U.S. Education Reform and more!

So, given that a lot of threads on this site have been just looking at articles in the news and discussing them, I thought I'd shake things up a bit with a more constructive thread.

Now, for those who don't know, the U.S. Education system is in... Not the best shape. We have highschool for four years, then college for another four years, then usually specialized professions like becoming a doctor or an attorney require going to another, more expensive college. Not only that, but with things such as "No Child Left Behind" (Distributing funding to schools based on test scores, essentially) schools are in an overall poor shape with college students being crushed under debt and test grades doing poorly.

What I'm wondering is, what can we do to reform our education system? Repealing No Child Left Behind is a must in my opinion, but what else can we do? How can we truly change the way education is done in our country?

I'd like to take a note from "Lions for Lambs" and support the whole "replace junior year with service in Americorps. The Peace Corps. Or R.O.T.C." idea. I believe it would help strengthen national unity, provide discipline to many younger Americans, and overall paint a better portrait of America to the rest of the world.

I also think the idea of instituting a more "official" Apprenticeship program here could work out quite well. The fact is, some people already have their "career" in mind right out of Highschool. Going through so many hoops (and so much debt) just to take that career is a bit... Pointless. I think that a more interesting (and potentially, more efficient) path to take would be allowing people to become Apprenticed to highly-skilled specialists for a few years, learn the ropes from them, take a test both in general knowledge and "practical knowledge" (For example, if you want to become a lawyer, you take the Bar Exam and then a faux trial) and then maybe take one year of a general course regarding that profession in college... After all, a year of Harvard would be much cheaper then three or four years of it.

So, anyone else have some interesting ideas for reform? ^_^

There are a great number of things we can do to improve the educational system. First and foremost: increase funding. You get what you pay for, and we're not paying for top-rate public educational options. Second: pay teachers what they are worth. While not the same in all districts, the starting salary for a teacher fresh out of college in my incredibly affluent district from 98-02 was between $18,000-$20,000/year. I don't know about you, but that's not a very competitive salary able to entice great teachers.

In essence, you get what you pay for, and in K-12, we are absolutely not paying for a damn thing.

To address your post-secondary recommendations: They are noble, but I fear they miss the point. The purpose of post-secondary is to learn a subject, but also to learn how to solve problems. There is a large difference between how and why. Apprenticeships teach how; university teaches why.

First, we need to get rid of summer vacation. Shifting to a "three months on-one month off" schedule will do wonders for knowledge retention. The bulk of lost learning comes from the three months in summer where students aren't using their brains.

We also need to stop lying to our children at a young age. How many Americans still believe that Christopher Columbus brought over the Pilgrims because that's how they learned it first? If that means that we avoid history until the kids are a little older, that's fine. Free up time to instill the basics of science or a foreign language in them.

We really need to emphasize critical thinking skills at a younger age. The internet is just about as prevalent as air these days, kids should know how to and be encouraged to find answers for themselves. Teach them how to find unbiased sources. Every person outside of elementary school should be able to reach out and find the answer to just about anything they want to know. This will lead to an overall smarter population.

In high schools, we need to emphasize real world knowledge. Understanding how credit cards work, how to balance a check book, how to cook basic meals for yourself, how to fix a flat tire, how to make a resume. Things that every adult needs to know.

Aris Khandr:
First, we need to get rid of summer vacation. Shifting to a "three months on-one month off" schedule will do wonders for knowledge retention. The bulk of lost learning comes from the three months in summer where students aren't using their brains.

We also need to stop lying to our children at a young age. How many Americans still believe that Christopher Columbus brought over the Pilgrims because that's how they learned it first? If that means that we avoid history until the kids are a little older, that's fine. Free up time to instill the basics of science or a foreign language in them.

We really need to emphasize critical thinking skills at a younger age. The internet is just about as prevalent as air these days, kids should know how to and be encouraged to find answers for themselves. Teach them how to find unbiased sources. Every person outside of elementary school should be able to reach out and find the answer to just about anything they want to know. This will lead to an overall smarter population.

In high schools, we need to emphasize real world knowledge. Understanding how credit cards work, how to balance a check book, how to cook basic meals for yourself, how to fix a flat tire, how to make a resume. Things that every adult needs to know.

I can agree to most of that, especially the Christopher Columbus thing. I don't know why they aren't teaching kids about how Vikings were the first to discover America, I mean, what kid wouldn't be interested in learning about the crazy Norse barbarians taking on some of the Native Americans.

But otherwise, finding proper sources is something that should definitely be taught in a Computer Science class; most of the time Kids just look up the info on Wikipedia then maybe find a few other random sites discussing the subject and claim those are their "sources".

Also, the highschool thing sounds like it can all be bundled into one class on "Life Skills"... Maybe another good skill to learn would be a few "Temporary Fixes" so kids can handle, say, a broken window rather then panicking and buying the first new window they see.

I like the finnish system. I watched a documentary awhile back and some of the changes seem relatively simple to implement.

The two hardest to implement program would be all Teachers have master's degrees and the compulsory secondary school. The way I understood it the compulsory secondary school splits kids between academic academies and technical ones at 15, this could be a good idea but would face fierce resistance not to mention they would be going to the same schools because we just can't spread our school districts like that.

I'd like to point out the NCLB isnt that bad. Before No Child, schools had no accountability. For example all of your low performing students could stay home sick on the day of a test and tada you were a high performing school. NCLB forced schools to measure every student which in turn improved accountability. The problem was it was taken too far.

I work with a lot of foreign students/faculty and they are amazed at the flexibility of the american system. In Iran or China or whatever you are basically on a track your entire life for a field. In the US our education system is so general you could be a history major until your junior year of college where you decide you really love medicine, that's pretty awesome and pretty unique to the US.

I think the best thing we could for schools is make them schools again. I taught with some phenomenal teachers and "low-performing" school and we spent invested most of our time in social work and standardized tests at the expense of teaching. We had health clinics, free meals, counseling, the works and maybe we fit in academics somewhere in that schedule. Teachers deal with a lot of paperwork simply because the State is afraid to deal with bad parents. My wife has been giving standards tests for a week and half now- thats 7 days of lost instructional time. Rather than taking a piecemeal approach to schooling, we need to invest in communities. Schools should not be a 1-stop shop for helping kids with lousy parents, the entire community should be invested in educating and nuturing our youth. There are a couple charter schools in New York that have this approach and I think it's a great idea.

I rather like what this guy has to say about our education system:

Long story short: We are fixated on an outdated format that isn't centered around how children actually learn and thrive. And as others have pointed out, we put way too little money into education. I saw a chart once that I can't seem to locate now, but it compared the rate of pay of primary education teachers in several countries around the world to the number of hours they spend working per week. The United States ranked the very highest in number of hours worked per week, but was very close to the bottom in hourly rate of pay. If I recall correctly, South Korea had the highest paid teachers, and they were fairly low down on the chart for number of hours worked. So our teachers work longer to get paid less, and we rank in the teens and 20s for education performance when compared to the rest of the world in just about every category--science and math being our consistently lowest scoring fields.

Meanwhile, we do rank number 1 in military funding when compared to the rest of the world, out-funding our nearest competitor (China) by five times, with a country a fraction of the size and with less than a quarter of the population.

Plus, we give way too much power to the religious zealots who want intelligent design taught next to biology and who want to ban critical thinking from being taught in school. The fact that we give so much credit and even consider doing such things is disgusting, and the fact that even in this day and age the laws actually manage to pass in places is downright obscene. You can shout "state's rights" until you're blue in the face, but I don't see why we should stand for certain states deliberately sabotaging the education of any child that is a part of this country.

Comocat:
I'd like to point out the NCLB isnt that bad. Before No Child, schools had no accountability. For example all of your low performing students could stay home sick on the day of a test and tada you were a high performing school. NCLB forced schools to measure every student which in turn improved accountability. The problem was it was taken too far.

It was taken too far, and the way it was designed to "correct" the schools that fell short of the mark was totally counter-intuitive. You don't take a school that isn't doing as well as it should, lower its funding, and then demand that it to better than it was doing before. That's just idiotic. A lot of the times, especially in rural areas or poor urban areas, the reason the schools didn't do well was because they didn't have the funding to teach their students well, or the flexibility in funding to correct any structural problems within their leadership. When a school is having to use textbooks from 20 to 30 years ago, of course it isn't going to perform well, or be capable of improving its performance by any significant amount.

Integrate internet video's in some way.
http://www.youtube.com/user/crashcourse/videos?view=0









I have learned ALLOT more history from crash course in a few days than in 3 years of school
Seriously stop reading my comment and start watching the video's

I mean it.

Stop reading and watch it.

Stahp.

mokes310:
There are a great number of things we can do to improve the educational system. First and foremost: increase funding. You get what you pay for, and we're not paying for top-rate public educational options. Second: pay teachers what they are worth. While not the same in all districts, the starting salary for a teacher fresh out of college in my incredibly affluent district from 98-02 was between $18,000-$20,000/year. I don't know about you, but that's not a very competitive salary able to entice great teachers.

In essence, you get what you pay for, and in K-12, we are absolutely not paying for a damn thing.

To address your post-secondary recommendations: They are noble, but I fear they miss the point. The purpose of post-secondary is to learn a subject, but also to learn how to solve problems. There is a large difference between how and why. Apprenticeships teach how; university teaches why.

Per student funding we are ahead or equal to most any other country, almost 8k per student per year, vs 5 for uk to 3 for S Korea( as a per capita percent of gdp we are also within 2 % of pretty much every other western nation). South dakota is ranked 50th and their avg teacher salary is 35k(just trolling through the bottom 5 states avg starting salary I couldn't find any below 25k but then starting salarys vary so much even within states). Student to teacher ratios are also dropping in the US, also below UK rates.

So i'm not sure about the argument to increase funding, especially as just flipping through test scores from the 50s to 2003 I don't really see any correlation between funding and performance, at least nationwide.

heck public schools pay their teachers more on average 50,630 vs private 40,490. It seems that funding really isn't the issue.

The first thing that needs to happen is that secondary school educators need to stop getting teaching degrees and instead get degrees in their subject of teaching. History teachers should be getting history degrees, math teachers math degrees etc. This generally isn't their fault, instead theirs a belief in a requirement of one of these degrees to actually teach.

Teaching degrees are for when your teaching the littlest of baby childrens. Elementary school. But when you get to middle or high school, you should have a degree in whatever your teaching.

The second thing that needs to change is what we think a degree or an education is for; previously a high school education granted you all the skills required to work in a factory job, which was seen as desirable and comfortable living was definitely possible on such a situation. A degree showed you had specialized in a field to the point you could be considered a professor at it; "person who professes to be an expert in some art or science, teacher of highest rank". Hence 'professionalism'.

In the modern we have reduced college degrees to an almost generic/general like status. It doesn't matter what you have a degree in as long as you have a degree. This is both a cultural and an educational issue. Colleges have moved away from the highly specific degree form of the past for a more 'general' feel to their degree programs, with as much time invested in other subjects as the subject of study for the degree.

However, for high school degrees we have shifted from a manufacturing to a service culture that demands a different skillset but we are still being taught the same things. While I think education should be broad enough you can at least build, passably, a house without electricity and only basic outhouse style plumbing, and maintain the insides, the rest of the skills are largely supportive to the modern workplace, not necessary skills to perform jobs.

Third, a shift in focus in early education on reading. This may sound cruel, but if you can't read and you are of normal intelligence, you should be held back until you are reading at the proper level.

During high school, and this will always stay with me, I had to watch classmates I knew to be intelligent struggle to read at their own age level. It was not funny then, it is not funny now, watching them stumble over COMMON words. Teach a man to read and he can teach himself anything, given access to the resources, and since we have the internet we're further along then we've ever been in the distillation of knowledge.

Fourth, logical problem solving should be taught throughout the entire course of the main education. From the time your in elementary school to the time your getting your high school diploma.

By the time you hit college, you should already know logical problem solving. You should not need to be TAUGHT logical problem solving after entering college.

One of the biggest problems with the US educational system started with "No Child Left Behind". It has turned our educational system into a cookie cutter format. It looks at standardized test scores to determine if a school is passing or failing, which forces teachers to teach to a test instead of just teaching. We can outspend every nation in the world in education and still fail if we don't start acknowledging that every child is different. This does place a lot of pressure on the school system, but it will pay off in the long run. The biggest problem with what I would propose would be the age old complaint it "isn't fair."

I feel schools should put in place a flexible system of education instead of the fixed grades we have now. For example, if a first grader is doing third grade math, but struggling with reading and writing, the individual should be placed in an advanced math class and a remedial reading group. This would allow the child both the challenge in math and the extra help in reading. It would also give everyone the opportunity to work with people of different ages, an important aspect of developing social skills.

The other thing which needs to stop is the heavy emphasis on "mainstreaming". I am NOT saying individuals with disabilities should be isolated from others. As as matter of fact, I think it should be the opposite. There are ways to integrate individuals with disabilities into the school system without forcing them to attempt to learn at the same pace as the other students. Mentoring programs, partner programs, weekly combined activities, or mixed lunch tables are all ways to integrated them in a more successful manor. The educational system should also focus more on life skills with these individuals as apposed to test taking. As far as I'm concerned it is more important for individuals with more noticeable disabilities to learn how to cook, clean, take care of basic personal hygiene, shop, handle money, and other vital functions for living at whatever level of independence they are capable of.

The United States has always been known as a nation of innovators and inventors, and we are rapidly becoming a nation of test takers (which won't prove particularly useful in the real world). We have grown so afraid of controversy or of offending someone we have taken every controversial thing we can think of out of the educational program. Debate and controversy is a part of life, and we can't hide that from kids. History is a prime example of a subject which has been altered in an effort to accommodate everyone's sensibilities. It isn't a clean subject; it is full of imperfect people doing imperfect things. Let the kids debate it!! Instead of hiding the controversy, we should celebrate HEALTHY debate as one of the perks of being a US citizen.

I apologize if this post seems long winded, but there are so many problems with the educational system it isn't even funny, and I haven't even touched on some of them. The one group I'm not blaming, however, is the teachers. Yes there are some bad ones out there, but the vast majority of them are trying to do the best job they can in a system which sets them up to fail.

So, here is to the under appreciated, often underpaid, stressed, overworked, and frazzled teachers out there. Thank you for trying to make a broken system work.

Lilani:
I rather like what this guy has to say about our education system:


Long story short: We are fixated on an outdated format that isn't centered around how children actually learn and thrive. And as others have pointed out, we put way too little money into education.

That's a lot of guesswork and unfounded assumptions, with a big of socialist structuralist dogma and big pharma conspiracy thrown in.

Then again, it's no surprise they say exactly those things in that silly video. That's often what you hear coming from people who think they failed school because they 'were too artistic'.

In the meantime, actual pedagogic knowledge is lightyears ahead of the stuff that the video is about.

dmase:
I like the finnish system. I watched a documentary awhile back and some of the changes seem relatively simple to implement.

The two hardest to implement program would be all Teachers have master's degrees and the compulsory secondary school. The way I understood it the compulsory secondary school splits kids between academic academies and technical ones at 15, this could be a good idea but would face fierce resistance not to mention they would be going to the same schools because we just can't spread our school districts like that.

The UK used to have this kind of system and the English education secretary, Michael Gove, wanted to bring it back in his reforms. However most people hated the system (teachers included); the split at 14-15 meant pupils that were slow to develop were screwed. In the current system, the 14-16 exams (GCSEs) are taught in such a way that the material is similar at all levels, meaning if you are not considered that bright but you work hard you can easily achieve an A grade without having to play catch up.

So while the system is good for those pupils that are good at the subject throughout their time at school it could cause those pupils who take a while to get going (and we all know someone like that) to do much worse than they otherwise would.

As for the Masters degree thing; yes it means you have more qualified staff it doesn't mean they are better teachers. The PhD students that work as class assistants at my uni are so far along in terms of what they know and are so immersed in their research they often struggle to do 1st year work.

And what you learn at masters level is pretty irrelevant to even secondary education. I'm a 4th year Physics student and even now there's very little you can take into a high school classroom; you can bring it up as an interesting topic (semiconductor physics for example) but 90%+ of the material would be over their heads so you'd be explaining something at a level a 1st year could explain. Basically there is nothing a masters student knows that a B.Sc. student doesn't that would be relevant to being a teacher, anything beyond what I'm learning now would be useless for a teacher as nobody in the class would understand it to that level.[1]

[1] as a caveat it may be different for different fields of study (e.g. history)

Blablahb:

Lilani:
I rather like what this guy has to say about our education system:


Long story short: We are fixated on an outdated format that isn't centered around how children actually learn and thrive. And as others have pointed out, we put way too little money into education.

That's a lot of guesswork and unfounded assumptions, with a big of socialist structuralist dogma and big pharma conspiracy thrown in.

Then again, it's no surprise they say exactly those things in that silly video. That's often what you hear coming from people who think they failed school because they 'were too artistic'.

In the meantime, actual pedagogic knowledge is lightyears ahead of the stuff that the video is about.

Why Blablahb, don't hold back now, unleash your vast knowledge of pedagogic sciences.

Karma168:

dmase:
I like the finnish system. I watched a documentary awhile back and some of the changes seem relatively simple to implement.

The two hardest to implement program would be all Teachers have master's degrees and the compulsory secondary school. The way I understood it the compulsory secondary school splits kids between academic academies and technical ones at 15, this could be a good idea but would face fierce resistance not to mention they would be going to the same schools because we just can't spread our school districts like that.

The UK used to have this kind of system and the English education secretary, Michael Gove, wanted to bring it back in his reforms. However most people hated the system (teachers included); the split at 14-15 meant pupils that were slow to develop were screwed. In the current system, the 14-16 exams (GCSEs) are taught in such a way that the material is similar at all levels, meaning if you are not considered that bright but you work hard you can easily achieve an A grade without having to play catch up.

So while the system is good for those pupils that are good at the subject throughout their time at school it could cause those pupils who take a while to get going (and we all know someone like that) to do much worse than they otherwise would.

As for the Masters degree thing; yes it means you have more qualified staff it doesn't mean they are better teachers. The PhD students that work as class assistants at my uni are so far along in terms of what they know and are so immersed in their research they often struggle to do 1st year work.

And what you learn at masters level is pretty irrelevant to even secondary education. I'm a 4th year Physics student and even now there's very little you can take into a high school classroom; you can bring it up as an interesting topic (semiconductor physics for example) but 90%+ of the material would be over their heads so you'd be explaining something at a level a 1st year could explain. Basically there is nothing a masters student knows that a B.Sc. student doesn't that would be relevant to being a teacher, anything beyond what I'm learning now would be useless for a teacher as nobody in the class would understand it to that level.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2011/05/02/the-finland-phenomenon-inside-the-worlds-most-surprising-school-system/

I was trying to find the video but couldn't but if you look up Finland Phenomenon you might be able to find it but it doesn't look like it's on youtube anymore.

The parts you pick out are ones that are meant to make students more competitive I believe, but doesn't explain why their teaching wrong in other countries. The link I give explains some key differences, though I don't know enough about the UK system to have a say on whether the UK's former system was different from Finland.

I would agree with you on the master's degree thing, I mean the institution I'm at has master's and PhD. students in my class as an undergrad and we take the same tests with some added work here and there. However it does show something to immerse yourself farther into education, something a lot of people that get B.S. don't have, there is a difference between someone that wants a job and wants to continue their education. I also believe the finnish teachers are entering college knowing they want to be teachers and the added education builds on that, but once again that is just an assumption on my part.

dmase:

Karma168:

dmase:
I like the finnish system. I watched a documentary awhile back and some of the changes seem relatively simple to implement.

The two hardest to implement program would be all Teachers have master's degrees and the compulsory secondary school. The way I understood it the compulsory secondary school splits kids between academic academies and technical ones at 15, this could be a good idea but would face fierce resistance not to mention they would be going to the same schools because we just can't spread our school districts like that.

The UK used to have this kind of system and the English education secretary, Michael Gove, wanted to bring it back in his reforms. However most people hated the system (teachers included); the split at 14-15 meant pupils that were slow to develop were screwed. In the current system, the 14-16 exams (GCSEs) are taught in such a way that the material is similar at all levels, meaning if you are not considered that bright but you work hard you can easily achieve an A grade without having to play catch up.

So while the system is good for those pupils that are good at the subject throughout their time at school it could cause those pupils who take a while to get going (and we all know someone like that) to do much worse than they otherwise would.

As for the Masters degree thing; yes it means you have more qualified staff it doesn't mean they are better teachers. The PhD students that work as class assistants at my uni are so far along in terms of what they know and are so immersed in their research they often struggle to do 1st year work.

And what you learn at masters level is pretty irrelevant to even secondary education. I'm a 4th year Physics student and even now there's very little you can take into a high school classroom; you can bring it up as an interesting topic (semiconductor physics for example) but 90%+ of the material would be over their heads so you'd be explaining something at a level a 1st year could explain. Basically there is nothing a masters student knows that a B.Sc. student doesn't that would be relevant to being a teacher, anything beyond what I'm learning now would be useless for a teacher as nobody in the class would understand it to that level.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2011/05/02/the-finland-phenomenon-inside-the-worlds-most-surprising-school-system/

I was trying to find the video but couldn't but if you look up Finland Phenomenon you might be able to find it but it doesn't look like it's on youtube anymore.

The parts you pick out are ones that are meant to make students more competitive I believe, but doesn't explain why their teaching wrong in other countries. The link I give explains some key differences, though I don't know enough about the UK system to have a say on whether the UK's former system was different from Finland.

I would agree with you on the master's degree thing, I mean the institution I'm at has master's and PhD. students in my class as an undergrad and we take the same tests with some added work here and there. However it does show something to immerse yourself farther into education, something a lot of people that get B.S. don't have, there is a difference between someone that wants a job and wants to continue their education. I also believe the finnish teachers are entering college knowing they want to be teachers and the added education builds on that, but once again that is just an assumption on my part.

yeah you want a good education system the finns are the people to look to. hell if you want a practical solution to pretty much anything they are the go to people

dmase:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2011/05/02/the-finland-phenomenon-inside-the-worlds-most-surprising-school-system/

I was trying to find the video but couldn't but if you look up Finland Phenomenon you might be able to find it but it doesn't look like it's on youtube anymore.

The parts you pick out are ones that are meant to make students more competitive I believe, but doesn't explain why their teaching wrong in other countries. The link I give explains some key differences, though I don't know enough about the UK system to have a say on whether the UK's former system was different from Finland.

From that article I'd say the biggest difference between the Finnish idea of vocational education is how it's viewed compared to how it was in the UK. From what I've read about it (I'm way to young to remember 1st hand) the vocational path was seen as a losers choice; you weren't bright enough to get onto the academic course but you had to learn something - it wasn't seen as an equal path to take.

Admittedly it's getting better (at least in Scotland, we have a separate education system from England & Wales) with free college (community college) courses in vocational subjects that you can either go do after 4th or 6th year of high school (16/18). While quite a lot of people go and do them after leaving school, when still at school they are often pushed to take more academic subjects as they are 'better' qualifications to have - regardless of their practical use.

I think both here and in the US we are still of the view that going to university is the best option available. While important for a lot of things I think it still has a disproportionate allure to it - think about the idea of being proud of someone for being the first in the family to go to university - when was the last time you hear that about a college course? When we place so much emphasis on academia it harms vocational courses as the get seen as lesser paths to take.

We could do everything the Fins(?) do but still have the same problems because much of the problem is in how we see the 2 options; the Fins see both as equal while we still see one as superior.

The other thing is trusting teachers to teach. There's a running column in the Guardian newspaper called 'The Secret Teacher' in which teachers anonymously talk about the life of a modern teacher, it's no wonder the stereotype of teachers is alcohol problems when you read it. Some teachers talk about spending so long ticking boxes to show they've taught to standard that they never actually teach. I don't know how it is in America but I'd imagine the same problems exist; standardising of material and grading for teachers leading to an almost cookie-cutter staff with no ability to personalise the lessons.

First step should definitely be lifting these kind of restrictions and giving teachers the freedom to get kids interested rather than just tick boxes to say they've jumped through the bureaucratic hoops, which tells us nothing about how good a school actually is.

Karma168:

I think both here and in the US we are still of the view that going to university is the best option available. While important for a lot of things I think it still has a disproportionate allure to it - think about the idea of being proud of someone for being the first in the family to go to university - when was the last time you hear that about a college course? When we place so much emphasis on academia it harms vocational courses as the get seen as lesser paths to take.

The other thing is trusting teachers to teach. There's a running column in the Guardian newspaper called 'The Secret Teacher' in which teachers anonymously talk about the life of a modern teacher, it's no wonder the stereotype of teachers is alcohol problems when you read it. Some teachers talk about spending so long ticking boxes to show they've taught to standard that they never actually teach. I don't know how it is in America but I'd imagine the same problems exist; standardising of material and grading for teachers leading to an almost cookie-cutter staff with no ability to personalise the lessons.

In america that seems like less of a problem. Most of my friends from high school are now doing your average daily workers job. As an example my buddy got HVAC certified I was happy he was finally doing something besides working at a gas station and so was his family and it only took a couple credits at community college. We can't equate working at a gas station the rest of your life with going to college but I think we can equate going to college with learning a trade. And people learning their trade will almost be no worse off than a college grad in finding a job. I think the proud part comes in knowing that for the rest of your life you'll be able to take care of yourself, as a 4th year college student whose final goal is a PhD I won't be able to say that before I'm 23.(minimum but it could be longer)

I think trusting teachers is where the masters degrees come in, we want the most creative staff imaginable teaching kids. So they have the intelligence, we give them the trust, and hopefully we get results.

As any economist will tell ya, it all comes down to the incentive. The problem with our schools is a disconnect between compensation and the desired result. We compensate teachers based on length of service. What we want are students trained and ready to meet the challenges of a highly dynamic service and product market. What we need is a way to match compensation with the desired results. What's needed is a new way to fund schools.  Instead of property taxes we need a "user fee".  

Here's how it would work: As students move on to the "real world" of employment, a small portion of their paycheck is deducted and delivered to their alma-maters.  This "Education fee" could be collected like a FICA tax. The fee would be divided among the various schools the former student attended, the largest percentage being paid to the last school from which the student received a decree.  Non salary income would also be taxed.

The beauty of this system is that it's self-regulating.  Schools that produce hard working, tax paying, productive citizens will grow and prosper.  The teachers employed at those schools will get rich. Schools that produce losers dependent on welfare and social services will wither and die. The teachers employed at those schools will need to look for a new job.

No need for property taxes or vouchers.  No need to give schools "grades". No need to punish teacher or administrators for low test scores. No need for standardizes test. No need for government involvement. No need to throw money at the problem. It's all done by market forces. Its all done with an "invisible hand".

Third-eye:
As any economist will tell ya, it all comes down to the incentive. The problem with our schools is a disconnect between compensation and the desired result. We compensate teachers based on length of service. What we want are students trained and ready to meet the challenges of a highly dynamic service and product market. What we need is a way to match compensation with the desired results. What's needed is a new way to fund schools.  Instead of property taxes we need a "user fee".  

Here's how it would work: As students move on to the "real world" of employment, a small portion of their paycheck is deducted and delivered to their alma-maters.  This "Education fee" could be collected like a FICA tax. The fee would be divided among the various schools the former student attended, the largest percentage being paid to the last school from which the student received a decree.  Non salary income would also be taxed.

The beauty of this system is that it's self-regulating.  Schools that produce hard working, tax paying, productive citizens will grow and prosper.  The teachers employed at those schools will get rich. Schools that produce losers dependent on welfare and social services will wither and die. The teachers employed at those schools will need to look for a new job.

No need for property taxes or vouchers.  No need to give schools "grades". No need to punish teacher or administrators for low test scores. No need for standardizes test. No need for government involvement. No need to throw money at the problem. It's all done by market forces. Its all done with an "invisible hand".

I disagree. To some extent, that's just a unnecessarily complicated version of what occurs in Australia (and perhaps the US already, I'm not sure how university fees work exactly over there), where part of your uni fees are paid by the government (for most people, but not all) and part is paid by a government loan until you have reached a certain salary bracket, at which point they begin to extract the money back from your salary via the taxation system after you graduate, which is then spent by the government like regular taxes, some of which go to education, some go elsewhere etc. Having the extra steps of sending to whichever uni or school your went to is just expanding the process. Also, when a school or uni is producing people who are not achieving, the answer is not to take money away from them, but to figure out WHY former students aren't performing, then try to remedy that situation with policy or funding changes. The system of high performing schools gaining more funding, and low performing schools losing funding, will simply serve to increase inequality in classes. Students from a higher socio-economic background will be more likely to succeed simply due to the environment around them, and thus schools in affluent areas will rapidly gain shitloads of money, and the schools in poorer neighbourhoods will stagnate.

CAMDAWG:

I disagree. To some extent, that's just a unnecessarily complicated version of what occurs in Australia (and perhaps the US already, I'm not sure how university fees work exactly over there), where part of your uni fees are paid by the government (for most people, but not all) and part is paid by a government loan until you have reached a certain salary bracket, at which point they begin to extract the money back from your salary via the taxation system after you graduate, which is then spent by the government like regular taxes, some of which go to education, some go elsewhere etc. Having the extra steps of sending to whichever uni or school your went to is just expanding the process.

You are not understanding. You are missing the vital link between reward and desired result. For this to work it is imperative that all the money collect from the Education Fee go directly to the schools which produced the result. The money can not be divided and used for other purposes. It is just as important that there be no tuition. School admission would be free. Schools would receive no government money or loan money of any kind. Any and all compensation would be tied directly to student achievement in the market place. This is the cornerstone of the system.

CAMDAWG:

Also, when a school or uni is producing people who are not achieving, the answer is not to take money away from them, but to figure out WHY former students aren't performing, then try to remedy that situation with policy or funding changes.

That's the job of the school itself: to figure out WHY former students aren't performing, then try to remedy that situation with policy or curricula changes. The loss of money would be the wake-up call that somethings wrong and the incentive to fix the problem as soon as possible. The per capita Education fee paid to each school would also be public knowledge so everyone will know how each school is doing. No more Taxpayer funded government bail-out to help failing school. Sorry, not going to happen under this system. Failing school would do just that, fail. Current students would simply transfer to a successful school.

CAMDAWG:

The system of high performing schools gaining more funding, and low performing schools losing funding, will simply serve to increase inequality in classes. Students from a higher socio-economic background will be more likely to succeed simply due to the environment around them, and thus schools in affluent areas will rapidly gain shitloads of money, and the schools in poorer neighbourhoods will stagnate.

What are you saying, that kids from disadvantaged neighborhoods can't succeed given the right education? I say BS to that. There would be open enrollment. Students could go to any school in their county. But here's the thing, schools could expel students for disrespecting teachers, administrators, or other students without a lot of "red tape". The government would have to step-in to handle the ones with too much attitude, but those that want to learn should be given the chance without having to deal with constant disruptions from those who don't care and haven't grown up yet.

Third-eye:

CAMDAWG:

Also, when a school or uni is producing people who are not achieving, the answer is not to take money away from them, but to figure out WHY former students aren't performing, then try to remedy that situation with policy or funding changes.

That's the job of the school itself: to figure out WHY former students aren't performing, then try to remedy that situation with policy or curricula changes. The loss of money would be the wake-up call that somethings wrong and the incentive to fix the problem as soon as possible. The per capita Education fee paid to each school would also be public knowledge so everyone will know how each school is doing. No more Taxpayer funded government bail-out to help failing school. Sorry, not going to happen under this system. Failing school would do just that, fail. Current students would simply transfer to a successful school.

While I agree that it should be the schools responsibility to try and identify, and then fix, any problems (to some extent), you cannot encourage this by threatening to remove funding. That would only compound the problem. Not to mention falls in standards due to problems that can only be solved with money. For example, in Victoria, there are state schools that do not have enough funding to provide heating/cooling in classrooms, and it can get very cold in winter, and very hot in summer here. Thus, in your model, resulting in falling "success" rates, decreased funding, worse conditions, and then closure. And it is not such an easy thing to do, to just transfer schools at the drop of a hat. Particularly for those who are not well off.

CAMDAWG:

The system of high performing schools gaining more funding, and low performing schools losing funding, will simply serve to increase inequality in classes. Students from a higher socio-economic background will be more likely to succeed simply due to the environment around them, and thus schools in affluent areas will rapidly gain shitloads of money, and the schools in poorer neighbourhoods will stagnate.

What are you saying, that kids from disadvantaged neighborhoods can't succeed given the right education? I say BS to that. There would be open enrollment. Students could go to any school in their county. But here's the thing, schools could expel students for disrespecting teachers, administrators, or other students without a lot of "red tape". The government would have to step-in to handle the ones with too much attitude, but those that want to learn should be given the chance without having to deal with constant disruptions from those who don't care and haven't grown up yet.

That's a bullshit strawman. I said that those from a higher socio-economic class are more likely to end up in high-income jobs. Whether it's through family connections, pressure from parents, or simply having a more stable home environment. I never said that people from lower socio-economic backgrounds are unable to do as well. But they are much less likely to due to a number of factors. As for open enrollment, do you see many neighbourhoods that are evenly sprinkled with low income and high income families? No, is the answer. People will settle into areas that they can afford to live in, which results in roughly homogeneous areas. As such, local schools in affluent regions will have affluent students, and likewise with the less affluent regions. And again, the idea of just going to any other school is only practical for the well off. They will have enough money to provide transport, or just move house to the region they wish to go to school in. People who are struggling to get by cannot just up and move like that.

Moreover, why should the income of a graduate determine how good their school was, and thus how much funding the school receives? Scientists, for one example, and generally regarded as the most intelligent, and best educated, people in society, and yet they earn pittance compared to a lot of other professions, particularly involving business. Does this mean that a school that produces hundreds of award winning scientists is "worse" and less deserving of funding than a school that produces a couple of multi billionaires, and hundreds of dropouts?

CAMDAWG:

While I agree that it should be the schools responsibility to try and identify, and then fix, any problems (to some extent), you cannot encourage this by threatening to remove funding.

Well, yes you can. We do it all the time. That's how "free Market Capitalism" is suppose to work, right? There would be no "removing" of funding. No one's removing anything. Schools would either be generating the income (perhaps huge income) themselves or not. It's up to them. The schools would be in complete control of their curriculum. No more "red-tape" about what they can and can't teach. If the school feels the study-time is important to succeed in society, and the students are there to sign-up, then go for it. This would encourage schools to follow the trends and teach for the future, and not stagnate with old ideas, methods, and notions about the nature of education.

The problem with the current system, and the reason we are having this discussion, is because failure does not translate into economic hardship. It's well proven that the most effective encouragement for success is economic prosperity, and the most effective discouragement for failure is economic hardship. Now I certainly do not advocate a market solution in every situation. The Socialist model is fine for some applications but we've done it in education for some time now and its not working. Charter Schools are no different, still no connection between incentive and the desired results. Its time we tried a new approach, one that's really only possible today because of computerized record-keeping and tracking technology. I do not think we could do this, say, thirty years ago, but we can do it today. So it doesn't made sense to keep doing it the old way when most agree it doesn't work and there needs to be a change.

CAMDAWG:

For example, in Victoria, there are state schools that do not have enough funding to provide heating/cooling in classrooms, and it can get very cold in winter, and very hot in summer here. Thus, in your model, resulting in falling "success" rates, decreased funding, worse conditions, and then closure.

As you say we have that problem today, except, of course the teachers and the administrators still take their full salary, sometime quite large salaries, sit-back and do nothing to help. Under my system they would all pitch-in, take a pay-cut, get the utilities back on, and start making some improvements in the curriculum to get the real problems sorted out. Today it's always someone else's problem. Everyone plays the blame-game, points their finger at everyone else, and walks away with their salary and pension in tact, then "double-dips" after retirement. Under my system there would be none of that. Those responsible for the failure would pay the price.

CAMDAWG:
And it is not such an easy thing to do, to just transfer schools at the drop of a hat. Particularly for those who are not well off.

CAMDAWG:

As for open enrollment, do you see many neighbourhoods that are evenly sprinkled with low income and high income families? No, is the answer. People will settle into areas that they can afford to live in, which results in roughly homogeneous areas. As such, local schools in affluent regions will have affluent students, and likewise with the less affluent regions. And again, the idea of just going to any other school is only practical for the well off. They will have enough money to provide transport, or just move house to the region they wish to go to school in. People who are struggling to get by cannot just up and move like that.

Well it wouldn't be "at the drop of the hat". Provisions would be made. We have open enrollment where I come from and the so-called "poor kids" move about quite freely. More to the point, if some areas don't have schools, well that's an opportunity for some enterprising person or persons to start a new business. There would need to be a stipend period for new schools, and regulatory criteria, but they would be on their own after 5-10 years to sink or swim.

CAMDAWG:
That's a bullshit strawman. I said that those from a higher socio-economic class are more likely to end up in high-income jobs. Whether it's through family connections, pressure from parents, or simply having a more stable home environment. I never said that people from lower socio-economic backgrounds are unable to do as well. But they are much less likely to due to a number of factors.

Sure, success in life has many factors, and the rich will always have an advantage. As they say, it takes money to make money. But this system was never intended to be a silver bullet for correcting all of society's problems; just one necessary "fix" in a world filled with much needed "fixes".

CAMDAWG:

Moreover, why should the income of a graduate determine how good their school was, and thus how much funding the school receives? Scientists, for one example, and generally regarded as the most intelligent, and best educated, people in society, and yet they earn pittance compared to a lot of other professions, particularly involving business. Does this mean that a school that produces hundreds of award winning scientists is "worse" and less deserving of funding than a school that produces a couple of multi billionaires, and hundreds of dropouts?

Well of course the goal would be to "produce" as many productive students as possible. No school would be foolish enough to rely on a few rock stars for success. Teaching every student life skills, problem solving skills, finding and cultivating interests, hidden talents, and aptitudes; providing strategies for success; that's what it's all about.

 

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