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April 24, 2014

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J. Patrick Coolican:

Coolican: A pointed look at why our schools are failing

‘Superman’ film’s ideas are worth studying

J. Patrick Coolican

J. Patrick Coolican

If you care about the future of our country and our community, I implore you to watch the riveting documentary about education reform, “Waiting for Superman,” which was recently released on DVD. Invite friends and family and neighbors and host a discussion after you watch.

Wednesday night I watched it with Dr. Ken Turner, special assistant to new Clark County Schools Superintendent Dwight Jones; teachers Shirley Webb and Marc Hechter, and Zhan Okuda-Lim and William Johnson, students at Valley High School and Las Vegas High School, respectively.

“Waiting for Superman” was made by Davis Guggenheim, a progressive filmmaker who also directed the documentary about Al Gore and global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

“Waiting for Superman” has excited education reformers for its stark portrayal of a failing education system and the role of teacher unions in that failure.

With its tough portrayal of unions, the film has drawn praise from conservatives — some genuinely interested in education, others rank opportunists.

Here are some facts — and a key question — that come out of the movie:

• We spend increasing amounts of money on education per student but aren’t getting better results, with per-pupil spending in the United States having increased from $4,300 per student in 1971 to more than $9,000 today (adjusted for inflation). This is obviously not as glaringly true in Clark County, where we spend $7,842 per pupil — with cuts expected due to the budget crisis.

• Certain children are condemned to terrible schools and never given much chance in life (although we don’t play a starring role in the movie, many schools in Clark County would fit in this category).

• A few schools, sometimes but not always charter schools, have shown tremendous results in tough neighborhoods — in some cases outperforming their suburban peers — which can usually be attributed to outstanding teachers and administrators.

• If children, including poor and minority children, can be taught at those select schools, why can’t we achieve the same success everywhere?

The film is told with poignancy as families struggle to achieve a good education and make it to college.

Among the most film’s most compelling data points:

• A top-notch instructor teaches three times the material of a bad teacher in an academic year. To put it another way: The good teacher imparts a year-and-a-half of instruction during a single school year, while a bad teacher teaches just one half year.

• If we were to eliminate 6 to 10 percent of our worst teachers and replace them with merely average teachers, we would suddenly have one of the best education systems in the world, rather than lagging near the bottom of industrialized nations.

What conclusions are we to draw from these facts?

We need to reward the best teachers and dump the worst. In most other professions, merit is rewarded with better pay and benefits, and failure is punished with termination.

Keep this in mind: As progressive commentator Matthew Yglesias of ThinkProgress has pointed out, it’s incorrect to say we don’t have merit pay for teachers. We do pay teachers different salaries, but based on extremely odd metrics for merit — longevity and advanced degrees in education, which don’t seem like good measures of performance.

So we need to build incentives into our pay structure to reward performance. (The question of what constitutes good performance is a knotty one and would have to be perfected over many years. It would seem to include some mix of standardized test score successes and more intangible measures.)

We also need to part ways with the worst teachers. By now, the stories of barriers to firing based on performance are legendary — in Illinois, one in 57 doctors and one in 97 lawyers lose their licenses, while one in 2,500 teachers loses his credentials. Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval and Democrats in the Legislature have introduced legislation on this front.

That the teachers unions would protect their members isn’t notable — that’s the job of a union. But their Democratic allies should recognize — and many, including President Barack Obama have — that obstructing reform is a long-term policy and political loser.

Education reform is impossibly complex, too complex for a 111-minute film, and “Waiting for Superman” is imperfect, so it’s worth bearing in mind a few additional facts:

• Per-pupil costs have risen over the decades largely because teachers were so badly underpaid in the past. Female teachers were also victims of gender discrimination; men were paid more because it was assumed they had to support families, while women had husbands. As the film notes, this is why teachers unionized. They have a right to celebrate and defend that legacy in the face of an assault from Republicans whose long-standing goal is to destroy not just public employee unions, but all of organized labor. Finally, given that such a small number of teachers — 6 to 10 percent — drag down our whole education system, it’s worth noting that most teachers are doing a good job, or at the very least, are committed to their students and crave the tools to get better. Enough teacher bashing already.

• Charter schools are no panacea: As Richard Kahlenberg recently noted in Slate, the most comprehensive study of charter schools to date found that charters outperformed regular public schools 17 percent of the time and performed worse 37 percent of the time.

• Michelle Rhee, who is highlighted in the film, is something of a flawed hero. She resigned as superintendent of Washington, D.C.’s schools after three years, just a few months after the film hit theaters. Rhee, who recently visited with Sandoval, was a deeply polarizing figure, reviled by many parents, and some of the successes she achieved appear to be illusory. USA Today reported recently, for instance, that a school that achieved remarkable improvements in standardized test scores almost certainly did so by cheating.

• The story of another hero of “Waiting for Superman,” Geoffrey Canada, is also more complex than is portrayed. Canada is trying to transform a 97-block area of Harlem with an intense focus on its children, from the womb through college. His effort is inspiring, and incredibly well-funded, as The New York Times reported last year. The cost of his charter school is $16,000 per pupil, supplemented with much more out-of-the-classroom spending on such things as health and dental care, asthma treatment, after-school programs, investment in parks and playgrounds, healthy meals and trips given as rewards to good students.

Last time I checked, our community had little of that, and given Sandoval’s budget of what he calls “shared sacrifice,” what we do have will be cut. That’s in addition to teacher pay cuts and a reduction in overall education funding.

The narrative arc of “Waiting for Superman” travels with five children as they await the results of a lottery — a literal lottery — that will determine if they get into top-flight schools.

The technique is manipulative, almost annoyingly so, but also deeply affecting. I’ve seen the movie three times, and each time during the final scenes I’ve felt a rush of emotion, from sadness to anger.

That so many children, especially here in Clark County, face such unfair odds, is an outrage.

See Tuesday's Sun or check back online for a transcript of the conversation that followed the movie screening, as well as Coolican's column on the subject.

Coolican’s column appears Tuesdays and Fridays.

CORRECTION: Clark County spends $7,842 per pupil. The story originally reported the number was $5,035. | (April 11, 2011)

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  1. Mr. Coolican:

    I am having trouble reconciling your math with the CCSD. Per pupil spending for one, in terms of sources of funding. I am a bit slow in the math department most days and haven't had my coffee this morning, so I may have missed something. Can you show us how you arrived at your numbers?

    The last time I checked the Clark County School District's website, the general fund operating budget for the 2010-2011 school year is $2.13 billion, with basic per-pupil state funding at $5,035 and per-pupil expenditures at $7,842.
    Per-pupil expenditures include funding from federal programs, special education, and class size reduction. The district receives revenue from various sources including:
    29.0% Local sales tax
    21.9% Property tax
    36.9% State funding
    6.6% Government services tax, federal support, other
    5.6% Opening fund balance

    http://ccsd.net/news/publications/pdf/CC...

  2. Cooligan, aside from the budgetary mistake which Turrialba already covered, charter schools are not some uniform entity.

    1) Not all charter school laws are created equally. Nevada has some onerous laws that make compliance difficult and expensive (500 page application and the 7 people at the Charter Agency at the Nevada Department of Education claim to have 0 copies of those applications on electronic storage). These rules also ties the hands of charter schools discouraging or making difficult some much needed innovation.

    2) Most studies, including (I believe) the one on Slate, don't account for the fact that most charter schools set up shop where an alternative school is needed most. That is, they set up shop in low-income areas that typically have a high percentage of minority students. One study I saw compared public schools and charter schools in the DC metro area. The problem was that most of the charter schools were set up in low-income black neighborhoods so comparing them with schools in the white upper-class suburbs was unfair.

    Caroline Hoxby (see below) addresses some of the mistakes found in the report cited in Slate and suggests they've underestimated the number of successful charter schools. She also notes that variances in charter school regulations are not accounted for. That said, the report cited by Slate does in fact note that charter schools for low-income students do in fact tend to do quite well for their students relative to their peer institutions.

    3) Caroline Hoxby, now an economics professor at Stanford, shows that apples to apples comparisons in areas with seemingly good charter school laws can demonstrate that charters do in fact outperform traditional public schools. In New York City for example, attending a charter school from K-12 significantly increased a Harlem child's chance of graduation and also significantly reduced the achievement gap between the poor Harlem students and the wealthy Skarsdale students (upper class students). http://www.nber.org/~schools/charterscho...

    The Boston Foundation found that charter schools in Boston outperformed traditional public schools and the union run "Pilot Schools" (the union alternative to charter schools) http://www.tbf.org/uploadedFiles/tbforg/...

  3. Great comments. "Waiting for Superman" is now on the shame list for misrepresenting the facts and Michelle Rhees is under scrutiny for cheating that occurred on her watch. Teachers are not the problem. Student behavior in the classroom is a problem no one wants to talk about and if rules were enforced by the administration of schools teachers might actually be able to get down to the job of teaching and not just policing unruly students. If a parent has to take time off work to attend required parent/teacher conferences often enough the behavior would stop.

  4. Chunky says:

    Another excllent story by Mr. Coolocan!

    It doesn't matter who is in office; if we don't have the money there has to be cuts or they have to raise taxes. The majority voters made their decision in the last election who and what they wanted.

    If the numbers from the film are correct, throwing money at education is not the answer. Chunky has maintained all along that the good teachers and administrators need to route out the bad ones. Unfortunately, they are shielded by the union or colleagues who are unwilling to stand up for what is right.

    Reward our teachers based on performance and results with incentives that give them an opportunity for parity in pay with other professions. Hold administrators accountable as well. Empower all of them to hold parents and students accountable for their work. Returning some teeth to discipline back into the classroom wouldn't hurt either.

    That's what Chunky thinks!

  5. Aside from looking at CCSD's current budget figures and dividing by the total number of students you can also look at the U.S. Department of Education data which goes back to 1959-60 school year.

    In 1959 Nevada spent $4,372 per pupil (average daily attendance) by 2007-09 we spent $9,015. This does not include debt repayment or capital costs but it is adjusted for inflation.

    http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d10/t...

    If you want the figures using "Fall Enrollment" which provides a larger population of students then you can view that data here, however it only goes back to 1969-70: http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d10/t...

  6. It is tough to look at the cost of many public schools without doing a lot of digging. I have seen where districts have moved a lot of infrastructure costs out of the budget to make the per pupil costs look more reasonable or even wanting. And there is recent study from the Foundation for Educational Choice that highlights some positive data for voucher programs. (The name would imply that the group does have a pro-voucher slant, if you missed it.) Nine of ten studies that used random assignment of students showed that vouchers improved outcomes. Eighteen of nineteen studies on the impact of vouchers on public schools showed that public schools improved with the other showing no impact. The benefits of voucher programs are sometimes large but generally modest but that programs are also often very limited in size.

    Like with so many things that we do, we need to be better consumers and that means being better informed and making better choices. This applies to education but also to many other things including elections.

  7. The movie was filmed for the producers/authors' self-aggrandizement, under the guise of educational reform. I could make a movie and highlight the good things happening at schools -- following five, 10, a 100 families, or even more. As in any research, we can find many studies to support our claim for just about anything -- pro or con.
    The point is, power corrupts. Those running education are beholden to many gods and not to whom it is truly for -- the children and the future. Everyone who works in education should have a shared vision and look at it with a single lens: children. As we all know, this is next to impossible.
    Human beings are basically selfish. True missionary spirit only exists in saints. Heroes have their selfish reasons. So do philanthropists and do-gooders. There truly is no selfless act, save giving one's own life to save another. Mothers occupy a distant second place, but their numbers are dwindling. Our society has corrupted that which was once sacrosanct.
    Education, just like any system that exists in society, cannot be reformed until we reform ourselves. Meanwhile, those who are affected by the bad things happening suffer while those who are greedy smile, but hey, this too shall pass. Students fall through the cracks, society slowly crumbles, then from the ashes the phoenix will rise, and things will look better again. We hee; we haw; some quietly, some loudly, but good things will happen again as they always do.

  8. Mr. Coolican:

    To be clear, I was wondering how you calculated the reduction from the $7800 during the current academic year(if indeed you used this as a benchmark) to your estimate for the next academic year. I was interested in what sources of funding were going down and to what extent to reduce spending by 25 percent or $2,000 per student?

  9. My math is wrong $7,800 to $5,000 is a $2,800 reduction per student or almost 36%. This would be equal to approximately the state contribution.

    You should have inserted the word "would" before after the word "we" "we would spend $5035 per general education student"

    "This is obviously not as glaringly true in Clark County, where we spend $5,035 per general education pupil -- with cuts expected due to the budget crisis."

  10. How does one get good management? Pay them more.
    How does one get good teachers? Pay them less.

    This is the essence of the "cut education" argument: inconsistency to the point of irrationality.

    It is very clear that underfunding education will be destructive, yet the opposite is claimed. This technique, also called "Spin" is used many Wingers in their arguments.

    Nevada is last or near last on education spending per pupil and that is the issue, not the dollar amount. Nevada has NEVER thrown money at education.

    However, if education is cut, there will be a large number of websites pop up with many thousand links that describe to the World how this State treats it's children and the disadvantaged and the bottom line is, that will also affect the Casinos and companies that consider moving here. Isn't that right?

  11. "What conclusions are we to draw from these facts?"

    Coolican -- how about 1) the amount of money spent on schools doesn't equal even an adequate education, and 2) teachers should teach, not be social workers. Good article!

    Turrialba -- good math lesson! How about factoring in the pay of the district superintendent -- you know, the one who's so incompetent he needs someone else to pay a cool million to study the district's budget?

    Another point your post raised is no funding appears to come from the feds. So why is there a federal Dept. of Education?

    I keep coming back to the fact I started my formal education in a 3-room rural schoolhouse with all 8 grades in it. Obviously bare bones by today's standards, yet it was better than my children's by the time they finished high school in the late 90s. Maybe that's because my first grade teacher introduced me to the value of reading. You know, books.

    "Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write." -- John Adams "A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law," from "The Works of John Adams" (1851) volume 3, page 462

  12. The $5,035 is probably the "Basic Support Per Pupil" which is a combination of some of the state support and some of the local support. If the local support taxes falls short on their end, the state government promises to back fill the lost revenue with revenue from the state general fund up to the basic support. That is, the state ensures they receive at least that much but the almost always have several grand more.

    The operating budget differs from school district to school district but it uniformly excludes debt repayment and capital expenditures. Excluding capital expenditures if the the revenue used was from a loan or bond revenue is excusable because that is technically paid back over the course of several years in the debt repayment category. That said, capital expenditures also appears to collect tax revenues to pay for certain improvements and machinery year in and year out so that money should not be excluded if spent.

  13. "Waiting for Superman" is nothing more than anti-public-school, pro-privatization propaganda. Diane Ravitch found plenty of holes in this "documentary" last fall...

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives...

    And this video asks more questions on the real motives behind this film.

    http://www.democracynow.org/2010/10/1/wa...

    We need to look at the reality of our underfunded schools to fix the public education crisis in Nevada, NOT indulge in any more magical fairy tales promoted by movies like "Waiting for Superman".

  14. Mr. Lamy you are off topic but yes much research shows that

    1) where a teacher is educated doesn't appear to make a difference to their students (that is student achievement doesn't seem to be effected by where a teacher is educated). Being state certified or not also didn't seem to have a statistically significant impact on student achievement.

    2) Teachers don't improve after 3-5 years (3 years for most everything 5 years for reading). That is student achievement under the teacher continues to improve for the first 3 years then flatlines. In other words the typical teacher sees their skills peak after 3-5 years.

    In fact, Melissa was kind enough to bring up a Harvard study by Dr. Paul Peterson on this subject thinking that it disproves my assertions http://www.hks.harvard.edu/pepg/MeritPay...

    It however confirms everyone of them both the literature review and in the conclusion. You can see my remarks at the bottom of this article: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2011/mar...

  15. Mr. Davey,

    Diane Ravitich has been debunked as well, most notably for her cherry picking of data, even cherry picking the cherry picked data.

    CREDO for example, praises charter schools for low-income students suggesting they do in fact tend to do better than their peer schools.

    Ravitch also carefully ignores dozens of apples-to-apples studies that show charters out perform public schools when you take into account the fact that charters are more likely to set up in low-income districts. Here is just one such study http://www.nber.org/~schools/charterscho...

  16. PS, while the AFT initially liked the idea of charter schools they quickly distanced themselves from the concept and attacked it relentlessly (along with the NEA). Both have tried to kill charter schools by limiting their exposure and regulating them to death when outright opposition fails.

  17. Haha. Patrick Gibbons from NPRI now attacks Diane Ravitch when she's uncovered the truth about privatized education, but the radical righties had no problem encouraging her when she thought charter schools had promise. He attacks Ravitch for doing her homework, but doesn't mind Michelle Rhee's cheating in DC.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2...

    Charter schools and private school vouchers may seem like "easy solutions", but they don't really solve anything.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-o...

    http://nyc.indymedia.org/or/2010/06/1111...

  18. "Mr. Lamy you are off topic"...
    Hey PAT!!!
    Didn't know YOU were setting the agenda!
    Must be gittin' BIG BRITCHES out there at the OK Coral, with all them Wranglin' & Ropin' lessons, eh?

    How about that article yesterday, Pat...

    http://www.lasvegassun.com/blogs/ralston...

    Heck, Ralston said YOU & YERS Propaganda Campaign was a real LOSER!

    "---Public employees are not hated. Quite the contrary. This is quite the empirical proof of the failure of a certain "newspaper" and conservative think tank to demonize them. Epic fail, as the youngsters say."

    EPIC FAIL, PAT!

    Your Anti-Education Propaganda Campaign, Pat...
    NOT WORTH THE VIRTUAL PAPER IT'S PRINTED ON.
    You might wanna pay attention out there at the Wranglin' Wranch... Ever thought about punchin' dowgies fer a livin', Pat?

  19. At this juncture, the bottom line is all that needs to be addressed. That being said, Nevada education has ranked the worst of the worst in the nation long before the budget issues and looming cuts.

    For a long time, the pattern and practice in Nevada education has been...everybody makes money ...and has been making money ...again, since well before the budget crisis, at the expense of Nevada youths' education and progress.

    With all Nevada's resources, high tech schools and facilities and recent expansion due to population ...outside of ineptitude and corruption, when other states' education achieve successes without the resources available to Nevada ...what other excuses can there possibly be?

    Granted, unforeseen national,geopolitical, and economic events extenuate current circumstances which are impacting every state but...

    USDOJ already knows this ...if the 'money' were to be followed, ineptitude and/or corruption resulting in Nevada's poor education stats, is all that remains for the long period.

    Where there's a will there's a way ...but everyone has to work together.

    Despite the current budget dilemma, there are some proven cost effective alternative to pull Nevada education out of the pits and to the top.

    We've done some research on cost affective alternatives:

    Links below:

    2011:The Nevada Budget and Crisis In Education How do we fix this?

    How do we fix this? Part 1 http://bit.ly/fjuWbr
    How do we fix this? Part 2 http://bit.ly/fQS5z5
    How do we fix this? Part 3 http://bit.ly/fPbWkD
    How do we fix this? Part 4 http://bit.ly/frAmMN

    DaveScottshow 3-30-11 A candid discussion on Nevada Education #nved #nvleg and politics http://bit.ly/hFrpTP

  20. Pat,
    Go back to skool, dude.
    Get a degree in something practical!

  21. Limbaugh, Hannity, Glen Buck, are all college drop outs. The teabags and people over at the "sue-happy" Newspaper are for ignorance and for ending free education for all.

    The private schools in Europe are run in accordance with strict government standards and supervision by the way.

  22. My per pupil number came from the district and is a "general education" number. Special education and English as Second Language students are more expensive and push up the average. These numbers are, admittedly, very hard to pin down.

  23. No matter how much we spend, if parents don't take an active role in their childs education, things will only get worse. Kids are very gullible and it doesn't take much for street thugs to impress them with the life of easy money (selling drugs, robbing people, etc). If the parents don't step up to the task, we as citizens need to make a strong statement with regards to protecting ourselves, since a lot of these kids will turn to a life of crime.

  24. Mr. Davey,

    That LA Times opinion article is a load. Kipp and Green Dot most certainly do not screen their students. They are forbidden by state law from doing that. In fact, like traditional public schools charter schools must accept all students regardless of race, sex, disability, religion or even aptitude.

    As for the other stuff on charters when doing apples to apples comparisons, that is randomized studies (students apply but are selected through open lottery) we see charter schools do very well in some areas, even superior to traditional public schools).

    http://www.nber.org/~schools/charterscho...

    http://www.tbf.org/uploadedFiles/tbforg/...

    http://www.ncspe.org/publications_files/...

    http://news.stanford.edu/news/2008/march... (I was looking for the Hoxby/Rockoff study on Chicago charter schools but this will do)

    and for good measure I'll toss in highly respected newspaper articles on the subject,

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB12535851...

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/22/educat...

    Charter schools are not a silver bullet but in some areas (perhaps due to good state law instead of bad state law) charter schools produce statistically significant results like higher student achievement and higher graduation rates. That said, there seems to be more overwhelming evidence to support vouchers than charter schools ;)

  25. Mr. Lamy,

    Don't be ridiculous, I never said fire teachers after five years. I said their skills plateau after five years. Earlier I had suggested ending the 14 year long step increase system because it makes no sense to keep paying teachers extra money long after their skills have plateaued. Instead shorten the system to 5 years and provide significant bonuses for top teachers.

    Please have the decency to comprehend my point rather than attacking strawmen.

  26. Keystone,

    See above, I provided far more than just the Credo study. The Credo study itself has come under fire for statistical mistakes http://www.nber.org/~schools/charterscho...

    That said, the Credo study notes

    1) state laws on charter schools are all different and that can be playing a role in the differing outcomes between states
    2) charter schools for poor kids do very well compared to public schools for poor kids
    3) charter schools do as well as public schools for less money

    As for the Lottery, it seems you're unaware how this works. Since charter schools are not allowed to select their students they must allow all students to enroll. If there are more students than spaces they must open a lottery. The reason lotteries exist is because there are not enough seats at charter schools relative to demand. The reason there aren't enough charter schools can be many. For one state regulations can be onerous - in particular Nevada is a nasty state to try and set up a charter school. Unions have also fought long and hard to neuter charter schools, make them difficult to start, and hold them back from innovating. The union also encourages state boards to delay or deny applications for the flimsiest of reasons. Of course, the reason is to reduce the available supply of charter schools to keep students, and thus funds flowing to their own coffers.

  27. Mr. Cooligan, when comparing national figures we shouldn't exclude spending in Nevada and not exclude those same figures in other states. That is exactly what happened in this article. See, NCES on this subject http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d10/t...

    As you can see, while Nevada spends well below average we spend much more than you showed here, thus much closer to the national average than your figure leads readers to believe. You'll also notice how much spending has increased in the last fifty years.

  28. Cmon,

    Bad teachers get $0
    Great teachers $50,000 to $70,000 (depending on subject) plus bonuses taking them above $100,000 for extra students.

  29. Here we go again. ONE MORE TIME: It is not the teachers' fault! Teachers have become the scapegoat for all the failures of society - powers-that-be, administrators, and all you out there quoting research this and research that. YOU ARE ALL SCRATCHING ONLY THE SURFACE. YOU ARE SIMPLY LOOKING FOR AN EASY TARGET BECAUSE YOU ARE NO MARKSMEN. Try to go deeper.

    It is not the teacher. I have students and parents whom I love and they make this all worthwhile. I kill myself teaching students who do not care! They don't even care to read questions during tests. They simply check the first box they see. I know it. I watch them do it. Those tests do not measure students' abilities. Water cannot be squeezed from a rock.

    All your solutions are palliative. Not one of them works. You have been spouting the same things over and over and expecting different results. That is INSANITY!

    Try to go deeper.

    -LOOK AT THE PARENTS AND WHAT THEY ARE DOING TO THEIR CHILDREN.
    -LOOK AT THE COMMUNITY AND SEE WHAT THEY ARE DOING TO OUR CHILDREN.
    -LOOK AT OUR STUDENT RECRUITMENT - WHO WE ARE TRAINING TO BECOME TEACHERS.
    -LOOK AT THE CURRICULUM FOR TRANING TEACHERS.
    -LOOK AT OUR RECRUITMENT PROCESS - WHO WE ARE RECRUITING TO TEACH OUR CHILDREN.
    -LOOK AT THOSE WHO RUN THE SCHOOLS.
    -LOOK AT ADMINISTRATORS WHO SUPERVISE TEACHERS.

    After you have done that, tell me what you find, then you can BLAME ME for the failure of educating children.

    Until then, GET OFF MY BACK!

  30. Keystone,

    It was 46 percent are no better than existing public schools and 37 percent were worse. Those 46 percent are doing as well as the public schools but with only 70 percent of the cash.

    The report also noted that performance of charter schools varied based on state regulatory environment.

    I quote from page 6, "However, charter schools are found to have better academic
    growth results for students in poverty.
    English Language Learners realize significantly better learning gains in charter schools.
    Students in Special Education programs have about the same outcomes."

    Like I said, CREDO acknowledges that charter schools do a good job for low-income students.

    Continuing to page 7 they write, "It is important to note that the news for charter schools has some encouraging facets. In our
    nationally pooled sample, two subgroups fare better in charters than in the traditional system:
    students in poverty and ELL students. This is no small feat. In these cases, our numbers indicate
    that charter students who fall into these categories are outperforming their TPS counterparts in
    both reading and math. These populations, then, have clearly been well served by the
    introduction of charters into the education landscape. These findings are particularly heartening
    for the charter advocates who target the most challenging educational populations or strive to
    improve education options in the most difficult communities. Charter schools that are organized
    around a mission to teach the most economically disadvantaged students in particular seem to
    have developed expertise in serving these communities. We applaud their efforts, and
    recommend that schools or school models demonstrating success be further studied with an eye toward the notoriously difficult process of replication."

    There is also disagreement with comparing individual students in charter schools with the overall results from "like schools" that is schools that potentially feed into the charter school. This is an inferior model to the randomized studies done on Chicago and New York but far superior to the models done by the AFT and NEA.

  31. Get your myopia checked, people. There might be a cure for it!

  32. Mr. Lamy,

    "It is conventionally believed that on-the-job teacher training is effective, because students learn more from teachers with additional years of experience, especially in the first two or three years (for a review of the early literature, see Rockoff 2004, p. 2). But as Figlio (1997) points out, many estimates of effectiveness returns to on-the-job training (years of teaching experience) may be upwardly biased because the estimations do not account for the probable attrition from the teaching force of less effective teachers (Clotfelter et al. 2006; Rivkin et al. 2005). Even these studies find few positive benefits from experience beyond the initial years, however. Rivkin et al. (2005, p. 449) conclude that "there is little evidence that improvements continue after the first three years" of teaching, Clotfelter et al. (2006, p. 28) conclude that the "benefit [to fifth graders in North Carolina] from having a highly experienced teacher is approximately one tenth of a standard deviation on reading and math test scores," but admit that "roughly half of this return occurs for the first one or two years of teaching experience."
    "To avoid selection bias, Rockoff (2004) estimated effectiveness returns to experience on math computation, math concepts, vocabulary and reading comprehension in two New Jersey school districts after conditioning on teacher fixed effects. He found marginal returns to the initial years of experience--overall, the linear effect varies between insignificant and .07 standard deviations, depending on the subject--but little in the way of additional returns after five years, except, perhaps, in reading comprehension. He did not estimate experience effects beyond eleven years of teaching."

    - Dr. Paul Peterson, Harvard University (page 7)

    http://www.hks.harvard.edu/pepg/MeritPay...

  33. PS Keystone, from your USDE source,

    "In five case study states, charter schools are less likely to meet state performance standards than traditional public schools. It is impossible to know from this study whether that is because of the performance of the schools, the prior achievement of the students, or some other factor. The study design does not allow us to determine whether or not traditional public schools are more effective than charter schools."

    The reason why they can't make a determination as to the effectiveness of charter schools is because the studies don't build an apples to apples comparison. For one, charter schools are more likely to serve low-income students and minorities than rich white kids...this source also points that out.

  34. Finally Keystone it seems you don't understand the true concept of a public education. The concept is not to fund a particular type of school but to fund the education of a student. Where the learning occurs shouldn't matter.

    Opposing charter schools on the grounds that your school loses funds as kids depart is basically, well, its just self serving.

    PS, lotteries exist because there is greater demand for charter school services than there are charter schools. The answer is not to eliminate charter schools but to rapidly expand the service.

  35. An Appeal to you Mr. Gibbons:

    Instead of using your time quoting all these 'facts' from your research, redirect your efforts and study what really helps a student succeed. PLEASE. You appear to have the capacity to recall information, albeit all to support your claim. Try the unbiased approach and do the research. See what you will find.

    Try it. When you are satisfied with what you find, post it. Maybe you can convince me of your arguments. For now, you are simply blowing HOT AIR!

  36. YOU TOO, Turrialba!

  37. How about we start with a state curriculum which for years has been "a mile long and an inch thick" that paled in comparison to 48 other states?

    Yes, this is what has happened in this state for years. Teachers have been complaining about the NV state standards for years! At least since 1997 when the legislature decided they needed to be rewritten and formed a "council" to "improve" education in NV. What a crock!

    There were more math standards for 4th grade, than there are days in a year (not school year, a YEAR)

    Now, let's add to that the test that is used to assess and compare states. They use NATIONAL STANDARDS to tests all students. National standards that far surpass what NV teachers have had to teach. So, yes our students won't score as high, THEY'VE NEVER BEEN TAUGHT IT- by state standards!!

    (Example: 4th grade national standard: 2 digit by 2 digit multiplication; not a NV standard - we only do 2 and 3 digit by 1 digit.... but it's on the NAEP. National Standard: 2 step word problems with addition, subtraction, multiplication and division; NV standard is only involving addition, subtraction and multiplication- division is not included.... but it's on the NAEP)

    Finally, we have been listened to. So yes, there are major education reforms coming. All standards are changing, we are finally coming into line with the National Standards- starting in August.

    No, that's not a whine, it's fact. I'm not complaining, I'm stating fact. Our standards have been in the crapper; but teachers don't decide standards.

    We'll finally have meaningful standards, but no teachers to teach them, too many students per class to have meaningful conversations to promote understanding and application, and no money to buy the added materials to address the new standards.

  38. Ms. Augstin, quoting Harvard and Stanford professors is blowing hot air?

    Mr. Lamy, the research gives us a big picture view on what works and what doesn't. Basing your assertions on your personal experience teaching in the classroom gives you anecdotal evidence and may or may not reflect what goes on in other classrooms in other cities in other states or in other countries.

  39. Dear Mr. Gibbons:

    As I said Mr. Gibbons, there are a number of proposed knowledge out there to support our claims - pro or con. Just because they are professors (Yale, Stanford, or Harvard) does not mean anything in the real world. There are too many variables with which to contend. I know I have a doctorate degree. We depended so much on these "experts" and education is still in the muck. That is why all researchers never say "beyond a shadow of a doubt," about their findings. They recommend. They talk about implications. They ask for further research.

    What I am trying to make you see is there is a real world out here. Set aside your opinions and look at the real world beyond your gilded environs. PLEASE. Visit schools. Talk to teachers. Talk to students. Talk to parents. Talk to administrators.

    Private schools, public schools, charter schools, vouchers. These are very minor elements to help a child succeed. Find out for yourself what makes a child tick, and then advocate for those issues. Without that knowledge, you are simply blowing HOT AIR.

    I hate for you to waste your passion on shallow advocacy. You have a voice. I do not. I am a mere peon of the ruling class. I am not asking you to give up what you consider sacrosant in your life. I am simply asking you to look deeper.

    Sincerely,

    Nancy Agustin
    Teacher

  40. improveLV:

    Your concern is worth responding. Here's the unvarnished truth. BAD TEACHERS CAN BE FIRED. The administrators know it. However, it takes a lot of work. You see, the law protects teachers with 'due process.' In private businesses, due process is not heard of. They fire people simply from 'sneezing' because the boss simply does not like him. Unfair, right?

    In government entities, due process is in place. It is just. It is fair. In schools, it is firmly in place. Before a teacher can be fired, certain legal requirements must be met. The union did not set these requirements. The law did. These requirements require the following due process:

    *Principal observes teacher in the classroom and make notations. Observe again and again. When improvement is necessary, principal asks teacher to a conference.
    *First conference. The teacher has a conversation with the administrator - citing required improvements. Administrator allows time for teacher to improve. Administrator provides assistance through mentoring, attending classes, etc. Principal continues observations, taking notes - improvements and non-improvements.

    *Second conference. Teacher explains. Principal takes notes. Asks teachers what she needs to improve. Principal provides those - mentoring, materials, etc. Gives time to improve.

    *Third conference. If no improvement is seen, principals prepare a write up. Gives more support where necessary. Gives more time for improvement. May ask assistant principal to observe. May ask team leaders to observe. Without any observable improvements, the disciplinary action begins.

    The process involves tenacity, undersanding, fairness, and strict compliance with legal requirements as to documentation, time elements, circumstances, and the like.

    If the principal follows the legal requirements of due process, the case goes forward and the teacher can be fired. Our legal department have a vast experience in these cases and knows what a judge would consider a "good cause for termination."

    Here's the problem: Principal and administrators are pulled every which way on any given day at school. Many principals and administrators would rather do the "turkey trot" or the "lemon dance" rather than go through all the rigmarole of due process.

    There is where the problem lies. That is why we still have turkeys clucking around the district.

    I had a proposal earlier in this thread, but then again, it appears we thrive on trivialities -palliative solutions to problems. So we continue wallowing in muck until we begin to wise up.

    You are a parent. Gather other parents. Make your voices heard - WE ARE FED UP AND WE DON'T WANT TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!

    Margaret Mead said: "Never doubt that a group of concerned citizen can make a difference. In fact it is the only one that ever has." Go on and good luck.

  41. Good Evening Nancy.

  42. Ms. Agustin,

    As I stated, the research provides a big view that anecdotal evidence does not. The research also tries to take into account all sorts of variables that anecdotal evidence cannot. My personal experience and your personal experience are anecdotal. There is a good chance that what we experience is completely different from what others experience and that is why this research is necessary and important.

    But I have done classroom observation, I have interviewed parents and teachers and principals and administrators, I even taught for a year in real public schools (and I have the white hair to prove it).

  43. Mr. Gibbons:
    Respect of my elders is a trait my Pa instilled in me. I don't know how old you are so please understand I mean no disrespect. I am a teacher and always act like one, regardless the venue. I see students with potentials and I hone in on them. There are very few in this forum.

    Yes, research is valuable, but they are not absolute truths and are not infallible. They offer implications and we use them as advisories. Yes, we value experience. We hire people with fat salaries based on their fat experiences. We use experience to problem-solve, but there is a missing link that we often neglect -- the fact that the players are different. Those are the variables I wanted you to investigate.

    The first three years of teaching are eye-openers; something akin to "They didn't teach me that in college!" The next two years, you begin to "see the light." You might say, "I can do this!" Or, "This is not for me." And, you get out to become rich somewhere else. Unfortunately, many stay trying hard to make it, and others stay because they do not have the drive to go somewhere else.

    Back to the topic. I wanted you to come to school and stay longer and become involved -- really involved. That is when people start telling you like it is, not what you see. That is when you get accepted to the "cult" and you begin to see the light. That's when your assertions become believable. That's when people in this forum begin to show you some respect. You should go on and get a PHD. With your tenacity about research, you will be good at it, and perhaps make some real difference in education. We can use your talent to advocate for education. If you cared.

    Your first assignment: Read - The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of The Learning Organization, The Dance of Change: The Challenges to Sustaining Momentum in Learning Organizations, and Schools That Learn. They are all by Peter Senge.

  44. 'sup Turri. Sharpening knives? Good morning.

  45. Keystone,

    You're so closed minded you refuse to even listen or attempt to comprehend what I'm saying. This has become tiresome.

    I've already provided you left-wing, right-wing and academic evidence that the teacher certification and training process provides no advantage to certified teachers over uncertified teachers. Actually teaching in a real classroom makes me a teacher just like any other. I had the same job and the same responsibilities just lower pay.

    I already told you that I was originally hired as a full-time history teacher until the district realized I was not Virginia certified (I had no idea you needed certification) and because of No Child Left Behind they could not emergency certify me in time to comply with the law.

    I worked the job of a real teacher. I created my own lesson plans, my own lectures, presentations, quizzes, attended parent teacher conferences, met with the special-ed teachers to help with IEPs. Heck, I even created interactive games so students could understand why certain historical events like switching from barter to coins had such a huge impact.

    I was paid $9.25 an hour for my work 7:20 am to 1:50 pm but not a penny more for my time writing lesson plans, tutoring students after school etc. Unlike a full-time teacher at step 1 who would have earned $27.35 per hour for the same work over that same period of time.

    My students signed a petition to keep me, their parents signed a petition to keep me, my peers in the department wanted to keep me as did the principal. However, a person with an "education degree" not an actual history degree came back second semester from a long term illness and the district, wanting to keep me as an employee, moved me to special education were regulations on certification were more relaxed.

    That teacher that came in was fired at the end of the semester (after it was revealed that this teacher was so incompetent they shouldn't have been teaching in the first place. For example, my students later told me he showed them videos about medieval castles while they were supposed to be learning about the French revolution). The teacher that replaced him was fired after being sent to prison on charges of possessing child pornography. So much for your precious teacher certification and training.

    After just 1 year I realized how dysfunctional public education really was and a lot of it had to do with bureaucracy an top down control. I left after 1 year because I had seen enough (and I wasn't going to go to school for 3 more years to get a stupid and meaningless certification).

    I'm not sure if your demeanor here is due to your ignorance or due to the fact that you're simply a partisan wingnut (perhaps both), but I'm done talking to you thanks to your habitual personal attacks and flagrant misrepresentation of my work history.

  46. Patrick:
    Your disgust for the certification process is justified. Not too many teachers respect it either. NCLB made many teachers lost their job. They have been teaching the subject for years, but were cut because they don't have the required certification. The idiocy is systemic that is why it is extremely difficult to reform education. Until someone visionary and not beholden to any demigods entirely razes the system, it remains the way it is. That is not the fault of schools, and certainly not a just cause for reviling it or entirely dismissing it as irrelevant.

    Public schools have to contend with federal laws, state laws, department of education directives, politics, parent organizations, religious organizations, local governments, and every imaginable creature who thinks they need to have a say. As a government-funded entity, schools have to answer to all of them. It is the wildest balancing act if there ever was one. Thus, mistakes are made, often and many. Add to that, the politics of the selection process of who should run the whole show and who their minions are, the system gets more and more Byzantine.

    What can we do? I proposed it earlier in this thread. Go back to basics. Everything else is bandaid. Bandaids don't work on deep wounds. Public schools wound is as deep as it gets.

  47. By the way, to one and all: Let us elevate this forum into something respectable.

    There is really no need to be calling each other names. That is entirely not good form.

  48. Thanks Gunslinger. Some people have miserable lives so I just pity them. Poor tormented souls.

  49. Nancy:

    Mostly sharpening pencils awaiting the source of Mr. Coolican's numbers. I suspect I shall be disappointed.

    I see you have been kicking Mr. Gibbons around yet again. He needs to ratchet it down a couple of notches.

  50. My apologies to Mr. Coolican. I see he did respond to my question yesterday. His per pupil number was from the district and was a "general education" number. He stated that Special education and English as Second Language students were more expensive and pushed up the average.

    I need to check these numbers out. In order to push up the average cost up from the general education average to per public average, the numbers must be astounding

  51. Turri:

    I really do not wish to kick anybody. Everyone has potentials although some of them are misdirected. C'est la vie.

    I am doing this for only one reason: Teacher Advocacy. The reason for all these attacks is ignorance and I try to mitigate that through honest answers and an invitation to visit my classroom or any school.

    At times, it feels like a futile attempt because people all ready made up their minds as to how they want to perceive schools. And, that's fine too. What really makes me sad is the loss of civility. Why are people so angry? And, why is it necessary to call names?

    This forum feels so much like a classroom! We should know better, we are all grown-ups, for heaven's sake.

    I talk to you and a few others even if we are of different opinions because you have always been civil. Thank you for that. You must have had good teachers. I am sorry for the others. They must have had bad teachers! Touche. (Sorry I can't find the accent button for the 'e.'

  52. @ roseannrosannadanna...

    "Clue in: you might want some of the taxpayers, analysts, public on "your side."

    Clue in: MANY, MANY taxpayers, which are the public, (obviously, helllooo!) are on "the side of" the teachers.

    "Anal-ists doo what they doo. Anal-ize.
    That's nasty, in my opinion.

    You strike me as an amateur Anal-izer.

    Pat, on the other hand, is a real PRO!

  53. Good Morning Nancy:

    You do bring civility to this site. Some days we are in dire need of it.

  54. Nancy:

    Let's test an assumption. Lots of talk here and in another column (editorial) about "bad" teachers. The prevailing assumption is that there are "bad" teachers that cannot be rooted out due to tenure.

    As a teacher, in your professional judgment, what percentage of teachers employed in your school are "bad" teachers?

    Is that number representative of CCSD?

  55. Turrialba, no one is kicking me around...especially since I'm the one pulling out research to back up my points. The sad thing is that you agree with me on most every issue, but you're too busy pretending to be a moderate to get people on the left wing to like you to admit it.

    Mr. Lamy, I have no billionaire bosses paying me to do this. I've always done this because its fun. Why are you here? That said, I'm not attacking teachers, I'm providing evidence that teacher training and remuneration is done in ways that are not supported by the evidence. You are unwilling to accept empirical evidence, even if it comes from mainstream academics...

  56. More on the impact of teacher certification... (from a left-wing source, the Brookings Institution)

    http://jaypgreene.files.wordpress.com/20...

    http://www.brookings.edu/papers/2006/~/m...

  57. Mr. Lamy,

    I've seen you dive away from evidence that does not support your opinion dozens of times. You run to personal attacks more often than not. And yes, people will agree with you but that is because they're behaving just like you.

    As I've stated, most of your objections have to deal with me as a person, not the actual evidence I present.

    Attacking people for who their employer is (in this case its not even an issue), is also a logical fallacy. Are teachers automatically wrong for supporting tax hikes because they work for government? Couldn't we see that as self serving as you see my work as self serving?

    Is it possible that people have their own opinions or reached their own conclusions absent the opinions or conclusions of their bosses?

    Or is it as you believe...in which case Academia is left-wing because the academic bosses are left-wing and they only hire people who agree with them...

    Think about this for a moment. The bulk of your attacks can be thrown right back at you and we'd get nowhere in these debates.

  58. Another source agreeing with many, many, many points I've made on here: http://www.tilsonfunds.com/Personal/TheC...

    It is from the Democrats for Education Reform a group of Democrats that don't want to be beholden to the teacher union any longer and want real evidence based education reform.

    If you have an hour of free time this morning I suggest reading through this it is mind blowing.

  59. petty? I'm just asking you how you think academics get their jobs to demonstrate that your line of personal attacks is logically fallacious... I'm just hoping you'll stop the personal attacks and deal with facts. I'm not sure how that is petty at all....

  60. Turri:

    "As a teacher, in your professional judgment, what percentage of teachers employed in your school are "bad" teachers?"

    In my school. NONE! My principal and I made sure of that. We provide mentoring day in and day out. That's my major responsibility and I make myself accountable for it. If we had to be tough, we do without hesitation, but with respect. You see, a good leader initiates change with involvement of those who need to change. If it comes from them, change is most likely to take root. I am not blowing hot air. Come to my school, ask any teacher or any support staff you see on campus. Ask them by my name. Call my principal.

    The district? I have no clue. It is a futile exercise to find out because numbers, which you guys loved to quote so much, are meaningless here. I doubt if any of those who decide about the budget even read this forum.

    I am a peon of the ruling class who has no voice and whose only strength is putting letters together into words and sentences, trying very hard to make sense. My mission is not to move mountains, but to explain why things are the way they are and why we need to go back to what really matters in education - CHILDREN and the future. No one cares about them anymore.

    Let's advocate for rebuilding families, because really - whatever little mending FEW good teachers do with children every day, is unraveled right after school when they begin their trek home. They see graffiti, they see muck on TV, they listen to garbage they call music, they see what their parents and other grown-ups do.

    You see, you guys talk about stuff that are beyond anyone's control but the garbage we call leaders. Does it change anything? NO. Money. Money. Money, ad nauseam.

    We need to go back to basics. HOW CAN WE HEAL FAMILIES? Do you have statistics for those?

    As of right now, all I feel is HOT AIR!

    Nancy

  61. Nancy:

    Hot air? You have been accusing me of that a great deal lately.

    As for the tenure and bad teacher question, is it a smoke screen?

  62. Turrialba:

    Yes, hot air because it does not do anything but go up the atmosphere. All of you can present all the research you can find, but none of them will make any difference unless we solve the root cause of the problem.

    The problem in education is very basic, but no, you want to go fancy by quoting fancy stuff that has no effect whatsoever. We are still wallowing in muck. Education, politics, firemen gaming the system, policemen in organized crime payroll, lobbyist, politicians in businessmen's payroll, and people in general have no concept of decency. All they want are money and power no matter who gets hurt.

    Americans have this false sense of security since they have not experience any major political upheaval. I hope it remains that way. However, people who are hurting can only take so much. Maybe we are different. Maybe it won't happen here, but the upheaval around the world has affected us, and we must learn some lesson from it, somehow. We can persecute people only for so long before they begin to scratch themselves out of the hole in which we put them.

    I have been saying that all those research by Harvard, Yale, Stanford and all those 'reputable' institutions you guys keep regurgitating have not solve the problems of education nor society, HAVE THEY?

    Education is the only key. However, education too has failed because our society is ill and the basic unit of society is the FAMILY. We must focus our attention in rebuilding families. How about you guys do research on that, huh?

  63. First, Patrick thanks for the condescending remarks. I got a good laugh.

    Second, prove my skills and effectiveness plateaued after 5 years. Until then, over reaching and generalized studies are of no value to anyone because in reality, that is all they are. In education, nothing applies to everyone all the time. What works for one school, will not work for another. What works for one teacher and makes him/her effective, will not work for another.

    Third, last time I looked collective bargaining was a two way street. The legislature, governor, and districts bargained and said yes. Maybe they need to stop being beholden to lobbyists and large corporations.

    Fourth, only 50% of CCSD Charter Schools made AYP last year. They are not the end all, be all solution and they need to not be presented as such.

    Lastly, I teach my students that if they think they already know everything, they won't learn anything. Their mind will be closed to new knowledge and new ways of thinking. Maybe there's a lesson in there for you somewhere.

    We will always disagree, of this I am sure. I also know that until people seriously start listening to teachers, nothing will improve. Everyone thinks they know how to fix education. Yet, with all the think tanks, politicians and research institutes input, ideas and "improvements" in the last 15 years; nothing has really changed for the better. Maybe it's time for that to change.

  64. Here I go again Nancy. I can't fix the family, nor can the public school system. It shouldn't even try.

    The public school system and the higher education system, open doors for people, first and foremost. It is incumbent for individuals to walk through those doors.

    My responsibility as a citizen is to ensure that reasonable opportunities exist for students to realize this purpose. This includes providing quality facilities and a professionals. The teacher's responsibility is to show up each day ready to teach and adhere to standards that will facilitate ultimate purpose of the system-no more and certainly no less. In the end, it is the responsibility of the students and parents to make the most of these opportunities, according to ability and desire.

    The fact is that in a system of 310,000 students, statistics are valuable for measuring how well everyone is doing in getting to the goal. By everyone, I mean parents, students, professionals and the taxpaying public. Based on the statistics I have seen, the outcomes are unsatisfactory. Parents, students, teachers and the taxpaying public get an "F". One-half do not complete high school and many who do are not prepared to face what follows.

    I am trying to find a way to a decent outcome, today, next year and five years from now. If $10,000 per student was really the answer, then I think I would say, why not? Will $10,000 per student provide the necessary tools to walk through the door? Yes, it is about money. It is my primary duty and responsibility to contribute to support the public education system.

    I find it equally difficult to find solutions in your comments, which seem elusive to me, in my efforts to target real solutions to bring about decent outcomes.

  65. I understand what you are saying Turri, but we have done this solution forever and education and society has not improved! It has not because the problem is not lack of money- it's people who run it. It's us, our morality and our values; what we consider worth of praise, of rewards.

    I realize my solution is elusive and difficult to operationalize. And, it does not happen in one year, two years, or maybe not in our lifetime. Look back a few decades ago when people were decent; when families were whole; when people were made responsible for their actions - not justified because of some disability - physical or psychological. Look back of the time when respect was valued, when responsibility was instilled, when resilience was the hallmark of success.

    Those days have been replaced by greed, power and its concomitant abuse; the strong persecuting the weak. Our evolution as human beings have regressed to times when 'dogs eat dogs.'

    You said you don't even want to try, but you are! You present research and figures and solutions. I am just asking you to redirect your passions and try. Many associations are trying. Check them out and offer your talents to them. Bring their advocacy forth. Give them a voice. Champion their causes.

    My influence is limited to students and teachers. I teach children the corresponding 3Rs: Respect, Responsibility, and Resilience every day in school, but it is extremely difficult because of what they see outside the school. They have difficulties reconciling the dichotomy. I feel overwhelmed sometimes explaining to them what is and what should be. I feel this should be the parents' job not mine.

    Children with good parents succeed, but their numbers are dwindling. And, it is extremely discouraging. Help me encourage people to volunteer in schools, talk to children, be a friend to children, influence businesses to sponsor schools, provide better pay, healthcare, and benefits to employees and their children; allow concessions to working parents so they can spend time in school with their children. These are not liberal agendas. These are plain being-human agenda.

    There are many other ways we can reinforce what good teachers do. And, on the same vein, undo what bad teachers do by advocating for the children and getting involved in schools to make sure administrators do their jobs and have those teachers fired.

    That is what I would like you people to focus your efforts -not on facts and figures and research that have not brought any meaningful results. Get involved!

  66. Joe--that last post of yours is excellent. LOL.

  67. Mr. Lamy, I cannot help it if you wan to bury face and hide from what appears to be overwhelming evidence not just from professors at Harvard but from Amherst, Stanford, MIT, Northwestern and Columbia and even left-wing groups like Democrats for Education Reform and the Brookings Institution. If you want to be a blind ideologue who wastes his time engaging in logical failures by throwing insults around, fine. I'm not here to change your mind, I'm here for fun...you throwing around insults as I feed you crow with empirical evidence only makes this that much more enjoyable.

    Turrialba, you're a very sad individual. The irony is you agree with me but you're too afraid to admit it. You're too busy trying to pretend to be a moderate in the hopes of getting left-of-center people to like you because you honestly believe you can get them to agree with you. If you had more intellectual courage you may get somewhere but as it stands all you end up doing is setting fires and tearing down what could be logical discussions.

  68. Patrick--To be very clear. I agree with parts of the message, but not the messenger. Nothing sad about that. It is my choice and I stand by it. I want to live in a society where people have differing views and engage these questions.

    As for intellectual courage, it seems to me this is the desire to seek out and engage people with differing views in a mature and civil manner. This facilitates learning and understanding for both sides. Maybe I will change some minds or maybe I will have my mind changed. The courage my friend is the willingness to consider and engage other ideas and the willingness to modify one's own views in response to these ideas.

    We are not the debating team here. We are people writing about our views of problems we face and how to solve these problems. Implementing solutions in this world requires working with others.

    I do not believe in going off on shallow and pedantic rants, lecturing well-meaning people, who care enough speak out on issues as you do. I try my best to listen and understand. It isn't always easy and I am not always successful. I have been working at it for one-half century. I plan to keep working at it for the next one-half century.

    Patrick when you look at the world you only see those things that confirm your world view and you attack those which do not. Try engaging the world a little bit, it might surprise you how the world responds.

    Perhaps you will cease to be a polarizing figure and become one that can move ideas ahead by bringing people along with you. Learning to listen and respect is the first step. This is what Joe and others are telling you Patrick. Listening for a change and ask yourself the question suppose he/she is right? That my friend takes courage.

  69. Joe:

    Patrick hasn't realized that having an opinion and being right are not the same thing.

    As Nancy has been trying to tell me for weeks now, facts are easy, but truth is very elusive.

    Enjoy your adventure today.

    T.

  70. Turrialba, I never said opinions and being right are the same thing. That said, what is wrong with my opinion? What is wrong with the evidence I've brought here?

    You're a hypocrite on this issue and no matter how I deliver the facts you'll still complain, hurl insults and pretend you're here to "discuss". I'm polarizing only because I bring the facts that some very ideological people ultimately don't want to hear because it upsets their own world view. I'm polarizing because people like Joe Lamy, Gmag, Birdie, and Keystone have 1 strategy only - personal attacks to discredit an opponent. I'm polarizing because people like you are too cowardly to see that.

    Mr. Lamy you're statement is again laughable. I make a statement you demand empirical evidence, when I show you the empirical evidence you turn your nose up at it and demand anecdotal evidence which is clearly a weaker line of evidence.

  71. Mr. Lamy,

    You're again building strawmen with the research. Either you don't understand what they're saying or you're making up stuff to attack the research.

    The research doesn't say teachers stop trying after 5 years. It doesn't say teachers stop innovating in the classroom after five years. It doesn't say teachers stop creating new lesson plans after five years.

    What the research shows is that during the first few years of teaching the students under that teacher continue to improve from year to year. For example in year one the average student may score 75 on the exam. In Year 2 the class averages 80 in Year 3 82.

    What the research finds is that sometime between Year 3 and Year 5 the students under that teacher are no longer seeing their scores rise. It can thus be said the teacher's skills have plateaued.

    The research also shows that there is a much wider gap in skills between the worst and best teachers overall than there is between a teacher at Year 1 and a teacher at year 5. For this reason Dr. Peterson along with the Brookings Institution, were recommending focusing resources on retaining top teachers rather than more job training.

  72. Patrick--get a clue. Really. Look at the comments here. You sit here and call people stupid day after day, no wonder you are not taken seriously.

    Grasshopper, you have alienated a lot of folks on this site for no reason except your own hubris. The same day-after-day badgering of posters here and via email. There is no progress. As for my alledged hypocracy, by your standard, no one is as idealogically pure enough to suit you. I just consider the source.

    Patrick this site is so much more peaceful and civil when you sit on the sidelines. Please go back to doing whatever it is you do when you are not posting here.

    If you feel the need to post, why not take up a different topic other than education?

  73. Turrialba, show me here on this thread where I called someone an idiot or stupid. The reason the threads are hostile, and most of them are when it comes to politics and economics, is because the people who post have generally made up their minds about the issue.

    Your method of discussion seems to be more about winning a popularity contest. You're noticeably absent when I'm presenting just the facts in a civil and rational tone but jump on the attack bandwagon later down the thread.

    Btw, ideological "purity" has nothing to do with this. I like logical and rational consistency. I called you a hypocrite because you want me to act in a civil manner but still attack me personally when I am civil. You're also a hypocrite for allowing the personal attacks to continue while demanding people be civil.

  74. As for progress I've seen none of it with your discussions. You ask lots of questions but most are ignored. Even when answered you never seem to progress much further.

    This method is fine and I support it, especially in a faster moving thread or in person, but it isn't working here.

  75. Mr. Turrialba,

    I'm not sure I understand your complaint against Mr. Gibbons here. After reading the relevant parts of this discussion I can only find that Mr. Gibbons is under a constant barrage of personal attacks and despite this, he has remained fairly level headed (as far as I can tell, it is hard to read emotions through the internet). I found no instances of him referring to any person on here as stupid, as you claimed. He appears to have stuck to the facts (which seems counter intuitive, but then so does most great works of science, so you and others are free to disagree with it) as best he could while providing sources and references when asked (or verbally assaulted).

    Could you please clarify the problem?