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ulysses Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 04:59 PM
Original message
education policy comes down to this:
You cannot effectively teach 30 kids, who come from all walks of life and who arrive in your classroom with widely varying levels of ability and readiness, simultaneously. You simply can't. According to the old saw, 10 will truly learn what you teach, 10 will go along and not really understand the material, and 10 will sleep their way through.

If you want to make public schools, or any schools, work, you have to reduce the number of students one teacher must teach at any given time.

How do you do that, other than by Swiftian means? You hire more teachers. Hiring more teachers costs money.

As they say...discuss.
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ulysses Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 05:37 PM
Response to Original message
1. *chips away desperately at concrete overshoes*
:kick: Just one.
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DrGonzoLives Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 05:39 PM
Response to Original message
2. Hiring teachers means raising taxes
And you know what happens when anyone DARES suggest that...

Of course, we could go into wasteful spending all over government (particularly bloated defense contracts) but that would be unpatriotic...
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ulysses Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 05:52 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. yup
I brought up Pentagon spending the other day to one of our own voucherites, and got a "can't help you" response.

Good to see you around, Gonzo. :hi:
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Plaid Adder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 05:46 PM
Response to Original message
3. Yes, amazingly this eludes almost everyone
but if you've ever been in a classroom, you know it's the only thing that makes a damn bit of difference. It's friggin' common sense.

But nooooooooo, nobody wants to deal with the class size issue, because that doesn't create boondoggles for the outfits that hawk all the shiny toys that are supposed to help you deal with enormous classes (computer interfacing, prepackaged crap like the Edison Project, etc.) or the outfits that create, administer, and score standardized tests (what a fucking racket THAT is).

It's like with the military...pay the technology, not the people, cause that's who's your daddy...barf.

C ya,

The Plaid Adder
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ulysses Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 05:56 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. yup again
Here's the question, though - how do we get around the boondoggles when the program in question is one answerable to representative government?

Alternatively, how do we get it through America's collection of thick skulls that we need more, and better-paid, teachers?
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tjdee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 05:53 PM
Response to Original message
5. I agree.
In my kid's preschool class, there are about 15-20 kids. There is 1 teacher, and 2 teacher's assistants (who really, are like teachers, they're not learning calculus). And for that, I pay A LOT (though, in general I think younger kids have more teachers).

I think the most compelling thing is this: Everyone is much happier. The kids get more attention paid to them and their problems, and the adults aren't as stressed (and alone).

At any private school, the first thing you notice is that there is a smaller ratio. At least I did, because I'm looking at schools. It's not necessarily even the wealth of the community in some places. Even in my suburban public highschool, 1/30 was normal.

In the years to come, the kid will be going to a 1/25 ratio--I will be saving money, but I worry about the attention she'll get. We have to hire more teachers, and somer areas are in desperate need of new books/bigger classrooms (or more classrooms).

As you say, these things cost money. That's why I get irritated when I hear "don't throw money at failing schools". Well guess what, sometimes money is just the thing to throw.
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ulysses Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 05:59 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. exactly
Well guess what, sometimes money is just the thing to throw.

Better than throwing molotov cocktails, ain't it? :) Excellent points all round.
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 01:24 AM
Response to Reply #5
17. Ironic, isn't it?
The Repiggies insist that class size doesn't matter, but if they get the chance, they send their kids to private schools with...small classes!

By the way, one argument they make against small classes (for public schools) is that schools in Japan have large classes.

This is quite true, but Japan is a different society: one of the most equal distributions of income in the world, a homogenous culture, and a long tradition of respect for education. (In the nineteenth century, Japan had a higher rate of literacy than most countries in Europe.) Middle-class mothers often try to teach their children the phonetic syllabary (kana) and some basic arithmetic before they start school, and probably the majority of kids attend supplementary lessons after school.

Japan has been having problems, too, recently. Economic troubles and new social standards have meant that not everyone shares the same lifestyle and values. High school kids in particular are rebelling against regimentation, and not always in constructive ways. Eventually Japan may be forced to reduce class sizes. This may happen anyway as people have fewer and fewer children.
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LeahMira Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 01:12 PM
Response to Reply #17
43. Research Proves...
The Repiggies insist that class size doesn't matter, but if they get the chance, they send their kids to
private schools with...small classes!


In the U.S., class size makes a difference. PFAW has an interesting section on this: http://www.pfaw.org/pfaw/general/default.aspx?oid=1520

I remember reading that 24 seems to be a magic number... over 24 and the learning rate isn't as good, while under 24 and you get successful learning going on.

Whatever happens in Japan, who knows? Children in the U.S. are desperately in need of attention... whether they don't get it at home or whether they are just being brought up to be self-centered who knows, but the fact is that they need individual attention.

A wise and seasoned older teacher once reminded me that Jesus only had to teach 12 adults, and even he got exasperated with his 12 once in a while! Thank goodness for the fine teachers out there who are teaching large classes so well. Along with eternal gratitude, let's give them a chance to be really successful... not just keeping above water.
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uptohere Donating Member (603 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 06:44 PM
Response to Original message
8. whats to prevent insisting on prepared children ?
May be a little pollyanna of me but since the real problem is that parents chose to be parents why do we allow it ?

Some parents will respond positively to punative actions for this failure, others can be made to. The rest who cannot change themselves can be addressed with a mentoring program. The community pulling together for a terribly importent goal, what a concept !

This is better for the teachers as they won't have to try and figure out ways to address radical unevenness. Its easier for the school systems as they won't have to figure out how to make all those extra classrooms for those extra teachers. Its better for the kids as distraction levels will go down and we can start teaching up insted of down. Its better for the community as it produces contributors to society insted of dependents.

OK maybe its crazy but who would have thought we would put a man on the moon ?
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ulysses Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 07:44 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. insist to your heart's content
You won't get any argument from me about parents who don't work with their kids to get them ready for school. Still, kids learn in different ways and at different rates and you can't legislate away the different socioeconomic backgrounds (at least without a heavy swing toward the socialist :) ) that heavily impact school performance.

I can teach 15 kids at different levels. It's the numbers that matter.
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JanMichael Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 08:09 PM
Response to Original message
10. Actually...School size is a hugely important issue that nobody...
...seems to talk about.

There are public schools (Economist article from a couple of years ago) that have split the actual building/site/location into two or three schools. What this means is that in the place of one 2,000 student school there are two, or three, schools of a more managable size.

It seems that the authority of the administration is lost over a certain number thus increasing the unorganized nature of the larger schools.
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denverbill Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 01:22 PM
Response to Reply #10
45. I absolutely agree.
School size is at least as big an issue as class size. Students become anonymous numbers in a school of 2000. In a school of 200 students, chances are good that teachers will recognize if not know most all students.
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MassDem4Life Donating Member (167 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 11:50 PM
Response to Original message
11. ok, explain
why in 1962 the average class size in this country was 27.6

today it is 22.1 yet the quality and results today are a far cry from what they were in 1962.

Also the average class size in Catholic schools is 26.1 and the education in those schools is far better than in public schools as a whole
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ulysses Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 11:54 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. how did I know you'd show up?
:D

today it is 22.1 yet the quality and results today are a far cry from what they were in 1962.

What were the expendatures for those years, adjusted for the changes to which public schools were required to adjust?

Also the average class size in Catholic schools is 26.1 and the education in those schools is far better than in public schools as a whole

It's been pointed out to you several times that Catholic schools are not required to take all comers. You may thing that that's of no consequence, but you're living in a dream world.
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MassDem4Life Donating Member (167 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 08:35 AM
Response to Reply #12
21. yes, but it has
also been pointed out to you several times that although most catholic schools do not take seriously disabled kids, the inner city catholic schools which btw, make up the lions share of the catholic school population, are the same kids, from the same neighborhoods, with the same socio-economic background as the public school inner city kids, and there is STILL a marked difference between the two.


And YES, I would show up because Education is a pet concern of mine, as I have four kids in various stages of public schools. I have lived all over the country, and in each location have tried to make a study of my kids schools, I go to the SAU and get the budget, I attend the meetings, I have even sat on school boards, and school board budget committees, I talk to the teachers and principles, and superintendents. I study the curriculum, and the test scores, I have even sat in on classes. I know what goes on in public schools. I can compare what I see with my own public school education, and see the vast difference in curriculum alone.

Unlike you, I dont care about the teachers unions, or even the teachers, too much, because they are adults and presumably can take care of themselves.

I care about the kids, and that is all.

I advocate what I see that works, I do not try to prop up schools that dont work, in the fear that vouchers will destroy public education. I want the kids of this country to get a better education than any where else in the world! Pure and simple!!
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Iverson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 08:46 AM
Response to Reply #21
22. reminder
This is not primarily a disability issue, nor is it an issue of social class.

The fundamental point that you are ignoring is that the guarantee of public education means that public schools cannot be exclusive to the same extent as Catholic schools and other private schools can.

"..and there is STILL a marked difference between the two."
You've just been reminded why, as if with all your experience you really needed it.

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MassDem4Life Donating Member (167 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 12:57 PM
Response to Reply #22
42. you are correct, it is not a disability issue,
that is why the argument that the public schools have to accept kids with learning disabilities is facetious at best.

The majority of kids in public schools, do not have learning disabilities, and still do worse than their private school counterparts.

The issue is not selectivity.

It is High expectations, Discipline, Curriculum, refusal to accept mediocrity(instead of enshrining it), monetary efficiency, lack of union work rules, and lack of bureaucracy.
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Iverson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 03:31 PM
Response to Reply #42
48. you are making an unwarranted leap
Of course the majority of public school children do not have learning disabilities. There we agree.

However, it does not follow that meaningful differences in student selection can therefore be dismissed.

Are you seriously arguing that Catholic and other private schools do not enjoy an advantage in who they admit and keep? If so, then we will not reach any kind of accord, for we are not seeing the same thing when we look at it.
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AP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 03:53 PM
Response to Reply #48
51. I have never heard of a developmentally disabled class in any
private school anywhere. Every public school I've been in has a "Room 15" or whatever it was. If you had a kid with learning problems, you'd be crazy to put that kid anywhere other than a public schoo.
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uptohere Donating Member (603 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 10:39 AM
Response to Reply #12
28. but you said it was all the numbers, whats it going to be ?
ratio or cash ?

Point is that in 1962 the parents provided a more leveled bunch of kids who were capable of being taught at that ratio (I was one of those kids).

Like I said above lets fix the real problem, parents not doing their job, and improvement will happen naturally.
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 11:15 AM
Response to Reply #28
34. That's true, but how do you mandate
parental responsibility? Tell irresponsible parents that their kids can't go to school? (Some parents would think, "Good! Now I can put the little buggers to work around the house or send them out to beg on the streets.") Require parents to attend parenting classes before they may enroll their children in kindergarten? Remove the children of parents who don't prepare their children for school?

Parents definitely should be responsible, but I don't see how you can enforce it without a massive, concerted effort by the mass media (the only authority that clueless people pay attention to) to encourage responsibility and intellectual enrichment of the family home.

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uptohere Donating Member (603 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 11:43 AM
Response to Reply #34
37. make it criminal
fines, even prison time. And an utter failure means loss of custody. As lousy as that is its no worse than living in that sort of environment. Clearly abuse on the part of the parent will be met with consequence.

Just to show I'm not a total ogre, you couple that with bona fide aid to help them do this. Churchs, PTAs, other civic groups with guidance from a funded social/educational service people can provide mentoring, environment and encouragement to make it work.

But it starts with a hardball approach and the muscle to make it real. I don't care about the toll on the parent(s), its the responsibility that they took on. Its the kids I care about first and the teachers I care about second. Everything else matters little.
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Hippo_Tron Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 12:18 AM
Response to Original message
13. And why vouchers won't work...
Is because we simply can't affoard to send every kid in a substandard school to a private school. Plus there will be a HUGE debate on what is substandard. Hireing more teachers is the best way to go in most cases. BTW there's this dilemma about teachers not being certified. Personally I had a great Biology teacher in high school who took a few teaching classes to meet the state requirements but never got certified. Just something to think about...
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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 12:18 AM
Response to Original message
14. You have to hire more teachers, but
that isn't the whole iceberg. Before you are going to be able to hire enough teachers, you have to convince people entering college that teaching is a profession worth investing years and $$ into certification. That the pay, working conditions, and general environment is one that they will want to spend 30 years in. Cause a teacher's credential doesn't earn equal pay anywhere outside of a public ed classroom, and doesn't earn enought to make the degrees/credentials a viable choice for many. If we suddenly found the money to reduce class sizes to reasonable levels, we couldn't find the teachers to place in the rooms.

Then you're going to have to pump plenty of $$$ into the school building fund. Fewer kids per room means the more you reduce class size, the more classrooms/schools you need to build.

A viable plan would be to just reduce class size by one kid every year until you reach 15. Because, according to available research, 15 is the magic number at which we really see the academic difference. At 20 instead of 30+, you will see some academic benefits, but not enough to justify the expense to the conservative faction. They always want to save $$ by squeezing as many kids as possible into a room and a school. At 20 kids, though, you do make a positive difference with socialization and general confidence and behavior. Of course, those things aren't measured on the tests.
Reducing a child a year would allow enough time to put a good crop of prospective teachers through the credentialing process, if you guarantee them decent pay and working conditions. And you'd have time to build plenty of new schools.
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srpantalonas Donating Member (372 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 12:29 AM
Response to Reply #14
15. Principles of Principals
1) Principals matter. Good principals know who the bad teachers are and deal with them. They run a tighter ship and keep the team focused, even in touch circumstances.

2)Teachers don't necessarily make good principals. Teachers and Principals are not cut from the same cloth. Principals shoul dhave classroom experience, but only to understand the lives of teachers. We do not emphaize leadership nearly enough in our public schools. We do not recruit and train people to be principals.

3) Our budget reflects our values. Money doesn't solve everything, but it sure helps. Smaller class sizes require more classrooms and more teachers. you shoose--1.8 trillion in tax cuts, or better schools with smaller classes and more teachers. We currently value Defense spending 10 times more than Education spending.

4) Early childhood education matters. It makes a difference.

5) Public Schools can not act "in loco parentis" (in place of parents). I do not know how to solve this problem. It's a huge problem.

6)every child born in America deserves a quality education.

That's off the cuff--thanks for listening. I'd love your input.

http://www.CrystleForSenate.com
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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 08:05 AM
Response to Reply #15
20. I agree with almost all.
The principal thing is problematic. You are correct in saying that teachers don't always make good principals. I wouldn't do that job, and If I did, it would be a disaster.

However, principals should have taught in a classroom at some point. Either that, or you need to take policy setting and evaluations out of their sphere. I work for a principal and a vice principal who have never taught in a classroom; one is a former PE teacher, and one a former nurse. They are good, well-meaning people. They have their strengths. But deciding on how I should do what in the classroom isn't one of them. I'd rather have my doctor diagnose and decide treatment for my illnesses than some paper-pusher at an HMO; I'd rather have a teacher diagnose learning needs and choose how to address them than someone who has never done the job.

I just started my 21st year in public education. During that time, I have worked for many well-meaning administrators. They all had things they were good at. And they were good people. One of them was a good principal. One. She is now superintendent at a neighboring district.
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MassDem4Life Donating Member (167 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 08:53 AM
Response to Reply #15
24. nice stats but wrong
3) Our budget reflects our values. Money doesn't solve everything, but it sure helps. Smaller class sizes require more classrooms and more teachers. you shoose--1.8 trillion in tax cuts, or better schools with smaller classes and more teachers. We currently value Defense spending 10 times more than Education spending.



TRUTH: most education spending is at the local level, as it should be. The total education spending in this country, Federal, state and local, in 2002, according to the DOE, was $700Billion.

The total defense budget is federal, and was only $343Billion in 2002.

The DOE spends 64 billion a year and doesnt education a single child.
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srpantalonas Donating Member (372 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 01:13 PM
Response to Reply #24
44. numbers
Yes, of course most of it is funded locally. My mistake for ommitting that, but we should fund more at the national level, and we don't have parity in funding in most states because of funding methods. What child in this country does not deserve a good education? Walk through a school in North Philly and then tell me money won't make a difference. But political will can make a bigger difference, but in the absence of money it's spitting in the wind.
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Yupster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 10:25 AM
Response to Reply #15
25. My input
you're wildly off on your spending on education compared to defense.

Education is by far the biggest governmental expense in America. There's nothing else even close to it.
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MassDem4Life Donating Member (167 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 08:48 AM
Response to Reply #14
23. hiring more teachers is not the answer
we have been doing that for 15 years. there are 25% more teachers now than there was in 1988, while the total public school population has only increased by 11%.

You must change the requirements to be a teacher.

Currently in most states you need an Ed degree, which today is not worth the paper it is written upon.

Do you know that I with an MBA can not teach in even a grammer school in 35 states, without an Ed degree.

How about this: To be a teacher you must possess an 4 year ACADEMIC degree from an accredited school. Then you must complete 1 yr. of post grad work in Ed. theory and practice.

That would vastly improve the quality of teachers in the system. Then you need to get more of the budget to the bottom line(the classrooms) Currently the average is 59% of the total budget making it to the classroom in public schools, while in Catholic schools for example,90% of the budget makes it to the classroom.

Just look at NYC. The school district office employs 6657 people. The Catholic school system of NYC employs only 37. And yes NYC public has 600,000 students and the catholic system has only 145,000 but does that explain the difference? Oh, btw, out of those 6657 people over 1000 make over $100,000 per year.

Are you going to tell me that money could not be put to better use?
You could also ditch the union work rules in NYC> Teachers by contract are not allowed to work more than 6 hours and 40 minutes a day. They are not allowed to be in the school a day before school starts to prep their classes, nor are they allowed to stay in school one minute past the three o'clock bell when the students leave.

Also it takes an act of congress to fire an incompetent teacher, and a shitload of taxpayer money.
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IrateCitizen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 03:44 PM
Response to Reply #23
49. Falsehoods, falsehoods, and more falsehoods!
I'll start with this one, because it is THE MOST REPUGNANT myth about teaching out there:

Also it takes an act of congress to fire an incompetent teacher, and a shitload of taxpayer money.

WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

What it takes to fire a teacher is PROBABLE CAUSE. That means that administrators are responsible for DOING THEIR JOB, and documenting instances of teacher incompentence. All that tenure means is that you cannot be fired without a valid, documented reason. When my mother started teaching in the days before tenure, the entire teaching staff would be left in limbo over the summer, not knowing if their job would be there (or if the daughter of a schoolboard member needed a job!) come fall. THAT, my friend, is what TENURE is!

You could also ditch the union work rules in NYC> Teachers by contract are not allowed to work more than 6 hours and 40 minutes a day. They are not allowed to be in the school a day before school starts to prep their classes, nor are they allowed to stay in school one minute past the three o'clock bell when the students leave.

I'm not too sure about this, but my wife taught in NYC schools for 2 years. And when she taught there, she had ZERO periods available for prep. What that means, is that she always had MORE work to bring home, ergo she would be checking papers and preparing lessons until 10:00 PM instead of 9:00 PM as she does now. As for any rules about not being allowed in schools before the school starts or staying 1 minute past the last bell, it sounds like a bunch of bullshit to me. Teachers are ALWAYS staying after school to help students who need it -- in my wife's suburban district, they have MANDATORY extra-help days before and after classes.

Just look at NYC. The school district office employs 6657 people. The Catholic school system of NYC employs only 37. And yes NYC public has 600,000 students and the catholic system has only 145,000 but does that explain the difference? Oh, btw, out of those 6657 people over 1000 make over $100,000 per year.

And do you know what role those people making over $100K per year are all in? ADMINISTRATION. And when my wife taught in NYC schools, she said the administration there was WORTHLESS, that they gave her ZERO SUPPORT. So, instead of demonizing the teachers' unions for the poor state of the schools, how about looking at where the problem REALLY lies in this instance, with the ADMINISTRATORS (who are NOT members of the unions)!

You must change the requirements to be a teacher.

Currently in most states you need an Ed degree, which today is not worth the paper it is written upon.

Do you know that I with an MBA can not teach in even a grammer school in 35 states, without an Ed degree.

How about this: To be a teacher you must possess an 4 year ACADEMIC degree from an accredited school. Then you must complete 1 yr. of post grad work in Ed. theory and practice.

That would vastly improve the quality of teachers in the system. Then you need to get more of the budget to the bottom line(the classrooms) Currently the average is 59% of the total budget making it to the classroom in public schools, while in Catholic schools for example,90% of the budget makes it to the classroom.


I, for one, am glad that you cannot teach at a "grammer" (BTW, it's GRAMMAR) school. And since you've become so fond of citing NYC schools, did you know that you need a master's degree within 5 years in order to get permanent certification in NY state? As for your MBA, could you please tell me what that makes you qualified to teach? I have an engineering degree myself, and am currently taking classes to become a physics teacher. Despite my extensive coursework in applied science, I still have to take the requisite pure science courses in order to even get a PROVISIONAL certification. IOW, your argument is full of shit, at least with regards to secondary ed.


The problem with the teaching profession is not money, nor is it class size in many instances. The problem is respect. Teachers perform a service of immense importance to our society -- the molding of future generations -- but they are derided as having a job that is a "scam", they have to work in school buildings that are in some instances literally falling apart, and they are blamed for every failing of our educational system. Perhaps if teachers were simply accorded the respect and appreciation they deserve, rather than subjected to the kind of baseless criticism that I have seen you offer repeatedly on these boards.

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Yupster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 01:15 AM
Response to Original message
16. Around here
you won't find 30 kids in any class -- at least 6th grade and lower. Our city is around 22-23 to a class. That's the lowest ratio it's ever been. I think this is a trend pretty much everywhere except in the inner city districts where eductaion is just plain broken.

Something else to consider when you are reducing class sizes.

It means you have to hire a lot more teachers and these teachers will be the ones that you almost hired last year, but decided that you had better options.

As a parent, if I was asked if I wanted my son to be the 27th kid in a teacher's class who I knew was excellent, or the 22nd kid in a teacher's class who was almost hired, but then the district decided for whatever reason they had better choices, I wouldn't hesitate. I'd pick the experienced good teacher with 27 kids.

Realize that when you reduce class sizes you're taking kids out of classes taught by the best teachers and putting them in classes taught by less effective teachers.
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Paragon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 01:27 AM
Response to Original message
18. It's all about testing!
That is, unless you're testing an obviously stupid presidential candidate on his knowledge of world leaders. THEN it's cruel and unfair. :eyes:
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Iverson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 06:01 AM
Response to Original message
19. consider the purpose
Discussants have raised several good points. Permit me to add this.

For K-12 public education, we also have to decide what we want it for. Is the purpose is to produce literate young adults who can participate in civil society? Is it trade school? Is it weeding out who can and who cannot go to college?

For any of the above, the results are at best mixed.

Currently, the purpose seems to be babysitting and (very) basic socialization, with occasional teaching and learning thrown in. Someone else raised the point that they cannot function in loco parentis, yet that seems to be the main thrust.

There's more to say, but it's early ... :donut: :donut: :donut:
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Yupster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 10:30 AM
Response to Original message
26. Good teachers can effectively teach 30 kids
They've been doing it for generations.

In my life as a public school teacher (9 years ending 13 years ago), I noticed there were good teachers and bad teachers and pretty much everyone knew which were which.

I'm now a parent. I would much rather my kid was the 30th kid in a good teacher's class than the 23rd kid in a bad teacher's class. That would be an easy call for me to make.

In my opinion, quality of instructor is much more important than class size.
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Iverson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 10:41 AM
Response to Reply #26
29. next question
Would you rather have your kid in a good teacher's class of 30 students or a good teacher's class of 23 students?

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uptohere Donating Member (603 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 10:48 AM
Response to Reply #29
30. this implies that its possible to secure additional good teachers
its already been proven that this is not the case or there would be no bad ones.

You could make the case that improving teaching situations might coax the good ones who left teaching to come back but noones talking about that.
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Iverson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 10:54 AM
Response to Reply #30
32. not at all
My query compares two like things. It was in response to a comparison of bad teacher and smaller class vs. good teacher and larger class.

You may not like my question, but please don't claim that it's impossible to consider.
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uptohere Donating Member (603 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 11:32 AM
Response to Reply #32
35. OK I'll consider it
I'll take the 30. The reason being that I would prefer that she be in an actual building insted of a trailer. Reducing ratios would require additional classrooms which we just don't have. I've had to work in a trailer and it was a health nightmare.

In an even more perfect world where classrooms fell from the sky as needed, I really wouldn't care as I don't believe that the difference is that great. Now if it were say 18:1 then I might consider it further.
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Yupster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 11:37 AM
Response to Reply #29
36. All things being equal,
I'd take the 23 kids.

But, more important than the numbers are whether the class has discipline, and whether the teacher is excellent, or at least good.

If I can have a disciplined learning environment handled by an excellent teacher with 23 kids, that would be the best, but...

I realize that having the first two makes the last one less likely, because to get down to 23 to 1, you'll have to ...

hire lots of new teachers, and they will not be excellent teachers. I'd challenge everyone on here who is or was a teacher to evaluate how well they did their first year. I was a truly excellent teacher. I was god-awful my first year.

So, if you're going to take kids out of classrooms run by existing excellent teachers and put them with brand spanking-new teachers, and think you're improving the kids educational opportunities, I'd disagree.

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LeahMira Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 01:45 PM
Response to Reply #36
46. New teachers do OK.
These days, they have had many more hours in the classroom than we had going through college. By the time they are ready for their student teaching experience they have already taught classes at various grade levels and in various subjects for days or weeks at a time.

Of course we all learn and improve with the years, but "brand new" teachers fresh out of college are a lot more seasoned than we ever were in the past.
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Yupster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 03:25 PM
Response to Reply #46
47. That's good to hear
It sure wasn't that way when I taught 14-23 years ago. They (we) came out of college completely unprepared for the discipline part. The kids ate us up.
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Nederland Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 10:33 AM
Response to Original message
27. Depends on Age
You cannot effectively teach 30 kids

I would say that this assertion depends largely on age. In High School, I had a US history class with 60+ people in it. It was taught like a typical college level couse, lecture style. It think it worked very well for that age group. Now, 60+ fourth graders...no.
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Yupster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 12:13 PM
Response to Reply #27
40. Good point Nederland
I should have pointed out that when I taught 30 kids it was mostly 9th graders. I don't know enough about third graders to say whether than would drive a teacher drinking in a month.
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uptohere Donating Member (603 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 12:15 PM
Response to Reply #40
41. thats why the class size is posted as an average across grades
.
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Nevernose Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 10:54 AM
Response to Original message
31. My thoughts on the earlier "private-school" posts:
Earlier posters mentioned that inner-city private schools are frequently lower-SES, ethnic minority, etc., and still do better than those in public schools. It seems to me that these kids have one major advantage: they have parents that care enough to send them to private school, and therefore their parents are probably more involved at home than other parents.

It's all about the parents, which leads us to the real question: WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH PARENTS THESE DAYS?
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uptohere Donating Member (603 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 12:10 PM
Response to Reply #31
38. not enough bandwidth to cover this properly
but the current trend away from personal responsibility is the heart of the matter.
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baldguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 10:54 AM
Response to Original message
33. Sam on The West Wing:
"Education is the silver bullet. Education is everything. We dont need little changes. We need gigantic revolutionary changes. Schools should be palaces. Competition for the best teachers should be fierce. They should be getting six-figure salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive for government and absolutely free of charge for its citizens, just like national defense. That is my position. I just havent figured out how to do it yet."
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uptohere Donating Member (603 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 12:12 PM
Response to Reply #33
39. which is why its just a tv show
I prefer to live in the real world.
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azrak Donating Member (269 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 03:49 PM
Response to Original message
50. Parent engagement and involvement
if the parents don't give a damn about the schools, and the teachers just want more money our schools will keep right on failing.

I make 150 a day to teach 154 students for one hour each. Net pay less than one dollar per hour per kid. I pay my babysitter way more.
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Yupster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 04:17 PM
Response to Reply #50
53. But if the district is getting $ 8,000 per year per student,
that's about $ 40 per school day per kid. If you're getting $ 1, then where's the other $ 39 going?
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uptohere Donating Member (603 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 04:22 PM
Response to Reply #53
54. exactly why throwing money is worse than futile
it simply feeds the corruption.

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IrateCitizen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 04:25 PM
Response to Reply #54
55. Throwing money -- you're right. What we need to do is INVEST it...
It's all about putting the money in the right places, and then making certain that what we are doing is improving the educational climate.

See my post below for a few ideas.
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IrateCitizen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-23-03 04:04 PM
Response to Original message
52. I don't think I necessarily agree with you on this, uly...
Because the problem goes much further beyond class size.

1. Educational infrastructure -- many of the schools in our country are literally falling apart. One of the reasons we don't have year-round schooling is the need for air conditioning in the schools. We need a massive federal investment in schools renovation/construction to bring classrooms (especially in poorer areas) up to a higher standard, and install air conditioning so that we can have year-round schooling to better facilitate student retention. Instead of 2-3 months off each summer, we could have, say, 1 month -- and the rest of the time dispersed throughout the school year.

2. Challenging curricula -- the acceptance of mediocrity has infused itself with our educational structure, with bad consequences. I know this because I was able to skate through HS and make distinguished honor roll, and then college classes were a slap in the face. We need to challenge our students in order to maximize their learning opportunity -- while at the same time providing them with the tools to get help in achieving their goals. Considering how reluctant many kids are to ask for help, some of these programs (extra help, tutoring, etc.) should be MANDATORY.

3. Emphasis on education before 2nd grade -- this is where kids are made or broken in the educational system. It is of PARAMOUNT importance that they achieve reading skills in this time, or they will be permanently behind. This is a trend that is greatly supported by many studies. Of course, this will take an investment of not only money but dedicated schools working with communities. And in many instances, some of the best people to help these kids out are -- other kids. Perhaps this is the kind of program that could be fused with some kind of volunteerism program/requirement within the schools, to help kids realize the value of cooperation and helping each other out?

4. Competent administrators -- a poster above outlined this, as to how not all teachers make good administrators, but the education curriculum does not go far enough toward recruiting and training good leaders as future administrators. And in many instances, administrators are those teachers who just were not effective in the classroom.

5. RESPECT -- that is the main issue with teachers today. The fact is, that teaching is not respected and appreciated as the important service that it is -- the preparation of future generations to become productive members of our society. Instead, teachers are blamed for every failing of the educational system, told they make too much money, told that their job is a scam, and so on. Perhaps if we were a society that valued the caregivers and nurturers among us -- such as teachers -- at least as much as we did those who "create wealth", we could go a long way toward alleviating the problems of our educational system?

I think that in many instances class size IS an issue -- especially in the primary grades, where the ratio should be kept as low as 10-15:1 IMHO, but the problems go far, far beyond that.
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