Educational Logic

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Re: Educational Logic

Postby -hokiegamer » Mon Oct 30, 2006 10:35 am

A couple things. But first, damn Ed! Do you have this affect on every board you're a member of? Maybe discussion groups that are running low on content and debates could pay for your services.

Anyway, this issue is part of a host of other problems. I thin they're all tied together.

Like the fact that there is the cost to society if the people who attend the poor schools are not given enough to buy into our society. That means giving more money for schools, better teachers, safe neighborhoods, police that don't ignore them, etc.

Second, we've dilluted the value of a high school education, and even a college education. 30 years ago, there were good paying jobs for people with a high school diploma. Now there are almost none. So we've raised the bar on what's required to participate in our society, and we've raised the costs of what it takes to get it. How do you fix that? You can't really, even with more school spending.

Third, Ed is not completely off base. Some people can't learn computers, don't have the drive to pick up a trade, and haven't tried to get any respectable grades. So what do you do with them? Others work their butts off for years to get a college degree and then can't keep up with the pace of learning in their job to keep it. What do you do with them? We've got this idea that full employment and education for all are realities. But that's just not happening anymore. It didn't even happen during the past, except for a few odd periods of time.

Would some of these issues be assuaged by spending more money on all schools across the board? Maybe. But the choice here is whether we want to pay a social cost for our failed policies (crime, unemployment, social unrest) or a financial cost (higher taxes to support the schools). This has always been the problem. Just look at Appalachia: today, 20 years ago, 50 years ago, 100 years ago they've had the same problems.

I don't know what a good path is to fix any of this. Maybe you guys have some ideas? I haven't heard anyone running for election talking about this stuff either.

People want to blame the kids, blame the schools, blame the parents, blame class barriers, etc. There's enough blame to go around to everyone. But the bottomline is everyone is comparing today to some American dream that never existed.
When all these poor kids wake up, I don't want to be around.

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Re: Educational Logic

Postby -Papa Gino » Mon Oct 30, 2006 10:43 am

Ken, on behalf of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and as the only person in the club who was ever a member of the Young Communists, I applaud your public recognition of the wisdom of Marxist-Leninist educational precepts. When the world revolution finally takes place, I shall personally make certain that you are given the opportunity to be sent to a re-education camp instead of simply being liquidated as a pseudo-liberal member of the corrupt bourgeois intelligentsia.

I am only half-joking.

Having personally gone through both Soviet and U.S. educational systems, and having given the matter some degree of thought, I can make the following brief observations which, to me, seem to be fairly no-brainer. Note that some of these overlap.

1. Centralization of educational functions allows for a standardization of the curriculum and the associated performance benchmarks. A side benefit of this is potentially placing students of all regions on an even footing with respect to higher education.

2. Such centralization also necessarily entails a normalization of the funding levels across socio-economic demographics, both potentially stabilizing student performance and allowing for the opportunity to restructure the teaching profession as a whole in order to attract more suitable applicants.

3. The centralization of educational functions will necessarily afford the opportunity to increase (or, in many cases, institute) local and regional accountability while potentially eliminating redundant administrative functions and departments.

4. From the viewpoint of a developed state, a uniform educational system is a far, far better vehicle for asserting strategic control over the younger generations. This need not be limited to simple indoctrination (e.g. "evolution vs. intelligent design", or "democracy/communism/whatever is the best thing in the world"); an educational system could be geared towards preparing more applicants in certain professions and industries, such as quantitative sciences or high tech. [This is precisely how the Soviet Union, and other nations as well, had been able to build up such a considerable corps of educated engineers, physicists, programmers, etc. over a couple of generations. Compare with the U.S., where disciplines like Computer Science are presently in truly dire straits.]

5. Centralization of the educational system will also afford a better opportunity to establish a system of specialized schools, whether geared towards particular disciplines or simply for attracting the higher-achieving students. Rather than spread these schools about the country willy-nilly.

Of course, these are my views, and I'm the "radical" who is very much against such "capitalist" phenomena as deregulation of strategic industries (e.g. electric utilities), or private funding of political campaigns. Also no-brainer issues, at least to me. And, of course, I am not denying that a centralized system of any kind itself entails a propensity for certain inefficiency and waste, and that the purely economic logistics of creating and managing such a system could well be imposing. [Of course, they would not be nearly as imposing if we did not spend hundreds of billions of dollars each year on essentially wasteful subsidies to defense contractors - but c'est la vie.]

All that said, I am also rather more pessimistic regarding the chances of such a reform ever getting anywhere without a very substantial political trauma. [Much as the current entitlement and securities trading systems are the products of the trauma that was the Great Depression.] For one, as Ken has rightly pointed out, one of the two dominant political establishments in this country would be firmly against any such "heresies", and I'm not certain that the other would necessarily be amenable to reforms as well - given that both local administrators and socio-economic elites would hardly agree to this breed of socialism. The teacher unions are also something of a wild card - they at least would need to be convinced (or eradicated).
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Re: Educational Logic

Postby Flavius Infernus » Mon Oct 30, 2006 10:52 am

Quote:
I haven't heard anyone running for election talking about this stuff either.


Well saying "we need to spend more money on education" doesn't work in political campaigns. From a political standpoint the ideal position on education is to say "we need to improve it, but cut funding at the same time."

That's why No Child Left Behind plays so well with the Bushies. It puts the blame for poor education on teachers, (and teachers don't vote Republican anyway because republicans cut school funding, so none of your own constituents are offended) while giving an excuse to cut school spending under the guise of improving education. Orwellian brilliance.
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Re: Educational Logic

Postby mauleed » Mon Oct 30, 2006 8:19 pm

Quote:
So apparently, it's true. If you spend money on underperforming schools, they generally do better:


Yes, they do better, at minimum basic skills tests.

My contention, even from the first page of this lovely thread, is that I don't think that is a valuable measure of success of a school.

Do these abbot disctricts produce more nurses, engineers, doctors or other people that help us gain economic advantage over the rest of the world? If the answer is yes, and in proportion to the massive amounts of money spent, then bravo, Tom you're right. But sadly we don't have that sort of data, so any claims of victory seem awefully pre-mature to me.

And this article is full of bologna anyway:

Quote:
For instance, 66 percent of Abbott students were proficient in the fourth-grade language arts test in 2005, compared with 29.5 percent in 1999, but that still falls below the 85.5 percent of proficient students in non-Abbott districts.


2005 is the "year of the cheat" in Camden. Camden, the biggest abbott school district in the state, flat out cheated on their standardized test scores in 2005, and despite having the worst scores in the state in 2004, had nearly the best in 2005. This is working it's way through the courts as we speak. But regardless, that 66% figure is based on having a massive number of students cheat.

So even the usesless minimum basic skills test as a yardstick proves nothing at this point.

In fact, if anything, the study proves the reverse of what you're saying. Spending more money per student in an abbott district is less effective than less dollars spent in other districts.

What it showed us is that if you spend 50% more on Camden students, AND cheat massively, that you'll still perform 20% below the rest of the state.

Obviously Garfield is a success story, and bravo to them. But one example, particularly when offset with other examples like Camden, does not mean it's time to claim victory.
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Re: Educational Logic

Postby -Papa Gino » Mon Oct 30, 2006 9:29 pm

1. Actually, the article linked-to above states that the "scandal-ridden" Camden district, while spending $X per student in 2004-2005, lagged behind the other Abbot districts in test scores.

This, in turn, implies that a) the 66% Abbot test score average is being dragged down by Camden, and b) Camden may well be an example of budget fraud or, at least, massive waste.

Of course, this is all secondary to the fact that even the 66% figure represents a massive improvement from prior levels. Hence, Tom's assertion that spending has a positive correlation to student performance can be validated. [Logically, the opposing view would have to prove a zero or negative correlation - i.e. no or positive impact if the spending were cut from existing levels.]

Notably, much of the spending that the article discusses concerns capital projects and preparatory programs - which themselves may or may not be the most optimal use of funds insofar as raising student test performance (the politically acceptable benchmark for "achievement"). Rather than, say, attracting better teachers to the district, or providing after-school tutoring. It also does not help that a majority of teachers would probably opt for an equal-paying job in, say, a Riverdale private school than in Stuyvesant Town. Location does matter. [For parents as well...]

As for the argument regarding the correlation (or lack thereof) between per-student spending and the percentage of students who become "productive members of society" in a given school district - that is a non sequitur. In order to properly conduct this comparison, one would have to make certain that all groups of students involved are given exactly equal opportunities with respect to a) post-high school education and b) the job market. Which is, of course, a complete impossibility. The focus of the argument should therefore be not the nominal number of "nurses" and such, but whether increasing per-student spending results in an improvement "on the margin". Logically, it should, and the NYT piece certainly suggests that, at least in some cases, it does.

2. The issue with the politicians' approach to all of this is, in my view, similar to a number of other strategic problems currently unresolved by Washington. That is to say that the vast majority seem to not understand the issue or the possible courses of actions to begin with - partly due to a general lack of an intellectual and analytical capacity, partly due to the vast majority of the discourse being conducted in ideologically dogmatic terms, and partly due to the availability of tried and true "politically safe" (if objectively nonsensical) options.

Thus the problem with any federal educational reform is, first and foremost, that neither the real problems nor logical solutions are even being discussed. Instead, it is much safer to speak of test scores and localized grants, or, even better, to not speak of the issue at all (not when there are other, politically "juicier" issues to campaign on). Similarly with many other strategic problems.
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Re: Educational Logic

Postby -The Fabulous Orcboy » Tue Oct 31, 2006 1:23 am

Gino: heh

You must be mistaking me with one of those so-called "libertarian" types who think that all government is Evil with a capital E -- all while driving subsidized cars powered with subsidized gas on subsidized highways to subsidized jobs with subsidized benefits and subsidized protections, etc.

Me, I actually believe that this "government" thing is capable of doing certain large-scale things really really well. Like a national education system. Shockingly, this is an idea that ISN'T unique to the communist/socialist states you favor ;)

(the propaganda benefits of a centrally controlled educational system are, of course, obvious. Of course, it was the British and French who demonstrated the obvious 'indoctrination' benefits first. Not Russia...er...the USSR)

Quote:
Thus the problem with any federal educational reform is, first and foremost, that neither the real problems nor logical solutions are even being discussed. Instead, it is much safer to speak of test scores and localized grants, or, even better, to not speak of the issue at all (not when there are other, politically "juicier" issues to campaign on). Similarly with many other strategic problems.
Worth repeating. Ed's underlying complaint has merit -- all this focus on test scores doesn't address issues -- but simultaneously he appears to have no interest at all in seriously discussing more substantive issues. Rather, he just wants to use this as an opp to bash things (yet again)
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Re: Educational Logic

Postby mauleed » Tue Oct 31, 2006 1:41 am

Why do I have to come up with the solution?

I'm not a mechanic, but I know when my car's broken. It's the smart move for me to know that I shouldn't be the one to suggest how to fix it. You make it out to be that I should be telling him what parts to order.

I just know our present system, based on the "everyone is the same and no one is better than anyone else and we're all the best at everything" thinking is silly and worthy of only scorn and ridicule.

But if I were to have a suggestion, and this is merely off the cuff, I'd suggest this: we figure out how many of whatever we need to maintain or regain global economic dominance and we find ways to a. fund the training for that b. measure improvements in the production of people able to do that.

When given a choice between spending money on engineering schools and getting a 12th grader to prove he can read at an 8th grade level, we've opted to focus on reading. If we had money for both, then fantastic, buy both. But we don't, and choices have to be made. I'd simply prefer the other choice.

I don't care how we get there, I just want my money to go toward producing more doctors, nurses, engineers, and scientists. I don't care if the guy who's giving me horrible service at the Chick Fillet is able to read at an 8th grade level or a 4th grade level.

All of this minimum basic skills stuff is based on the notion that there are no dumb people, only uneducated people. And I simply can not get behind a notion so obviously ridiculous.
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Re: Educational Logic

Postby -The Fabulous Orcboy » Tue Oct 31, 2006 3:37 am

Here's why, Ed. Because you consistently fall back on the strawmen and the Stupid Rhetorical Tricks, instead of actually coming up with anything serious or debateable.
Quote:
Why do I have to come up with the solution?
False dichotomy. You weren't asked to come up with a solution. You were asked to provide some informed opinions. This requires that (a) you get some opinions that (b) are informed. In other words, do a little research before mouthing off like the moron you (so regularly) prove yourself to be.
Quote:
I'm not a mechanic, but I know when my car's broken. It's the smart move for me to know that I shouldn't be the one to suggest how to fix it. You make it out to be that I should be telling him what parts to order.
Circular reasoning based on bad assumptions. To use your own analogy, you're sitting around complaining that your glove compartment is broken, and that people should stop talking about glove compartments and start worrying about the whole car. But your "proof" that the car is broken is that... the glove compartment isn't working.
Quote:
I just know our present system, based on the "everyone is the same and no one is better than anyone else and we're all the best at everything" thinking is silly and worthy of only scorn and ridicule.
Strawman. There isn't anyone (serious) on either side of the debate that believes that "everyone is the same". By pretending they are, you're basically demonstrating that you either don't CARE about being serious on the topic, or that you're too STUPID to know that you're mischaracterizing it.
Quote:
But if I were to have a suggestion, and this is merely off the cuff, I'd suggest this: we figure out how many of whatever we need to maintain or regain global economic dominance and we find ways to a. fund the training for that b. measure improvements in the production of people able to do that.
This is the only serious proposal you've consistently forwarded. I agree, this is worth doing. But then, after SUGGESTING this, you then go on to basically REJECT, either directly or implicitly, most of the ready solutions that would successfully achieve the ends you've said you wanted:
Quote:
When given a choice between spending money on engineering schools and getting a 12th grader to prove he can read at an 8th grade level, we've opted to focus on reading. If we had money for both, then fantastic, buy both. But we don't, and choices have to be made. I'd simply prefer the other choice.
Translation: we should have better funding. Except that I don't want to pay for it.

Also, there's a false dichotomy here that's not grounded (at all) in factual reality: engineering schools BY FAR get more funding than remedial reading programs. Furthermore, they do NOT receive funding from the same source, so aren't in competition. The US university system is one of the most impressive in the world. Funding of vocational universities is not a problem -- and it isn't a problem regardless of whether you say it is or not.

It's as if you said: "I like Mexican food, and think we should have more Mexican food, but don't like how Mexican chefs have to choose between purchasing better ingredients and wearing sombreros. It seems to me like there's too much emphasis placed on wearing sombreros" The obvious response to an "opinion" like this is -- the hell? Are you f'in insane?
Quote:
I don't care how we get there, I just want my money to go toward producing more doctors, nurses, engineers, and scientists. I don't care if the guy who's giving me horrible service at the Chick Fillet is able to read at an 8th grade level or a 4th grade level.
Then the *simple* solution is to support federal policies that promote immigration (particularly "brain drain" type immigration) and dramatically reduce college tuition.

But this pretty much misses the entire point of the debate, which is that public schools are NOT designed to turn out doctors and engineers and scientists. (or nurses, in most cases, either). Public eduction is NOT designed to turn out high-skill white-collar professional types. That's never been it's purpose or intent or focus.

This means that your basic complaint amounts to something like this: "I don't like my Kia because it doesn't fly at 30,000 feet, has no submersible capability, and can't transport several tons of bulk cargo. I mean, it's a vehicle, right? It should do all those things!"

Which is rather ridiculous. Your concerns are being met by the US university system. The US university system faces its own challenges and overseas 'threats'. If that's what your interest is, then that's what you should focus on -- not public education.

Point being: despite the occasional good point you make (apparently by accident), all this does is suggest that you know less than nothing about what you're talking about.
Quote:
All of this minimum basic skills stuff is based on the notion that there are no dumb people, only uneducated people. And I simply can not get behind a notion so obviously ridiculous.
Again: strawman. There is no-one that seriously argues that this is the case. So you're either intentionally mis-characterizing things (ie, not being serious about actually talking about factual reality), or you're a f'in moron.

By the by, there does happen to be one political PARTY that rather cynically argues virtually every one of your (empty, Stupid Rhetorical Trick) points, nearly talking point for talking point. In case you're curious, the name of the party starts with "R" and it rhymes with "Gepublican" :p
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Re: Educational Logic

Postby VectorAWX3 » Tue Oct 31, 2006 3:42 am

Blah blah blah blah blah. It's Ken, yapping once again, and calling people names. Kudos, Ken, you anti-social fuck!
Jaghatai, on the Pale Rider event: I hop on this board to post a simple NEWCC question, end up looking at some interacial lesbian action and watch a religious meltdown. You guys know how to party!
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Re: Educational Logic

Postby -The Fabulous Orcboy » Tue Oct 31, 2006 3:44 am

I love you too, Nidal, you drunk fucking bastard.

I guess this means you've decided to hate me now? Nice to know. My heart bleeds for you. :rolleyes

(oh yeah: I'm just kidding. Just like you are, of course.
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