Monday, 23 September 2013

Six Lies Most People Believe About U.S. Schools

Six Lies Most People Believe About U.S. Schools
Adults feel comfortable while kids suffer the consequences.
By Joy Pullmann
September 23, 2013

Popular lies about U.S. education certainly don't do the kids any good. They just let the adults continue to feel comfortable while kids receive increasing diagnoses of ADHD (one in five boys now) and special needs, delay life milestones like marriage and buying a house, enter a crippled workforce, and face paying off the biggest debt in the history of humankind while receiving no government benefits in return. All these, and more, are directly related to education quality. No wonder the kids are getting antsy.

So, in the spirit of "the truth shall set you free," here are a few lies it's time to dispel about U.S. education. I call them lies because they've been repeatedly publicly disproven but remain driving forces for education policy.


Lie 1: America's rich, suburban schools are high quality

The United States' best schools are mediocre compared to their international peers, even though the United States spends more money than any country in the world on K-12 education. The Global Report Card has recently layered specific, nationwide figures upon broader comparisons that have long demonstrated our mediocrity. Its authors give Beverly Hills as one example. It represents most affluent suburban districts, which Americans typically think contain great schools. But they don't. "If Beverly Hills were relocated to Canada, it would be at the 46th percentile in math achievement, a below-average district. If the city were in Singapore, the average student in Beverly Hills would only be at the 34th percentile…" The schools everyone thinks are so great are only so because we compare them to our truly awful urban districts, rather than to actual peers. In short, America suffers from the Lake Wobegon effect.

The knee-jerk response to anyone raising the mounds of evidence to this effect is something I heard from one of Alabama's best teachers a few weeks ago: The United States educates and tests all children, not just the rich city kids like those other countries that outperform us (China, she's looking at you). Actually, many countries that have large minority populations and educate everyone do it better than the U.S., including Canada, France, Brazil, and Finland. And other research has shown that U.S. kids who have richer families and parents with more education still lag their international peers in academic performance. The same holds true if you eliminate minorities from the comparison.


Lie 2: Poverty is the root of America's education problems

Teacher unions and other education determinists keep insisting mediocre education quality is not teachers' fault. It's society's fault. American kids perform poorly because they don't have enough healthcare, school counselors, museum visits, money, and parenting. This is an attractive belief for people who want to avoid responsibility. And it's not fair to blame teachers for the increasing numbers of parents who will not give their children a stable, married home and its requisite emotional and academic structure, but teachers and schools can overcome poverty and neglect. We know because some have, and not at random. For example, giving a child who lags two years behind his peers an excellent teacher (defined as a top-25-percent teacher) four years in a row will catch him up. This would close the nation's persistent black-white achievement gap.

Perhaps the best argument against this blame-shifting defeatism has been advanced by self-described liberal and public intellectual E.D. Hirsch Jr. His works collate decades of research into one resounding thesis: The achievement gap between black and white, rich and poor is not due to lack of money. It largely comes down to a vocabulary gap, which means a knowledge gap, because words name things. Perhaps you've heard of the 30 million-word gap? Many poor children have a massive vocabulary deficit that modern U.S. education simply does not overcome. (This is largely the fault of parents who put their child in front of the TV or iPad instead of reading him books, but teachers can overcome it.) It's not the money, it's the education.

Furthermore, a raft of studies have shown that increasing education spending does not increase student achievement. The latest such study was done last year by Harvard University economists. They compared state education spending and student achievement and found a correlation so small it was statistically insignificant.


Lie 3: Schools should teach generic skills like "critical thinking" and "real-world application"

So why don't schools overcome the knowledge deficit? Because prevailing education theory, which has stood strong now for about half a century, preaches that children don't need knowledge. They need skills that can apply to any knowledge.

For a selection of what this content-free philosophy sounds like, I looked at just two days worth of reporting on how schools are putting into place new national education goals called Common Core. It would " have students practice critical thinking, curiosity and creativity instead of merely memorizing content"; "It focuses on how deeply a student understands the content presented"; "The Common Core State Standards focus on key topics, allowing teachers to go much deeper, with an emphasis on real world skills like collaboration, communication and critical thinking." The standards are said to teach children "how to apply what they've learned to real life… 'It's skills now, not just content. It's not just rote memory anymore.'" In all the reporting on Common Core, no contrary examples were reported.

Doesn't it sound good? No more rotten memorization! Just living, breathing, real-world skills! Unfortunately, as Hirsch shows, there are no skills that apply to any knowledge indiscriminately. Believing that, however plausible it sounds, is the intellectual equivalent of asking a carpenter to apply his chiseling skills to gardening, or horseback riding. Knowledge acquisition must be systematic and focused, and requires memory. You cannot have great reading skill that applies equally to a passage about the Civil War and to one about the lifecycle of amoebae. Your ability to read and understand any given passage depends on your background knowledge about the subject. In short, you cannot be a critical thinker without anything to think with or about.


Lie 4: Teachers are well-prepared professionals

Teacher training ends up handicapping teachers by instilling in them the most ineffective education philosophies and methods, such as the progressive ideas outlined above. A review of all the available research on teacher certification (which usually requires college-level classes) has decisively shown it does not result in better teachers. It's likely the mush-brained philosophy of education schools is a prime reason.

As George Leef writes, "Back in 1991, Rita Kramer's book Ed School Follies: The Miseducation of America's Teachers argued that our ed schools were giving the country a steady stream of intellectually weak teachers who had been steeped in dubious educational theories but knew very little about the subject matter they were to teach. Despite widespread and strenuous criticism such as Kramer's, education schools have changed very little since then."

Leef also brings up another largely unknown, touchy reality: Because they do not demand much of students, teaching programs recruit from the bottom of the academic barrel. As I've noted elsewhere, students who intend to major in education have below-average SAT scores, which equate to a below-proficient ranking on state tests. Teaching coursework is among the least challenging available, yet prospective teachers need more remedial classes than their counterparts in humanities and social sciences. Even so, education majors receive the highest grades of all college students, according to research by University of Missouri economics professor Cory Koedel. The combination of undemanding coursework and grade inflation perpetuates a culture of low standards throughout education, Koedel says.

Why don't ed schools get better? States' teacher certification mandates, which in many cases also apply to private school teachers, give education schools a monopoly over teacher prep. They don't have to turn out good teachers to keep getting customers. So they're free to perpetuate failed education philosophies while children consequently continue to suffer.


Lie 5: Education is nonpartisan and amoral

It's clear that philosophy influences education quality. What a teacher believes about how children learn is crucial to whether her students actually do. The dominant progressive educational philosophy, however, rests on two contradictory tenets. One, educators must not impose their moral worldview in the classroom, and two, education is tool to create progressive social policy. The unavoidable reality is that education deals with human nature, and because of that it cannot be neutral­philosophically, religiously, or politically.

Every school necessarily helps children explain our universe and place within it, just like religion. Progressive education philosophy assumes, contrary to most major religions, that children are naturally good and wise enough to direct their own learning. And it aims to use education as a political tool. Consider the shift in math instruction. Math must now be "accessible" to poor students, and not by giving them higher-quality instruction but by lowering expectations, as Sandra Stotsky explains. "The primary role of math teachers, constructivists say in turn, shouldn't be to explain or otherwise try to 'transfer' their mathematical knowledge to students [because that perpetuates privilege, she writes earlier]… Instead, they must help the students construct their own understanding of mathematics and find their own math solutions." This obviously reflects specific, and highly debatable, beliefs about humans and politics.

Many people think religious controversies in schools can be solved by having schools ignore God altogether. That merely preferences atheism or agnosticism over every other belief system, whose adherents believe a God exists. In each case, central religious or irreligious beliefs have far-reaching implications for how and what every school should teach. The question is not whether schools promote certain philosophies, but how and which, and whether families should be forced to enroll their children in schools that actively contradict family beliefs.


Lie 6: Practically everyone should go to college

This foolhardy demand rests on the false premise that the point of an education is job preparation. But any good education will treat a student as a whole person and not merely an economic unit. This is particularly important becaue the U.S. education system exists to undergird our unusual form of government: self-rule.

Check your state constitution. Mine says public schools exist because "knowledge and learning, generally diffused throughout a community, [are] essential to the preservation of a free government…" Notice it establishes public education to preserve a free government, not to get people the lifestyles they want. As famed economist Milton Friedman writes, vocational education generally does not create enough of a public good to justify direct government subsidy. "The individual is rewarded in a free enterprise society by receiving a higher return for his services than he would otherwise be able to command," he says, meaning vocational education primarily benefits the individual, so they should pay for their own education. (Friedman also discusses ways for government to facilitate this for poor people without creating perverse incentives). Ultimately, Friedman agrees with the original rationale forAmerica's public education systems­that they should exist to provide general education for citizenship.

Nowadays, however, we hear nothing about citizenship, the ostensible purpose of public education. Education subsidies seem to have devolved into a mechanism for getting people enough money to make them happy. We hear things like this, from Oklahoma Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, just last week: "It's clear that a high school degree is no longer adequate to gain a good job and access to the middle-class life."  Public schooling is considered everyone's birthright to the middle class. But Gov. Fallin is just wrong.  Brookings Institution research recently showed that a person's chance of living in poverty is only 2 percent if he or she merely completes high school, works full time, and marries before creating children.

The past several years have seen a deluge of demands that a high school diploma now qualify all bearers for non-remedial admission to college. The Obama administration has unilaterally required this of all states using No Child Left Behind waivers. This will only further dilute college academics, because everyone is simply not suited for college. As social scientist Charles Murray writes, "The refusal to confront the relationship between intelligence and success in college has produced a cascade of harms–to many students who try to go to college, to those who do not, to the system of higher education, and to the nation as a whole."

The impetus that unites these lies is that they promote ideas people want to believe. But lies, however pleasant for one's peace of mind in the short run, damage people. Those who run our schools say they care about children but year after year they continue to perpetuate systems that are demonstrably harmful to our kids. Those damaged kids will one day grow up to be citizens who are ill-prepared to face our nation's challenges. The future of freedom depends on our willingness to tell hard truths to our entrenched educational interests and demand accountability for their actions.

http://thefederalist.com/2013/09/23/six-lies-most-people-believe-about-u-s-schools/#.UkDBewoTPj8.facebook

Shutdown Theater


Shutdown Theater
By Robert Higgs 
Monday September 23, 2013

Government shutdown? Nonsense. Only in our dreams will the U.S. government shut down. The current flap about an impending shutdown represents only the latest episode in the soap opera that stars the government as the hysterical teenage drama queen.

For fiscal year 2013, which will end in a week, estimated federal revenue is about $2.7 trillion. In real terms, this revenue is roughly equal to the amount the government spent ten years ago, in the early years of the Bush II administration.

May I remind you that in 2002-2003, the federal government was already obscenely bloated and spent money for thousands of unjust, economically and socially destructive (not to mention unconstitutional) programs and purposes. Today, without adding a dime to the public debt, the government has enough revenue to maintain that same level of bloated, destructive activity.

Yet that much is not nearly enough for the political class, which clamors to continue running up debt-financed federal expenditures until the final fool has exhausted his bank account to purchase U.S. government bonds. These annual shutdown theater performances have nothing to do with closing the government's doors, but everything to do with loading the taxpayers and future generations of taxpayers with even greater obligations to service the debt incurred to pay for the U.S. government's unconscionable profligacy­in effect, with transferring current resources to the rapacious political class at the expense of everyone else.

For me, shutdown can't come too soon -- and I mean a real one.

http://blog.independent.org/2013/09/23/shutdown-theater/

agent of Obama care?

I can't corroborate this, it was related to me by an acquaintance.
any way he said" and I paraphrase" that his mother is at retirement
age and applied for her social security and medicare .she was visited
by an individual presumably a medical type representing the federal
government who proceeded to ask her personal questions concerning what
medications she was taking, whether she was taking Lipitor and any
pain medications etc. and requested that she give a blood sample she
allegedly refused all request and asked this person to leave her house
which he did.
as I said I can't corroborate this my question is , has any one
experienced this or know of any one who has?

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Fwd: Obama Sedated Following Emotional Breakdown






 

http://nationalreport.net/meltdown-washington-president-obama-reported-sedated-following-emotional-breakdown/

 

Meltdown in Washington: President Obama Reported Sedated Following Emotional Breakdown

 

The President Seen Returning to the White House

By Nigel J. Covington III
Editor-in-Chief

<National Report> Late this afternoon White House insiders leaked information stating the president has suffered a mental breakdown and is presently resting and under a doctors care. This afternoon the National Report received three calls on our nationwide hot tip line (206) 222-1975. Two of the three callers are insiders known to the National Report to be reliable confidential informants.

The caller unknown to this publication is a low level employee who could only state that there was some kind of a medical emergency involving President Obama. The other two callers known to us are both support personnel within the Obama administration. Both confirmed this week has been a political disaster for the president and this has taken a tremendous toll on him.

Russian President Vladimir Putin Has Recently Shamed Obama on the World Stage

Earlier this week Russian President Vladimir Putin derailed the president's plan to bomb Syria and bury the U.S. in another war the people want nothing to do with and can ill afford to pay for. Putin negotiated a deal with Syria for control over its chemical weapons providing a peaceful resolution to a certain US attack. With the world watching Obama was forced to stand down causing him a great deal of shame and public embarrassment.

Before Putin extended the olive branch of diplomacy to resolve the Syrian crisis, he also agreed to grant asylum to Edward Snowden, the man who stole US secret documents that exposed the NSA secret program already underway and approved by President Obama to spy on all US citizens. Not only did Snowden expose the top secret NSA program to the world, he escaped US authorities in China and arrived in Russia where he repeatedly bitch-slapped the president by releasing more US secrets to the media.

Safely in the arms of Mother Russia Snowden, showed the world people how helpless and weak the Obama administration is at being utter failures at diplomacy, tact and statesmanship. While Putin and Obama were engaged in "negotiations" over Snowden's extradition, Snowden and Putin were engaged in conversation about Snowden's defecting to Russia.

Whistle-blower Edward Snowden Exposed Obama-NSA scandal

In one of the most crippling moments of President Obama's tenure Putin cut a deal with Snowden for asylum giving the Russian president tons of other US secrets. Edward Snowden now lives safely beyond the reach of Obama's dirty scandal ridden administration who would've imprisoned or killed Snowden without a trial clearly disregarding all of Snowden's civil liberties and denying him the opportunity to explain his actions before a court of law who would determine Snowden's fate… not Obama. Then Putin told Obama 'no' on Snowden's extradition completely shaming the president in front of the world.

In the past couple weeks the big winners on the world stage have been Syria, Russia, Snowden and Putin; all at the expense of America's impotent and fraudulent president.

Remember what Obama "sold" the American people in his 2008 bid for the presidency? Obama the "agent of revolution" guaranteed "change" instead he lied to everyone by promising the "most transparent" government – "no special interest" – "a new way of doing business" – "most honest" – "most righteous" – "the new beginning" – then there was the abortion of Obama's world tour… what a national mortification. And today how many of these promises has the president kept?

President Obama – Epic Failure Shames America

Then today's Gallup poll results have been absolutely devastating for the president and the Democratic party. Obama's approval rating dropped to the lowest in presidential history, and support from the Democratic Party plummeted more than 25% from this time last year.

Our sources confirm late this afternoon a doctor was summoned to the oval office and remained with the president for about a half-hour. When the doctor emerged he was heard to say the president needed rest and would be sedated once he was moved to his bed. The White House has remained silent and has yet to make a statement publicly.

Sources:

The Nixon Alliance Underground:
http://www.thenixonallianceunderground.com/obama-has-had-a-nervous-breakdown-and-he-does-not-know-it/

The Telegraph UK:
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/nilegardiner/100058278/a-presidency-on-the-verge-of-a-nervous-breakdown-5-key-reasons-why-barack-obama%E2%80%99s-future-looks-increasingly-bleak/

 



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__,_._,___


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Fwd: [New post] Al-Qaeda in Syria: “We fought against the Free Syrian Army because they conspired with John McCain”




BareNakedIslam posted: " This letter issued by the Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria ISIS about its battles in Azaz, Aleppo, against the Free Syrian Army's group, Asifat al Shamal. H Hassan (h/t Joey P)  On Wednesday, we purified the land from what is called Liwa Asifat al Shamal, whi"

New post on BARE NAKED ISLAM

Al-Qaeda in Syria: "We fought against the Free Syrian Army because they conspired with John McCain"

by BareNakedIslam

This letter issued by the Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria ISIS about its battles in Azaz, Aleppo, against the Free Syrian Army's group, Asifat al Shamal. H Hassan (h/t Joey P)  On Wednesday, we purified the land from what is called Liwa Asifat al Shamal, which God wanted to expose them in front of everyone. These are […]

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BareNakedIslam | September 23, 2013 at 6:49 pm | URL: http://wp.me/p276zM-Y6v

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Fwd: [New post] Somali-American was threatened by terror-linked CAIR who tried to stop him from testifying about growing radicalization of Minnesota Somali Muslims





BareNakedIslam posted: "The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) repeatedly tried to stop a Minnesota community leader from warning about the dangers al-Qaida-linked group posed to the Somali-American community prior to the Nairobi, Kenyan mall massacre. Daily Caller  M"

New post on BARE NAKED ISLAM

Somali-American was threatened by terror-linked CAIR who tried to stop him from testifying about growing radicalization of Minnesota Somali Muslims

by BareNakedIslam

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) repeatedly tried to stop a Minnesota community leader from warning about the dangers al-Qaida-linked group posed to the Somali-American community prior to the Nairobi, Kenyan mall massacre. Daily Caller  Minnesota residents were reportedly among the attackers in the grisly assault by al-Shabaab terrorists on the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya. […]

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BareNakedIslam | September 23, 2013 at 6:18 pm | URL: http://wp.me/p276zM-Y6p

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Re: [New post] Maryland: CAIR-backed Muslim groups want schools closed on Mus...

Seems like the schools are closed more then they are open now! They don't need another Hoilday they need to teach these kids to read and write and stay in school. Hell, the kids here only go for a little more then half a day as it is and that's considered full time!. We were in school from 8:00am until 4:00pm five days a week.
 
In a message dated 9/23/2013 12:05:54 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, plainolamerican@gmail.com writes:
islamoshit ain't no religion
---
say the jews.
By 2030 the global population is set to reach over 8 billion and 26.4% of that population will be Muslim.

On Monday, September 23, 2013 1:30:26 PM UTC-5, Travis wrote:
How about because islamoshit ain't no religion.


On Mon, Sep 23, 2013 at 12:44 PM, Brian Bednarek <bri...@gmail.com> wrote:
Schools here in NJ will close for Jewish and Christian holidays, if there are enough Muslims in a school district, why not close on their holidays???


On Mon, Sep 23, 2013 at 1:10 PM, Travis <baco...@gmail.com> wrote:




creeping posted: "The Marylander's who fought for independence wouldn't recognize the state today. via Coalition wants Montgomery County schools to close on Muslim holidays -- Gazette.Net. A coalition of local Muslims and others are urging Montgomery County Public Schools"
Respond to this post by replying above this line

New post on Creeping Sharia

Maryland: CAIR-backed Muslim groups want schools closed on Muslim holidays

by creeping

The Marylander's who fought for independence wouldn't recognize the state today. via Coalition wants Montgomery County schools to close on Muslim holidays -- Gazette.Net. A coalition of local Muslims and others are urging Montgomery County Public Schools to close on two holidays, which the coalition's co-chair, Saqib Ali, framed as a civil rights issue. Besides […]

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http://brineb.blogspot.com/

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Re: [New post] Maryland: CAIR-backed Muslim groups want schools closed on Muslim holidays

Yes, NJ with its 585 school districts do not all observe the same holidays ... it is based on the local culture, when I lived in Cranford we had all Jewish holidays, but my current town of Woodbridge does not ... this town is more Christian and Hindi, the Jewish Temple in my town closed because there was not enough people to support it ... it's now a veterinary office!!!


On Mon, Sep 23, 2013 at 2:55 PM, plainolamerican <plainolamerican@gmail.com> wrote:
Why are public schools in New Jersey closed for jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur?

best response:
Certainly there are school districts that do not close for Rosh Hashanah and/or Yom Kippur. But some districts have a sizable population of jewish teachers, even though the community population may not have a lot of jewish people. Getting substitute teachers for all of the teachers requesting off would be a nightmare, and perhaps impossible in a lot of places.
As far as what the days off should be called, my school district refers to all days off for religious holidays as "Administrative Days".



Read more: http://www.city-data.com/forum/new-jersey/1690761-why-public-schools-closed-jewish-holidays.html#ixzz2fk9pqixU


On Monday, September 23, 2013 12:10:22 PM UTC-5, Travis wrote:




creeping posted: "The Marylander's who fought for independence wouldn't recognize the state today. via Coalition wants Montgomery County schools to close on Muslim holidays -- Gazette.Net. A coalition of local Muslims and others are urging Montgomery County Public Schools"
Respond to this post by replying above this line

New post on Creeping Sharia

Maryland: CAIR-backed Muslim groups want schools closed on Muslim holidays

by creeping

The Marylander's who fought for independence wouldn't recognize the state today. via Coalition wants Montgomery County schools to close on Muslim holidays -- Gazette.Net. A coalition of local Muslims and others are urging Montgomery County Public Schools to close on two holidays, which the coalition's co-chair, Saqib Ali, framed as a civil rights issue. Besides […]

Read more of this post

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