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Tuesday, August 22, 2006


I cannot blame any American for wishing and hoping our children's educations ranks first among all. As a country, we are adherents to the historical principle of being the best, strongest, and brightest. The collective national chest swells with pride at the achievements we've made in propelling our nation and in many cases the world to new, bigger and better things. We thrive on competition, take it personally when we don't do well, and often countenance no deviation from the idea we continue to be #1. It is with this thought in mind that I attempt with gentle persuasion and with facts at the ready, to send an alert to awaken us from a slumber that can and will encumber this nation with peril if we do not address it now.
JC's comment on the state of American education, made in offhand fashion in his otherwise well considered thoughts on a wider and associated topic in this blog:

"Personally, I don't think I agree with Livid that our educational system is in such dire condition. In many respects, our education system is competent, and can, properly funded, produce well educated individuals. But that won't happen unless we are able to push back against the agendas of unscrupulous religious groups and their allies in the conservative movement."

Note: I completely agree with JC's treatise as regards some religious and conservative groups.

A lot of Americans, including me, want to believe our education system and the quality of the educations our young people receive continues to set the standard for the rest of the world. This doesn't mean we are bad, it just means we possess the positive attribute of hope. After all, we know intuitively in order to compete in a global economy, we must maintain excellence in all areas of study. Our own history demonstrates clearly when we’ve had a well educated populace, we have excelled in the creation of ideas in science, technology, agriculture, manufacturing, commerce, arts, literature, and just about any endeavor there is.

We, as Americans, possess pride in our accomplishments, as well we should. We have led the world for at least a half century in producing minds capable of changing the world. Inherent in most Americans is hope for our future, something instilled in our national personna at the birth of our country, a hope that has so often manifested itself in the progress we have contributed to mankind. While pride, hope and belief are often admirable traits, it is sometimes true these attributes can get in the way of the knowledge and acceptance of facts readily in evidence.

Following are excerpts from a press statement by William H. Schmidt, U.S. TIMSS (Third International Mathematics and Science Study) National Research Coordinator from Michigan State University.

TIMSS showed very low results for US students compared to those in the other countries giving the tests, both for general knowledge by average graduating seniors and for advanced performance by seniors studying physics and calculus.
A recent report, "Facing the Consequences", from the US TIMSS Research Center suggested that these results were certainly to be expected. It pointed out that there was a consistent decline in our relative standing from fourth grade to eighth grade in both mathematics and science. Of the almost 40 topics examined in both mathematics and science, none showed improved standing relative to other TIMSS countries from fourth to eighth grade. Most topics showed a decline over the middle school years.

The US pattern of consistent small gains contrasts sharply with patterns in other TIMSS countries where in any single grade there are large gains for some topics and small gains in others. US high school seniors' performance on the TIMSS tests show that this approach of accumulating consistent small gains in the end does not result in overall gains as large as those attained by focusing on some topics for greater gains but changing the focus across the years of schooling. Schmidt suggested, "Surely these results must call into question the entire US approach to mathematics and science curricula across the grades."

What about the US's better students? When asked, Schmidt replied, "For some time now, Americans have comforted themselves when confronted with bad news about their educational system by believing that our better students can compare with similar students in any country in the world. We have preferred not to believe that we were doing a consistently bad job. Instead, many have believed that the problem was all those 'other' students who do poorly in school and who we, unlike other countries, include in international tests. That simply isn't true. TIMSS has burst another myth - our best students in mathematics and science are simply not 'world class'. Even the very small percentage of students taking Advanced Placement courses are not among the world’s best."

Following is a quote from Bill Gates, founder and CEO of MicroSoft from a column in the Columbus Dispatch, "High Schools Need Top-to-Bottom Revision", who was speaking at a late February
meeting of the nation's governors on education issues;

Gates said:

"Training the work force of tomorrow with the high-school students of today is like trying to teach kids about today's computers on a 50-year old mainframe. Our high schools were designed 50 years ago to meet the needs of another age. Until we design them to meet the needs of the 21st century, we will keep limiting -- even ruining -- the lives of millions of Americans every year."

Findings from a recently released study from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA):

Recently released findings of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) ranked U.S. high school students 24th out of 29 countries.

At the fourth grade, U.S. students were above the international average in both science and mathematics. In the eighth grade, U.S. students scored above the international average in science and below the international average in mathematics. At the end of secondary schooling (twelfth grade in the U.S.), U.S. performance was among the lowest in both science and mathematics, including among our most advanced students.

US students placed the US in the lower half among the countries tested. Students in Asia ranked at the top. Students from several European countries also had better average scores than US students.

Other studies:

The United States is falling when it comes to international education rankings, as recent studies show that other nations in the developed world have more effective education systems. In a 2003 study conducted by UNICEF that took the averages from five different international education studies, the researchers ranked the United States No. 18 out of 24 nations in terms of the relative effectiveness of its educational system.
Another prominent 2003 study, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, shows a steady decline in the performance of American students from grades 4 to 12 in comparison to their peers in other countries. In both studies, Finland, Australia, Belgium, Austria, Hungary, Netherlands and the United Kingdom beat the United States, while the Asian nations of South Korea, Japan and Singapore ranked first through third, respectively. The TIMSS study is a comprehensive study done on a four-year cycle that measures the progress of students in math and science in 46 participating countries. It evaluates fourth, eighth and 12th-graders through questionnaires, tests and extensive videotaping of classroom environments. The TIMSS results reveal a lot about the weaknesses of the U.S. education system, said David Marsh, a professor at the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education. “In fourth grade, American kids do above average internationally. By eighth grade, they slip a bit, and by 12th-grade, they’ve slipped a lot,” Marsh said. “We’re the only country that slides down that much from fourth to 12th grade.”

If you take the time to evaluate the links provided, you will see the failure of the American education system to keep pace with the rest of the world, and in particular in math, computer science, physical science and engineering of all types. (JC, it’s almost demanded I point out here Virginia is an engineering student) The sites provided argue causation, including an indictment of procedures, methods, what we teach, how we teach, as well as commitment and attitude towards education. There seems to be no evidence that funding is the culprit, but instead concentrates on the elements of my previous sentence.

Regardless of the reasons we are lagging behind, there is ample evidence of it being a fact that is not in dispute by any serious authority. The question now is what to do. I refer you to my previous entry on the subject, and exhort you to get involved in a very personal way. We are failing to provide our most valuable citizens, the greatest resource we possess, the youth of America, with the means to survive and prosper in the coming age. Our duty as parents and citizens calls for action, and to ignore that responsibility because of our hopes, our beliefs and our pride, will surely lead to our fall. Look at our economy, jobs, debt, trade deficit, loss of corporations to offshore locales, to see the evidence we’re already headed for disaster. It’s better to attack this problem now before it becomes too late, and that moment in time is rapidly approaching. We can begin by putting our minds where our mouths are and educating ourselves. Take the time to study and evaluate the conditions that have led to this discussion, and make the personal effort to make corrections where we are failing. WE CAN SUCCEED, with your help and your focus!


Michelle said...

Wow, the internet sucks tonight or my dsl!!! For the fifth time I will try to post this comment!!

I wanted to know other peoples views of the new campaign blooming across America. (I smell Rove shite here)
It seems there is a new campaign out there orchestrated by the right wingers and Walmart. Democrats are now being associated with Hezbollah. I think if Walmart continues to form these groups that attack American citizens, it's profit margin is going to steadily drop. Walmart is trying to silence Americans especially democrats that do not agree with their policies for their employees. Herman Cain, one of the committee persons of Wal-marts attacked democrats and associated them with terrorists. Walmart Committeman Attacks Dems

Tell Wal-Mart Apologize Now

Recently, Mr.Cain is not the only person attacking Americans for their beliefs. Vice President Cheney after the Connecticut primaries attacked the citizens of Connecticut and made the statement, "there are 146,587 terrorists supporters living in the state of Connecticut." This is the number of Lamont voters. This statement was made after Lamont won the primary against Lieberman last week. He went on to say these voters are encouraging "the Al Qaida" and limiting the ability to carry on the fight in Iraq. Here is the site for the full information and a petition asking Cheney to apologize to American and Connecticut:Tell Cheney To Apologize To Americans

Across the country Walmart is being confronted about it's views of human rights and employee benefits. One such person is Senator Biden of Mass.
The New York Times Article:Democrats Run As Walmart Foes

This personally outrages me. Ever since Bush has taken office, these neocons have associated Democrats or any people that have different views of republicans, as terrorists, as cut and runners and traitors. If people haven't woke up to the real story behind Walmart, it is about time they do. I started my awakening by reading about "dead peasant" insurance. Google it, you will be amazed how many corporations have death insurance on their own employees, without their employees knowledge or permission.

Just_April1974 said...

OK, now that I made it to the end of yet another mini-novel, I can make a comment.

Sorry to disappoint you Livid, but as much as one may hope, genious is not taught as much as it is inherited, and what one does with that "birth gift" is of course up to each individual. As far as other countries having higher numbers in other catagories, take a good long look at what they put those children through in the name of "higher learning." Some of those countries force their children to be in school between 10 and 12 hours a day! While they may indeed turn out to be more educated as one may define that word, what does it do to their childhood, their social skills from lack of playtime and other socializing actvities, and even to their over-all mental health? While education is a vital part of a child's entire life, there are also many other qualities that one can only gain by healthy communication and socialization, things that cannot be taught from a book or a movie, but must actually be experienced. If we chose to become a nation devoted to building children to become better soldiers, or scientific drones with no life outside a world of working for our government or other huge corperations, then we may think about using some of the same stratigies as some of the other nations do, until then, all we need to do is restore the funding and up-to-date technology that is required to give every child an equal opportunity to thrive.

Just my view.

Facetious Muse said...

I even have to make acomment here. Although other countries do seem to have better scores in maths and sciences, there is a catch.
On average across OECD countries, half of today's young adults now enter universities or other institutions offering similar qualifications at some stage during their life. An average 32% complete a first university-level degree, but this ranges from less than 20% in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland to 45% in Australia and Finland.

However, in eight OECD countries, 20% or more of 20-to-24-year olds have at most only lower secondary school qualifications and are not in education. Mexico is in the least favourable position, with 70% of people in this age group having lower secondary education or less, followed by Turkey (56%), Portugal (47%), Spain (32%), Iceland (29%), Italy (25%), the Netherlands (21%) and Luxembourg (20%). Low educational attainment concerns more young males than females in 19 out of the 27 countries for which statistics are available, and particularly in Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain
(yes I'm making a novel out of this comment)

Also another problem that faces America public school is the requirements of federal government. See states that accept fed money for their public schools must follow outline made by the federal government. Not only that but a certain percentage of students must pass each ggrade for the school to continue receiving full federal funding. This leads to true schoolastic subjects being ignored and students being passed just for showing up in class. States that refuse federal monies for their school have an overall higher tst results. This info is all from a 2004 and 2005 study. Also depending on which Asia country you are referring to the average age span is much lower (39).

I agree with April in the fact that many of these other countries Livid speaks of, the children are not allowed a childhood. Schools are 10 to 12 hrs long and even year around.

While education is important, no amount of education will give common sense nor the abilty to use the education. Children need to be allowed to be...well children. To use only math and science is a disappointment to me, the world still needs the arts to expand ones mind.

So with all this texting, what I guess I want to say is public education in the States does seem to be lacking, this is due to lack of funding and in many cases lack of parent involvement. I would never want a child to go without play just to learn quicker or better as this posting seems to suggest. Children are the upmost importance and one must not jump onto the 'our children need to be the best at all educational things' and forget our children need to have love, friendships, play, art, creativity and time to enjoy being a child.

FRisson1 said...

I am definetly not a republican or a neocon, I am Liberal Socialist card carrying ACLU member.

Hezbocrats Attack Wal-Mart
By Herman Cain
Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Hezbocrats, a roaming band of militant guerrillas seeking their party’s 2008 nomination for president, have most recently lobbed their rhetorical bombs at Wal-Mart, that cruel capitalist occupying corporation. The most recent base of Hezbocrat activity was Iowa, the state whose January 2008 party caucuses are the nation’s first measure of presidential preference. The Hezbocrats, armed with nothing more than Katyusha-grade class warfare rhetoric, descended upon Iowa earlier this month determined to take down Wal-Mart, a company they consider the nation’s largest capitalistic oppressor of the proletariat.

I find the remarks a play on words not an attempt to link Democrats with Hezbollah....I find it quite comical that people would assume that is the meaning.... Democrats better get a thicker skin.

I live in a farming community of 10,000 people where:
* Minimum wage 6.75/hr
* Minimum gross yearly income 13,500
* Average income is 27,282
* Average rent is 725.00/Mo.
* High school or higher: 39.8%
* Bachelor's degree: 2.0%
* Graduate/professional degree: 0%
* Unemployed: 12.0%
* Mean travel time to work: 25.6 minutes
Children 0–5 living in poverty (46%)
Children 0–5 living in single parent household

Our local Walmart is one of the better employers in the area. Walmart starts their employees out at 7.35/hr and the average employee makes 9.60/hr. Health care is offered at a reasonable price and over 60% of the employees started working for Walmart in 1988 when the store opened.

It seems that the people screaming about Walmart are the middle class who can afford to shop elsewhere. Walmart carries the same product lines that the other retailers in the area carry at a considerably lower price. If Walmart buys from China so does everyone else.

The other retailers such as Target, Pennys, K-Mart, Best Buy, Lowes, Sears etc. buy from their Jobers in mass quanities also but still their prices are considerably higher. Interesting enough locally owned retail stores still exist in our area for those people who want personal attention and can afford the added price for that attention. I have been shopping at Walmart since 1988 and have not seen prices rise as we have been told they would once Walmart was established.

Walmart goes into areas where the working poor are their main customers, many of the middle class wouldn't be caught dead in a Walmart..... that is their choice , but the working poor have very few choices, they go where the can get the best price for a product. The working poor can't mind the incovenience of shopping at Walmart . They working poor don't have credit cards so if they want to buy sheets, towels, baby furniture, or school clothes they have to put them on lay-away and pay for them over several paychecks. Many kids in my area wouldn't have Christmas presents if it weren't for lay-away.

Our local Sears, Pennys and Mervyns don't offer 40 hour a week jobs. They hire people part time so that they don't have to offer them benefits. Walmart employee's have a 40 hour work week.

I would love to see people start picking on the other stores like Sears, Pennys, Kmart, CostCo and Lowes and leave Walmart to the poor people who need it.

AnonymousPoster said...

I read the article you posted, Michelle, and while it was obviously right handed, I think the term "Hezbocrat" was not referring to democrats as a whole but to certain few, Namely Joe Biden. Hezbollah is just the topic of the day.. nothing more. According to the post, Biden believes Walmart isnt "...paying what they consider a “living wage” or providing its employees free healthcare coverage." What company do you know of that provides it's employees FREE health care? Biden is just trying to stir the pot.

This link you provided is an opinion piece... a blog entry. I dont understand why you guys take blogs so seriously as factual information. (kind of like the Comedy Channel gang! LOL ) I wouldnt put too much into this Michelle.

Facetious Muse said...

And here I thought we were discussing public education in the United States lol. Michelle ty for the info on Wal_marts etc :)

Livid said...

Some of us turn a blind eye to the quality and quantity of the education our children get in contrast to countries with the same general resources or in many cases, less than we have. You can argue the reasons, ie. parental attitude, methodology, and all the issues we have submitted in the comment section for this entry, and which are present and accounted for in my original posts on this topic.

We don't expect every child to be a genius, although more would be better. Inheritance "can" be a factor, but the largest majority of students who excel (or fail) do so for environmental reasons. A good environment is the most important aspect of providing children with the best possible tools, resources and committment to reach their individual potential.

As pointed out in my original thesis, many things are key to this positive environment. To ignore the findings of such esteemed educational studies as TIMSS, PISA, UNICEF and others is to ignore the future of our children and subsequent generations.

These studies are not biased blogs, nor conjecture or opinion. They are hard facts using consistent and accurate tools to measure what is or isn't learned in various educational systems. When someone like Bill Gates (and others) expresses their own concerns, it should be a signal that we're going wrong somewhere along the line.

You'll note our students do well for the first part of their education, and then begin to fall back in the middle, and by the time they reach high school, there is a precipitous drop that puts them toward the bottom of so-called first world countries. To me, that means our kids have the inate ability, but the system has failed them.

Again, many factors make up the system, such as family, subject matter, teaching methods, committment, and all the things I (and you) have mentioned already. The key is it's happening, and the sites and studies I've provided (and others easily found) point to all of them.

Many of us point to funding, class size, teacher pay, etc. as culprits, but the facts and the studies I've sited belie this. If you want to confirm this as I have, take a look within just the U.S. Some state's students, namely and in general midwestern and northeastern states, place in the top echelon of learning in this country, while others, notably and generally in the bible belt, fare far below average and at the bottom.

When criteria such as funding per student, teacher pay, class room size, etc. are compared, you will see no correlation. That may surprise many of us who have been led to believe the problems lie there. It simply isn't true. It's a common error and one brought about by the statements of our politicians, and covered by the press.

It seems systemic the real truth isn't as visible as it should be. While Fox News and the like are more guilty than most, media in general has ignored this story even though the warning has been sent out by those among us who know the most, progressives in professional education.

If you'd like anecdotal evidence of "one" reason, compare the time our children spend watching TV or playing gameboy to the time they use in study and school. It's stunning and well documented. That's a simply fix, and just a matter of resetting priorities. Do you really think our children's best interest is served by watching cartoons instead of reading? It's akin to AP/V's (whether or not you think they are the same person or not) penchant for getting all her "facts" from Fox News. Like our children, she should turn off the TV and read a newspaper or a book. Learning simply is not going to happen. Instead of being disingenuous about the fact viewers of the Daily Show are smarter than her and her Fox News' buddies, maybe she should expand her horizons and make a genuine effort at elevating herself. Those of us to the left of her (which is pretty much all of us) are historically the ones responsible for any progress this country and mankind ever makes. It is no different in this case.

You will note the issue of education is most often placed at the top of the priority pile by "progressive" liberals, while neocons' lists are encumbered with gay marriage, abortion, regime change, world domination, creating terrorists, the removal of rights and freedoms and other typical hatemongering issues.

I remind all progressive thinkers that regardless of personal issues we may have it's our responsibility to move this country and its citizens forward if we're ever going to evolve into a more peaceful, more productive, freer, and safer world. On that one point alone, I would hope we can agree. After all, if progressives don't do it, who will?

Michelle said...

Muse, we were talking about education, but since I do not have the ability to post here on the Ratttler, I wanted some feedback from people on the what I see as another tactic of the right to demean the left. Sorry if this took it off track. I was quite pissed off last night. I do have strong opinions of Walmart and it's reputation. The debate about Walmart can be endless. It reaches far past whether it has been good in one community or bad in another. If anyone researchs Walmart extensively you will see they have not been the best deal for some communities and have not always played fair, but what corporation in world has? Yes, Walmarts prices are great. They outprice their competitors, etc. But, without considering the human rights factors and Walmarts reputation of unfair wages and health benefits, I can't say that I agree with Walmart. The term "hezbocrats" is an obvious attack on the left. I will reframe from commenting on my views of Walmart in this section about Walmart.
I do know that education reform is a very important topic and this discussion has been very interesting. Reading everyones comments I have to say that we all agree on one thing. There has to be more funding and an advance in technology in the classrooms. I also agree that children need playtime. This is alright at the elementary level and perhaps middle school. But, when a child gets to high school, this is where America is failing. This is where we need to concentrate and find out why these kids are slipping through the cracks. Perhaps there is a study out there? Being an artist, wannabee musician, and have children that play instruments, I think the arts are very important in our schools. These areas are the first to lose funding. So, yes, a child could have playtime and more time at academics, but they also need tools to reach into their imaginations. This is where I see other countries also accelerating. Believe it or not, kids are very resilient. They retain this information with a balance of discipline and tools. If we give them more playtime and socializing, rather than more homework, this will not work either. I do agree that parents need to be more responsible, but I also think that teachers need to be monitored more to make sure they are doing their jobs. They should be tested, just like children are tested. So, it is not just the responsibility of the government. I don't think anyone ever placed the full blame on the administration. It is all a system of checks and balances, between teacher, parent, and government. Right? But, my question is( because I really do believe that this country has been overcome with capitalists that want a perfect society that suits their agenda) has all these factors for failure really a plan to control Americans? It is easier to lead the ignorant (as we have seen a few examples here in the posts) than those that think or expand their possibilities. After all we do have many privately owned prisons that welcome the ignorant and the poor. But, that is a whole other topic and I need coffee.

Michelle said...

I think Livid put it more eloquently than I ever could and tried, lol.

Livid said...

michelle... i happen to disagree that you haven't outlined some issues of education very well. In fact, you HAVE, and your thoughts are well considered, forever positive, and always thought provoking.
To your point about the arts. I recall reading and even seeing a number of news reports that strongly suggest a correlation between students in the arts and excellence in their other studies. Their grades are better, their test scores are higher and their ultimate success has been measured as well about the average. While I don't pretend to know everything about the rationale, I believe it. It makes sense.
To your comment about holding our teachers to a standard. One of my concerns is this. If our students progress is being arrested in comparison to the world, what about our teachers? They come from the same pool, the U.S. education system. If our students have been losing ground over an extended period of time (as the studies demonstrate), since our teachers matriculated in the same environment, what was their education like? To me it follows that since they came from a system that is lagging behind, their abilities to teach must be brought into question. (Please note this is not an indictment of all our teachers, and we all know there are lots of dedicated, smart teachers.. that's not the point here. No one questions their "natural" abilities or their committment, only their historical resources.) In any case Michelle, I believe you've addressed one of the problems we currently have.
To your reference to our prisons. The U.S. has the largest prison population in the world, even though for example we are much smaller than China, India, et. al. And again, you are right about that population. They are typically the least educated among us, and most often the poorest, lending credence to the idea that "class" is a contributing factor when considering if the least among us have the same access and support to education and the benefits it can bring. Since more and more people are falling out of our ever shrinking middle class into the poor, and the poor are falling into abject poverty while gap between rich and poor grows wider, and the redistribution of wealth favors the rich, it's not difficult to understand why the prison population is what it is.
You're right in identifying the entire system needs reform, and you make the point I attempted (without as much success) to make that we need to look at the overall culture and system for our answers as opposed to single components that are only partial and of little value.
Finally, I too am a believer there are "control" issues at work here. During the "darker" ages of civiliation, it was against the law for commoners to read the writings of various religions. In fact, in some cases it was illegal for the general public to read at all. Only the high priests were taught to read, as a way of keeping the masses under their control. We continue to see the tendency of many religions, including the Christian right evangelical movement, to maintain control by systemic ignorance. Fascist governments always embrace whatever the major religion of an area might be, and use it as a tool to control. One needs only to look at Hitler's Germany and Bush's America to see the result. As you so aptly point out, "It is easier to lead the ignorant (as we have seen a few examples here in the posts) than those that think or expand their possibilities."

AnonymousPoster said...

I have to admit that I agree with most of the Muse's post about education. Our schools are teaching the tests. They are teaching to the federal guidelines and dont expand as much on other subjects as they do reading. It's a number crunching and funding game that takes up the time of Principals and teachers that should be spent on children. Schools also, get paid based on attendence AND the number of free lunche families they have in the system. Is it any wonder they cant pay teachers the salary they deserve?

Americans as a whole seem to have a grasp of a more well rounded education than some other countries. True, math and science are important in our global awareness but one, too, should be able to converse about the mechanics of a Monet painting or have an educated appreciation for a symphony.

Muse, you hit the nail on the head when you said a problem is parental involvement. As a PTA board member at one time, I was calling parents to volunteer their time for various things at school. I had a mother, who did not work, tell me that when she put her child on the bus in the morning, her job for school was done. Finding this attitude to be common, I begged parents at PTA meetings to spend 30 minutes of their lunch hour having lunch with their children or visiting their classroom, periodically. The principal decided to watch for the year and parental visitors increased and amazingly, test scores increased. Sometimes the difference in success and failure depends on parental attitudes toward school. Teaching starts in the home.

Facetious Muse said...

Well said Michell :=) And hun I did not mean to insult you in any way, I was just teasing you. I am sorry if I did offend you in anyway. I truly did find your knowledge of Wal mart great, it was something I had not heard about till you posted it. I again want to thank you for sharing that info. If I did offend you in anyway I apologize. Please feel free to share any info you like to. I hope; I truly do, that I did not offend you in anyway. :>)

Michelle and Livid I could not agree more on the arts being needed, sadly public schools are very lacking in the arts.

This has been a very interesting topic, and it was great to see even with disagreements on certain issues we all agree education is important.

~~~~~Forever A Facetious Pain~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~Sweet Smiles~~~~~~~~~

Michelle said...

Muse, I am not easily offended. I was aware it was not the appropriate place to comment on Walmart. I did not think late last night. I never want to deter a topic of such importance. I know how many work very hard to sidetrack the issues and try to change the direction of a conversation. I see this in Paltalk all the time. (one of the reasons I do not frequent rooms any longer) I find the pulling and twisting of topics to be very frustrating there. You did not offend, insult or injure me in any way. I took your comment as tongue in cheek, as it should be. Carry on mademoiselle, I love reading your posts.:)

Facetious Muse said...

Oh leave it to me to forget to address some important points brought up. I agree teachers do come from the same school system, but I don't think that is why some teachers are there just for a paycheck. Teachers are given rules on how and what they can teach, although this doesn't sound like a bad thing the 'rules' they are given are at times outragous.

Teachers also do not get paid for what they are worth, teachers are very underpaid and that leads to less becoming teachers. Imagine how frusrating it must be to have your hands tied in the methods you are allowed to teach in. Granted there are some teachers out there that should not be in that line of work, but the bad teachers get the same pay as the good teachers, there is no 'reward' for being a great teacher.

Parents also need to be involved, and as AP pointed out children that have parents involved do seem to do much better in school including their test scores.

As I mentioned the arts are extremely important for more than one reason, yet it seems everyone is more geared to removing the arts to give extra time to the maths and sciences. One other issue I wonder of it's impact on students' test scores in the math, etc, is the fact that in the States we use standard measurement, when everyone knows the metric system is used in true math and science. I can't help but wonder how much of a hinderance that truly is.

OK I think I covered all the points I wanted to, but I'm not going to swear to that LOL

pepp said...

In regard to school hours the idea that in the countries named by Livid the kids do long hours is a bit of a myth.. in fact, one nation, Finland has the LOWEST school hours in all the OECD, a direct contravention of the idea being floated here... I will confine myself to the nations named in the survey...
Australian schools, 9am to 3.30 Mon to Fri, 3 2 week holidays and one 6 week holiday per year, plus many public holidays, and student free days...
U.K. 9a. to 3.30 Mon to Fri. same vacation breaks as above with a few more added in .
Belgium.8.40am to 4pm Mon to Fri, no school Wed. afternoon, Long Summer Vac. 3 2week breaks thru the year.
Netherlands, same as above.
Now.. Japan DOES have longer weeks of school. the day normally starts at 8.30am and schooling finishes at 3.30pm but students from Middle school on are expected to tidy up the classroom, grounds etc, until 4.30pm. Its called Culture. Japanese students do about 240 days of school a year, Mon to Fri plus 1st and 3rd Sat, this is about 60 days more than USA pupils but about 48 of those days are prep for Culture days, Shoji, Crystanthemum, Kite day etc..

The schools in Singapore begin at 8.30 , finish at 3.30 and have LESS weeks of vacation than UK or AU kids..but more than the South Korea kids. .. still they have a fair few.
If you have a look at the curriculum for UK schools, Finnish schools, Au Schools and Japanese schools you will find an awful lot of 'well rounded' stuff.. oddly, no baton twirling, or cheerleading as an 'educational subject'.. I myself was surprised at the amount of school hours in Finland , that it was lower than Australian ones, the kids in my town seem to be at the Oval or the Pool EVERY DAMN DAY. How they manage to top it in maths and physics I do not know, god bless 'em.

Livid said...

This thread becomes curiouser and curiouser.. Nurtured as it is by all of you who have taken it to heart, discussed and debated its elements, and demonstrated sincere concern and desire to make things better, I begin to believe you; (in order of appearance) michelle, april, muse, frisson, AP and Pepp would be appropriate selections to head a panel of grass roots experts seeking solutions to this problem. I (we) have learned in this process, and all the BS stuff and sometimes acrimonious comment we experience in this blog has been set aside for something we apparently all see as an issue of great importance. I'm heartened by this and believe I truly see humanity and evolved (and evolving) thinking in all of us.

I wish my gender were represented more, and wonder why it's the case, but I suppose there might be any number of reasons for that. Perhaps it's the maternal issue, where mothers seem to be the primary catalyst in providing their children with the necessary tools to help them deal with life. If my gender's lack of visible consideration of this topic is my only disappointment however, it's not too much to abide considering the thoughtful and progressive comments we've seen here.
A few things we've learned from sites provided by you and me, and through study and personal observations of this august panel:

Quality education (comparative analysis) does not seem to be impacted by funding. (when one group is compared to another, whether within the U.S. or outside)

Class size similarly does not seem to affect educational quality. (within reasonable parameters)

American kids have the inate ability to excel. (proven by test scores early in their educational careers when they rank very high when compared to students from other countries, but fall behind by the time they enter high school)

The amount of hours spent in school has little impact on quality of education. (reference pepp's entry)

Teacher pay and funding per student allocated has no discernable affect on quality of learning.

Anecdotal evidence locale within the U.S. has some at least partially and unknown relevance. (Students in the northeast and midwest test higher than those in the bible belt and south for instance)

Focus and depth of curriculum in specific areas of study seems to impact quality of education. (based on comparison of different quantitative and qualitative studies referenced in sites provided.
Each of you could (and perhaps will) add to this list, and it begs the question:

What does make for a better environment and culture for learning? A few things as food for thought.

*Parental committment and guidance.

*Family, community, state and national attitude and focus on education as the highest priority.

*Revised, updated and reformed methodologies for teaching and learning.

*Instilling the importance of learning into the psyche' of our children as the foundation for their future.
As this thread has grown and the thoughtful and well considered commentary has flowed, it's given me hope and raised questions at the same time.
A Utopian Vision

*Smart, educated, ethical, progressive family unit focused and committed to their children and those of their peers.

*The best minds coming from our colleges tapped as teachers and educational administrators. (Make teaching "the" career most desired by the cream of our college crop with pay and benefits that demonstrate we believe this job is the most important in the land, which of course it is)

*Government which puts education at the top of its list of priorities, not just in spending but in national attitude and committment.

*A national personna that says to the rest of the world that we believe education is the "most" important aspect of human development aimed at moving toward international peace and prosperity for all. (Setting the standard and leadership example as our national priority)
Final questions: How do we get there?

Final note: Since you (advancing experts) have demonstrated such zeal, interest, concern and willingness to learn and progress toward resolutions, it makes me wonder if underlying all of us, not just those who have commented or read this thread in this blog, but others as well, do not have this topic as a common theme, one which appears to me anyway, to be one that captures the attention and focus in a more significant way than what our government believes and our media covers. I also wonder if this topic isn't one worthy of exposure to those of us who invest part of our time in the political and social issues sector of PT! Perhaps even a chat room which sets aside time and resources to investigate this issue further and in more focused depth! Again, just my random thoughts for your review and consideration.