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Thu Jan 3, 2013, 02:32 AM

 

Lean Production: Inside the war on public education

On September 10, nearly 30,000 Chicago teachers went on strike for the first time in 25 years. This was no mere breakdown in negotiations over wages or healthcare contributions. At issue, as many have noted, was the fundamental direction of public education...Meanwhile, in Detroit, students and teachers returned to dramatically altered schools. Over the summer, Roy Roberts, the schools’ “emergency financial manager,” had unilaterally imposed a contract on the city’s teacher union allowing elementary school class sizes to jump from 25 to 40 students and high school classes to 61 students. These class size reforms were coupled with a ten percent pay cut for Detroit teachers....

But stretching workers past their breaking point and increasing hours while gutting compensation is nothing new. The business model of education reform is an extension of a process called lean production that transformed the U.S. private sector in the 1980s and 90s. In education, just as in heavy manufacturing, the greatest damage done by lean production is not done at the bargaining table, but in the destruction of teachers’ working (and students’ learning) conditions...

The Team Concept

The team concept is a critical component of lean production. In lean workplaces, labor journalist Jane Slaughter writes, worker teams are designed to enlist workers “in speeding up their own jobs… It is no longer enough for workers to come to work and do their jobs; they need to become ‘partners in production...’” School managers promote teams as empowering for teachers...In reality, these meetings highlight how little control teachers have over their time and workload at lean schools...tasks (are) piled on top of teaching workloads that were constantly increasing due to growing class sizes and cuts to support staff...This is not an accident...The team concept both increases stress on the workforce and creates the illusion that workers themselves are responsible for this stress....teachers are never given the option to reject the team model, which generates the work; they have to choose between being a “team player...” or letting down their co-workers.

Management by Stress

What makes lean production unique from other forms of capitalist production is its “Management by Stress” approach: to achieve maximum efficiency, management deliberately stresses workplace systems to the point of breakdown...In Choosing Sides: Unions and the Team Concept, Jane Slaughter and Mike Parker note that... In a lean factory...supervisors speed up the production process until a worker drops a widget, loses a finger, or has a nervous breakdown. Such breakdowns are viewed as a positive because they allow management to identify weak links in the chain of production. As Slaughter and Parker write, “If the system is stressed…the weakest points become evident…Once the problems have been corrected, the system can then be further stressed (perhaps by reducing the number of workers) and then rebalanced.” The line can then be sped up again until the next breakdown occurs...

The goal of lean education isn’t teaching or learning; it’s creating lean workplaces where teachers are stretched to their limits so that students can receive the minimum support necessary to produce satisfactory test scores. It is critical for teachers to see this clearly because lean production is indeed “continuous”: in other words, it’s insatiable. The harder teachers work to satisfy the demands of lean managers, the harder we will be pushed, until we break down. There is no end to this process. It is equally critical for parents to understand that their children are being subjected to school reforms that are in fact experiments in educational deprivation. The goal of business-minded reformers is not to create “better” schools for children. It’s to create leaner schools for administrators to manage with greater ease. Parents and teachers must fight this process together, or student learning in public schools will continue to suffer.

http://jacobinmag.com/2012/09/lean-production-whats-really-hurting-public-education/

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Reply Lean Production: Inside the war on public education (Original post)
HiPointDem Jan 2013 OP
snot Jan 2013 #1
UnrepentantLiberal Jan 2013 #2
Flatpicker Jan 2013 #3
SunSeeker Jan 2013 #4
mbperrin Jan 2013 #9
We People Jan 2013 #17
Hissyspit Jan 2013 #5
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Dark n Stormy Knight Jan 2013 #6
knitter4democracy Jan 2013 #7
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HiPointDem Jan 2013 #20
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Smarmie Doofus Jan 2013 #27
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mbperrin Jan 2013 #48
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Smarmie Doofus Jan 2013 #72
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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 02:53 AM

1. K&R'd.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 04:09 AM

2. Moderates doing their best to dismantle the social net.

 

It's for our own good.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 04:12 AM

3. I can't speak for the teacher situation

But yes.
Lean production does use these methods. Though it's not talked about someone losing a finger or something like that.

This is what I've been taught and these are the tools that businesses use. Toyota brought Lean into prominence. That's how they outperformed other auto manufacturers at the time.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 04:45 AM

4. This kind of shit seems to only happen to poor kids' schools.

The rich and upper middle class would never put up with a 40 to 1 student teacher ratio in elementary schools. The Romney boys' school was 12 to 1.

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Response to SunSeeker (Reply #4)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 12:23 PM

9. Yes, that's all very........coincidental,

isn't it?

This used to be called the speedup, and it led to the formation of strong unions.

I teach my students to look for places where you are being asked to do someone else's job, and for no pay.

For instance, I never use the self-checkout lanes anywhere. I'd be doing another person's job and for nothing, not even a slight discount on my purchases. I tell them about full service stations when I was young, and because I was young, I fell for saving 2 cents a gallon to pump my own gas.

Now that I'm in my 60s, it would be pleasant to have someone check the fluids, clean the glass, check my tires and make change without me having to leave the car, especially on some of these cold and unpleasant days. But that option is dead - why? Because we helped eliminate someone's job without a thought for the future.

The one topic no longer taught in economics is sustainability - truth is, business types don't give a shit what will happen in 30 years, 20 years, 5 years, or even next year - they've got a 90 day horizon to the next quarter. That's no way to run a country.

But you are right - those with real money seem to be able to get all the things that everyone used to get. Weird, huh?

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #9)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 09:25 PM

17. Thanks, mbperrin, for the historical perspective for how we got to the present situation

I was in college during the first "energy crisis" and didn't even give a second thought to how many employees of service stations lost their jobs due to "self service." How convenient for employers (local and corporate) that the problem of higher gas prices was possibly a "solution to the problem" of paying employees. At that time there was a minority of the population that thought this "crisis" was manufactured by the oil companies, which most people thought was silly. But looking back on it, knowing what we know now about political coups, shock doctrine, manufactured fiscal crises, and supply side/austerity economics, there are too many people who benefit from forced hardships of the average working/middle/poor citizens.

I'm glad I won't have to be around to see too far into the future of the educational state of this country, but my heart breaks for the young and those who grew up wanting to teach them.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 04:46 AM

5. 61 students???

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Response to Hissyspit (Reply #5)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 02:09 PM

12. Sure, for the great unwashed. But at Romney's Cranbrook School, only 12 high schoolers per class.nt

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 04:53 AM

6. Disgusting. People, students or teachers, are not widgets. I guess it's more likely someone will

lost their mind than a finger in this case.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 11:43 AM

7. I teach in a school where this sounds quite familiar.

The goal is to cut staff while saying we're preparing kids for college, but the reality is, we're not (based on how our grads do), and the staff is stretched to the breaking point. We have a principal with no teaching experience, and the state (Michigan) is threatening to install an emergency manager if we can't cut another $800K from the school budget (and no one knows how/where to do that--we had to cut $350K this year after the year started, and that was a mess in and of itself).

Administrators who don't care about brain drain in losing their best teachers are administrators who don't care about kids and outcomes.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 12:15 PM

8. That's certainly descriptive

of my experience over the last decade.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 12:37 PM

10. Every industry has been effected by technology in the past 40 years.

If you've ever seen the movie 'Falling Down'; you are aware of how the 'draftsmen' were cut loose because they possessed a skill that is no longer useful.

When I see the TED video about the 'Kahn Academy' and hear people on here complain about how Bill Gates is trying to eliminate teachers; I'm afraid I view the education industry as one that has managed to avoid advancing with the changes to technology.

In my own personal experience the professional educators that I have been in contact with are not very technologically savvy.

I'm all for treating our educators with the respect that is due, but as a professional engineer and surveyor; people fall by the wayside because they can't keep up with the technology in my industry. Why should educators be exempt from what is a normal evolution of the workplace? We can get away with larger class sizes; just as engineers can get by without a lot of CAD technicians. It's what happens when technology replaces people; when a person on an assembly line is replaced by a machine we experience some sadness at the passing of an era, but we can't realistically fight for getting rid of the technology.

Teachers should be able to handle more students with database tracking in the manner that is performed at the Kahn Academy. Teachers needn't stand and deliver lectures that are available on video and in fact, for consistency sake, should show the same videos. This also allows for self-paced learning.

There is also too much administration in our school systems. The entire system needs to be evaluated and brought up to speed. I see educators trying to bring back a bygone era and that typically does not end well.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #10)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 02:07 PM

11. Video may be a great way to teach engineers, but not 8 year olds. nt

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Response to SunSeeker (Reply #11)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 05:55 PM

13. I see your point.

Children have never learned anything from videos. That's why Sesame Street and School House Rock were such failures.



Video is an excellent medium to teach children because if they don't understand it; they can watch it again without someone having to repeat anything. If the child doesn't understand something; they can ask the teacher (or a parent). If a child is identified as incapable of learning by video; then I can see some kind if special program, but I doubt there is any evidence that children can't learn from video.

If educators are laboring under the misconception that technology can't improve learning in the classroom (any classroom); they can expect to be disappointed.

It took a while for CAD software to replace draftsmen (they require a lot of setup and there are still glitches). However, once the time savings were realized and repetitive tasks were automated; there was never talk of going back.

The education industry needs a similar revolution. Children aren't getting the tools they need to succeed and very often it is because educators refuse to take responsibility for their failures by trying to blame academic failure on parents and often times the children themselves.

I've seen discussions here on DU make that argument (its the parents fault) and that has been my experience in meetings with school personnel (blame the parents). Educators tend to circle the wagons when they are faced with criticism and I think it reduces the positive perception of outsiders.

Don't get me wrong; I respect teachers. I believe there are a lot of good teachers out there, but I think when teachers heap too much praise upon one another or the industry itself; those of us who have had bad experiences with teachers might not speak up because of the love fest. Even though we disagree.

The industry has fallen behind because of the type of funding that it receives. Parents (who should be the client) have no control over the activities of the professionals.

Compare that to Lawyers, Accountants, Engineers, or Medical Doctors even. If you don't have any control over the people who are providing the professional service; you take your business to the firm down the street.

It is no doubt unsatisfied customers (like myself) who are trying to bring about the charter schools; are motivated by this disconnect.

I want to believe that representative government like the local school board is the solution, but schools just seem to get worse.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #13)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 06:43 PM

15. Charter schools? I thought you wanted videos replacing teachers.

"It is no doubt unsatisfied customers (like myself) who are trying to bring about the charter schools..."

Much has been said about charter schools on this board by folks with way more experience than me with the subject, and from what I can tell, charter schools are a disaster. You have even less control over a charter school than you do a public school. The public schools in my school district DO allow you to "take your business down the street" in the sense that you can pick any elementary school in the district to enroll your kid. So the schools do compete with one another and are among the best in CA. People pay a premium for houses around here just so their kids can be in the school district. And no, teachers are not "laboring under the misconception that technology can't improve learning in the classroom." My kid's elementary school is constantly putting on fundraisers trying to raise money for more Smartboards, ipads, and computers in every classroom. Fortunately, we live in an upper middle class area where the parents can afford to donate a lot of money to the schools. Kids in poor neighborhoods are generally not so lucky.

But sticking to the point at hand, I can't believe you are seriously suggesting that the very important human interaction needed for effective teaching can be accomplished through a video screen. Of course videos like "Schoolhouse Rock" make a nice addition to reinforce what a teacher is presenting, but they cannot replace the teacher, especially for the very labor-intensive teaching needs of the young.

I am very sorry that you have never had a teacher who inspired you. But the reason our schools are failing is because we are starving them for resources, not because "teachers heap too much praise on one another."

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Response to SunSeeker (Reply #15)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 09:29 PM

18. I appreciate your thoughtful response.

I don't want videos replacing teachers. I want videos and teachers. Depending on the subject; the teacher to student ratio can be higher. They certainly are in the university; we should start training our young people to pay attention in a lecture hall at an early age.

Some of the technologies that you mention are, in my opinion, a waste of money.

Simply purchasing expensive electronic equipment isn't teaching children anymore than building a nice football field teaches children.

One of the things that children need to learn is how to succeed with the resources that they have. You could buy a dozen used computers for the price of a single iPad and use it to teach children the use of spreadsheets, word processing, databases, high level programming and CAD all on open source software.

These are skills that I would like to see young people come away from elementary school with. Unfortunately, the teachers that I interact with have no knowledge of such things. If they were watching videos; then they could learn these skills at the same time that the children are learning them.

We are always hearing that "we need more scientists and engineers". We aren't going to have more scientists and engineers unless we start teaching children how to work with the tools of the trade when they are young. Spreadsheets and databases are the foundation for the kind of information management and calculations for those professions and haven't changed significantly in function for quite some time. Teachers can't be expected to teach children subjects that they aren't familiar with; watching videos made by someone else would help them learn subjects that have advanced since they were in school.

The latest and greatest things going on in the world are constantly changing and it makes sense to distribute this information through media that is easily shareable. Videos through youtube have an efficient distribution system and can be created quickly and inexpensively. They can be viewed over the Internet on 10 year old computers and created with open source software. It is a tool that has been around for a while; why anyone would challenge its value as a teaching medium is frankly, beyond me.

I'm not beating up on teachers; I just think they they are operating within a system that is in serious need of updating. I think people look to charter schools because the current system is not responsive. It is not teachers faults that so much of the school budget goes toward bloated administrative positions, but that is a huge problem with the current system. While it is not the teachers fault; they are in a better position to do something about it than parents.

I have no experience with charter schools. I am simply telling you that IMHO when schools do not respond to parents (which seems to be a common complaint); it makes sense to me that they are drawn toward that kind of solution.

As far as the down side to charter schools. I get a magazine from the utility company that tells me how bad solar panels are. I tend to weigh the 'source' of the information. Public school teachers aren't going to sing the praises of charter schools.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #18)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 10:21 PM

19. Cool. Sounds like we're in agreement.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #18)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 11:43 PM

20. Schools were using computers before the education deformers got started. They were using

 

videos too. They also used tv back in the day when that was a 'new' technology (I was there). They use language labs too, with recorded study matter.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #20)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 12:33 AM

22. The problem that the education industry is going through now...

IMHO is that with all of the privatization of other traditionally government industries that has gone on over the past couple of decades; big companies see a big stack of money that they want to go in and scoop up. If they can privatize education.

The reason I liked the Kahn Academy was because this is something that doesn't cost the schools much. Even if a school doesn't buy into the program itself; the idea that the same inexpensively produced material can be reused en masse is appealing to me.

In my experience with the government; slick sales people talk to upper echelon folk and sell 'shit on a stick' to those people and expect the folks on the ground to make it work. Very often what they are purchasing is not necessary at all. This leaves the people who are actually expected to do the work without the tools they need and burdened with some piece of crap. Very often the slick sales people provide gifts to the folks making the purchasing decisions.

This is one of the reasons I am critical of the extensive administration that school districts have in this day and age. They seem to be gobbling up school budgets and it is not money well spent.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #22)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 01:29 AM

23. The education 'industry'? wtf are you talking about? FYI it's *Khan* academy & the reason

 

it doesn't cost much is the same reason apple's computers in elementary schools didn't cost much & bill gates' computers in librarys didn't cost much: loss leader.

Teachers can produce better materials costing very little via crowd-sourcing too. Khan academy is a distraction. If you think kindly corporate guys are going to continue producing free materials once they have control of schools, think again. Ain't gonna happen.

You are right about the shit on a stick; the education deform people are selling shit on a stick big-time -- for example, the costs of the new testing requirements are huge; the costs of Common Core will be huge as well; and charter schools, after more than 10 years of experience, are not money-savers, but *are* more susceptible to major financial fraud.

And administrative costs? You ain't seen nothing yet. Take a look at the salaries some of the charter school principals and administrators make -- bigger than the salaries for administrators of entire *districts* in some cases.

Education is seen as a new profit center by the folks pushing charter schools -- not only in the US, but globally. The same 'reforms' are being pushed around the world, and there are global education corporations already in place to start raking in the bucks.

If you think parents don't have enough control over their children's schools now, you are going to *love* the new world of privatized global education, where your city is assessed for the costs of schooling but the only power you have as a parent is the power to 'choose' between coke, pepsi & 7-up.

And the local tax money will not stay in your community to be recycled through local businesses, but will wind up in some tax haven in the bahamas or at corporate HQ in Nevada or Delware.

Public education has problems: most of which have been created in DC or by general social conditions in the US (such as widening inequality). And some of them are just canards (such as the widely-promulgated notion that US students aren't competitive internationally or have been doing worse on national tests than prior generations).

Privatized education has even *worse* problems, by several magnitudes.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #23)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 10:45 AM

24. Perhaps referring to a 'field of work' as an industry is a shortcut...

...that educators find objectionable. I'm not trying to offend anyone by referring to it as an industry and I apologize for being too lazy to look up the proper spelling of Khan.

I agree with much of what you're saying, but in my own personal experience; my children did not receive the quality of education that I did.

Granted, I sent my children to school in Louisiana and Arkansas and I went to school in Idaho; so we aren't comparing apples and apples.

I said that it is the Khan academy's 'model' is what I was impressed with. I'm familiar with how the loss leader model works and I agree that educators can do at least as good a job at preparing the material - and they should be doing it as a time saving measure (the issue I have is: why aren't they?).

I don't want to see charter schools take over either. There are civil services that have been taken over by the private sector, and in a lot of cases even though the service to the customer is not reduced; the employees benefits are reduced. Over time it gets to a point where it is too difficult to return the service to the government. It is not a path that I would like to see our education system follow.

However, in my personal experience, the system is not working as well as it could. It isn't some study that I read; it is my personal experience with the teachers of my children and the principals, and the other professionals in the system. As I said before; they tend to circle the wagons rather than address problems. Its understandable; they spend a lot of time together. I expect that they're friends, but in the end; I believe it effects the quality of education that our children receive.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #22)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 09:59 AM

27. A definite YES to these two points:

>>>In my experience with the government; slick sales people talk to upper echelon folk and sell 'shit on a stick' to those people and expect the folks on the ground to make it work. Very often what they are purchasing is not necessary at all. This leaves the people who are actually expected to do the work without the tools they need and burdened with some piece of crap. Very often the slick sales people provide gifts to the folks making the purchasing decisions. >>>>>>

This is no less true in education. A lot of the gimmicky "reform" bullshit trickles down to the classroom in the form of commercial products that are sold as the " next big thing" but are forgotten in a year of two after whoever stood to make $$$ from it has finished making $$$. There are mechanisms.. i.e. agencies... in most systems that are supposed to prevent this from happening. In NYC there's a DOI... a special in house investigatory office... that should be making sure that this doesn't happen. problem is NO ONE trusts it. I imagine the dynamic is the same in most places.

>>>This is one of the reasons I am critical of the extensive administration that school districts have in this day and age. They seem to be gobbling up school budgets and it is not money well spent.>>>>

Teachers and their unions should be more on top of this. It doesn't and shouldn't take five people to mail a proverbial letter ( i.e. one to lick the envelope, one to put the stamp one, etc etc. etc.) But most school administration is like that. It's short sighted for teachers and their unions to look the other way at this. The bigger and more bloated the upper-echelon, the more nonsense work it creates for the classroom teacher. The out of classroom types have to APPEAR to be doing something, after all. So they send-out "memos" about nonsense and "rollout" gimicky new "initiatives". In NYC, breaking up "big" schools and creating a bunch of little schools in their place is a chief feature of "reform". The bureaucracy expands exponentially every time this is done ( e.g. each little school requires a principal, one or more asst. principals, coaches ( like "literacy coach") a school payroll sec, an attendance teacher, iep coordinators, etc. etc. etc. etc..)

Some teachers don't fight this because want a "career ladder" ; i.e. a way to escape the classroom. Elsewhere ( not in this post) you make the point that teachers are responsible for bureaucratic bloat. This is partly true. And to the extent that it is true ... we should cut it out.




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Response to Smarmie Doofus (Reply #27)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 10:35 AM

29. I'm glad you agree...

and I'm not sure how much influence classroom teachers can have over the 'bloated administration' problem by themselves, but what I see in my 'real life' interactions with professional educators and what I see here on the board is a blaming of the parents and sometimes students; when the system seems to be failing.

Parents and teachers need to stand together against this 'growing administration' problem and put those financial resources back in the classroom where they belong; whether it be in the form of more teacher pay or more materials and equipment.

Of course step one is identifying the problem and step two is building a consensus. I don't know how many people are aware that it is a problem, or how many agree that it is a problem.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #29)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 08:22 PM

48. "Bloated" administration? I teach in a large urban high school of 3600+ enrollment.

We have a principal, vice principal, 4 assistant principals, 4 counselors, and 4 attendance clerks. There are 177 teachers on staff and five janitors and one uniformed officer as well.

They handle all building maintenance, discipline, security, counseling, former student services, and parent contact, as well as conduct district policy, attend all sports and other extra-curricular functions, and work 50 weeks a year.

Our attendance is about 90% daily, and there are about 200 discipline referrals written per day by teachers for staff to resolve, and then oversee the ISS program, tutoring activities, truancy enforcement, and hallway and cafeteria security between classes and during lunch.

Now which of these 14 people would you do away with, since they're all working 14 hours a day at the building now and more some weeks? If the kids ever really count hard numbers, we're doomed from a security standpoint. But go ahead now and tell which of these bloated bureaucrats we can do without and which functions we can safely eliminate.

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #48)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 06:33 PM

70. The bloated administration isn't in the building.

If they're in the building; they aren't part of the bloated administration. For some reason when we (my wife and i) start working our way up the ladder we find all kinds of superintendents.

We once had a meeting with the director of special education and her two immediate supervisors; both of them had superintendent titles. Neither was the district superintendent.

If you don't have a nice fancy separate building with a lot of people with fancy titles and obscure functions; you might not have a bloated administration.

I don't think they're in every school district.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #70)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 06:43 PM

71. Nah. We've got a superintendent, an assistant super, an athletic director, and a fine arts director,

some secretaries, a human resources department, and a purchasing department. I guess we're okay.

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #71)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 12:34 PM

79. I think the best education reform...

Would be to put a cap on administrative costs similar to the ACAs cap on the health insurance company's administrative costs.

It may not be as big a problem as I think it is, but in several of the school districts that we've been in; it takes hours on the phone to figure out who, within the vast administration, is responsible.

One time when we lived in Manhattan Kansas; my wife drove up to the administration building while I waited on hold at home. They put her on hold and hoped that she would give up; they never did pick up the phone until she asked them to tell me I could hang up. Of course, now that everyone has cell phones, 'old school' tactics like that probably aren't taught in the upper level education classes anymore.

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #48)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 11:26 PM

72. Your building admins work 14 hours per day? *Fourteen*. Every day.

>>>Now which of these 14 people would you do away with, since they're all working 14 hours a day at the building now and more some weeks? >>>>

That's... say... 8 am to 10 pm, typically.

Among other questions I have: are they in a union?

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Response to Smarmie Doofus (Reply #72)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 01:32 AM

75. Actually, it's more like 6:30 am to 8:30 pm, typically.

They're there when I arrive at 7:15, and they're there at 4:30, when the last students are dismissed, and they are there at 6 pm when I drive back by on our way to supper, and they are there for evening events like basketball games, volleyball games, debate tournaments, and so on, as well as mandatory attendance at Saturday events involving our students, both in town and out of town, so sometimes coming back on the bus from Amarillo 300 miles away with a team that left there at 9, they eat, and arrive back here around 4 am.

They're also 12 month contracts, which means they off two weeks in the summer, rather than the summer, like 10 month employees like myself and other teachers. They also do home visits on weekends, do workplace inspections as part of our co-op education program with employers.

There are no public employee unions in Texas. They are prohibited by law. All teachers are on one-year contracts with no expectation of renewal, which basically means we're at-will employees, and the administrators are on 3 year contracts, again with no expectation of renewal. This way, if you're not offered a new contract in May for the following fall, you have no job. You weren't fired; you just were not re-hired.

This is Texas.

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #75)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 09:27 AM

76. Sounds Like "The Last Picture Show". Meaning....

... the whole culture is so different here (NYC) that point-by-point comparisons are probably not worth making.

That said, one of my basic points of contention in the last year or two before I retired was that admins were working 1. LESS than they were contractually required to work,( I believe that's only 7 and 1/2 hrs per day; they have a union and a union contract.) and 2. MUCH LESS than teachers were working.

The author of the article in the OP ( he works in NYC) makes the point that one of the goals of Lean Production is to intentionally exhaust the workforce by burdening it with a lot of superfluous, essentially ADMINISTRATIVE work. When I first read that it seemed to jump off the page and I felt like I got hit on the head w. a 2x4.

YES. EXACTLY. That explains a lot of what's going on right now in this system. There are more things wrong with this than I can list here but one of the most corrosive is that it sets up... or exacerbates a (pre-existing).... gulf between teacher and administrator, and between teaching and administration.

IMO, the ideal ( and not so coincidentally, the *traditional*) admin is admin that TEACHES part time and also takes responsibility for the functioning of the school as a whole. (As in "Principal Teacher"; the original terminology). Lean Production... or whatever you want to call ...it fixes teachers and admins in irreconcilably hostile camps. What is good for "them" ( admins; i.e. less work, less responsibility) is bad for "us".

It's a hop, skip, and a jump from that point to an entire assortment of objective evils: hostile work environment, admins ripping-off the system ( and the kids, and the parents and the teachers and the taxpayers), etc.

Most of all... it ( i.e. the widened gap between teaching and admin) attracts into administration exactly the kind of people that you DON'T want running schools: power-hungry, money-hungry, manipulative, self-aggrandizing and temperamentally non-pedagogic.

But this is not Texas. Less "Picture Show" than..... I dunno.... "Nightmare on Elm Street?

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Response to Smarmie Doofus (Reply #72)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 06:14 PM

83. Ours do. Easily.

6:30am to 9pm is a pretty usual day, though they usually go home around 6 or 7pm. Then, they're in on weekends, there late on Fridays with home games, and sometimes have to leave earlier to get to meetings in the capital that start at 8am.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #13)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 08:02 PM

16. Outsiders all too often don't know what they are talking about.

For example, education is a "customer service business." It isn't. It's not an industry, period.

Charter schools are complete and total crap. I don't want taxpayer money going into any type of private school, including charters.

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Response to duffyduff (Reply #16)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 12:12 AM

21. I believe educational activity falls within the definition if industry.

http://i.word.com/idictionary/industry

As far as education not being a 'customer service business'; how can anyone expect to maintain the respect of the people that they serve if they don't answer to them?

I've worked for state government, and county government and in every case we were always very customer service oriented. I think this is what citizens expect from people who draw a paycheck from government funds.

I don't know what you mean by 'outsiders', but the term I always used was 'taxpayers' when referring to the people that I served when I worked for the government.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #21)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 10:29 AM

25. I think you're viewing this inaccurately.

Trained teachers are experts in their field, just as doctors, for example, are experts in the medical field. Think of how people are expected to conduct themselves while at the doctor. You should ask questions and always do your research and not be afraid to seek a second, well-informed opinion. You wouldn't tell your doctor how he/she should do his/her job. You wouldn't seek advice for a second opinion from a doctor that never completed medical school. Just as a certain degree of respect and trust is garnered from patients to doctors, teachers also deserve a degree of respect from those they serve. Teachers feel a great deal of accountability toward their students and their families, but it is extremely unwise for those with no pedagogical training to direct teachers in their profession, their area of expertise.

As for the concept of teachers being unable to keep up with modern technology, bringing automated learning into the classroom, and as a result, increasing class sizes, it is important to realize just how much content, how many processing skills, and how many students this method would be ineffective for. Sure, Khan-style videos are inexpensive, can be used repeatedly, and are logistically practical, but they are relatively limited in terms of learning styles and content.

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Response to savebigbird (Reply #25)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 10:52 AM

31. I recognize that teachers are professionals...

However, your account of a visit to the medical doctor does not line up with my personal experience. Nor does it line up with my professional experience as a licensed engineer or my wife's experience as an attorney.

The first thing my doctor asks is: "what can I do for you." Attorney's have an obligation to honor the wishes of their clients and as an engineer; if you don't honor the requests of your (non-professional) clients; they'll take it down the street. We are obviously bound by ethical considerations, but the idea that: I'm a ,by-God, professional and you don't tell me what to do; is not accurate across other professions.

Frankly, I wouldn't return to a doctor that didn't take my wishes into account (obviously they have to be cognizant of drug-seeking behavior). My doctor asked me if I wanted a tranquilizer prescription because I indicated to him that was having trouble resting; he didn't insist that I take them.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #31)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 07:27 PM

36. Would your wife's client tell her HOW to achieve

their desired result? Would your clients tell you HOW to go about achieving their desired result? Probably not. The concern lies primarily with the outcome. The same should hold true with teaching. If you don't like the results, it becomes an accountability issue, and, if necessary, you can seek services elsewhere. However, it is unwise to direct teachers in HOW they teach.

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Response to savebigbird (Reply #36)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 07:33 PM

41. Yes, they try to direct the approach...

...and sometimes they make good points. It's a good idea to listen to your clients because everyone comes from a different background. You never know when someone will have a recommendation that can make your work a lot easier.

It's best to hear people out. If you aren't going to follow their approach; it is best not to tell them that you are going to, but sometimes the best solutions come from people with a completely different background.

At least in my experience. I'm sure you probably get a lot more stupid suggestions than I do (mostly because you deal with more people than I do) but sometimes I need more ideas, and I take them from where I can get them. Very often my wife helps me solve problems because she approaches things from a completely different perspective. Sometimes I overlook simple solutions that are obvious to someone with different training. I'm thankful when I get short-circuited in those situations.

Sometimes our ego can be our worst enemy. I try to approach things humbly, but occasionally I get too full of myself and when that happens it can be quite painful.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #41)


Response to Blanks (Reply #21)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 12:42 PM

47. "Customer service" implies catering to the clients, even if they are wrong.

This won't work in education. Parents don't like to hear that their little ones are not perfect little angels, and often the teacher pays the price.

I have been in staffings with the principal, county rep, psychologist, and sometimes the child's medical doctor OR a report from them. Often unpleasant things happen, thing the parents don't want to hear. You can NOT do that and be honest and still please the parents in some situations.

You can not treat learning as a commodity, it is ridiculous.

You can not run a classroom like a business. It will not allow for the fact that these are real people with real problems.

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Response to madfloridian (Reply #47)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 01:59 PM

80. I agree.

Treating education as a commodity is ridiculous. Which is why I didn't suggest it.

It's a service. Just as the other professions provide a service. I don't agree that education can't be run as a business.

The other professions that we've discussed on this thread typically have private sector employees and public sector employees. Attorneys have prosecutors that work for the government and defense attorneys that are frequently in the private sector and they go in front of a judge; another public sector employee. There are a lot of consulting engineering firms that work exclusively for the government, but they are a private firm and all of their work is reviewed by government employed engineers.

I think it strengthens these profession to have both groups. I expect that's an argument made by proponents of charter schools; I haven't heard it from anyone, but it makes sense to me.

I don't know that it would be a bad system to have a privately owned company that contracts out teachers to school districts. So that different companies could compete for contracts. This would require the state board of educators to oversee these companies in the manner that the state board of engineers oversees engineering firms.

An education firm could specialize in specific subjects and hire educators with those kind of degrees and laws could be passed to regulate these companies so that the profits can't be siphoned off to high paying administrators. School districts could employ a percentage of educators themselves and contract with a firm for a few or a lot; depending on need. Teachers could be required to submit a lesson plan and have that plan approved by the administration of the school.

This is similar to how civil engineering firms interact with state DOTs and municipalities. I don't think it would reduce the quality of education for children, it would give professional educators a public or private sector option and I expect it would be easier to identify bad educators and either improve their performance through intervention or get them out of the system.

Having businesses like this would not effect the existing system because the school district could decide not to utilize any outside help if there are problems with the services provided. One of the advantages of a setup like this is that an education firm could send different teachers to the classroom depending on the topic of the day as long as it is in compliance with their contract.

Obviously implementing a system like this would initially be really disruptive. I think once the contracts and expectations for both parties were worked out; there would be more flexibility since some of the educators wouldn't report directly to the principal but rather the principal would interact with the principal of the company.

State law could require that the company be owned by state certificated/licensed educators (just as most states require of engineering firms).

I don't believe that the education profession is so different from other professions that it couldn't take examples from other professions and implement those examples in the interest of creating more options for educators. What I'm suggesting here may seem stupid; it may not be practical, but I don't think it would hurt educators to look at how other professions treat their professionals and consider mimicking those practices that might benefit the individual educator without compromising the quality of education.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #10)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 08:00 PM

26. It's not about database tracking.

It's about too many kids in a room with only one adult in charge. Once you pass a threshold, the adult isn't in charge anymore, and in reality, the only reason we don't have more violence and problems is because most kids are good and play by the rules.

Grading essays takes time. Lots of time. Give a teacher too many students, and the amount the students write does down. Studies show that, when writing goes down, so do test scores and other objective measurements. That's not about database tracking but more the fact that there's no technology to replace the teacher going through an essay to point out where they need to fix it and where the errors are.

It's also not about bringing back a bygone era (more and more of us are tech-savvy and do our damndest to get kids tech literate as well) but using the data we have. There is a ton of data out there that says that smaller class sizes result in better outcomes, that computer-based education has severe limits (lower test scores, fewer kids graduate or finish programs, etc.), and that the best outcomes happen with an experienced, master teacher in the room.

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Response to knitter4democracy (Reply #26)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 10:19 AM

28. There is no doubt that certain subjects require...

...more input from teachers than others. Essays are a good example.

I knew a kid that was in my younger brothers class in Jr High school (40 years ago). He was a constant troublemaker and drove the teachers crazy. They tested him and he was a genius.

The problem with the current education system is that we place children of all abilities in a classroom and have them work on the same thing. There are a great many subjects (math and science for example) where; what we want the children to learn may actually exceed the teachers knowledge on the subject. They are held back and even bored by the subject matter presented. That is one of the things that I find appealing about the Khan academy. Children work at their own pace and a database tracking system identifies where each child is having problems in the system. Children don't move on until they've masterd a module. If teachers were monitoring the children's progress instead of lecturing; they would have time to keep kids from grab-assing. I expect any dedicated teacher to balk at this because I understand they have a passion for teaching, but again, certain subjects are best taught by allowing students to progress at their own pace.

I recognize that this model does not apply to all subjects, but if we could put 200 8th graders in a room with dividers and allow them to work on chemistry or physics at their own pace with a computer program that tracks their progress and evaluate only the ones who aren't getting it; that would allow subjects that require smaller class sizes to have a higher teacher to student ratio.

I'd have to see these studies (and who conducted them, and how they converted data to Tons) to believe that computer teaching has severe limits. I have two children who struggled through 10 grades at school and when they were allowed to work at their own pace on a computer; they completed subjects quickly. In the classroom; teachers get to decide how smart a child is. The computer doesn't bring any biases.

My son had a teacher who got annoyed at him because he constantly corrected her spelling; he was a special education student for all 15 years that he went to school, but he knew how to spell. She didn't appreciate being corrected in front of her students. Computer learning would prevent this kind of unproductive interaction.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #28)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 10:38 AM

30. I think your availaility bias is showing.

First of all, most of us don't lecture frequently, if much at all, anymore. If we do, we know to keep the lectures short and only for their best use: to quickly disseminate pertinent information. We then follow that up with practice so that kids can use that information quickly because, if they don't, they won't remember what they heard in the lecture.

I've worked with computer-based learning on the high school level in three different schools now, and in all three, we had the same results: many were signed up for the credit recovery online class, and few actually finished it. Teachers were involved, as were parapros, kids were held accountable, and the vast majority goofed off and didn't do the work it took. Yes, some were hard-working and driven enough to complete the class in time, but they were the distinct minority. Most students really don't learn best with online learning: I'm not saying they don't learn, just that they don't learn best. More and more students are kinesthetic learners, and so sitting at a computer screen for hours just doesn't work for them. It takes a teacher to vary it up for them and coordinate assessments to hit all learning styles.

With differentiated instruction, my students aren't all working on the exact same thing all of the time. For example, in Spanish, they have three different projects each to choose from to demonstrate mastery of vocabulary, conversational skills, and cultural knowledge. Those projects are differentiated by learning style as well as tiered so that my advanced students are challenged and my lower-level students are as well but on different levels. With my seniors, they are all working on an analysis research essay, but they chose their topics and are using different methods to get there (some do best with graphic organizers, some with outlines, some with other methods).

As for a teacher who isn't okay with a student correcting her spelling, I am sorry you son dealt with someone like that. I always encourage my students to correct mine and praise them when they catch a spelling error (which sometimes is deliberate when I misspell a spelling word to see who catches it). Some teachers still have the "sage on the stage" mentality, but more and more often, that's just not the case. Most of us see ourselves as facilitators, not the wise person with all the answers, so we teach accordingly.

Side note on computer learning: You'd be amazed at how often those contain errors, and there's no way to fix them. I've helped kids through online English credit recovery lessons with distinct errors, wrong answers on the quiz being counted as correct, etc. With a teacher, we can see an error in a test and fix it, but with the software, well, everyone's stuck, so the student has to learn the wrong answer in order to move on.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #28)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 11:40 AM

32. Teachers don't lecture anymore.

That went out a couple decades ago.

And seriously - 200 8th graders in a room with dividers working at their own pace? Are you kidding?

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #32)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 02:39 PM

33. Lecturing went out a couple of decades ago eh?

I believe that was a bad move.

It's interesting that you would think separating a bunch of eighth graders and have them work independently wouldn't work.

Everyone has different learning styles and the only way you can evaluate an individual; is individually. They could be managed in an incentive based program. If a student is trusted to work independently and they betray that trust; they are relocated to a more restrictive environment. Obviously, the more restrictive environment should not be a punishment but rather an area with a higher adult to child ratio. With the purpose of evaluating what additional resources they need to learn the material. I think you would find students working to avoid that more restrictive environment.

Most of the courses that I took in college had hundreds of people sitting in a lecture hall; I would have been able to do that in 8th grade.

Certainly you wouldn't do that in an art class or a writing class, but I believe it is the best system for teaching most sciences and math. There was also an opportunity for individual attention, but the material was presented to a large group of people and the frequent tests were used to evaluate each students strengths and weaknesses. Of course in college it is up to the individual to make the additional necessary effort.

We should start with the assumption that people want to learn and wait until they demonstrate that they are 'other' directed before we begin treating them as though they are going to goof off once we've turned our back.

I've lectured in classrooms full of eighth graders as one of my duties as an engineer at the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department. Sometimes they consolidated multiple classrooms to prevent the presenter from giving a bunch of presentations, but usually I talked to about 30 students at a time.

I don't think you can pass on your passion for a subject without lecturing. I also don't think you'd have much trouble sending 200 eighth grade students to a movie theater to watch something that they're interested in; the trick is piquing their interest.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #33)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 02:50 PM

34. Well, I didn't make the decision to stop lecturing.

Teachers don't have the independence to choose what style of instruction to employ. Those decisions are made by the ones in charge.

And no, you can't put 200 pre-adolescent and adolescents in a room together, give them an assignment on a computer, and expect them to work at their own pace. That's downright comical. 150 of them would find a way around the system within minutes to post on Facebook, look at porn or play video games, 25 would put their heads down and sleep, 15 would be up roaming the room trying to start stuff with the other kids and 10 would maybe do the assignment.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #34)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 06:55 PM

35. I'm not sure what's more discouraging about this...

The fact that you made up statistics as though you had tried, or the fact that you are so certain that you can't do it.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #35)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 10:12 PM

38. I'm not making anything up.

What a ridiculous accusation.

I've taught for 30+ years. I'm basing what I am telling you on my experience. How long have you taught? How many groups of 8th graders have you supervised in a computer lab?

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #38)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 02:27 PM

39. Lets review.

You claimed:

And no, you can't put 200 pre-adolescent and adolescents in a room together, give them an assignment on a computer, and expect them to work at their own pace. That's downright comical. 150 of them would find a way around the system within minutes to post on Facebook, look at porn or play video games, 25 would put their heads down and sleep, 15 would be up roaming the room trying to start stuff with the other kids and 10 would maybe do the assignment.

First you point out that it's comical to even think that you could put that many students together; then you do a breakdown of all of the activities of the group that you had obviously not put together.

Where I come from that is exactly what 'making things up' looks like. What my experience with 8th graders looks like doesn't change the fact that you made up values for a hypothetical experiment.

Perhaps that seems like nitpicking to you, but if you did that in an engineering environment; people would be all over you. You perform an experiment before you report the results.

If you know what motivates people (in this case you assume Facebook) then that information can be used to solve the problem (in this case the children trying to get out of work) by not allowing them access to Facebook until they've accomplished X amount of work, and then limiting the time they spend on Facebook (or whatever they choose to do with their time) until they've completed another segment. Limiting Internet access to 8th graders is hardly rocket science. Certainly completely denying access to porn sites is not any kind of challenge at all. The ones who are trying to 'start something' need a more restrictive environment.

Controlling the behavior of people that you can't physically control is nothing new to civil engineers. Over the years roadways have become safer and more efficient through the use of 'clear zones' and eliminating other roadside hazards with devices such as guardrail and barrels with water, recoverable slopes, signs etc. So I reject the assertion that any group of people can't be controlled. We study methods of controlling pedestrian traffic, and the pedestrians (for the most part) do what we want them to do without instruction. I expect controlling the behavior of young people in a confined space would have a different set of challenges, but the same basic problem solving techniques would apply. Temple Grandin (though she is not a civil engineer) controls the behavior of large animals without any contact at all

When I was in 8th grade; it was typical for my classmates who were from farm families to spend their summers on a tractor and I spent time putting up hay bales. Adults had huge expectations for our abilities. It's a shame that we currently put them in an environment where adults have such low expectations of their abilities.

When I gave my presentations to 8th graders; I treated them with respect; asked them questions and they did their best to answer them. I gave my presentation to urban children, rural children, black children and white children for anywhere from 50 minutes to an hour and 40 minutes and from 10 students to maybe 50 at the most. If they were screwing around; I relocated them in the classroom.

I started my 'lecture' by explaining to them: "I didn't know what engineers did when I graduated from high school and they may not get another opportunity to visit with an engineer. While engineering is not for everyone; if you are interested in math and science; engineering is a high paying industry that makes extensive use of math and science."

Without exception the 8th (sometimes 7th) graders were respectful and reasonably attentive.

I'm sure you're a good teacher. I also expect that you believe it can't be done because it probably wouldn't work well for the subject matter that you teach.

I went on this rather lengthy rant because you told me that it couldn't be done and then told me why you believed that it couldn't. Not only do I think it can be done; I believe I could do it.

Also, not only do I think it can be done, but I believe it should be done on subjects where a students interests in a subject may exceed a teachers background experience. I'm not saying that to be disrespectful to professional educators; young people have access to the latest information that adults frequently do not (more free time). A lot of subjects (like computer programming, engineering, math etc) require intense concentration and people need to be separated in order to achieve that focus; the subjects are also constantly evolving and I expect what a teacher learned in college, after only a few years, may be obsolete. That's certainly how it is with engineering software.

I don't think we should prevent children from learning subjects that require isolation and concentration just because we are afraid the majority of them will just screw around. Even if the majority of them will just screw around.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #39)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 08:54 PM

50. Happy to find out that civil engineering is so perfected that we no longer have

auto or pedestrian fatalities because everyone's driving behavior and walking behaviors are so well controlled.

Woops.

I have no idea why you think teachers do not use database management. I use Eduphoria daily. It breaks down my students, the school's students, and the district's students by age, test scores, both state and local, including the exact topics and answers gotten right and wrong, income level, at-risk factors for failure, language ability, including written, verbal, and listening, special programs of any type, and lots more.

Let's suppose that I give a unit exam to my senior economics students. I can find exactly which topics (described in the TEKS standards for each subject) that my students did well in, or need help in, not only from my class, but how they did on the same topic in their US History course, or World History course, or any other social studies course. I can track that the group of students who attended Ms. Womack's World History class at Ector Junior High 3 years ago did poorly on the concept of out-migration processes then, and still are now, if they had Mr. White's US History class last year, while those who had Ms. Griggs last year for the same course have mastered the concept. I know who needs remediation, where, and have a flag for other students as well.

I meet weekly with two different PLC groups - my fellow economics instructors and my fellow US government instructors. We write common lesson plans detailing exactly which SEs are covered, what we will do if some students do not master them, what we will do if some students do master them, how are we differentiating our instruction for the various groups identified in Eduphoria, what assessment tools we will use for which students, and what standard will be satisfactory to move to the next set, and what we will do to remediate and/or reteach those who are not ready to move on.

We use every instructional method and material under the sun. I use a projector, a Smartboard, a TV and DVD player, student computers, lecture, foldables and other manipulatives, peer tutoring, pair-sharing, a sign-language aide for my deaf children (we are the regional school for the deaf for 22 districts), a special education teacher full time in my classroom, an online component for some lessons, before and after school one on one tutoring, interactive notebooks, and anything we can find in order that our students who are 85% eligible for free and reduced lunches, 20% special ed, 5% homeless, 25% English Language Learners of various abilities, can succeed.

You go right ahead and get the two advanced degrees that I have in education (forget my double major bachelor in English and Economics), pass the 4 exams required at more than $3,000 out of your pocket, do the free semester of student teaching, and then, after three decades in the classroom, feel free to think that some little Show and Tell presentation for 1/8 of 1 day of a 180 day school year is some type of educational experience that made a damn to anybody at all.

Education is an organic, cooperative experience that is not an assembly line, deals with all comers, and is the most exhausting, most tiring, most challenging and most exhilarating career anyone can choose. I've taught more than 7,000 students over the years, and I hear from hundreds of them annually, in person, through letters, email, and yep, even Facebook. I live in the neighborhood where I teach, and I am teaching many children of my former students now. In no case did even on thank me for any particular content of instruction, but instead, have encouraged me and thanked me for showing them ways to process and use critical thinking and evaluation in order to get the things they want, and most of all, personal satisfaction and happiness with themselves.

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #50)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 11:05 PM

55. Just sayin, you rock!

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #50)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 12:19 PM

64. It sounds like you are a very well qualified educator.

I have no doubt that there are a lot of great educators out there. I've said that many times - right here on this thread.

As far as roadway fatalities; I never claimed that we eliminated them. Statistically, the fatalities/vehicle and fatalities/mile driven; are consistently reduced. There's a lot of research conducted in the interest of traffic safety. However, there aren't enough financial resources to update every improperly designed guardrail and every unsafe side-slope, and since it takes a lot of maintenance to keep the surfaces smooth; there are frequently temporary work zone hazards. If we eliminated all traffic fatalities; I guess we'd just have to close up shop and stay home. I'm pretty sure I didn't claim they were eliminated; merely reduced/improved. It is trending in the right direction.

The reason I think teachers don't use databases is because in my extensive conversations with them over the last 20 years; they have never demonstrated any knowledge of them. Clearly, you have more experience with databases than the individuals that I have encountered in person. This is consistent with my expectations.

Certainly, my experience doesn't represent everyone, but neither does yours. I think everyone here agrees that there isn't any kind of consistency across school districts, even across schools in the same district. Other educators on this thread have pointed that out.

The teachers whose classrooms I essentially took over for the day were very respectful toward me, and in most cases asked if I could return the next semester when they had a new set of students. I could only go to the classrooms that the highway department assigned; so I never got a chance to return to the same classroom. The educators seemed to appreciate my 'little show and tell'. The teachers frequently told me that they had engineers show up and talk for 5 minutes and then ask the kids if they had any questions. So I'm not surprised that you have such a low opinion of it, but I took it seriously for the reasons that I posted earlier.

I'm kind if surprised that so many educators feel the need to belittle me simply because I reported that I had spent some time in front of small groups of 8th graders.

Perhaps a little less hostility toward folks from other professions might rally more outsiders to help with your cause. Just a suggestion.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #39)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 11:03 PM

54. Not to be disrespectful but, seriously, your availability bias is showing again.

Not all 8th graders are like what you remember of yourself at that age.

Your lecture experience with young students is not applicable--special schedule, you only where there the once and not every day, and chances are, most students forgot what you said soon after because there was no need to know it.

How about this: Let's do that test you want with the 8th graders I had this last fall. First, however, you would have to teach lesson plans we write for you for 2 weeks so you can have a baseline. Then, we'll set up the computer lab the way you want it and use the computer-based learning software we already have so we can test it against previous data. Let's see how that goes. I hope you wouldn't mind that we'd videotape you and the classroom for training purposes and to see just how effective your methodology is.

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Response to knitter4democracy (Reply #54)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 10:47 AM

63. I wish I could accept your challenge.

I know it would be difficult and stressful, but, getting a set of subdivision plans approved isn't exactly a walk in the park.

There's no doubt that there are challenges that professional educators face that those of us not involved with the process on a daily basis are unaware of. That doesn't mean that what the rest of us face isn't as challenging, or even more challenging.

To get a subdivision approved; you have to get a preliminary plat approved by the planning commission. Frequently you have to coordinate with the utilities before-hand: water, sewer, street lighting, traffic. Then you have to prepare a set of plans that an engineer from each of these entities have to sign off on. You have to perform drainage calculations, make sure the vertical and horizontal alignments meet AASHTO standards. Often coordinate with contractors and engineering subcontractors for soil tests and reports.

Frequently there are parties whose goals do not line up with yours and your clients.

I don't know how familiar you are with the process of becoming a professional engineer, but it is a 4 year program starting with Calc I. If you take 17 hours a semester. That should tell you right there it's a 5 year program (6 for architectural engineers). After completing your degree you take the Fundamentals of Engineering (an 8 hour exam) then you work as engineer intern for 4 years. When you have met the minimum requirements for experience; you are allowed to take the Professional Engineers exam (another 8 hour exam). Frequently people fail the PE exam (I took it 3 times) the first time I took it the exam had a 52% pass rate.

I tell you this because I've taken a lot of tests; the Professional Surveyors process is similar, and I am both a PE and a PS (I took the state portion of the PS 4 times). The Bar Exam (for attorneys) is a 3 day exam. These are high stakes tests and it takes weeks of preparation in order to succeed.

If you want kids to pass high stakes exams; the first step is test them frequently (every day) over the material. So that they aren't nervous or intimidated by exams.

As I've said; I'd welcome an opportunity to do the experiment that you have lined out. However, as I've also said elsewhere (to someone else) I'm stuck at home with my severely autistic, non-verbal, self-injurious 18 year old daughter; because the school can't handle her.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #63)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 11:57 PM

73. I'm the non-engineer in the family. I know and understand that.

By the way, I took Calc I and II in college even though I'm an English major because my mechanical engineer father made me. My brother's a mechanical engineer and CEO of his own company, his wife's an environmental engineer with a power company running their green energy programs, and I have many cousins who are engineers, physicists, and such. I was the one who got my ex-husband through med school, so yes, I am well aware of the difficulties those in the sciences can face and the sort of high-stakes tests they take on a regular basis. My dad worked for the MSU cyclotron lab (Head of Machining and Fabrication) for 37 years, and I practically grew up there. Just because I'm an English teacher doesn't mean that I don't know anything about any other discipline, the classes required for it, and the tests they have to take. If anything, it means I'm more likely to know because I have to make sure my students are prepared. What you have listed is what I tell my ACT prep students all the time.

By the way, in our state, the required test for juniors for NCLB and all of that is the ACT. Other states use their own tests, usually pretty watered down. We use the ACT, and every single junior in the class is required to pass it on a proficient level (22 or higher). That's the kind of high-stakes testing I deal with when I have students reading on an 8th grade level or lower and have to get them to college reading level in less than a year.

The reason I keep mentioning your availability bias is because you're not seeming to listen to any of us. You say one sentence, maybe two, to respond to the fact that you are not an educator and admit that there's a lot you don't know, but then you go on for many paragraphs about how you still have to be right. Again, you are basing your logical argument almost entirely upon your own experience rather than upon any real data. That's crappy education and even worse engineering, by the way.

I would love to have you come to my class and try to keep order when they have the computers and make sure that they get their work done. Heck--I'll even give you my AP English students, the cream of the crop, to practice on before I throw you to the wolves. I'll make sure you even get all of the IEPs, 504s, and documentation you have to keep as well as access to all previous data on those students. Then we'll see how well you fare.

Again, I am sorry about your daughter, and frankly, I can guarantee you that would not have happened in our district. I am fortunate to work in a great district that has amazing special ed teachers and programs. We're in a schools-of-choice state in which parents can choose to send their children anywhere regardless of where they live, and we get many parents sending their students to our school just for our special ed program. There's only one other district in the area that's better, in my opinion. I wish you had that kind of option for your daughter so that she could be in the best learning environment for her.

That said, the district is required by law to educate her. Instead of staying home, you should fight to make the school teach her.

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Response to knitter4democracy (Reply #73)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 12:18 PM

78. I'm not going to go back over why I'm not fighting to get the school to do their job.

One doesn't 'make' the school do anything. Perhaps you should read through the thread. If one thing is made abundantly clear; it is that us 'outsiders' don't know anything about educating young people, and we just need to listen to the professional educators.

She is home with me because she is safe at home with me. I could have sent her Monday morning, but I finally got her bruises healed up. Before we send her back we want to know what went wrong. Why an administrator from the school called and insisted that we come get her; after the school principal sat in the meeting (just a few days earlier) when we went over the behavioral intervention plan with the consultant. We want to know: what were the possible triggers that set her off? Who was with her? What this assistant principal was doing uninformed and in such close proximity to her; when we were assured that it wouldn't happen again (almost exactly the same thing happened last year with a different assistant principal).

If you have some recommendation for 'making' school personnel take a meeting so these issues can be discussed and resolved; I'm all ears.

Unfortunately, what I hear you saying is that my daughter isn't getting a 'free and appropriate public education' because we aren't fighting hard enough.

In other words - it's the parents fault.

I'm impressed by your excellent credentials for guiding students toward a possible future career in engineering, but blaming the parents for the school districts inability to do their job doesn't demonstrate very good troubleshooting skills. Sometimes there are just bad school districts.

As far as the 'bad engineering' comment: I detailed my personal experience because that's what was under attack. Gathering empirical data to refute a statement about my personal experience is completely unnecessary. If there is some specific statement made that I should have supported with research (which wouldn't surprise me since I'm working on an iPhone so I can always be within a few feet of my daughter); point it out, and I'll research it. Or if you believe that I've made a false assertion post a link.

If I'm wrong; I'm wrong, I have no problem with admitting I'm wrong. Unfair personal attacks I get a little cranky about.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #78)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 06:06 PM

81. Parents of high-needs students do have responsibilities.

I'm not saying it's fair or right, but that's the way it is.

You asked how to make the district have a meeting. It's simple: lawyer up. What they're doing is against PL94-142, the law that regulates how we educate high-needs students. They're in violation several ways, and considering there was bruising (seriously?!!?), you definitely have a case their district lawyer would know to settle immediately.

The bad engineering comment was not targeted at your personal experience. It was targeted at your argument on how we should educate children. In no way was it meant to attack you on how you have dealt with your daughter's situation or any personal situation you have referred to but instead what you were saying about Kahn Academy and how we should educate our students. You have based that on personal experience but not on any studies or data, and that's not good education.

A great place to start with educational research is ERIC, the national database.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #39)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 05:59 AM

60. I found your description of your visit to a classroom funny. Not sure where that school was,

 

but you would have got a very different response in other schools.

The person you're purporting to enlighten teaches in a low-income urban school. Here's a clue: maybe she knows something you don't about education and classroom management.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #60)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 10:05 AM

62. I visited probably 30 different classrooms...

with my presentation; of course every classroom had a different response. Every classroom had a different setup. Sometimes they were labs; sometimes it was a standard classroom filled with chairs. Some had white boards, some had chalkboards, each was a little different. Sometimes the teacher stayed and participated, sometimes they watched for a few minutes and left.

I don't purport to be enlightening anyone. I'm simply sharing my experience as an outsider. I imagine you know a lot about classroom management that I don't. One of things that I noticed when going around to these schools was that some classrooms were prepared; some were not. Obviously there is some knowledge required for optimum classroom performance. Some classes went smooth; some were bumpy.

I didn't have to do it in front of the same people every day, and I'm sure that's a whole different challenge. I'd give a presentation and the next day I would return to my job site.

I'm not typical; I did quite a bit of training of subordinates in the military as an NCO and as an Officer before I went back to school to finish my engineering degree. So I'm a little more familiar with what kind of little stares and questions and comments it takes when young people start to lose interest to prevent (or at least minimize) their tendency to act out.

The most difficult of my 'career orientation' presentations was with a large classroom of African American students. While their behavior wasn't significantly worse than the smaller classrooms; I was wore out by the end of the day. I know it would be difficult to handle them day after day. The teacher was very stern up front about treating guest speakers with respect.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #62)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 02:50 PM

66. and the teacher you are purporting to educate *lives in* an urban classroom every fucking

 

day.

it's humorous to see you describing your methods as though you had just invented the wheel & were educating your inferiors.

if your little presentations were a success, it's because the teachers ran their classrooms effectively, not because of anything *you* did.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #66)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 05:47 PM

68. Again, I'm not purporting to educate anyone...

I try to take pride in the precision of my writing and I re-read every post and edit extensively before posting.

I expect it's a little different writing style than you are used to because I work in a different field. I may come across as ... I don't know ... Snooty or something; I guess, but I'm trying to be friendly. I certainly haven't used any profanity.

I acknowledged that it's different teaching in a classroom every day than it is just popping in for a 'show and tell' (although I thought the phrasing was condescending). I acknowledged that the inner city classrooms were tougher. I acknowledged that some teachers set up their classrooms better than others. Essentially, everything that you launched into me about; I acknowledged in the previous post or some other post on this thread.

I'm not here to tear educators down; I've talked about specific experiences that I have had and how it has shaped my perception of the profession.

If you have some negative interaction or experience with engineers, or engineering in general; I'd be glad to discuss them with you; in the interest of improving the service that I provide to the public.

I designed the grading and drainage for the high school that my daughter goes to and I'm always interested in what kind of problems exist that the users might be aware of, but word never gets back to the designers. I thrive on that kind of criticism because I believe it gives me a competitive edge. I try to spend time visiting with contractors during construction so they can tell me how something might have worked better from their perspective. Sometimes it's good feedback; sometimes not so much.

As an example: The architects designed my daughters high school special education classroom with an infant diaper changing station. If there were proper feedback loops; that kind of inappropriate design wouldn't happen. They just copied the room from an elementary school and nobody involved in the review process caught it. The classroom staff are mystified at how someone could be so stupid. So it's perfectly reasonable for anyone from any profession to be critical of anyone from any other profession if the proper safeguards aren't in place.

A contractor told me that one of the drainage inlets that I had located; should have been a curb inlet instead of back of curb. I didn't tell him that his suggestion was idiotic, or comical, or humorous. I told him "I had considered that but sometimes when you kick water off of the grass and into the street; you will get silt settlement in the street around the inlet. I didn't want to risk that on the bus route." There's no reason to be hostile toward people who have ideas different from your own just because they don't perform the same function in society.

I would have thought you'd be interested in some of my perceptions for the same reason that I'm interested in criticisms of the kind of work that I perform. There's always room for improvement. It is the nature of our society to try and find faster more efficient methods of performing any given service. Those who refuse to try and improve will be pushed aside and someone else will be allowed by society to attempt to improve that service or function.

But you know that. Because that's the topic of this thread.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #62)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 12:06 AM

74. That "difficult" class sounds like my typical day.

It also sounds a bit racist. Just sayin'.

Think about that experience, though. Think about how social those students were, how many needed to talk through their thinking, how many needed to move around and couldn't (or maybe did anyway). You want to put those kids at computers with dividers so they cannot talk with friends, work with groups, or move around--and you think that will be more effective than a teacher helping them learn in the style they learn best.

That's like using a medium carbon steel for all framing, regardless of load, regardless of stresses, regardless of any other needs the structure has and saying, "Well, it's steel, so it's strong and has the flexibility to work," and ignoring when some of the structures fail.

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Response to knitter4democracy (Reply #74)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 10:17 AM

77. I'm aware that it sounds racist.

The reality is that the poorer school districts have fewer resources, so they have larger class sizes and very often that happens in predominantly African American neighborhoods.

I'm sure you know that; I'm just letting you know that I know it too. One of the tragic things about it is that I think most of these kids have a lot of potential that will not be realized.

I disagree with your assertion that putting them in areas with dividers would be bad for them. First of all I'm not suggesting that all kids should be in computer labs with dividers all day, and I'm not suggesting that all kids be put in areas with dividers at all. I'm merely suggesting that for certain subjects and certain students that demonstrate an ability to work self-paced; we put them in an environment like that for some class periods. I'm not advocating for having all students in an environment like that all day. They'd all end up with no social skills (like engineers ).

I appreciate your engineering analogy, but one of the things about engineering is the review process. You don't build a structure without a review by an engineer from the government. The materials have to be approved by an engineer. A lot of engineering is about studying failure. There are engineering properties for every kind of material and those properties are used in the calculations that are submitted for approval to the city. We know the limit of these materials because experiments are performed in labs until the material fails. Steels have a 'modulus of elasticity' based on those failure tests and forces and moments are determined based on load. Then a factor of safety is applied. I'm not a structural engineer, but it seems like a factor of 3 to 4 is standard. In other words; you determine the maximum load and then multiply that times 3 or 4 to size your materials.

I only tell you this because that's what I'm talking about with students. Obviously you can't develop a 'formula' for how many kids can be confined to a cubicle for a self-paced segment of the day that is applicable across all neighborhoods, but evaluation criteria can be developed to optimize such factors as 'cubicle size', 'distance between adult monitors', 'check in frequency/student' etc.

If the problem is that we need to reduce class size; that's how I would approach the problem: Have larger class sizes for students who need less individual attention, so that more educators can be dedicated to the students that need more individual attention. I don't believe there is a 'style they learn best' that fits all children. The style you describe did not work for my kids; they performed best when allowed to work at their own pace.

Determining optimum size would be an iterative process. As i said, I would start with 200. Maximum acceptable may turn out to be only 30, in which case the entire study would have turned out to be a failure, but studying failure is a big part of engineering.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #77)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 06:11 PM

82. Those studies already exist and don't need to be duplicated.

Detroit Public is repeating them by putting 60 in classrooms that weren't built for that many, so we'll see what happens with their outcomes.

Funny how colleges always trumpet their low student to teacher ratio. Funny how private schools, like the one Romney went to, always trumpet their low student to teacher ratios. Funny how schools without the rich parents to advocate and help get the financial base we need are always told to put more students in each classroom each period.

Steel always does the same thing under the same stresses and environment. It's predictable. Students are not predictable, and what worked for that student yesterday often won't today. Certain predictors are constant (random immediate reward is still the strongest motivator for changing behavior like Skinner found decades ago, etc.), but in reality, it's like herding cats most days.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #38)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 08:37 PM

42. Hey... proud2BlibKansan... You've Met These Guys Before...

They have all the answers with their slide-rules/calculators/laptops at the ready.

They are really great at giving you statistical analysis, and futuristic projections, but DO NOT KNOW SHIT about dealing with and NURTURING children.

And one hopes, that they choose not to have some of their own.

Because... well... you know...






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Response to WillyT (Reply #42)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 08:45 PM

43. And they are the first ones to complain

when they think their children aren't being given the special treatment they so rightfully deserve. Cause we all know that in a group of 200, that's a piece of cake.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #43)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 08:55 PM

44. Here's My Solution...

Cut current class sizes in half... and double teacher's salaries.

As a start...

The Defense Department won't miss a new fighter jet that they do not want, but the Congress insists it has to have.


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Response to Blanks (Reply #28)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 07:32 PM

37. Education has changed considerably since your brother was in school...

I suggest you research grouping strategies, gifted education, and differentiated education. Teachers are expected to do these things now. It is standard.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #28)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 01:20 AM

45. Schools already use labs (computer, audio, video) for various purposes, & one is for individualized

 

learning. Labs work well for some things, with some students; less well for other things, with other students. The idea that '200 8th graders' in a computer lab would work for all students, or even most students, is laughable. Schools have been using labs since I was in grade school (*over* 40 years ago.) There's no evidence that wholesale use of computer labs would raise achievement, interest or participation one iota. The students it works well for are, in most cases, the ones who are *already* high achievers with high internal motivation & good parental involvement.

Of the many lab programs available to schools, Khan academy is one of the duller ones. There's nothing especially unique or thrilling about it -- its advantage lies only in the fact that Khan is connected to ed deformers & thus his program gets lots of media attention -- so people like *you*, with little real-world experience in a variety of classrooms, with a variety of students & program -- can talk about it as if it's some big deal. But it's not.

You pretend to know what 'the problem with the current education system' is, but your post shows you've not spent any significant time in the classroom since you were a child. Your children are not *all* children; your experience is not *everyone's* experience; the school they went to is not representative of *all* schools, etc. etc.

Your post also demonstrates a certain superficiality of thought; of course computers brings biases; they reflect the biases of their designers. The claim about the student who was tested & found to be a 'genius' is idiotic. There is no test for 'genius'. There are only IQ tests, & what they test for is highly debatable. There is no correspondence between high IQ & 'genius,' unless it's your opinion that having a high IQ is synonymous with genius, in which case I'm also a 'genius,' albeit i've never done anything worthy of the appellation.

Your point, i think, was that the student was bored in his class because he was too smart for it. Maybe that was the case; but you don't *know* that, & i doubt 40 years hindsight has made things any clearer. Maybe he was just more interested in raising hell than anything the teachers might have thrown at him; maybe he was having trouble at home; maybe he just didn't want to be in school, period, & would have rather been out playing with his friends; maybe he didn't like that particular teacher for whatever reason, maybe he was showing off for his friends.

Maybe if you'd put him in a lab with 200 other kids he would have been *worse,* not better, as his goofing off would have been more hidden in the huge lab. You don't know.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #45)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 10:48 AM

46. The number 200 was arbitrarily chosen.

If I were conducting an experiment; that is where I would start. Perhaps your experience (as well as the experience of the other persons commenting on this) would recommend a smaller number if such a project were to be undertaken. The goal should be to determine the maximum size without inhibiting learning. We have college students sit in labs and lecture halls that large all the time. It is merely my suggestion for one way to reduce class sizes (a normal response when people complain about a problem is to try and solve that problem).

If you have a large number of students that can work self paced, obviously the students that were not involved in that program could have a higher ratio of teachers per students. Assuming a fixed number of teachers and students.

There is nothing 'laughable' or 'comical' about trying something that other people don't believe will work. There are people who thrive on those kinds of challenges.

Perhaps my brothers friend would have been worse; that's why I've said (several times now) that a database (or observation) could be used to track those individuals in need of a more restrictive environment. I don't doubt that you are a genius if you achieved a high score on an IQ test. My wife is very good at tests also and actually had a difficult time in school because frequently she was learning beyond where they were teaching. Perhaps that's why I conclude that my brothers friend was having trouble. I'm not a genius, have never tested well and can only guess at what kind of problems would arise if I were overly intelligent.

You are correct about my not having spent a lot of time in the classroom. However, if you read my other posts on this thread; you will see that I have been in classrooms - in front of classes in the last few years and I am confident in the abilities of children that age.

You are also correct in your assertion that my children are not 'all children'. I am basing my negative opinions of the school system's performance on a variety of experiences.

First of all I have 3 autistic children (and a 24 year old typically developing son), my youngest is 18; severely autistic, self-injurious, and non-verbal. She should be in school now, but they can't manage her at school so I have to stay at home with her.

The school has people trained in speech, health, special education, and occupational therapy. Yet, they can't handle her so either my wife (an attorney) or I (an engineer) have to stay at home with her. So, while I believe it is possible that you are a genius, it's also possible that the group that I deal with are morons. They aren't morons; they're actually trying pretty hard, but they aren't equipped to deal with this situation.

The problem that I 'pretend' to know about is demonstrated by your response.

Educators complain about teacher to student ratio and an outsider makes a recommendation; the educators circle the wagons and call the suggestion: comical, laughable, idiotic etc.

An outsider points out that they saw a video where a different approach was taken; the educators circle the wagons and talk about how 'bad' that program is compared to their own.

Here's the problem as I see it. Everything you say about your local education program could be true (and probably is). That doesn't prevent my local program from being awful. There isn't a higher authority with teeth to keep local educators from being lousy teachers.

When you compare that to the industry that I work in (when I'm not having to stay at home with my daughter). There is the DOT, there is the AHTD, and there is typically a city engineer, a county engineer and all manner of other engineers that make certain that when you design a road, a bridge, a sewer line etc; it will meet safety standards. We aren't allowed to design city streets without the city engineer approving it. Also, if people show up at a city council meeting with a complaint (even if all other requirements have been met): if there are enough folks complaining, or even one individual with a legitimate stake; they can shut a huge project down.

Now, I can't get a free and appropriate public education for my daughter. Tell me what government agency can I take my case to? Sure, we can take it through the court system and win (remember my wife is an attorney and has extensive knowledge of special education law). There aren't any winners in that situation IMHO. We might get a settlement or cost the school district in some other way, but we just want to be able to send her to school until the law says we are allowed to. There is no existing administrative entity to appeal to if educators are in violation of special education law.

Another issue that I have with educators is the education that they receive. When I started college; I started with a guy that I was going through Officer Candidate School (in the national guard) with. He went one semester and found the engineering workload to be too much; so he switched to education and is now a successful middle school teacher.

There is no doubt in my mind that there are dedicated educators and I expect that you are one of them. Unfortunately, there is a failure progression for starting engineering students: engineering, construction science, business and finally education. While it isn't educator's fault that the program isn't as difficult as other curriculums on campus; the fact is that it is not as difficult. So, as a result, there are a lot of under-achievers standing in front of our children who believe that they have an education comparable to higher paid professionals, and that is not the case.

While I don't claim to be more intelligent than the educators that I deal with; I know that my wife and I have both endured a more rigorous education program and yet, we've gotten the same basic 'educator-speak' from every education group that we've come across in 3 states and elementary, middle and high school. Despite all the bluster what we end up with is an inability to do their job.

That's my experience.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #46)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 09:08 PM

51. Why an attorney would not know that every state has procedures of appeal

for special education I know not, but they do.

Here's just one:

http://www.mass.gov/anf/hearings-and-appeals/bureau-of-special-education-appeals-bsea/

EVERY child is entitled to a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment. That's not just an idea, that's the LAW, and a good one.

I have and have had many wheelchair, autistic, emotionally disturbed, blind, deaf, brain-damaged and other special cases in my mainstream classroom in three decades. We have aides who scribe for instance, for a senior student injured in a car accident last summer that left him in a wheelchair and deaf, with no lipreading or sign skills. The aide writes, he reads, writes, and speaks with no problems.

If you gave up without getting what your child needs, shame on you. If someone there stonewalled you and didn't tell you how to appeal, shame on them.

There is absolutely no reason why your child cannot be accomodated in the public schools in your area. Contact a specialized attorney or simply the state education agency where you reside. Please.

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #51)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 02:00 PM

65. She is aware of the law.

I've heard her tell the administrative representative at the IEP meeting that exact thing; many times.

I understand your tendency to tell us: "shame on you", but there are a lot of extenuating circumstances. The first of which is that she has a new teacher this year. They were doing OK until about a week before Christmas break. We had an outside consultant (behavior analyst) evaluate her program and make recommendations. The analyst did a good job and everyone seemed to be on-board with the recommendations. Then 2 days before Christmas break began; one of the assistant principals called and insisted that we come get her. He was apparently unaware of what was going on with the new behavior interventions.

We are willing to cut them some slack because they have an entirely new administrative staff because the previous group was fired at the end of the last school year.

My daughter will return to school next week, but it's ridiculous that they can't manage things better than that. There's a lot of turmoil in the school district anyway because they were taken over by the state 2 years ago because of their fiscal irresponsibility. Yeah, we called the state.

The difference between a wheelchair bound student and a self-injurious child are many. We send her to school and she has a replacement para or classroom teacher and they don't know how to deal with her; we have a bruised up little girl for a week or more. If they would tell us when they are using replacements; we may choose to keep her at home on those days. You can imagine their response when we ask them to give us a heads up... Or I can just tell you; they don't answer to us.

Since she is non-verbal; we have no idea what happened when she came home with bruises all over her face, and we can't get an honest, consistent story from the school. They have secret meetings to try and control the flow of the meetings.

There is an 'app' known as proloquo2go which we have installed on an iPhone (with no service) that we refer to as her 'device'. I have taught her to communicate her wants (I.e. "I want to watch TV", "I want something to eat", I need someone to peel my orange" etc). We set her up with it over Christmas break last year after it was recommended by Easter seals. The speech path at the school decided not to use it, Easter seals stopped coming to the school, and we found out at the end of the year; it was because she (the speech path) didn't know how to use it and wasn't going to use it until she had training on it. She was replaced at the school also.

So, after a year of her carrying around a communication device; she only uses it to communicate at home and only the phrases that either I taught her, or she figured out herself.

The classroom teacher really likes her and is a well qualified special education teacher. We had a meeting scheduled the day the principal called and my wife is insisting that the meeting be held before we send her back to school.

It's a constant struggle, but we are still trying to work with this new group before we go to due process. It's just very frustrating and time consuming.

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Response to Blanks (Reply #65)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 05:15 PM

67. Well, I'm sorry that the district there is so disorganized and unhelpful.

We have a staff of 24 special education teachers and 30 aides at the high school here. The most experienced has 35 years, the least 17. Every teacher on staff has had and continues to have ongoing training as well, because our population has nearly 600 special students, including 30 emotionally disturbed, who are all mainstreamed.

In my three decades, we have never had an incidence of violence, self-directed or otherwise by any special ed student.

I'm shocked and people further up the food chain need to be involved - I wouldn't cut anybody any slack; these are services required to be provided.

Better results in the future, I hope. Positive thoughts your way.

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #67)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 06:20 PM

69. Thanks for your kind words. eom

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #67)


Response to Blanks (Reply #65)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 06:23 PM

84. What is enraging me is that she's coming home bruised.

Bruised?!!? Never okay. Period.

I am so sorry that's happened to your daughter. It is disgusting and offends me to the core of my being that a child has been put through that. I wish we could have her in our school or in one of the others nearby that's good and safe for all students so we could fix that.

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Response to knitter4democracy (Reply #84)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 06:35 PM

85. So do I, thanks for your support. eom

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Response to Blanks (Reply #46)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 11:17 PM

56. I'm so tired of the "dumb teacher" canard.

Seriously?!

I'll give you another example: my ex-husband graduated from our college with his pre-med degree and got into a top-tier med school. He did that with a C in Comparative Anatomy, a required class. He wouldn't have graduated in education from my college with that, as we weren't allowed to get anything below a B in a core class, a major or minor class, or an education class. We had to pass the National Teacher Exam in our content area and the main required tests on the first try or flunk out of the education department at our college in our senior year during our student teaching and graduate without a teaching license at all.

Before you say pre-med was more difficult, we went to a small college, and there was no difference between the Comparative Anatomy the pre-meds took and the Comparative Anatomy our science education majors took. Same class.

I graduated salutatorian with a double major, a minor, and another minor not quite completed (English, Secondary Ed track, minor in Spanish and almost completed my Russian minor, thought I dropped the math minor I now regret having done). Now I am required by my profession to start my master's degree within 2 years and complete it in 4 years or fewer unless I want to lose my certification. I'm not the only teacher I know with a background like that. Many teachers finish their professional degrees and then decide to go into teaching for the love of their content area and working with kids--are they "under-achievers" too?

I am sorry that your school district isn't meeting the standard for your child. That is wrong on many levels. That said, you have the law on your side and should require that they follow it and teach your daughter.

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Response to knitter4democracy (Reply #26)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 09:39 PM

53. One of the mistakes about this is that identifying "where they need to fix it & where the

errors are" is only the beginning of writing instruction, but some people think just run it through a spell check and a grammar check, so they think technology can do it. Wrong.

The important stuff about writing instruction happens on a one to one level, beyond grammar & spelling & punctuation, in more evocative modes that have a lot to do with asking a writer a not only a good question but the question(s) that is right for that writer and also making suggestions for related sources (some of which would be more or less obvious from being directly related, but others of which are less obvious from being less directly related to whatever a specific point is, but still well enough related over-all so as to suggest additional development to a writer) and, then, there is also of course the way that flesh and blood teachers can put writers together in complementary ways and facilitate their interaction. All of which is the result of the types of contact that allow more or less unique personal perceptions to develop. Machines cannot replicate these things and they are essential to the development of good writers and good humans.

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Response to patrice (Reply #53)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 11:18 PM

57. This. All kinds of this.

Thank you for putting it so well.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 06:43 PM

14. It's Taylorization of education.

The speed-up. Hand in hand with the profit-motive.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 06:40 PM

40. K&R. Thanks! Sharing with colleagues.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 09:12 PM

52. This is also going on in IT; watch for more and more beta being placed in production. The key to

getting what the developers want out of a situation is to use the cheapest first tier they can get.

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Response to patrice (Reply #52)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 11:21 PM

58. +1. that's the point; the speed-up goes on in every industry, not just blue-collar manufacturing.

 

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #58)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 12:27 AM

59. So the projection is for more done by fewer, faster, & for less @ hr. Ergo, the main solution,

in my way of seeing things, is to transition to co-operatives, so workers have more control over these pressures on their work. I don't know about education, but in other fields I just don't see how these pressures are unavoidable; maybe they can be slowed down, but can they be stopped?

Sorry, I have the flu, do I'm having trouble thinking, but I wonder if our responses to this situation shouldn't include us asking ourselves if, given environmental trends too, whether previous response patterns to these situations are going to be the most useful. I know it sounds like treason to some, but I wonder if the old days of pushing for higher and higher wages is going to work, but then better other solutions all seem to include universal access to the necessities of life, a.k.a. socialism.

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Response to patrice (Reply #59)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 06:03 AM

61. I don't know if they can be stopped. But the direction we're going leads toward the abandonment

 

of large swathes of the population.

Why do we need to do things faster if that's our ultimate destination?

I'd be happy with democratic cooperatives, myself. Efficiency & profit has never been my metric.

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