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Thread: Boys suffer in a culture without challenges

  1. #106
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    First of all... one can stop voucher schools from denying anyone. Personally I think that would be a mistake. Schools would crop up to address the various types of students. This would be specialization and each school would find methods to address special issues, whether it be discipline problems or medical or problem learners or outstanding students. Specialization is a good thing. Right now good students are being dragged down with the bad and the mediocre students are not being taught in the optimum method for their abilities.

    Yes... we can deny schools the right to deny anyone admission... but I doubt this would work. The better schools will obviously not have the ability to take every student whose parents wish them to attend any more than Harvard or Yale have the ability to accept every applicant. Nor will they wish to do so. Ultimately, they recognize that the students who are dragging down the behavior and the scores in the public scores will effect the same thing in the private schools. One might also note that to establish a requirement that a private school takes every student essentially forces the private school to act as a public school.

    Now you assume that some motivated entrepreneurs will likely step in and focus upon the different learning styles... and certainly this exists at the top end of the spectrum. We have schools that are single sex, schools that offer a Catholic or Lutheran or Jewish education, schools that focus upon preparation for careers in the arts, medicine, science, etc... But schools that will focus on the worst performing students... students with severe discipline problems... students with severe learning problems or physical disabilities. You assume to much. It would take true altruism rather than the entrepreneurial spirit to take of such a daunting task. Teaching such students, as I stated earlier, is far more expensive. We also must face the fact that the Egalitarian assumption that with the proper environment every student can perform equally well is a pipe dream. Some children are far more able to function in school than others... far more able to succeed in the demands of school than others. Do you seriously imagine that someone is going to take on the task of teaching the most difficult children knowing full well that their profit margin will be far less than if they decided to teach the better students... that their scores will never match those of the better schools... that they will be hard-pressed to find good teachers willing to go to work each and every day knowing that they must face the worst of the worst in education... not without a real incentive... which leads to an even lesser profit margin?

    Now... if you are OK with the division in private schools between the schools that teach only the best and brightest, schools focused on the middle group, and schools focused upon the most difficult students... then maybe you would agree that it is the very notion of a universal education that is at fault? The idea of the universal education is Egalitarian idealism at its finest... but it is clearly not working. Not every child is equally intelligent, equally intelligent in the same areas, equally motivated, equally equipped to function in the traditional classroom. But this is what public education has attempted to achieve... and been mandated to do by the government. In the past, students were tracked by ability and placed appropriately. This is what the specialization of private schools would amount to. But the reality is that public schools could achieve at the same level if they were playing by the same rules. If we had public schools that focused solely upon those students with the greatest abilities we would rapidly discover that the scores in those schools would rival those of the better private schools. Such is already the reality in specialized public schools that focus upon the arts, or Early College. One of the advantages of implementing this multi-tiered system in the public schools is that teachers can be placed where they are most effective and most needed and rotated around so that we are not faced with the impossibility of filling the positions of teachers in the most difficult schools. But whether we accept this division by abilities in the public or private schools we must face the reality that scores will not ever be a universal. The least motivated and most difficult students as a whole are not going to rival the scores of the best and the brightest

    Is it a surprised that the military turns hoodlums into people with skills? The military are gearing their teaching approach, a holistic approach, which satisfies certain individuals mind sets.

    Actually, the military no longer attempts anything like this. A criminal background, physical disabilities, weight, height, intelligence are all taken into account and can lead to rejection. Once the military has taken on the "education" of an individual they have them 25-7. They have an endless array of disciplinary options none of which are available to teachers. Believe it or not, Virgil, the public schools must legally provide education to juveniles awaiting trial for rape, murder, or what have you. There is actually a black community leader here who has suggested that such an approach may be the best way to "save" the urban students... through pulling them out of the grossly dysfunctional communities and families, and controlling the whole of their education. Of course we tried the same years ago with the Native Americans and the results were questionable.

    First of all, if it leads to specialized schools, as I preferred to call it, I think thatís a good thing. But there isnít a two tier system now? Just look. We in NY have the super schools, not sure what else to call them, that only accept high performing students right now. And they are part of the school system. But even within any school you have (at least you did when I went to school) the better students segregated together and the not as good students.

    Again... if this is how we wish to approach education then let's be honest about it and employ this method across the whole. Let's not pretend... as school administrators do... that they can't understand how the students in these schools of cherry-picked students can achieve so much better than the rest and why the rest can't match their performance. Let's not pretend that performance will ever be equal across the whole. There are undoubtedly advantages to such a system in that we can move the best and the brightest... our greatest asset... along faster and further. At the same time we can focus upon real life and work skills for those in the lower performing groups recognizing that we cannot simply write them off in a post-industrial society and assume they are going to be able to function.

    In NY State there are even two types of high school diplomas, a regents diploma and regular diploma, the regents being that you had passed specialized tests.

    Actually... I believe that is the reality nationally. There is the diploma that says essentially you attended school through the 12th grade and passed, and there is another that says you attended school through the 12th grade and passed... and actually learned something... at least by the state standardized tests.

    There is a two tier system now in the very school systems you defend.

    No... there's not a two-tiered system. Rather, with the exception of special education (and not even there in all instances) all the students are placed together resulting in a situation in which the behavior of the worst disrupts all, the brightest are not pushed to their full potential, the slowest do not receive the added help they need, and the middle group misses out on the possibility that they might achieve better, and often fall into copying the behaviors of the worst. If this is unacceptable then why assume that it is the fault of the teachers and the unions when it is education as dictated by the government, the state curriculum planners, and administrators? One thing every teacher in the urban public schools recognize is that any good teacher in those systems could walk into any school in the nation and teach those students. I assure you that the reverse is not true. Few teachers in the elite private schools or suburban schools would last a week in my building... and we have had any number of visiting teachers admit as much.

    Thatís exactly right. The current system screws the poorer kids because they are locked into the neighborhood school. A voucher would allow that parent to send their kid anywhere. Compare a Catholic school kid from a poor neighborhood and a public school kid from that same poor neighborhood. Just compare how many ultimately graduate colleges.

    Actually, it is only the Catholic Schools with rigid admissions and rules that surpass the average urban public school. One of the best here has the option of Saturday detentions and after that the student's parent must sit with him or her all day in class... or shell out the money to hire a private paid teacher's aid. After that? They're gone... kicked out. However the Catholic schools that have begun to accept the more difficult students in order to shore up declining numbers of parishioners are finding that they are faced with the same problems as the public schools... including falling scores and graduation rates.

    All I can say is that no matter what comes up as an institutional change, the teacherís union and the bureaucracy are always against it and have to accept it kicking and screaming, whether it be chartered schools, a school voucher experiment (yes even against experimenting with the idea), merit pay, firing poor performing teachers, No Child Left Behind standards, you name they are against it.

    Of course the teacher's union is against vouchers and charter schools as you would undoubtedly be against competition for your job that is not played out upon an equal grounds. The reality is that the administration is just as against charter schools and vouchers... but they love to play politics during any negotiations to make the unions appear as the great Satan in order to push through their latest untested theories.

    The reality is that studies have found that a strict, conservative approach to education... utilizing phonics (sounding words out), rote memorization, drills, etc... are far more effective... especially with urban children. As a conservative, you might be surprised that the educational leader, E. D. Hirsch has built an educational theory in which he recognizes that the "liberal" goal of equal education and equal opportunity for all is best served by a "conservative" approach to education

    Of course Iím aware. 90% of all things conservative turn out to be best. This should have been a no brainer. It always amazed me that kids were supposed to learn math and grammar by osmosis, rather than constant exercise and homework. How this hippie mentality was ever given credence amazes me. As if regimented and disciplined exercises stunts creativity.

    I'll not get into the political debate, but I will agree that the value of a conservative or traditional approach to education would seem to be a "no brainer". The problem is that teachers recognized this for years which is why they fought against "whole language" and learning by osmosis and the elimination of the memorization of facts and emphasis upon "higher order thinking skills" that are an impossibility without having first mastered the essential facts. But teachers don't make these decisions. This is done at the administrative level... which certainly has more than its fair share of hippie idealists... and when it is proven that it doesn't work they are the one's who refuse to change or acknowledge the failure... except on the part of the teachers. One of the current changes implemented from above has been the implementation of K-8 schools, eliminating middle schools. This has failed miserably as it exposes the younger children to the profanity, sexual behavior, violence, and disrespect of the older children. There is no teacher who will tell you it is a success... but the administration refuses to admit the failure... because there are some advantages from clustering the middle school students with the elementary students in terms of how the State Standardized Tests are scored... and the tests are everything.

    Without the union teachers would still be paid salaries equal to a McDonald's worker. The Union was behind setting standards for teacher certification including the appropriate college degrees. The school administrations are simply very good... especially during contract negotiations... at playing politics and at portraying the teacher's union as the great roadblock to progress. The manner in which the school administrations treat non-union employees.

    Nonsense. Engineers, scientists, business people, doctors, lawyers, none of them have unions, and they all do better than teachers. You teachers complain about low salaries, so what have the unions actually done for you? Anyway, thatís a separate argument, and we donít need to get into that.

    Prior to the unions teacher's salaries were embarrassingly low... and this was acceptable because it was imagined to be largely "womens' work". Neither were there any benefits in terms of health care, sick leave, or retirement. Nor were there any standards as to what experience and education was required of a teacher. We see the results of you idealized notion of the utopia that private enterprise would bring to education. Teachers in the private schools and charter schools earn 50-75% of what the public school teachers earn, they lack the health and retirement benefits, and any form of job protection. Neither do they need to meet the requirements of the public school teachers as far as background checks and license. The private schools often employ graduate students or students just out of schools. Salary comparisons with Doctors and Lawyers and business people (a great many of whom earn less than teachers) is ingenuous at best. A more apt comparison would be with college professors where we would discover that those in the greatest demand certainly earn well more than the average public school teacher... but the majority of the visiting, associate, and assistant professors often earn less, have fewer benefits, and no job security.

    And where do the teacherís unions get the authority to restrict institutional change? The union workers at a car factory donít tell management what car to design and build. They are only involved in pay and safety and working conditions. Who made the teacherís unions in charge of anything other than pay and working conditions?

    It is assumed that if the classroom teacher is required to have a degree in education... and often a Masters Degree... and considering that he or she is the one in the class on an everyday basis dealing with students and parents then it might be in the interest of those in charge to listen to the input of these teachers before institution the latest untested theory developed by a PhD who has never stepped foot in a classroom. It might also be assumed that if the teachers are not to have any say in the institutional changes then it should be fully the responsibility of the administration for any failures of the schools barring teacher incompetence or refusal to follow the curriculum. But this is not the case. We have new programs, new strategies, new curriculum, etc... continually thrown at us... and when it doesn't work as expected the administration are on the TV blaming the teachers or the union.

    And finally the moral argument:

    PetrachsLove- I said in my post that I fully understand why parents would want to take their kids to a better school.

    That is absolutely right. I find it immoral to deny a parent from freely choosing to send their child to whatever school they wish. It doesnít even matter which system is better. It is downright immoral to deny a parent the freedom to send their kid where they want. What is this, the Soviet Union? A parent is told that since you live here you have to send your kid to this school and if you object shove your objection up your behind. This should be unconstitutional. What kind of freedom is it when you have to accept the quality of your childís education and have no recourse?


    Any parent in the US has the option to send his or her child to a private school or to a school in a neighboring district... if he or she has the money and the school elects to accept that child. Of course no private school and no public school in which the student is not a resident is obliged to accept every student. Which brings us back to the reality of what to do with those lowest students? Those who are the most difficult and clearly the least "profitable"?
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  2. #107
    Which brings us back to the reality of what to do with those lowest students? Those who are the most difficult and clearly the least "profitable"?
    Well, that is the ultimate question really isnít it? What do we do with them or what can we do with them? Ultimately I think very little within the current parameters. Iím certainly not in favour of privatisation, even placing profitability with students in the same sentence doesnít sit well with me, but the present systemís lowest schools at present (certainly in the UK) are just factories for failure and apathy. For many people it is, as you say a no brainer Ė a return to basic solid tried and tested methods and structured discipline, simply as Ė but this is not happening. Instead, as ever, teachers are forced to run around with the latest pet theory or initiatives which seem to change with alarming regularity. Whatís more these little initiatives just do not address the very basic issues with which teachers in these schools are met with on a daily basis Ė most of them are worse than a bad joke.

    However, as usual itís a Friday night, I've got a banging headache for the weekly round of abuse and frustrations I've had to endure, I canít think properly, Iím very tired and any thoughts I do have in this area are centred on how I can personally jump ship. Iím not fiddling while the boat sinks for much longer.

  3. #108
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neely View Post
    Well, that is the ultimate question really isnít it? What do we do with them or what can we do with them? Ultimately I think very little within the current parameters. Iím certainly not in favour of privatisation, even placing profitability with students in the same sentence doesnít sit well with me, but the present systemís lowest schools at present (certainly in the UK) are just factories for failure and apathy. For many people it is, as you say a no brainer Ė a return to basic solid tried and tested methods and structured discipline, simply as Ė but this is not happening. Instead, as ever, teachers are forced to run around with the latest pet theory or initiatives which seem to change with alarming regularity. Whatís more these little initiatives just do not address the very basic issues with which teachers in these schools are met with on a daily basis Ė most of them are worse than a bad joke.

    However, as usual itís a Friday night, I've got a banging headache for the weekly round of abuse and frustrations I've had to endure, I canít think properly, Iím very tired and any thoughts I do have in this area are centred on how I can personally jump ship. Iím not fiddling while the boat sinks for much longer.
    Hi Neely - difficult week. You have my sympathies.

    There are lots of transferrable skills in teaching.You don't need to limit yourself to teaching related work. A friend of mine - who is very successful - started as a teacher, but quickly left. He pointed out that the usual teaching process of plan, deliver (or sell/ organise etc...) evaluate, improve, deliver - is a very useful tool in any industry. In my role as a Manager it applies even more to everything - training, admin, managing people etc.

    The only problem is that it's not the best time to change.

  4. #109
    Oh thanks for your kind thoughts, really I am fine, I just have a black hour now and again (usually collected to the end of the week). I've got a few ideas, I'll probably seek to move schools later in the year as a first step.

  5. #110
    Have a nice day! Nikhar's Avatar
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    Sorry for such a useless post...

    But guys...you had time to write soooooo much!
    People laugh at me 'coz they think I'm a fool...I smile because I made someone laugh
    Nikhar Agrawal

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