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View Diary: Keep it Simple, Stupid for Public Education (105 comments)

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  •  Okay - let's look at this from a different (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dolfin66

    perspective. Suppose we agreed that anyone teaching high school math needed at least an M.S. in math to qualify. Where on earth would we get the people willing to do that? Sure - I did it, but I had my retirement income and my wife's income backing me up. There are teacher shortages in many states now, and increasing qualifications only decreases the candidate pool.

    I think we should be happy to have the many dedicated and competent math teachers we have now. Yes, a few aren't up to the job - but administrators are responsible for dealing with that problem.

    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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 12:39:50 PM PDT

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    •  Where indeed? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dolfin66

      lols

      That's why I advocate quadrupling teacher pay. To encourage people who actually know the subject to teach it.

      In a similar vein, lowering class sizes, and removing roadblock to real majors in the way of their entering the teaching profession are important things.

      And I lovelove*love* how hard-working, dedicated, and kid-loving (in a good way) current teachers are. Thing is, if they don't know anything (and they don't), it really does get us anything on the back end, except idiot graduates who had caring, idiot teachers.

      Caring isn't enough. Actual knowledge needs to be a sine qua non for being a teacher.

      I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

      by punditician on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 12:48:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hey - we agree!! I go for that part about (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elfling, debedb, dolfin66

        quadrupling teacher pay!!!!

        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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 12:53:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Of course... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dolfin66

          That's the hook to the course of action I advocate. It plays two roles:

          1. Making the profession attractive to people with actual knowledge (as mentioned previously.)
          1. Being soooooo good that the current crop of idiot education majors couldn't possibly say 'no' to it. (heh. suckers.)

          There are a few other bits to what I advocate, but we've covered most of them in previous comments.

          Obviously there's no chance of it happening - that kind of money would never be provided. /sigh

          I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

          by punditician on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 12:59:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You may be right.... (0+ / 0-)

            and that will ensure that we fail as a society....and sooner than you might imagine.

            "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

            by dolfin66 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 01:01:40 PM PDT

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          •  We wouldn't have NCLB, let alone "merit pay" (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dolfin66

            or "career ladders" if we first required a competency in the subject before we let a teaching candidate into the classroom -- and that subject should be Math or English or Physics or Nursing or Sewing or Auto Mechanics or Welding or Animal Husbandry or Wildlife Biology, not "education".

            LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

            by BlackSheep1 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 02:55:05 PM PDT

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            •  What is the proper competency subject (0+ / 0-)

              for a Kindergarten teacher?

              Just wondering.

              Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

              by elfling on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 03:42:42 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  that would be reading, elfling (0+ / 0-)

                all ability to learn follows from the ability to read, in the USA.

                LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

                by BlackSheep1 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 03:58:43 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  So a major in reading (1+ / 0-)

                  (which would be an education major) or just someone who knows how to read?

                  I can't say I've ever come across a kindergarten teacher who couldn't read.

                  My daughter's kindergarten teacher had a strong interest in science, and she did wonderful science work with those kids, incorporating reading, art, writing, math and science into some pretty impressive projects.

                  Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                  by elfling on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 04:27:18 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  no, not a major in education. A major in litera- (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    RosyFinch

                    ture or creative writing or perhaps even, gasp English. Or science, as your daughter's teacher was blessed with; that's a major that requires reading and comprehending what's read, and being able to repeat the information in your own words, to excel sufficiently to advance academically.

                    Or maybe French, or German, or Romance Languages. A major that teaches the importance of accurate communication between persons, regardless of those persons' status or advancement or desired outcomes.

                    LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

                    by BlackSheep1 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 09:16:20 PM PDT

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                    •  Do you have any experience with 5 year olds? (0+ / 0-)

                      Kindergarten is about getting kids used to school, mainly. Learning routines. Learning how to get along with each other. Learning how to listen to the teacher. A little bit of learning how to read and count and color. Learning some fine and gross motor skills.

                      It is not a heavy content area. You mainly need to understand children and be able to work with them.

                      •  only being a Sunday School teacher, scout leader, (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Predictor

                        and mother. Five year old boys singly, in pairs and in groups, with and without parents and five year old girls.

                        You know what the key is? Getting the kids to want to read because they think it's cool.

                        School ... is a distraction, sometimes, just 'cause it's not home.

                        LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

                        by BlackSheep1 on Sat Sep 25, 2010 at 04:06:43 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

            •  Yup! (0+ / 0-)

              We can do this and coach linebackers too....if our priorities are right.

              "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

              by dolfin66 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 04:39:35 PM PDT

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      •  Quadrupling? You're aiming low. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dolfin66, Blue Knight

        Why not pay each one a million dollars a year?  If we're in the realm of sheer, total fantasy you may as well set your sights a little higher.

        •  Teachers are worth more to our society than (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elfling, dolfin66, Blue Knight

          NBA stars, NFL stars, NHL stars or MLB stars collectively. Yet we routinely read of sports stars whose annual salary approaches entire states' budgets for teacher pay.

          But it's ok, our society says.

          So short-sighted a society perhaps deserves to fail in the same fashion as a gutless political leadership.

          LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

          by BlackSheep1 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 02:58:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I've written about this.... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BlackSheep1

            before on this blog.  Shaq O'Neill paid more taxes in one year than I earned, gross pay, in 12 years teaching high school.

            That's how f***ed up our priorities are and that is why we'll fail as a society; we have taken our eye off the ball....so to speak.

            "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

            by dolfin66 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 04:42:17 PM PDT

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        •  Now, now. (0+ / 0-)

          Of course quadrupling pay is over the top, but it wouldn't hurt to have starting teacher pay on a level of a college graduate entering a business.

          "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

          by dolfin66 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 04:40:46 PM PDT

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      •  "That's why I advocate quadrupling teacher pay." (0+ / 0-)

        I had just this thought:

        http://www.dailykos.com/...

        Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

        by tom 47 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 01:23:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yah.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dolfin66

          I don't see the line of argument "we can't evaluate teacher performance because the kid might be malnourished!" as being particularly gripping.

          Lots of external factors affect the successful completion of my non-teacherly projects. Doesn't mean I can't be evaluated on successful outcomes (or unsuccessful, but with mitigating factors).

          I'll never buy into the argument "this measuring stick isn't perfect, so therefore we shouldn't measure!". Never ever.

          I still support dramatically increasing teacher pay though. :)

          I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

          by punditician on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 01:28:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's not that you can't evaluate teachers (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BlackSheep1, dolfin66, Blue Knight

            it's that you can't judge them by test scores alone. You need to walk in the classroom, see how they teach, watch how the students react, see how the students perform, know how the students have progressed. You need to talk to the teachers who have the same students before and after.

            Judging a teacher based solely on test scores makes as much sense as selecting a computer by the size of the case.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 02:39:58 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  And how many teachers do you think... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dolfin66

              would be in favor of evaluating teachers on student test scores along with all the other stuff you mentioned?

              Because I have no problem with that (that's why I mentioned mitigating factors). Let the haggling over exact breakdown begin! lols

              I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

              by punditician on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 03:05:27 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Actually most teachers I've spoken with (0+ / 0-)

                are very interested in their test scores, very interested in knowing what they can to do raise them, and when I've talked to people on a policy level, they're very happy to have it informing the process.

                That is, it's very appropriate and even helpful to take a teacher who has low scores and then to look and figure out what's up with that. Is it the kids she gets? Is it that she's missing test prep? Is it that the kids are missing fundamentals from earlier grades? Is it that she isn't covering the material? Is it that she's focused on other important material, like science, or raising her kids up to grade level in reading? Is it because she shows videos all day? Is it because she has no lesson plans?

                You need to do the same with high scores - what produced high scores that year?

                From my point of view, it should be the beginning of the conversation. It shouldn't be a determining factor. I would say the same about, say, a cardiologist's survival rates.

                No principal should be forced to fire a teacher because of low test scores. No principal should be forced to keep a teacher because of high test scores.

                Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                by elfling on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 03:13:17 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  lol "informing the process". (0+ / 0-)

                  Have fun with that.

                  I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

                  by punditician on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 03:17:53 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Care to be more explicit? (0+ / 0-)

                    Do you not believe me? You can even read some of the LA Times articles about the value-add analysis they did. Almost all the teachers say they wish they had had the information available to them before now.

                    But, they don't want to be judged solely on factors they don't control, and the analysis the TImes did, for example, can predict 3rd grade performance from the name of  the child's 4th grade teacher.

                    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                    by elfling on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 03:27:57 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  "informing the process" is just euphemistic for (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      dolfin66

                      "no way, no day will any decision about my professional life be made with student test performance being a significant formal part".

                      So yah... have fun with that.

                      I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

                      by punditician on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 03:49:06 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Well, that was my wording, not theirs (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        RosyFinch

                        Let me ask you this:

                        Would you evaluate an essay solely based on how many words it contained?

                        The nice thing is that it's easy to count. Computers can do it, there's no dispute. But, it might discard some of the best writing and embrace some of the worst.

                        There are rubrics for evaluating essays, short answers, business plans, proposals, etc, and most of them contain some human judgement. There's no reason we can't do the same for teachers.

                        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                        by elfling on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 04:09:33 PM PDT

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                        •  It's funny because... (0+ / 0-)

                          you're the only one here using the word "solely".

                          If that single word is the entirety of your argument, just stop, bro.

                          I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

                          by punditician on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 04:11:01 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I don't know how much reading you do (0+ / 0-)

                            in this area, but there are absolutely many reformers... including I might add NCLB and RTTT legislation ... that believe fervently in firing teachers based solely on test scores.

                            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                            by elfling on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 04:23:04 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Again.... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            dolfin66

                            the difference between necessary conditions and sufficient conditions....

                            I suppose, for the dim, I might add that they word "solely" functions somewhat differently when prefixed to the one, rather than the other.

                            For example: Just because a dude gets canned "solely" for spewing racial epithets is in no way the same as saying that dude's performance is judged "solely" on his ability to refrain from spewing said epithets.

                            Sigh. We're a stupid, stupid country.

                            I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

                            by punditician on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 04:34:17 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Also,... (0+ / 0-)

                            you guys are putting way too fine a point on this.

                            "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

                            by dolfin66 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 04:45:39 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                  •  I would say also (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    RosyFinch

                    having watched scores carefully in my daughter's district, that the data is extremely noisy.

                    This is a small school, about 20 kids per grade... so one family moving in or out can change scores quite a bit. All the kids have the same sequence of teachers, which makes for more clarity than other schools may have.

                    By my judgement, all the teachers are very good: bright, interested, creative people, with relatively strong backgrounds in science and math.

                    What I see as I watch the classes march through is that each class seems to peak or trough at a different grade. That is, one class really tanked in 3rd and had really top scores in 5th. Another class was weak in 5th but had great scores in 3rd. You don't at all, in this school, see a result that suggests that one teacher has consistently better results every year than any of the others. But, you do see that all of them have had years where the scores were disappointing and all have had years where the scores are super.

                    What larger studies show is that the analyses don't show consistent results. That is, a teacher judged excellent for test scores last year is not necessarily going to be excellent with the next data set collected. I don't have the study at my fingertips, but I recall that the correlation was on order 50%.

                    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                    by elfling on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 03:41:37 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  So, how come.... (0+ / 0-)

                nobody has come up with an evaluation matrix that encompasses all those things?

                "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

                by dolfin66 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 04:44:03 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Read my essays from last week. (0+ / 0-)

            You measure teacher performance by how much the students end up contributing to society in the LONG run, not last semester.

            "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

            by dolfin66 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 04:43:19 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  True. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      badger

      But it doesn't take a M.S. to become a great teacher of anything.  What we need is to motivate the BEST college material we have to enter teaching from ALL the major fields.  That takes salary structure that is competitive with business salaries.

      "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

      by dolfin66 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 01:00:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  increasing requirements should depopulate the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dolfin66

      candidate pool, in order to make the remaining candidates better teachers.

      Darwinism at work.

      The fit survive. The fittest thrive. The unfit must find some other trade or craft.

      In the end this is a benefit to the children.
      In the end this is a benefit to the teachers.
      If my child's teacher can't tell me why the homework my child can't master using the pedagogically-approved method cannot be done using a method that works but isn't part of current pedagogic "good practice," then I want my child to have a teacher who either can explain that to me or can accept that my child learns differently than the pedagogic method expects my child to learn.

      In short, I want teachers who can add, subtract, multiply, divide, spell, and use correct grammar themselves. If they can't their fitness to teach
      doesn't impress me at all no matter how high they
      score in the "adjusted" and "correct" sections of
      the "education" curriculum.

      You can't teach what you don't know how to do. Period.

      LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

      by BlackSheep1 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 02:52:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  on this we agree (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BlackSheep1

        If my child's teacher can't tell me why the homework my child can't master using the pedagogically-approved method cannot be done using a method that works but isn't part of current pedagogic "good practice," then I want my child to have a teacher who either can explain that to me or can accept that my child learns differently than the pedagogic method expects my child to learn.

        In short, I want teachers who can add, subtract, multiply, divide, spell, and use correct grammar themselves. If they can't their fitness to teach
        doesn't impress me at all no matter how high they
        score in the "adjusted" and "correct" sections of
        the "education" curriculum.

        You can't teach what you don't know how to do. Period.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 04:33:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Well, it's not exactly.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BlackSheep1

        Darwinism, but you're on the right track.  Highly motivated, intelligent people who have a career/pay incentive to be a teacher will gravitate to the profession just like the laid-off professionals did during the 90s "downsizing" craze.

        The bad news was that few stayed on because of lousy pay, lousy administrators, terrible parents and completely unmotivated children.  They simply didn't take charge of the kids as if they were his/her own.

        I tried that and it worked.  For every pissed-off parent there were 20 who thought I was the second coming.

        "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

        by dolfin66 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 04:48:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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