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Paul Cummins: Fighting the Wrong Battles in Education Reform

Posted on Sep 5, 2006
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From lib.lsu.edu

By Paul Cummins

The co-founder of the trailblazing Crossroads and New Roads schools in Santa Monica argues that if we can?t fund cuts in class sizes and improve educational resources, nothing else we do will matter a whit.


For too many years now, we have allowed the wrong issues to dominate the debate over the reform of public education.

We are too caught up in questions of who will control the schools and how we implement our obsession with testing; we pay far too little attention to improving the content of what we teach and finding new ways to fund that teaching.

Most of the current public debate centers on issues like the power struggles among mayors, unions and boards of education; arguments over centralized versus decentralized authorities; and the quest to raise scores on standardized tests. The tunnel vision focused on these criteria, however, will continue to produce students who are intellectually inept, virtually illiterate, bored, oblivious to world issues, uninterested in global warming or nuclear proliferation or overpopulation—but if they can raise their test scores by a few percentage points, then all will be well.

Whether the mayor or the superintendent has the ultimate authority is less important, I believe, than the conditions in which teachers teach and the content of what their students are asked to learn: It is possible, in overcrowded classes, to force-feed students enough regurgitable information and to administer enough practice tests to raise test scores some.  But it is not possible, in overcrowded conditions, to really teach—to have dialogues; to attend to individual differences; to carefully read, correct and return essays; to get to know your students.  For an English teacher who has five or six classes a day of 35 to 50 students per class, it matters not a whit whether the mayor, superintendent or board is calling the shots.

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Furthermore, if the classroom teachers are so bound to teaching-to-tests, then the real values and critical issues of our time will go unattended.

So what do we do?  The problem is that a generation of dumbed-down products of this current system is out on the streets and doesn?t even recognize the importance of the issues I am raising. Test scores are a form of educational materialism, and a test-score mentality is easily absorbed into a consumerist society. The pursuit of grades flows nicely into the pursuit of dollars.  Consequently, we don?t have a lot of outrage about educational or social justice coming from those who are doing well financially.  For seven years now we have had a Congress that awarded itself raises while voting down minimum-wage increases for the poor.  The outrage? Very little on either side of Congress. And when liberals like me suggest tax increases to fund education properly, I am met with deafening silence or outright hostility (Editor’s note: Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels applauded a court’s rejection of an initiative to fund schools through a property tax hike. He called this idea “absurd.”)

Why tax increases at all?  Because we are not funding education appropriately; to do so would require more revenue, and government derives its revenue primarily from taxation.

?So what would you do to improve our schools?? I am often asked.  For starters, I would:

1. Cut class size by half, which would necessitate
2. hiring 100% more teachers, whom I would
3. attract by increasing teacher pay by at least 25%, and I would
4. clean up, repair, remodel and make classrooms attractive and campuses functional.

I would even be so impertinent as to suggest spending some of the congressional largesse on our inner-city schools.  Quality private schools spend approximately $25,000 per pupil; inner-city public schools spend between $4,500 and $9,000.  Yet California is willing to spend $37,000 per prisoner in the state?s penal system.  Such values are upside down.

Whatever the nation does will require millions and ultimately billions of dollars.  But we are spending at least $150 million a day in Iraq and have spent more than $300 billion waging war on a country that did not attack us. So clearly the money is there—when the beneficiaries are corporations, the military or industrialists. 

Even leaving that argument aside, however, we have the funds. My soon-to-be-published book, ?Two Americas/Two Educations,? will outline where these funds are, and my next column at Truthdig will summarize how we should apportion them. What we lack is leadership and resolve.



Paul Cummins is executive director of the New Visions Foundation, a nonprofit organization that seeks to catalyze change in American public education.

Cummins co-founded Crossroads School (Santa Monica, Calif.) in 1971, the Crossroads Community Foundation in 1991 and New Roads School in 1995, and was a co-creator in launching Camino Neuvo Charter Academy.

Cummins holds degrees from Stanford (BA), Harvard (MAT) and the University of Southern California (MA, PhD), and he taught English at Harvard School and the Oakwood School in California as well as at UCLA.

He is the author of several books, including “Proceed With Passion: Engaging Students in Meaningful Education” (Red Hen Press, 2004).



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By Dr. Gregg Figgins, August 6, 2007 at 5:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m going to stick to the points of Paul Cummins’ excellent book, “Two Americas, Two Educations,” never mind the interesting issues raised above.
  Paul Cummins’ book correctly concerns itself with the relationship between educational quality and funds spent.  I won’t critique the book for you if you haven’t read it, and if you haven’t, shame on you.  There’s a lot of junk written, and this is high grade stuff, content that even the average reader can assimilate.  Let’s say my view is that Cummins is “dead on,” save for that I am not interested much in his private school model, except for comparative purposes.  I’m a public school guy, warts and all.
  I want to add two points.  The first can be short and unequivocal: No Child Left Behind is a total disaster for learning, teaching, the classroom, and the public at large.  It was brought about by dissatisfaction with the public schools because they have buckled under the strain of a materialist culture, illiterate immigrants, and schools that themselves lost confidence in teaching fundamentals during the 1960s.  I grant this.
  The second reason is that the schools are caught in an outmoded, obsolete, industrial production of model of classroom instruction.  By this I mean that the schools became satisfied with the teacher batch-producing his or her class, testing them, and allowing most to pass yet too many to fail for whatever reasons.  This is intolerable.
  The preferred model is a combination of instructional strategies and administrative accommodations devised by Madeline Hunter and John Goodlad of UCLA, mastery teaching and the non-graded elementary school (which could also be called ungraded or continuous-progress).  Put these two concepts together, and you are close to an instructional model where EVERY child in school could achieve at the 100% success rate (not counting environmental factors such as language mastery, parental neglect, nutrition, poverty, etc., which the schools can’t help (but society could).
  These two concepts emerged in the 1970s, but fell into disuse when there was no public demand, and school boards, administrators, and teachers tacitly agreed to “deep six” the idea because it involved changing things a little and spending a little more money for one-on-one work with children who needed more time to master their work.  (Interesting, isn’t it, how adults don’t apply to school children what they know in life: that we all learn differently and at different rates.)
  Today No Child has punitive standards which pour concrete around the best teacher’s abilities and creativity, as well as promulgate standards at the lower grades which are very difficult to understand, let alone have small children master them, in high school.  The remedy to No Child is simple: abolish it!  The individual school district should have the latitude to devise its own instructional strategies, even in the face of inadequate state funding to support them. (This is where Paul Cummins’ words about additional tax revenue needs are absolutely correct.)
  Some say the public schools are broken, but they aren’t.  What’s NOT NEEDED today—indeed, is SO harmful, is federal teaching standards written by lawyers.  What claptrap!  Both political parties are at fault for voting to approve a measure that wasn’t even written when they approved it—can you believe that?  They bought a pig in a poke!  But careful, now, I might get too political for your sensibilities.
  Paul Cummins is an educator, a very good one, with enough theory under his belt to resist falling for a theoretical answer to education’s problems.  If you want to know the solutions, read this excellent book. 
  Paul Cummins goes to the top of my list.
  PS—Read the book before you respond.  Ignoramuses can’t play in this sandbox.

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By Buzz Wilms, September 13, 2006 at 9:00 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks to Paul Cummins for jogging us into remembering what’s most important in education - teaching students to love learning.  But too many families that live around the worst big city schools are unable to provide their children - or the schools they attend - with the support they need.  I am convinced that if we are going to reach Cummins’ ideals we can’t turn our backs on politics because the solution is ultimately a political one.

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By Ron Ranft, September 12, 2006 at 1:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I returned to a California State University in 1988 to complete my BA at the age of 46. When I graduated in 1991 I sat with students of all ages who had attended some of the same classes I had. A lot of them could barely read or write. I had carried as many as 24 units a semester and worked full time. I maitained a 3.8 average. I rarely bought a textbook. Most of the contents of these courses had been covered in my high school classes. I had graduated in 1961. Very few of the courses challenged me.

What passes for education in this country has been dummied down to placate the demand for college degrees. I also spent 6 months as a substitute teacher before I was fired. I could not believe the nonsense being taught in the local system. Not once did I have a meeting with an adult about supposed problems. Statements such as, “students reported he said” were considered to be accurate even tho what I had said was either misunderstood, relayed inaccurately, or they were sometimes blatant lies. Fear of poor reviews or lawsuits by parents allow children to rule the system. Several teachers confided that they were just teaching teporarily until they could find a better job.

I took a lot of classes on education while getting my degree in sociology. I concluded that it is not that we don’t know how to teach, it is that we lack the desire to do what is right because the system is so huge and pondering. You cannot have children whose education supasses those of their parents. Parents must be re-educated too. Numerous sucessful pilot projects abound. Education needs to be flexible, constantly changing, adapting to the needs of each community.

Their has to be a change in the attitudes of Adults. Much lip service is paid to how important their children’s education is. They will spend 40 or 50 thousand for a new car but if they were to be asked to spend that much on their children’s education they would look dumfounded. My own experience with today’s school systems is that they teach what to think, not how to think. We have an increasingly dumbed down society that is incapable of acting in their own best self interest. One only has to look to the present administration to see how easy it has been to manipulate a citizenry that has no sense of history, does not engage in critical thinking and does not use inductive or deductive reasoning.

Unless we channel the money being spent to terrorize the rest of the world through our military might into the education of out future citizens we will be torn asunder by the pitbulls we have created around the world who hate us.

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By James Igoe, September 12, 2006 at 5:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

- Vouchers don’t work, or at least charter schools don’t work (please see recent studies)

- Regimentation doesn’t work, although pushing 9 years old via homework will improve performance at that age, there is a backlash in middle-school against the initial regimentation, as well as social pressure which drives performance down

- The problem is bigger than the little policies that people would suggest, so the real change needs to come somewhere else, from the culture and economy at large

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By Frank Krasicki, September 11, 2006 at 11:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Jon,

I read and followed the link trail based on your link advocating vouchers.

The people selling this steaming heap of rubbish are the usual well-funded neo-con crowd posing as libertarians.

They assert that testing is never tough enough (of course this testing only applies to public schools), that there are Baaaaaaaaad teachers out there in such numbers that children must not simply change from one class to another or one public school to another but buy their way into a private sanctuary where no bad teachers exist because magic libertarian fairy dust makes it so, and that somehow by making parents shoulder the entire burden of school education costs they acheive a saintly freedom of choice that public schools deny them.

These arguments have been shoveled into our living rooms by the MSM for years as if repeating these lies endlessly will make them true.

We have no universal health care package for citizens yet I don’t hear anyone applauding how well the free market is doing with health care costs, accessibility, and so on.  What’s the argument that vouchers would make this model work for schools?

Behind the arguments lies an ugly truth.  Dangling an inadequate voucher to a poor person is cruel when there is nowhere affordable to go.  The idea that playing musical chairs with children’s schools will enrich society is fraud.  Or that undercutting public schools with vouchers will somehow yield more cost-effective education is also a lie. 

And if urban schools are such a priority for the Neo-con Institutes why the phony NCLB nationwide search for failing schools?  Are we supposed to be surprised to learn that the most challenging school populations are the urban poor?

The American Public School system is the best in the world in a democracy such as ours.  Urban schools remain enigmatic but it is not because of poor teachers as much as impossibly complex learning populations.

If the voucher crowd wants to prove their superiority they should volunteer to take over a failing urban school for four years using the identical population and having the ability to swap out whatever teachers they like.

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By Jon, September 11, 2006 at 7:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Public school teachers sent their children to private schools. The message is loud and clear.
http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=15818

Poster Hondo is right on the money about voucher.
Competition is the way to weed out the bad and keep the good ones.

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By Christopher Scheer, September 11, 2006 at 1:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The comments section here is as indicative as anything else of the primary problem, in my opinion, that will always face public schools: A myriad of stakeholders who all have very different beliefs/interests in what the schools should do—and some of whom actively mistrust young people, teachers, or both.

Idealists like Cummins and myself want school to be a font of renewal for the society and the individual, but can we really begrudge those parents who are satisfied if it is merely a ticket to financial security for their children, or perhaps simply a place of childcare which keeps them safe during the day? Are we surprised when government becomes obsessed with easy metrics of success like the standards-based tests, regardless of how well the standards prepare the young for a productive life? Will a nation run by elites adequetely serve those at the bottom with a truly egalitarian educational system?

For the record: I went to public school K-through-college, have a child in public school and teach at a public high school. And certainly I am a good liberal. But as much as it would be nice to see teachers get paid more to teach fewer kids each day in schools that actually have things like toilet paper and wall maps, I don’t believe the problems in public (and, I imagine, many private) schools are primarily resource based.

Public schools naturally reflect the society’s values: Competition, productivity, consumerism, militarism, individualism, workaholism, puritanism, etc. For those of us at odds with dominant values/paradigms, we look a bit foolish entrusting our children the place they are perhaps most clearly expressed: Schools. Unfortunately, the alterantives are not terrific: Sending them off to join the mostly Anglo elites at schools like Crossroads, if we can afford to do so, or homeschooling them, if we can afford to do so.

And so we muddle on…

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By Dave Trapp, September 10, 2006 at 9:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I was a public high school science teacher for 40 years… and agree with much written above.  But my experiences working with national efforts for science content reform led me to realize that American schools are extremely hard to improve.  There is massive inertia.  So I make a radical proposal: The Internet provides a opportunity for those with teaching expertise to draft improved curriculum which could be provided as free public education for any student or family wishing a superior education.  The media is of course radically different from the standard classroom so will require much different teaching methods.  If what is created for Internet instruction is effective in providing a superior education, users will discover and use it.  The challenge is to pioneer this new educational fronteer.

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By Frank Krasicki, September 10, 2006 at 9:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The goals of education will not be advanced by more homework.  Anyone advocating this argument has not read the mounting body of evidence that children (and this includes teens) are far too busy to even experience the joy of childhood.  The right-wing canard that children don’t get enough homework is pure sadism.

These same individuals will never be heard saying that employees of corporations don’t work hard enough, need to work longer hours for free, or maybe should spend more of their free time doing corporate bidding.  Why not?  Wouldn’t these kinds of escalations of “responsibility” make sense?  Maybe employees should even begin to sacrifice their vacation time.  If it’s a good enough prescription for teachers and children then it must be good for all working Americans.

The truth is that children are innundated with homework.  Their daily backpacks weigh 40 pounds and more.  Because schools no longer nurture or respect individual learning, all children - ready or not - are intellectually and emotionally abused into fitting into a test-driven pattern that has more to do with Washington politics than learning.

Another education canard is that teachers don’t do enough.  They do far too much, often suffering a walking burnout that adversely affects their teaching and personal life.  The teaching profession is far to polite to the hucksters selling NCLB and other high-stakes testing paradigms.  The teacher unions are largely to blame for the abuse of teachers and the overwork of teachers who no longer have the time during their day to learn new techniques, technologies, and insights into helping children learn.

The negotition techniques teacher’s unions use to raise teacher pay is partially responsible.  Teacher’s unions often claim that public schools are in crisis and have painted an mythic picture of teachers as professional pan-handlers forever underpaid.  In many parts of the country, government employees and teachers enjoy guaranteed raises and benefits that far surpass free-market labor.  Teachers need to start acting like a true profession instead of underpaid victims.  And they need to stop using children as a human shield to picture public schools as failing.

The hucksters have succeeded in keeping the public school criticisms constant by pitting parents, teachers, and children against each other using taxpayer backlash as the inflammatory fuel.

Parents, too, are sinfully wronged in main-stream media discussions.  Parents need to spend less time with their kids and a little more time with each other and other adults.  What children need more of is less exposure to adults and more unsupervised kid play time.

Parents don’t raise kids to burden society but to enrich it and future generations.  People who refuse to invest in education should not bear the fruit of that education’s production.  These kids will be paying YOUR social security.  How can elders complain about paying a fair share of their education?  This is a shameful national dementia.

Frank Krasicki
http://region19.blogspot.com

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By Vince Porter, September 10, 2006 at 8:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To improve the education system, we must first build teacher respect. By that, I do not mean kids have to go back to fearing teachers. Kids have little to do with the lack of respect which teachers feel. Oh, admittedly kids do not respect teachers, but in that regard, they are merely emulating the people who administer education. The education professors, the supervisors, the co-ordinators, the consultants, none of them respect teachers. Of course they would all deny that, and actually believe it, but, by their actions they’ll be known. They foist upon schools hairbrained ideas which haven’t a chance in hell of succeeding. Teachers protest, or, more likely, silently acquiesce, but to no avail. They foist upon schools nonsense policies and procedures which are doomed to failure. Teachers protest, or, more likely, silently acquiesce, but to no avail. This revolving dynamic gave us such gems as new math, whole language, free schools, and the bog generally known as social studies. Burdened with the unworkable, teachers, all set up to fail, face classrooms of kids which will hasten the process. With their foolish plans and curriculae and procedures, teachers become bumbling laughingstocks, all because consultants, et al, seem to possess a pathological inability to listen to anything a teacher might say. They cannot concede that teachers may indeed known something about classrooms, kids, and teaching. So, schools flounder on, managing to survive, managing to educate some kids, in spite of - not because of - profssors, consultants, superintendents, and a myriad of other non-classroom personnel who’ve managed to turn the education system into a make-work scheme for they useless degrees.

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By truth about the federal deficit, September 10, 2006 at 8:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

http://cooper.house.gov/newsroom/releases/july06/072006_budget.htm

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   CONTACT: MURFY ALEXANDER
JULY 20, 2006 ANNE SMART
  615.736.5295

COOPER SAYS TIME FOR HONESTY IN FEDERAL BUDGET PROCESS

— current budget process ignores long-term, future obligations; introduces
legislation to require Congress to adopt standard business accounting methods


WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper is urging Congress to start talking honestly about the federal deficit first by admitting that the current budget process uses accounting procedures that ignore long-term, future obligations.

“What is going on in the federal government needs to be brought out in the open so taxpayers know the truth about the federal deficit,” Cooper said. “The federal government is keeping two sets of books but they only want taxpayers to see one of them. I think it is time to make the government budget the same way they make American businesses operate.”

According to Cooper, the “President’s Budget,” issued by the Office of Management and Budget and used by Congress to develop the annual budget, is based on cash-accounting. The “Financial Report of the United States,” issued by the Department of the Treasury, uses accrual-basis accounting. Federal law requires all businesses with revenues of $5 million or more to use accrual accounting. The Financial Report and accrual accounting take into account future obligations of the federal government, presenting a clearer, more understandable picture of federal finances.

“General Motors, Ford and the United States are doing well financially if you use cash accounting,” Cooper said. “Under accrual accounting, however, all are in serious trouble, primarily due to promises made to retirees, the sick and disabled.

“Cash accounting ignores these vulnerable people and the commitments we’ve made to them,” Cooper added. “Accrual accounting remembers them and our financial liabilities.”

What difference does it make to taxpayers?

The Budget says the deficit was $319 billion in 2005 while the Financial Report says it was $760 billion, or over twice as large.

David Walker, Comptroller General of the United States, has been clear on the question of cash basis accounting. “Continuing on this unsustainable path will gradually erode, if not suddenly damage, our economy, our standard of living, and ultimately our national security.”

In order to give taxpayers a truer measure of America’s financial status, Cooper just introduced two separate bills that urge Congress to consider accrual and long-term budgeting when planning next year’s federal budget. Cooper introduced a similar amendment in the House Budget Committee in March. It received unanimous approval by the full House but was removed from the budget resolution in conference with the Senate.

While the Federal Budget is widely distributed to every member of Congress and the national media when it is released by the President, the Administration does little to bring attention to The Financial Report. It is distributed to fewer than 20 members of Congress and is released in the midst of the Christmas holiday season with no accompanying press release or media announcement.

“We can’t fix our deficit problem if we don’t acknowledge a problem exists,” Cooper added. “Considering accrual accounting is an important first step.”

### Direct Link to the the actual report
http://www.fms.treas.gov/fr/index.html

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By James Igoe, September 10, 2006 at 5:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The problem with education isn’t the educational system, it is the people of America.  Trying to fix the educational system won’t work if the people being educated don’t care about education.  Additionally, whether causally or correlated, the social world of junior high school students dictates interest in education, not teacher, and school characteristics.

Very abstractly, my own statistical research points to other factors:

- A gender-divided society (Hofsteder’s masculinity index) correlates with lower educational performance (TIMSS/PISA)
- A high GINI coefficient (income inequality) strongly inversely correlates, -.7, with academic performance (TIMSS/PISA)

The issue likely being a culture focused on work, and little or no value being focused on education for its own sake.  The intellectual poverty of Americans drives a low standard of education.  Class divisions and lack of mobility in America, deeply ingrained, also negate the value of education.

Where the educational system could change is moving away from a focus on performance for grammar school age children to another of play, and hold off on the regimentation until middle school years.

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By Hondo, September 9, 2006 at 11:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As a public high school teacher with 13 years of experience, and 9 years of “real world” work experience, I believe that I am qualified to speak to the problems with our education system today. The bad news is that our public schools are broken and, at least with our present system, can’t be fixed. Higher salaries for teachers, lower class sizes, more technology, more professional development for teachers——all will fail to fix what’s broken with public education. Here is what will work:
1. Vouchers—- We must view education as a property right of the individual being educated. Currently, our society views education as something “owned” by government, teachers unions and school boards. That has to change. The American taxpayer has a certain amount of money confiscated from his paycheck that goes towards education. If that taxpayer is dissatisfied with the education their child is getting, they should have the right to take that money and use it for education that they are satisfied with.
2. Time on task—- Way too much school time is wasted on “professional development” that has zero effect on classroom results. Get rid of it. We teachers work, on average, 180-190 days per year, or 60-70 days less than the average worker in the “real world.” Our pay tops out at anywhere from $45,000 to $60,000 per year (depending on the school) for those 190 days. That’s awesome! There is absolutely no need for professional development that takes away from classroom instruction. Simply change the rules for continuing education for teachers. Currently, most teachers must take a certain number of hours every 5 years (usually 6, or thereabouts) to maintain their license. Mandate that those hours must be taken in the teacher’s subject area, and not in any of those ridiculous education curriculum courses. Knowledge of subject area is critical, and it is currently being ignored.
3. Quit fast-tracking young teachers into administrative positions. Currently, it is all too common for a teacher to spend 2 or 3 years in the classroom, and then be launched into an administrative position. It took me 2 years to forget all of the useless garbage I was taught in my undergraduate education courses, and another 3 years to perfect my craft. No teacher with less than 7 years of teaching experience should be allowed to take an administrative position. That would ensure that our school administrators actually knew a little bit about education before being put in charge of real teachers.
4. Streamline the curriculum. We should be focused on reading, writing, high level math and science, and rigorous U.S. History, World History, U.S. Government/Civics instruction. When Mr. Cummins talks about how our students should be better informed about the “importance” of global warming, overpopulation and nuclear proliferation, he is talking about liberal indoctrination that has no place whatsoever in serious academic instruction. Stick with the basics, make it rigorous, and the rest will take care of itself.

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By John Brown, September 9, 2006 at 8:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Damn Mr. Kibble I’ve got to hand it to you. You said it with much bigger terms and more impressive evidence than I. But thanks for reinforcing the fact that Krasicki is a puffed-up, psuedo-intellectual, New Age charlatan. His stuff has no business on the same page as Cummins thoughtful and reasoned education reform proposals from the reality-based community.

Look forward to a reply based on a book, and oh what a difficult read it was, that only his giant brain can fathom.

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By Susan, September 9, 2006 at 4:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Comment #22498 by Jon B on 9/08 at 10:06 pm

More homework is one way to improve the quality of education. Then again, more homework translates to more working hours for teachers. The problem is that not many teachers are willing to spend more time to grade homework.

When my kid spent only 10 minutes doing assigned homework in grade 1, the kid was out of public school system and into private schools. The outcome was much better than what I had expected.

More homework means children would spend more time reading, writing and calcuting. What’s wrong with that? Instead of asking more money, smaller class size, teachers should work overtime for the good of our children. “

You are kidding, right?!!  I am a teacher and I work PLENTY of ‘overtime’ for the good of your children.  You know what I get?  Parents who complain about having to check and sign reading logs and homework.  I even have parents who flat out refuse to listen to their child read at night.  How about parents working ‘overtime’ for the good of their own children. After all, they chose to have the child, they need to take more responsibility for it.

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By Stephen Smoliar, September 9, 2006 at 12:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In response to Comment #22498 by Jon B, I have no objection to at least requesting (if not requiring) teachers to “work overtime for the good of our children,” provided they are properly compensated for their efforts and commitment!

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By COST directly related to finishing College!, September 9, 2006 at 8:21 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2006-09-06-higher-education_x.htm

Higher education stats stir new concerns in USA
Updated 9/6/2006 9:03 PM ET

By Mary Beth Marklein, USA TODAY
The United States has made incremental improvements in preparing students for college in recent years, but it has made “no notable progress since the early 1990s” in increasing college participation rates, a report says. And, it says, degree-completion rates in the USA compare poorly with those of other countries.
Those and other findings “challenge the notion that the American higher education system is still the best in the world,” says former North Carolina governor James Hunt, chairman of the board of the non-partisan National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, based in San Jose, Calif.

MONEY WOES: Bad trends in debt load, financial aid

The center is to release the report, its fourth in a series, Thursday in Washington. For the first time, it compared national and state performances with those of 26 other countries in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, whose members include many of the world’s leading economies, such as Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and Turkey.

The USA does not fare well, the report says. For example, although it still leads in the share of people ages 35 to 64 with a college degree, it ranks seventh among 25- to 34-year-olds with college degrees. That suggests that as the large and well-educated baby boom generation retires, the USA faces a drop-off in college-trained workers to replace them.

Though it ranks fifth in college participation rates, it continues to trail other countries in raising those rates, the report says.

Of particular concern, the report says, is the proportion of students who complete a college degree or certificate program. The USA ranks 16th among 27 countries.

The report also suggests that tuition increases, combined with dwindling financial aid, contributes to the flat growth in participation rates. “For most American families, college affordability has continued to deteriorate,” Hunt says.

Since the early 1990s, it says:

• The proportion of family income needed to pay net college costs (after accounting for all student financial aid except loans) at public four-year colleges has grown from 28% to 42% in Ohio; from 18% to 30% in Iowa; from 25% to 36% in Oregon; and from 20% to 31% in Washington state.

• State support of need-based financial aid improved significantly in Washington, California and Maryland.

• Gaps in college participation between high- and low-income students persist. In Virginia, 58% of high-income and 14% of low-income young adults ages 18 to 24 are enrolled in college; in Illinois, the gap is 52% to 23%.

• The likelihood of a ninth-grader enrolling in college four years later is less than 40%, decreasing from 44% to 32% in Hawaii and from 45% to 37% in New York.
College completion


Japan 26%
Portugal 25%
U.K. 24%
Australia 23%
Switzerland 23%
Denmark 23%
Ireland 21%
New Zealand 21%
France 20%
Iceland 19%
Korea 18%
Belgium 18%
Sweden 18%
Slovak Rep. 18%
Poland 17%
USA 17%
Spain 17%
Netherlands 16%
Hungary 16%
Czech Rep. 15%
Mexico 14%
Norway 14%
Finland 13%
Turkey 13%
Austria 13%
Germany 13%
Italy 12%

Source: National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education

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By paul kibble, September 9, 2006 at 7:56 am Link to this comment
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Re Comment #22383 by Frank Krasicki:

How touchingly innocent of any sense of history you are! Your utopian speculations on our imminent—-it is always “imminent” but, mysteriously, never quite here—-immortality remind me of a remark of George Eliot’s: “There is a cast of mind that is always directing its energies to the far off, the remote future, the day after tomorrow, rather than to the quotidian frustrations of the present.” [This citation is based on rocollections of something I read 30 years ago in Richard Poirier’s essay, “Escape to the Future.”]

This is “a cast of mind” you clearly share. In fact, I half expected you to break into a chorus of that dreadful tune from the musical “Annie”: “Tomorrow, tomorrow, the sun will ome out tomorrow.”

Of course, you don’t ask any potentially troubling questions, such as who will have the best shot at sempeternity. After all, our health-care system (whose humble servant I am) is a model of equal-opportunity access! And even if it isn’t, any disparities can be willed away. Italian proverb: “Se non e vero, e ben trovato.” (Even if it’s not true, it makes a good story.)

In 1969, the late (note, LATE) Alan Harrignton published “The Immortalist,” whose first sentence reads (if memeory serves): “The time has come to kill death.” An additional passage deserves to be quoted:

“Probings into every corner of knowledge carry forward the race’s enduring project: to gain complete dominance (divine power) over all processes that might affect the human form. This effort represents the boldest self-assertion of our species, our supreme aggression against the death-dealing environment.”

“Camouflaged by outward humility, what we call pure science serves as the arm of pure rebellion. It aspires to nothing less than supreme being. In theory, the race’s radical wing moves ahead disinterestedly searching, but in the end—beyond the succession of limited objectives along the way—the quarry being hunted down is death.”

“In only one respect does the rebellion against death differ greatly from all others. Earthly plotters think they know what they are about. They can readily identify their objectives: to blow up the arsenal, overthrow the king or the system. But the plot against the gods, though race-wide, moves forward on a conscious level unshared. It evolves in each earthling’s spiritual underground. To deceive celestial authority the plotters must also deceive themselves in order to dare carry on their project.”

“In short, the drive to become immortal and divine involves such enormous hubris that the final goal has remained unnamable, revealed only a little here and there, most of the time being shrouded from the perception of the revolutionaries themselves.”

“As unconscious plotters, we may have shown good sense here. Perhaps we half-realized the undesirability of premature revelation. So long as, technologically, the race was in no position to do anything about death, the revolutionary goal revealed too soon would have been unbearable to contemplate.”

“In these circumstances the creation of gods, and all superstitions based on their existence, answered a tactical need. Such superstitions have helped the species avoid summoning up the unthinkable to consciousness: that the gods’ most devastating vengeance on us may take the form of a revelation that they do not exist; that no life-rescuing force exists.”

“Hope of immortality would then have been thrown back on what were until recently our small scientific talents. Only now with the state of the medical art making our liberation from mortality at least imaginable has the thought that we can actually become gods, free of time, been permitted to surface.”

Poor Harrington. He didn’t manage to kill death and—-despite your six (or, adjusted for inflation, 25) million-dollar-man fantasies—- neither will you, Frank. But don’t worry: when your 5-10 year timetable is disconfirmed by uncooperative reality, you’ll do what all true believers do when their prophecies fail: move the date forward by a few years, or decades, or millenia.

O Brave New World, that hath such fools in it.

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By Americans Unable to AFFORD college cost!, September 9, 2006 at 4:28 am Link to this comment
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Americans can’t afford the college cost so send in the Saud students!

————————————————————————-

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14719796/

Report flunks 43 states for college affordability
Two years ago it was 36, according to think tank report

WASHINGTON - A new, independent report on higher education flunks most states when it comes to affordability. It gives better but still mixed grades in other areas, such as college participation and completion rates.

The biennial study by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education evaluates how well higher education is serving the public — and leaves little doubt where the system is failing. Forty-three states received “F”s for affordability, up from 36 two years ago. The others got “D”s, except Utah and California, both of which eked out a “C.”

The report card uses a range of measurements to give states grades, from “A” to “F,” on the performance of their public and private colleges. The affordability grade is based on how much of the average family’s income it costs to go to college.

Almost everywhere, that figure is up — even accounting for financial aid, which has risen but not as fast as tuition. In Ohio, public four-year colleges cost 42 percent of the average family’s paycheck, up from 28 percent in the early 1990s. In New Jersey, costs have risen from 24 percent to 37 percent, and in Oregon from 25 percent to 36 percent.

“It’s amazing,” said Jack Partridge, a Columbus, Ohio, gas company executive who recently moved four daughters — a sophomore and freshman triplets — into their dorms at Miami University of Ohio. In-state tuition plus room and board run about $20,000 this year at the public school.

“I saw those annual increases and had tried to put a little bit away for each of them, but I’m nowhere near going to cover four years,” he said.

And that doesn’t include the extras.

“All of a sudden I had to buy almost $6,000 worth of computers a while ago, then the books,” he said. “I just try to keep a sense of humor about it.”

The report card notes that increases in state and federal aid, though substantial, haven’t kept up with demand and prices. The study — along with a separate report published last week by the Education Trust, a Washington think-tank — also says colleges aren’t doing enough to help the neediest students.

Colleges’ own funds, which comprise the largest portion of financial aid, are increasingly being used to lure high-achieving students who boost a school’s reputation — but who don’t need help to go to college.

“There’s been a sea change in the last decade-and-a-half over how (colleges) spend their money,” said National Center president Patrick Callan. “It used to be about giving students opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have. Now it’s about giving them money to go to one college instead of another.”

The two studies, analyzing the same federal data in slightly different ways, both illustrate the trend.

The report card finds colleges awarded grants to 36 percent of their students from families earning $20,000 per year or less. Those grants averaged $4,700. But wealthier students received comparable attention.

The colleges gave grant aid to 29 percent from families earning $100,000 or more. And those grants were even higher on average: $6,200.

The Education Trust study looked at all students, not just those receiving aid, and found the average student from the wealthiest families gets nearly as much grant aid as the average student from the poorest.

“Educational opportunity, in other words, is taking a back seat to institutional prestige,” Education Trust director Kati Haycock said.

The trend undermines colleges’ argument that the government should spend more to help low-income students, Callan said.

“It’s very difficult for colleges to come into Congress or state legislatures and say, ’We want to spend our money to get our U.S. News ratings up, but you have a responsibility to help poor kids,”’ he said.

The report card paints a better, though still mixed, picture of how successful the states are in getting students to enroll in college and then — just as important — getting them through with a degree.

Half the states received “A”s or “B”s for student preparation, considering measurements such as math assessment and Advanced Placement scores. Only Louisiana and New Mexico got “F”s. Most states also got “A”s or “B”s in degree completion.

Seventeen states got “A“s for participation. But large racial gaps persist. In Colorado 40 percent of white 18-to-24 year-olds are enrolled, but just 17 percent of nonwhites. In New Jersey, 47 percent of whites that age are in college but just 27 percent of nonwhites.

Partridge, the Ohio parent, said he’s concerned about affordability, both as a father and a businessman on the state chamber of commerce.

“We’re losing young people. They’re going out of state,” he said. “I’m concerned and I think the state needs to look at it. I don’t know how some families do it.”

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By BUSH education GIVE AWAY to Saudi's, September 9, 2006 at 4:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

BUSH GIVES AWAY US COLLEGE SPOTS TO SAUDI FRIENDS!

Forget the Americans that can’t afford to pay….......will just enroll the Saudi’s!


“Not only are the students fully funded, but they’re also paying out-of-state tuition.”

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http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14743889/

U.S. schools compete for Saudi students
Kingdom gives scholarships to thousands for new exchange program
 
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Thousands of students from Saudi Arabia are enrolling on college campuses across the United States this semester under a new educational exchange program brokered by President Bush and Saudi King Abdullah.

The program will quintuple the number of Saudi students and scholars here by the academic year’s end. And big, public universities from Florida to the Kansas plains are in a fierce competition for their tuition dollars.

The kingdom’s royal family — which is paying full scholarships for most of the 15,000 students — says the program will help stem unrest at home by schooling the country’s brightest in the American tradition. The U.S. State Department sees the exchange as a way to build ties with future Saudi leaders and young scholars at a time of unsteady relations with the Muslim world.
Administrators at Kansas State University, an agricultural school surrounded by miles of prairie grass, say the scholarships are a bonanza for public education.

“The Saudi scholarship program has definitely heightened our interest in that part of the world,” said Kenneth Holland, associate provost for international programs. “Not only are the students fully funded, but they’re also paying out-of-state tuition.”

Kansas State has boosted efforts to court Saudi officials in the last year, flying administrators and department heads to the Saudi embassy in Washington. It’s paid off: last month about 150 Saudi students started classes there, each funded to the tune of about $31,000.

Saudi to send more students than Mexico
Saudi Embassy spokesman Nail Al-Jubeir said 90 percent of the 10,229 Saudi students the U.S. State Department has registered for the fall semester will also get such scholarships.

By January, U.S. government officials say the program will expand to 15,000 students, which means Saudi Arabia will send more foreign students to the U.S. than Mexico or Turkey. As funding for the scholarship program expands, those numbers are likely to grow.

“This is a critically important bilateral relationship,” said Tom Farrell, a deputy assistant secretary for academic programs at the State Department. “It’s an opportunity to increase understanding of Saudi Arabia for the United States and of the United States for Saudi Arabia.”

College administrators say common misperceptions about the oil-rich nation make it crucial to create a tolerant environment for Arab and Muslim students, who have been singled out for scrutiny since the Sept. 11 attacks five years ago.

So, as Kansas State students enjoy a string of home football games this month, they also are preparing for the campus’ first celebration of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month.

“We really want to make this special. We’re going to truck in halal food from Kansas City,” Holland said. “The Saudi government is trying to place the students in a variety of institutions across the country, but where you get the competitive advantage is how you treat the students when they get here.”

Marwan Al-Kadi, who was active in the Muslim student association while he studied industrial engineering at Kansas State, said efforts to raise awareness about religious diversity have helped the new influx of students feel comfortable.

“Sometimes people ask me if I ride a camel to campus. They don’t even realize how many cities we have in Saudi Arabia,” said Al-Kadi, lounging in a cafe near campus, as his cell phone rang intermittently. “I want to use the education to go back and work for my father’s company.”

Creating multigenerational ties
Elite Saudi families traditionally sent their children to schools in the United States, but their numbers fell sharply after Congress restricted visas following the discovery that 15 of the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11 were Saudi, said Rachel Bronson, an adjunct senior fellow for Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Mohammed Al-Muzel, who grew up in the eastern Saudi city of Saihat and is joining Oregon State University’s freshman class, is just the kind of student the scholarship program seeks to recruit.

His uncle studied in Portland in the 1980s, when Saudi-U.S. educational cooperation was at its peak. Almost three decades later, Al-Muzel will get his bachelor’s degree in business an hour away, in Corvallis, Ore. Officials from both countries say multigenerational ties make it easier for them to navigate diplomatic conflicts, since leaders share a common educational background.

But some officials say efforts to fast-track educational diplomacy with Saudi Arabia could use additional scrutiny. Clark Kent Ervin, a former inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, says the U.S. government has yet to ensure proper safeguards are in place to do effective background checks on all applicants.

Yet for Allan Goodman, president and CEO of the Institute of International Education in New York, the new bilateral agreement is a “tremendously positive” step toward person-to-person diplomacy.

“These 15,000 students will really jump-start education and that will be a great addition to the Kingdom,” said Goodman. “At its base, it’s about mutual understanding.”

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By Leigh A. Brumberg, September 9, 2006 at 2:50 am Link to this comment
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Cummins views strike at the heart of our nation’s educational ills.

Paul Cummins for Secretary of Education!

No Genious Left Behind.

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By Jon B, September 8, 2006 at 10:06 pm Link to this comment
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More homework is one way to improve the quality of education. Then again, more homework translates to more working hours for teachers. The problem is that not many teachers are willing to spend more time to grade homework.

When my kid spent only 10 minutes doing assigned homework in grade 1, the kid was out of public school system and into private schools. The outcome was much better than what I had expected.

More homework means children would spend more time reading, writing and calcuting. What’s wrong with that? Instead of asking more money, smaller class size, teachers should work overtime for the good of our children.

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By Shakespears Under the WH Table Cloth, September 8, 2006 at 7:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

While we are all giving our ideas of education venues for todays students….....

look at the UN - educated President of USA, george bush ( and yes I do mean UN - educated )

When will this hypocrisy end? Where is the money to back NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND? Where?

Bush you left a boat full at the docks!

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By KISS, September 8, 2006 at 11:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Here is what I know. When my wife and I went to school[ grade, high school] 32 children was the norm. Teachers I know personally agree money is not an issue. Class size is an issue, mainly because society has proclaimed schools to warehouse all children. Disruptor’s may not be dealt with and unless physical violence is done they must put-up with anti , anti schooling behavior. Too many students sent to the principal is reason for contract not being offered for the next year. The buildings are in terrible shape and the reason seems that more modern text books and administration eat up the budget. Health care is a large item in the budget, also. But it is easier to claim class size, and lack of money as the problem rather than face the real issues. Every teacher I know complains about the terrible behavior in class rooms. With out discipline nothing can be acheived…Japan classrooms average 50 students K-1 through K12. Why can Japan have this and not us?

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By Dominic Maonchi, September 8, 2006 at 8:41 am Link to this comment
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I agree with the four items Paul Cummins has listed to improve schools.  However, before we commit to spending one more dollar we me must:

1.stop allowing illegal immigrants from attending our school. We can’t even teach our own.

2.Get rid of the teachers unions that protect bad teachers and get rid of tenure in High School and Elementary education. Private schools don’t have this holding them back and neither should our public schools.

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By Frank Krasicki, September 8, 2006 at 6:55 am Link to this comment
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“We may be teaching students who will become the first generation of immortal souls.”
—Frank Krasicki

“Anyone who would respond to a man responsible for the sentence above is as crazy as he is.”
—John Brown

The future that is unfolding before us will come at light speed and will change everything.  And I am speaking of the short-term future 5-10 years.

John, you have not read the work I referred to.  There is no guarantee with anything but everyone who survives the next twenty years or so may be lucky enough to encounter technologies and human extentions that will enable them to survive ever longer.

In the old days of science everyone waited for miracle cures.  What may be more possible is miracle longevity though not necessarily with the same equipment you arrived with.

You are welcome to call me crazy but my grandmother was born before radio, autos, television, shock and awe, penicillin, and so on.  Those revolutions are happening EVERY DAY and are accelerating in every day of our lives - some good, some bad.

Imagine youself on the world’s tallest roller coaster and all of history is the slow ascent you’ve just taken to the top.  The history we will soon live will come at us so fast it will be the same effect as that sudden descent on the roller coaster except we’ll be climbing a technological wave of change at that relative speed and accelerating from there.

Kurzweil’s book is a tough read but his facts are spot on and he’s not alone in thinking about the possibilities.  And his book is not about school at all.

The future is not about couch potatoes or empty five year education plans.

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By John Brown, September 7, 2006 at 7:13 pm Link to this comment
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“We may be teaching students who will become the first generation of immortal souls.”
                —Paul Krasicki

Anyone who would respond to a man responsible for the sentence above is as crazy as he is.

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By Sleeper, September 7, 2006 at 6:00 pm Link to this comment
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It was probably 10 years after I graduated from high school when I went to D.C. and I noticed a quote above the statue of Thomas Jefferson.  It was a statment of dedication by one of our founding fathers.  I had never been exposed to it in high school, but I always remembered it. 

Years later I researched this quote and found that it came from a letter from Thomas Jefferson to Benjaimin Rush conncerning Jeffersons fear that he would not receive much loyalty from the clergy of his time. In the context he states that:

“I have stood before the alter of God and sworn eternal hostility toward all forms of tyrany over the minds of men.”

It is a clear statement to the forms of tyrany that we live under to think that this statement is not taught in every U.S. History class in every high school in the United States.

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By Paul A. Moore, September 7, 2006 at 12:23 pm Link to this comment
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As far back as 1950, the iconic University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman wrote in his book Capitalism that “The privatization of schooling would produce a new highly active and profitable industry.” Friedman is the ideological godfather of today’s assault on the public school system across the country.

From the world’s richest human being Bill Gates to the world’s most powerful corporate entity Wal-Mart and the Walton Family Foundation to the billionaire mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg, the enemies of public education can dip into a bottomless well of money to execute their mission. They carry political leaders around in their pockets like so much loose change. The President of the United States and the governors of Florida, California, Texas and New York are just a few who belong to their “destroy disguised as reform” movement.

Our nation’s history recalls public education as a partner of the abolition of slavery in a grand post-Civil War experiment in expanded democracy. Their dream is to arrest and reverse this expansion. They are men unsated by billions in profits plying young people with X-Boxes, iPods, Big Macs, Air Jordans, cell phones, Sprite, MTV, and B.E.T. They want their cake and they want to eat it too. Their appetite includes the transfer of billions of dollars in annual public school funding into their own pockets. They will have a downsized and exclusive for-profit school system to train and educate only the children created in their own image and likeness.

But the American people’s deep reverence for equal opportunity stands between the privateers and their mission. For that reason their designs must be concealed behind the façade of education reform and the smokescreen of school choice. Genuine reforms like class-size reduction and increased teacher salaries, as suggested by Paul Cummins, are violently opposed because they would thwart their destructive designs. The principle of increasing budgetary outlays to build a more effective homeland defense does not seem to apply to public education. Instead they employ weapons of mass deception that include voucher programs, merit or performance pay plans for teachers, charter schools, and canards like the so-called “65% solution”.

Then there is the most potent weapon in their arsenal—standardized testing. They bludgeon 9 and 10-year-old children, parents, teachers, administrators, elected school boards and whole school districts with it. You failed! You are a failure! You are failing! Yours is an F-school! Strange how something so uplifting is confined to the public schools but testing is for public schools only! Start testing the pre-teen child in the third grade. Keep testing every year until the schools become testing factories and then testing sweatshops where children labor to no useful end. The music, art, dance, theater, physical education and vocational classes are for private schools. Recess and field trips are for rich kids!

With these tools they have battered public schools as Hurricane Katrina did the Gulf Coast. The ensuing New Orleans-style exodus has transformed those schools into America’s Superdome. Huddled inside now are the mostly Black, Latino and white children of poor and working-class parents. Their broken bodies and spirits will be found amid the wreckage after the very idea of universal public education has been demolished.

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By Frank krasicki, September 7, 2006 at 12:04 pm Link to this comment
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Stephen Smoliar - Mr. Krasicki, I would like to propose that one way in which we might advance the dialog about education reform is to impose a moratorium (at least temporarily) on the phrase “business model.” Rather than turning to Kurzweil’s visions of the future, I would recommend that we revisit a book that Raymond Callahan published in 1962 entitled EDUCATION AND THE CULT OF EFFICIENCY:  A STUDY OF THE SOCIAL FORCES THAT HAVE SHAPED THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS.  The primary argument of this book is that we have a century-old legacy of viewing education through the lens of PRODUCTION; and, at the end of the day, education just is not ABOUT production.  Even the teacher in that one-room LITTLE HOUSE schoolhouse knew this (as did Socrates, as I mentioned in my last comment).

Fair enough.  I will admit that I haven’t read the book you refer to but I will buy the premise you present and we’ll go from there. I am familiar with the genre of administrative philosophy.  But let’s not be too quick to categorize Kurzweil as a science-fiction writer.  His writing is less vision and more like a predictable speculative guess of consequences based on today’s reality.

In those days, America’s best writer about production was ignored here.  W. Edwards Deming was ignored here and heartily embraced by post-WWII Japan.  His Institute’s home page features a beautiful quote, “Forces of Destruction: grades in school, merit system, incentive pay, business plans, quotas.”.  I mention this because even in those days education was pursuing a model for doing business that was unsustainable.

Stephen Smoliar -  “The alternative is to view education through the lens of SOCIALIZATION, and this is no easy matter.”

I happen to believe that there are other alternatives as well.  You’re stuck in a rut with this stuff.  Deming might say, “If you stay in this world you will never learn another one.”

Stephen Smoliar -  “Broiler has pointed out that parents have a responsibility, which emphasizes that it is absurd to think that socialization only takes place in classrooms.  Unfortunately, our thinking about socialization has become about as badly warped as our thinking about education.  Indeed, I would be bold enough to suggest that, until we think more seriously about how kids socialize (and all the stakeholders in that socialization, not just teachers and parents), we shall not be suitably equipped to think about education reform!”

Well, I’m an adoptive parent who is intimately familiar with a wide variety of kid needs (I am not an expert).  The criticisms being leveled at parents usually come from those who have never been parents.  The all-too-pervasive idea that parents as a demographic group are negligent, uncaring, happy-go-lucky irresponsible social welfare queens is insultingly FRAUDULENT.

I rarely interact with parents who are not working their tails off to pay bills, rush home to tend to household maintenance, and then spend inordinate hours with their kids doing homework, driving them here and there, and trying to figure out what the hell their kids will need next.

The most destructive form of socialization this country has seen is the Rovian propaganda campaigns that have painted parents as Willie Hortons and children as ungrateful and unworthy recipients of taxpayer funding.  This country has entertained and profited from beating up on parents and kids far too long.

But some of what you point out is true.  That is that schools are not and will never be more than a periodic experience for the student.  A teacher who holds a 60 minute class with 20 students mathematically has 3 minutes per student assuming such a thing is desirable - maybe 15 minutes per week per student.  This kind of math is used to argue for smaller class sizes but the algebra fails because the benefit is negligible and the cost is unjustifiable.

What’s needed is a way to improve the process of teaching and learning and identifying archetypal learning styles.  You’ll notice that in our few paragraphs that NCLB is a complete hoax.  It addresses test score results.  Deming might say, “Wherever there is fear you will get wrong figures.”  If process is what needs improvement then “failing schools, grass is greener over there vouchers, and the spectrum of Roveian rhetoric about school” is all just noise to feed the Mainstream Media.  None of the NCLB claptraps address process.

Getting kids to memorize information and swiftly navigate test nuances is a very different process from getting students to learn how to learn.  Mice can be taught the first degree exercises but the exponential energy of learners seeding and reseeding their learning interests is significantly beyond the reach of household pets.  Yet the subliminal message of NCLB bromides is that taxpayers can take out their frustrations on “failing schools” that co-incidentally exist in clusters in poor urban environments.  And once the recrimnations about the poor are vented the politicians tip-toe away. Now that’s socialization!

But let’s look at something new.  What if we eliminated the US Department of Education as a failed and, more recently, festering political joke.  There’s really no good reason to keep funding it.  And what if teachers stopped pandering to “fixing” NCLB and instead started discussion groups on improving teaching and education and were given the time to do so.  And our Board of Education is beginning a dialogue about creating processes and tools that will allow the Board, administration and houses of educational interest the ability to reconfigure the programs to suit the community, students, resources, and historic times that the programs will be delivered.  Your Boards should stop seeing themselves as rubber stamps too.  The question is, What do we want our school to be next year?  The question has to be asked every year.  Let’s publicize how to get there.

And how about virtually integrating school class lessons across the state, the nation, or the world so that children from all kinds of cultural and economic backgrounds began to get better and better teaching techniques? 

I call all of these ideas School 2.0 on my blog.  They come from lots of sources but they are real and they will challenge everything you think you know about schools.

When I ran to serve on my local Board my intent was to change the way education is practiced in this nation before my term expires.  I’m looking for others who feel the same way and I’m finding them.  Stop settling for the status quo.  There’s a lot we can do to make this a better system of educating kids and we know how to do it.

- Frank Krasicki

http://region19.blogspot.com

Deming’s site is: http://www.deming.org/index.html and worth a visit.

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By R. A. Earl, September 7, 2006 at 11:46 am Link to this comment
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Sleeper hits the nail on the head with the observation “...education in America has devolved more into an indoctrination.”

Sure, cutting class sizes (especially in early years), hiring more (and better qualified) teachers and paying them according to their PERFORMANCE (not seniority), and ensuring adequate facilities and supplies, all contribute to a good learning environment.

However, the CRITICAL aspect of “education” is WHAT is being taught. I wonder how many people know that grade school textbooks are edited and expurgated and altered, mostly by boards of education and/or religious overseers, to suit the sensibilities and politics of the time. Which means, of course, that what’s being taught ranges from “the truth” to “pure fantasy.”

If anyone doubts my views, just let them compare, say, a history of Canada as presented in French in Quebec and in English in Ontario, or, a history of the USA as presented by Native Americans compared with European settlers.

Literature also suffers. Shakespeare is heavily edited to leave out the “juicy” parts. And I wonder how many students are informed that Hans Christian Andersen, Alexander the Great, Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt, Maurice Ravel or Horowitz or Rhodes or Michelangelo or Hadrian or J. Edgar Hoover or, gawd forbid, Grandpa Walton (Will Geer) were GAY PEOPLE!

Teach your kids LIES, by commission or omission, and you get misinformed adults… so don’t wonder why things are often in a mess when ignorant/ill informed people are running things.

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By Sleeper, September 7, 2006 at 10:40 am Link to this comment
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#22247 is right on.  Students will strive to learn according to their strengths and should have that opportunity.  I really think that the most important lessons are in socialization. 

Things like teamwork not individual competitions.  What is most lacking in our world is tollerance for different veiws and helping each other be the best that we can be.  It isn’t about helping this ability and destroying that one.

I would have progressed further in school if I had the ability to use a word processor and spell check to get past my weaker areas.  Where on the mathamatical side I had some natural advantages. Concepts and understanding came easier then many of those that went to school with me.

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By Stephen Smoliar, September 7, 2006 at 8:58 am Link to this comment
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Mr. Krasicki, I would like to propose that one way in which we might advance the dialog about education reform is to impose a moratorium (at least temporarily) on the phrase “business model.”  Rather than turning to Kurzweil’s visions of the future, I would recommend that we revisit a book that Raymond Callahan published in 1962 entitled EDUCATION AND THE CULT OF EFFICIENCY:  A STUDY OF THE SOCIAL FORCES THAT HAVE SHAPED THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS.  The primary argument of this book is that we have a century-old legacy of viewing education through the lens of PRODUCTION;  and, at the end of the day, education just is not ABOUT production.  Even the teacher in that one-room LITTLE HOUSE schoolhouse knew this (as did Socrates, as I mentioned in my last comment).

The alternative is to view education through the lens of SOCIALIZATION, and this is no easy matter.  Broiler has pointed out that parents have a responsibility, which emphasizes that it is absurd to think that socialization only takes place in classrooms.  Unfortunately, our thinking about socialization has become about as badly warped as our thinking about education.  Indeed, I would be bold enough to suggest that, until we think more seriously about how kids socialize (and all the stakeholders in that socialization, not just teachers and parents), we shall not be suitably equipped to think about education reform!

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By H.J.Quin, September 7, 2006 at 7:25 am Link to this comment
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Just to add another dimension to the discussion about our educational system I recommend you take a look at the latest lament from the life long supporter of public education Jonathan Kozol entitled “The Shame of the Nation -The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America”. Perhaps some of this dialogue needs to focus on how this phenomena is impacting not just minority children but the rest of society.

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By coral, September 7, 2006 at 5:19 am Link to this comment
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“So what would you do to improve our schools?” I am often asked.  For starters, I would:

1. Cut class size by half, which would necessitate
2. hiring 100% more teachers, whom I would
3. attract by increasing teacher pay by at least 25%, and I would
4. clean up, repair, remodel and make classrooms attractive and campuses functional.

As a parent having seen two children through k-12, and college—an involved, responsible, actively engaged parent, I might add—I agree wholeheartedly.

Teachers are required to work in surroundings that are often in serious need of repair. They rarely have “office hours” when they are available to meet individually with parents and students. They are required to spend most of their time on their feet “teaching”, and many do most of their prep work on their own time. Plus, the pay is very low compared with other professions, and the status is low as well.

The teachers, dedicated as they may be, suffer for it, and eventually burn out. The children suffer. And the society suffers.

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By Frank Krasicki, September 6, 2006 at 9:23 pm Link to this comment
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I must say I’m surprised at the shameless criticism of teachers and the voting public that I’m reading here.  Look, education has a business model that seems to need ever more money to stay afloat but the product never gets better.

And discussions about education seem to always result in circular firing squads of parents, teachers, administrators, taxpayers, students, and no-children-allowed communities randomly firing blame at each other.

A teacher who responded earlier said something interesting and something true.  Teachers are so busy teaching that they don’t have time to read, stay up to date, or truly improve themselves.  Teachers would be better off teaching fewer classes with more kids and less paperwork.  Yet the education business model keeps pushing for smaller classes and longer work days for teachers.

I’m finding that although wonderful productivity tools exist for schools, teachers, and students, nobody has the time to break away from the so-called “accountability” hamster dance of test preparation to use them.  Society as a whole has so convoluted the process of education that it is as big a social quagmire as Iraq is a foreign policy quagmire.

Both ventures act as sinkholes for money in losing battles.  Nobody is volunteering to help and nobody’s listening to those trapped in the trenches.  Meanwhile America is shopping at the mall too busy clipping coupons to care or to notice America, our country is being put at risk from the reckless disregard for change.

- Frank Krasicki

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By kelso, September 6, 2006 at 5:43 pm Link to this comment
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As a former school district employee, I had my fill of listening to overpaid administrative types comparing notes on their stock portfolios at break time. As a tax payer, I’m ready to listen to proposals for increased school funding taxes if and when the bloated overpaid administrative overhead gets cut and the money actually spent on teaching kids.

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By Sleeper, September 6, 2006 at 3:41 pm Link to this comment
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A theme that I keep hearing and agree with is that education in America has devolved more into an indoctrination.  Everything is becoming more Black and White with little gray left for discussion.

Life is between these polar opposites.  We live in the gray.  We all have a shadow side no matter what we portray to the world.  I believe that it is mentally more healthy to live in reality rather then exploiting our best nature and hiding our less politically correct nature.

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By Broiler, September 6, 2006 at 2:24 pm Link to this comment
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“Whether the mayor or the superintendent has the ultimate authority is less important, I believe, than the conditions in which teachers teach and the content of what their students are asked to learn: It is possible, in overcrowded classes, to force-feed students enough regurgitable information and to administer enough practice tests to raise test scores some.  But it is not possible, in overcrowded conditions, to really teach—to have dialogues; to attend to individual differences; to carefully read, correct and return essays; to get to know your students.  For an English teacher who has five or six classes a day of 35 to 50 students per class, it matters not a whit whether the mayor, superintendent or board is calling the shots.” - Paul Cummins

It would seem that parental responsibility and
involvement have been totally removed from
any discussion of education. Do you let your
children flounder due to a teacher, subject, school system,
superintendent or crowded classroom or do you
step down from your own career treadmill and
do what is necessary?

You bring them into the world and then expect
the world to do your job. You can throw more
money into the money pit or throw more of yourself
into your children.

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By C Reed, September 6, 2006 at 12:55 pm Link to this comment
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Cummins puts his finger on the essence of the problem with education, but he’s certainly fighting an uphill battle with his aptly proposed solutions. The lack of popular response on Truthdig is just more evidence of the chicken and egg nature of the issue. The increasingly ill-educated public rightly perceives public education as a money pit. If Cummins’ proposals were to be implemented (as if!), everything would (or could possibly) change, but who wants to take that gamble? Not the consumerism-addicted treadmill workers that we’ve been producing for the past half century.
As someone who teaches basic material to working teachers trying to pass their final credentialing exam, I know only too well that 95% of them are as intellectually inept and incurious as the students they teach. As the mother of two teens, neither of whom was well served by the education system for completely different reasons, I say too bad we couldn’t afford Crossroads School! If only we were more dedicated money grubbers, then our kids would have a shot at a better education, I guess.
Thanks for trying, though, Pancho, uh, Paul.

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By Bernie Rubinstein, September 6, 2006 at 12:48 pm Link to this comment
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Money helps deal with our problems with education but the solution runs much deeper. Giving more resources to a poorly trained teacher does not help our students. Improving the school environment is pleasing to the eye and helps the spirit of teachers and students. But, if parents do not take a real interest and make a commitment to help in the education of their children then the system works in a vacumum and is bound to continually fail the students who need the most help. Accountability and improvement can not be measured by some standardized test which only measures math and language skills. Social studies, the arts and even science are being marginalized by the current system. We need to rediscover the whole child and create a system that uses the limited resources society has to the fullest.

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By Gerald Lotierzo, September 6, 2006 at 11:04 am Link to this comment
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I am sure Cummins would agree that we also need to attract bright people to teaching and that has been dificult becasue intellectual
ability is not respected in our elemtary and secondary schools.  The administrators who are in charge of hiring, for the most part, possess mediocre intellects and actually resent anyone with outstanding credentials.  They hire bsed on their “gut’ feelings.  This observation is based on 35 years of experience in schools.  We also need regular exensive in service programs.  The in service now offfered is useless and downright silly.  Every fad thgat comes along the educational pike is paraded in front of teachers with no regard for its merit and very little follow up afterwards.

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By Stephen Smoliar, September 6, 2006 at 10:44 am Link to this comment
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Alas, I have been following Kurzweil since he began percolating his brew in position papers that circulated through the Internet.  As matter of fact, I have followed no end of skilled technology practitioners who claim to have the ultimate solution to the education problem;  and I have sat through no end of tedious debate on just about every one of these “final solutions” (malicious play on words intended as more than “pithy political sloganeering”).  So, if my MALAISE has finally come to a boil, I apologize.

In each of these cases, I see the same thing:  a vision clothed in some nice verbiage as an introduction to a deep-end discussion of content management.  The irony is that, if education were all about content management, we would have solved the problem and would no longer have to wring our hands over the sorry state of the whole system.  However, it is not for lack of content that the system is foundering;  it is, as Cummins has expressed far better than I, due to the pathetic conditions of “the classroom experience.”  Like the drunk who looks for his lost keys where the line is good, technologists solve the problems they know how to solve;  and “the quality of the classroom experience” is not one of those problems.

The reason I invoked Karl Mannheim was that he was one of the few to pick up on Max Weber’s attempt to develop a “sociology of knowledge” in a serious way.  If you take the sociology out of the equation, all you are left with is managing information;  and that has limitations that educators have confronted going all the way back to Socrates (at least).  Now, to say that the social experience of today’s classroom is impoverished is to be polite (and fortunately Cummins did not attach high priority to politeness).  The fact is that a LITTLE HOUSE schoolroom, even with all grade levels in the same room, was probably a far richer social experience than the vast majority of public education classrooms today.  Cummins’ four recommendations all had to do with returning some enrichment to those classrooms.  The fact that you did not find them compelling would indicate that you still subscribe to the philosophy that the education is all in the information;  and, quite frankly, that depresses me.

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By Frank Krasicki, September 6, 2006 at 8:26 am Link to this comment
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Stephen,

You have not read the work nor do many understand the profound, inevitable, and immediate implications.

I am not suggesting that teachers will be replaced by machines but I am saying that we as humans are on the cusp of changing into something more than human and that technology as a predictable and unpredictable physical entity is taking its place along side nature as something man must contend with.

The future Kurzweil writes about is not some imaginary far away place.  It is at our doorstep as we speak.  Under Bush we are acting as though we exist in the age of silent film where bombs and machismo will solve all our ills.

Our humanity is at stake because we refuse to honor our lives and the lives of others as something sacred.  We are entering a time that information itself will become self-shaping and we will act as little more than witness to gestalt wonders.

Our children need to understand how to live in a world of information - not for memorization but for utilization, construction, imagination, and compassion.  We do our children a disservice by reducing their potential to real estate pyramid schemes and fear.

Quality of teaching, celebrating the individual, and learning to live in an ever more crowding world is what will help these kids succeed.  We keep pretending we’re living in Little Houses on the Prairie.  We have to snap out of it for everyone’s sake.

And pithy political sloganeering about Hitler has nothing to do with any of it.  Sorry.

- Frank Krasicki
http://region19.blogspot.com

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By Broiler, September 6, 2006 at 8:11 am Link to this comment
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“The tunnel vision focused on these criteria, however, will continue to produce students who are intellectually inept, virtually illiterate, bored, oblivious to world issues, uninterested in global warming or nuclear proliferation or overpopulation—but if they can raise their test scores by a few percentage points, then all will be well.” - Paul Cummins

Being oblivious and uninterested stems from the
students having the common sense to know there
is little they can or, in the very best case scenario,
could ever do about any of these larger issues.
General education is “nice” but as we’ve
seen can lead to the unemployed intellectual.
You need to be a substantial earner in order
to effect change even in your personal circle
let alone on a global scale. Young people need to
focus earlier on specific opportunities for
employment rather than on general education.
Get a job and be a poet/philosopher/musician/artist/athlete
in your spare time.

The opportunities for people to self educate beyond
traditional schooling are endless. Cut to the core courses
and allow the parents, religious institutions, Girl Scouts,
Police Athletic Leagues, et al to supply the “icing”
for a more rounded education. This helps to limit the
“what constitutes art”, “what holidays to celebrate”,
“what language to study” debates.

Now you can hire two math teachers as opposed
to a math teacher and an art teacher. You can
cut the time needed per day for public education.
The art teacher is now hired by the local “Y” for
after school programs chosen by the student’s
family rather than provided by the public school.
The opportunities continue to be there for all
concerned. The survival of the teachers and
students is now more in line with the “real world”,
you have to compete to survive. Jobs are being
farmed out to other countries, competition is reality.

What I’ve proposed sounds rather harsh. I’m not
not sure I necessarily “like” this proposal but I
believe it is an alternative that solves many problems.
I believe we’ve been brainwashed into thinking
that education needs to be “liked” rather than
desired for survival. We live very sheltered lives
while the rest of the world is, if you will pardon the term,
“battle hardened”.

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By US Government Education $ flying C-130 to Iraq, September 6, 2006 at 7:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Financial support for our schools is needed by US government!  Support your laws to produce the end product! 


And in the Land of OZ;
NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND, a myth, no funding $$$$$$$ backing; money by the C - 130 airplane load heads to Iraq and Afghanistan daily!

More of the same…....
Larceny in toe: rob Peter to pay Paul, to pay Mary to PAY for IRAQ and MORE IRAQ!

http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20060822/cm_csm/ywaldron

Make public school affordable for public By Beth Waldron
Tue Aug 22, 4:00 AM ET
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Foraging for school supplies is not for the easily flustered. Like many parents this time of year, I trek from retailer to retailer, securing the items on my son’s school supply list. The lesson learned early in this annual scavenger hunt: Public education is scarcely free. 
American families are projected to spend an average of $527 this year on back-to-school shopping, according to the latest National Retail Federation survey. While most spending will be for clothes and electronics, some $86 will go toward school supplies, up from $73 just two years ago.
Back when today’s parents were in elementary school, it was presumed students would provide only a few inexpensive products for their own personal use, such as spiral notebooks and pencils. Nowadays, parents and teachers alike are expected - often required - to stock classrooms with a wide-range of office and household goods.
Found on current supply lists from across the country:
In addition to a $20 book fee per child, third-graders at one Chicago elementary school are required to bring 25 items on the first day of school, including grading pens, tissues, hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, and paper towels. Another 10 items, including ink cartridges and transparencies, are listed as optional.
Among the 16 items first-graders in one Memphis, Tenn., school are expected to acquire: a ream of copy paper, a disposable camera, tissues, plastic zip bags, envelopes, dry-erase markers, and red-ink pens.
First-graders in Milton, Fla., are asked, though not required, to each bring five boxes of crayons, four bottles of white glue, six packages of No. 2 pencils, and 16 other assorted office supplies.
The general supply list for fifth-graders in Houston lists 22 required items including a blue, hard-lead grading pencil. A note indicates specific teachers may ask for additional supplies.
When students tote a backpack full of office supplies to school, something is bound to be out of kilter. The question that must be addressed is not if such supplies are needed in classrooms - they are - but rather who should provide them in the public school setting: taxpayers, teachers, parents, or private donors?
Underlying the American elementary and secondary school system is the belief that education is a public good - meaning all citizens benefit from a well-educated populace. It is the very philosophical rationale for why public schools are tax-supported.
Yet, educating citizens requires more than simply providing buildings with teachers. It means furnishing lots of little things, too, such as the paper on which tests are copied and the pens that then are used to grade them. Such supplies would be readily invested in at any other fully functional workplace in America.
Unfortunately, a well-stocked workplace is far from reality for teachers. According to a recent survey by the National School Supply and Equipment Association, teachers, on average, expect to spend about $1,802 out of their own pockets for work-related materials with $826 of it going toward classroom supplies.
Faced with reaching deeper into their own wallets, teachers have little choice then but to ask for help. How much of that aid comes from school fundraisers, business donations, or parents via user fees and supply lists depends largely upon the attitudes, generosity, and affluence of the community. It is an economic reality that wealthier districts have deeper pockets.
One possible solution: Increase tax-funded allocations for classrooms. Such an increase would not necessitate a tax increase if existing funds were reallocated.
As a national average, only some 61 percent of education funds are earmarked for in-classroom expenses, such as teacher salaries and classroom supplies, according to data supplied by the National Center for Education Statistics.
The remainder goes toward administration and operating expenses, such as transportation and maintenance.
If the proportion of spending going toward in-classroom expenses were to be raised to the 65 percent level - an increase of just 3.7 cents per dollar - supplies could be nearly doubled, according to the national advocacy group First Class Education.
But then, if school supply budgets were raised, parents like me would miss out on our annual refresher math lesson: It is more efficient for many people to drive around town to gather a few items than a single, large entity with economies-of-scale buying power. At least, that’s what it teaches me.

• Beth Waldron is a public policy analyst and writer in Chapel Hill, N.C

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By Stephen Smoliar, September 6, 2006 at 7:06 am Link to this comment
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Back when Hitler was barely a blip on anyone’s radar, Karl Mannheim was cogently warning of the social dangers inherent in both ideological and utopian thinking.  While there is no doubting the imaginative achievements of Ray Kurzweil’s career, by Mannheim’s standards he constitutes a double whammy.  Cummins’ alert reminds us that, while it is all very well and good to talk about how radically different things can be in the future, if the educational system is hemorrhaging in the present (with that generation of dumbed-down products), there may not be a future over which to speculate.

Nevertheless, even taken on its own merits (such as they may be), there are some lacunae in Kurzweil’s visions of both the future and the path to take us there.  Most important is that claptrap about relationships we expect of teachers.  The fact is that innovations in technology have done little more than annihilate the very concept of “relationship,” witness the current situation of trying to get service from a product vendor in this new age of what has been vacuously called “Customer Relationship Management” technology.  Consider also the extent to which achievement in the area of artificial intelligence often have more to do with making comprimising assumptions about the nature of intelligence, rather than building on a deep understanding of human cognition.  The sorry truth is that Kurzweil is there in the dark with the rest of us as far as any questions concerned with the nature of learning are concerned, let alone hypothesizing about Learning Oriented Architectures, which appear to have as little to do with learning as Customer Relationship Management has to do with customer relationships.

To draw upon Cummins’ line of argument, the attention that Kurzweil receives is the perfect example of the consequences of neglecting “the real values and critical issues of our time!”

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By tdbach, September 6, 2006 at 6:50 am Link to this comment
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Frank Krasicki may well be right about the future of education, but if he is, I’m glad I’m not going to be around to see the society it produces.

Our fetish with technology is taking us ever further from our roots, our nature, as a social animal. The consequences are already getting ugly (pre-emptive technology-driven wars, unstable careers as mercinary technologists, etc.), and it’s going to get downright hellish, if you ask me.

Paul’s solutions may be so “yesterday” but they’re at least faithful to our humanity.

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By Jeri Hurd, September 6, 2006 at 5:05 am Link to this comment
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While I disagree with Frank Kasicki’s comment that computers are going to replace teachers in five years, I DO agree that at home computers are well on the way to replacing the classroom: see the burgeoning field of online high-school education.  However, the virtual classroom still needs real-life teachers.

RE: the article’s call for reduced class sizes.  Yes, smaller class sizes allow for a more personal note, but (as a 20 year veteran of the English classroom) I would argue what I need more than smaller class size is TIME:  time to plan engaging lessons, time to coordinate with my fellow teachers, time to keep myself current pedagogically.

  I used to teach in a rural school where my largest class size was 12, and many were well under 10.  While I had a more personal relationship with my students, I’m not sure I taught any better because I had seven preps on top of all the other work I had to do.  Small class sizes didn’t add to increased learning.  I then taught in an international school in Turkey where classsizes were large, but I taught a halftime schedule for full pay.  Wow!  I couldn’t believe the difference—I had time to read, time to plan, time to research and find interesting angles or ideas.

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By Eric Yang, September 5, 2006 at 10:16 pm Link to this comment
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The debate about class sizes I think in and of itself rather misleading. Many Asian countries notably Japan have had great success with large class sizes.

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By Frank Krasicki, September 5, 2006 at 9:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Paul,

Let me comment on a number of points you raise.

Furthermore, if the classroom teachers are so bound to teaching-to-tests, then the real values and critical issues of our time will go unattended.

I am not so sure this is your strongest argument.  High-stakes, high-stress testing has a number of nasty by-products of which current events is the least worrisome.

First, our teacher corps is being gutted of creative, personal teachers.  Secondly, the psychological stress and demand for personal conformity at early, formative childhood stages is creating generations of adults unable to think outside the test.  There’s much more.

“So what would you do to improve our schools?” I am often asked.  For starters, I would:

1. Cut class size by half, which would necessitate
2. hiring 100% more teachers, whom I would
3. attract by increasing teacher pay by at least 25%, and I would
4. clean up, repair, remodel and make classrooms attractive and campuses functional.

I have to be honest, there’s nothing on your list that is that compelling.  These remedies are a generation out of date.  Here’s why.

Ray Kurzweil’s latest book, The Singularity is Near is a wake-up call to our society that our schools are obsolete.  We may be teaching students who will become the first generation of immortal souls.

Class size will be reduced not because we hire more teachers but because we are within five years of equipping our schools with desktop computers smarter than any human in the classroom.  Every student will have a Learning Oriented Architecture computer interface to learning that will transcend the current relationships we expect of teachers.

Everything we know about learning and human relationships is about to change.  Physical school facilities are increasingly irrelevent. Learning will not be about centralization but about networking.  Factual material may be permanently stored outside the human brain but in accessible symphony with it.

The cost of Bush’s tired and brain-dead NCLB style bromides is that they are largely intellectual quicksand made up of educational pedagogies that are ancient history.

Schools need to look to the future now.  Kurzweil argues that history is not linear and our body of knowledge as measured in progress is ready to grow exponentially beyond mere human interventions.

- Frank Krasicki
http://region19.blogspot.com

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