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View Diary: The problem with NBC's Education Nation -  where are the voices of parents and teachers? (279 comments)

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  •  In other words... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    teachers, teachers' unions and administrators have lost credibility.  I can't say that it is all one way.  Honestly, this has been underway for a long time and I can't say that those in education haven't in part opened the door for it take root.  It was fine and dandy when the kids were being blamed or their parents...they have been demonized for years and continue to be...but I think people are reacting to the fundamental belief that we can do better.  It's true, we can.

    •  So if people believe that "we can do better", (4+ / 0-)
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      sandblaster, JanL, blueoregon, m00finsan

      what's the magic formula for doing better? Do you believe that punishing teachers and corporatizing and privatizing schools is going to produce a better education for even one child? All the evidence from objective studies so far shows that just about the opposite is true.

      It's easy to say "schools can do better". And "in theory", sure they can. But I'd suggest that if schools are going to do better, maybe people should consider what people who are actually in schools doing the job need in order to do better. And it isn't what this so-called "reform" movement is offering.

      I believe that in every country the people themselves are more peaceably and liberally inclined than their governments. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

      by Blue Knight on Sat Sep 18, 2010 at 06:55:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If you want schools to do better (5+ / 0-)
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        cassidy3, JanL, CParis, OregonOak, m00finsan

        you have to treat each child as if they're a 'special' child. Because they are.

        They need an education plan. They need to work with a specialist to find their strengths and weaknesses. They need to be matched to a teacher who will resonate with them or has the skills to build on their strengths and help them improve their weak areas.

        That's not going to happen unless there's a LOT more support staff in the schools. And smaller classes. And specialized help for those who need it.

        •  So then we just give up? nt (0+ / 0-)
          •  How about providing the required (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JanL, CParis, BoxNDox, m00finsan, Azazello

            resources. I have classes with 38 students. Should I be expected to teach 6 classes of 38 students, provide meaningful and timely feedback regarding their strengths and weaknesses, and remain dynamic, energized, and personally committed to the success of each student?

            •  Who is advocating for that? nt (0+ / 0-)
              •  The folks who cheerlead for (6+ / 0-)

                "accountability". My school board approved a policy that allows them to fire me for low test scores. Yet, my classes are overcrowded and students enter my class reading two or three grade levels behind. This is how accountability shapes up in my district.

                •  I cheerlead for accountability... (0+ / 0-)

                  you missed my point.  Why aren't the unions advocating for this as forcefully as they advocate for tenure or against pay based on assessment?  They would have natural allies in parents and students.  However, it has been shown that lower class sizes may not be the answer.

                  •  Anytime I hear someone say (4+ / 0-)
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                    sandblaster, JanL, esquimaux, m00finsan

                    that lowering class size is not the answer I want to puke. Is it the ONLY answer? Of course not. But nobody should be surprised when little Johnny can't write well if he is mixed in with another 210 students on his English teacher's roster. maybe you missed my point so I will attempt to clarify.

                    There are many factors that contribute to a student's ability to succeed in school. Some of the really important factors are outside the teacher's realm of control. Thus, accountability based on test scores is unfair to teachers. As for unions and their focus for advocacy - I believe tenure was originally put in place to protect teachers from the political whims of a particular body of leaders. Yet, as I stated before, in my district, a teacher, tenured or not, can be fired for low test scores. As for creating a salary structure that is fair for teachers - I am all for it. Paying teachers for high test scores would not be fair.

                    •  Puke away... (0+ / 0-)

                      I read a study that said it didn't.  That was contraintuitive to me as well.  It was posted on one of the diaries here.  

                      We will agree to disagree on how much is within the teacher's realm of control.  

                      •  I don't know what there could be to disagree (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        sandblaster, Azazello


                        If a student does not get proper nutrition, sleep, or emotional support, it impacts their performance. I really can't control how much nurturing and support a kid receives at home. You may disagree. Go for it.

                      •  and so you universalize from one study (2+ / 0-)
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                        sandblaster, cassidy3

                        that agrees with a position you already hold?

                        Have you read possible responses to that study that maybe point out how it has a flawed methodology, or systematically excludes data that would counter its conclusions?

                        Reducing class size from 30 to 28 really does not make a difference  Reducing it from 40 to 28 usually does.

                        If attempting teach reading or writing, having more than 30 students in one class is very ineffective.

                        Oh, and if class size is so unimportant, why do so many private schools advertise directly on their class size?  Why is one key factor in the US News rating of colleges/universities the percentage of class with less than 20 students.

                        Merely decreasing class size without providing appropriately trained teachers for the additional classes thereby created is of course not effective.

                        But if one is able to provide quality teachers, most studies on reduced class size demonstrate increased learning and on task behavior.  That has been true for many years and through many studies.

                        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                        by teacherken on Sat Sep 18, 2010 at 09:50:54 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Tennessee STARS (0+ / 0-)

                          Over 7,000 students in 79 schools were randomly assigned into one of three interventions: small class (13 to 17 students per teacher), regular class (22 to 25 students per teacher), and regular-with-aide class (22 to 25 students with a full-time teacher's aide).  Classroom teachers were also randomly assigned to the classes they would teach. The interventions were initiated as the students entered school in kindergarten and continued through third grade.

                          A significantly larger percent of small-class students (52.9%) versus students who had attended regular (49.1%) and regular/aide (48.0%) classes passed the TCE Language requirement at grade 8.

                          The same was true for the mathematics requirement, where 36.4% of the small-class students passed versus 32.3% of the regular class and 30.3% of the regular/aide class students.


                          For about 50% more money in four years of regular education one can get 20% more pass grades in math and 10% more pass grades in language skills.

                          The somewhat better language skills have some economic value, but I suspect better math skills probably have very little economic or even practical value to society in the age of debit/credit cards and tax software programs.

                          The average young American might be better off given the increased cost per student in a trust fund.

                          A man in Chattanooga once asked me for money. I thought he was crazy. After a minute I realized he simply lacked teeth. I think he said false teeth would cost $300.

                          •  I am quite well aware of STARS (0+ / 0-)

                            having referred to it in one of my first published pieces about a decade ago

                            there are limitations to the study, and to generally apply the results without regard to the limitations is simply wrong.

                            "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                            by teacherken on Sun Sep 19, 2010 at 06:05:07 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

        •  Say what? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JanL, m00finsan, Blue Knight

          Are you suggesting that this can't be done on the cheap?

      •  Your framing is off... (0+ / 0-)

        Do you believe that punishing teachers and corporatizing and privatizing schools is going to produce a better education for even one child?

        Should read:

        Do you believe that HOLDING teachers ACCOUNTABLE and privatizing schools is going to produce a better education for even one child?

        In some cases, Yes.  In some cases, no.  It depends on the organization that manages the school.  Just as some public schools are great and some are horrid.  I don't think the horrid schools should continue to exist.  I think horrid teachers should be fired.  

        •  Funny - I thought teachers were always (7+ / 0-)

          accountable. When I taught in a public high school (I'm now a college professor), what I saw were alot of extremely hard-working teachers, often working 50, 60 or more hours per week, underpaid, struggling to do everything they could for their students. And then in the newspaper (Washington Post) I'd constantly read editorials about how the "schools were refusing to teach our children". Frankly, I didn't know what they were talking about.

          I believe that in every country the people themselves are more peaceably and liberally inclined than their governments. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

          by Blue Knight on Sat Sep 18, 2010 at 07:11:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  No I do not think I should be held (6+ / 0-)

          "accountable" when I have some students who for various reasons reject opportunity, lack prerequisite skills to succeed, or require interventions that are grossly under-resourced.

          In reality, that is not accountability. It's scapegoating.

          I don't see these lazy incompetent teachers in my building. The people I work with are committed and capable.

          •  So scapegoating kids... (0+ / 0-)

            is your answer?

          •  "reject opportunity" (0+ / 0-)

            A salesman doesn't get the commission if the customer rejects an opportunity.

            Teachers sometimes have sales-related responsibilities.

            "lack prerequisite skills to succeed"

            Someone along the way had to add a skill. You might do the same.

            "grossly under-resourced"

            You are a human. You are the resource.

            Under modern management methods goals are often very ambitious. There are goals and reality. Management must judge the results and its goals in a realistic manner. Management terminates a good worker at its peril. That is the danger and problem management must face.

            Goals are set because the results are normally better. But if the goals are too ambitious and workers become demoralized or are mistakenly sacked then management has failed.

            Goals are a tool. Tests are a tool. But it takes more than tools to build a house or run a school system. Good workers and good management are required.

            •  I should not be fired (0+ / 0-)

              if I have students who do not attend school regularly. If parents do not require kids to come to school but instead allow them to sit home and play games or watch TeeVee, the teacher should not be fired for that kids lack of growth. I have students who use illegal drugs. That affects performance yet I have little influence or control over that choice. There are many folks involved in the "reform" movement who would agree with your sales job analogy. The business model has great appeal among them. Those of us who are working in this field usually see things differently.

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