Saturday, March 26, 2011

Something to Consider

I get a weekly e-mail from an organization named the Public Education Network. I have no idea what PEN's political leanings are. All I know is that, on Fridays, for the past 7 years, I get a great summary of articles and reports that cover the whole spectrum of education. The e-mail I received yesterday contained this:

Get serious
Writing as a guest on The Washington Post's Answer Sheet blog, Linda Darling-Hammond says that the recent and first-ever International Summit on Teaching, convened in New York City, showed "more clearly than ever that the United States has been pursuing an approach to teaching almost diametrically opposed to that pursued by the highest-achieving nations." The summit gathered government officials and union leaders from 16 nations, and the contrast in attitude toward teaching between international participants and Americans "could not have been more stark." Officials from countries like Finland and Singapore described building a high-performing teaching profession by enabling all teachers to enter high-quality preparation programs, generally at the masters' degree level, where they receive a salary while they prepare. There, teaching students learn research-based strategies and train with experts in model schools attached to their universities. They enter a well-paid profession -- in Singapore earning as much as beginning doctors -- where they are supported by mentor teachers and have 15 or more hours a week to work and learn together. Schools are equitably funded and have the latest in technology and materials. If we are ever to regain our educational standing in the world, writes Darling-Hammond, our leaders must be willing to take a step toward taking teaching seriously.

I hope all of the knowledgeable and thoughtful people who read this blog will read this article and remember it. I found it to be very powerful and thought provoking. Maybe this can be the start of the conversation to make public education in America great again.

21 comments:

Syd said...

This is something I can get behind. And I have a way to fund it. Let's stop starting wars and continuing them for years (decades?). Lets spend all our money on education, health care, and a safety net for those in need.

I am not kidding.

Michael H said...

" Let's stop starting wars and continuing them for years (decades?). Lets spend all our money on education, health care, and a safety net for those in need."

Yawn.......

chunga said...

Linda Darling-Hammond was on the short list of candidates for secretary of ed. Sadly, Obama chose someone else.

While I agree with Syd, there are also a lot of other places the money can be found. For instance, stop paying for so many standardized tests and stop donating money to TFA (who recently received $50M from the feds).

chunga said...

Could someone please delete Michael H's "Yawn..." comment? (and this one too). A comment that is strictly meant to insult has no place here.

Patrick said...

That really points out the contrast between people who genuinely want the schools to succeed, and those whose agenda is breaking unions and lowering taxes, regardless of the consequences to education.

emeraldkity said...

That really points out the contrast between people who genuinely want the schools to succeed, and those whose agenda is breaking unions and lowering taxes, regardless of the consequences to education.


As opposed to the people who haven't gotten a meaningful raise for years and expect to see some results from their tax dollars before they are expected to pay more?

Sad said...

Could someone please delete Michael H's "Yawn..." comment? (and this one too). A comment that is strictly meant to insult has no place here.

I'm not sure I agree. No matter your leanings, the first post was really just a political statement wrapped in the guise of being related to education. One could just as easily ask for the first post to be deleted. I certainly wouldn't have written the Yawn comment, but I was thinking it. Neither merits censorship.

chunga said...

Sad - it's fine if somewhat wants to take issue with someone's statement - debate and discussion is what these comment sections are largely for. But, that's not what Michael H did. The "yawn..." statement was just an insult, which would've been better left out. It's not that big of a deal, but I thought it was kinda disrespectful.

moon mom said...

"As opposed to the people who haven't gotten a meaningful raise for years and expect to see some results from their tax dollars before they are expected to pay more?"

emeraldkitty,
You ARE talking about teachers, aren't you?

I find it sad that suggesting a professional working environment and pay scale for teachers would be a good investment in our nation's education system does not even merit consideration. Maybe if we had a system like Finland's we could stop paying through the nose for administrative boondoggles like Seattle's Strategic Plan.

Sahila said...

seems to be my day for saying unpopular things...

the fact that in the space of three postings, this has turned into a political debate IS EXACTLY WHY THE US IS SO BACKWARD...

Other countries succeed where the US is failing because no one there argues about paying what it costs to educate their children... and they allocate and spend the money...

We know its takes around $30K/year/child to give children a quality education here - that's what Obama spends on each of his kids...

So - how about as a country, as a state, getting real and allocating that money... $30K per child, AT A MINIMUM....

What excuses for not being able to do that will you all come up with?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
kprugman said...

Also, your blog is exposed to trolls (partly why you ask for non-anonymity) My comparison of education to Scarface(1932) and prohibition was to show our government's callous lack of involvement as the major reason for America's failure to educate children.

Also, as parents we should be concerned that teenagers are becoming more exposed to drugs in school - I didn't know this but E is a drug cocktail and a high schooler can buy it for as little as $3 per pill. That's all part of the rave phenonena.

How we stop that, I don't know, but it is a disaster in the making. You can't pretend that school reform works, when what has actually been produced looks more like social armageddon, not seen since Manchukao was occupied by the Japanese.

-pkrug again...

Cap'n Billy Keg said...

...back door...?

Charter school proponents love all the arguing amongst all the public school supporters - it makes their job that much easier to sell their way of educating American children.

Standardization...? Does it really exist in the American public education system...? Do all the states teach from the same books...?

My dad was in the military and it wasn't unusal for us to be moving every two to three years, so I (and my siblings) were always "starting over" when we were enrolled in a new school - sometimes we had already learned what was being taught in the new school, or we were behind because what was being taught hadn't even been covered in the schools we had just moved from.

Just some thoughts...

Patrick said...

As opposed to the people who haven't gotten a meaningful raise for years and expect to see some results from their tax dollars before they are expected to pay more?

Most people, including me, haven't seen a raise that will cover the increase in their medical insurance premium in about 15 years. That's because since 1980 all tax cuts and productivity increases have gone to the tiny fraction of the population who are CEOs and senior executives of large corporations. I'd like to return taxes to where they were in the 50s, and one of the things I'd hope to get out of it is an education system that doesn't send everyone who can possibly afford it to private schools.

emeraldkity said...

emeraldkitty,
You ARE talking about teachers, aren't you?



I was speaking of voters.
Ya know the average family who makes less than the average teacher, doesn't belong to a union and has to pay for their medical care out of after tax income
- if the teacher union is not strong enough to get decent COLA increases then perhaps they need to rethink the worth of the union.

If a 11.2% increase in salary in 2008 is not meaningful, I would wonder what would be?

But no- I wasn't speaking of teachers-

Name said...

You know what a great system would be? A national standards system with individual teacher liberty to implement them. Principals with autonomy to hire teachers that can demonstrate the ability to teach to those standards (and release those who can't back to the training program). A teacher preparation program that doesn't graduate student teachers until they are capable of teaching those standards and pays them during their training. If all teachers were given training and mentorship around Special/Gifted Ed, ELL, and behavioral disorders (including retroactively training veteran teachers who never had the opportunity to learn these skills), we'd have much less balkanization of education. In order to make this level of education worth it, teachers would have to be paid more and we would need more teachers.



And before Dan jumps in with his stats that the National Standards are worse than the ones already adopted in WA, I would point out that standards represent the minimum and teachers are welcome to exceed them if they choose.

kprugman said...

Why not have standards that are more than a minimum? The money we pour into standards and testing is like pouring water on a desert - the desert gets wet.

Every textbook or series of textbooks should have their own set of standards. Its like a roadmap or a table of contents, but that's all.

Designing the test that will find success is akin to discovering needles in a very large haystack. There is no civilization in history that honestly succeeded without going broke.

The problem with standards is only an American one and its a problem created by dishonest people, it should not be left up to every teacher to write their own standard for every classroom.

That is difficult, as we can all see by what has been happenning in our schools.

Syd said...

I apologize for starting a kerfuffle, .... but I did mean it. I agree with Sahila - it is political. I resent my taxes going to a military complex and not education. And while I understand that most of us have not had a meaningful raise in decades, and I agree that we should be careful how money is spent, I really don't think we are anywhere close to the amount of spending needed to make ours a leading education system.

Syd said...

Also - let's look at some numbers. The median household income for Seattle residents in 2000 was $45,736 (last census for which the Seattle gov site has data, but the median family income was over $62,000. That's the median. I couldn't find 2010 data, but maybe someone else on this blog can. The median teacher salary that I could find for Seattle was $46,326. So, to me it looks like teachers are part of the "average citizen" community. I don't think it is fair to label teachers part of the wealthy class, and somehow getting a better deal than "regular people."

emeraldkity said...

Maybe this can be the start of the conversation to make public education in America great again.

As opposed to when
1964?
( from Feb 11/11 Westneat column re:- Brookings institute)
when international testing first started, in 1964, we finished second to last among the countries tested....
the U.S. made leaps in both math and science, long considered our weakest subjects. For example, the U.S. scores in science jumped from ranking 29th three years ago to 22nd now (out of 67 countries or territories.)
..."The United States never led the world," writes Tom Loveless, a Brookings Institution researcher, in a report last week. "It was never number one and has never been close to number one."

In fact, U.S. schools are doing better now than 50 years ago, at least by these international measures, and have moved up compared to many other countries.


Don't we need an accurate view of where we are before we can decide where we want to go next?

Salander said...

I am one of those highly paid teachers. Every hour I spend not teaching, planning lessons or supporting students is a waste of my time --- the time your tax dollars pay for.

I admit it. Over the course of my career I have wasted hundred of hours for which you have paid so dearly. I have not chosen to do this so please forgive me.

I promise I will stop doing this as soon as "teaching training" is outlawed. I will stop sitting around and doodling as soon as the "reforms" stop.

In the mean time I will just have to continue to pass tens of hours each year resenting that I am not in the classroom with your students practicing the art of teaching.