far too often it's not discussed at all. Answers to the problems ? I'm not sure of the interest. In general great education is wanted but it doesn't seem to get mentioned in conversation with political figures. Why is that ? No money to be made is my guess. A great revolution of changes to our education system would be so damned welcome but again why isn't it being asked to those running for powerful positions. I just don't know that answer. As a grand parent, I would rather 3 billion towards education instead of more war toys.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    The Nonpartisan Education Review referenced above does indeed have some interesting articles on education, although on my computer the layout and formatting doesn't work out as well. My quick browsing of some of the articles did challenge my thinking. I won't say I agree with them. In fact some articles are in disagreement with my conventional worldviews, but I appreciate that they have challenged my mind.

    The topic of education is something that we should indeed discuss more in this political season, especially in the debates. I don't think there is a one-size fits all prescription that can work everywhere. We look overseas in places like Finland and admire their achievements in education, but their programs are not easily replicated here with the diversity in our culture and differing attitudes about the teaching profession.

    No matter what system and how much money you throw at it, education starts in the home with your parents. Without a learning attitude, even the best and most expensive education system will often fail a student whose home is not conducive to learning with an open mind as a habit that should be cherished.

  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” --- Isaac Asimov
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    “It's an universal law-- intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education. An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility.”? Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

    Sorry for the quotes. I am off topic a bit. I just throw these out to stimulate our minds as we discuss the pros and cons of our education system.

  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Schmidt Wrote:

    “It's an universal law-- intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education. An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility.”? Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

    Sorry for the quotes. I am off topic a bit. I just throw these out to stimulate our minds as we discuss the pros and cons of our education system.

    Tony and Schmidt; again you both concentrate on how things are done on this "island". The refusal to copy education as done in Europe is typical.

    Let's paint an picture: First of all education over there is free and mandatory; second "no sports" or expensive baseball fields, basket ball courts, football stadiums or expensive coaches. The only thing I got is swimming lessons (mandatory) so I would not drown in an country below sea level. I had to learn (mandatory) 4 languages and knowledge of the whole world. ( not like an Presidential candidate who did barely know Aleppo or Syria or its culture) Only four "tests" per year. lots of homework. The "proof" is that "education" is awful here, because half the country is uneducated and vote therefore on Trump. Furthermore the "gun" culture makes sure we get enough school shootings; which is not the case in Europe either. Also the "time" in school is more than here. Teachers are as well much more educated than here; otherwise they don't qualify. Furthermore "drug" use and other "excuses" here does not help "education"; kids here start already on an young age with it. Typically Obama had his education somewhere else; it shows. Trump had his here and it shows. No, the education system here needs an total revamp; Bernie had the right idea; copy Europe. But as with an lot of things we rather spent our money on wars or other useless things than education or infrastructure. Don't forget the "health" of an country is built on "education" not on "money" or sports alone. This election shows clearly how uneducated this country actually is.

    But Tony will of course say, I should move, instead of admitting that we have an "island" culture and want to reinvent the wheel all the time..

  • Center Left
    Independent
    Central, FL
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    Dutch, I was happy to see your post. I hope you are well.

    Education and this country are like a dysfunctional family. All of the best intentions but no clear path on how to get where everyone knows we need to be. Let's consider this as a political puzzle piece. Why aren't repubs interested in the topic ? As I said previously.... there's no profits unless you own a school. There's no democratic agenda wherein it's brought up regularly. Maybe it's a citizen concern not being addressed by politicians. Perhaps Chet can mention it in his next e mail.